India’s National Parks

There are roughly 100 National Parks in India, ranging in size, location and with different species of wild and plant life. Here are some handy pointers about their unique features for anyone interested in travelling to India.

Kanha National Park– Along with Ranthambore is a top tiger location. Also there are leopards, deer, antelope, langur monkeys and bison all mixed in with a few bears. It is the less touristy state of Madhya Pradesh.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary– 777sq km with a 26sq km man-made lake, Periyar is the perfect place to spot elephant as there are over 1,000 here, along with sambar, boar, langur monkeys and of course a few tigers. This is a very popular place to visit, even though the park is so large it can sometimes feel busy.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park– If you like birds, then Keoladeo is the place to go. It is best accessed from Bharatpur, which is a 3 hour drive South-East of Jaipur. October through to February is by far the best time to visit, this is after monsoon season. The lakes will be full, plant life in bloom and the trees full with leaves will mean that the birds will flock here. Painted Storks, Sarus cranes, herons, egrets, owls, cormorants and kingfishers all live here. You may even see pythons in the winter months.

Ranthambore National Park– Based in Rajasthan, just 5 hours from Jaipur is the best place in Rajasthan to (hopefully) spot tigers in a lovely unspoiled nature reserve. Project Tiger was setup in 1979 to preserve the tigers and local wildlife.

Corbett National Tiger Reserve… This was India’s first national park, establish in 1936. This reserve inspired the national program Project Tiger. April to mid-June is the best time to spot a tiger.

None of the parks guarantee that you will certain animals, especially tigers which are the most elusive.

African Travel Tips When Visiting Kenya

Kenya is the land that has given birth to the most popular African activity for tourists, namely the safari, and its easy to see why. Blessed with tremendous topographical diversity stretching over four climatic zones and featuring coral reefs, desert landscapes, volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, Kenya has it all in one.

Inhabiting these diverse landscapes and wilderness areas are Kenya’s world-famous wildlife, which can be viewed from horseback, 4×4 vehicle, verandah or on foot. There are over 1000 species of birds and huge colonies of colourful butterflies. Also attractive is the rich history, which dates back to the Stone Age, and the various cultures expressed through the sought-after arts and crafts.

So, if you are lazing on the white sand beaches of exotic Mombasa or gazing at the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle, the annual wildebeest migration, you are sure to enjoy a world-class experience.

CAPITAL:

Nairobi

CLIMATE:

Four climatic zones exist: tropical, equatorial, semi-desert and desert. Only two seasons are identified, namely dry and rainy. Due to altitude and topographical differences of the various regions, these seasons and temperatures are not uniform and vary greatly. However, in general the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east.

CURRENCY:

The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. Traveller’s cheques are widely accepted and many hotels, travel agencies, safari companies and restaurants accept credit cards. Foreign currency such as US dollars, British pounds and Deutschmarks can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and authorized hotels. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Kenya, but taking out more than 500,000 Kenya Shillings requires written authorization from the Central Bank. Before departure, travellers are advised to convert any excess Kenya Shillings into foreign currency at a bank or bureau de change. Departure taxes can be paid in local or foreign currency.

ELECTRICITY:

220/240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.

HEALTH:

A yellow fever vaccination is recommended if the traveller comes from an infected country or area. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against typhoid, hepatis A, polio, malaria and meningitis depending on the area visited and time of year. Other health concerns include cholera, rabies, the Nairobi beetle (don’t touch, threaten or kill), dysentery and diarrhoea.

LANGUAGE:

English is the official language, but Kiswahili is the national language.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Year’s Day (1 Jan); Good Friday (09 Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Madaraka Day (01 Jun); Moi Day (10 Oct); Kenyatta’s Day (20 Oct); End of Ramadan (14 Nov); Independance Day (12 Dec); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)

SHOPPING:

Traditional artefacts, beaded jewellery and decorative items, animal wood and soapstone carvings, furniture, coffee, precious stones, furniture, Khanga and Kikoy cloths, musicical instruments, modern art, basket work e.g. Kiondoo/Chondo sisal baskets, Maasai Shukka blankets, ‘Thousand Miler’ sandals, ‘elephant hair’ bracelets.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS:

Culture here is a mix of the modern and the traditional, with European habits prevailing throughout the country. Kenyans are a very friendly nation and you can dress informally for most occasions.

TIME DIFFERENCE:

GMT +3

TIPPING:

Not mandatory. Guides, drivers, waiters and hotel staff can be tipped at your discretion.

TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:

Maasai Mara:

National Reserve The world’s most famous Game Reserve due to the annual wildebeest, zebra and gazelle migration over this vast plain offering breathtaking views; home to a profusion of wildlife and birds; activities include excellent game viewing year round, balloon rides and bird watching.

