From spotting blue whales in Mirissa to snow leopards in the Himalayan foothills, we round up the top wildlife experiences in ndia and Sri Lanka
Where? While only 3,200 tigers remain in the wild today, 70% of them live in India, so a trip there offers clients the best chance of seeing one. Ranthambore national park is home to more than 60 tigers, and the park’s northerly location fits well with clients on Golden Triangle itineraries. The central state of Madhya Pradesh is another strong option. It’s dubbed the ‘Tiger State’ due to its 25 wildlife sanctuaries, 10 national parks – including tiger-rich Bandhavgarh and Kanha – and six tiger reserves.
Best time to visit: October to April for Ranthambore. The park is closed between July 1 and September 30 each year.
Top tip: Nikhil Chhibber, India product manager at Inspiring Travel Company (ITC) recommends clients opt for half-day game drives by Jeep. “For these, there’s no zone restriction, so travellers can move freely around zones one to five of Ranthambore, and once regular safari vehicles have left, only five Jeeps are permitted to remain, making it less crowded.”
Book it: ITC offers an 11-night Tigers and Leopards with Relais & Chateauxv Hotels trip, which includes visits to two of India’s most famous tiger reserves – Bandhavgarh and Ranthambore – and two nights in Delhi. Prices start from £3,595pp including flights, private transportation by car and train, and safari activities. inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk
or sick elephants until they’re ready to be released, mainly back to Udawalawe. In the sanctuary, clients can watch young and fully-grown elephants playing as their keepers feed them.Best time to visit: Elephants can be seen year-round at the park. Mark Henderson, senior product and commercial manager for touring at Travel 2 says: “May to October is dry season. The park gets quite dusty and many waterholes dry up, concentrating wildlife around the remaining ones. This is also the best time to see water buffalo, spotted deer, wild boar, eagles,
owls and kingfishers.”
Top tip: Henderson says: “Tell clients to bring a pair of binoculars with them – even a budget pair will really improve their experience.”
Book it: Travel 2 offers a six-day Sri Lanka & Wildlife tour from £1,369pp, including leopard-spotting in Yala national park, a Jeep safari in Udawalawe, a visit to the Elephant Transit Home, flights and some meals. Price is valid for travel on September 1, 2018. travel2.com
Top tip: Mark Wheeler, andBeyond regional managing director for Asia, says: “Our Snow Leopard Expedition operates in Ulley, which offers a much larger area to search in compared with other regions of Ladakh. Ulley accommodation is also considerably more comfortable, with clients staying in a lodge as opposed to camping in freezing temperatures.”
Book it: andBeyond offers a Snow Leopard Expedition from $6,495pp based on two sharing including all meals, internal flights, one day in Delhi on a B&B basis, transportation for snow leopard sightings and the services of a tour leader. andbeyond.com
Book it: Riviera Travel offers a two-week Sri Lanka Tour including a 4×4 drive in Yala national park, 12 nights’ half-board accommodation, transfers and flights from £1,749pp. rivieratravel.co.uk
Book it: Natural World Safaris offers a 16-day Lions and Temples of Gujarat safari from £4,395pp based on two sharing, excluding international flights. naturalworldsafaris.com
Top tip: For responsible whale- watching, ensure trips or excursions are accredited by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).
Book it: Exodus Travels offers a Wild Sri Lanka trip that includes private whale-watching and four game drives within Yala and Udawalawe national parks. Prices start from £2,229pp for 11 days including flights, transfers and accommodation. exodus.co.uk
Top tip: For clients wanting to tick off Sri Lanka’s Big Four – leopards, elephants, water buffalo and the sloth bear – Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle is located one hour’s drive away from Udawalawe national park and less than two hours away from Yala national park.
Book it: Sovereign Luxury Travel offers a seven–night B&B stay at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle from £1,589pp based on two sharing including flights and private transfers, for a November 13, 2018 departure. sovereign.com
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