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A PASSAGE INTO HISTORY: ADVENTURE RIVER GANGES KOLKATA TO FARAKKA 8-17 JANUARY 2025

A world away from the more well-trodden roads of India, the eastern corner remains untouched by mass tourism.

After the success of the three Ibex Expeditions Limited Edition River Cruise journeys on the
Brahmaputra and Ganges, curated by Anita & Mandip Soin in 2021, 2022, and 2024 we now bring
the classic and historic river cruise on the Ganges beginning and ending at the eclectic Hotel Park
in Kolkata.

This is a fascinating exploration of Bengal with the journey ending with a quintessential
Indian local train experience from Farakka to Kolkata after spending 7 nights on the private

22-cabin luxury boat – The Rajmahal.

The seven-day cruise from 8-17 January 2025, delves into the history book of Medieval India, which
was under the Hindus in the 12th and under Mughals as the Eastern India capital from the 14th to
the 16th centuries.

The Rajmahal boat

Kolkata was founded on the banks of the river in 1690 as a British trading outpost of the Mughal
Empire and a hub of Bengali literature, music, and philosophy.
This progressive, wealthy, and cultured land drew people from all over the world – the
Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, and French all settled on the banks of the Hooghly, and Islam,
Hinduism, Jainism, and Christianity all flourished here.
The history of this province leaves a legacy of magnificent temples, buildings, and parks. The
journey offers a vision of the rich history and culture of the great province of Bengal.

The ‘Historic Hooghly’ cruises are in Boutique cruising style

KOLKATA TO FARAKKA

The cruise starts in Kolkata and takes in Murshidabad, capital of the Nawabs of
Bengal, and the monuments of the mediaeval Islamic capital of Gaur. From silk-
weaving villages to a hamlet known for its brass-making artisans, this region
offers a glimpse into a traditional way of life through riverside village walks and
e-rickshaw rides.
This boutique cruise ship is comfortable, contemporary, and celebratory of
Assam and Bengal’s rich regional heritage. Designed to reflect a sense of
homecoming to the region: the unique objects’ d’art and handicrafts aboard the
ships have been carefully collected and curated over the years, and the locally
made furniture and textiles are a product of traditional artisanship and modern
design intervention.
The boutique ship was designed to be distinct in its style, with interesting stories
that accompany each ship’s décor

UPSTREAM
KOLKATA TO FARAKKA

08 January Arrival Kolkata
Met on arrival and transfer to Hotel Oberoi Grand, Kolkata. Please take flights to arrive by or
before 4 pm at the Hotel and transfer from the airport to the hotel on your
own.

By 6 pm, we will reach the Glenburn Penthouse for a curated dinner and a talk by a specialist in
Kolkata. After dinner, we can take cabs back to the Oberoi Hotel.

Hotel Oberoi Grand, Kolkata

The Glenburn Penthouse Kolkata

09 January Kolkata – board Rajmahal

By 6 pm, we will reach the Glenburn Penthouse for a curated dinner and a talk by a specialist in
Kolkata. After dinner, we can take cabs back to the Oberoi Hotel.

You will get onto land and walk through the cantonment –past the Semaphore Tower, Government
House, the Temple of Fame, and Flagstaff House – to better understand India’s journey to
independence. Sail up to Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950.

The Temple of Flame
The Rajmahal boat against the Iskcon temple in the backdrop

10 January Rajmahal

Visit an 18th-century church and Dupleix Palace, once the residence of the erstwhile Governor-
General of French India. Sail upstream past the old Dutch settlement of Chinsura before landing
to visit the imposing Imambara at Hooghly.

With verses from the Koran written on its walls, the Imambara is an opportunity to step back in
time and relive a slice of Islamic history in Bengal. Sail into the night to a mooring near Kalna.

The Imambara
Top of Imambara
Sacred Heart Church

11 January Rajmahal

After breakfast, land at the country town of Kalna and take rickshaws to see a group of some of
Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples including a unique Shiva temple with concentric rings
made up of 108 shrinelets.

Temples with 108 shrinelets

You will also visit a muslin-weaving centre before continuing through the countryside to Mayapur
to visit the vast new ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple which
dominates the skyline.

Iskcon Temple at Mayapur

As the headquarters of ISKCON, or the Hare Krishna movement, the temple receives over a
million singing and dancing devotees a year from around the world. Sail on through the night to a
mooring near Matiari.

Iskcon temple

12 January Rajmahal

As the headquarters of ISKCON, or the Hare Krishna movement, the temple receives over a
million singing and dancing devotees a year from around the world. Sail on through the night to a
mooring near Matiari.

Brass work of Matiari

You then cruise on and visit the battlefield of Plassey where, in 1757, Robert Clive, the
Commander-in-Chief of British India, defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab of
Bengal, to change the course of Indian history. Moor close to Khushbagh for the night.

Inside the Rajmahal

13 January Rajmahal

This morning, you will walk to Khushbagh, a peaceful Mughal style. A garden that encloses the
tombs of Siraj-ud-Daulah and his family. Continue upstream to where the great Hazarduari Palace dominates the waterfront. Built by an English architect in 1837, the palace has an album of
pictures, China, weapons, and other objects.

Hazarduari Palace

Continue visiting the great Katra Mosque before driving to see the Katgola Palace. Built-in
classical Georgian style by rich local merchants, Katgola Palace represents the other side of the
coin of the ‘White Mughal’ period when English and Indian cultures came close to fusion. Moor
overnight on the riverbank across from the town at Baranagar.

Katgola Palace
Cabin inside Rajmahal

14 January Rajmahal

This morning you will walk through the fields of the delightfully sleepy village of Baranagar to
visit its three gorgeous miniature terracotta temples. This is rural India at its most idyllic. Continue
up the lower Ganges (or the Hooghly), that transforms into a picturesque waterway, twisting and
turning between banks lined with mustard fields and mango orchards. Carry on up a long canal
section to a mooring close to the Farakka Barrage.

Terracotta temples

15 January Rajmahal

Disembark for a full-day excursion by road to Gaur, near the town of Malda or English Bazar. This
quiet, deserted place was once one of India’s great cities, first under the Hindus in the 12th
century, then as the Muslim capital of Eastern India from the 14th to the 16th century. We visit the
plentiful remains of mosques, palaces, and gateways before rejoining the ship in the evening.

Gaur
Adina Mosque
Lokuchuri Darwaza

16 January Rajmahal boat – Train to Kolkata

After an early breakfast, you will transfer and be escorted to Farakka Railway station from the
boat, in the morning by 9 am, for a 4-hr. train (Shatabdi) journey to Kolkata. Our representatives
will meet you on arrival and will escort you to the Oberoi Hotel in Kolkata.

17 January Kolkata – Departure

Friday After breakfast, all guests will be free to depart for the airport on your own time. Breakfast
included.
This itinerary, including cruise and approximate durations, are subject to river and weather conditions.

Facts about the boat Rajmahal

  • ABN Rajmahal is a 50m long and powered by 3 engines; her extra-shallow draught and a lower profile than conventional designs allow her to cruise further upstream.
  • Rajmahal has 22 cabins: 14 spacious twin/double cabins on the upper deck; 4 standard twin/double cabins on the main deck; and 4 single cabins on the main deck. (This will be allocated on bookings based on first come basis).
  • All cabins have en suites with W.C., French balconies, a writing desk and chair, mini-fridge, individual climate control, and storage space.
  • The décor is stylish and fresh with touches of colonial elegance, brought to life by traditional Indian-inspired designs on hand- blocked cotton fabrics. All cabins on ABN Rajmahal have French balconies.
  • There is a comfortable saloon and bar, dining room and a vast canopied sundeck. A small spa onboard offers a wide range of treatments. All cabins and public rooms are air-conditioned.
  • Food on board is a mixture of Assamese (milder than most Indian cuisine) and Continental cuisines.
  • Wine, beer, and spirits are available.
  • Cabin numbers will be allocated in advance as bookings come in and confirmed with guests.

