Tag Archives: satpura national park

Satpura National Park: Luxury Safari to the Heart of India

On the 40th anniversary of Ibex Expeditions, Mandip and Anita Soin, owners and Directors, take you on an enthralling personally led deluxe journey through this forest declared as a National park in 1981. Have you considered walking in a forest in the footsteps of erstwhile explorer, Captain James Forsyth of the Bengal Lancers who traversed this forest in 1862? The Satpura Tiger reserve covers 528 km from Gujarat in the East through Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and is an extensive forest area with unique flora and fauna and is the only tiger park in India that allows for a controlled walking safari and mobile camping access accompanied by forest guards.

We first experience a walking expedition through the forest spending two days in a mobile camp. Later we experience the deluxe Reni Pani safari lodge and engage in canoe and jeep rides, all the while enjoying the local hospitality and community interactions. We then travel to the beautiful Ahilya fort (Relaix and Chateau) in the countryside town of Maheshwar living like a royal and explore the countryside with its seamless confluence of textiles, culture, serenity, and architecture. Boat rides on the Narmada river, island picnics and drinks by the poolside sum up the high life as you retreat into a bygone era of simplicity and grace.

Since 2012, Ibex Expeditions has supported the Give Back to Nature programme of WWF India and for each participant of this journey, we will donate US $ 40 per person.

Itinerary

Arrival Delhi

On arrival into IGI Delhi airport at hours, you will be met by our Office Assistant, holding a name placard followed by transfer to your hotel. Since your arrival is late at night, check-in to your hotel and rest.

Hotel: Imperial 

Delhi

After breakfast, proceed on a guided tour of Delhi at 0930 hours which includes the city’s world heritage sites. Drive through New Delhi roads & sights such as India Gate, The Presidential Palace and Parliament house to get a feel for the grand new city that Sir Lutyens built in the early 1900s.

Meals: Breakfast

Delhi – Bhopal by plane

Early morning transfer to airport to board the scheduled flight to Bhopal. Flight – Jet Airways 893: 0540 – 0700 hours Reporting time – 0400 hours On arrival at Bhopal airport, transfer to your retreat on the outskirts of the town. Post lunch at 1400 hours, your private city guide will report to the hotel for a guided excursion to Sanchi stupa (45 km one way). Today, the remarkably preserved Great Stupa is the centerpiece of Sanchi’s World Heritage-listed Buddhist monuments. Return to the retreat in the evening for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Meals: Breakfast on the plane, lunch and dinner

Hotel: Jehan Numa Retreat

Ibex Expeditions Introduces 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Journeys

On it’s 40th anniversary Ibex Expeditions invites you to its  Limited Edition Anniversary Journeys

In 1979, in a small room in the Manor hotel, New Delhi, four friends manifested their dream of a pioneering adventure travel company by establishing Ibex Expeditions. Mountaineer, Explorer and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Mandip Singh Soin was one of them.

Four decades later, this has been a journey of innovation, enterprise, accolades, creativity and today, the company is owned and managed by Mandip and his wife Anita, an artist and poet who brings her own creativity to designing journeys with unusual themes.

Guests are welcomed into a world of heightened wonder, style, adventure, luxury that only a truly epic journey can evoke.

On this milestone of our 40th anniversary, we invite you to book a special small group journey led and hosted by the owner family in a series of holidays in India and Sri Lanka with travel experiences exclusive to our guests, privileged access to extraordinary places and inspirational people and meaningful connections along the way.

Ladakh – The stairway to heaven – September 2019

Following a theme of a Responsible Eco adventure walking in the footsteps of the snow leopard, this photo adventure  journey in Ladakh is led by writer, photographer and Ibex Director, Himraj Soin. You will discuss Buddhist traditions and visit local communities, learn about renewable energy projects with conservationists, visit organizations promoting sustainable development and walk along hillsides dotted with chortens and monasteries with exquisite Himalayan vistas.

Madhya Pradesh – Walking safari – Satpura under Canvas – November 2019 

Mandip and Anita lead a special journey to the heart of India recreating the old explorer world of a walking safari in the footsteps of Captain James Forsyth, an explorer who served in the Indian Army in the late 19th century in the forests of Satpura in the state of Madhya Pradesh. We will stay in deluxe camps (glamping) and old-world charming lodges and immerse ourselves in art, beauty, forests, wildlife and recipes from the Nawab family kitchens. Satpura Under Canvas is a unique mobile camping and gentle walking experience through the Satpura Tiger Reserve. We also visit Bhopal, Mandu, Maheshwar where you will enjoy a royal retreat and the luxury Relaix & Chateau Ahilya Fort, the private palace of the erstwhile Holkar dynasty.

