India's Mega Wildlife
In spite of population pressure, India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and hosts three of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. It is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian, 6.2% of reptilian creatures. India’s forests harbor 80 % of the world’s one-horned rhinoceros, 60% of the world’s wild tiger & 50% of Asian elephant, population. This incredibly rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in its 89 national parks, 18 Bio-reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country.
Themes for our journeys
I am a part time teacher and a full time birder. My good old birding buddy Chris Mills recommended me Rural Traveller about twelve years ago and ever since then I let them handle all my ground arrangements. I have travelled with them to Eaglenest in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Uttarakhand.
My recent one was to Desert National Park in Rajasthan. They did a wonderful job suggesting a good itinerary at short notice – with some advice and suggestions from me – and sorting out all the hotel bookings and travel arrangements. All the accommodation they selected was good (or better). Transfers comprised a mixture of train journeys, including one overnight, and road trips by car; surprisingly (given the very neglected infrastructure in places) everything went smoothly with fairly minimal delays (by Indian standards). Train journeys were very comfortable, including the overnight one and most road trips weren’t too bad at all; away from the Delhi–Ramnagar route the traffic was bearable or better. The trip culminated in a three night stay at Vanghat, a lodge in the Corbett Buffer Zone owned and run by Rural Traveller directly and was a real highlight of the trip.
Oscar and Gilly Campbell
Craigavon | United Kingdom
Rural Traveller has been guiding me in India for the last 18 years. When I first met them in 2004, they gave me the greatest gift of all; a trip through Corbett National Park on elephant back. Just me and an elephant, with 3 Mahouts, 3 Housekeepers, 2 Guides and a back-up Jeep Driver! We stayed in three different camps throughout the forest, and it was a trip I will never forget. Due to elephant welfare rules, these trips are no longer allowed, and quite rightly so, but I was very privileged to have been on this tour.
I stayed at Vanghat with Rural Traveller, which is an amazing camp, in a pristine area in the buffer zone of Corbett NP on the Ramganga River. The guided walks were packed with wildlife, guided by very knowledgeable Guides, and the staff in camp provided wonderful food and always made you comfortable.
My last trip with Rural Traveller through central India, taking in Tadoba, Pench and Kanha National Parks was the most amazing trip. So many Tiger sightings we lost count, and to see the rare Dhole (Indian wild dogs) in Pench was breathtaking. These trips are the stuff that dreams are made of and Rural Traveller have given me memories that will last forever.
Tamzin Elizabeth Balmer
London | Great Britain
Avec ma femme, nous avons eu l’occasion d’utiliser les services de Rural Traveller à plusieurs reprises, en particulier pour photographier la vie sauvage en Inde. Satisfaits des prestations, nous avons eu recours à cette compagnie et son directeur, Mr. Sumantha Ghosh pour visiter l’ouest du Bhoutan en octobre 2018. Durant notre périple de deux semaines, nous avons circulé en minibus avec un chauffeur expérimenté et un guide compétent, tous deux ponctuels. Ils nous ont fait découvrir les fabuleux paysagesde ce pays, ses principaux monastères et bâtiments historiques. Le guide, qui n’était pas avare d’explications, nous a accompagné durant toutes les visites ainsi que pour le shopping. Nous avons assisté à plusieurs tshechus (festivals), découvert la cuisine Bhoutanaise ainsi que les principaux arts du pays. L’hébergement et la nourriture se sont révélés être d’une qualité tout a fait correcte, même au fin fond du pays.
Nous avons été pris en charge chaleureusement dès notre sortie d’avion et avons conservé le même chauffeur et le même guide durant tout notre séjour. Tout a été parfaitement orgnanisé par Rural Traveller sans aucune fausse note. Aussi, nous recommandons vivement d’utiliser Rural Traveller pour explorer le Bhoutan.
Pascal & Beatrice Christel
Epernay | France
My husband and I are very keen birdwatchers and widely travelled in India since 1970s. We were very impressed by Vanghat: beautiful, remote, tranquil and wild location by the Ramganga R. Wonderful birding - 100 species in four days. Very knowledgeable and very helpful nature guides. Attractive and comfortable accommodation in thatched cottages. All staff most helpful. Excellent food. Model of sustainable tourism. Feeding station outside the dining area attracted 10 and more bird species every day so always something to see. Plenty of opportunities for walks in the surrounding good forest. The river is very special as unpolluted and full of fish supporting many fish-eating birds: a pair of resident Lesser Fish Eagles, regular sightings of Pallas's Fish Eagle, Tawny Fish and Brown Fish Owls, Crested Kingfisher common.
February 2023 will be my third visit with Sumantha.
Carol Inskipp & Tim Inskipp
Durham | United Kingdom
La visita al Parco Nazionale di Kaziranga nel 2017 organizzata dal team Rural Traveller è stato uno dei miei safari più memorabili, difficile da descrivere in poche parole, sia dal punto di vista naturalistico che umano. Grazie alle grandi dimensioni del parco, alle scelte direzionali e alla cultura locale, le popolazioni locali e la fauna a rischio convivono integrate nello stesso territorio. Il livello di integrazione tra specie animali rare e protette - tra cui il rinoceronte indiano, la tigre del Bengala, il bufalo selvatico, il gibbone hoolock - e l'uomo è esemplare. In questo senso, considero unica l'esperienza naturalistica a Kaziranga, anche rispetto alle riserve naturali di altri continenti che ho visitato, dove per scelta uomo e fauna sono stati separati. Dal punto di vista umano, la visita non è da meno. La nostra guida ci invita inaspettatamente a celebrare il capodanno (locale) a casa della sua famiglia. All'ingresso della casa fatta di bambù e fango, pulitissima, incontriamo la nonna sdraiata, che tra pochi giorni sarebbe morta. Gli ospiti le mostrano rispetto, anche se la nonna fa fatica a interagire. La festa inizia con i vicini e le autorità locali che cantano e ballano insieme con semplicità e gioia di vivere.