ONBOARD FEATURES

  1. Spacious cabins with individual climate control.
  2. En suite shower/WC with toiletries.
  3. Generous cupboard space and under-bed storage.
  4. Hair drier in each cabin.
  5. Minibar in each cabin.
  6. In-room electronic safe.
  7. Tea/coffee making facilities in cabins.
  8. Intercommunication telephone in cabins.
  9. Quality bathrobes and slippers in cabins.
  10. Large sliding glass windows offering panoramic views of the river.
  11. Vast sundeck both open and shaded, with sun loungers or steamer chairs.
  12. Spacious air-conditioned saloon with library and recorded entertainment.
  13. Spa with choice of treatments.

FOR ITINERARY AND MORE DETAILS

Email Ibex Expeditions for details  @ibex@ibexexpeditions.com

SPRINGTIME IN SVALBARD ARCTIC EXPEDITION CRUISE 11 – 20 MAY 2025

Journey Leader: Himraj Soin

THE EXPEDITION CRUISE

Our 51-member Arctic 2023 expedition cruise returned after a successful trip in May, accompanied by Mandip Singh Soin and Himraj Soin. Our 2024 journey was led by Himraj Soin.


The team braved the sub-zero temperatures and sailed along the western fjords of Svalbard, reaching 79.65 degrees North and mailed postcards from the world’s northernmost settlement at Ny Ålesund.

In the realm of the midnight sun, through sparkling ice formations, snowcovered mountains, fjord ice, they made their way in sturdy zodiac boats, dressed in polar suits, and had multiple sightings of polar bears, Arctic fox, reindeer, king eider ducks, puffins, rock ptarmigan, minke whales, ringed seals, and walruses.

They watched the archipelago come to life as they weaved through ice flows and glaciers that were calving, due to global warming.

The group was international, and the cuisine catered to all types of nonvegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans.

The polar bear is a threatened species due to the loss of sea ice habitat, climate change and trophy hunting in certain countries. The Ibex Expeditions Arctic team is joining us to launch an awareness campaign to ‘Save the Polar Bear’ with conservation organizations and every member of the expedition has pledged to be an advocate for this campaign.

We expect to have a similar immersive experience with the 2025 participants and the participants will pledge to join this initiative.

High points:
▪ Experience the Arctic Spring and stunning winter landscapes.
magical midnight sun with 24 hours of daylight!
▪ Visit the 3 historic polar/adventure museums in Oslo—the Fram, Viking, and Kon Tiki—on May 11, 2025 afternoon.

▪ Welcome dinner in Oslo on May 11, 2025.
▪ Best time for Polar bear and King Eider sightings.
▪ Expedition cruising in a small expedition vessel with 50 passengers
▪ Experienced naturalist outdoor guides.
▪ Daily zodiac rides
▪ Lectures and knowledge sharing in this region
▪ Possibility of short hikes or snowshoeing.
▪ Polar plunge into the icy waters (optional but fun).
▪ Possible landing or visit to the northernmost settlement in the world
▪ Doctor on board
▪ The trip is 100% climate-compensated.

Length: 9 days—1 night in Oslo (11th May 2025), 1 night in Longyearbyen (12th May 2025), and 7 nights on the ship (13th–20th May 2025).


Himraj Soin—Journey Leader
Himraj is Co-Founder and Producer at The Outdoor Journal and leads journeys for Ibex Expeditions.

He writes and shoots for international travel destinations, conservation issues, extreme adventure sports, athletes, gear, and more. His work has been published in Vogue, National Geographic Traveller India, Reader’s Digest UK, and Conde Nast Traveller.

An avid skier and climber, his expeditions have taken him to Bhutan, Tibet, Mongolia, Borneo, Madagascar, Peru, Morocco, Namibia, Argentina, Chile, Siberia, New Zealand, Tanzania, the Arctic, and Antarctica.

He was a team member on the International Antarctic Expedition, studying climate change and sustainability. Himraj is also a National Geographic Student Expedition Leader.

ITINERARY
In our climate-compensated small ship, with our sturdy Zodiacs, we explore this winter wonderland, heading for Svalbard’s most magnificent fjords, and we try to make landings wherever the ice and snow allow us.

The Arctic is the most unusual region on our planet, and is called enigmatic and mysterious, because this region hides miracles. The Arctic has a unique nature- the giant expanses of ice and snow, and huge icebergs of the most incredible and bizarre forms, drifting in the Arctic seas.

May 11 Arrival Oslo
Sunday (Approximate temperature expected: 11 Degrees Celsius high and 3 degrees Celsius low.)

After your arrival in Oslo, transfer on your own to a hotel. By 2 pm, we will be picked up by a bus and taken to the three Museums that reflect the polar and seafaring history of the Norwegians at the Fram & the Viking and the spirit of adventure at the Kon Tiki museums.

This evening at 1900 hrs., there will be a sit-down 3-course dinner amidst Jazz at the Ekspedisjonshallen at the Sommerro House.

Hotel Sommerro House, Oslo

May 12: Oslo-Longyearbyen, Svalbard, by morning flight
Monday (Approximate temperature: minus 8 degrees Celsius high and minus 6 degrees Celsius low)

We depart for Oslo Gardermoen airport for the flight to Longyearbyen in the morning after breakfast.

A Polar Quest representative will meet the group on arrival in Longyearbyen and transfer everyone to the Radisson Blu hotel for check-in. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Waterproof boots can be hired today from the renting agency.

For dinner, everyone is on their own, and you can eat at the hotel or book either of the two local restaurants recommended, which even serve reindeer steaks and salmon, of course.

Hotel: Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, Road 229-3, 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway

Longyearbyen homes
Hotel Radisson Blu Polar

May 13, Longyearbyen: transfer to the Polar Quest ship
Tuesday (Temperatures expected from minus 10 degrees Celsius low to 0 degrees Celsius high.)

0700–1000 hours: Breakfast is at the hotel’s Radisson Blu restaurant.

1100 hours: Check out from the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel.

We will visit the Svalbard Museum, which collects, preserves, disseminates, and conducts research related to culture and natural history, the environment, and cultural heritage. In 1981, the museum was opened to the public for the first time.

1300 hours: We return to the hotel Radisson Blu Polar for lunch at the Restaurant Nansen, which serves Nordic fusion concept meals.

After lunch, we proceed in a bus to the pier in expedition gear to board the Zodiacs and embark on the ship.

Polar Quest ship anchored at Longyearbyen.

TEMPERATURE INSIDE THE SHIP
Approximately 22 degrees Celsius (71 degrees Fahrenheit).

Cabin category

Triple cabins
, upper and lower beds
[306, 312]

Twin cabin, 2 twin beds
[303, 305, 307, 309, 311, 315, 314, 316, 318, 321, 323, 325, 327]

Twin cabin plus 2 twin beds
[302, 304]

Double cabin, double bed
[320, 329]

Double cabin superior Large double bed
[301, 317, 319, 402]

Owner’s cabin, large double bed
[401]

Owner’s Cabin
Double cabin Superior
Double cabin
Twin Cabin
Triple cabin

Inclusions
1 night in an Oslo hotel on May 11, 2025, on a room-sharing basis as per cabin configuration at Sommerro House. Museum visit in coach with entrance fees on May 11, 2025.

Welcome Dinner on 11th May at Sommerro House.

Breakfast on May 12 at Sommerro House.

One airport transfer in Oslo from the hotel to the airport on May 12, 2025, in one coach.

1 night in the Radisson Blue Polar hotel in Longyearbyen as per ship cabin configuration on May 12th, without lunch or Dinner.

Breakfast and Lunch on May 13 at Longyearbyen at Radisson Blu Polar

A guided visit to the Svalbard Museum on May 13 in the afternoon.

7 nights on board M/S Quest, 13th–20th May 2025, with all meals starting with dinner on the 13th and ending with breakfast on the 20th.

Welcome dinner on the 13th on board the ship.

