Northern India: Himalayas, Tigers, and the Taj Majal

Everyone knows that India is mystical; a land of striking contrasts with a fabulously rich heritage, welcoming people, and delicious food. India also offers an intoxicating mixture of awesome birds, haunting vistas, mist-cloaked herds of deer, and the entrancing Tiger. Our exploration begins as we head north to the foothills of the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world. Here we seek barbets, laughingthrushes, whistling-thrushes, sibias, and pheasants in the oak, rhododendron, and sal forests. After a visit to Corbett NP we head to Bharatpur, a wetland attracting over 350 bird species. Next we nip by the magnificent Taj Mahal; it’s symmetrical beauty and otherworldly serenity are legendary. And for those who can’t leave India without seeing the world’s most attractive and charismatic large cat, we have an extension to Bandhavgarh. The birding here is also excellent and we have a shot at many localized species including White-naped Woodpecker and Mottled Wood-Owl.

This Yellow-wattled Lapwing was found feeding just yards from a farmer tilling his field
This Yellow-wattled Lapwing was found feeding just yards from a farmer tilling his field
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
We can see some of the highest peaks in the range
We can see some of the highest peaks in the range
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Saurus Cranes should be seen near Bharatpur
Saurus Cranes should be seen near Bharatpur
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Good things happen on the Chambal, like River Lapwings and Great Thick-knees in the same frame!
Good things happen on the Chambal, like River Lapwings and Great Thick-knees in the same frame!
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
White-capped Redstart is at home along rushing mountain streams
White-capped Redstart is at home along rushing mountain streams
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The rapidly declining vultures of India are a serious concern, and in a few years getting views of these incredible birds may not be possible
The rapidly declining vultures of India are a serious concern, and in a few years getting views of these incredible birds may not be possible
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Painted Storks sometimes breed in big numbers in Bharatpur
Painted Storks sometimes breed in big numbers in Bharatpur
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Jungle Owlet is often seen during the day
Jungle Owlet is often seen during the day
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The resounding cries of the Great Barbet are a common sound around Nainital
The resounding cries of the Great Barbet are a common sound around Nainital
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Black-necked Ibis and many other waterbirds occur in big numbers when water levels are right at Bharatpur
Black-necked Ibis and many other waterbirds occur in big numbers when water levels are right at Bharatpur
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The handsome Yellow-eyed Babbler
The handsome Yellow-eyed Babbler
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
A beautiful stream near Corbett
A beautiful stream near Corbett
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Spot-winged Tit, a common member of flocks in the mountains
Spot-winged Tit, a common member of flocks in the mountains
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Sarus Crane can be surprisingly common, a tribute to the lack of persecution of birds
Sarus Crane can be surprisingly common, a tribute to the lack of persecution of birds
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Greater Painted-Snipe at a stakeout near Bharatpur
Greater Painted-Snipe at a stakeout near Bharatpur
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Lesser Yellownape, easy to see how it got the name
Lesser Yellownape, easy to see how it got the name
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Great Thick-knee can be found on the banks of the Chambal River
Great Thick-knee can be found on the banks of the Chambal River
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Yellow-browed Tit is tiny and always on the move
Yellow-browed Tit is tiny and always on the move
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Red-vented Bulbul in the morning sun
Red-vented Bulbul in the morning sun
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Sambar are quite elk-like
Sambar are quite elk-like
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Wildlife viewing on an open jeep - Indian safari
Wildlife viewing on an open jeep - Indian safari
Katherine
 
