• TIGER AND BIRDING TRIPS INDIA

20 Day INDIA - BIRDS AND TIGERS

Set Departure: January 24 – February 12, 2023

India boasts varied and rich wildlife, and is a veritable paradise for any birdwatcher. Home to well over 1300 bird species, of which about 140 are endemics, making India a treasure-trove of species and encompasses almost all the ecosystems to be found on the planet. Hot and humid evergreen forests and chilly high altitude mountain valleys of the north-east and south-west to the scorching deserts making up most of the west provide habitats for variously adapted species, both resident and migrant.

This trip combines birding, birding and wildlife photography and sweeping landscapes with a walk back into Indian history. Arriving in Delhi our trip will starts with a morning visit to the Taj Mahal for an essential photo opportunity en route to the very unique river habitat of Chambal to explore the northern wetlands 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. 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. A two day tiger and birding safari in Ranthambhore National Park is an Indian experience not to be missed as is the evening safari in Jhalana Leopard Reserve. Birding the cooler Himalayan foothills around Chopta will provide an abundance of migratory special species and residents like the Himalayan Monal, Cheer Pheasant, Koklaas Pheasant, Snow Partridge and Hill Partridge. The scenic views to Manila is something to behold and at Sattal, the mecca of Himalayan birding, an vast array of species awaits us.

THE ITINERARY TAB IS NEXT TO THE GALLERY BELOW
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Itinerary

Day 1 – ARRIVAL

Today will be set aside for guests arriving at different times in Delhi. Private cars would be available to receive all guests and transfer them to our hotel in the Aero City Holiday Inn.

Day 2 – TAJ MAHAL & CHAMBAL

The group will depart from Delhi with a packed breakfast box to 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, the Taj Mahal for a 1.5-2 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 is around 45 minutes and guests will have their leisure time to walk around and take pictures.


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


Target 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 3 – CHAMBAL BIRD SANCTUARY

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 midday we will return to the lodge for lunch. On our boat safaris the highlight will be the Indian Skimmer as they go about their daily routines and frequently skimming around the boat. A rare and unique reptilian species, the critically endangered Indian Gharial (crocodile), and the critically endangered Gangetic River Dolphin occur both here and we may have a chances to spot these species.

Target Species: Indian Skimmer, Indian River Tern, Black-bellied Tern, Small Pratincole, Longbilled 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 4 - BHARATPUR

Making an early start we will go on a jeep safari into the wetlands near the lodge for some of the wetland species. The safari would be for around 3 hours. Breakfast is served in the lodge post safari. After breakfast it is a 4-4.5 hours drive to Bharatpur with a stop en route for lunch. In the late evening, we will arrive in Bharatpur, check-in and have 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 5 & 6 – KEOLADEO BIRD SANCTUARY

Two full days of bird photography in the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary (formly Bharatpur) and National Park. We will spend the whole day out taking with packed breakfast while lunch will be brought to us inside the park. We will explore a variety of landscapes including Wetlands, Forests, Scrub and Marshes. There is a watchtower from where we will have a vantage point over a nesting colony of storks which 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 7 – RANTHAMBHORE

After an early breakfast, 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. Arriving around lunch time in Ranthambhore, we soon head out for a evening safari in search of Tigers and the park’s many birds.


Target 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 8 – TIGER SAFARIS & BIRDING IN RANTHAMBHORE

On each of the two days we will do 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.


Target 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 9 - LEOPARDS & BIRDING IN JAIPUR

After a morning safari we will transfer from Ranthambhore to Jaipur – 3 hours. In the evening, we will go on a safari in Jhalana Leopard Reserve located within the Jaipur City. Overnight in Jaipur.

