India’s Best Walking Safari - Fauna Travel

India’s Best Walking Safari

Walking safari at Suján Jawai / Courtesy of Suján

13 Days

An Indian safari showcases an impressive diversity of wildlife, including tigers, leopards, elephants, sloth bears, wolves, and plenty of deer. However, compared to an African safari, you will hardly ever exit your vehicle on a game drive. India’s national parks have more restrictive regulations, so walking safaris are relatively unheard of. Still, there are some opportunities to connect with the land that can be stitched together into an incredible walking itinerary.

Start your trip with a brief cultural immersion in Delhi before heading to Mahdra Pradesh, the most tiger-dense area on the planet. Here you’ll take a tiger safari before a multi-day hike through Satpura National Park, the only tiger reserve in India that allows walking. Your trip ends among the ancient granite hills of Rajasthan, where you will track leopards on foot with local herders. It’s the most enchanting way to experience wild India.

Walking safaris are rare in India, but this itinerary stitches together two of the best options and includes a tiger safari and tracking leopards on foot. It’s the most enchanting way to experience wild India.

✧ Your custom travel playlist includes Prateek Kuhad’s “Tune Kaha”
India has a surprisingly active folk-rock scene, so we wanted to eschew the obvious Ravi Shankar choice (though we love Ravi). This tune by Prateek Kuhad sets the perfect mellow-upbeat song for a slow journey through India.

Day 1-2: Arrival in Delhi

Haveli Dharampura

Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be greeted by a representative and driven to your hotel, Haveli Dharampura, in boisterous Old Delhi. We want to give you a deep sense of place in India before your journey into the wild, and this hotel does just that. The restored 19th-century mansion isn’t accessible by car and is within walking distance of Old Delhi’s most famous sites.

After breakfast, take a morning walk to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, and the Red Fort, the most opulent fort and palace of the Mughals. Then, continue through narrow alleys to the boisterous and colorful Spice Market, one of Asia’s largest, and have lunch while you are out.

Drive to New Delhi for the afternoon and visit Humayun’s Tomb before finishing your day with a drive along the ceremonial avenue past the India Gate, Parliament House, and the Diplomatic Enclave.

Day 3-5: Pench National Park

Jamtara Wilderness Camp

Wake early for your morning flight to Nagpur, where you will be met by a driver for the three-hour and forty-five-minute drive to Pench National Park and your hotel, Jamtara Wilderness Camp. Jamtara Wilderness Camp is a luxury safari camp near a small village along the park’s buffer zone. It’s the only camp in the area, and the setting around a giant banyan tree has an air of serenity.

Pench’s rolling teak forests and grasslands are home to India’s highest density of herbivores and healthy populations of tigers and leopards. While you cannot walk inside the national park, spending a couple of days walking in the buffer zone and on 4×4 safaris with the camp’s excellent naturalist guides will give you an understanding of the landscape – and hopefully a tiger sighting or two.

Day 6-8: Satpura National Park

After the morning jungle safari, drive five hours north to Satpura National Park. The park has tall sandstone mountains, narrow gorges, and waterfalls and is rarely visited. It is also the only tiger reserve in India that allows for walking. Upon arrival at Satpura, check into Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. The lodge features twelve luxury cottages built using local materials and featuring large picture windows and viewing decks. Rest here before starting on your walking safari the following day.

Depart Reni Pani Jungle Lodge in the early morning and drive to Pachmarhi, a lovely hill station nestled in the highest peaks of Satpura. Upon reaching Pachmarhi, you will begin your walk downhill toward Dehelia Camp. The first four miles cover a steep decline to the Kanchighat, where you will stop for lunch. There is a beautiful perennial stream where you can take a dip and enjoy an array of colorful birdlife, including Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Indian Nuthatch, Oriental White-eye, Common Tailorbird, and Indian Yellow Tit. After lunch, it is another 3.75 miles to the overnight camp on the banks of the Denwa River.

Leopard in Satpura National Park / Courtesy of Encounters Asia

Wake up to the sounds of the river and enjoy breakfast at camp. Today’s hike is ten miles along the river bank and through pristine forests. You will climb large sand banks and wade through knee-deep water to get lunch at Jhela Camp and onward to Manakachar Camp. All these areas lie within the reserve, home to 50 species of mammal and over 250 species of bird.

Day 9: Satpura to Udaipur

Traavista Aravali Mahal

On your final camping morning, you can wake up at your leisure and enjoy a hearty breakfast before driving back to Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. Here you can reorganize and have lunch before your departure. From Satpura is a three-hour drive to Bhopal, where you will have an early meal before your flight to Udaipur, Rajasthan, in the late afternoon. Settle into your hotel, Traavista Aravali Mahal, before dinner to relax from your day of travel.

Day 10-12: Sujan Jawai

Sujan Jawai

Wake in the morning for your 3.5-hour transfer to Suján Jawai. The luxury tented camp is located in a landscape of dramatic granite outcrops, arguably India’s best walking destination. It is set on a large private reserve surrounded by villages so that you can roam freely. Here leopards are plentiful and coexist peacefully with the local community. Spend the next few days with local Rabari herders tracking leopards and other wildlife on foot. The hills are also dotted with ancient temples to explore while you are out tracking.

Day 13: Departure to Delhi

On your final day, depart for the 2.5-hour drive to Jodhpur after a morning walk. From here, it is a short flight to Delhi, where you will connect with your international departure.

Contact us to start planning your journey into the wild.

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