• TIGER AND BIRDING TRIPS INDIA

20 Day INDIA - BIRDS AND TIGERS

Set Departure: February 18 – March 9, 2022

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. Our trip will start in the forested southern state of Karala and although our focus will be the Western Ghats endemics like the Indian Pitta we will also look for the Sri Lanka 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 endemic Nilgiri Tahr, an ibex ungulate. From Kerala we'll fly to Delhi from where we will explore the northern wetlands by boat photographing the elegant Indian Skimmer, waders, waterfowl and the beautiful Sarus Cranes. We will pay a morning visit to the Taj Mahal for an essential photo opportunity en route to the very unique river habitat of Chambal. 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. Birding the cooler Himalayan foothills will provide an abundance of migratory special species and residents like the Cheer Pheasant, Koklas Pheasant and Hill Partridge.

*Inquire about our 4 day extension to Chopta for higher elevation special like among others the Himalayan Monal Pheasant and close encounters with Koklass Pheasant

THE ITINERARY TAB IS NEXT TO THE GALLERY BELOW
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Itinerary

Day 1 Friday February 18, 2022 – ARRIVAL

The tour commences at Kochi International Airport (COK). If you can't find a convenient direct
international flight to Kochi you can opt for a connection flight via Bengaluru (BLR), Chennai (MAA), Hyderabad (HYD), Mumbai (BOM) or Delhi (DEL). Your guide will meet you in the arrivals hall for your transfer to the hotel near the airport.

Day 2 – Saturday February 19, 2022 - THATTEKAD

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.

Target 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.

Target 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 – Sunday February 20, 2022 – THATTEKAD BIRD SANCTUARY

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.

Target 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, Heartspotted Woodpecker, Flame-throated Bulbul, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Brown Wood Owl, Sri Lankan Bay Owl

Day 4 – Monday February 21, 2022 – MUNNAR

Starting early this morning, we will drive 2 hours to reach Munnar where we'll stop for breakfast at a local restaurant and then continue to the Eravikulam National Park. In Eravikulam, private vehicles or taxis are not allowed and a short bus trip will transfer take us into the park. We will walk around the park on a well-laid but at places steep concrete road and scan the surroundings and grasslands for bird species. The Nilgiri Tahr (Ibex) occurs here. The High altitude Shola forests are also quite rewarding for bush birds like Painted Bush Quail. We'll return back to Munnar for lunch where-after birding will continue around the hill station before retiring to Thattekad for the night.

Target 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 Blackbird, Square-tailed Bulbul, Nilgiri Pipit, Blue-caped Rock Thrush

Day 5 – Tuesday February 22, 2022 – DELHI

Today will be the last morning in Thattekad. An early morning birding session around the lodge grounds will be 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.

The duration of our morning time birding is subjective to the flight schedules of available flights.

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

Day 6 – Wednesday February 23, 2022 - 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 7 – Thursday February 24, 2022 – 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 8 - Friday February 25, 2022 - TRAVEL TO 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 9 & 10 – Saturday & Sunday February 26 & 27, 2022 – 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 11 – Monday February 28, 2022 – TRAVEL TO RANTHAMBHORE

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

Target Species: Same species as above

Day 12 & 13 – Tuesday & Wednesday March 1 & 2, 2022 – TIGER SAFARIS 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 14: Thursday March 3, 2022 – RETURN TO DELHI

Today you will have the option for a 5th Tiger Safari (at additional cost) or visit Ranthambhore fort where there are good opportunities for Rose-ringed Parakeets, Plum-headed Parakeets, Large Grey Babblers and have time to marvel at the architecture of the fort. 

It is a 3 hour transfer from Ranthambhore to Jaipur from where we will take an one hour flight back to Delhi in the afternoon. On arrival we will be met by a representative who will assist the group for a transfer to the hotel near the airport.

Day 15: Friday March 4, 2022 – TRAVEL TO PANGOT

Our preferred choice would be to take a flight from Delhi to Pantnagar Airport (PGH) and drive to Pangot. Closer to the tour, the availability and schedule of the flight will be evaluated and confirmed as the flights are often cancelled. If flighst aren't available we will undertake a seven hour drive subject to traffic. On arrival, time permitting, we will spend time birding 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: Saturday March 5, 2022 – HIMALAYAN VALLEYS

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 midday we will spend time around camp and after lunch continue towards a wooded area where we will be birding the rest of the day.

Target 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 17-19: Sunday to Tuesday March 6 - 8, 2022 – SATTAL

Day 17: March 6, 2022 – Sunday
We will spend the morning birding around Pangot’s lodge grounds before being transfer from Pangot to Sattal in time for lunch. After lunch we will settle into a hide for some Himalayan avian wonders. The Hides are ideal for photography. Designed 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 – Monday and Tuesday
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 sea level 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 special 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 where many species are attracted to the garbage cans and 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 LaughingT hrush, 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: Wednesday March 9, 2022 – RETURN TO DELHI, END OF TOUR

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 at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). Please inquire to arrange for accommodation if your flight departs the next day.