Himali Soin will be leading the journey in Sri Lanka

 

Sri Lanka – The Isle of Paradise – November 2019

Arthur C Clarke, British science fiction writer, futurist and inventor is our inspiration and we capture his spirit in a journey across Sri Lanka led by artist, poet and Ibex Director, Himali Singh Soin. We will stay at Colombo Swimming Club where Clarke spent his days, visit Anuradhapura Sci Fi monuments, Una Watuna, a coastal town where Clarke lived, and star gaze in a remote location, all the while reading Rendezvous with Rama.

Rajasthan – The Land of many Colors – March 2020

Himraj Soin will be leading journeys in Ladakh and Rajasthan

We welcome Spring and the festival of color, Holi with a journey of color and vibrance across the landscape of Rajasthan through boutique heritage hosted stays from the cities of pink, blue and gold to the Thar desert visiting ancient step wells and communities on village safaris and staying in Relaix & Chateau heritage homes with Mewar heritage architecture. Led once again by Himraj, National Geographic trip leader.

Costa Rica – a private journey for the Ibex Explorers Fellowship members
Led by Mandip and Anita, we will traverse the ideal destination of Costa Rica, a country that stands apart from its neighbors as a rich bio diverse country with farm to table restaurants and sustainable tourism. The journey will have rain forest hikes and high-altitude trails, rushing white-water rapids and kayaking into canals.

Mandip and Anita will be leading journeys in Madhya Pradesh and Costa Rica

It is rare that Mandip and Anita themselves lead an Ibex Expeditions journey. Their young adult children are both trip leaders with National Geographic and come with their own expertise of photography, writing and poetry.

The journeys will be first-come-first-serve.

Hurry along, the adventures await!

Email us for dates and detailed itineraries at: ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com

Madhya Pradesh: Trekking through the Tranquil Heart of India

 

India with a difference: without noise, people and air pollution.  Traveller Simon Schöpf followed in the footsteps of the Bengal tiger through the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, far off the beaten track. He writes about his experience visiting Satpura National Park during AdventureNext, with Ibex Expeditions. The article was originally published in German magazine Berg Welten. The essay below is a translated version.

Road traffic is a single tough-flowing mass, in which the individual parts seem to peel off magnetically, but which devours everything that does not fit seamlessly. The olfactory sensation oscillates remarkably fast between landfill and masala curry. The acoustic backdrop would not surpass an 80s punk band on Ecstasy, the everlasting basic tenor : hub, hub, huuuub . And in between, a sacred cow always sleeps somewhere. Whoever travels through India, has to demand a lot from his sense organs.

So far the well-known picture of India. That’s true, but nevertheless the country with the incredible 1.3 billion inhabitants has something like a quiet side. They exist, the lonely and relaxed spots on this super-continent of the senses, one of which is the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh – “the heart of India.”

For the discovery of solitude in the heart of India, we have a very special accompaniment: Mandip Singh Soin, the man with the white beard and colourful turban, in his appearance a successful combination of Gandalf and Gandhi. Mandip, with his company Ibex Expeditions, is one of the great pioneers of sustainable adventure tourism in India and organizer of many important Himalayan expeditions. In addition, even one of the first serious mountaineers in his country – he has not only wrested the legendary mountains Shivling and Meru, the first Indian ascent, he has also established modern mountain rescue techniques and drank tea with the Dalai Lama. Mandip knows the mountains and the cultures of India like no other – that’s why he always likes to come to the central hill country, to Madhya Pradesh. “The genius here is that you can do something active in the national parks – trekking, safaris, canoeing. Unfortunately, such things are often prohibited in the national parks of the rest of India. ”

Hiking in Satpura National Park

For our voyage of discovery, we have chosen Satpura National Park, one of nine in the state. It is a vast hilly tiger reserve with the reputation of being one of the least developed in India. For just 120 km from the capital, Bhopal, the chaotic Indian driving style requires a good five-hour drive to get to the edge of the national park. We want to make it the big cat and explore this landscape on quiet paws and, who knows, with a little luck actually spy a Bengal tiger. “At the moment we know about two females and one male in the reserve. But we’re more likely to meet a leopard, a sloth bear, or a king giant squirrel, which we see quite often here,” says Aly Rashid.

