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Green Bee-eaters © K Claydon
Great Indian Bustard © N SantGreen Avadavat © D BryanDemoiselle Crane © T LawsonAsian Desert Warbler © R F Porter

Bustards and Bushchats: Birding in Rajasthan (11 days) B406

Tour ref. no. B406
Duration: 9 nights (11 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Delhi – train to Bikaner – Desert National Park – Sardarsamand – Kumbhalgarh - Mount Abu - Delhi
  • Encounter the majestic Great Indian Bustard in Desert National Park
  • Revel in the spectacle of thousands of Demoiselle Cranes at Kheechan
  • Look for the rare Stoliczka’s Bushchat at Desert National Park
  • Enjoy the peace of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife SanctuaryMarshall’s Iora occurs but difficult
  • You have to see it, just for the name – we know where to look for the rare Green Avadavat
  • Fabulous raptor photo opportunities and Yellow-eyed Pigeons at Bikaner Carcass Dump

Introduction

Experience wide horizons and exhilarating birding on a tour of India’s arid western Rajasthan.  On the trail of spectacular species such as Great Indian Bustard and Laggar Falcon, you will quickly hone your wider skills through encounters with flocks of raptors, sandgrouse and larks in the Desert National Park (Thar Desert).

Bikaner Carcass Dump is quite a place – we only take our clients to the best locations – this one isn’t compulsory though!  Here Cinereous Vultures stand their ground and stare while Eastern Imperial Eagles perch on low bushes; no doubt Desert Jirds are on the raptors’ menu.  The Aravalli Hills around Mount Abu are home to the range-restricted Green Avadavat.  White-naped Tit*, Marshall’s Iora* and White-bellied Minivet* are occasionally seen in dry thorn scrub near the impressive Kumbhalgarh Fort with White-capped Buntings and Sulphur-bellied Warblers more frequent.

* Better chance of these three species and more if you extend this itinerary with Gujarat’s Iconic Birds (ref. B407) and Mammals (ref. B408).  Please see website for details or easier still give us a call or send us an email.

There are many ways to extend this tour, so please contact us for suggestions and we would be happy to oblige.

Itinerary and price

Day 1: Flight to be organised by you.

For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can complete the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Day 2: Delhi

Meals: Payable directly today

Arrive at New Delhi airport where you will be welcomed by your guide and driver who will stay with you for the duration of the tour. Depending on your arrival time you could visit Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary for a few hours to search for Brooks’s Leaf Warbler, Indian Courser and a wealth of waterbirds. Sind Sparrow is recorded here and occurs locally. Night at hotel in Delhi.

Day 3: Delhi – night on the train to Bikaner

Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch and packed dinner on the train

This morning we recommend a visit to Okhla wetland. Target species include White-tailed Stonechat, Striated Babbler and Yellow-bellied Prinia. After eating your packed lunch at Okhla you’ll drive to Old Delhi train station in plenty of time to board the Awadh Assam Express to Bikaner, departing at 1625 hours. Night in 2nd class air-conditioned sleeper (blanket, sheet and pillow provided).

Day 4: Bikaner - Kheechan (Phalodi)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Your train is due to arrive in Bikaner at 0545 hours and from here you’ll be taken to a local hotel for wash and change (using lobby facilities) followed by breakfast. You’ll spend some time birding around Bikaner with the option to visit Bikaner Carcass Dump which is currently one of the best locations to look for Yellow-eyed Pigeon in winter. Birds of prey congregate here in large numbers where you can expect to see Cinereous Vulture, Imperial, Tawny, Steppe and Greater Spotted Eagles. It is a great location so you’ll be able to spend several hours here – an ideal place for photography and to practice raptor identification.

In the afternoon you’ll drive to Kheechan, the village where locals feed up to 5,000 Demoiselle Cranes each morning and evening during the winter months from the time the birds begin to congregate (early/mid November) till around the first or second week of March when they usually leave.   Depending on the time of year, by spending a night at a local hotel you should be able to visit at a feeding time which is a real spectacle!

Day 5: Phalodi - Desert National Park (near Jaisalmer)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch enroute and dinner

This morning you can admire the Demoiselle Cranes again or visit some small local lakes where you may also see Green Bee-eater, Southern Grey Shrike, Dusky Crag Martin and perhaps the first of many Common Babblers and Rosy Starlings.   You’ll continue on your journey to the Desert National Park, stopping for lunch along the way.  Expect the drive to take around four hours.  If time permits, spend a while birding outside of Desert National Park. Check in at the Desert Safari Camp and enjoy a night under canvas (with attached bathroom).

Day 6: Desert National Park (near Jaisalmer)

Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner

After early breakfast, and taking a packed lunch with you, you’ll drive to the Desert National Park for a full day’s birding.  The target species here is Great Indian Bustard and your guide will also be looking for Stoliczka’s Bushchat, Cream-coloured Courser, Greater Hoopoe-lark, Lesser-spotted, Bonelli’s, Tawny and Short-toed Eagles.  Trumpeter Finch, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Rufous-tailed Wheatear and Desert Lark are all seen locally.  It is also possible to see both Desert and Red Fox as well as Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and, if you are very lucky, Desert Cat.  Return to your safari camp for dinner and spend another night here.