The Blue-throated Barbet is a sweet resident of the Himalayan Foothills
The Blue-throated Barbet is a sweet resident of the Himalayan Foothills
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Himalayan Griffon rises above Pangot
Himalayan Griffon rises above Pangot
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Rose-ringed Parakeet is one of the commonest species in India
Rose-ringed Parakeet is one of the commonest species in India
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Wooly-necked Storks share an intimate moment
Wooly-necked Storks share an intimate moment
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
This isn't a cultural attraction, well actually it is, but it's also our hotel in Bharatpur!
This isn't a cultural attraction, well actually it is, but it's also our hotel in Bharatpur!
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Indian Rollers are often tame and approachable like many birds in India
Indian Rollers are often tame and approachable like many birds in India
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
A Dhole at one of the central Indian parks may even supercede Bengal Tiger as mammal of the tour
A Dhole at one of the central Indian parks may even supercede Bengal Tiger as mammal of the tour
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Great Thick-knees are found alongside the Chambal River
Great Thick-knees are found alongside the Chambal River
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The Snow View from Pangot, the main Himalayan chain in the distance
The Snow View from Pangot, the main Himalayan chain in the distance
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Brahminy Starling is common in the lowlands
Brahminy Starling is common in the lowlands
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The huge, prehistoric-looking Gharial
The huge, prehistoric-looking Gharial
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Changable Hawk-Eagle with a Red Spurfowl for pray
Changable Hawk-Eagle with a Red Spurfowl for pray
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Striated Babbler, a local species that we'll search for along the Yamuna River
Striated Babbler, a local species that we'll search for along the Yamuna River
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Morning mists make the central tiger parks irresistible photo destinations
Morning mists make the central tiger parks irresistible photo destinations
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
One of the world's seven wonders, and rightfully so
One of the world's seven wonders, and rightfully so
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The Rufous-bellied Woodpecker is one of several stunning woodpeckers in India
The Rufous-bellied Woodpecker is one of several stunning woodpeckers in India
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Jeep birding in Corbett NP
Jeep birding in Corbett NP
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Russet Sparrow perches on the eves of a house in rural India
Russet Sparrow perches on the eves of a house in rural India
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
A Black Drongo takes exception to a Black-winged Kite landing alongside
A Black Drongo takes exception to a Black-winged Kite landing alongside
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Himalayan Bulbuls are common in the foothills
Himalayan Bulbuls are common in the foothills
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Crested Serpent-Eagle is a common raptor of the Indian plains
Crested Serpent-Eagle is a common raptor of the Indian plains
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Streaked Laughingthrush is a common Indian Himalayan resident
Streaked Laughingthrush is a common Indian Himalayan resident
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Indian Skimmers cruise past our boat on the Chambal River
Indian Skimmers cruise past our boat on the Chambal River
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Red-necked Falcon is a scarce species, but can be found close to Bharatpur
Red-necked Falcon is a scarce species, but can be found close to Bharatpur
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
This tour is superb for day roosting owls, like this Brown Fish-Owl
This tour is superb for day roosting owls, like this Brown Fish-Owl
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Serene light turns Bharatpur blood red
Serene light turns Bharatpur blood red
Katherine

Gerald Cubitt Read More

 
Redstarts like this White-capped are common waterside residents in the Himalayas
Redstarts like this White-capped are common waterside residents in the Himalayas
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Blue-throated Barbet can be found at the base of the Himalayas
Blue-throated Barbet can be found at the base of the Himalayas
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Black-headed Jay upclose
Black-headed Jay upclose
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Indian Skimmers on the Chambal
Indian Skimmers on the Chambal
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Fantails like this White-throated are seriously cool Asian birds
Fantails like this White-throated are seriously cool Asian birds
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Indian Robin, endemic
Indian Robin, endemic
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Tiger parks provide ample opportunities for other animals, like this Wild Boar
Tiger parks provide ample opportunities for other animals, like this Wild Boar
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Indian Skimmer is scarce and declining
Indian Skimmer is scarce and declining
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Stork-billed Kingfisher, fishing along a quiet stream in Bandhavgarh
Stork-billed Kingfisher, fishing along a quiet stream in Bandhavgarh
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
The area around Agra is packed with fascincating ancient buildings
The area around Agra is packed with fascincating ancient buildings
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Plumbeous Redstart, partial to rushing water in the Himalayas
Plumbeous Redstart, partial to rushing water in the Himalayas
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Red-billed Blue-Magpie, one of the most spectacular montane birds
Red-billed Blue-Magpie, one of the most spectacular montane birds
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Ruddy Shelduck is one of many species that spend the winter in India
Ruddy Shelduck is one of many species that spend the winter in India
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The odd, bald, Red-naped Ibis
The odd, bald, Red-naped Ibis
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
The intensity is clear as a couple sees their first Tiger from elephant-back, surely one of Earth's greatest wildlife moments.
The intensity is clear as a couple sees their first Tiger from elephant-back, surely one of Earth's greatest wildlife moments.
Katherine

