Are you traveling to India again? Why? That would never be appealing to me! Too crowded and too dirty, was a common reaction when I told people about the trip to India that was coming up. Those who follow my adventures for a long time should know better. India is not only about poverty, slumps and pollution!
Long time ago, when I was not really blogging, I visited India for the first time. I wrote how intense my first visit was. Being a backpacker I loved and hated traveling in India at the same time. Somehow though, it was that captivating that 1,5 year later I came on my second trip to India.
India is a unique country with some really unique things to do and one of these things was already topping my bucketlist for many years: a tiger safari! I once wrote a blog post with the 30 best travel experiences, but now I will definitely have to update this list because I did it. I went to Dudhwa National Park to catch a glimpse of this majestic and sadly endangered wild animal.
Flying with Jet Airways from Amsterdam to India
If you have read my blog how to make money travel blogging you know that I can only afford to travel on sponsored trips and this time one of my sponsors was Jet Airways. They asked if I was up to travel to India and that was of course an easy question to answer. Chloe, who I met on another assignment on a road trip to Austria was also approached by Jet Airways and we set sail for a wildlife safari in India..
We boarded our flight to India from Amsterdam and I was lucky to have a taste of the Jet Airways Premiere Class, see the video below.
Tiger safari in Dudhwa National Park with TUTC India
The journey from Amsterdam to Jaagir Lodge in Dudhwa National Park was a long one. After the 8-hour flight to Delhi, I had to get through a 5 hour layover from 01.00 to 06.00 at night, then fly another hour to Lucknow and then survive a 5 hour taxi ride. The total trip took almost 24 hours and I was broken, but I found myself back in a lush green oasis somewhere in North India. Dudhwa National Park is located only 15 kilometer from the Nepalese border. I had never been in this region before so I was already curious to explore it from the car window. My tiger safari in India had started!
The Ultimate Travel Camp Jaagir Lodge
A team of friendly people was welcoming me on my arrival at Jaagir Lodge and showed me the luxury suite I was staying in. There were two huge beds to choose from and after such a long trip they both were smiling at me. The shower felt amazing after 24 hours traveling let me tell you that! Although I was extremely tired I took a little walk around the lodge to soak up the jungle setting. Nature was all around and the smell of fresh air up here in rural India told me this was going to be a great adventure. I could smell the forest and I could not wait to start exploring. Jaagir Lodge is not just one of the many Dudhwa National Park hotels, but a luxury lodge for those looking for a little more comfort on their tiger safari in India.
Jaagir Lodge is part of the Ultimate Travelling Camp, a company that introduced exotic glamping to India. Here on the border of the Dudhwa National Park the Jaagir Lodge offers its guest an exclusive tiger safari in India and I was happy to experience this.
Early morning Tiger Safari Dudhwa National Park
Going on a tiger safari is nothing quite like a safari in Africa. Sightings of tigers are not guaranteed at all. But there is more! Although seeing tigers in the wild was definitely my goal we also looked around to find elephants and rhinos and many other smaller wildlife and rare species of birds. The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is located in the North of Uttar Pradesh close to the town of Palia. It is estimated that there live over 130 tigers and they are considered the largest tigers in India.
Jaagir Lodge has an exclusive entrance into the national park and right after the gate the adventure begins. Safaris start very early and at 5.00 in the morning I already sat in an open jeep driving through the fields. Mornings are super cold so Jaagir Lodge provided me with blankets and warm ponchos. I was also given a set of binoculars and from the moment I started staring through them the game had begun: Where are you Mr. Tiger?
Wildlife in Dudhwa National Park
Finding tigers in the wild is a way harder job then any other wildlife. Big cats don’t like too much attention, plus the high grass and the forest provides endless hiding opportunities and camouflage. Binoculars were handy but mostly handy to spot other wildlife such as rare owls, a beautifully colored hornbill, 5 different types of deer, jackals and even rhinos.
My encounter with the rhinos was my first one in the wild. More than 8 years ago I went on a safari in Africa, but never found a rhino.
I enjoyed the privilege of a Dudhwa National Park tour package with multiple tiger safaris included. The first morning we did not spot any tigers unfortunately but it was such a thrilling adventure already that I could not get enough of it. After the first morning I already said I could do this for another week. For me getting up at 5.00 am is a hell, but when it is for a tiger safari I smile from the moment I open my eyes!
Unfortunately we never came face to face with bears and elephants on all our safaris included in the Dudhwa National Park tour package. Hatis (Hindi for elephants) also live in Dudhwa National Park. Too bad, but I was here to spot tigers in the wild. The excitement was building up with every footprint we found, because that is what rangers look for. I still remember my first footprint in the sand that I was shown by our amazing naturalist Anoob. He was just as exciting about it as me and he was doing this for several years already. His passion was captivating! I could feel we were getting closer, but as I said before there is also a chance you will never see them. On my second safari I was unlucky as well.
Jaagir Lodge has the exclusive right to arrange a breakfast in the park itself. It was the perfect setting but also an exciting one as you constantly had to be prepared to jump in the car. There are no rules for wildlife, they can pop up from everywhere.
