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Birds and Tigers of India

From

Starting from $5390 per person

Highlights

  • Visit some of India’s most sought after birding hotspots
  • 3 days of Bird Photography from hides in Thattekad
  • 2 River safaris in National Chambal
  • 2 full days in Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary
  • 5 days of birding bliss in the Himalayan foothills
  • Excellent Birds  Photography opportunities
  • 4 safaris in Ranthambhore National Park with very good photo opportunities of Tigers
  • A day visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Taj Mahal
  • All inclusive tour

Overview

India boasts varied and rich wildlife, and is a veritable paradise for any birdwatcher and photographer. Home to well over 1300 bird species, of which about 140 are endemics, makes India a treasure-trove of species and encompasses almost all the ecosystems to be found on the planet. The Himalayan Mountain Ranges in the North, the tropical forests of the Western Ghats and the North-east, the Deserts in the west, Estuaries, Mangrove forests and coastal areas of peninsular India and the Tiger heavens of the central region provide habitats for variously adapted species, both resident and migrant.

This trip combines birding and wildlife photography and sweeping landscapes with a walk back into Indian history. Our trip will start in the southern state of Kerala and although our focus will be the Western Ghats endemic birds, we will also look for the Ceylon Frogmouth and a variety of Owls. We will make time to try to catch a glimpse of the rare and elusive Slender Loris, a nocturnal primate as well as the threatened and endemic Nilgiri Tahr, an ibex ungulate. From Kerala we’ll fly to Delhi from where we will explore the very unique river habitat of Chambal. Our group will experience the best that National Chambal Sanctuary has to offer by boat photographing the elegant Indian Skimmer, waders, waterfowl and the beautiful Sarus Cranes. The Indian Gharial and critically endangered Gangetic River Dolphin will be an added bonus here. We will pay a morning visit to the Taj Mahal for an essential photo opportunity en route to another UNESCO World Heritage Site – Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary.  Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary (formly Bharatpur) consist of a variety of landscapes including wetlands, forests, scrub and marshes that provide habitats for a myriad of species.

Ranthambhore was the former hunting grounds of the Maharajas and the park is dotted with forts and monuments dating back a few hundred years, the history of those structures are unknown. Have a chance to not just sight but also have great photographic opportunities of India’s National Animal – Tiger – in one of the world’s best and most scenic Tiger habitats. A two day tiger and birding safari in Ranthambhore National Park is an Indian experience not to be missed.

Our last stop on this epic journey would be in the Himalayan Foothills in the Northern state of Uttarakandh. Birding the cooler Himalayan foothills will provide an abundance of migratory special species and residents like the Cheer Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant and Hill Partridge. Spend 5 days across 2 iconic destinations those that are often referred to as the Mecca of Himalayan Birding and Bird Photography. Take advantage of the hides that are strategically purpose built for photography.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 – February 18, 2022

    Arrival in Kochi International Airport

    The tour commences at Kochi International Airport (COK). Guests may arrive at different times in Kochi and will be transferred to the hotel near the airport. If guests don’t find a convenient International flight to Kochi directly, they could opt to arrive in Bengaluru (BLR), Chennai (MAA), Hyderabad (HYD), Mumbai (BOM) or Delhi (DEL) and we can arrange a domestic flight to Kochi (COK)

  • Day 2 – February 19, 2022

    Transfer from Kochi to Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

    After breakfast at the hotel, depart Kochi around 10 am and arrive in Thattekad at 12 noon. On arrival, check-in at the lodge and at 1:00 pm, lunch will be served. The Lodge is a family run quaint environment with bustling activity of birds. Following lunch, guests settle down in the hides around the lodge for a session with different species of birds. The hides have fruit feeders and water with perches setup with good backgrounds suited for photography. As the light fades off, guests can exit and will be served tea and coffee.

     

    Possible Species for Afternoon: Asian paradise flycatcher, Puff-throated Babbler, Jungle Babbler, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Blue-throated Blue flycatcher, White-bellied blue flycatcher, Cinereous Tit, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Blyth’s Starling, Orange-headed Thrush, Malabar Whistling Thrush, White-cheeked Barbet, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian pitta, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Emerald dove

     

    After sunset, freshen up and before dinner, go for a night walk to look for nocturnal birds and also have a chance to see the rare and elusive Slender Loris (Nocturnal Primate). The walk may also happen post dinner subject to weather conditions and sunset.

