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North India Birding and Wildlife Tour - 18 Days

North India Birding and Wildlife Tour
3525

North India Birding and Wildlife Tour

This 18-day, small-group bird and wildlife tour of North India is a moderately paced trip available as a set departure (or available on request) focusing on birds, tigers, and the Central Himalayas of Northern India. Expect to see around 380 species of bird, including 10 Indian or Himalayan endemics and approximately 20 mammals/other wildlife species during this North India bird and wildlife tour.

This birding and wildlife tour of India takes us to some of the best areas for birds and mammals across the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. As well as providing the perfect introduction to birding in India, it offers superb encounters with several iconic Indian mammals and a fascinating journey through a region rich in history and culture.

Our comprehensive Northern India wildlife holiday begins in the outskirts of Delhi, where we will explore the shallow wetlands of Sultanpur National Park, an excellent area for waterfowl and home to regional specialties including Sind Sparrow and Brooks’s Leaf-warbler in surrounding acacia scrub.

Moving southwest into the semi-desert of Rajasthan, we’ll visit Jhalana Leopard Reserve. As its name would suggest, Jhalana is one of the prime sites in India for a sighting of the somewhat elusive Leopard, which we will look for here alongside a selection of woodland birds. Staying in Rajasthan, our next destination on this bird and wildlife tour of northern India is the former hunting preserve of Ranthambore National Park. Dry scrub jungle dotted with lakes and atmospheric palace ruins host an enticing combination of desert and water birds, including Indian Courser, Painted Spurfowl, Great Thick-knee, and up to six species of vulture. This excellent big cat country is one of the finest tiger reserves in India, and we have a very real chance of seeing Tiger and Leopard, among an impressive diversity and density of other mammals.

Before we leave the plains, we will spend a few days enjoying the rich birdlife of India’s agricultural heartland. In the world-renowned managed wetlands of Bharatpur, we will encounter an incredible selection of waterbirds and a fine assortment of raptors. From a boat trip on the nearby Chambal River, we will look for flocks of Indian Skimmer and hope to find a pod of Ganges River Dolphins. We will also find time to visit India’s most iconic national monument, the Taj Mahal.

From here we make our way north, ascending into the bird-rich mid-altitudes of the Himalayas. Spending our nights here at two elevations we will bird among superb deciduous and coniferous woodland in search of Himalayan specialties such as Himalayan Rubythroat, Nepal Cupwing, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Cheer Pheasant, and many more species associating in fast-moving feeding flocks.

Our final destination on this north Indian birdwatching and wildlife holiday is Corbett National Park, among the richest birding areas in Asia. In a dense forest, snow-fed rivers, and vast floodplain grasslands at the base of the Himalayas, we will look for Great Slaty Woodpecker, Collared Falconet, and Ibisbill, with a further chance of Tiger and Asian Elephant.

North India Birding and Wildlife Tour Highlights include:

  • Experience superb birding in North India in a wide variety of habitats, from the semi-desert of Rajasthan to the wooded hills of the mid-altitude Himalayas.
  • Drive-in open jeeps through some truly superb areas of wilderness, including the dense forest and picturesque floodplains of Corbett National Park.
  • Encounter an incredible diversity of birds, with highlights that include vast congregations of waterfowl in the wetlands of Bharatpur, and mixed-species feeding flocks that sweep through the forests of the Himalayan foothills.
  • Big cats and more - the chance of Bengal Tiger at two reserves, Leopard, Asian Elephant, and a fine selection of other mammals throughout the tour.
  • Spectacular views in clear weather of the snow-capped peaks of the high Himalayas.

Please note: this set-departure tour is also available as a private or custom tour on request. Please submit an enquiry for your preferred dates, route, and tour refinements.

Alternative Tour Name: North India: Birds, Tigers and the Central Himalayas
Day 1
Day 1 - Delhi and Sultanpur National Park

Arrivals into Delhi airport this morning. We’ll spend the remainder of the day birding at Sultanpur and nearby Basai, two superb birding sites just 50km from Delhi in neighboring Haryana. Sultanpur’s ‘jheel’ and the extensive shallow wetlands and flooded fields of Basai are a haven for resident and migratory waterfowl.

We can expect to encounter an incredible selection of species in huge numbers, including Indian Spot-billed Duck, Bar-headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Lapwing, and Grey-headed Swamphen. Surrounding acacia scrub and dry grasslands will provide an ideal introduction to northern India’s more widespread species, such as Grey Francolin, Eurasian Wryneck, Common Hoopoe, Bank Myna, and Bluethroat, and we’ll search in particular for the regional specialties Sind Sparrow and Brooks’s Leaf-warbler. Night in Delhi.

