Wildlife Group Tour

India Group Tour - Durrell Wildlife Conservation

Explore Assam's unique wildlife in the company of an expert

13 days

from £3,850pp
  • Travel in the company of wildlife conservationist, Lee Durrell
  • Learn about the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme from the Project Director
  • Go on safari in Kaziranga National Park, home to one horned rhinoceros
  • Take to the rivers to find the endangered Gangetic Dolphins

Travelling as a small like minded group, spend one full day in Delhi, exploring the sights and sounds of this colonial city. Take in a rickshaw ride and enjoy the chaotic charms of Old Delhi. On reaching Guwahati meet with the research team at Ecosystems India and learn about their work at the Pygmy Hog Basistha Centre, on the outskirts of the city. Get up close to these small brown critically endangered animals in the captive breeding centre. There is plenty of opportunity to visit the pre-release enclosures at Nameri, and the release site at Orang National Park.  Watch from observation hides, although standing only 30cm high it can be difficult to spot.

Continue to travel east to Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage Site. Diphlu River Lodge is a comfortable home for the next three nights. During your stay there will be ample opportunity to take game drives, and spend time with naturalists to explore this beautiful park, home to two thirds of the world's rhinoceros.

The tour finishes in the metropolitan city of Kolkata - the former capital of the Raj, Kolkata still retains much of its dramatic colonial architecture. It would be a sin not to sample the Bengali cuisine whilst in the city accessed by a well organised walking tour. An iconic Bengali dinner has been arranged with Lee Durrell on the final evening before bidding farewell to your group.

what does this tour include?

Travelling with Lee Durrell offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about a diverse range of wildlife and gain insight about the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. She has a phenomenal knowledge, based on years of experience. A great leader, it is her presence that makes the trip exceptional.

The trip is also a great chance to visit lesser known national parks in Assam. These include the parks of Orang and Kaziranga, which are home to some of India’s most threatened mammals. 

who are Durrell WILDLIFE CONSERVATION?

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is a conservation organisation with a mission to save species from extinction. Gerald Durrell founded the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust as a charitable institution in 1963 with the dodo as its symbol. Today Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme is a collaborative project of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group,Forest Department, Govt. of Assam and the Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India. It is implemented in Assam by the Rare & Endangered Species Conservation Unit (RESCU) of EcoSystems-India.

what wildlife will I see in Assam?

Witness spectacular wildlife from the great one horned rhino, Asian elephants, Gangetic dolphins and endangered greater adjutant storks. .There is a high chance of spotting the endangered Gangetic Dolphin on the Kukurmara River. The greater adjutant storks can be found in interesting surroundings around Guwahati, often favouring the local refuge tip!

Visit two national parks during this tour, including Kaziranga, a World Heritage Site and a paradise for the Indian one horned rhinoceros as well as a birdwatchers paradise. 

IS THIS GROUP TOUR SUITABLE FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Host.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

what is the accomodation like in india?

Ranging from luxury and sublime in Kolkata, tradiional tea planters homestay in Balipura, the best available city hotels in Delhi and Guwahati, and a TOFT Pug Eco rated wildlife lodge in Kaziranga. The accomodation has been carefully selected for comfort and proximity to the wildlife and interests of the tour.

Do I need to be fit to enjoy this tour?

Not particularly. Walking is generally over flat terrain. Walks will last about 20 minutes. Game drives are by jeep or elephant back and require a certain amount of mobility to manoevure in and out.

What type of roads and vehicles will be used?

Within Delhi and Assam  you will travel together in an air conditioned mini bus.

How many people will I be travelling with?

This group will travel on a minimum number of six guests, and a maximum size of 12.

By travelling on this tour you are directly supporting the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. A contribution will be made on your behalf to the specific projects that are visited whilst in India.



Departing on:
  • 2nd April 2017

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
2nd Apr 2017 14th Apr 2017 £ 3,850 £ 700 £ 925 Lee Durrell Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 10 Dinners
  • A donation to Durrell of £400 to support their ongoing work
  • An english speaking escort throughout the tour
  • International and Domestic flights as indicated
  • The services of expert tour leader - Lee Durrell
  • Transfers and sightseeing as detailed

what is excluded

  • Drinks
  • Gratuities for local guide, drivers and porters
  • Incidental charges - laundry, drinks, telephone calls
  • Indian Visa
  • Travel Insurance

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Delhi

Day 2

Lee Durrell and her partner Colin will travel with you from the Uk today.


