Tailor-Made Holiday

India Cycling in the Tiger Corridor

Pioneering Cycling Holiday between Pench and Kanha

9 days

from £3,345pp (excluding flights)

Experience an Indian wildlife holiday from a different perspective. Bike through the buffer zones and corridors that link two of central India’s best national parks – Pench and Kanha. Visit a colourful and remote tribal market and spend time pedalling through ancient villages that have changed little over the centuries.

  • Cycle through the forest of Seoni, Pench National Park - the inspiration for the Jungle Book
  • Stay in tree houses and luxury eco lodges
  • Learn about tiger conservation efforts and the importance of conserving the corridor
  • Take four game drives in two Project Tiger national parks

Our new Jungle Book cycling adventure goes to central India's famous national parks, offering diverse wildlife, landscapes and tribal communities. This is a fascinating region to cycle through. The route follows the  forested corridor that serves as a refuge for wildlife across the parks. Cycle in the company of an expert naturalist who will share their knowledge of the park, and ensure that the holiday is conducted always with responsible tourism in mind.

The adventure starts in Nagpur, the gateway to the national parks. Bikes will be waiting at Pench and on your first day there will be a ride to Pench river and the forest of Jamtara.

Although the trip is moderately demanding there is plenty of time to explore and take game drives inside the national parks. Lunch stops are often in the forest rest houses.  Special permissions are taken from the Forest Department to cycle inside these zones and a local park guide will accompany the cycle rides. Bike routes often go through tribal villages and the warm welcome cyclists receive is a memorable highlight of the experience.

On reaching Kanha, stay three nights to explore the forest trails, national park and tribal weekly market. Two morning game drives will be included during your stay at Kanha and there will be time to learn about the work being done on the ground by conservation organisations, to help save this critical landscape. 

What happens on a typical day of cycling?

Average daily distances vary between 20 and 35 kms each day. There is plenty of scope to cycle more or less distance, depending on fitness levels. Cycling will be, where possible, on smaller country roads. Due to the distances involved, a support vehicle accompanys each biking trip, so if your legs are feeling weary you have the option of completing part of the journey in the vehicle. There is no need to carry any luggage whilst cycling as the back up vehicle will be with you throughout the day. Plenty of refreshments including bottled water, soft drinks and fresh fruit will follow behind - and a welcome break from riding is always possible. The emphasis is on seeing India and learning about the wildlife- and not racing to the finish line! 

where will i rest my head ?

Accomodation is boutique and hand picked by Steppes Travel. Whilst in Pench sleep in an extraordinary bed, high up in the branches of the trees. Pench Tree Lodge has impressive stilted rooms in a private forest reserve. Kanha Earth Lodge, an award winning accommodation, offers all the creature comforts required after a long day cycling!

This holiday has been designed in association with TOFT (Tour Operators for Tigers).  Each booking through Steppes Travel will directly help the TOFT Forest Guardians Project in Kanha.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 3345 £ 650

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Mumbai

Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is a city teeming with culture, architecture and people. Famous for its diversity, this vast metropolis has suffered from religious tensions during recent years, but this has done little to limit the surprisingly liberal attitudes of many 'Mumbaikars'.

Having boomed as a port during the 18th and 19th century, Mumbai is rich with colonial architecture, whilst towering contemporary structures underline the city's recent prosperity. Contrasting strongly with these are the city's slums, which make up large parts of this modern city and serve as a reminder of the mixed fortunes of its residents.

You will be staying at Leela Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Fly Mumbai to Nagpur

Biking in Tiger Country - pick up transfer and afternoon ride
You will be met on arrival at the airport in Nagpur. The journey by road to Pench Tree Lodge is around two and a half hours. On arrival there will be time to check in to the hotel and have a rest before lunch and a briefing about the trip to come. This afternoon there will be a guided 15km bike ride to the Pench river and the forest of Jamtara, giving ample opportunity to familiarise yourself with your bike. The cycling this afternoon is largely flat and on a mixture of tarmaced road and compacted dirt tracks. At all times you are accompanied by your guide as well as a support vehicle carrying water, snacks and anything else you wish, e.g. your camera and a day pack.