Day 2
Day 2 - Delhi to Jaipur and Jhalana Leopard Reserve

We will spend the morning driving southwest into Rajasthan, with time for some roadside birding as we head to Jaipur for the night. This afternoon we'll explore Jhalana Leopard Reserve, occupying a densely wooded section of the Aravalli Hills that runs through the centre of Jaipur.

Despite its unseemly setting, Jhalana is perhaps the prime site in India for a sighting of Leopard. Birding from open-topped jeeps, we can expect to come across a good selection of woodland birds, such as Indian Golden Oriole, Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon, Yellow-crowned and Brown-capped Woodpeckers, Indian Paradise-Flycatcher, Black Eagle, Spotted Owlet and Rock (Indian) Eagle Owl. We have excellent chances of a Leopard encounter, plus the prospect of several smaller cats and civets.

Day 3
Day 3 - Jaipur to Ranthambhore National Park

After a morning jeep drive we will leave Jhalana, driving southeast to Ranthambhore National Park for a two-night stay. We should arrive in time to explore the arid scrub outside the park, looking for dryland species including Indian Courser, Painted Sandgrouse, Sirkeer Malkoha, Desert, Variable and Isabelline Wheatears, various larks and pipits, White-capped Bunting and Great Grey Shrike.

Day 4
Days 4 & 5 - Ranthambhore National Park

Distinctly arid, yet dotted with lakes, the former hunting preserve of Ranthambhore hosts an interesting combination of desert species and northern India’s more widespread forest birds. We will explore the scrub jungle, escarpments and atmospheric ruins through three safari drives in open-topped vehicles looking for specialities such as Painted Spurfowl and Sulphur-bellied Warbler, among Rufous Treepie, White-naped Woodpecker, Indian Peafowl, Indian and Great Thick-knees, an abundance of bulbuls and parakeets, up to six species of vulture, and of course Bengal Tiger among good numbers of Spotted Deer, Sambar and Northern Plains Grey Langur. We leave Ranthambhore in the afternoon of day 5, driving northeast to Bharatpur for a three-night stay.

Day 6
Days 6 & 7 - Bharatpur

We have two full days to explore the man-made wetlands of Bharatpur, undoubtedly among India’s finest bird reserves, on foot and by the park’s unique bicycle-rickshaws. Many of the birds we will find are conspicuous, numerous and easily seen, and with in excess of 100 species in a day not uncommon here, birding is both highly enjoyable and immensely rewarding.

Among Sarus Crane, Black-necked and Painted Storks, Black-headed and Red-naped Ibis, various egrets, waders, and huge congregations of waterfowl we’ll look for scarcer Knob-billed and Ferruginous Ducks, Red-crested Pochard, Black Bittern and Greater Painted-snipe. In patches of trailside woodland and acacia we’ll look for Marshall’s Iora, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Red-breasted and Taiga Flycatchers, and skulkers such as Orange-headed and Tickell’s Thrushes, and Siberian Rubythroat.

We can also expect to come across Indian Scops Owl, Dusky Eagle Owl and Large-tailed Nightjar at day roosts, and a superb assortment of raptors including Eastern Imperial, Indian Spotted and Steppe Eagles.

Day 8
Day 8 - Chambal River and the Taj Mahal

This morning we will explore a section of the serene Chambal River, one of north India’s least polluted waterways. By boat we will go in search of flocks of the elegant Indian Skimmer, Black-bellied Tern, River Lapwing, the curious Gharial and Ganges River Dolphin, with Sand Lark, Yellow-eyed Babbler and Crested Bunting along the sandy riverbank and flanking mud ravines. By late morning we will leave on the drive back to Delhi for the night, travelling via Agra where we will stop for a brief visit to India’s most iconic monument, the Taj Mahal.

Day 9
Days 9 & 10 - Sattal

An early start for the journey north to Uttarakhand and up into the foothills at the junction of the Central and Western Himalayas, making our way to the small town of Sattal at 1370m for a two-night stay. Once we cross the plains, we’ll begin driving up into the Kumaon Hills along roads clinging to the forested mountainside and will soon encounter our first Himalayan specialities, perhaps Blue Whistling Thrush, Grey-winged Blackbird, Himalayan Bluetail, Black-headed Jay, Red-billed Blue Magpie and Russet Sparrow.