So we’re walking through the kingdom of the tiger. Also, if you know the statistics and an encounter on foot is unlikely, then a very special feeling mix creeps in as soon as you shoulder the backpack and take the first steps onto the jungle floor. A mix of respect, attention and awe, spiced up with a puff of primeval fear – it could be, who knows!

Tiger Trekking on the Forsyth Trail

Good that Mandip and Aly radiate a calm, as perhaps only Indians can – the yoga hype has arrived, after all, a few thousand years ago. We start our hike from the idyllic village of Pachmarhi, from here you can easily overlook the terrain that will soon absorb us completely: an untouched landscape of hills and gentle peaks, which here and there release a red-orange speck of sandstone. Who counts the summit exactly, comes on seven – from this derives also the name of the national park, Satpura. “Sat” stands for seven, “pura” for summit – the highest of which is Mount Dhupgarh with 1,352 meters. For the next two days, we’ll hike the Forsyth Trail, named in honor of the English adventurer James Forsyth, who campaigned for the preservation of forests as early as the mid-19th century.

In India, you will hardly find street signs, as you may not expect a waymarking. But Aly knows every stone and every tree here, we follow him with confidence into the great forest that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. “What’s jungle in Hindi? Jungle! “, Aly informs us gladly, so we actually landed here in the Ur-Wald. Here one looks in vain for lianas and pineapples, the last rain is already two months ago, the soil dried up. But after a few steps already a horde of langurs jumps screaming over our heads. Aly immediately switches to the naturalist mode: “Wavy-Breasted Squirrel!”, “Kingfisher!”, Tirelessly spotting rare birds in the trees, where we only see a pile of leaves.

Off To The Jungle Camp

Only when we put our feet in the still warm sand in our camp on the extensive riverbank, we become aware of what we have not seen the whole day just now: many people. Massive cars. Annoying tuk-tuks. A whole day without honking, without trash next to the road and without the smell of burned plastic in the nose. But birdsong, river noise and occasionally the distant cry of a monkey. India too can be like that: quiet, deserted, idyllic; a stark contrast. At the same time, with the first stars in the firmament, our aperitif, a sweet liquor from the blossoms of the Mahua tree that grows around, also appears. A bit getting used to, but that’s a lot here, also the local definition of camping.

Ready-built tents with beds and bedside tables, a toilet and shower tent with improvised sink with soap and towel and a small bar, the ice cubes for the gin and tonic keeps ready: so in India so tourists are camping. Pardon, glamping is probably the common fashion term for it. And every evening a hot water bottle in the tent bed waits for our cold feet. Getting used to, but quite pleasant.

Encounter with the Tiger

With all the luxuries you can forget the real reason why we came here. He comes back to us the next day after early departure, as we discover after a still sleepy hour hike downstream then suddenly a breakfast of a different kind right next to our way: A pile of leftover offal in the sand. “Tiger kill,” Aly does not hesitate for a long time with the answer, “probably yesterday. Probably a small Samda cattle. “And indeed, all around are fur remains and oversized cat tracks in the sand. From now on, the tiger is no longer just an abstract figure, he is suddenly damned real. You go differently, you look different, you hear differently – we walk here through the jungle book, and Sher Kahn accompanies us.

Information

Arrive : Flight from Delhi to Bhopal (1.5 hours), capital of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Up to the Satpura National Park it is a good five hours by car, driving is not recommended due to the very habituation-needing traffic rules of the Indians and the left-hand traffic. It is best to take a taxi or book an organized tour.

Accommodations: Madhya Pradesh is off the beaten track and is therefore sparsely furnished with accommodation for international tourists. The exception is Bhopal, a 2-million-city, which gained notoriety in 1984 because of the terrible chemical disaster . There is a good standard of hotels, for example the Jehan Numa Palace . In the Satpura National Park, the Reni Pani Jungle Lodge is a luxurious gem in the African safari style. The posh hotels have quite a Western price level, who gets himself in the streets of the cities themselves, gets extremely cheap delicacies for a few rupees, but a good stomach is often required.

Best travel time: Pleasant, dry climate prevails from October to March. Around December, the temperatures are also ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, but at night it is already quite fresh. From April on, temperatures often get unbearably hot and temperatures regularly rise above 40 ° C. July to September are rainy and humid due to the monsoon.

Photos by Simon Schöpf

Treading on the Explorer’s Trail in Satpura National Park

Ibex Expeditions  recently organised The Panchmarhi Trail in Satpura National Park with partners Reni Pani Lodge for the delegates of ATTA’s Adventure Connect. The journey, led by Mandip Singh Soin and a senior naturalist captured the explore spirit, was full of wonderful sightings of birds, squirrels, a leopard and pugmarks!

