BIRMINGHAM, AL, July 24, 2007 "“ Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites and three national parks are some of the wonders in International Expeditions' new 18-day itinerary in India. Sunrise at the Taj Mahal, tiger spotting by elephant back, stargazing at jungle skies and cooking demonstrations are just a few of many unforgettable moments built into the new tour that departs December 21 and seven times in 2008. From the coastal town of Mumbai to the extravagant temple carvings of Khajuraho and the great cities of Delhi and Jaipur, India's most wonderful sites and cultures will unfold. Outstanding jungle lodges, luxurious hotels and historic palaces will cosset participants like esteemed guests of a Raja.
Famed for well-crafted journeys into places and cultures outside ordinary experience, International Expeditions keeps groups small for maximum enjoyment and enrichment. Numbering no more than 20 participants, groups are accompanied by top naturalist guides, complemented by local experts. On the new India tour, guests will discover an abundant diversity of wildlife in Kanha and Bandhavgarh, India's signature wildlife areas, including leopards, tigers, hyenas, bears, barasingha and an astounding variety of colorful birds. Guests will also see how their and International Expeditions' ongoing contributions have helped the Tiger Trust, which raises awareness for tiger conservation and protection.
Per person prices for the 18-day December 21, 2007 and Jan. 18, Feb. 1, 22, Mar. 7, Nov. 7, 21 and Dec. 19, 2008 expeditions start from $5,098. Prices include all accommodations, meals, local transportation, guides and transfers for group flights. International and in-country airfare is not included, though flights can be arranged through International Expeditions. Four-day Kaziranga and seven-day Nepal post-journey extensions are also available.
With 20 years of experience working in India, International Expeditions offers a spectacular view of the subcontinent's kaleidoscope of colors, cultures, sights and sounds. The unique itinerary is crafted to explore the remarkable cultural and natural wonders of India: the Agra Fort, Elephanta Caves, Fatehpur Sikri, Humayun's Tomb, Keoladeo Sanctuary, Khajuraho Temples, Qutb Minar, Taj Mahal and Chhatrapati Shivaji (Victoria Terminus). A unique itinerary takes in a remarkable variety of geography and four states "“ Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Ultar Pradesh and western Rajasthan. This extraordinary variety offers the nature lover the rare experience of observing abundant wildlife in their natural habitats, and also presents opportunities to glimpse the rich and diverse cultures.
After the first night in Mumbai's (formerly Bombay) five-star deluxe Taj President Hotel, the trip commences with a visit to the 1,200-year-old Elephanta Caves, dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Shiva, followed by a visit to Mumbai's downtown historic Fort area, home to the Rajabai Clock Tower, High Court, Prince of Wales Museum and Jain temple.
A flight to Nagpur the next morning will lead to the Kahna National Park, a model of wildlife conservation. Over the next three days, open 4×4 jeeps will take guests in search of barasingha deer, Indian gaur, sambar beer, leopards, chital, wild boar and troops of langurs. There's also an opportunity to observe the park's greatest prize "“ the Bengal tiger "“ from atop an elephant's back. Nestled in the beautiful, thick Sal forest (ideal for bird watching), the 11-acre Kanha Jungle Lodge will be home base, managed with environmentally friendly principles including active support for the Tiger Trust.
As they travel to Bandhavgarh National Park, guests will be welcomed into a local home en route to Mandla, a sacred city on the banks of the Narmada River. Here there are opportunities to witness daily life along the river and walk through local markets.
Within walking distance of the Bandhavgarh National Park, three nights are spent at the Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge that resembles a traditional Indian village with thatched cottages and inner courtyards. The park is one of India's most important tiger reserves, and to ensure a full experience, International Expeditions planned two days of wildlife excursions for viewings of jungle cats, antelope and 250 species of birds, including India's national bird, the peacock.
A drive through the villages of Madhya Pradesh, often referred to as the "Heart of India," leads to Khajuaho "“ known for its amazing temples with vivid stone carvings dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. The evening is spent at the five-star Jass Radisson, offering spectacular views of the magnificent mountains, valleys, and dense forests below.
Day 11 is in the medieval city of Orchha on the banks of the Betwa River, with an afternoon journey aboard the Shatadi Express, the fastest train in India. Following an overnight at Agra's outstanding resort hotel ITC Mughal, the breathtaking Taj Mahal awaits. An impressive site that is truly one of the most glorious monuments in the world, this "New Seven Wonder" was built by Moghul Shah Jahan for his beloved wife over a 22-year span.
Guests are exposed to a blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture at the famous Agra Fort and the walled city of Fatehpur Sikri (Victory City) before checking in for two nights to the Bharatpur's Laxmi Vilas Palace, which is still partially occupied by the royal family. Here, guests enjoy a full day at Keoladeo Ghana National Park, 11 square miles of wetlands with more than 400 species of birds including the bar-headed geese, peacock and red jungle fowl, and other wildlife such as the famed nilgai (blue bull).
Next stop is the "Pink City" of Jaipur, named for the reddish color applied to walls as a sign of welcome. Two nights at the luxurious Sheraton Rajputana allow for exploring the labyrinth of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sites where tradition and contemporary culture exist side by side.
The remainder of the journey is spent in Old and New Dehli "” visiting Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi; Jama Madjid, one of the largest mosques in India; Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world; Humayun's Tomb, reminiscent of the Taj Mahal; and India Gate, honoring the Indian soldiers who died in the Afghan wars and World War I.
Founded in 1980, International Expeditions is the world leader in nature travel, specializing in small group and independent journeys to the most exhilarating destinations around the globe. A pioneer of environmentally responsible travel, International Expeditions is committed to preserving natural habitats and improving the welfare of the people and communities it visits.
For more information call an International Expeditions destination specialist at 1-800-633-4734, see your travel agent, email nature@IEtravel.com, or visit www.IEtravel.com