Iain Campbell Read More

 
Pied Kingfishers are common in and around Bharatpur
Pied Kingfishers are common in and around Bharatpur
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
River Lapwing on the Ganges sands
River Lapwing on the Ganges sands
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Gray-hooded Warbler, another flock bird
Gray-hooded Warbler, another flock bird
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon, common in the lowlands
Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon, common in the lowlands
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The critically endangered Red-headed Vulture is rarely seen on the tour
The critically endangered Red-headed Vulture is rarely seen on the tour
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Another of India's common birds: White-throated Kingfisher
Another of India's common birds: White-throated Kingfisher
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Long-tailed Shrike is a common Indian bird
Long-tailed Shrike is a common Indian bird
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Common but delightful, the Brahminy Starling is a welcome addition to most days
Common but delightful, the Brahminy Starling is a welcome addition to most days
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Indian Robin is a common endemic species
Indian Robin is a common endemic species
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The Garial, a spectacular crocydilian is still easily seen ont he Chambal River
The Garial, a spectacular crocydilian is still easily seen ont he Chambal River
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Boat trip on the Chambal River
Boat trip on the Chambal River
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Pangot, where we spend a couple nights on the tour, is at the bottom left of the photo
Pangot, where we spend a couple nights on the tour, is at the bottom left of the photo
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Bar-headed Goose winter on the Indian plains
Bar-headed Goose winter on the Indian plains
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
River Lapwings are common but always elegant
River Lapwings are common but always elegant
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Indian Scops-Owl, yet another day-roosting owl possible on this tour
Indian Scops-Owl, yet another day-roosting owl possible on this tour
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Gaur, the 1-ton beast that roams central India's Tiger parks is always a special find
Gaur, the 1-ton beast that roams central India's Tiger parks is always a special find
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The dapper Black-throated Tit occurs in hyperactive flocks
The dapper Black-throated Tit occurs in hyperactive flocks
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Red Avadavat, a handsome reed bed dweller
Red Avadavat, a handsome reed bed dweller
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Sometimes the monsoons fail, but we still always find waterbodies thronging with waterfowl
Sometimes the monsoons fail, but we still always find waterbodies thronging with waterfowl
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The ruins at Fatepur Sikri are more evidence of the Moghuls great architectural prominance
The ruins at Fatepur Sikri are more evidence of the Moghuls great architectural prominance
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Long-tailed Minivet, like a red solitaire
Long-tailed Minivet, like a red solitaire
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Striated Laughingthrush, a big handsome beast
Striated Laughingthrush, a big handsome beast
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The sturdy Bay-backed Shrike prefers drier areas, but is found at various localities
The sturdy Bay-backed Shrike prefers drier areas, but is found at various localities
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Ibisbill is one of the top avian prizes around Corbett
Ibisbill is one of the top avian prizes around Corbett
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
A trotting tiger seen from an open jeep, a good reason to get a little nervous
A trotting tiger seen from an open jeep, a good reason to get a little nervous
Katherine