Possible Species: Shikra, Black-shouldered Kite, Common Kestrel, Rufous Treepie, Grey Francolin, Euasian Oriole, Large Grey Babbler

Day 10 - TRAVEL DAY TO RUDRAPRAYAG

This morning, we take a flight from Jaipur to Dehra Dun (Direct or via Delhi). On arrival in Dehra Dun, we transfer to the small hill town of Rudraprayag – (4-4.5 hours). Rudraprayag was the backdrop for the book, ‘Man-eater of Rudraprayag’ authored by the Conservation Hunter Jim Corbett based on his real life story of hunting down the Man-eating Leopard which was believed to have killed over 50 people. Today will be a travel day and if time permits, we will try for a few birds around the town.

Day 11 - THE HIMALAYAN VALLEYS

Our first destination in the Himalayas – Chopta is located another 3-3.5 hours away from Rudraprayag. On arrival, our local guide will meet us and we will spend time until afternoon to acclimatize to the higher elevation and cool weather. Today, we explore the first valley in search of the Himalayan Monal.


Target Species: Himalayan Monal, Alpine Accentor, Eurasian Wren, Blue Fronted Redstart, Blue Whistling Thrush, Griffons, Golden Eagle Etc.

Day 12 - HIMALAYAN MONAL IN CHOPTA

There are a few view points to explore to look for the colourful Himalayan Monal and Koklaas Pheasant. During the morning, we will dedicate the time to find and photograph these beautiful birds. During the afternoon, our focus will shift to forest birds like Woodpeckers, Owls and Laughing Thrushes


Target Species: Koklaas Pheasant, Monal, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Himalayan Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, White-tailed Nuthatch, Variagated Laughingthrush, Himalayan Buzzard, Collared Owlet and many more specials

Day 13 & 14 - TUNGANATH TREK ROUTE AND MANDAL VALLEY

On of the days will explore the Tunganath Trek route to focus on Partiridges and some other forest birds. Not much of walking is involved. But guests should be prepared to walk for 1-2 km on relatively flat to easy terrain. This locale is quite famous to see Himalayan Monals displaying.
On the other day, we will drive 2 hours from our accommodation to the beautiful Mandal Valley. Honey Guides, Rose Finches and Bush Robins would be our targets for the day.

Target Species: Chukar Partridge, Snow Partridge, White-collared Blackbird, Rusty-flanked Tree-creeper, White-browed Fullvetta, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Scarlet Finch, Spot-winged Rose Finch, Pink-browed Rose Finch, Golden Bush Robin, etc.

Day 15 & 16 - SCENIC MANILA

After a morning session in Chopta-Mandal area, we proceed to our next stop, Manila. The 6 hour drive through the Hills are very scenic and we will make photography stops en route and do birding. In the evening, we will target the Wall Creeper and some Fork tail species around water.

Target Species: Hill Partridge, Wall Creeper, Little Forktail

In Manila, we have very specific species to target and our entire effort would be towards finding these birds. We wont be venturing too far away today and will stay in close vicinity to our hotel only. The surroundings are breathtaking.

Target Species: Cheer Pheasant, Koklass Pheasant, Lesser Kestrel, Mountain Scops Owl

Day 17 - RAMNAGAR

Starting early from Manila, we will drive via the forested patches of Ramnagar which are good places for Flycatchers and Warblers. By late afternoon, we will arrive in Sattal and spend the rest of the evening at an in-house hide located on the property of our accommodation.


Target Species: Slaty Blue Flycatcher, Buff-barred Warbler, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-chinned Laughing Thrush, Black-throated Tit, Black-chinned Babbler and others

Day 18 & 19 - 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. February 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.

Target 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

Day 20 - DELHI

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 transferred to 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.

Rates

Set-departure: January 24 – February 12, 2023

$6200 per person sharing, based on six persons

Included: Accommodation, Meals (except: day of arrival, lunch on day 9, airport meals on day 10), Activities and Safaris plus hide-use as mentioned, Land transport and domestic flights, Water in vehicle, Local site guides, Park and Entrance fees, Itinerary booklet, Bird and Mammal checklist

Excluded: International Airfares, India tourist visa, Travel and Medical insurance, Additional accommodation prior and after the scheduled tour, Mobile sim cards, Laundry, Personal expenses, Alcohol and Tobacco, Tips and Gratuities, Excess Baggage on flights