Coffee (cappuccino/espresso), tea, and hot chocolate are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An experienced Expedition leader and five knowledgeable guides. All Zodiac excursions and activities from the ship.

Comprehensive information material and consultation with Ibex before the expedition cruise
an Insulated wind and waterproof one-piece polar suit for the duration of the cruise.

The cruise journey is climate-compensated.

Flights to/from Longyearbyen on May 12 and 20, 2025 (quoted above but subject to change)

Himraj Soin, an experienced adventure expert from Ibex Expeditions, provides overall coordination, gear, and safety advice.

Coordination by Ibex Expeditions P. Ltd.

Exclusions
International air tickets.
Schengen tourist visa.
Travel cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
Arrival transfer in Oslo to the hotel on May 15 or earlier.
Additional hotel nights in Oslo prior to May 15.
Personal expenses such as bar and shop charges.
Customary gratuity to the ship’s guides and crew.
Personal expenses such as bar and shop charges.
Meals are not included in Oslo except the welcome dinner on May 15 and breakfast on May 16.
Boots hiring charges.
Satellite phone charges on board the ship.
Lunch and Dinner on May 16th en route and in Longyearbyen.
Phone cards that can be bought on board.
All personal gear and equipment.
Waterproof knee-high boots hiring charges.

Any services after arrival in Oslo airport from the return flight from Longyearbyen on May 24.

PLEASE NOTE: Do let Ibex Expeditions know of any medical conditions, allergies, and food
preferences.

Dining room
Zodiacs

11–20 May: Today, we head out through Isfjorden on our Arctic adventure.
Sunday-Tuesday

These are places we may visit, depending on the weather and the route.

For the next week, this is the time flow for each day (approximately, as it will depend on the weather, snow and ice conditions, and wildlife spotting).

As we are travelling in mid-May, when the Arctic winter landscape is stunning with a high chance of Polar bear sightings, it may happen due to snow conditions that some days we may not have landings and it will be Zodiac-based excursions.

0800–0845 hours Breakfast
0900 hours Depart from the ship. 0900–1130/1200 hrs. Zodiac excursion.
1230 hours Lunch on board.
1430–1630 or 1700 hrs. Zodiac excursion.
1845 hours Recap/lecture on board.
1930 hours Dinner

The 2025 Svalbard expedition and cruise will go along the Western fjords.
Zodiac experience

Alkhornet
At the entrance of Isfjorden is the characteristic cliff, Alkhornet. Enjoy the beautiful tundra and its birdlife with barnacle geese, Brünnich’s guillemots, glaucous gulls, snow buntings, and tens of thousands of kittiwakes. Arctic foxes are seen in the rock crevices around the mountain.

Arctic Fox

Prins Karls Forland
This narrow strip of land is covered by a magnificent snow-covered mountain chain. The island is also home to seabirds and harbour seals.

Ptarmigan

Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden
The scientific village of Ny-lesund is situated in Kongsfjorden. It was from here that Amundsen and Nobile started their heroic expeditions to the North Pole. In the nearby Krossfjorden, we revel in the beautifully sculptured front of the 14th of July Glacier to the raucous greeting of the considerable number of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nesting on the nearby cliffs.

King Eider

Raudfjorden
Raudfjorden is an area of immense natural beauty, dominated by beautiful glaciers. It is also a favourite spot for seals, and the bird cliffs are bursting with activity.

Arctic landscape

Virgohamna, Danskøya
Two of the most courageous attempts to reach the North Pole started on the island of Danskya. Swedish explorer Andrée tried with a hydrogen balloon, and American journalist Wellman started with an airship. There are still interesting remnants from these Arctic expeditions left on this site.

POLAR PLUNGE

The Polar Plunge is a fearsome rite of passage for visitors to the Arctic. All participants wear tethered harnesses and plunge into the icy polar waters from the gangplank, cheered on by fellow passengers.

Those wishing to undertake this iconic polar activity, which entails jumping into the icy waters under supervision from the ship on a designated ‘good weather ’ day, You must bring swimwear and courage!

Walrus
King Eiders in flight

Bellsund
At the beautiful Vrsolbukta in Bellsund, little auks’ nest by the tens of thousands. We go ashore and walk across the tundra to take a closer look at these charming birds.


Hornsund
The majestic Hornsund consists of magnificent fjords along the west coast of Spitsbergen, where enormous glaciers calve out shimmering blue ice. This is one of the favourite haunts for Svalbard’s polar bears, and if we’re lucky, we can spot one of them on the fjord ice.
Polar bear

Polar Bear

Snowshoeing
For the active, there is a chance to explore the areas we visit with snowshoes. This is an extra option that requires a proficient level of fitness. Please note that this activity is always dependent on weather, wind, and other safety precautions. The ship will have snowshoes to get into it.

By the 24th of May evening, our ship will return to the pier by late evening or night.

Please note: Our exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions, and wildlife. The places mentioned are just examples of the sites Svalbard has to offer. Polar Quest always strives to maximize our experience. Please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition!

May 24: Longyearbyen to Oslo

We will have an early breakfast at 0700 hours and between 0800 – 0830 hours, we will depart for the town by bus where all of us will be free to explore shops or cafes for last-minute souvenirs before leaving for the airport at around midday.

Our return flight to Oslo will be in the afternoon (TBD after 2024 flight schedules are announced) in a 2 hours 55 minutes nonstop flight duration.

A snack of sandwiches may be bought on the flight, but it is recommended to have this packed from a local café called Café Huskies.

ABOUT THE SHIP

The ship was built in Denmark in 1992 to serve as a ferry on Greenland’s west coast. In 2004/2005 and was refurbished into a comfortable expedition ship and in 2018 she underwent a renovation of the passenger areas. The ship takes 53 passengers, and all 26 cabins are outside cabins with private facilities.


The triple cabins have upper and lower berths. All other cabins have two lower berths or a double bed. In your cabin, you will find a desk with a chair and a cupboard for storage. The superior cabins are spacious and have armchairs and a TV. The owner’s cabin has a double bed, two large picture windows, a separate seating area and a TV.


In the dining room, we will enjoy delicious meals in between landings and in the panorama lounge, we will enjoy breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape. Here we will listen to entertaining talks on the area’s flora, fauna, and history. In the lounge, there is a bar and a small library.


The ship has spacious observation decks, where we enjoy the beautiful vistas. Passengers are welcome on the bridge around the clock and there is always something to see or search for. An international crew welcomes us onto the ship, and we have five Zodiacs and five guides on board.

Photo courtesy: Ajit Dayal, Mandip Singh Soin, Himraj Soin, Yasho Saboo, Philip Hammick, Rahul Verghese, Vivek Srivastava, Vide Brandt.

The magical midnight Sun.

The eternal sun, polar day – the midnight sun is known by many names.

Regardless of what you choose to call this natural phenomenon, it is a unique experience to visit Svalbard during the summer months when the days never end. Most people know about the midnight sun, but do you really know what causes the phenomenon?

In Svalbard, the sun does not set between mid-April and the end of August. During this period, the North Pole faces the sun and the further north you are from the Arctic Circle, the longer the midnight sun shines. The Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23°, which means that the sun does not

The magical midnight Sun.

The eternal sun, polar day – the midnight sun is known by many names.

Regardless of what you choose to call this natural phenomenon, it is a unique experience to visit Svalbard during the summer months when the days never end. Most people know about the midnight sun, but do you really know what causes the phenomenon?

In Svalbard, the sun does not set between mid-April and the end of August. During this period, the North Pole faces the sun and the further north you are from the Arctic Circle, the longer the midnight sun shines. The Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23°, which means that the sun does not

The magical midnight Sun.

The eternal sun, polar day – the midnight sun is known by many names.

Regardless of what you choose to call this natural phenomenon, it is a unique experience to visit Svalbard during the summer months when the days never end. Most people know about the midnight sun, but do you really know what causes the phenomenon?