Kaziranga mi ha messo di fronte a una combinazione così ovvia ma potente di 4 dimensioni che sono spesso rappresentate separatamente: esseri umani, fauna in via di estinzione, vita e morte. Incredibile India
Bogliasco | Italy
में नैनीताल का निवासी हूँ। मुख्य रूप से मेरी रूचि पक्षियों की छायाकारी एवं बोली रिकार्डिंग में है । मेरी यह अभिरूचि मुझे अनेकोनेक पक्षी अभ्यारण्यों एवं वन्यजीव बहुल क्षेत्रों में यात्रा का अवसर प्रदान करवाती है, जिनमे से कई क्षेत्र ऐसे जीवों का आश्रय स्थल भी हैं जो विलुप्त होने के कगार पर हैं ! सन २००९ से, हाई एल्टीट्यूड के पशु - पक्षियों के लिए मैंने हिमालयी क्षेत्रों में उत्तराखंड के चोपता, लैसर फ्लोरिकन के उत्तम दर्शन के लिए सोंखालिया राजस्थान, अमूर फाल्कन के प्रवासन के अमूल्य दर्शन के लिए पांगती नागालैंड, एवं अनेकों नदी तट निवासी पक्षी प्रजातियों के लिए माँ गंगा से लगे हैदरपुर के वेट लैंड्स का भ्रमण किया है। रूरल ट्रैवलर के सुमंत घोष के सानिध्य एवं पथ प्रदर्शन के लिए मैं सदैव उत्साहित हूँ.
Kalyan Singh Sajwan
Nainital | India
I have visited India over twelve times now during the last 20 years. During the last decade, I have travelled to North India, Central India and Southern India, mainly with organised parties that I run from the UK.
Throughout these tours I have always used the reliable services of Sumantha Ghosh and his company, Rural Traveller. They’ve always been trustworthy, dependable and provided excellent drivers, guides, logistics and itineraries.
The centrepiece of their business is an amazing lodge based in the buffer zone of Corbett Park, Vanghat. I have watched this Lodge develop into a small wonderful reserve, the 7 bungalows almost invisible as they blend into their environment. Simple, beautiful, comfortable in a totally unspoilt landscape, with great food. Vanghat embodies the principles of their business, the heart of their motivation is for people to enjoy, preserve and protect the wildlife.
I recommend anyone considering a visit to India to be in contact with Ghosh and Rural Traveller, you will be so pleased you did!
Christopher Harrington Mills
Nottingham | United Kingdom
Conservation & Social Responsibility
Give something small if not big for conservation - INR 100 per person per night is donated to a handful of grassroots local organizations. Some of the organizations that we support are:
U.S.R. Indu Samiti (http://usrindusamiti.org/) The Samiti has been working for imparting education to the Special Needs Children of Uttarakhand for the last 22 years. Most of the special needs children are from very poor financial backgrounds families. At present, there are about 50 Boys and 50 Girls with Intellectual and Hearing impairment, Multiple Disabled & Physically Challenged studying on the School campus with residential facilities and getting formal education as well as skill development courses. The School, Hostel, Skill Development Training Centre, and other activities run for imparting education and empowering the Special Needs Children on USR Campus are being run mostly with the help of donations.
Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust (http://snowleopardindia.org/) promotes innovative conservation measures at the grassroots that lead local people to become better stewards of the iconic snow leopard, its prey, and its habitat. It is one of the most successful conservation organizations in the Himalayas, run by a team of energetic Ladakhi youth. SLC-IT designs and implements nature conservation programs that are economically viable, ecologically sustainable, and socially responsible. SLC-IT believes that conservation goals cannot be achieved without involving local communities in the decision-making, planning, and implementation of conservation programs. Therefore, it works closely with communities that share resources with the snow leopard and other wildlife. This approach has led to a paradigm shift in wildlife conservation in Ladakh over the years.
Waste Warriors (https://wastewarriors.org/) mission is to enable communities in urban, rural, and eco-sensitive areas to have integrated solid waste management (SWM) systems. We develop SWM models that aim to be affordable and sustainable as well as being replicated to mitigate the impact of waste pollution on the environment. In addition, an increase in tourism poses a bigger challenge of mismanaged and littered plastic waste, which eventually ends up in landfills, river streams, and habitats of wild animals. We, therefore, focus on behavioral change in communities through their participation in waste awareness, segregation, collection, and responsible disposal. Consequently, we improve working conditions for waste workers and take positive steps towards integrating the unorganized waste sector into the formal SWM industry whilst reducing the stigma attached to waste. This mission inspires us to engage, educate, and empower communities, especially in the Corbett Tiger Reserve and Govind Wildlife Sanctuary to help clean up these important wildlife habitats in the Himalayan ecosystem.
Elephant Plough, Village Gabua Khass,
Uttarakhand 244715, India
Contact Number: +91 9719243939 | +91 9761166777