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Rajasthan and Gujrat Birding and Wildlife

November 11 – November 25, 2014

Tour Leader:  Kelly Sekhon assisted by local birding experts


Tour Highlights


Led by Kelly Sekhon on his 9th India nature tour, you will travel through historic Rajasthan in western India to the Desert National Park near Jaisalmer. Later, you visit the Gir National Park, home to the last surviving population of the Asiatic Lion and then tour some of the best coastal birding hotspots along the lonely Rann of Kutch in a part of Gujarat where Gandhi spent a part of his life. The variety of bird and animal life in addition to cultural sites that you will see will truly be amazing.

  • Desert National Park – birding amidst the scrub and dunes of  the Great Thar Desert
  • Jodhpur and Jaisalmer – Rajasthan's historic desert cities
  • Gulf of Kutch - one of the finest birding stretches along the Indian coastline
  • Gir National Park - last abode of the Asiatic lion and has a thriving population of panthers
  • Velavadar National Park - known for its large blackbuck antelope population
  • Post tour extension to Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal, Jaipur (Rajasthan, Bharatpur Sanctuary - world famous birding hot spot.


Tour Itinerary


Day 1 - Arrive Delhi

You will be met and transferred to your hotel for overnight stay. Hotel Star Grand Villa / Hotel Shanti Palace

Day 2 - Delhi to Jodhpur

Transfer to Delhi airport for brief flight to Jodhpur. Famous for its magnificent forts and palaces, Jodhpur gives you a feel of the times when the Rajput rulers were at the might of their power in Rajasthan. The gates and the walls of the forts speak of the battles they have witnessed. Some of the major attractions of Jodhpur are the Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mandore Gardens and the Old Fort Museum. Overnight Hotel Devi Bhawan, Jodhpur. Breakfast.

Day 3 -
Jodhpur - Kheechan -Jaisalmer
We depart early for the desert city of
Jaisalmer, stopping at Keechan on the way. Lunch at Jaisalmer. Afternoon birding around the city lake. Overnight 
Hotel Fort Rajwada, Jaisalmer  

Day 4 - Jaisalmer
Morning birding in and around Jaisalmer, the fossil park and the sand dunes. Afternoon visit the Gadisar Tank and the carved and decorated merchant homes called havelies- some dating to medieval times. Patwon Ki Haveli, Salim Shah Haveli and Nathamal Ki Haveli with their intricately carved screens on the facades and traditional Rajasthan architecture are some of the major ones. Overnight 
Hotel Fort Rajwada, Jaisalmer. Breakfast. 

Day 5 - Jaisalmer -
Desert National Park
After breakfast we depart with lunch boxes for the
Desert National Park. We spend the day birding amidst the scrub and sand dunes of the park. Overnight 
Rajasthan Desert Safari Camp, DNP Breakfast and Dinner. 

Day 6 -
Desert National Park - Little Rann of Kutch
Depart for the Little Rann of Kutch with packed lunch. The Great Rann of Kutch, along with the Little Rann of Kutch and the Banni grasslands on its southern edge, is situated in the district of Kutch and comprises some 30,000 square kilometres (10,000 sq mi) between the
Gulf of Kutch and the mouth of the Indus River. In winter, the Rann of Kutch is a breeding ground for flamingos and pelicans. It is the only place in India where flamingos come to breed and is home to 13 species of lark. The Little Rann of Kutch is famous for the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, home of the world's last population of Indian wild ass. Other mammals of the area include the Indian wolf, desert fox, golden jackal, chinkara, nilgai, and the threatened blackbuck. Overnight stay at the Rann Riders
Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 7 - Little Rann of Kutch
Morning drive to the 'bets'- elevated patches in the Rann covered with scrub and grass. In winter, this is a likely area for Macqueen's bustard. Long-legged, common and white-eyed buzzard, booted eagle, Bonneli's eagle. short-toed snake eagle, are often seen during the drive. Evening visit to Nawa Talao, a lake where demmoisele and common cranes gather in large flocks during the winter months.

Greater and lesser flamingo are seen in large numbers as are great white pelican with spot-billed and dalmatian recorded. Painted, openbill, wooly-necked, white, black and black-necked stork could be seen as also black, glossy and black-headed ibis. Northern pintail, common teal, spot-billed duck, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, garganey, shoveler, cotton pygmy goose, pochards, tufted duck, lesser whistling duck, brahminy and comb duck are among the many visitors to the lake. Waders include pratincoles, lapwings, sandpipers, ruff and other birds in good numbers. Stay at the Rann Riders Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. 

Day 8 - Little
Rann of Kutch - Jamnagar
Morning walk in Dasada village. This can yield a reasonably good bird list including yellow-legged green pigeon, paradise flycatcher, fantails, red-breasted flycatcher, white-eye, prinias and warblers. After breakfast, depart for an interesting drive to
Jamnagar passing agricultural fields and lakes. Birds of the open country like the Indian roller and black-shouldered kite can be seen. Evening visit to Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, where there are good chances of seeing the Indian skimmer. This sanctuary is a breeding area for many species of birds that do not nest elsewhere in peninsular India. Great-crested grebe, black-necked stork, Caspian tern and many other birds can be seen besides most of the species recorded in the Little Rann area. Overnight 
Hotel Express, Jamnagar Breakfast and Lunch. 