In Svalbard, the sun does not set between mid-April and the end of August. During this period, the North Pole faces the sun and the further north you are from the Arctic Circle, the longer the midnight sun shines. The Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23°, which means that the sun does not

The magical midnight Sun.

The eternal sun, polar day – the midnight sun is known by many names.

Regardless of what you choose to call this natural phenomenon, it is a unique experience to visit Svalbard during the summer months when the days never end. Most people know about the midnight sun, but do you really know what causes the phenomenon?

In Svalbard, the sun does not set between mid-April and the end of August. During this period, the North Pole faces the sun and the further north you are from the Arctic Circle, the longer the midnight sun shines. The Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23°, which means that the sun does not disappear below the horizon if you are at high latitudes. In Svalbard, this means exposure to the sun around the clock. When the Earth’s axis tilts the other way during the winter months, everything north of the Arctic Circle is hidden from
the sun’s rays. You then talk about polar night or midwinter darkness.

The perfect light

Many who have experienced the midnight sun describe the phenomenon as a golden shimmer. This combined with the Arctic silence is something truly special to experience. The light from the midnight sun can be compared to the “golden hour”, the time just before or just after sunset, something that many photographers consider provides the perfect conditions. This also offers the perfect opportunity for capturing unforgettable photos!

Day and night flow together

It can be difficult to keep track of time when day and night flow together. The bright nights trigger us to stay up and enjoy everything that the dreamlike Arctic landscape has to offer. Many locals get an extra boost of energy during these months when the sun is constantly above the horizon and like to stay awake into the wee hours. As a visitor, it is important to use blackouts or eye masks to get the necessary sleep even though the magical light calls for attention!

TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY

The mean temperature is rising, and the glaciers are melting. Microplastics and chemicals are polluting our seas and the world needs to make an instant change. A journey through these spectacular wildernesses evokes feelings and creates memories for life. Help us to preserve it for generations to come!


Tourism holds a great responsibility when it comes to education and making observations and is one of the few businesses that gain from preserving the areas we visit. It is a necessity for our survival. We can observe both changes in the environment as well as other industries and how they act. We travel in small groups and strive to have minimal impact on the environment. Small expedition ships are the most sustainable way to explore the wildlife and nature of Svalbard.

Investing in the Environment
We cannot avoid emitting greenhouse gases and until renewable fuels are available, Polar Quest invests in projects with positive effects on nature, to be transparent with our emissions, and to do our best to reduce our emissions continuously. We have measured all our emissions from flights, overland transport, expedition cruises, meals, and hotel nights. The same philosophy is reflected by Ibex Expeditions in our journeys.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER GUIDELINES ~ www.rtsoi.org

The Responsible Tourism Society of India launched the Responsible Traveller guidelines which will be a National campaign by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme in India. We request all participants to support these guidelines.

SINGLE USE PLASTIC

One of the key points in our Responsible Traveller campaign is to carry your own steel insulated water bottle for the entire Ibex Expeditions Arctic journey.


As a responsible team, we do not use any single use plastic, the biggest destroyer of the planet. Please take a pledge to refill bottles at the Oslo and Longyearbyen hotels to minimize mineral water bottle plastic usage. We encourage all our team members to try, and carbon offset their international flights to Oslo and back.

We wish you an unforgettable journey to one of the planet’s greatest wilderness areas.

Springtime in Svalbard Artic Expedition featured on “The Straits Times, Singapore” organized by Ibex Expeditions.

FOR ITINERARY AND MORE DETAILS

Email Ibex Expeditions for details  @ibex@ibexexpeditions.com

REFLECTIONS OF A RIVER -THE BRAHMAPUTRA 28 November – 7 December 2024

Ibex Expeditions has completed two cruises on the Brahmaputra in 2021 and 2022. The first thing that strikes us is the startling light with the river gleaming like a mirror in a cloudless sky. On the shoreline, the fishermen dip their nets into the water falling into a pool of light. Layers of cultural history give this journey a special contour where stillness has a virtue. On the shore, kingfishers flash by as we enjoy the British era style of the Charaidew.

The Brahmaputra is the third largest river in the world and the largest in India. It originates from the northern side of the Himalayas, in Burang County of Tibet and flows through the ranges before breaking through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam finally entering Bangladesh.

Through its journey it has different names – Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet, Jamuna in Bangladesh, and the Brahmaputra in Assam.

The Tsangpo flows into Arunachal Pradesh as the Siang on which we will raft.

28 November – 7 December 2024
A RIVER ISLAND CRUISE FROM SILGHAT TO DIBRUGARH

Highlights:

  • Hosted by Anita & Mandip Singh Soin.
  • Tea Garden tour in Balipara.
  • Bird watching.
  • Stay at the boutique Wild Mahseer Lodge, visit Mishing tribe and tree planting to make this journey Carbon Neutral.
  • Visit a biodiverse haven of the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark.
  • Wildlife viewing through float rafts on the Jia Bhoroli River.
  • A 7-night river cruise downstream on the Brahmaputra from Silghat to Neamati Ghat.
  • Explorer-style deluxe boat – the Charaidew II, varied cuisine and knowledgeable local guides with evening presentations, including a moonlit sandbank barbecue dinner.
  • Jeep safari in Kaziranga National Park – a world heritage site.
  • Visit Vishnath, known for its Ahom-period Shiva temple.
  • A jeep safari to Kaziranga’s little-visited Eastern Range, with grasslands favored by rhinos where we might also spot the rare Bengal Florican.
  • Visit Majuli Island, one of the largest islands in the world and see the potters and the traditional mask-making process by the local community.
  • Visit a monastery at Auniati with its eclectic museum.
  • Visit a monastery with an eclectic museum and a performance by the ‘dancing monks’ at Kamalabari monastery, Auniati.
  • Visit a tea estate in Jorhat.
  • Contribute to the Give Back to Nature programme of the WWF India.

ABN Charaidew II’s length is 44.50 m and breadth is 11.00 m, powered by 2 engines with an extra-shallow draught. We will have 18 cabins with 2 spacious deluxe cabins (350 sq. feet), 12 spacious twin/double cabins (240 sq. feet.) on the upper deck and 4 queen size bed (170 sq. feet) on the main deck. All standard cabins have French balconies, while the two deluxe cabins have a private balcony.


The decor reflects a sense of homecoming to Assam, with touches of colonial elegance, brought to life by traditional Assamese designs on hand-woven cotton fabrics. There is a comfortable saloon and bar, dining room, a big open sundeck, gym, and a small spa onboard which offers a wide range of treatments.

November 28 Delhi – Guwahati by UK 741 0940 – 1205 by road to Balipara

We will be received at Guwahati airport and transferred to Wild Mahseer, Balipara by Toyota Crysta cars. The road journey from Guwahati airport to Wild Mahseer is around 5 hours.

Wild Mahseer is a unique heritage stay for visitors to experience mindful tourism while living within the biodiverse haven of the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark.

Unravel the mystique of tea and history on our tea garden tour and let us tell we the story of how tea was introduced in India over “ChaiKiBaat” and a tea tasting session with our tea experts.

November 29 – Balipara (Friday)

Today, we will leave at 6 am for Nameri National Park, a bird watchers paradise, with photographers, ornithologists who have spent days in this forest studying behavior patterns of these birds.

At 9 am, we will go on a float raft trip on the Jia Bhoroli River and return via the Baligaon Green Village at 11 am. The Baligaon Mishing Village is Assam’s first certified green village.

Tree planting in and around the property.

Tea gardens walk 4:00 pm

November 30 Saturday Balipara – Silghat. Cruise begins.

The transport will pick us up from Wild Mahseer and take we to the starting point of the cruise, Silghat, a picturesque beach below jungle -covered hills and close to Kaziranga National Park. The drive from Balipara to Silghat is around one and half hours.

The Charaidew is one of the longest boats on the river.

The cabins have balconies and views of the passing river. We will do excursions to see historical, cultural, and natural wonders.