     

    Possible Species for Night walk: Great-eared Nightjar, Jungle Nightjar, Molted Wood Owl, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Indian Scops Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Oriental Scops Owl

  • Day 3 – February 20, 2022

    Full day in Thattekad

    Today, we begin the morning with a walk inside Thattekad bird Sanctuary. The walk would be for about 3 hours as we scan the bushes and canopy for many Western Ghats endemic birds. In the afternoon, we will visit another area to watch and photograph forest birds.

     

    Possible species: Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Malabar Parakeet, White-breasted Kingfisher, Grey Jungle Fowl, Red Spur fowl, Bay-backed Shrike, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Barbet, Pygmy Wood Pecker, Heart-spotted woodpecker, Flame-throated bulbul, Banded Bay cuckoo, Brown Wood Owl, Sri Lankan Bay Owl

  • Day 4 – February 21, 2022

    Full day in Munnar

    Starting early this morning, we will drive 2 hours to reach Munnar. On reaching Munnar, the first stop will be for breakfast at a local restaurant and then continue to the Eravikulam National Park. In Eravikulam, private vehicles or taxis are not allowed. Hence, we need to go by a bus arranged by the Forest Department. This is done to keep a check on traffic inside the National Park. The Bus trip would take between 15-20 minutes.

     

    At Eravikulam, we will walk around the park on a well-laid Concrete road, but it’s a hill and gradually steep with a difficulty level of Medium considering that we will have to move with our Cameras. Around the park, we will scan the grasslands and also have very high chances to see and photograph Nilgiri Tahr. The High altitude Shola forests are also quite rewarding for bush birds like Painted Bush Quail. Return back to Munnar for lunch. Afterwards, birding around the hill station before returning to Thattekad for the night.

     

    Possible Species: Kerala Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue Robin, Black and Orange Flycatcher, Bar-winged Flycatcher shrike, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Painted Bush Quail, Indian Black bird, Square-tailed Bulbul, Nilgiri pipit, Blue-caped Rock Thrush

  • Day 5 – February 22, 2022

    Travel day to Delhi

    Today will be the last morning in Thattekad. After a brief session around the lodge grounds followed by breakfast, we will depart around 10 am to reach Kochi by noon. Later in the afternoon, we will take a flight out to the National Capital – Delhi. On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi, our group will be met by a representative and will be transferred to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel and meet for dinner at the restaurant for a buffet dinner.

     

    Our morning time for birding is subjective to availability of flights and the schedules and timing for 2022.

     

    Possible Species in Thattekad: Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Grey Jungle Fowl, Red Spurfowl, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher

  • Day 6 – February 23, 2022

    Visit Taj Mahal and transfer to Chambal

    The group will depart from Delhi with a packed breakfast box towards Agra. Arriving about 3 hours later in Agra, we would stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the World’s seven Wonders – Taj Mahal for a 2 hour long guided tour and photography of the Monument. Taj Mahal is a symbol of flamboyance of the Mughal Dynasty that flourished in the 16th century in India. The tour would span around 45 minutes and then guests would have their leisure time to walk around and make images of the amazing Taj Mahal.

    Departing Agra, we arrive at Chambal for lunch. After lunch, be escorted around the lodge for birding and photography.

     

    Possible Species around the lodge: Red Avadavat, Indian Thick-knee, Red-necked Falcon, Barred Button Quail, Greater Painted Snipe, Jacobin Cuckoo, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Tickell’s Thrush, Red-headed Bunting, Brown Hawk Owl

  • Day 7 – February 24, 2022

    Full day in National Chambal

    Today will be a full day in the National Chambal Bird Sanctuary. The area is a very unique river habitat. We will have the opportunity for morning and evening boat rides. During the mid day, we will return to the Lodge for lunch. During our boat safaris, our chances to see many birds are high and those that are unique to this region. The highlights will be the Indian Skimmer as they go about their daily routines and frequently skimming around. Another rare and unique reptilian species is the Indian Gharial (A crocodile) – critically endangered with good chances to see them. We also stand a chance to the critically endangered Gangetic River Dolphin

     

    Possible Species: Indian Skimmer, Indian River Tern and Black-bellied Tern, Small Pratincole, Long-billed Pipit, Sand Lark, Desert Wheatear, Terminick’s Stint, Boneli’s Eagle, River Lapwing, Bar-headed Geese, Painted Stork, Plum-headed Parakeets, Western Marsh Harrier and more.