Pete Alfrey Read More

 
Rural India in full swing passes by at all times on this tour
Rural India in full swing passes by at all times on this tour
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Spotted Forktail is one of the best Himalayan birds on this tour
Spotted Forktail is one of the best Himalayan birds on this tour
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Antiquities in Delhi include the Qubt Minar
Antiquities in Delhi include the Qubt Minar
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
White-browed Wagtail, a river bird
White-browed Wagtail, a river bird
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Modern day culture is omnipresent
Modern day culture is omnipresent
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Jungle Owlet, India is a phenomenal place for diurnal owls
Jungle Owlet, India is a phenomenal place for diurnal owls
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Painted Stork dropping into its nest at Bharatpur
Painted Stork dropping into its nest at Bharatpur
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The loquacious Rufous Sibia is a welcome sight in the Himalayas
The loquacious Rufous Sibia is a welcome sight in the Himalayas
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Gray Bushchat at Sat Tal
Gray Bushchat at Sat Tal
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
White-throated Kingfisher, the picture says it all
White-throated Kingfisher, the picture says it all
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Red-wattled Lapwing, a very common wetland species
Red-wattled Lapwing, a very common wetland species
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Old Stripes, the Bengal Tiger takes your breath away
Old Stripes, the Bengal Tiger takes your breath away
Katherine

Neil Dyson Read More

 
Southern Gray Shrike doing its last hunting of the day
Southern Gray Shrike doing its last hunting of the day
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Hanuman Langur poised Indian-style
Hanuman Langur poised Indian-style
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Rufous Sibia at Pangot
Rufous Sibia at Pangot
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Lesser Yellownape, a handsome Himalayan
Lesser Yellownape, a handsome Himalayan
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Tawny Fish-Owl can sometimes be found roosting just outside Corbett
Tawny Fish-Owl can sometimes be found roosting just outside Corbett
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Blue Whistling-Thrush, a hefty songster
Blue Whistling-Thrush, a hefty songster
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Nilgai or Blue-Bull is a mighty beast
Nilgai or Blue-Bull is a mighty beast
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Mottled Wood-Owl is a rare species sometimes found on the extension
Mottled Wood-Owl is a rare species sometimes found on the extension
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Mountain Hawk-Eagle near Sat Tal in the mountains
Mountain Hawk-Eagle near Sat Tal in the mountains
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Bronze-winged Jacanas like much of India's wildlife, is very apporachable
Bronze-winged Jacanas like much of India's wildlife, is very apporachable
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Indian Rollers are tame and often sit completely in the open
Indian Rollers are tame and often sit completely in the open
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Indian Pond-Heron, a common waterbird
Indian Pond-Heron, a common waterbird
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Indian Skimmer, a major target on the Chambal
Indian Skimmer, a major target on the Chambal
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The Chambal Safari boats are a great way to encounter the wildlife of this river
The Chambal Safari boats are a great way to encounter the wildlife of this river
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, big, loud, bold babbler
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, big, loud, bold babbler
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Snow-capped Himalayan range at sunset
Snow-capped Himalayan range at sunset
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Bar-headed Goose, the famous migrant that crosses the Himalayas
Bar-headed Goose, the famous migrant that crosses the Himalayas
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Brown Rock-Chats are common around rocky outcrops near Bharatpur
Brown Rock-Chats are common around rocky outcrops near Bharatpur
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Black-headed Jay is a feeder bird at Pangot
Black-headed Jay is a feeder bird at Pangot
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The Slaty-headed Parakeet is a Himalayan species
The Slaty-headed Parakeet is a Himalayan species
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The Kosi River, Ibisbill country
The Kosi River, Ibisbill country
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Egyptian Vultures are also omnipresent and one of the few not to have been hit bu the Indian vulture crisis
Egyptian Vultures are also omnipresent and one of the few not to have been hit bu the Indian vulture crisis
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
A Golden Jackal lounges along a quiet road in Bharatpur
A Golden Jackal lounges along a quiet road in Bharatpur
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
The detailed work on the rooves of the Moghul building is staggering and defies description
The detailed work on the rooves of the Moghul building is staggering and defies description
Katherine