Queen


Deluxe


Twin/Double


Saloon/Bar

Temperatures: High 28 and low 14 Celsius

December 01 Sunday Boat – Kaziranga – Boat

After an early breakfast, we will be driven to Kaziranga’s Central Range for a morning jeep safari.

Covering an area of approximately 430 sq kms, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park is home to the world’s largest population of the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros as well as the Indian Wild Water Buffalo. It has also earned the distinction of having the highest density of Royal Bengal Tigers (one every five sq. km.), making this park an incredibly rich biodiversity hotspot. With its marshy swamps and thickets of elephant grass, the park supports large populations of Indian elephants, Indian bison, swamp deer, and Capped Langurs.

Kaziranga National Park frequently draws comparisons to the Serengeti in Africa due to the park’s abundance of wildlife and birds and is considered a birding paradise. Bird species found here include the Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Himalayan Griffon and more.

Returning to the ship, we will cruise upstream with Kaziranga National Park on the right bank to anchor for the night at Vishnath.

December 02 Monday Boat – Vishnath – Dhansiri Mukh – Boat

This morning we will visit Vishnath, known for its Ahom-period Shiva temple. Walk through the town before reboarding and setting off again, with Kaziranga still on the far bank. Keep an eye out for wild elephants and buffaloes which have been spotted, and once, memorably, a tiger.

A leisurely afternoon of cruising down the river offers a good chance of spotting the endangered Gangetic dolphin, as well as observing life in the bankside villages as we pass. Arrive in the evening at Dhansiri Mukh.

December 03 Tuesday Boat – Kaziranga – Boat

This morning, we will dock and take a jeep safari to Kaziranga’s little-visited Eastern Range, with grasslands favored by rhinos where we might also spot the rare Bengal Florican. Return to the boat and continue our cruise upstream.

December 04 Wednesday Boat 

Today brings another opportunity to watch life unfold on the riverbanks as we cruise upstream. The languid pace of life onboard the boat offers a rare opportunity to sit and watch the world slip by, chat with fellow guests, or catch up on our reading. We will have time to stretch our legs with a walk through a bankside village, gaining an insight into life in rural India.

December 05 Thursday Boat – Majuli Island – Boat

We will reach Majuli Island around breakfast time. One of the world’s largest river islands and a microcosm of Assamese culture, Majuli is much-photographed but little-visited. It is a stronghold of the peaceful religion of neo-Vaishnavism and the elegant island satras — for celibate monks, for families — highlight a unique way of life where the faithful live simply, offering worship through gayan-bayan (songs and musical instruments) and readings.

A microcosm of Assamese culture, Majuli represents rural idyll in Assam.

We will visit a monastery at Auniati with its eclectic museum, then attend a dance performance at Kamalabari monastery before cruising across to Neamati Ghat on the opposite bank. In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to visit a nearby village.

December 06 Friday Boat – Jorhat – Sibsagar – Boat

Today we will visit a tea estate in Jorhat and observe the journey from tea bush to cup. (Please note that the factory is inoperative between December and mid-March.) Later, we will be driven to Sibsagar, the one-time capital of the Ahom kings of Assam.

Shan by origin but converts to Hinduism, the Ahoms ruled Assam for 700 years until the 1820s. Their culture and architecture is a unique and intriguing amalgam of India and Southeast Asia. We will see temples with stupa-like profiles and palaces of distinctive form. The temple tank here is believed to be the world’s largest hand-excavated reservoir and quite the feat of engineering, as we will see. Return to our ship, which will have cruised up to Neamati Ghat, close to Jorhat.

December 07 SaturdaybDisembark from boat and drive to Dibrugarh airport for flight to Delhi by 6E 6604 departing at 1455 – 1830 hours.

This morning, we will be driven to Dibrugarh airport, a journey of around 4 ½ hours, passing through this typical colonial town and a major base for American flights over ‘The Hump’ to China in WWII.

This itinerary, including the cruise and approximate driving durations, is subject to river and weather conditions. Kaziranga National Park comprises low-lying grassland, which may not be visitable when the river is at or near flood level.

This journey is limited to 36 participants and Ibex Expeditions will have the Charaidew II as an exclusive chartered boat.

NOTE: Should the fuel costs rise by more than 10%, there will be a fuel surcharge.

CABINS: These will be allocated by Ibex Expeditions.

Inclusions:

  • Hosted by Anita & Mandip Soin
  • All transport as in itinerary from Guwahati to Balipara to Silghat and back from Neamati Ghat to Dibrugarh airport.
  • 7 nights on Charaidew II boat on full board basis.
  • Shore excursions include all admission.
  • An in-house guide and naturalist during excursions and onboard
  • Turndown service in all cabins.
  • Expertly trained culinary staff.
  • Indian and Western cuisines.
  • Wide choice of wines, spirits, and beer available. (For purchase)
  • Complimentary Tea and coffee through the day.
  • Dance & song performances.
  • 24/7 power backup.
  • Wi-Fi internet in the saloon, sundeck, dining hall (subject to network availability) during the day.
  • 2 nights on full board basis at Wild Mahseer lodge with all activities as mentioned.
  • Jeep safari in Kaziranga National Park.
  • Walking safari at Nameri National Park and forest reserve.
  • Guides and Naturalists.
  • Covid protocols by all ground partners will be met with.

Exclusions:

  • No services in Delhi. (Unless requested for at an additional charge)
  • Flight tickets international and domestic sectors.
  • Travel & Medical and evacuation insurance
  • Tips and gratuities for camp staff and rafting guides in Arunachal, Charaidew II boat crew, Wild Mahaseer lodge staff and vehicle drivers. (Plan for Rs 6000-7000 per person)
  • Personal medicines.
  • Covid pre trip tests and masks, sanitizers
  • Alcohol, beverages, laundry, Spa expenses and other personal expenses.

FOR ITINERARY AND MORE DETAILS

Email Ibex Expeditions for details  @ibex@ibexexpeditions.com

CASTAWAY ON THE BEAUTIFUL ANDAMAN ISLANDS 17-24 FEBRUARY 20244

Given the fragility of these islands, Ibex Expeditions has curated a journey with the idea of traveling with conscious travelers. India’s most remote state, the Andaman Islands is situated more than 1000km off the east coast in the middle of the Bay of Bengal.

Thickly covered by deep green tropical forests, the archipelago supports a profusion of wildlife, including extremely rare and endemic species of birds. The beaches and the pristine reefs that ring the islands are unique.

Filled with colorful fish and kaleidoscopic corals, the clear waters of the Andaman Sea feature the world’s richest and least spoilt marine reserves.

A Limited Edition Journey led by Himraj Soin

Situated on the ancient trade route between India and Myanmar, the Andaman was visited by the Navy of the English East India Company in 1789 and in 1872.

At Ibex, we have had an ongoing engagement with the Andaman Islands with the Founder Mandip Singh Soin first visiting these Islands in 1977 after securing a study grant from the Government, to study the tribes, do deep-sea fishing, and understand its geography.

In 2002 a significant international ecotourism expedition was led by Mandip, supported by the Government to re-evaluate how Tourism should be conducted in this fragile region. Ascents were made of the Barren Island volcano, the highest peak in Andamans – the Saddle Peak, visiting the Nicobar Islands.

We recommended that there be no Tourism in Nicobar until it is conducted well in the Andamans. It was important not to have high numbers of tourists but those with higher levels of eco-consciousness.

Our recommendations were accepted by the Ministry of Tourism, and with this backdrop, we thought of bringing in a journey that captures the main elements of responsible and immersive travel.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Stay at the pioneering eco-sensitive lodge of Andaman Islands – the Barefoot Lodge.
  • An interaction with The Andaman Nicobar Environment Team.
  • Visit Ross Island and see the earthquake ruins during World War II.
  • Visit Corbyn’s Cove Beach.
  • Visit the Cellular Jail & witness the Son et Lumiere in the jail.
  • Snorkeling at a shore reef fringing Havelock Island.
  • Kayaking through Mangrove Creeks.
  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
  • Motorboat excursion through Ritchie’s Archipelago & a Game Fishing experience.
  • Snorkeling at Turtle Beach Reef.
  • Forest Trek to Elephant Beach.
  • Bird watching / Walking & gentle Cycling.
  • Rock pooling to see octopus, clams, starfish, mudskippers, and sea cucumbers at Neil’s Cove.
  • Journey leader Himraj Soin.