Tour of Old and New Delhi
Take a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi and enjoy its chaotic charms. See the different ingredients that make up paan, betel leaf stimulant, and meet the pigeon fancier and experience a truly unique activity kabootar baazi.

Visit New Delhi, built as the imperial capital of India by the British and laid out according to the master plans of the great colonial architect Lutyens. In contrast to Old Delhi, it is a city of wide boulevards, formal parks, magnificent Parliament Building, the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the official residence of the President of India in the 330 acres of land and designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens) and India Gate. Also visit Humayun’s Tomb, built in the 16th century and creating a precedent for subsequent Moghul architecture such as the Taj Mahal.

Delhi may be one of the world's largest metropolises, but architectural wonders - new and old - fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi's urban sprawl.

Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi's architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples. Meanwhile, contemporary Delhi thrives in Connaught Place, which - with its colonially-designed buildings - is the most westernised part of the centre. Globalisation is in evidence, with brand names splashed across every storefront.


There will be a welcome dinner this evening at the hotel hosted by Lee Durrell and your local escort


You will be staying at Vivanta by Taj Ambassador

Day 3

Fly Delhi to Guwahati


Lunch will be provided at the hotel today


Introduction to the Pygmy Hog Basistha Centre
After lunch visit the Pygmy Hog Basistha Centre for a welcome meeting and introduction to the research team at Ecosystems India. Have an interactive session with the staff and learn about their research work. Return to hotel by late afternoon.

Guwahati, in Assam, is a major developing city in East India, and often referred to the Gateway of the North East. The city is on the banks of the Brahmaputra and has airport links back to the main cities. The region of Guwahati is rich in wildlife with Asian elephants, python, tiger and primates.


Captive Breeding Facility
The PHCP set up a captive-breeding programme which, with careful management from local partners, has seen the original group of six wild hogs, captured in 1996, increase to over 60 captive pygmy hogs. In 2006, a three year project was funded by the Darwin Initiative with the aim of "Implementing a Recovery Plan for the Critically Endangered Pygmy Hog in Assam". The focus of this project was to establish new populations through release of captive-bred hogs and improving the grassland habitat through community work and restoration efforts.

Over the last 20 years intensive conservation efforts led by the PHCP has successfully increased the number of sub-populations in the wild and increased the species range, reducing, but not eliminating, the immediate risk of extinction of the pygmy hog in the wild.

The aim of the captive breeding programme is to support the conservation of the species by providing animals to be reintroduced into the wild in an effort to increase the size of the wild population and the species range reducing the risk of extinction.


You will be staying at Vivanta by Taj Guwahati

Day 4

Kukurmara River for Gangetic Dolphins
Morning visit the pygmy hog centre for an hour or so. Then leave from here for the Kukurmara. There is a high chance of spotting the endangered Gangetic dolphins. Lunch will be organised at the Radisson Blu today.


Kukurmara River Cruise
This freshwater river dolphin is one of the oldest creatures in the world, officially discovered in 1801 and now very nearly extinct. The Ganges River dolphin lives in one of the most densely populated regions of the world. One of the main threats to the species is loss of habitat due in large part to the creation of dams and irrigation projects. Spend time on the river today watching the Gangetic dolphins.

A long thin snout, rounded belly, stocky body and large flippers are characteristics of the Ganges River dolphin. Although its eye lacks a lens (this species is also referred to as the "blind dolphin"), the dolphin still uses its eye to locate itself. The species has a slit similar to a blowhole on the top of the head, which acts as a nostril.

The dolphin has the peculiarity of swimming on one side so that its flipper trails the muddy bottom. This behaviour is understood to help it to find food.

Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the 'Susu'.

The movements of the Ganges River dolphin follow seasonal patterns, although the details are not well known. However, it seems that animals travel upstream when water level rises, and from there enter smaller streams.


Visit to the greater adjutant nesting sites
After lunch visit the greater adjutant storks. They can be found in three places in the world and one of these is near Guwahati. These endangered birds can be found in a handful of nesting colonies. The Brahmaputra Valley in Assam is considered the last stronghold of the endangered stork, locally called ‘Hargila’, and harbours more than 80 per cent of the global population of the species. For those that are interested you have the opportunity to visit these locations, just at the end of the breeding season.


You will be staying at Vivanta by Taj Guwahati

Day 5

Drive from Guwahati to Orang National Park (Road Journey)


Release Site
The Orang National Park is one of two release sites used by the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme team.