Bill Barnes Read More

 
Scaly-bellied Woodpecker is a scarce bird of montane forests
Scaly-bellied Woodpecker is a scarce bird of montane forests
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Crested Hawk-Eagle is found within India's Tiger Parks
Crested Hawk-Eagle is found within India's Tiger Parks
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Spotted Owlet; one of the most numerous owl species on this tour
Spotted Owlet; one of the most numerous owl species on this tour
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Ashy Prinia
Ashy Prinia
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The common Red-vented Bulbul is an everyday lowland birds
The common Red-vented Bulbul is an everyday lowland birds
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, the scarcest and perhaps best-looking of the laughingthrushes on the tour
Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, the scarcest and perhaps best-looking of the laughingthrushes on the tour
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Little Green Bee-eater; one of northern India's common birds
Little Green Bee-eater; one of northern India's common birds
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Black-lored Tit, one of several attractive tit species we see on this tour
Black-lored Tit, one of several attractive tit species we see on this tour
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Common Kingfisher in the grounds of our hotel in Bandhavgarh
Common Kingfisher in the grounds of our hotel in Bandhavgarh
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
White-breasted Waterhen, surprisingly common and bold
White-breasted Waterhen, surprisingly common and bold
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Black-faced Warbler, an uncommon montane species
Black-faced Warbler, an uncommon montane species
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Himalayan Woodpecker, one of many species of woodpeckers possible on the tour
Himalayan Woodpecker, one of many species of woodpeckers possible on the tour
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Black-necked Stork soars over Bharatpur
Black-necked Stork soars over Bharatpur
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The inimitable Indian Peacock
The inimitable Indian Peacock
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Birds and culture, an Alexandrine Parakeet perches on the Qubt Minar
Birds and culture, an Alexandrine Parakeet perches on the Qubt Minar
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Crested Serpent-Eagle is readily seen, like many other raptors, in Bharatpur
Crested Serpent-Eagle is readily seen, like many other raptors, in Bharatpur
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Northern Palm-Squirrel on the ancient stone of the Qutub Minar in Delhi
Northern Palm-Squirrel on the ancient stone of the Qutub Minar in Delhi
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Great Barbet at Sat Tal
Great Barbet at Sat Tal
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Some cultural relicts are in the middle of Old Delhi including the incredible Qubtar Minar
Some cultural relicts are in the middle of Old Delhi including the incredible Qubtar Minar
Katherine

Bill Barnes Read More

 
India offers timeless scenes like this one
India offers timeless scenes like this one
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Himalayan Bulbul, one of the best-looking of Asia's bulbuls
Himalayan Bulbul, one of the best-looking of Asia's bulbuls
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Taj Mahal in all its glory
Taj Mahal in all its glory
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Staked-out nightbirds are a feature of birding at Bharatpur, like this Large-tailed Nightjar
Staked-out nightbirds are a feature of birding at Bharatpur, like this Large-tailed Nightjar
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Ibisbill is a major target in the Corbett area
Ibisbill is a major target in the Corbett area
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
A mugger crocodile is another awesome crocodylian of the Indian plains
A mugger crocodile is another awesome crocodylian of the Indian plains
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
The wetlands in and around Bharatpur are good for Black-necked Stork
The wetlands in and around Bharatpur are good for Black-necked Stork
Katherine

Sam Woods Read More

 
Indian Scops Owls are regularly found at day roosts on this tour
Indian Scops Owls are regularly found at day roosts on this tour
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Red-billed Leoithrix, a dapper mountaineeer
Red-billed Leoithrix, a dapper mountaineeer
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
The bizarre and endangered crocodilian, the Gharial is a highlight at Chambal
The bizarre and endangered crocodilian, the Gharial is a highlight at Chambal
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Asian Elephants can be seen at Corbett if we are lucky
Asian Elephants can be seen at Corbett if we are lucky
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Scaly-bellied Munia on a Himalayan stream
Scaly-bellied Munia on a Himalayan stream
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Common but cute, the Spotted Owlet is one over ten owl species that are regularly seen at day roosts on this tour
Common but cute, the Spotted Owlet is one over ten owl species that are regularly seen at day roosts on this tour
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 
Spotted Deer or Chital in the misty morning light at Bharatpur
Spotted Deer or Chital in the misty morning light at Bharatpur
Katherine

Ken Behrens Read More

 
Black Stork are uncommon on this tour
Black Stork are uncommon on this tour
Katherine

Keith Barnes Read More

 


Day 1: Delhi. After arrival we’ll enjoy some birding and the sights of Old Delhi. We stay the first night in the city.