  • Day 8 – February 25, 2022

    Birding in Wetlands and transfer to Bharatpur

    Making an early start again, we will go on a jeep safari into the wetlands near the Loge for some of the wetland species. The safari would be for around 3 hours Breakfast is served in the Lodge post safari. After breakfast, drive 4-4.5 hours to Bharatpur with a stop enroute for lunch. In the late evening, we will arrive in Bharatpur, check-in and dinner.

     

    Possible Species in Chambal: Sarus Cranes, Red-wattled Lapwing, White-tailed Lapwing, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Ferruginous Duck, Black-necked Stork, Steppe Eagle, Mustached Warbler, Crested Bunting, Greater Short-toed Lark and Yellow Wagtail.

  • Day 9 & 10 – February 26 & 27, 2022

    2 days in Bharatpur

    2 full days of bird photography in the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary (formly Bharatpur) and National Park. We will spend the whole day with packed breakfast; and lunch will be brought to us inside the park so we don’t loose time going back and forth to the lodge. We will explore a variety of landscapes including Wetlands, Forests, Scrub and Marshes.

     

    There is a watchtower too where we will have a vantage point over a nesting colony of storks. This place offers great opportunities to get birds in flight. The Wetlands offer to us the best chances for Ducks, Geese and other birds including the Sarus Cranes.

     

    Possible Species: Darter, Indian Cormorant, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Spoonbill, Black-necked Stork, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Spot-billed Pelican, Yellow-billed Babblers, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Shikra, Western Marsh Harriers, Imperial Eagle, Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Knob-billed Duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teel, Garganey, Little Grebe, Common Coot and Common Hoopoe.

  • Day 11 – February 28, 2022

    Half day in Bharatpur and transfer to Ranthambhore

    Spend the morning in the Keoladeo Park with breakfast and return to the hotel for lunch. After lunch, transfer to Ranthambhore  – 5 hours. Enroute, we will make a few stops along the way at certain water bodies based on water levels and bird activity.

     

     

  • Day 12 & 13 – March 1 & 2, 2022

    On each of the 2 days, go on morning and evening safaris in different parts of Ranthambhore National Park. It is one of India’s most scenic Tiger habitats and also a birder’s heaven. The park’s water bodies and lakes attract several species of birds. Also the scrub and dhonk forests offer us good chances to encounter various other forest birds. The Indian Peacock though common offers great photo opportunities. Not to forget, Ranthambhore is a sought after destination by photographers pursuing Tigers, Leopards and Mammals.

     

    Possible Species: Rufous Treepie, Grey Francolin, Great Thick Knee, Indian Peacock, Painted Spurfowl, Rock Pigeon, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Ruddy Shelduck, River Tern Rose-ringed Parakeet, Plum-headed Parakeet and Alexandrine Parakeet, Euasian Oriole, Large Grey Babbler, Bush Lark, White-bellied & Black Drongo, Indian Vulture, King Vulture, Shikra, Bay-backed Shrike and Long-tailed Shrike.

     

  • Day 14 - March 3, 2022

    Travel day back to Delhi

    Transfer from Ranthambhore to Jaipur – 3 hours. From Jaipur, take a 1 hour flight back to Delhi. On arrival be met by a representative who will assist the group for a transfer to the hotel near the airport. Time permitting; we will head to some wetlands around Delhi.

  • Day 15 - March 4, 2022

    Travel to the Himalayas with birding stops enroute

    Our preferred choice would be to take a flight from Delhi to Pantnagar Airport (PGH) and drive 3 hours to Pangot. Closer to the tour, the availability and schedule of the flight will be evaluated and confirmed. If not, we would undertake a 7-8 or so hour drive subject to traffic. On arrival, we will spend time around the lodge.

