Wildlife viewing specialist Wild Planet Adventures http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/ has launched a new 19-day safari, Untamed India and Nepal, to take advantage of the recently lifted ban on tiger safaris. The Indian Supreme Court lifted the ban last month after revising guidelines that restrict mass tourism and emphasize enforcement.
“We see this as a positive thing,” says Josh Cohen, company director. “Better enforcement of existing regulations will benefit operators like Wild Planet whose guides rely on advanced tracking skills, not radios, to find tigers in the wild.“
Because of the limited number of jeeps allowed in the core areas of tiger parks, Cohen expects the trips to fill quickly. The newly launched multi-safari brings guests to four national parks including the virtually unknown Satpura, the only national park in India where walking and boating safaris are possible.
The per person double occupancy rate for 19-day Untamed India and Nepal program is from $7,698 (6 persons minimum). For $299 per person additional, a minimum of two people can arrange a date of their own choosing. Domestic air of approximately $799 is extra. Set departures are Dec 16 – Jan 3, 2013, and in 2013, Jan 13 – 31, Feb 3 – 21, Mar 3-21, Mar 24 – Apr 11, Apr 14 – May 2, Oct 27 – Nov 14, Nov 10 – 28, and Dec 15 – Jan 2, 2014. See: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/content/view/259/662/
A shortened version offering a 14-day itinerary with the same departure dates begins at $4,898. See: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/content/view/247/643/
“I applaud the Indian Supreme Court for the new emphasis on enforcement of tiger viewing protocols,” says Cohen. “We expect tiger sightings to be better now under the new guidelines, which will hopefully reduce jeep congestion in the more well-traveled parks.”
Cohen has been a long proponent of limiting the impact of mass tourism that habituates animals to human presence. He believes that an authentic wildlife encounter should rely on guides’ tracking skills – not on 2-way radios illegally used by some guides to notify one another of tiger sightings.
“If there is more enforcement as a result of the new guidelines, then companies like Wild Planet will have a distinct advantage because we employ expert naturalist guides who rely not on radios but on authentic tracking skills such as listening for warning cries, tracking pug marks and looking for residue of kills,” he explains.
In addition to Satpura and Bandhavgarh, the new Untamed India and Nepal safari also visits Chambal riverside wildlife sanctuary and includes cultural and spiritual experiences on the Ganges in Varanasi, the erotic temples of Khajuraho and the Buddhist stupas of Katmandu. The climax of the tour is the remote and virtually unknown Bardia National Park in Nepal which allows the most extensive elephant-back safaris possible, an ideal way to see the park’s wildlife, including a healthy tiger population which has doubled in just two years according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Wild Planet Adventures has also updated its original India program, the India Ultimate Wildlife Safari: Leopards, Tigers & Palaces
For 2013, the India Ultimate Wildlife multi-safari features the addition of Manas National Park –the 4th UNESCO World Heritage Site on this itinerary– as well as a lodging upgrade that includes the region’s finest Oberoi and Trident Hotels. The combination of Bharatpur, Kanha, Kaziranga and Manas National Parks is, says Cohen, “simply the most comprehensive, wildlife-focused safari available anywhere in India.” Manas features stunning scenery at the foothills of the Himalayas as well as extreme biodiversity with 20 highly endangered species, such as Hispid Hare and Pygmy Hog. The park is also home to Leopards, Elephants, Wild Buffaloes, Rhinoceros, Clouded Leopards, rare Black Panthers, Capped Langurs, Golden Langurs, Gaurs, Swamp Deer, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Sambar, Chital, Smooth Indian Otters, Hoolock Gibbons, Assamese Macaques, Sloth Bears, and Slow Loris.
Image courtesy Widness & Wiggins PR