From our base at Sattal we will visit various sites, encountering an impressive selection of birds in deciduous woodland, smallholdings, mountain streams and feeder stations amid these bird-rich mid-altitudes. Among these are highlights including Himalayan Rubythroat, Golden Bush Robin, the central Himalayan endemic Nepal Cupwing, Blue-capped and Blue-fronted Redstarts, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Small and Rufous-bellied Niltavas, White-bellied Erpornis, Rufous-breasted and Black-throated Accentors, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, several raucous laughingthrushes including White-crested and Chestnut-crowned, Black Francolin, Brown Dipper, three species of forktail, and a fabulous selection of colourful tits, nuthatches, sunbirds, flowerpeckers and warblers that sweep through the forest in fast-moving feeding flocks.

Day 11
Days 11 & 12 - Pangot

Today we make our way further into the Himalayas via the colonial-era hill station of Nainital to the village of Pangot at 2150m for a two-night stay. If conditions are clear, we’ll have stunning views towards the high Himalaya from spectacular mountain roads. Around Pangot, in dense, moss-draped temperate forests, rhododendrons, Chir Pines, and on exposed grassy slopes we will look for unequivocal Himalayan species including Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Scarlet Finch, Dark-breasted and Pink-browed Rosefinches, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Himalayan Woodpecker, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Black-chinned Babbler, Scaly-breasted Cupwing, Altai Accentor, Collared Owlet, Himalayan Owl, Himalayan Griffon, Bearded Vulture, Hill Partridge and two of our key targets Koklass Pheasant and Cheer Pheasant, a western Himalayan endemic.

Day 13
Days 13 & 17 - Corbett National Park

Today, we make our way down to Corbett National Park for a four-night stay in the terai zone in the shadow of the Himalayas. At Corbett, the avifauna of the hills meets that of the Indo-Gangetic plains and the great diversity of habitats, dominated by thick forest bisected by rivers and grassy pastures, contributes to making this one of the richest birding areas in Asia.

Much of the best birding is in dense roadside forests in the fringes of the reserve, which we will explore on foot for Long-billed Thrush, Chestnut-headed and Grey-bellied Tesias, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Common Green Magpie, Maroon Oriole, Great Hornbill, Green-tailed and Crimson Sunbirds, and both Tawny and Brown Fish Owls, with Wallcreeper, Plumbeous and White-capped Redstarts, Crested Kingfisher, and small numbers of overwintering Ibisbill along the Kosi River.

We intend to spend one night inside the remote western ranges of the reserve at Dhikala, allowing unrivalled access by open-topped jeeps to the grasslands of the Ramganga floodplain. Among our key targets here are Collared Falconet, Pallid and rarer Pied Harriers, Lesser, Grey-headed and Pallas’s Fish-eagles, White-throated Bush Chat and Red Avadavat. We’ll have a further chance of Bengal Tiger, plus Asian Elephant and plenty more mammals. We will leave Corbett by midday on day 17 to drive back to Delhi for an overnight stay.

Day 18
Day 18 - Depart Delhi

Departures from Delhi airport today.

Bird and mammal species we expect to see: 

Birds: Indian Courser, Painted Sandgrouse, Painted Spurfowl, Variable Wheatear, Sirkeer Malkoha, Sind Sparrow, Sand Lark, Brooks’s Leaf-warbler, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Indian Skimmer and Black-bellied Tern along the Chambal River, Sarus Crane, Painted Stork, Greater Painted-snipe, Great Hornbill, Indian Grey Hornbill, Himalayan Woodpecker, Himalayan Flameback, White-tailed Nuthatch, Slaty-headed Parakeet, Himalayan Bulbul, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Pink-browed Rosefinch, a variety of tits, sunbirds, flowerpeckers and warblers in foothill feeding flocks, including Black-throated Tit, Green-tailed Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and Black-faced Warbler, a selection of flycatchers, Rufous-chinned and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes among others, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, Scaly-breasted Cupwing, Nepal Cupwing, Black-chinned Babbler, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Black-throated Accentor, Altai Accentor, Long-billed Thrush, Blue Whistling-thrush, Siberian Rubythroat, Himalayan Rubythroat, Golden Bush-robin, Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-capped Redstart, a selection of species along Himalayan streams and Corbett’s snow-fed Kosi River including Spotted Forktail, White-capped Redstart, Plumbeous Redstart, Brown Dipper, Crested Kingfisher and Ibisbill, White-throated Bushchat, Upland Pipit, Koklass Pheasant, Cheer Pheasant, Indian Vulture, Himalayan Griffon, Indian Spotted Eagle, Pallas’s Fish-eagle, Pied Harrier, Indian Scops-owl, Tawny Fish-Owl, Dusky Eagle Owl.

Mammals: Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Asian Elephant, Ganges River Dolphin.