Day 2: Delhi to Naini Tal. From Delhi we drive to Gajraula, a small town close to the Ganges River. In the afternoon we visit a bridge over this sacred river to look for Great Black-headed Gull, River Tern, and the highly-localized White-tailed Stonechat. Later we drive to Naini Tal, leaving behind the Indian plains and climbing up through the Himalayan foothills. We spend the next four nights at a quaint colonial retreat in the mountains.

Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, the scarcest and perhaps best-looking of the laughingthrushes on the tour
Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, the scarcest and perhaps best-looking of the laughingthrushes on the tour (Ken Behrens)

Days 3-5: Naini Tal. An attractive reminder of the British Raj era, this hill station is at an elevation of 6,600 ft. (2,000 m.). Surrounding peaks tower above and on clear days, there are spectacular views of snowy Himalayan giants that lie less than 50 mi. (80 km.) away. Lammergeiers and Himalayan Griffons soar majestically overhead while we bird a mixture of open country and forest patches for fantastic birds like Great Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Black-headed Jay, Blue Magpie, Gray Treepie, and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler. Working the Sat Tal area and the Mongoli valley should reveal an assortment of six laughingthrushes, Rufous Sibia, Himalayan Rubythroat, Spotted Forktail, and flocks of tits, nuthatches, and treecreepers. We will also spend time at higher altitudes, and with luck we ought to find some mega birds such as Altai Accentor, Koklass Pheasant, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, and Pink-browed Rosefinch.

Day 6: Naini Tal to Kumeria. This morning we make our way to the edge of the famed reserve of Corbett NP, founded by the early conservationist Jim Corbett. We will overnight just outside the park at Kumeria, with lush grounds and birds in the backyard.

Spotted Forktail is one of the best Himalayan birds on this tour
Spotted Forktail is one of the best Himalayan birds on this tour (Ken Behrens)

Day 7: Corbett NP. Corbett is a top birding area and the mixed species flocks are superb. The tracks around here may reveal Kalij Pheasant, Chestnut-headed Tesia, or Nepal Wren-Babbler, which was just recently discovered in India. We will spend the night at the simple Dhikala Camp within the park.

Day 8: Corbett NP and Kumeria.The rushing Kosi River near our Kumeria resort holds Little Forktail, Brown Dipper, Crested Kingfisher, and the spectacular Wallcreeper and scarce Ibisbill. We’ll spend one more night in Kumeria.

Day 9: Kumeria to Delhi. After a last morning in the Himalayan foothills we return to Delhi for another night.

Indian Rollers are tame and often sit completely in the open
Indian Rollers are tame and often sit completely in the open (Sam Woods)

Day 10: Delhi to Bharatpur. On the journey to Bharatpur, we traverse the heartland of Hindu India. Rural scenes of huts, mango groves, and mustard fields are interspersed with urban areas where cows hold sacred sway next to lines of cycle rickshaws and noisy trucks. We stay the next four nights in Bharatpur.

Days 11-12: Bharatpur area. Bharatpur was formerly an ancient hunting reserve for the Maharajas (Hindu royalty). In years of good rainfall, productive marshes, bushy savanna, and acacia thickets sprawl to the horizon. Bharatpur supports an incredible diversity of waterbirds including Oriental Darter, Painted Stork, and Asian Openbill. The shallow food-rich lakes support stalking Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, while Black-necked Storks and stately Sarus Cranes work the edges. Waterfowl abound, and we often see Bar-headed Goose, Lesser Whistling-Duck, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, and the odd Comb Duck. In the woodlands, we could encounter Gray Francolin, Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon, Indian Gray Hornbill, and Black-rumped Flameback. Bharatpur is home to many raptors, and the skies are rarely devoid of birds of prey. Opportunities for seeing mammals are also excellent, with the huge Blue Bull, Sambar, Boar, Golden Jackal, and others roaming the reserve. Depending on water-levels we spend time between here and the nearby Bund Baretha.

