International Guidelines for Travel to India for Wildlifers
Assuming the covid was on the decline especially in India, booked my tickets to Bangalore for Christmas & new year holidays especially in Kabini Tiger Reserve (booked via WildTrails.in), but thankfully I felt it’s better to book a direct flight to India rather than via Europe stopover as they had not got their covid in control yet – turned to be a great decision as I got closer to the dates, Omicron broke out and UK & Europe along with south African countries got the most hit.
I am writing this article/blog as much as I am loving Kabini with great tiger and leopard sightings but more so that gap I encountered while getting prepared to leave for India. My bookings were to fly United from Newark to Delhi direct flight, and then stay overnight in the Holiday Inn Express in T3 Terminal and then early morning catch the connecting domestic flight to Bangalore and then being picked up by a WildTrails booked Cab to Kabini so that I will be in Kabini by the time afternoon safari starts.
With the PCR test becoming compulsory for flying to India and filling up a suvidha form being compulsory, got them done and that was the easy part but got totally confused on where my customs happen as wasn’t sure whether it was in Delhi or Bengaluru and also wasn’t sure whether I should book the domestic wing of the hotel or the international wing but thankfully a call to the hotel confirmed it’s the domestic wing but had no clue on the customs/immigration part.
United had little info too and getting them on a phone call was almost next to impossible. Anyways went to the airport and they accepted the check-in direct to Bangalore but they weren’t sure where I need to pick up the baggage – Bangalore or Delhi and they said, we will be informed when we get down in Delhi. Unfortunately, not much info was shared but someone at the airport told me in broken English, get your baggage in belt 3 which I did and stood in Customs/Immigration line anyways and got it cleared and told him that I am off to Bangalore and he asked me to go domestic check-ins and once I got out, I followed directions to domestic connections and did find the Vistara check-in and thankfully they accepted it (they call it Re-check-in) even though my connecting flight was another good 8 hours away. Now I started looking for the hotel directions and none existed and no one there seem to know either 🙁 Thankfully found a gentleman who seemed to know the procedure. A very complicated one, unfortunately, but it worked. I had to walk to the end of the hall where I did the domestic check-in and there is a hotel hotline telephone and you need to call & inform them and after 10-minutes a person appeared and took me to the hotel reception and thankfully the check-in was smooth and had a good sleep and got up in time to get the security clearance and get to the connecting flight and the trip to Bangalore was uneventful.
I heard that even if you fly AirIndia to Delhi, it’s the same procedure, and also I heard that the same procedure is what is followed even in Mumbai airport. Apparently, due to some bubble agreement between US and India, direct flights fly only between the US and Delhi/Mumbai and no other cities. I am not sure but maybe true.
This is the info I wanted before I started my flight but could not find it anywhere and hence filing that gap. Hope this will be useful to many of you. Anyways writing all this sitting in the middle of the Kabini forest enjoying the beauty of nature and the wildlife.
A passionate wildlifer and an international traveler
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