FOR ITINERARY AND MORE DETAILS

Email Ibex Expeditions for details  @ibex@ibexexpeditions.com

The Ibex Expeditions Arctic expedition May 2023

OVERVIEW OF THE CRUISE


Experience an unforgettable Svalbard adventure with the small and comfortable expedition ship. In June, the midnight sun reigns supreme, the bird colonies are teeming with life and the peaks of the dramatic mountain ranges are beautifully snow-covered. The ice still keeps the islands in its grip and we can admire the ever-changing ice formations. Spring has arrived and summer is just around the corner. 

We stay one night at a hotel in Longyearbyen and then spend seven nights on board our expedition ship exploring the unique Arctic wilderness of Svalbard. We cruise along glistening glaciers, go ashore to enjoy the magnificent nature and keep a lookout for unique

wildlife such as walruses, seals and polar bears.

Highlights:

  • A true Arctic adventure
  • 1 night in Longyearbyen
  • 7 nights on the small expedition ship
  • Magical midnight sun
  • 5 * wildlife and nature experiences
  • 5 experienced guides
  • The trip is 100% climate compensated. 

Mandip Singh Soin FRGS – Leader


Over the last 45 years, Mandip Singh Soin has climbed, trekked, skied, skydived and indulged in diverse adventures across 7 continents.Ibex Expeditions, India, was born in 1979, a pioneering and bespoke adventure, safari and luxury travel company, recipient of national and international awards. Ibex promotes journeys in India and exotic destinations around the globe.

Life’s adventures drew Mandip closer to saving the environment for future generations and his attention turned to making a difference and became the Founder President of the Responsible Tourism Society of India. Mandip is the recipient of several awards and is often called a ‘modest badass’!

Mandip finished a Masters in History at St Stephens College, Delhi University, loves puns and Beethoven and can flip an omlette to perfection. 

Anita – Co-Leader


Anita is an artist, poet and a writer and a Director and co-owner at Ibex Expeditions for 30 years. She has hiked and biked, trekked and rafted and travelled to all seven continents and continues to explore her creativity, designing journeys that become works of art themselves. She studied at University and is an alumnus of the Welham Girls School.  

Be inspired by our digital polar lectures!

Few trips can compare with a magnificent adventure to the realm of the polar bear, Svalbard, or the world’s most remote continent, Antarctica. Our Expedition leader, Adam Rheborg has recorded short lectures on what it’s like to travel to these spectacular places on earth. 

Adam has been guiding adventurous tourists amongst polar bears and walruses in Svalbard since over 20 years. He works full time as expedition leader, dive master, television reporter, journalist and lecturer with the whole planet as his workplace.

ABOUT THE SHIP

The ship was built in Denmark in 1992 to serve as a ferry on Greenland’s west coast. In 2004/2005 she was completely refurbished into a comfortable expedition ship and in 2018 she underwent a renovation of the passenger areas. The ship takes 53 passengers and all 26 cabins are outside cabins with private facilities. 

The triple cabins have upper and lower berths. All other cabins have two lower berths or a double bed. In your cabin you find a desk with a chair and a cupboard for storage. The superior cabins are spacious and have armchairs and TV. The owner’s cabin has a double bed, two large picture windows, a separate seating area and TV.

In the dining room you are treated to delicious meals in between landings and in the panorama lounge you can enjoy breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape. Here you can listen to entertaining talks on the area’s flora, fauna and history. In the lounge you also find a bar and a small library. 

The ship has spacious observation decks, where you can enjoy the beautiful vistas. Passengers are welcome on the bridge around the clock and there is always something to see or search for. You are welcomed by an international crew and the atmosphere is relaxed and very friendly. There are five Zodiacs and five guides on board.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Longyearbyen, Svalbard

We arrive in Longyearbyen and transfer to our hotel.

Day 2-8 Expedition cruising

We start our great adventure in Svalbard by exploring Longyearbyen. In the afternoon we embark the expedition ship and sail out through Isfjorden – the Arctic expedition has started! We are now in a part of the world where we are totally dependent on the ice and weather conditions. Our exact itinerary depends on these factors and on the wildlife we encounter. Our ambition is to make landings or cruises every day with our Zodiacs.

Here are some examples of places we may visit.

Prins Karls Forland

This narrow strip of land is covered by a magnificent and snow-covered mountain chain. The island is also home to many seabirds and harbour seals.

Virgohamna, Danskøya

Two of the most courageous attempts to reach the North Pole started on the island of Danskøya. Swedish explorer Andrée made an attempt with a hydrogen balloon and American journalist Wellman started with an airship. There are still interesting remnants from these expeditions left on this site.

Fantastic fjords

Svalbard offers the visitor countless spectacular fjords. During our journey we will explore a few of them such as: Liefdefjorden, meaning “The fjord of love”, is lined with snow-covered mountain peaks and here we hope to cruise along the face of the spectacular Monaco Glacier. 

Many common eiders and pink footed geese nest in the area and if lucky we could see the rare king eider. In Krossfjorden we revel in the beautifully sculptured front of the 14th of July Glacier to the raucous greeting of the large number of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nesting on the nearby cliffs. Raudfjorden is an area of immense natural beauty – dominated by beautiful glaciers. It is also a favorite spot for seals and the bird cliffs are bursting with activity.

The scientific village of Ny-Ålesund is situated in Kongsfjorden. It was from here that Amundsen and Nobile started their heroic expeditions to the North Pole.

North Spitsbergen

North of Spitsbergen we might meet the edge of the pack ice. Not many ships venture here and we can marvel at the silence and grandeur of this icy landscape. Chances of meeting polar bears increase as we sail along the ice floes. 

Southwest Spitsbergen

The grand fjords of Hornsund offer spectacular glaciers and a breathtaking landscape of towering mountain peaks, often reaching above the clouds. On a clear day we can see the summit of the highest mountain Hornsundtind, measuring 1431 meters. Hornsund is a favorite haunt for some of Svalbard’s polar bears and bearded seals are often seen resting on the fjord ice.

Day 9 Longyearbyen

Early morning we disembark our expedition ship and begin our journey back home.

Please note: Our exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions and wildlife. The places mentioned are just examples of some of the many sites Svalbard has to offer. We always strive to maximize your experience. Please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition.

Flights
Climate compensated group flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen and return is available. (Limited availability).

SAFETY

The ship exceeds all SOLAS-requirements (Safety of Life at Sea) and is equipped with the latest communication- and navigation equipment

LIFEBOATS & LIFE RAFTS
LIFE-SAVING EQUIPMENT FIRE SAFETY

The ship has a total lifeboat and raft capacity of 160 passengers. It consists of two lifeboats with space for 45 passengers in each and 2 life rafts with space for 35 passengers in each. 

The boats and rafts are equipped with drinking water, survival equipment and survival food rations and sea-sickness pills.The diesel-powered boats are also equipped with navigational equipment, medication, and communication equipment.

For emergencies, the ship has an overcapacity of life vests and the highest grade of Immersion Suits.The ship is equipped with automatic smoke detectors, a sprinkler system and fire safety doors. Fire alarms and fire extinguishers are placed around the ship.

COMMUNICATION ENVIRONMENTAL PROCEDURES OBSERVATION DECKS

For passenger use, the ship can offer an onboard e-mail account charged by a setup fee and a data transmission rate. This e-mail account can be accessed from the passenger’s laptop via a wireless network from almost anywhere on the ship.The passengers can also buy phone cards for the satellite phone available in the lobby on deck 4.

