Birding in Western India

A birdwatching tour covering Rajasthan & Gujarat

 

Day 1: You will be met at Delhi international airport and transferred to Delhi railway station to connect with your overnight train (2nd Class AC, with packed dinner) to Jaisalmer, departing at 17:40.

Day 2: On arrival in Jaisalmer at approximately 11:00 you will be met and transferred to ‘Fifu Guesthouse’ for your overnight accommodation.  In the afternoon you will start the process of obtaining relevant permits to visit Desert National Park with the assistance of our local guide.

Day 3: Day free to enjoy the sights of historic Jaisalmer, the western most city in Rajasthan, and if necessary complete your Desert National Park permit process.

Day 4: This morning you will begin your 3 day visit to nearby Desert National Park, one of the few remaining places where you can still reliably see the endangered Indian Bustard. With your guide and driver you will explore the parks’ deserted road system in search of a variety of bird and mammal species, or go in search of Indian Bustard on foot or by camel cart in a specially designated conservation area. The park is also very productive in terms of raptor sightings, with several species of both eagles and vultures not unusual in a single visit, and other rare or unusual species that you can see include Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse, Cream Coloured Courser, Stoliczka’s Bushchat, and Trumpeter Finch. Mammals commonly seen here include Chinkara Gazelle, Indian Fox, Desert Fox, and Indian Desert Jird (Desert Gerbil). At the end of you first full day in the park you will be transferred to ‘Rajasthan Desert Camp’ for your overnight accommodation.

Days 5 & 6: Full day exploring Desert National Park in search of Indian Bustard and other birds.

Day 7: After breakfast you will bid a fond farewell to Desert National Park and begin the full day Drive to Mount Abu National Park, close to the border with Gujarat. Overnight at ‘Kishangarh House’.

Day 8 & 9: Full day of birding in Mount Abu National Park with your guide.

Day 10: After breakfast you will cross the border into Gujarat, travelling 3½ hours south to Dasada in the Little Rann of Kutch, stopping en-route to visit the Jain temples at Taranga, Paton (Old Well), and the Sun Temple at Modhera. Overnight at ‘Rann Riders’.

Days 11 & 12: Morning & afternoon jeep safaris in the Little Rann of Kutch which offers excellent opportunities to see MacQueen’s Bustard, Cream Coloured Courser, Short-Eared Owl, and numerous species of raptors. While the area is essentially a saline desert it encompasses a number of lakes where you can see thousands of flamingos, pelicans, spoonbills, black winged stilts, pied avocets, and other waders and shorebirds. Mammal wise you can expect to see the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass, Nilgai & Blackbuck Antelope, and possibly Indian Wolf, Indian Fox, and Jungle Cat.

Day 13: Morning spent birding at nearby Nawa Talao (new lake) and other local wetland habitats where it is possible to see an amazing array of waders, waterfowl, and shorebirds including rarities such as the Collared Pratincole. In the afternoon you will enjoy a camel cart ride to the colourful Rabari tribal communities of historic Old Dasada where you can see traditional crafts like cotton weaving and textile embroidery, and fine examples of bhunga houses decorated with mud-plaster work, mirrors, and colourful embroideries.

Day 14: After breakfast you will be transferred 4 hours west to Nakhatrana in the Great Rann of Kutch where you will overnight at the ‘Centre for Desert & Ocean’.

Days 15 & 16: Full day of birding and wildlife viewing in the Great Rann of Kutch. This vast area of saline desert which stretches to the sea is a birders paradise with unparalleled opportunities to view rare and unusual species like the Grey Hypocolius, Crab Plover, Indian Skimmer, Sykes’s Nightjar, Sykes’s Crested Lark, Marshall’s Iora, Green Avadavat (Munia), White-bellied Minivet, White-naped Tit, and Stoliczka’s Bushchat. Raptors are also very well represented with Honey & Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe, Tawny, Imperial, Greater Spotted, Booted & Bonelli’s Eagle, and Short-eared and Eurasian Eagle Owl just a few of the possibilities. Although it is desert, there are also some large lakes in the area where you can see thousands of Greater & Lesser Flamingos and other waders, wildfowl and shorebirds.

Day 17: Another full day of birding in the Great Rann of Kutch with your guide. At the end of the day you will be transferred 1 hour east to Bhuj, the gateway city to Kutch Region where you will overnight at the ‘Hotel Prince Bhuj’.

Day 18: Morning spent exploring the historical and cultural sights of Bhuj including the Aina Mahal (glass house), a former Maharaja’s palace, Sarad Bagh Palace, a current royal residence, and the excellent Kutch Museum. In the afternoon you will visit with a local guide some of the ethnically diverse and colourful tribal villages for which the Kutch region is famous.

Day 19: In the morning you will be transferred 3 hours southeast to Rajkot where you will connect with an afternoon flight to Mumbai. You will be met on arrival and transferred to ‘Hotel Mirador’ for your overnight accommodation.

Day 20: When appropriate you will be transferred back to the airport to catch your flight home.

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