These little cuties were more afraid of us, then we were for them! There was an abundance of deers in the National Park, which means enough food for the tigers.
Spotting my first tiger in the wild
When we started our third tiger safari we saw several footprints only meters away from the park entrance. This was going to be our lucky day, I could feel it. I sat on the second row of the open jeep, just staring into the distance. It felt like meditating! I was constantly focused on the road, staring at the horizon and waiting for a tiger to cross the road. That moment when it finally happened, we all saw it and everyone got extremely excited. We speeded up and within 30 seconds we got really close to a huge male tiger. He crossed the sandy road, stood still, looked around and even laid down. Like he was saying ok take your pictures and videos and then I move on.
I did not know what to do first. I wanted to take a video with my phone, take pictures with my DSLR and use Snapchat and Instagram stories at the same time. We were lucky we had about 4-5 minutes before the tiger disappeared. I finally decided to put everything away and grab my binoculars. Looking through them I felt like I sat next to him and had the time to marvel at this majestic creature. He turned his head and looked right at us. The excitement was so incredible and even the guides who do this a couple days a week were full of joy. A little later the tiger decided to walk off and we all gave each other a high-five and a hug. Seeing a tiger in the wild had always been a dream and this day it came true.
A little while later after we had breakfast in the wild we left for another treasure hunt. Somehow the guides felt that this was a good day and they started to track the fresh tiger footprints and yes it did not take long before we found another tiger. This was my lucky day!
We were by the way the only jeep in the tiger reserve that day, showing you how exclusive a tiger safari in this part of India is.
Other things to do around Dudhwa National Park
Obviously I traveled to North India for a tiger safari, but apart from that I did a couple other cool things around Dudhwa National Park too.
Visit local villages
Although The Luxury Travelling Camp is a place to celebrate your holiday in style, a really interesting thing to see is the local life of the people around the Jaagir Lodge. Traveling in India is an eye-opener and seeing how people in the countryside live will teach you how blessed your live is.
We visited a local village, dressed up in traditional clothes and got a tour of the house a family with 7 people is living in. The locals are extremely nice and happy to see tourists come to their village. I loved taking selfies with the kids and showing them some videos of my travels.
Visit the Jungle School
The Jungle School is an amazing initiative to teach kids about the jungle, which is literally only footsteps away from the school. They are taught how the preserve the forest and live with the animals. It was really touching to see how these kids from the nearby villages voluntarily walk to school in the afternoon. All the students that show up come here because they like to learn about the forest and not because they have to. I was showing them the videos of what I saw inside the forest and the look in their eyes was incredible. I felt extremely privileged to come to their land and see their tiger, because none of them had ever seen a tiger yet. I sincerely hope that in the future they will be able to roam the forest looking for tigers in their backyard.
Let me know if you have too much stuff at home and are willing to ship it to the Jungle School. These kids would love it!
Visiting Dudhwa National Park in April is not the best time of the year as temperatures rise quickly after 9.00 o’clock. It got up to 40 degrees during the afternoon so then I mostly did a little nap, but apart from that the high temperatures did not bother me. Early mornings were reserved for tiger safaris and this early it was only around 10 degrees, so pretty cold. That one morning we did not go for a tiger safari we went cycling around the lodge.
Nice calm back roads through the field. The cycling tour was extremely relaxed as everything is flat and we got to stop at some very basic households along the roads. I of course had to drink the ground water from a well. I just wanted to make a point on social media that our lives are controlled by what we see in the media. Don’t believe everything they show you on tv, India is not only Mumbai and Delhi!
My first week in India
Overall my stay at the Jaagir Lodge of The Ultimate Traveling Camp was an incredible adventure. They made my dream of going on a tiger safari come true and I cant tell you how happy that made me. Traveling in India surprised me again and this was only the first week. I still had another week to go. The next thing was visiting the temples of Hampi, an UNESCO World Heritage Site in South India.
1 day in Lucknow
At the end of my stay in Uttar Pradesh, I quickly visited its capital: Lucknow. Honestly I did not hear about this city before, but with more than 3 million people not a small town. I looked online to find the best hotel in Lucknow and stumbled upon the picture perfect courtyard of the Vivanta by Taj.
I needed to charge my battery after getting up every day at 05.00 in the morning in Dudhwa National Park. So this was the perfect place. Of course I could not resist seeing something of the city and did some sightseeing at the Bara Imambara and got to taste their world famous kebabs.
It is my third time in India thanks to @jetairways. This time I am seeing totally different places in this huge country. I took many selfies with locals at the Bara Imambara as I guess they liked my messy curly hair. Hello Indians it is a pleasure to be back and thank you for all you messages. Love you India! 🇮🇳❤️ #iflyjetairways
One week in India flew by like nothing. So many cool new experiences! I was a happy man!
Thank you for spending time reading the adventures of Traveltomtom! Without you it would not be possible to do what I love doing most: TRAVELING! You are all a huge inspiration!