What is included?

  • Accommodation in comfortable wildlife lodges/hotels (17 nights; double occupancy)*Note: one night in a basic forest rest house at Dhikala
  • Single occupancy available at additional cost (ask us about single supplements)
  • All meals (lunch on day 1 to breakfast on day 18)
  • Bottled and/or filtered drinking water throughout the tour
  • All ground transport throughout the tour, including airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Services of a professional English-speaking bird guide
  • All birding and wildlife activities as specified within the tour itinerary (including all jeep/boat charges)
  • All entrance fees to national parks, reserves, and monuments
  • Tour information, travel notes, and checklists
  • All currently applicable taxes

What is not included?

  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Any flights, international or domestic
  • Drinks other than water, snacks
  • Any activities not mentioned in the tour itinerary, or those provided by lodges/hotels at extra cost
  • Camera fees
  • Items of a personal nature (such as laundry, telephone bills etc.)
  • Optional tour extensions (ask us if you would like to extend your holiday)
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Anything that is not included in "what is included"

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Why should I book with India Nature?

India Nature is a specialist travel company offering small group and private/custom bird tours and combined bird/wildlife holidays across India, all based around our own personal passions for birding and travel. We have been in operation for over a decade as India Nature, and beyond this have over 20 years of field, tour, and hospitality experience both within India and internationally. Concentrating on the destinations we ourselves know well, our tours are thoroughly researched and planned. We take great satisfaction from making sure you have a great time enjoying memorable wildlife experiences, and pride ourselves in our high level of repeat custom and personal recommendations. Between us, we personally handle all enquiries and are always available to offer advice so feel free to get in touch!

What is the group size of small group scheduled departure tours?

Our scheduled departure tours operate with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 participants. The tour price stated here is applicable to a group size of 6-8 participants. Please refer to the Group Discount Guide in the Price and Availability section for pricing details for smaller groups.

What is the standard of accommodation?

We carefully select all the accommodations we use on any tour, based on a variety of factors. On this tour, we stay in comfortable, clean hotels, wildlife lodges and guesthouses of good standard everywhere except for the one night we plan to spend at Dhikala inside Corbett National Park. Here, we stay in a forest resthouse best described as basic, but the superb location is unmatched and more than makes up for the lower room standard. All rooms have private en suite facilities.

What is the food like?

Meals are often in the form of a buffet featuring both international and delicious local cuisines, at times served as a picnic in the field to better support our bird/wildlife activities. If you are concerned that foods may be too spicy, this is generally not the case and there are always plenty of options to choose from. Vegetarians are very easily catered for in India, and we can cater to most other special dietary requirements with advance notice.

Who can join this tour?

Anyone! We welcome beginners and experts alike. Our tours do not normally entail a large amount of strenuous activity, but you should be fit and in general good health, and able to complete moderate walks over varying terrain. The tour is quite intensive in terms of time spent in the field, with early mornings, some late returns to make the best use of each day, and quite fast-paced with limited time at each destination. If you have any concerns about your participation based around your health or mobility, please contact us so we can offer our advice.

Are there any particular health/vaccine requirements?

We will send you full details to enable you to prepare in advance of your tour with us. In brief, there are no particular vaccine requirements for entry into India but (depending on your chosen tour and your own underlying health) you should be up to date with some recommended vaccinations, and may need to take anti-malarial medication before, during and after your tour.

What should I bring on the tour?

We will send you a full list of recommendations to enable you to prepare in advance of your tour with us.

Do you arrange airport pick up/drop off?

Yes, and this is included in the tour cost.

Can you book accommodation for us prior to the start of the tour?

Yes, we can arrange any accommodation you need at the start or end of the tour, to suit your international arrival and departure times. We can also arrange a tour extension, should you wish to extend your trip.

Can I book a private or custom tour?

Yes, we can arrange a private tour following any of our tour itineraries for any size group. We can also create a custom tour just for you, incorporating any special requests, specific targets or other interests. The best time to plan this tour would be November or March to May. If, having read the tour description and these FAQ’s you are concerned that this tour may not meet your requirements, please get in touch with us anyway. We may be able to reassure you, suggest amendments to the usual itinerary or propose a more suitable alternative.

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18 Days

Price & Availability

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USD3,525 / per person
Single Supplement USD 660
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: India Nature
5 based on 2 reviews

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Tour Facts

  • Northern India
  • Set Departure
  • Set Departure Tour
  • Birds
  • 4 to 8 pax
  • 18 Days
  • November and March to May
  • 16+ years
  • Moderate
  • No
  • English
  • Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi)
  • Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi)