This 11-day guided itinerary combines urban and wildlife adventures in bountiful India. Get the lay of the land in New and Old Delhi before making your way to Kaziranga National Park for safaris with rhinoceros, elephants, and (possibly) gibbons. From here, head to Sunderbans National Park to search for Bengal tigers by boat. Finish with a tour of India's cultural capital—Kolkata—a colorful city known for scrumptious cuisine.

Highlights

  • Check out Delhi's first skyscraper, a UNESCO-listed (slightly) leaning minaret
  • Take two game drives in one day looking for the greater one-horned rhinoceros
  • Spend a free day visiting a tea plantation or looking for tree-dwelling apes
  • Glide through green mangroves on a boat while looking for Bengal tigers
  • Join pilgrims in the ancient Kali Temple, Kolkata’s holiest spot for Hindus

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Delhi City Tour Delhi
Day 3 Fly to Guwahati - Transfer to Kaziranga National Park Kaziranga
Day 4 Rhinoceros Safari Kaziranga
Day 5 Elephant Safari - Nature Walk - Bird Safari Kaziranga
Day 6 Free Day in Kaziranga National Park Kaziranga
Day 7 Drive to Guwahati - Fly to Kolkata Kolkata
Day 8 Boat to Sunderbans National Park Bengal
Day 9 Tiger Safari (by boat) Bengal
Day 10 Return to Kolkata - City Tour Kolkata
Day 11 Fly to Delhi - Depart India Delhi

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

If you have energy, take a taxi to Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft market bazaar showcasing handmade items from each Indian state
Dilli Haat showcases handmade items from each Indian state

Welcome to Delhi, the capital of India! Upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, you will be met by a representative and greeted with a traditional welcome. Then, you will be escorted to your vehicle and transferred to your hotel for the night. Check-in, take your first day off, and relax! If feeling energized, you could also visit Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft market bazaar selling handmade souvenirs. This is a great place to browse handcrafted items that come from all 29 of India's states. The bazaar is also home to a range of food stalls selling tasty regional cuisine.

Think of Delhi as two distinct cities: Old Delhi, founded in the 17th century, and New Delhi, established in the early 20th century by the British. Old Delhi offers an exotic vibe with bustling streets and historical monuments spanning several kingdoms and empires, while sprawling New Delhi offers international hotels, wide tree-lined avenues, foreign embassies, and shopping centers, etc. You'll get a taste of both during tomorrow's tour!

Day 2: Delhi City Tour

Visit the Red Fort
The Red Fort was once the main residence of the Mughal Emperors

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll begin a full-day guided tour of Delhi! 

Your first stop is the walled city of Old Delhi, which is crowded, abuzz with activity, and still influenced by the great Mughals who once ruled from the ramparts of the majestic and historic Red Fort. During the visit, you'll see top sights like Jama Masjid, the largest 17th-century mosque in India, Chandni Chowk,  the typical Indian market (a memorable experience for the senses), and Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi (also called the 'Father of the Nation’).

From here, proceed to New Delhi where you'll drive past the Presidential Palace, the Secretariat Buildings, India Gate, and other colonial buildings. Make sure to look for the early 20th-century work of Edwin Lutyens, a British architect, who is featured prominently in the colonial districts.

Finish the tour with a visit to the famous Qutub Minar, a minaret that forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. The 239-foot (73-m) tower contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps. Each level has a balcony that encircles the tower, but due to a fatal stampede in 1981, visitors are not allowed inside anymore. You'll also see Humayun’s Tomb, a marvelous example of Persian-inspired Mughal architecture.

In the evening, you can head to Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, an important Sikh house of worship in Delhi. Fun Fact: This eco-friendly shrine complex recently banned the use of plastic!

Day 3: Fly to Guwahati - Transfer to Kaziranga National Park

The Kamakhya Mandir temple in Guwahati
The Kamakhya Mandir temple in Guwahati

After breakfast in Delhi, you'll be transferred to the airport for a morning flight to Guwahati, the capital of the northeast Indian state of Assam. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to the protected area of Kaziranga National Park (120 miles/193 km), your home base for the next four nights. 

Spread across the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, this UNESCO-listed park offers excellent opportunities to spot the iconic Indian Horned Rhinoceros (more than 75% of the world’s population resides within its boundaries). Other wildlife is also plentiful in the park's forests, wetlands, and grasslands, like water buffalo, elephants, tigers, swamp deer, barking deer, hog deer, and even river dolphins, not to mention 400 species of birds.

Check into your hotel and get some rest for your upcoming adventures!

Day 4: Rhinoceros Safari

This large rhino is primarily found in northeastern India
This large rhino is primarily found in northeastern India

Today is your first full day in the park! You'll kick off with two different game drives: one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Both opportunities will give you the chance to look for a large variety of wild animals and birdlife across the park's expansive 267-square-mile (430 km) area.  

Undoubtedly, the park is known for its animals but also its wildlife conservation initiatives. Thanks to these efforts, the park has successfully managed to grow the population of the greater one-horned rhinoceros (an endangered species) to more than 2200. Be on the lookout during today's game drives!

