Lions, tigers and birds in India
Tigers, birds and even lions!
India’s rich and diverse wildlife and birdlife is preserved in numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries spread across the country. It is home to a number of rare and threatened bird and animal species. The top location for birds is Bharatpur where a number of large mammals are to be found, including the Asian elephant, tiger, Asiatic lion, leopard, sloth and other bears and the Indian rhinoceros, water buffalo, gaur and several other species such as hyena, langurs and many more. We have chosen to visit Corbett, a park situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, because this is where there is the best chance to spot a tiger. No doubt we will also visit the Taj Mahal during our tour.
Corbett and surroundings
Corbett NP was one of the first parks in India especially founded to protect the tiger. There is still a good population of tigers here, and the tigers of Corbett are free to come and go here. For birdlovers, Corbett is (improbably!) the best destination for raptors. Especially in winter, many Siberian and Himalayan birds visit this area. One particular species to look out for in winter is the wall creeper, which can be seen here every winter; another is the ibisbill. The birdlist could be extended with local breeding birds such as the tawny and the brown fish owl, Pallas’s fish eagle, different kinds of sunbirds, laughing thrushes, the giant kingfisher and so on.
Meeting the tiger
The biggest cat on earth has always had a mystical aura. Many wild life enthusiasts dream of meeting a wild tiger, an experience never to be forgotten. The tiger, despite its size (length about 280 cm) and its weight (about 200 kg) is perfectly able to hide and to move silently.
Of course we will focus on the tiger, but we can also observe many other mammals and birds here. Hog deer, sambar and spotted deer abound, for they are prey for the tiger. These deer are always wary, as are rhesus and langur. Their continued vigilance, together with their distinctive alarm call when a tiger is near, is a well-known signal for us to be alert. Interesting birds which can be seen here include: the brown and the tawny fish owl, the stork-billed kingfisher and the crested hawk eagle.
The river Chambal is quite a new destination for us. In the reservation part we will see gharials, with a population of around 50. We also have a chance to see Indian shear bill, marsh crocodile and river dolphins. So far, all these species have been seen on our tours.
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park, familiarly known as Bharatpur, is one of the most beautiful and well-known bird reserves in the world. The water in this marshy area is full of life – a kind of “living soup”, full of plankton, algae, leeches, water hyacinths, frogs, watersnakes, terrapins and catfish. Many of these animals are prey for the many waders, egret, ibis, ducks, cranes, storks, cormorants and darters which live here.
Maharadja of Bharatpur
The Keoladio Ghana National Pak is situated about 200 km south of Delhi, and only a few kilometers outside the town of Bharatpur, which gave the park its name. The park has a surface area of only 29 square kilometres. Please do not have the illusion that this park is has always been a marsh area, since it was landscaped as a private hunting ground for the Maharadja of Bharatpur. In the year 1981 the Keoladeo Ghana National Park was established as a national park and hunting with guns was forbidden. Photo-hunters,
however, feel like they are in paradise here! The dikes and dams are now used as ideal walking paths and cycling paths. In contrast to most wetlands, the Bharatpur Park is accessible and the tameness of many species here is quite remarkable. This is the reason that many species are easy to see and easy to photograph, without big telescopes and teleobjectives.
In the period of November until February it is possible to spot almost 200 species of birds within just a few days. Particularly special are birds of prey, goose, ducks, egrets, kingfishers, storks and cranes as well as many delightful smaller birds: the bluethroat, Siberian rubythroat, dusky warbler r
and many others. In November the sarus cranes breed in Bharatpur. At a length of 1.65 metres, they are the biggest cranes in the world and nowhere can you find a better place to observe them. Their call consists of two parts: the male calls the first part and then the female joins in. The teamwork of their call strengthens their relationship and is intended to demarcate their territory. We will see common cranes too. In former times, the white Siberian crane was generally to be seen, but now it has disappeared. We will also see different species of stork: the painted stork, Asian openbill, bishops and the blacknecked stork; and kingfishers: the common kingfisher, Smyrna kingfisher and the coloured kingfisher – all species which are usually found here. Colourful songbirds such as owls, nightjars, and pelicans also contribute to the exotic character of the park.
Enter the swamps by boat
It is impossible to leave Bharatpur without taking a tour by boat, either early in the morning or perhaps late in the afternoon. From the water you have a better view of the nests. Perhaps a large, very colourful bird lands a short distance away from you. It has red feet, black wings, a white body, a dark blue neck and bright yellow eyes: it is the female of the black-necked stork. Standing upright it is 1.70 metres tall – taller than the most Indian people. This species is a rare one which is not common anywhere, but in Bharatpur it has one of its last opportunities to breed. It walks through the marsh with huge steps, looking for frogs, fish and snakes.