The tap water is drinkable and of high quality. All freshwater is produced on board from seawater. The system is oversized, and the purified and desalinated water is stored in buffer tanks in case the purification system should fail. All sewage is taken care of onboard the ship.

The three-stage cleaning system is based on the latest technology and before the sewage is released into the sea it’s completely decontaminated. The remaining waste products are emptied and taken care of by special vehicles or ships when the ship is in port.

All rubbish created onboard is sorted and whatever is recyclable is handed over for recycling while in port after each expedition. For the laundry, they use organic detergent, and, in the shower, there are organic protera body wash, shampoo/conditioner and body lotion

Curiosities about Longyearbyen

  • There are no street names in Longyearbyen, they only use street numbers.
  • Longyearbyen was named after the American John Munroe Longyear, who founded the Arctic Coal Company in 1906. The settlement was first named Longyear City but was later changed to Longyearbyen.
  • If visiting Ny-Ålesund, you can send a card from the northernmost post office in the world. But please note that it can take weeks before the card arrives at its recipient.
  • Common practice is to leave your shoes at the entrance, this to keep the coal dust out.
  • Longyearbyen houses are built on stilts, due to the permafrost.
  • During four months of the year, from around 25th October, the polar night occurs, and the sun never rises.
  • During four months of the year, from around 19th April, the midnight sun reigns supreme and the sun never sets.

Equipment

The mean temperature in Longyearbyen in June +2ºC. In other parts of the archipelago the temperatures are a few degrees below the mean temperature in Longyearbyen. Due to the wind factor the temperatures sometimes seem to be much lower.

We recommend you dress in layers, it allows you to easily adjust to variations in temperature. Wear three layers or more. To get rid of perspiration, insulate you from the cold and protect you against the wind. The layering method also allows you to easily adjust your clothing when the weather and temperatures change. Make sure to bring an extra layer if you are travelling early or late season, as the temperature can be a bit lower.

When going ashore by Zodiacs, make sure to wear waterproof jacket/trousers and tall rubber boots. Below you will find some instructions on how to dress in polar climate, followed by an equipment checklist.

THE INNER LAYER

The layer closest to your skin must get rid of perspiration from your body to keep you dry and warm. Recommended materials are wool or synthetic materials. Cotton should never be worn close to the body.

THE MIDDLE LAYER

This layer provides insulation and retains body heat without restricting movement. Suitable materials for this layer are fleece or wool. It is better to wear several thin layers than one thick layer. On cold days you may need extra insulation. This way you control your body temperature.

THE OUTER LAYER

The main function of this layer is to offer protection against the wind and water, but also to let out excess body heat. Therefore, it is good to use breathable materials such as Gore-Tex or similar.

THE TOP

Your head is like the body’s funnel and we always recommend bringing a warm hat! Preferable materials are synthetic fibre or wool, if possible windproof.

HANDS AND FEET

These parts of your body are particularly sensitive. It is important to keep hands and feet dry and warm. The same layering method applies here. Use inner gloves made of synthetic fibre, silk or wool and cover with a wind/waterproof mitten. Mittens are much warmer than gloves. Please remember to bring an extra pair of mittens. You should wear inner socks of synthetic fibre and cover with layers of wool or synthetic socks. A pair of solid knee-high rubber boots is the secret weapon when going ashore with the Zodiacs. It is also wise to bring wool insoles.

CONSERVATION & SAFETY GUIDELINES 

LANDINGS WITH ZODIACS

Always pay attention to your expedition leader and guides. Do not hesitate to ask them if you have questions regarding the landing procedures. Passengers must be aware of certain regulations involving the Zodiacs in order to ensure safety in our operations. A briefing will also be given by our guides.

The boat driver oversees the boat and its operations. His/her instructions must always be followed.

There will be wet landings (you will need to wade ashore). We advise passengers to wear rubber boots and appropriate waterproof clothing as protection from sea spray or rain when in the rubber boats. Use a water proof bag (or bring along a small plastic bag) to protect items such as cameras and binoculars.

Always wear the life jackets provided when in the rubber boat. This is for your safety, and is required at all times regardless of weather and sea conditions.

Accept the helping hands of crew members and drivers when stepping into or out of the rubber boat at the ship’s gangway. Keep both hands free for this operation, and use the “Sailor’s grip” (i.e. grip each other by the wrist).

Minimize the number of items you bring into the rubber boat. Backpacks are ideal for loose items such as cameras, binoculars, medication etc. It allows you to have both hands free.

If you have a loose item, it should be handed to the driver/crew member before embarking/disembarking the rubber boat.

WILDLIFE & NATURE

When ashore, always stay with your group and your guides. Due to polar bears and for your safety, never wander off on your own.

Watch your step and keep to established paths when possible. In cold and dry habitats the recovery of plants is very slow.

Be extremely careful among breeding colonies of seabirds and ground nesting birds.

Approach wildlife slowly when taking photographs and retreat from the subject just as carefully.

Never disturb wildlife for the sake of a photograph.

Be careful not to startle or chase any bird from its nest. Your attention to a nesting or molting bird should never be prolonged when a predator is in the vicinity. Foxes, gulls and skuas are always luring to raid exposed nests.

Monitor your surroundings and be sensitive to any disruption you may be causing. If an animal shows signs of distress or avoidance, move away.

Look but never touch. These are wild animals going about their daily business. We wish to observe natural behavior in its natural state.

Never feed wild animals.

In order not to introduce new species into Svalbard please wash your boots at home and make sure that no seeds are included in the packaging or clothing (pockets, Velcro, etc.).

Return all litter to the ship for proper disposal. This includes litter of all types, such as plastic bags and paper tissues.

It is not allowed to collect natural souvenirs such as shells, rocks, feathers, bones or fossils.

Keep noise level to a minimum.

Never smoke ashore.

BINOCULARS & PHOTOGRAPHY

Good binoculars are highly recommended and will add quality to your travel experience.

All binoculars are listed by power and brightness, e.g. 8×32 or 10×50. The first number indicates magnification and the second the diameter of the front lens. At least 8 x-powers is recommended, 8×32 or 10×42 binoculars are good choices.

“Wide-field” binoculars allow you to see a wider area making it easier to spot wildlife.

Compact models, in the 8×25 range, can fit in a pocket and are very lightweight, but sacrifice brightness and field of vision.

Rubber coated models are generally more shock resistant and some of these are also waterproof.

PHOTOGRAPHY

For many of us, photography is a natural part of travel. Therefore, we have summarized the most basic recommendations regarding photography.

Equipment

Whatever type of camera you use, make sure it is working properly before you leave home. If you have a new camera or have a camera that has not been used for a while, it is a good idea to take some pictures before travelling to ensure that it works properly. Also remember to bring your camera manual.

Batteries

Bad batteries account for the largest percentage of camera problems on expeditions, especially in cold climates. For this reason, please bring extra camera batteries with you, even if the one in your camera is new.

Memory cards

Rule of thumb is to bring more memory cards than you believe you will need.

Tripods and Beanbags

Tripods, which are often used to steady cameras with large telephoto lenses, are not useful on ships, as they tend to transmit the ship’s vibrations. If you are bringing a lens larger than 300 mm, you might consider bringing a beanbag to support your camera. Unlike tripods, beanbags tend to absorb the ship’s vibrations.

Maintenance

Particles or water can easily stick on the camera lens, which can reduce the image quality. For this reason, we recommend you to bring a microfiber cloth designed for optics.

Storage

Cameras are in general sensitive to water, moisture and shock. A bag/backpack for protection is recommended.

Into the Wild with Anita & Mandip Bori & Satpura Parks

Tucked amidst the lush and rustic locale of Dhapada village, Bori Safari Lodge is a charming resort in Madhya Pradesh in 7 ½ acres farmland. Bori is the new emerging tiger landscape in Madhya Pradesh and is home to tigers, sloth bears, leopards, wild dogs, giant squirrels and a variety of other Central Indian species of birds and animals

You will enjoy village tours, learn about the local’s way of life and go on anthropological excursions at Dhapada. 