Pied Kingfishers are common in and around Bharatpur
Pied Kingfishers are common in and around Bharatpur (Sam Woods)

Day 13: Dholpur. Leaving Bharatpur, we explore the dry reaches of the Dholpur district, hoping for Red-fronted Prinia, Variable Wheatear, and many other arid-country species. We enjoy the first of two river cruises on this trip in an area that has become much more reliable for the scarce and declining Indian Skimmer.

Day 14: Dholpur to Agra. We head to Agra to visit the mystical Taj Mahal. The Mogul emperor Shah Jahan built this mausoleum of ethereal beauty in memory of his wife Mumtaz. In the afternoon we head for the Chambal Safari Lodge.

Day 15: Chambal River to Delhi. Early this morning we’ll take a cruise on one of the wide-open stony-bedded tributaries of the mighty Ganges River. This area has several specialty birds including the Great Thick-knee, Desert Wheatear, Sand Lark, and Black-bellied Tern. We should also find the bizarre Gharial and its cousin the Mugger Crocodile. With luck we might encounter the critically endangered Ganges River Dolphin. After lunch, those finishing today will head back to Delhi for evening flights, while those joining the Tiger extension jump on the overnight train from Agra to Umaria.

Stork-billed Kingfisher, fishing along a quiet stream in Bandhavgarh
Stork-billed Kingfisher, fishing along a quiet stream in Bandhavgarh (Sam Woods)

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EXTENSION OPTIONS

Bandhavgarh NP Tiger extension (6 days)

We arrive in Umaria and drive to our lodge in Bandhavgarh. This diverse park boasts 110,000 acres (44,000 ha.) of sal forest, woodland, bamboo, and grassland. The near-daily tracking of tigers has allowed the mahouts (elephant riders) to become accustomed to each animal’s preferred habits. The chances of seeing this great feline are better here than anywhere else in the world. The sal also harbors some great birds, like White-naped Woodpecker, Sirkeer Malkoha, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Indian Scimitar-Babbler, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Malabar Pied-Hornbill, White-eyed Buzzard, and Jungle Bush-Quail. Bandhavgarh is also endowed with several pans and waterholes, which become magnets for mammals in the dry season. Chital, Sambar, Barking Deer, Golden Jackal, Wild Boar, Rhesus Macaque, and Hanuman Langur are all regular. However, we’d need more luck to see Leopard, Indian Wild Dog, Striped Hyena, or Sloth Bear. After four full days here we return to Delhi by train.

Old Stripes, the Bengal Tiger takes your breath away
Old Stripes, the Bengal Tiger takes your breath away (Neil Dyson)

Day 1: Overnight train from Agra to Umaria, drive to lodge.

Days 2 – 4: Full days within Bandhavgarh NP.

Day 5: Most of the day in Bandhavgarh NP, then return to Delhi on an overnight train.

Day 6: After arriving in the afternoon by train, an evening departure from Delhi.

Southern India pre-trip extension (6 days)

Goa hosts a series of laid-back coastal beach towns and offering a great introduction to Asian birds, including a very different set of species from those that we encounter on the main tour.
We start this extension in the cooler hills of the western Ghats, near the eastern limit of the province. Here we’ll lap up many South Indian endemics and the fragile beauty of these sub-montane forests, searching for delights such as Malabar Trogon, Ceylon Frogmouth, Malabar Parakeet, and many others. Our 6-day “whip-around” should get us well over 100 species that we don’t see on the main tour, including a healthy dose of south Indian endemics.

Malabar Pied Hornbill is readily found around Goa
Malabar Pied Hornbill is readily found around Goa (Iain Campbell)

Day 1: Delhi to Goa to Backwoods. After arrival in the sleepy coastal town of Dabolim we will drive straight up to the world famous Backwoods camp.