Over the last seven years a total of 85 pygmy hogs have been successfully released into Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary and Orang National Park increasing the wild population size of the species by an estimated 35%. By establishing two additional sub-populations the range of the species has also increased. However, continued efforts are required before the species can be down listed to a less threatened Red List category and to ensure the future survival of the pygmy hogs in Assam.


Lunch will be taken enroute to Balipara - a drive of approximately two hours


You will be staying at Wild Mahseer

Day 6

Nameri National Park - Rafting
After breakfast, travel 15 kms upstream from Wild Mahsheer is a rafting spot on the Bhorelli River. An expert leader will accompany the group today. After lunch visit the Pre Release centre near Potasali.


A lunch will be provided at the Eco Camp near Nameri


Pre Release Centre at Potasali, Nameri Tigers Reserve
In order to prepare the hogs for release into the wild, unrelated and mostly young hogs were organised into three different social groups at the Basistha breeding centre before being transferred to a specially constructed 'pre-release' facility in Potasali, on the outskirts of Nameri National Park. In order to encourage natural foraging, nest-building and other behaviours these hogs were maintained in simulated natural habitats and husbandry techniques were adapted to minimise human contact to mitigate tameness and other behavioural characteristics consequent upon their captive management. Pre-release enclosures at Potasali are designed to mimic the natural grassland habitat. By 2014 over 85 captive-bred hogs have been released into the wild and a further 60 remain in captivity as a safety net population and will continue to produce hogs for future releases.


You will be staying at Wild Mahseer

Day 7

Country Boat Ride
Morning after a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Ganesh Ghat in Tezpur to board a motorized country boat. Depending upon the river conditions sail downstream to Bhorelli - Brahmaputra river confluence to spot river dolphins. The river journey will be approximately two hours. Disembark at Silghat, and proceed to Kaziranga National Park (45 kms / one hour) - a World Heritage Site and a paradise for greater Indian one horned rhinoceros as well as a birdwatcher's delight.


The Greater One Horned Rhino
The greater one-horned rhino is the largest of the rhino species. Once found across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, rhino populations were severely depleted as they were hunted for sport and killed as agricultural pests. This pushed the species very close to extinction in the early 20th century and by 1975 there were only 600 individuals surviving in the wild.

The greater one-horned rhino once thrived across the northern plains of the Indian sub-continent, but hunting for sport and poaching severely depleted the population, pushing the species to the brink of extinction. The Kaziranga national park, a rhino sanctuary and also a tiger reserve, has helped revive the species but poaching remains an ever present threat. Kaziranga is also home to other breeding populations of mammals, notable among them are tigers and elephants. According to a 2008 census, there are over 1,200 elephants in the park.

Kaziranga in North East India is a stunning park with a great success conservation success story for the One Horned Indian Rhinoceros. Not only the homeland of the Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros the park provides shelter to a variety of wilflife from Wild elephant to leopard cat and otter. A less visited park due to its location, it offers those who make the journey there a very rewarding experience. Jeep and elephant-back safaris are easily arranged and less restrictive than those in the Central Indian Parks.


Afternoon Game Drive - Western Range
Take a jeep safari in the western range of the national park.


You will be staying at Diphlu River Lodge

Day 8

Morning Elephant Ride
Early this morning travel by elephant into the central range of the Park, which is an ideal way to get really close to rhino and other wildlife. Please note that the Kaziranga elephants are owned and cared for by the Forestry Department to very high standards of animal welfare and are essential in helping conservation efforts in the Park (for more information please speak to your Steppes' Travel Consultant). If you prefer to explore by jeep or on foot, this can be arranged. A jeep safari with packed breakfast is planned for later in the morning. The elephant safari is an optional experience for all members of the group today.

The elephants are only available for limited hours in the early mornings to avoid the heat of the day. The elephants are well rested first thing in the morning. An elephant ride allows you to view rhino, buffalo, hog deer and wild pig from a close range. Elephants are perfect in this environment as they can easily cross tall grass patches and wet muddy ground.

An opportunity today to visit a nearby tea plantation or local village after breakfast


An opportunity today to visit a nearby tea plantation or local village after breakfast


Afternoon Game Drive - Western Range
Take a jeep safari in the western range of the national park.