Pench, on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, has been known through the ages for its rich flora and fauna. Named after the river that flows nearby, Pench was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1983, though it had been declared a notified area in 1972. In 1992 Pench was included under the umbrella of Project Tiger as the 19th Project Tiger Reserve.

Pench is home to the Asiatic leopard and is still one of the best places in India to spot this creature. The dam in the park is a favourite spot for bird watching. Other wildlife spotted here are chinkara, wild dog, sloth bear and jackal. Visitors also now have the option to visit the Maharashtra side of the Pench Reserve, which is often less crowded and is growing in its reputation for sightings of a host of animals and bird species.

Visitors view wildlife by jeep in morning and afternoon game drives much like other parks. Pench has a good reputation for tiger sightings and is less crowded so the overall safari experience is more personal.

Biking in Tiger Country - Nuts and Bolts - bikes used and technical stuff
Trek X-Caliber mountain bikes are provided for the duration of this trip. These are light, fast, and easy to manouvre bikes, perfect for rural, single track riding. Specifications are as follows:

- Race-ready spec - 2x drivetrain options, suspension lockout, tubeless ready rims and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.

- Light, precise race frame - highly refined Alpha Aluminum frame use sophisticated tube shaping to minimize weight and maximize performance.

- 19.5 inch frame size to fit most riders.

The support vehicle and guide carry basic spares and a basic tool kit will be provided for those who wish to carry it. A spare cycle is also carried in the support vehicle on long rides.

Safety helmets will be provided when you arrive and it is compulsory that a helmet is worn when biking. Your guide is trained in first aid and emergency rescue, but to a large degree you must be responsible for your own safety while riding. It is therefore advisable that you take out travel insurance that will cover you for a mountain biking tour.

Biking in Tiger Country - vehicle support
At all times there will be a full time back-up vehicle, available to carry luggage, cycles and anyone feeling the need to rest cycle weary legs. The backup vehicle will follow cyclists each day at a distance (so as not to be seen or heard by you or nearby wildlife) and the driver will have mobile phone / wireless hand set. The vehicle will also carry bottled water, soft drinks and fresh fruits to keep cyclists fuelled up.

You will be staying at Pench Tree Lodge, Full board

Day 3

Morning Game Drive
Morning game drive inside Pench National Park. The park is home to tiger, leopard, sloth bears, plenty of deer, langurs, and many bird species.

Biking in Tiger Country - afternoon ride
An afternoon of cycling through the forest and farmlands around Pench National Park. This is the home of Kipling's creation, Mowgli, and you are likely to ride through scenes today that could be lifted straight from the pages of the Jungle Book. The buffer zone around Pench National Park comprises of tropical moist and dry deciduous forest combined with Indian teak. These three distinct forest environments support a diversity of fauna; 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians and over 170 varieties of birds have already been listed. Wildlife is not the only attraction as Madhya Pradesh is dominated by tribal groups, all with distinct heredity, lifestyle, religious and cultural traditions. Due to this diverse spread and the remote locations they inhabit, these people have been largely untouched by the mainstream development seen in other parts of India.

You will be staying at Pench Tree Lodge, Full board

Day 4

Biking in Tiger Country - Cycling in Rukhad
This morning, after breakfast, drive for 30 minutes to the Rukhad Wildlife Sanctuary where you will cycle for around 20km on tracks through the forest. Langur swing from the trees and if you keep your eyes peeled it is possible to spot tiger pug marks in the sand.

Afternoon Game Drive
Take an afternoon game drive in Pench National Park with a naturalist. The river Pench meanders through the park and at places disappears between huge boulders and rocks. It is between these places that the tiger has found a perfect sanctuary taking full advantage of the park's high density of herbivores to satisfy its appetite.