The five day journey  began at Panchmarhi, also known as Satpura ki Rani, a hill station and part of the national park. The travellers, treading the footsteps of Captain James Forsyth, the original explorer of Satpura National Park  (he belonged to Bengal Lancers and entered the park looking for Indian freedom fighter Tantya Tope) and reached Dhelia camp. The Reni Pani lodge is magnificent. Private tents along the river located just outside the buffer zone of the national park. Beautiful views all around. And the best part? No plastic along the trail!

On our first day in the park, while on a jeep safari, we spotted a leopard, barely 10m from us! Just sauntering along. What tremendous grace the cat has.

The next day was a 16km walk further in. We spotted the exquisite Indian Giant Squirrel, who flew from branch to branch. They build their nests on top of the branches with leaves. They neatly place one leaf after another and make their cosy home. It was quite a sight for us.

The twelve of us had three forest guards walking alongside throughout our journey. We spotted a number of birds—wagtails, grey herons, black bellied terns; even heard an owl hoot!

On our way we kept seeing pugmarks. The guards told us they were three-days old. On the second day of our trail we saw pugmarks that were two days old. Things were heating up! Finally, on the third day, just about a 100m after our lunch stop, we saw a massive drag mark, going all the way from the river to the sand over a rock. The guard told us that the tiger must have had a major kill – a sambhar or a deer and dragged the prey along. It was an incredible sight.

We continued to Manakhachar, our second camp, and walked around the fields and meadows before driving back to Reni Pani Lodge.

We travelled and explored using various means of transport — jeep safari, rowing in local canoes for bird spotting, cycling around the fields, and of course our very own two feet.

It was a wonderful experience overall. We plan to organise similar wildlife-centric journeys in the future. Perhaps combine a journey to Satpura and Bandhavgarh. 🙂

To know more about our special, customised journeys, get in touch with us at ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com

 

 

Satpura Explorer – A Trekking and Safari Adventure

Ibex Expeditions is organising The Panchmarhi Trail in Satpura National Park with partners Reni Pani Lodge for the delegates of ATTA’s Adventure Connect. The journey, led by Mandip Singh Soin and a senior naturalist is designed to capture the explore spirit, and more similar journeys are in the offing! 🙂

Dates: 28th November to 2nd December 2018

TRIP OVERVIEW

The Satpura Tiger Reserve is an extensive forest covering a broad array of unique Central Indian flora and fauna. The Satpura mountain range, after which the park is named, runs across Central India from East to West. Satpura is the only park of its kind in Central India where enthusiasts are allowed to explore pristine tiger country on foot. Guests will start their adventure by walking on the foothills of the Satpura Mountains exploring this unique ecosystem. While they are out on this adventure they will be using well-appointed mobile camps as their accommodation.

After a 2 night walking adventure, participants will be transferred to Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, one of the premier safari lodges in Central India. Here a more conventional safari experience will be offered to guests where they will go tracking leopards, sloth bears, wild dogs, tigers and other Central Indian animals using 4X4 vehicles.

Guests will also do a lovely canoe ride on the Denwa River looking for birds and mammals on the water’s edge. Experience local hospitality and interact with the local populace. You are always on the move and it is indeed a trip of a lifetime in a beautiful part of Central India.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP

  • Traverse the historic Forsyth Trail on foot – The Forsyth Trail was used by Captain James Forsyth, one of first officers of the Madhya Pradesh Forest department, when he explored the Pachmarhi Region
  • Enjoy an adventurous mobile camping experience – While on the walk guests will stay in well- appointed mobile camps that afford an experience that is very close to nature, with a minimal footprint.
  • Experience the magic of Satpura in its many ways – Satpura is a lesser known park in Central India, but it is unique in terms of its landscape and what it can offer its patrons. Here guests can enjoy walks, canoe rides and the more popular 4X4 safaris
  • Get a glimpse of rural life – Satpura and the areas around it are dotted with villages that are inhabited largely by the indigenous Gond People. While on this trip, we will visit a local school and a market. This will give guests great insight not just into the landscapes wildlife, but also how the local communities co-exist making wildlife conservation possible.
  • Bhimbetka Caves – UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Special culinary experience – family recipe of kebab and an exotic Indian cocktail with the Mahua flower as the main ingredient.

Contact us at ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com for a full itinerary of the journey.