Lions and bustards
We visit the Gir-National Park with the lions. Game drives will bring us to them with 99% chance. But Gir NP is not only prime place for lion, since the chance to see leopard is high. Common species here are Sambar deer, spotted deer, nilgai, wild boar, Indian gazelle, four-horned antelope.
Gir is one of the best places to spot four-horned antelope and Indian gazelle. There is a good chance to see many birds such as changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, Bonneli’s eagle, shaheen peregrine, laggar falcon, shikra, painted sandgrouse, quails, black-hooded and golden oriols, marshall’s and common iora, Asian paradise flycatcher, tickell’s blue, red-throated, Verditer and Asian brown flycatchers, Yellow-crowned, brown-capped pygmy woodpecker, blackrumped flameback, green and blue-cheeked bee-eaters, coppersmith barbet, common, lesser pied and white-throated kingfisher, blossom-headed parakeet, hoopoe, black, ashy and white-bellied drongos, rufous treepie, large cuckoo shrike.
Moreover we will visit the Little Rann of Kutch. This area is known for its large herds of wild ass. The chance to meet these herds is nearly 100%. Many species of mammals and birds are to be seen.
In this savannah and steppe landscape presents its desert fox, Indian deer, Nilgai, desert cat, wolf, langur, hedgehog and many species of larks and bush larks. We also find in this area two species of sand grouse, Indian cream colored courser and three species of kites: steppe harrier, Montagu’s harrier and marsh harrier.
|Price||€ 3695, —
International flights included
|Dates in February 2020:||7-24 February 2020|
|Dates in November 2020||13-28 November|
|Guaranty:||Blue Elephant is member of GGTO (Dutch equivalent of ABTA);
|Single room supplement:||€ 550,-|
|start & return
||Start Delhi, end Mumbai|
|Itinerary:||will be sent four weeks before departure|
|Local transport:||by bus, jeep, walking, local flights or riksja.
|Walking effort:||easy walking.|
|Participants:||4 – 8|
|Accommodation:||Full board, good quality hotels, with private bathroom .|
|Guidance:||English speaking guide and several local guides.|
|Weather:||dry and acceptable warm temperature.|
|day 1:||Leave home for Delhi;|
|day 2:||arrival Delhi and transfer to the hotel;|
|day 3:||after breakfast transfer to Corbett National Park. On our way different stops for birding. Overnight stay in Wild Crest. In this area we will look for the ibisbill;|
|day 4:||Dhikala in Corbett, ochtend en middag game-drives. Overnachting Dhikala;|
|day 5:||Dhikala in Corbett, morning and afternoon game drives. Overnight stay in Dhikala|
|day 6:||transfer from Corbett to Agra. Different stops for birding. Overnight stay in Agra;|
|day 7:||Exploring the Chambal-area, with many waterbirds such as Indian shear bill, big population of Ganges gharial and marsh crocodile;|
|day 8:||Visit Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sigri and tranfer to Bharatpur;|
|day 9:||whole day Keoladeo National Park. Overnight stay Bharatpur;|
|day 10:||whole day Keoladeo National Park. Overnight stay Bharatpur;|
|day 11:||whole day Keoladeo National Park. Overnight stay Bharatpur;|
|day 12:||Bharatput – Jaipur Leave early morning at 5.00 am with packed breakfast to Jaipur (3 hours drive) for flight to Ahemadabad, depart at 10.15 am Indigo flight and arrival Ahemadabad at 11.25 am receive and drive to Zainabad (2 hours) on arrival check in Desert Courser (2 x overnight stay) on ful board basis. Afternoon visit Little Rann of Kutch;|
|day 13:||Zainabad ; Full day visit Little Rann of Kutch for birding;|
|day 14:||Zainabad – Gir This morning after early breakfast drive to Gir NP (5 hours). Arrive by lunch and check in in Gir Birding Lodge for 2 nights. Afternoon jungle excursion by jeep;|
|day 15:||Gir morning and afternoon jungle excursion by 4 x 4 jeeps|
|day 16:||Gir Rajkot Morning jungle excursion after early lunch transfer to Rajkot Airport (3 hours) for flight Jet Airways to Mumbai depart at 15.45 pm and arrival in Mumbai at 16.50 pm. Transfer to International terminal for return flight from Mumbai back home.|
|dag 17:||Arrival in your homeland.|
On the map are the locations shown of this tour.