Tsavo East and West:

The twin national parks of Tsavo, totalling 10 million acres of wilderness, form Kenya’s largest National Park, which make it ideal for those who enjoy solitude; of the two Tsavo West is visited more; apart from the wildlife and birds, visit Lugard Falls, the volcanic Mzima springs and a unique underwater observatory.

Mombasa:

One of the world’s most exotic tropical ports with a turbulent history. Visit the magnificent Fort Jesus and harbour, see the Arab architecture in Old Town and smell the scent of spices. Many fine temples and mosques can be explored such as the Shiva Temple, the Baluchi mosque and the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque. Also don’t miss the Mombasa Marine National Park, the Moi Avenue gateway arch, dhow cruises and the beaches.

Amboseli National Park:

One of the most popular national parks in Kenya with a wide range of accommodation; the landscape is dominated by Mount Kilimanjaro and the park is famous for its big game and scenic beauty; bird life is abundant.

Lake Nakuru National Park:

Famous for its flamingoes and so popular with bird watchers and other nature lovers. Make full use of the view point and visit the Euphobia forest.

Mount Kenya National Park:

The country is named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa. For mountain climbers and hikers, it offers easy and challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty. The local tribes believe it is the home of Ngai (God). A number of unique, rare and endangered species can be found here and there is abundant bird life.

Lamu:

A peaceful tropical island with a fascinating history, which can be explored in the winding streets of its medieval stone town, a World Heritage Site partly due to it being the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa.

Lake Turkana National Parks:

The three national parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. Turkana is outstanding for the study of plant and animal communities and the Koobi Fora fossil deposits have contributed more to the understanding of paleo-environments than any other site in Africa, it is also the most saline of Africa’s large lakes and a World Heritage Site.

Aberdare National Park:

A must for landscape lovers, where one can view spectacular mountains, waterfalls, rainforest, trout streams, moorlands, thickets of giant heath, caves, abundant bird life, duikers, the black rhino and the elusive, rare Bongo – a forest antelope. This area is ideal for walks, picnics, trout fishing, camping and night game viewing.

Mount Elgon National Park:

One of Kenya’s most beautiful and pristine areas where you can find giant trees, about 400 animals, over 240 bird species and ‘cave elephants’ that venture deep into the four caves at night to feed on the salt rich deposits. Mount Elgon is also a famous botanical locality with a great wealth of Afro alpine flowers. Hot springs occur and sport fishing is popular on the Suam river.

How to Get the Most of the National Enquiries Rail Helpline

Network Rail is the owner and operator of Britains railway infrastructure including the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations.

The UK has the fastest growing railway network in Europe with a growth of 36% in business in the last ten years. Network Rail owns over 10,000 miles of track and there are over 1 billion rail journeys made each year with an average of 2.75 million passengers travelling every day.

The National Rail Timetable contains full details of more than 20,000 passenger train services operated by Britains 23 train operating companies across the National Rail network, together with rail and shipping connections with Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and certain European destinations.

National Enquiries Rail remains the official information service for National Rail and provides impartial advice on all aspects of train travel including timetables, fares and buying tickets, live train running updates and other useful information.

If you are looking to buy tickets then it is important that you decide which tickets will suit you best. There are various options open to you including Advance, Off-Peak, Anytime, Season, Rovers and Rangers and if you are travelling around London, an Oyster card may be appropriate. You can speak to the National Enquiries Rail helpline to find which ticket is right for you.

To find the best route and cheapest prices you can use the on line Journey Planner or go through National Enquiries Rail.

You cannot buy tickets online through National Enquiries Rail but you can purchase them from one of the Ticket Retailers shown after you have selected your ticket in the Journey Planner. You can however, buy tickets through National Enquiries Rail over the phone, using the customer services helpline. You can of course also buy tickets through the ticket offices and self service ticket machines at stations.

Railcards and other discounts

Railcards offer good value for money if you travel by train, saving you at least a third on rail fares. 12 month Railcards cost from £18 to £26 each. Other discounts may be available on line or you can call the National Enquiries Rail helpline.

Depending on the type of ticket held, you may be able to make changes to travel plans, or obtain a refund if you are unable travel. To find out more you can go online to the ‘Changing and Cancelling Tickets’ page or call the National Enquiries Rail helpline. If you have an Advance ticket it will not be refundable.

Information for business travelers

National Enquiries Rail offers a lot of information relevant to business travelers. Whether a regular traveler or not, our up-to-date, real-time information can assist you with planning and making your journey.

Travel assistance

If you would like assistance when making a journey, such as help getting on or off a train, ramps for a wheelchair, please contact the Train Company that manages the station you are starting your journey from. Try to give a minimum of 24 hours notice.

Contact the National Enquiries Rail [http://www.customersupporthelplines.co.uk/page/1rshf/Helpline_22-28/Enquiries_Rail_Rail_Enquiries_Helpline.html] Helpline for more information.