Best Time: November-March
Delhi: and surrounding areas are bird rich. Delhi is also one of the main entry and exit points in the country.
Species: Indian courser, white-tailed stonechat, sind sparrow etc. A number of common North Indian scrubland & wetland birds. More than 500 species have been recorded in and around Delhi.
New Delhi is about a hundred years old, but the old walled city of Delhi (known as Shahjahanabad after its imperial builder) is far more ancient. Most of the old walled city has disappeared but the old gates still remain. The Qutab Minar (raised in 1199) and the Jantar Mantar (an ancient observatory) are examples of unique architectural monuments. Other historical relics that are a must-see include the Old Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung Tomb and the Red Fort.
There are many options to stay in Delhi with varied budgets that one can choose from. Nights: 2-3 nights especially if you are interested in birding as one can visit the city forest, Okhla area by the river Yamuna & Sultanpur Lake.
Corbett National Park: Corbett Tiger Reserve has three distinct topographic zones within it; from the Shivaliks in the north to the bhabar tract of the Patlidun valley and the swampy Terai in the south, the reserve has an elevation ranging from 400m to 1200m, thus having a rich diversity of flora, fauna and habitat.
While Corbett is justly famous for its healthy population of large mammals including the Indian Tiger and the Asiatic Elephant, it is as famous for its birds with over 500 species recorded from the area. Lesser Fish Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Tawny Fish and Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Bright-headed Cisticola, Rosy Minivet, White-tailed Rubythroat are just some of the species that are regularly seen in and around the park.
Besides birding, one can opt for tiger safaris in 4WD and on elephant backs. Mahseer angling is best on Ramganga river. Wildlife enthusiasts would satiate the appetite with a long list of mammals such as tiger, leopard, elephant, wild boar, jackal, 4 sp. of deer and many more.
Stay: Tiger Camp (Cottages); Riverine Woods (the wildest jungle lodge and also a fishing lodge); Tarangi Resort (spa); Forest Rest Houses (basic but deep within the jungle). Nights: 3-5 nights as one can then visit different biotopes of the park for varied species.
Nainital: is an old British town in the Himalayas. The surrounding areas are best for birding treks through dense forest of walnut, chestnut, rhododendron, pine and oak.
Species: More than 250 bird species have been recorded at Nainital, Pangot and surrounding areas that lie at an altitude of 6000 feet and more. Look for cheer and koklas pheasants, mountain hawk-eagle, woodpeckers such as brown-fronted, stripe-breasted, rufous-bellied etc. Thrushes such as dark-throated, mistle etc. Laughingthrushes such as white-throated, striated & streaked, chestnut-crowned etc. Look for accentor, upland pipit, blue-winged minla, whiskered yuhina etc.
One can enjoy the British architecture, visit the local market, opt for treks, boat or horse ride, take the cable car to the snow point.
Stay: Jungle Lore Birding Lodge; Kafal House in Pangot, Nights: 3-4 nights
Sat Tal : Sat Tal (1350mt.) is an ideal all-season camp. It is a charming spot with large tracts of forests.
Species: One can see a variety of Himalayan species such as red-breasted accentor, chestnut-headed tesia, greater & lesser yellow-naped woodpecker, blue-throated barbet, rufous-chinned laughing thrush, black bulbul, dark-throated thrush etc.
One can go fishing in the lake, opt for boating or long treks, visit the local village.
Stay: Sat Tal Birding Camp. Nights: 1-2 nights
National Chambal Sanctuary: The sanctuary was founded in 1979 and is part of a large area co-administered by Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Species: One can see Indian skimmer, black-bellied tern, flocks of migratory waterfowl, cranes such as common, demoiselle and sarus; fish-eating crocodile and marsh mugger; Gangetic dolphin; turtles etc.
Apart from birding, one can see the rare Gangetic dolphin. The other inhabitants of the sanctuary include marsh mugger, gharial, chinkara, nilgai, wolf and wild boar etc.
Stay: Chambal Safari Lodge. Nights: We would suggest 2-3 nights.
Bharatpur: Keoladeo Ghana National Park, popularly known as Bharatpur is India’s best known bird sanctuary. This 28.7 square kilometer mixed wetland, woodland, grass and scrub is home to 400 plus species of birds. Only 175 km from New Delhi, Bharatpur is on the Agra – Jaipur road and a pleasant 3 hour drive from the capital. Keoladeo is both a Ramsar and World Heritage site. Any first time visitor is bound to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of waterfowl and waders which congregate on the shallow marshy lakes of Bharatpur. Winter is the best time to visit the sanctuary when Palearctic migrants join the residents. An average day can still throw up many rare and threatened species like the Solitary Lapwing, Indian Courser, Imperial, White-tailed, Greater and Indian Spotted Eagles, Darters, Black-necked, Painted and Asian Openbill Storks, Common, Sarus and Demoiselle Cranes, Dalmatian Pelicans, Black Bittern, Greater Painted Snipe, Large-tailed, Indian and Grey Nightjars, Dusky Eagle Owls, Marshall’s Iora, Siberian Rubythroat and Brook’s Leaf Warblers. The 20 species of ducks, innumerable waders and raptors, water-seeking birds and approachable passerines all add to make it a true birder’s paradise.
One can visit the museum, Lohagarh Fort and Deeg Palace. While driving from Chambal to Bharatpur, one can visit Agra and Fatehpur Sikri en route.
Stay: Laxmi Vilas Palace, Hotel Sunbird. Nights: We would suggest 2-4 nights
Ranthambhor National Park : Ranthambhore National Park is one of the best places to see wild tigers and is the only dry deciduous tiger habitat in the world. It is a part of the much larger Ranthambore tiger reserve, a Project tiger reserve, lies in the Sawai Madhopur district of eastern Rajasthan. The dry deciduous habitat of the reserve makes it much easier to find and observe tigers in their natural wild habitat.
Species: The birds that one can expect are grey francolin, sirkeer malkoha, painted sandgrouse, Indian courser, yellow-wattled lapwing, southern grey shrike, Isabelline wheatear, desert wheatear, variable wheatear, ashy-crowned sparrow lark, greater short-toed lark, blue rock thrush, sulphur-bellied warbler, white-naped woodpecker etc.
Jeep safaris for tiger-tracking and other mammals. One can visit Ranthambhore Fort, Surwal Lake, school or art etc.
Stay: Nahargarh Fort, Jhoomer Baori and Ranthambhore Safari Lodge. Nights: 2-3 nights
Recommended duration of the above trip 17-18 days Ranthambhor NP can be substituted with other tiger reserves such as Kanha or Bandhavgarh NP