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Review: Tiger Re-Quest

Specialist Holiday - Safari/wildlife

Northern India & Nepal, India

In the footsteps of Shere Khan

  • By SilverTraveller Holland

    35 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • Feb 2009
  • Solo

145 people found this review helpful

Polar Quest is a small Swedish tour operator, associate company of Noble-Caledonia well known for their small ship cruises. Having run out of polar regions (after all there are only two….) Polar Quest now include what they term Re-Quest trips to other destinations of particular, mainly wildlife, interest.
We were a group of three Swedes, seven Brits, two excellent Swedish guides and a local Indian tour escort who was with us for the whole trip, unfortunately hard to understand.
I had long ago decided that I had to see a tiger in the wild before they become extinct. I was not disappointed. A city tour of Delhi included a bicycle rickshaw ride around the narrow streets. Adrian, our Swedish guide leapt on to the bicycle and pedalled furiously leaving the rightful owner to sit as a passenger much to the amusement of the locals.
On to Agra and at first light to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Onwards by small bus to Gwalior and thence by delayed flight (fog in Delhi, normal at this time of year) to Jabalpur and a long drive to our first National Park: Kanha. Early and very cold starts are the norm and after tea and biscuits we piled into open jeeps with hot water bottles! After driving around for some time we stopped for a sumptuous picnic breakfast . The system here was that a mahout went out very early in the morning on an elephant to look for tigers in the 200 sq kms of the park. Jeeps were given a number and took it in turns to join the elephants when a tiger was sighted. We then climbed on to the elephant who moved through the jungle enabling the riders to see the tiger close up. Brilliant!! There was so much bird and wildlife to see as well as the tigers.
Next stop Bandhavgarh National Park. Much busier with upwards of 30 vehicles at the park gate at 6.30 a.m. but once inside each one was allocated a different route and we soon lost sight of the others. Once again a mahout on his elephant had spotted the stripes and we took our turn to climb on to an elephant for close up encounters; the tigers being used to the elephants and vice versa. Total tiger count : Kanha – 2, Bandhavgarh – 7. I can die happy…….
But the trip was not yet over. Yet to come was Khajuraho to see the “erotic” temples and, since you ask, yes they are. To Varanasi to see the evening ceremonies by the River Ganges, followed by an early morning visit by boat.
A 40 minute flight took us to Kathmandu, Nepal. City sightseeing, then next day a 20 minute flight with Buddha Air (!) to Pokhara and views of the Himalayas. Finally to Chitwan National Park, no tigers to be seen but enjoyable elephant rides and we saw one horned rhinos.
The whole trip was very well organized. Adrian and Annica were efficient, friendly, extremely capable and coped well with delayed flights and any other problems. A credit to Polar Quest whose guides are always excellent.
There were long bus journeys, very early starts, mainly good hotels. and food, pleasant weather. And tigers.

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