Days 2-3: Backwoods. We will spend two full days walking the many exciting trails on offer in the Backwoods area, attempting to see the western Ghats endemics as well as many special forest birds occurring in the vicinity of the camp. We normally start before dawn, with the resident Malabar Whistling-Thrush serenading us with its variety of melancholy calls. As first light approaches we’ll be working the forest trails seeking out the roaming flocks. The clicks and buzzing calls of a drongo are likely to alert us to our first flock, and we should locate the flock leaders, Black, Ashy, White-bellied, Bronzed, and Greater Racket-tailed Drongos working through the forest. Within moments of locating these “sentinels” we are likely to encounter a bunch of other species including electric Orange Minivets, stunning Rufous and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Malabar and Common Woodshrikes, Black-naped Monarch, Flame-throated, White-browed, and Yellow-browed Bulbuls. The understory is normally occupied by skulkers like Black-fronted Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, and Puff-throated Babbler. Some residents need more specific attention. During our stay we’ll try to track down the elusive Malabar Trogon and Blue-eared Kingfisher, as well as the vocal but shy White-rumped Shama and the striking Indian Blue Robin. We also have excellent chances at the gorgeous Indian Pitta.

This is an ideal time of year for flowering trees. We are likely to encounter a bevy of nectar-loving species including Thick-billed, Nilgiri, and Plain Flowerpeckers, and Purple-rumped, Small, and Loten’s Sunbirds. Some trees will have already fruited and we’ll try staking these out for frugivores such as Asian Fairy Bluebird, Malabar Gray Hornbill, White-cheeked and Crimson-fronted Barbets, and Golden-fronted and Jerdon’s Leafbirds. As is typical of India, we’ll probably have some luck with seeing night birds during the day, particularly the cute resident Jungle Owlet and the regularly staked-out Ceylon Frogmouth.

Occasionally, raptors harry the flocks and we might encounter the staunch Crested Goshawk, Besra, or Eurasian Sparrowhawk. The earlier parts of the steamy afternoons are best spent raptor-watching, and some nearby clearings offer chances of Rufous-bellied, Asian Black, and Changeable Hawk-Eagles. The more open areas are also better for Green and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Vernal Hanging-Parrot, and Malabar Parakeet.

Malabar Gray Hornbill
Malabar Gray Hornbill (Keith Barnes)

Day 4: Backwoods to Baga. After spending our final morning in the Backwoods area, we’ll make our way back to the coast and our chilled-out resort in Baga. The afternoon will be spent birding some local wetlands and woodlands in the vicinity of town. The town of Baga is an excellent base from which to see tons of birds in a relaxed atmosphere. It is littered with western-style resorts and restaurants with delicious prawn and fish curries.

Days 5: Baga. This day is reserved for exploring the phenomenal diversity of habitats around Baga. We will search the beaches at Morjim for gull and tern flocks. The forests at Arpora occasionally yield treats such as Red Spurfowl and the amazing Indian Pitta. Carambolim Lake is an unmissable destination replete with waterbirds such as Cotton Pygmy-goose, Spot-billed Duck, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, and the dainty Small Pratincole. The nearby grasslands hold the endemic Malabar Lark, quartering Western Marsh Harriers, and the occasional large brown Aquila eagle while the nearby woods have a roosting Brown Hawk-Owl.

Day 6: Goat to Delhi. In the morning, we’ll take a boat trip on the Zuari River. This is one of the world’s best boat trips for kingfishers, and we should see and photograph six species: Pied, Common, White-throated, Stork-billed, Black-capped, and Collared. We also have chances at a variety of shorebirds including Terek Sandpiper, and some mangrove-dwelling Slaty-legged Crakes. In the afternoon, we’ll board our flight back to Delhi, to link up with the start of the main tour.

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TRIP CONSIDERATIONS

CLIMATE: Ranges from hot and dry on the northern plains to chilly and damp in the Himalayan foothills.

DIFFICULTY: Mostly easy, but a few of the hikes are moderate. The two overnight train rides (on the extension only) are very long (over 12 hours), and some people find them very tiring.

ACCOMMODATION: Generally excellent, with one night in moderate accommodation within Corbett NP, and two nights on sleeper trains on the extension. All have private bathrooms, except on the overnight sleeper train.