Day 5: Elephant Safari - Nature Walk - Bird Safari

Get up close to some elephants today
Meet the park's large breeding elephants

Rise and shine! Early this morning, you'll take a two-hour Elephant Safari in the central range of the park. In addition to rhinoceros, the park also boasts large breeding elephants, as well as tigers, wild water buffaloes, and swamp deer—some of which you'll see today. 

You'll then return to your hotel for breakfast and some time to relax until lunch. Perhaps you'll want to check out some scenery on foot with a self-guided nature walk. Kaziranga is blessed with different kinds of flora and vegetation, adding value to the beauty and peacefulness of the park.

Post lunch it is time for another safari into the park, but this time, on jeeps, where you'll look to the sky. The park has been identified as an important bird area by Birdlife International Society and is home to various species of migratory and domestic birds.

Day 6: Free Day in Kaziranga National Park

Visit a local plantation known for growing strong black tea
Tour a local plantation that grows a unique variety of black tea

Today is your last day in the park and also a free day for some self-guided exploration!

After breakfast, you're at liberty to choose between some optional activities in the area. Below are some places to visit around Kaziranga National Park:

  • Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary: This is an isolated area of protected forest and one of the few sanctuaries left for gibbons, a small and slender tree-dwelling ape with long powerful arms and loud hooting calls, native to the forests of South Asia.
  • Addabarie Tea Estate: Join a tea tasting or plantation tour in a region that is famous for black tea varieties with strong bright colors and unique malty flavors. 
  • Kakochang Fall: Explore and hike around this beautiful waterfall with outdoor picnic areas. 

Alternatively, you can opt to join an additional safari (or safaris) in the park to spot more birds and wildlife.

Day 7: Drive to Guwahati - Fly to Kolkata

The Mullik Ghat Flower market in Kolkata
The Mullik Ghat Flower Market in Kolkata

After breakfast, it's time to pack and continue the journey! At the designated time, you'll return to Guwahati Airport by car where you'll board your flight to the city of Kolkata.

Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, Kolkata is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational center of East India. If that's not enough, the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port as well as its sole major riverine port. As a nucleus of the 19th and early 20th-century Bengal Renaissance and a religiously and ethnically diverse center of culture in Bengal and India, Kolkata has established local traditions in drama, art, film, theatre, and literature that have gained wide audiences. Kolkata also boasts a cultural heritage that is unique, rich, and colorful.

Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and then feel free to rest or explore the area around your hotel. Don't worry about seeing it all today—there will be a city tour later in the trip.

Day 8: Boat to Sunderbans National Park

Wooden fishing boats in bright colors near Sunderbans
Wooden fishing boats in bright colors near Sunderbans

After breakfast in Kolkata, you'll transfer by car to a boat jetty where you will board a vessel headed to the Sunderbans National Park.

The Sunderbans is a natural region in the Bengal region comprising Bangladesh and East India. It is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world and covers an area of approximately 6213 square miles (10,000 km) of which 60 percent is in Bangladesh. The entire national park area has plenty of impressive statuses as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Tiger Reserve (specifically, the Bengal tiger), and a Biosphere Reserve. 

Upon arrival at your hotel, relax and enjoy the evening while saving energy for tomorrow's park adventures.

Day 9: Tiger Safari (by boat)

Bengal tigers are a major highlight of the park
Bengal tigers are the highlight of the park

Today is an entire day dedicated to looking for Bengal tigers, as well as other animals and birdlife in the park!

You and your guide will take a boat ride on the calm waters of the park, far from the hustle and bustle of city life, while you search for the Bengal tigers who only live in India (hence the nickname Indian tiger). They are the most common tiger and number about half of all wild tigers. Over many centuries they have become an important part of Indian tradition and lore.

This peaceful boat ride glides crosswise and passes through enchanting green mangroves as you search for the tigers to the sound of chirping birds.

Day 10: Return to Kolkata - City Tour

Kali Temple
Kali Temple draws pilgrims from around the Hindu world

After breakfast, it's time to depart Sunderbans, by boat, and return to Kolkata in time for a city tour. 

Once settled at your hotel, your guide will take you to the royal, grandiose, and gorgeous Victoria Memorial. Built between 1906 and 1921, this white marble masterpiece is the most popular building in Kolkata. It is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria and the museum houses several rare and unique antiques.

Later in the day, you'll visit the divine Kali Temple situated on the bank of the Ganges (Hooghly) River. This ancient temple is Kolkata’s holiest spot for Hindus, dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali. You'll have time to wander through the floral- and peacock-motif tiles that look more Victorian than Indian, while pilgrims make their way into the main hall to throw hibiscus flowers at a crowned, three-eyed Kali image with a gold-plated tongue. 

Following the tour, enjoy some free time to explore on your own. Consider sampling the city's international dining scene, spanning the culinary gamut from local fish curry to Cantonese, Thai, and Moroccan fare.

Day 11: Fly to Delhi - Depart India

Goodbye, Kolkata!
Beep, beep! Goodbye, Kolkata!

It's time to say goodbye to India! At the designated time, you'll be picked up and transferred to Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport for your flight back to Delhi. From here, connect to your international flight home or next destination. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Delhi & Kolkata Wildlife Tour - 11 Days
Map of Delhi & Kolkata Wildlife Tour - 11 Days