Thursday, November 4, 2010

India - A Journeyman's Return

Bengal Tiger
A question I am frequently asked is ‘Do you still get excited about travelling’, well you betcha! Particularly when the destination is India, but why? For a start, the Indian sub-continent embraces an enormous range of habitats extending from the spectacular peaks of the Himalayas in the north, through forests, lakes and deserts to the moist hills in the south of the country, where the shoreline is caressed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Whatever your passion, be it for mammals (350 species), reptiles/amphibians (600 species) or birds (1300 species), then India has them all. Not to mention huge varieties of both plant and insect! As an out and out wildlife fanatic, how I am supposed to resist this staggering destination? Well I make no effort to resist and I am due to depart for India on November 13th, leading a group, all friends, to far away places! We hope to see as much of this wonderful part of the world as possible.

Crested Serpent Eagle
I’ll be arriving to and spending a couple of nights in Delhi, from here I will accompany the group on our travels to Corbett National Park. Corbett National Park enjoys the accolade as one of the best wildlife parks on our planet. It is the oldest wildlife national park in India, established way back in 1936. Named after the great hunter later turned into nature conservationist Jim Corbett; the park is located in Nainital, which is an exotic hill station in Uttaranchal state of India. Corbett national park is mainly recognised for its tiger project that is aimed to protect endangered species of Bengal Tiger. Along with tigers, we can find a rich and varied array of fauna and flora. Cheetal, elephant, sambar, neelgai, King cobra, flying foxes and more, along with almost 600 species of birds, the park gives us real opportunities to witness abundant wildlife. After arriving at the park we will spend our 1st night on the boundary before having a couple of nights stay inside at Dhikala Forest Lodge, pretty basic accommodation, but the wildlife surrounding the lodge compensates!

Common Langur Monkey
We will head northwards after our stay at Corbett, returning again after we have visited the Kumaon region, staying for two nights in the mountains above Pangot. The Pangot area (1900 m) lies 15 kilometres past Nainital and is on the road to Vinayak past Kilbury. It is in the central Himalayas and is a vantage point to view the great Nanda Devi massif. The surrounding hills has a record of more then 200 Himalayan bird species. Mixed forests dominated by thick ban-oak, pine and rhododendron cover most of the area and surrounding hills. A large part of the landscape is characterized by dense vegetation. Numerous perennial creeks and streams criss-cross the area. District Nainital (Kumaon) covers the tropical, subtropical, temperate, sub alpine and alpine zones. The terai & bhabhar belt presents the climate of the plains while the deep valleys with elevation up to 1000 m. play host to flora and fauna typical of hills as well as plains. The middle Himalayan ranges to 2000 m and the sub alpine region up to 2500 m completes the eco-zones.

White-throated Laughingthrush
Returning to outside of the Corbett National Park, we stay in a fantastic small lodge where the hosts are also naturalists and the lodge is surrounded by forest, I really love this place and hope my fellow travellers also enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and comforts. A jungle walk in the company of an experienced guide may reveal pug marks of both tiger and leopard on the forest paths and dry river beds, as well as close sightings of their prey species, which include the graceful chithal or spotted deer, sambhar and wild boar. Other residents include the sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, python and around 350 species of birds, including Giant Hornbills and many birds of prey. Small parties of elephants also pass through the forests from time to time. For me, this lodge is a favourite place to stay during this tour. From Corbett we will make a slow journey back to Delhi and spend a couple of nights in the city, I am hoping to meet a friend for a day’s birding for our rest day! I have been given the prospect of seeing some prime birding spots around the city, hope we can meet and spend a day together.

Spotted Owlet
After departing, by an internal flight, our first stop (for 3 nights) is the famous Kahna National Park. Kanha National Park is one of India's finest tiger reserves. It is spread over more than 940 sq km in a horse shoe shaped valley bound by the spurs of the Mekal range. The second location is the Pench National Park. Pench National Park, nestles in the lower southern reaches of the Satpura hills, named after Pench river which flows from north to south through the Pench National Park. Our lodge in the Kanha Park, rated as one of the best hotels in Central India, is in 8 acres of thick forest and provides an ideal setting for birding and for the nature lover. There are game drives in the early morning and in the afternoon. We will also do some birding around the lodge and along the Banjar River. From Kanha we will then visit Pench National Park, and explore the southern reaches of the Satpura hills, Pench boasts more than 210 species of birds, this also includes several migrants. The area is crisscrossed by streams and 'nallahs' most of which are seasonal.

Fruit Bat
Next up, we hop on our internal flight back to Delhi and meet our driver for the journey south to the Chambal Sanctuary. Arriving late in the afternoon, we should have time for some birding. Next day we will have a boat-ride on the Chambal River. The National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS) is a 400 km stretch of the river Chambal and a 1 to 6 km wide swathe of the ravines on both sides of the river, covering an area of 1235 sq. km. The NCS is one of the last surviving habitats of the Gangetic River Dolphin. It provides protection for 1200 Gharials & 300 Marsh Crocodiles, it is also home to the Smooth coated Otter. The Sanctuary boasts of an impressive bird list of over 316 species of birds and is gaining a reputation as one of the most reliable places to see the Indian Skimmer. The next day is a day of options. Folk can stay at the lodge, enjoy birds and other wildlife or join one of our excursions. We can visit the Sarus Crane Conservation Centre and its surrounding wetlands, or there is an optional visit to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Moving on from the Chambal area we drive to Bharatpur, a journey that should take us around 3 hours, but that could depend on the forlorn hope of this optimistic guide as to whether we can spot Siberian Crane or not!! Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is one of the best and most famous wildlife sanctuaries in India. It is the only wildlife sanctuary in India that is artificially made by a Maharaja. One of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is located in Bharatpur city of Rajasthan and also known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Indigenous water birds and many migratory water birds can be seen in this sanctuary along with larger animals such as Sambhar, Chital, Nilgai and Boar. If water levels are sufficient, the breeding colonies of various wetland dependant birds can be a real spectacle. The Sanctuary, is the second most important area in the world for visiting Siberian Cranes in winter. When the rivers of Siberia are frozen due to the extreme winters, the Siberian Cranes will visit the sanctuary to spend their winters in India.

Writing about the tour, the places I will visit, friends I will be reunited with, really gives me something to look forward to and that’s not even mentioning the incredible wildlife! Those who know me, will tell you, I need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the keyboard to do a trip report, well I hope time will allow following up on this blog and reporting to you on how the trip went and what we saw!

Why not join Peter and Spanish Nature on a wildlife adventure tour to India?

The above itinerary will be repeated in 2011, if you would like to find out more, please see the links below:

India Wildlife Adventure Tour 1: 14th November to 23rd November 2011

India Wildlife Adventure Tour 2: 24th November to 6th December 2011

Wildlife Tours to Asia: Nature Tours in Asia

Wildlife Tours to Africa: Nature Tours in Africa

Wildlife Tours to the Americas: Nature Tours in the Americas

To contact Peter directly please use this link: Contact us
If you enjoyed reading Peter's account of India and his forthcoming trip, please leave your comments or reactions below, thank you.


Travel Corporation India said...

Explore the wild jungles and forests of India on India Wildlife Tours. Feel the excitement of seeing a majestic tiger prowling in a jungle, or elephants and rhinos trampling their way through the tall grass of a National Park in India. See amazing animals on wildlife safari tours India.

india said...

India is a great travel destination, You have shared a very nice stuff here. Thanks a lot for sharing with all!
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tours in pakistan said...

Is there any pic of snow leopard. I visited last year we arrange tours in Pakistan but we failed due to bad weather but my aim is still lived. May be you can share