You will be staying at Pench Tree Lodge, Full board

Day 5

Drive from Pench National Park to Kanha National Park (Road Journey)

Kanha is considered by some, as India’s greatest park and provides a diverse habitat to support many mammal and bird species. The densely forested hills of sal and bamboo combined with grassy plateaus and extensive meadows in the valleys make an attractive setting for a safari. The sheer size and remoteness also means that Kanha is often less busy than other parks and now that vehicle numbers are limited and advance booking is recommended, it offers a superior safari experience. Kanha is home to barasingha, chital, wild boar, sloth bears, jungle cats, wild dogs, leopards and the Bengal tiger.

Under Project Tiger, Kanha was divided into two major zones; the inner core and surrounding buffer. Approximately 25% of the reserve is accessible for tourism. Three entry gates service the reserve: Kisli on the western side received the most attention in the 1990's and has witnessed a boom of hotels and lodges; Mukki in the south, is a quieter gate with a handful of lodges, and Sarhi in the north has just opened to encourage vehicle dispersal.

It is estimated that the reserve is home to 114 tigers, which given the size of the area, is a reasonably healthy population.

Morning and afternoon safaris are undertaken by jeep and you are accompanied by an English speaking naturalist (usually employed by the camp you are staying in) and an official park guide who you collect at the entrance to the park. Their English generally isn’t very good but they have the sharpest eyes and a very tuned ear.

Biking in Tiger Country - Pench to Kanha Forest - tiger corridor bike ride
Following an early breakfast, drive for around two hours to the starting point of the cycling route in the Pench / Kanha forest corridor. This area is part of the Satpura-Maikal landscape and is classified as a global-priority Tiger Conservation Landscape (TCL) due to its potential for providing sufficient habitat that will allow the long-term survival of tigers. Wildlife scientists have found that the tigers in the Satpura-Maikal landscape have high genetic variation so the chances of their long term survival is greater in this region thanks to the forest corridor providing a route for tigers to disperse.The other tiger habitats in India are fast becoming islands and there is little change in genetic pool of the tiger population. After a picnic lunch continue to Kanha. The Kanha-Pench forest corridor harbours around 120 tigers along with many other fascinating floral and fauna species.The wildlife in the corridor forest is predominantly nocturnal by nature and avoids human presence so it is safe to cycle in this area. The landscape also supports diverse land use, forest protection regimes and traditional forest dwelling tribal communities.

You will be staying at Kanha Earth Lodge, Full board

Day 6

Morning Game Drive
Head out for a morning game drive.

Biking in Tiger Country - Afternoon cycle to tribal market
After lunch you will cycle for around 8km to the weekly tribal market. Very untouristy the market affords some excellent photo opportunities as well as the chance to meet and interact with the local people. After spending time at the market cycle back to the lodge via a quiet stretch of forest and passing through some delightful villages. As the day draws to a close the villagers will be standing or sitting outside their houses, with their cattle slowly making their way home from a day spent grazing.

You will be staying at Kanha Earth Lodge, Full board

Day 7

Morning Game Drive
Head out for a morning game drive.

Biking in Tiger Country - Afternoon bike ride in the buffer zone
Cycle through deciduous forest and grasslands or along one of Kanha's many meandering rivers. There may be an opportunity today to meet with people from one of Kanha's forest dwelling tribal communities.

You will be staying at Kanha Earth Lodge, Full board

Day 8

Fly Nagpur to Mumbai

Day 9

Fly Mumbai to London


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Kanha Earth Lodge

Kanha Earth Lodge

Kanha Earth Lodge is spread in 16 acres of natural forest, tucked away in a small hamlet bordering Kanha’s buffer zone....

View Accommodation

Pench Tree Lodge

Pench Tree Lodge

Pench Tree Lodge offers six spacious cottages on the ground and six tree houses perched on top of Mahua trees that are supported by stilts....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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