You will be staying at Diphlu River Lodge

Day 9

Morning and Afternoon Game Drives
Todays park visits consist of an early morning elephant safari for approximately 1 hour (subject to availability and an optional excursion) followed by a 'jungle breakfast' and a jeep safari with an English speaking naturalist. Lunch is taken at the lodge followed by an afternoon jeep safari back in the park.

After breakfast, take a nature walk on the banks of river Diphlu.

This evening a traditonal Bihu Dance Performance has been arranged


After breakfast, take a nature walk on the banks of river Diphlu.


This evening a traditonal Bihu Dance Performance has been arranged


You will be staying at Diphlu River Lodge

Day 10

The transfer time is approximately four hours to reach Guwahati today

Fly Kaziranga National Park to Kolkata


Evening Boat Cruise
This evening a private boat will be organised for a dinner cruise on the Hooghly River.

Travelling to Kolkata is considered by many to be discovering the country’s cultural hub. Spend a little time here and gain insight into how 14 plus million people live together. The former capital of the Raj, Calcutta still retains much of its dramatic colonial architecture. Its legacy lives on in the imperious Victoria Memorial in the heart of the city, today home to an impressive collection, and the churces of St John and St Andrew. Stroll through the early morning flower markets, past the bookshops on College Street, and watch the world come to life in the institutional coffee shops. Whilst in the city sample the Bengali cuisine. The city is on the bank of the Hoogly River, and for an excellent view of the Howrah Bridge take a ferry upstream armed with a pocket full of sweets - the local delicacy.


You will be staying at Oberoi Grand

Day 11

Lee Durrell has invited a selection of speakers to speak to the group today whilst in Kolkata


Farewell Dinner at Aaheli
This evening as a farewell with the group, a traditional Bengali dinner has been organised at the highly acclaimed Aaheli restaurant. Located inside the Peerless Inn , the food is french influences dishes from Bengal served as a typical Thali. Bid farewell to Lee and Colin this evening. They will be departing early in the morning for further travels through India.


You will be staying at Oberoi Grand

Day 12

Time at Leisure this morning before midday check out


Check out from the Oberoi Grand at midday. Lunch at own arrangements before taking a walking tour.


Half Day 'Cultural Kolkata' Tour
Focus on the confluence of cultures that Kolkata showcases, on a walk led by a long time resident of the city. Begin in the area known as Bow Barracks, home of the Anglo Indian community and end at Burra Bazaar, along the way introduction you to the Chinese, Armenian, Jewish and Portuguese influences. Walk through narrow alleyways teeming with people and colour, and come across unexpected sites such as a police station decorated with replicas of Picasso, a blackboard that serves as the Facebook page for the Anglo Indian community, Chinese breakfast being served from street carts - a long time Kolkata tradition. There are many sights which are quintessential 'Kolkata', and this walk introduces you to a city usually only seen by locals. As part of the walk your guide will also introduce you to some of the best street food and the famous Bengali sweets.

Fly Kolkata to Delhi


Freshen Up at Airport Hotel
Transfer to a nearby airport hotel for a short briefing and a chance to freshen up, before catching the connecting flight.

Day 13

There will be pre arranged use of Delhi VIP lounge this evening

Day 14

Fly Delhi to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Oberoi Grand

Oberoi Grand

The Oberoi Grand, fondly referred as the 'Grande Dame of Chowringhee' offers the ultimate classical residence in the City of Joy....

View Accommodation

Diphlu River Lodge

Diphlu River Lodge

Nestled on the banks of the Diphlu River, environmentally friendly Diphlu River Lodge is our first-choice when visiting Kaziranga National Park....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Host

Lee Durrell

Lee Durrell
Lee is Honorary Director of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, taking on the mantle when her husband, Gerald Durrell, passed away. She gained a PhD in zoology from Duke University in the US with a dissertation on animal vocalisations in Madagascar, where she lived for two years in the early 1970s. She married Gerald in 1979 and worked with him on books and television series about nature and conservation over the next decade. Lee established and ran the Trust’s conservation programme in Madagascar from 1983 to 2001, the first project being for the recovery of the critically endangered ploughshare tortoise, earning her the nickname ‘Grandmother of the Tortoise’ in Madagascar. In 2000 she acquired her first light aeroplane and flew animals to and from their breeding programmes in Jersey and various British and European zoos for the next ten years. In 2011 she was awarded the MBE for services to conservation.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 12

Tour Expert:

Lee Durrell

Departure Date (S):

  • 2nd April 2017

The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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