Birding Tours India: Chambal Bharatpur Ranthambhore
These places are three of Niraj’s favorite areas for bird watching where you can enjoy watching exclusive birds, capture great photographs (expect 200+ species by end of the trip) and have the chance to sight some of the most sought-after species of birds and wildlife. This is a trip where you will continually pass through some of the most pristine countryside areas, remote villages and enjoy authentic local Indian cuisine.
Birding Tours India Highlights
- A boat safari on Chambal River exclusively for the experience of bird watching
- Exploring countryside’s around the Yamuna and Chambal Rivers to spot birds
- A jeep safari to Ater Fort, through the Chambal ravines
- A walking safari amid the woodlands, grasslands and marshland of Bharatpur
- Explore Surwal Lake near Ranthambore in the morning
- Game drives in Ranthambore National Park
- Hotel accommodation in a double / twin room with buffet all meals
- Exclusive Safaris in Chambal, Bharatpur, and Ranthambore as per program
- Entrance Fees
- A car with driver for the entire trip AC Toyota Innova
- Any and all applicable taxes are included
- Expenses of a personal nature such as gratuities, telephone calls, laundry, liquor, etc.
- India visa charges
- Travel insurance
- Dinner on day one
Expert Travel Opinion
Explore Bharatpur market center for a slice of local style cuisine. You may opt for a wholesome “all you can eat” unlimited vegetarian Thali (local Indian style set meal) or snack at a local Kachoudi (or Kachori, a popular snack in North India) Center or dine at a Dhaba, a popular category of village theme restaurants in North India, serving authentic North Indian cuisine.
At Ranthambhore, visit Village Woman Craft Center (a Govt incentive for resettling villagers from inside the park) after morning safari, an excellent diversion from Bird and Wildlife Photography. This is a good option for souvenir shopping and one of its kind cultural experience as you see ever smiling and super skillful women create amazing range of Wildlife Paintings, Carpets, Textile craft, handicraft items and even Silver Jewellery.
Day 01 - Delhi
Arrive at Delhi, the capital of India and the main arrival point in India. Here you will be received at the airport and then go on to proceed to the hotel. Since most international arrivals are at late evening, we will have a short briefing and interaction session before you go to your room to rest and recuperate for the trip ahead.
Day 02 - Chambal
Today you will depart early morning for Bah (280km - 5 hours) an area located 70km south of Agra and at a short distance from the Yamuna and Chambal Rivers. Bah is home to the Chambal Safari Lodge, which sprawls over a 100-acre farm and is a well-known spot for bird watching with its own checklist of 198 birds.
After arrival at lunchtime, you can rest for a while. After freshening up, you will go on a nature walk within the farm in the evening. Here, you can look for a variety of birds that call this farm their home.
Keep an eye out for few nocturnal birds like the Palm Civet Cats, Jungle Cats, and Fruit Bats. This is almost like a warm-up session as a group to help kick the journey off. You will head back after sunset.
Over dinner, you can interact with each other and the other birdwatchers, share notes on your sightings, enjoy the delectable Indian cuisine made with local flavors and plan for your morning exploration.
Meals at Chambal Safari are one of the highlights of this trip. The lodge kitchen makes authentic ‘home cooked’ buffet spreads with fresh organically grown ingredients from their own farms or procured locally. There is nothing "typical" about the food they serve here and the local flavors and masalas (spices) only add to it! Travel to Chambal and explore local birding areas.
Day 03 - Chambal
You need to depart early in the morning (7 AM) on day 3 for a river safari (22km from Chambal Safari Lodge). Set against a stunning backdrop, framed by the ravines and sandbanks, the calm waters of the Chambal River are best explored by boat. The gentle pace of the river safari helps sight alligators, crocodiles and turtles basking in the sun. Occasionally you can spot friendly river dolphin’s break the surface.
You will also get to see migratory and local birds. This is a territory that is famous for the Indian Skimmer, a targeted bird of the Chambal area. On the banks of the river, you can encounter many migratory water birds. The Red-crested Pochard, tufted duck and Common Meganser are few notable species that are found on the banks.
On a clear day, you may spot as many as 50+ species. The boat safari offers spectacular glimpses of the Chambal ravines and is one of the best places for reflection photography.
After lunch, you will travel southwest towards the countryside, between the Chambal and Yamuna ravines, for the blackbuck jeep safari. Besides excellent sightings of the blackbuck, the area is renowned for its dry land birds including the Indian Courser; few others are Larks, Wheatears, Shrikes, etc.
The drive takes you through pristine countryside’s, farms and remote villages and shows you a glimpse of the "Real India". It is definitely amazing to see how these hamlets co-exist seamlessly with modern India. You will return to the lodge in the evening. Over dinner, you can take out your book and prepare a checklist of the birds you sighted during the day. You can also plan for the next day.
Day 04 - Chambal
Today you will need to start early (7 AM) to explore the Sarus Crane Conservation Reserve. It is an extensive wetland area, interspersed by cultivated fields, where large numbers of the sarus cranes breed. Several species of wetland birds and raptors are also found along the course of this drive. 5 hours will be spent driving through fields, stopping near water bodies, going on short walks etc.