Located along the River Tawa, Bori Wildlife Sanctuary is one of India’s oldest wildlife sanctuaries with large mammals like Sambar, gaur, Nilgai, chital and predators like tiger, leopard and wild dogs. 

The highlights of this trip include: 

  • An experience to enjoy a personally led tour by Mandip and Anita. 
  • Exploring the Bori Wild life sanctuary through jeep safaris, biking and village community visits.    
  • Exploring Satpura National Park in a canoe and jeep & a Walking Safari inside the National Park.
  • Tracking wildlife including tiger, leopard, wild boar, bear, fox, porcupine, the Indian giant squirrel, a variety of antelope, and much more.
  • Staying at the  Jehan Numa Retreat of Bhopal for 2 nights
  • Staying at the newly opened Bori Safari Lodge for 23 nights.
  • Staying at the aesthetic Reni Pani Lodge for 32 nights.
  • Culinary demonstration of Royal Bhopal recipes of the family at the Retreat and at Satpura.
  • A visit to the tribal museum in Bhopal.
  • A visit to Bhimbhetka caves. 
  • A Give Back component of Rs 750 per head matched by Ibex Expeditions towards the Give Back to Nature programme of the World-Wide Fund for Nature, (WWF) India.

 ITINERARY

23 November -Arrival Bhopal

Depart from Delhi via Indigo flight 6E 5018 departing at 1255 hours and arriving at Bhopal at 1420 hours. Met on arrival and transferred to the Jehan Numa Retreat. Located on the outskirts of Bhopal, 9 kms away, the Jehan Numa Retreat is a quiet getaway, in 12.5 acres sharing a boundary with Van Vihar Urban National Park. We will leave for the Tribal Museum and a drive around Bhopal by 1630 hours. Your meals are included from dinner tonight as your flights may arrive at different timings. Tonight’s dinner will be at 1930 hours. 

Jehan Numa Retreat has a special dining experience Under the Jamun Tree with dishes from the erstwhile Bhopal family. Camouflaged by simplicity in a tree lined estate, the Retreat is of subtle elegance borrowing ideas of tribal and rural art on mud coloured walls with Indian dyes and stone. The focus is on organic and the tranquil silence only has bird song. 

Meals: Dinner included. 

This afternoon, we will visit the Tribal Museum portraying the rich heritage of Bhopal and telling stories of their lives through models and art installations. The gallery has life sized models and stories of worship and sacrifice are portrayed through impressive art installations. 

24 November Bhopal – Bori Wildlife Sanctuary

We will have breakfast at 0800 hours and depart at 0900 hours and arrive at Bhimbhetka caves, a world heritage site by 1030, leaving by 1130 and arrive at Bori by 1300 hours in time for lunch. (This alteration has been necessitated due to one crucial bridge being repaired. The journey will be extended by an hour and a half on the 29th from Satpura to Bhopal.)

This afternoon is relaxed until 1600 hours when we leave for a night patrol (safari) in the Jhalai buffer zone by jeep and return by 2000 hours in time for dinner. Lying in a forest of teak and sal in craggy cliffs 46 kms south of Bhopal are more than 700 rock shelters. Around 500 of them contain some of the world’s oldest prehistoric paintings. Thanks to their natural red and white pigments, the colours are remarkably well preserved and, in certain caves, paintings of different eras adorn the same rock surface.

A gamut of figures and scenes dance across the rocks: gaurs (Indian bison), rhinoceroses, bears and tigers share space with scenes of hunting, initiation ceremonies, childbirth, communal dancing, drinking, religious rites and burials.The Bori Wildlife sanctuary is one of the emerging tiger landscapes in Madhya Pradesh and is home to tigers, sloth bears, leopards, wild dogs, giant squirrels and a variety of other Central Indian species of birds and animals.

Meals: Breakfast at Jehan Numa Retreat. Lunch and dinner at Bori Safari Lodge.

25 November -Bori Wildlife Sanctuary

Morning wake up is 0430 hours and departure by 0530 hours by jeep to reach the gate and do the safari and return by 12-1215 hours. This will be in the Churna area and we will carry packed breakfast. We will travel from the buffer into the core area and search for tiger, leopard, general wildlife and birdlife. 

We return to relax and have lunch and after that, do a birding and wilderness walk by 1530 hours with a trained Naturalist in a reserve forest close to Bori Safari Lodge The walk will be approximately 1 ½ hours.

This is a largely untrodden safari lodge adjacent to a sanctuary where sightings are for serious wildlife enthusiasts. Being adjacent to the wildlife sanctuary, the property has a keen eye on conservation and preserving the natural heritage of the area by not building too much on it. The staff is from the surrounding villages and food is sourced from villages in the area. The Sanctuary is one of the most exciting wildlife habitats and guests have a unique opportunity to see all major carnivores.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner at Bori Safari Lodge.

26 November Bori Wildlife Sanctuary – Satpura National Park

We will leave at 0700 hours and we carry packed breakfast and go into the core area towards Churna again and complete at the rest house by 1130 hours.

Relax and have lunch between 1230 – 1400 hours and at 1430 hours, we go towards the core area of the Satpura tiger reserve and after the jeep safari at the park, we exit the park by 1730 hours and check into the Reni Pani lodge and dinner by 1930 – 2000 hours. 

Meals: Breakfast packed, Lunch packed at the Churna forest house and dinner at Reni Pani Lodge.

27 November – Satpura National park

In the morning by 0700 hours, we go for a motorboat/canoe safari and return to the lodge by 0930 hours. The motorboat is for 1-1 ½ hours. After lunch, at 1415 hours, we depart for an afternoon game drive returning by 1845 hours to the lodge. On the game drive we search for leopard, sloth bear, classic central Indian wildlife and birds.

Satpura National Park covers 1500 sq. km of a unique Central Plateau Highland ecosystem, with rugged terrain, valleys, rivulets, waterfalls and narrow gorges. The park is rich in biodiversity and is the abode of numerous species of flora and fauna. The area’s stunning topography coupled with the abundance of wildlife it contains caters to a variety of interests and a combination of ways to explore them.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner at Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. 

28 November – Satpura National Park

Today, we will do one jeep safari departing by 0530 hours, looking for Tigers, Sloth bears, and birdlife. In the after we go for a walking safari in the core area of the reserve.

The state forest department guides along with the naturalists deliver a truly exhilarating experience filled with insightful knowledge on the flora and fauna that is indigenous to the Satpura Tiger Reserve.

Satpura is the only national park in India to permit walking safaris. Walking deep into the jungle of the biosphere will allow you to truly experience the park’s beautiful scenery, flora and fauna. The feeling of being in the jungle with no separation between wildlife and oneself is truly exhilarating and is an experience any wildlife enthusiast would cherish. Birdwatchers and butterfly enthusiasts enjoy viewing the ample bird and butterfly life.

Your expert guide will introduce you to the local plant and bird life along the way. Although this is not the best way of spotting wildlife, simply due to the fact that you cover less ground, this is a fantastic opportunity to get close to nature and appreciate the small things the park has to offer.

Today we will arrange a special cooking demonstration along with our dinner at 1930 hours.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and dinner at Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. 

29 November – Satpura National Park – Bhopal 

This morning return to the park by 0530 hours for another game drive and resume the romance with wilderness & its many denizens. Return to the lodge by 1200 hours. For those departing to catch the Bhopal flight, they would need to leave immediately with a packed lunch and could return to the lodge from the park in an earlier jeep by 1000 hours. 

For the rest, we will depart by 1300 hours for Bhopal to reach Bhopal by 1900 hours (because of the recent detour due to a bridge repair closure).

Meals: Breakfast at Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. Packed lunch. Dinner at Jehan Numa Retreat.

30 November – Bhopal departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for onward flights by noon. The suggested flight to Delhi is via Indigo 6E 5058 departing at 1450 hours and arriving at 1610 hours.

Meals: Breakfast at Jehan Numa Retreat.