Day 9 -
Jamnagar
Today we visit the coastal areas along the
Gulf of Kutch, one of the finest birding stretches along the Indian coastline. You are likely to see crab-plover, Kentish plover, oystercatchers, ruddy turnstone, broad-billed sandpiper, sanderling, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, black-headed gull, Pallas' gull, Temmincks stint, lesser-crested tern, gull-billed tern, common tern, little tern, black-bellied tern, whiskered tern, whiskered tern, darters, western reef egret in the area. Time permitting, we will walk to Lakhota Lake to see brown-headed gulls and a variety of ducks. Overnight 
Hotel Express, Jamnagar. Breakfast.

Day 10 - Jamnagar - Gir National Park
An early departure for Porbandar, a two hours drive away. This coastal city is good for  photographing birds at close range. Besides large flamingo and crane flocks, the area has yellow-legged gull, Henglin's gull, sandwich tern and the black-bellied tern. Later, drive to
Gir National Park and check-in at the Gir Birding Lodge
Breakfast and Dinner. 

Days 11 and 12 - Gir National Park
A tapestry of dry deciduous forests, acacia scrub and grassland, fed by rivers and reservoirs, Gir is the last abode of the Asiatic lion and has a thriving population of panther (leopard), sambar, chital (spotted deer), nilgai (blue bull antelope) and wild boar. Gir is also one of the major habitats of chousingha (the world's only four-horned antelope) and chinkara (Indian gazelle) that are hard to spot in the teak forests along the game drive trails. Among the many birds of Gir, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, Bonneli's eagle, Peregrine falcon, laggar falcon, shikra, painted sandgrouse, quails, black-hooded and golden oriels, marshall's and common iora, Asian paradise flycatcher, tickell's blue, red-throated, verditer and Asian brown flycatchers, yellow-crowned, brown-capped pygmy, black-rumped flameback woodpeckers, green and blue-cheeked bee-eaters, coppersmith barbet, common, lesser pied and white-throated kingfisher, blossom-headed parakeet, hoopoe, black, ashy and white-bellied drongos, rufous treepie, large cuckoo shrike, small minivet, red-vented and white-eared bulbul, tawny-bellied, yellow-eyed, jungle and large grey babblers, grey-breasted, ashy, rufous-fronted, plain, jungle and graceful prinias, zitting cisticola, clamorous reed-warbler, booted warbler, greenish warbler, lesser and Hume's warbler, orphean warbler and blyth's reed warbler, are among the many birds that can be seen here. We may visit the crocodile breeding farm at Sasan. Overnight at the Gir Birding Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  

Day 13 -
Gir National Park - Velavadar
Drive from Gir to
Bhavnagar and check-in at the Black Buck Lodge. Bird in Victoria Park (good scrubland birdlife), Gaurishankar Lake and near the port where Western reef egret nest in good numbers. Overnight at the Black BuckLodge. Breakfast.

Day 14 - Velavadar
Early morning departure for
Velavadar National Park. Known for its large blackbuck antelope population, Velavadar is also one of the few places where the wolf population is expanding in India though they are rarely seen during the day. Jackal, jungle cat and hares are more easily seen and Indian fox on the periphery. Sirkeer malkoha, painted francolin, chestnut-bellied and spotted sandgrouse, rufous-tailed, crested and Sykes' larks, red-rumped swallows, desert and variable wheatears and other birds are seen and many raptors visit, especially the short-toed snake eagle, imperial, steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted eagles, Laggar falcon, hobby, common kestrel, red-necked falcon, peregrine falcon, white-eyed and long-legged buzzard, black-shouldered kite, Shikra, Eurasian sparrow-hawk and occasionally northern goshawk. Rarities include the Stoilczka's bushchat. In the evening, witness a massive roost of montagu, pallid and marsh harrier. Overnight at the Black Buck Lodge. Breakfast.

Day 15 - Velavadar – Ahmedabad - Delhi - Departure
Drive
to Gujarat's capital city of Ahmedabad for your flight back to Delhi. We will drive to the international airport upon arrival for your return flight back home OR transfer to a Delhi hotel if you are connecting to the next part of the tour. Breakfast.


Tour Leader 


Kelly Sekhon has several years of experience both as tour organizer and field trip leader. He has successfully led eight natural history tours to India and Nepal - to the remote Kinnaur region of the western Himalaya in 1996; to Assam and Sikkim in eastern India in 1999 and 2000; to the National Wildlife Parks of North, South and Eastern India including Rajasthan in 2003, 2006 and 2008, a nature trek to the alpine Valley of the Gods in the Indian Himalaya in 2004 and finally, a nature hike through the foothills of the Annapurna mountains in Nepal in 2011.


Tour Price


C$ 3090 for the land part of the tour (including within India airfares and meals mentioned in the itinerary). Price does not include international airfare. The expected low season return airfare from Vancouver to Delhi is $1600. Fares change often and a precise figure will be available 2 months prior to travel. Airline and airport taxes and fees are extra.


Tour Booking Info


Tour will be limited to a maximum of 12 participants to ensure close interaction with the accompanying naturalists and have the benefits of a close knit small group. Early booking is essential.

The last date for booking your place on these tours will be Septemberber 15, 2014. A completed Booking Form together with your Tour Deposit must be received by us prior to this date. Please contact us for more information.

Click HERE to send us an e-mail or Phone Kelly at 604-526-9091

Click  HERE to download a PDF copy of the Booking Form


Tour Extensions 


North India Nature & Culture extension November 25 - December 4, 2014 (Click HERE for itinerary)

Kerala and South India - December 4 - 17, 2014 (Click HERE for itinerary)



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