International Expeditions in India

By Nell McCombs
This item appears on page 32 of the December 2012 issue.

My husband, Ed, and I chose “Tigers & the Taj” for our fifth trip with International Expeditions (Helena, AL; 800/234-9620). Our trip, March 10-25, 2012, cost $6,680 per person, excluding international air but with a discount for having traveled with the company.

We like International Expeditions because it provides superior guides and excellent accommodations, your only tipping is to your main guide and, on this trip, all meals were provided. On this trip, there was only one other tour member.

Our guide, Harendra (“Harry”) Singh, grew up close to the bird sanctuary Keoladeo National Park and is a super naturalist. We also had a local guide in each location.

Swimming pool at Laxmi Vilas — Bharatpur, India. Photo: McCombs

We stayed in three national parks: Kanha (in Madhya Pradesh), Bandhavgarh and Keoladeo. Among wildlife we saw on game drives were barking deer, sambar deer, gaur (bison), jackals, rhesus monkeys, langurs, a python and tigers.

Mahouts ride a couple of elephants and, if they see a tiger, they try to get it to move toward a road. They drove a tigress to us, and she crossed the road in plain view. We had five other tiger sightings, the best a young male resting in the bush only 20 yards away.

When we visited Keoladeo, we stayed in Bharatpur at the hotel Laxmi Vilas Palace, which was quite lovely. We were comfortably ensconced in the new wing in a room with a high four-poster bed and a private balcony. There was also a lovely swimming pool.

On a bicycle rickshaw in the bird park, our driver was very good at pointing out birds. We did quite a bit of walking at a lake. On a boat ride, our boat was quietly poled through the shallow water so as not to alarm birds or animals.

We stayed in lovely hotels everywhere, but I would especially mention the Samode Palace Hotel (Village Samode, Tehsil Chomu, Jaipur), an old palace about an hour north of the Amber Fort.

It had a lovely outside area for eating, an inside dining area that was more elegant, a rooftop infinity swimming pool, a mosaic swimming pool, nice gardens and beautiful public areas. It was a real treat to stay there.

Anyone with questions, e-mail me c/o ITN.

Ventura, CA