Here on a clear day, it might be possible to sight as many as 80+ species such as Stints, Sandpipers, Spoonbills, Jacanas, Egrets, Moorhens, Weavers, Bushchats, Buntings, Rosefinches and not to forget the prime attraction, the sarus crane.
You will return to the lodge by lunchtime and after some a little rest, you will get ready for a jeep safari through the Chambal ravines to Fort Ater (dated the 17th century and offers stunning views). The terrain is rugged and the bumpy ride will take you through ravines that were once home to India's most dreaded dacoits. You will return to the lodge in the evening.
Day 05 - Bharatpur
Today you will go on a short visit to Bateshwar Temple (10km), which is a riverside area that overlooks the 100 Lord Shiva Temples. Your guide Niraj, finds this area fascinating due to the gorgeous backdrop it offers. Here, you will take a short boat ride to go across the riverbank where there are a number of birds.
The backdrop and surroundings are perfect for different kinds of photography - reflection, landscape, and birds in motion. From here you will directly depart to Bharatpur (130km - 3 hours) and you will reach your hotel by lunch-time. The hotel is situated near the gate of the bird sanctuary.
Bharatpur is famous for the Keoladeo National Park (A UNESCO World Heritage Site). The national park has patches of woodlands, marshlands, and grasslands that are spread over 29 Sq. km and home to 300+ species of birds.
In the afternoon you will go on a bird watching walk inside the sanctuary. The three areas (woodlands, marshlands, and grasslands) of the park are known for different birds. Marshlands have water bodies where you can find migratory water birds such as the bar-headed goose, mallard, gadwall, Spot-billed duck, pelicans etc.
Woodlands is where you will find wildlife such as wildcats – a jungle cat, leopards and fishing cat, sambar deer, chital, blackbuck, nilgai etc. and birds such as owls, raptors (serpent eagle and kites are common) etc. Grasslands are where you can sight cranes, ibis, spoonbills, egrets, darters, storks to name a few.
The highlight of the walk is the ‘painted stork colony’, unique to Bharatpur and seldom one can find so many painted storks up close.
After sunset, you will return to the hotel. Bharatpur is all about the wide variety of birds. At dinner, you will have a lot of work as you have to keep your checklist updated (because there are chances of spotting 70-80 species today with about 30-40 being unique to the trip.)
The meals at Birders Inn Bharatpur are freshly made. Popular Indian recipes are cooked and served in a fresh and authentic manner. After a long walk in the park, a hot delicious meal is one to look forward to.Expert Tip
- Mornings in Chambal are cool therefore it would be recommended that you cycle around the countryside to get warmed up. The old style local bicycles will take you back in time. They come with upright handlebars and their seats can be uncomfortable. However, a one hour ride offers an opportunity to capture sights and sounds of the farms, villages and a little market around the lodge.
Day 06 - Ranthambore
Today you will go on a morning walk inside Keoladeo National Park. Mornings are cooler and more vibrant for sighting birds and here is a spot where you can capture excellent photos of birds in flight. You will also walk around areas that were not explored the previous day.
You will return by 12 noon for an early lunch and then depart for Ranthambore (250km - 5.5 hours) and you will reach by evening. The drive to Ranthambore is through prime countryside with vast stretches of yellow mustard fields, excellent for landscape photography.
Ranthambore has one of the biggest national parks in Northern India which is famous for sighting the majestic Royal Bengal tiger in its natural habitat., Buffer areas and lakes around Ranthambore are renowned for their exclusive bird watching experiences (270+ bird species can be sighted here).
Rest of the evening is spent resting and planning the next day.
Meals at Ranthambore are a little different. The distinction comes from the influence of Jaipur, in the recipes and flavors. Styles of the meals are Indian and continental which are freshly cooked and made from local produce.
Day 07 - Ranthambore
Today you will depart around 7 AM to visit Surwal Lake (20km from Ranthambore), a prime bird watching area with a large waterbody on one side and a farm on the other. Here, bird watching is quite exclusive and can be thoroughly enjoyed as hardly any other bird watchers are around. By the lake, migratory water birds such as Bar-headed goose and pelicans can be sighted. Just by walking for about 2-3 hours around the lake can help you spot more than 50 species of birds.
You will return to the lodge for lunch and after that, you will leave for a game drive inside Ranthambore National Park (any zone from zone 1 to 6). Here you can find raptors such as crested serpent eagle, osprey and other birds such as black stork, grey francolin, sandgrouse, rufus Treepie etc. Birds found inside the park are almost completely exclusive from the ones seen on Surwal Lake. On the game drive you also have a chance of sighting the Royal Bengal tiger.
You will return to lodge by evening. This will the last dinner as a group, before departure the next day. Use this time to reflect on the different experiences through your journey.
Day 07 - Ranthambore
On the last day, you will have to depart early (6 AM) to the buffer zone safari (any zone from zone 7 to 10) for exploring the buffer and outskirt areas of Ranthambore National Park. These zones are less tiger-centric and not very popular among tourists and therefore more exclusive. This is your last chance to get the glimpse of the countryside and birds of Rajasthan.
You will return by 10 AM. A group photograph will be taken and a short discussion will be carried out on the journey so far. After resting for a while and lunch, you will depart to Jaipur (150km - 3.5 hours) or Delhi (360 km - 7 hours) to your onward destination.
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