     

    Possible Species: Great Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Red-bellied Blue Magpie, Blue Whistling Thrush, Streaked Laughing Thrush, Striated Laughing Thrush, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Black Bird

  • Day 16 - March 5, 2022

    Full day in Pangot

    Today will be our full day in Pangot. Pangot being at a higher elevation is home to some unique birds that inhabit the Himalayan Mountains. Starting early morning, we will first visit a deep valley to look for pheasants. Scanning the slopes to find the foraging pheasants is an interesting activity. During the mid day, spend time around camp and after lunch continue towards a wooded area. We will spend the rest of the day in the wooded area looking for birds like woodpeckers, flycatchers, Laughing Thrushes, Treepies and Magpies.

     

    Possible Species: Cheer Pheasant, Koklas Pheasant, Hill Partridge, Himalayan Bluetail, Himalayan Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Himalayan Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Green-backed Tit, Black-lored Tit, Spot-winged Tit, Streaked Laughing Thrush, Striated Laughing Thrush, Eurasian Jay.

  • Day 17 - March 6, 2022

    Transfer from Pangot to Sattal

    Spend the morning around Pangot’s lodge grounds. Transfer from Pangot to Sattal in time for lunch. After lunch, settle down at the hide for some Himalayan avian wonders. The Hides are ideal for photography. Designed with paying attention to direction of natural lighting and appropriate backgrounds, the hides are nothing less than a natural studio. Even the ordinary and common birds look special here.

  • Day 18 & 19 - March 7 & 8, 2022

    2 days in Sattal

    Sattal is the Mecca of Himalayan Birding and Bird Photography in the Western side of mighty mountains. Perched at an ideal elevation of 1370 meter above MSL, the area has a high diversity of fruiting trees. Sattal is also comprised of 7 lakes. These two factors are a great combination for attracting several species of Birds. Sattal being at mid-elevation, it is a midway stop for winter migrants from the plains returning back to the higher elevation and for the summer migrants from the hills migrating to the plains. March is the season when return migrations happen and we are sure to catch several interesting birds during our tour.

     

    Over the 2-days in Sattal, our group will visit a diverse array of habitats ranging from hill slopes, riverbeds, forested patches, and streams and occasionally to even some tourist spots. At the tourist spots, many species are attracted to the garbage cans and for the litter around the area. We will also have the opportunity to use the hides in the lodge.

     

    Possible Species: Black Francolin, Kalij Pheasant, White-throated Laughing Thrush, White-crested Laughing Thrush, Streaked Laughing Thrush, Striated Laughing Thrush, Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrush, Rufous-chinned Laughing Thrush, Red-billed Magpie, Green Magpie, Greater & Lesser Yellow Nape Woodpecker, Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Himalayan Woodpecker, Chestnut-bellied Nutach, White-tailed Nutach, White-browed Fantail, Collared Dove, Oriental Dove, Red-billed Leothrix, Ashy Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul,  Blue-winged Minla, Black Bulbul, Coal Tit, Green-backed Tit, Black-lored Tit, Black-throated Tit, Great Tit, Blue Whistling Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Rufous Sibia, Orange-bellied Leaf Bird, Slaty Blue Flycatcher, Himalayan Kingfisher, Brown Dipper, Little Forktail, Slaty-backed Forktail, Collared Owlet

     

    The above list of birds for the Sattal-Pangot sector are indicative and may not be exactly as mentioned for each day. We may sight certain species on earlier days or some species mentioned earlier will be seen later on. Subject to weather conditions and bird activity.

  • Day 20 - March 9, 2022

    Depending on whether we have the flight option or not, we will accordingly decide our departure time. If we have a late afternoon flight from Pantnagar (PGH) to Delhi (DEL), we can spend the morning at the hide. In case the flight is earlier, we need to depart in the morning. If flights are not available, we will depart at the crack of dawn to arrive in Delhi in the late afternoon. On arrival in Delhi, our Indian Tour comes to an end. Guests will be dropped at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL).

    Guests can opt to have a room for the night, which can be booked for an optional extra cost. Most international flights depart India in the early hours of the day between midnight and 04:00 am.

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Dates & Prices

February 18, 2022

$5390 per person

Spaces:

6 spaces

Guide:

Gaurav Ramnarayanan

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Inclusions:

 

Exclusions:

Starts at: Kochi International Airport, Cochin (COK)

Ends at: Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (DEL)

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