Day 7: Desert National Park (Jaisalmer) - Sardarsamand

Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner

Spend the morning inside Desert National Park searching for any of the target species that prove more difficult.  Return to the safari camp for lunch, then drive to Sardarsamand (6 hours) stopping on the way to stretch your legs.  Check in at Sardarsamand Lake Palace.

Day 8: Sardarsamand Lake area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Spend the whole day birding locally around the palace grounds and lake where you should hopefully get good views of Indian Eagle Owl and plenty of other species.

Day 9: Sardarsamand - Kumbhalgarh

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

After breakfast drive (3 hrs) to Kumbhalgarh, stopping on the way in good habitat to stretch your legs. Arrive at Kumbhalgarh in the Aravalli Hills and check in at your hotel. Target species include White-capped and Crested Buntings, Painted Francolin, White-naped Woodpecker and Sulphur-bellied Warbler, to name just a few. Green Avadavat, White-naped Tit and White-bellied Minivet have all been recorded locally, but are usually difficult to see here.  Note: We can supply a supplement if you’d like to add an extra night here so you can visit Kumbhalgarh Fort itself. Night at local hotel.

Day 10: Kumbhalgarh - Mount Abu

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning you will visit Kumbhalgarh WLS, home to a healthy population of Leopard (though difficult to see), Grey Junglefowl, Red Spurfowl and perhaps Tawny-bellied and Yellow-eyed Babblers.  You’ll explore on foot with your guide and a Forest Department guide.  Mid to late morning drive to Mount Abu (approx. 4 hours) stopping on the way to check the lake at Banas Dam by the roadside for Pratincoles and perhaps even Indian Spotted Eagle.  Hopefully there will be time to check for Green Avadavat this evening at a location where you might also see Crested Bunting, Yellow-eyed Babbler and more widespread species like Black-lored Tit, Oriental White-eye, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Brown-headed Barbet and Greater Coucal.  Check in at your hotel.

Day 11: Mount Abu - Udaipur - Delhi

Meals: Breakfast

After early breakfast you’ll visit the Green Avadavat site again and hopefully gain views of this rare and endearing species.  Then drive (approx. 4 hours) to Udaipur for an internal flight to Delhi (excluded from price and to be booked by you directly). On most days there are afternoon and evening flights.  If you would like a hand to identify a suitable one, please just ask.  Lunch is payable directly today.  Your guide will say farewell at the airport.  See supplement should you require an extra night in Delhi and transfers to connect with an international flight the next day.

Tour ends

Tour extensions are available.  If White-naped Tit, Marshall’s Iora, White-bellied Minivet and Grey Hypocolius are birds you wish to see then we would recommend you extend this tour by several days to include the Little Rann and Great Rann of Kutch which will give you a good chance of seeing all these species.

Price per person:

2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1100
3 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £965
4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £865
Single room supplement £195

Price is based on the following hotels:

Place Hotel name No. of nights
Delhi Hotel Lohmod, Executive Room 1
Delhi – Bikaner 2nd AC overnight sleeper train 1
Kheechan Kurja Resort, Deluxe Room/Swiss Tent 1
Desert National Park Dune Safari Camp, Luxury Tent with attached bathroom  2
Sardarsamand Sardarsamand Lake Palace, Deluxe Room  2
Kumbhalgarh Haveli Resort, Deluxe Room  1
Mount Abu Jaipur House, Deluxe Room  1

Price includes

  • Accommodation in the above mentioned hotels with meals as listed
  • All mentioned transfers by air-conditioned vehicle with air-conditioned car at disposal on Day 2.  The vehicle will be a saloon car for two, an Innova for three or four
  • Accompanying bird guide from Day 2 till drop at Udaipur Airport
  • All National Park and Sanctuary entrance fees
  • Use of camel car inside Desert Natiional park for one full and one half day
  • 2nd class air-conditioned train from Delhi to Bikaner
  • All currently applicable taxes

Price excludes

  • Any International airfare to/from India
  • Any interal airfare within India
  • Meals not specified
  • Tourist visa and travel insurance
  • Camera fee wherever levied
  • Entrance fees and/or monument guide fees should you decide to visit Jaisalmer or Kumbhalgarh Fort
  • Any additional taxes levied by the Government of India on the tourism sector in future
  • Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls, tips etc.
  • Any item not mentioned in the price includes section
  • Any increase in the entrance fee to National Parks or Sanctuaries in the future. The price is based on the presently applicable entrance fee
  • Cost incidental to any change in the itinerary/stay on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather, ill health, roadblocks and/or any factors beyond control

How to book

The booking of this itinerary is with Wild About Travel Limited and our booking terms and conditions apply. In order to protect your payments we operate a trust account in accordance with the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

Please contact Jo Thomas at Wild About Travel (jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk) / 01480-370593 to register your interest and request a booking form.

To confirm your booking please complete the booking form and send a 25% deposit by £ sterling cheque * payable to Wild About Travel Trust to the Wild About Travel Office, 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambs PE29 1YG. The balance payment would be due 40 - 60 days (to be confirmed at the time of booking) prior to your travel dates.

* Note: Where a price is given in another currency you can pay in £ sterling. We will use the Lloyds Bank exchange rate at the time of making the deposit payment and the balance payment to convert the figure to £. If you would prefer to make a payment by internet banking please let us know and we can supply you with the bank details.

Flights

We can advise on appropriate flights and timings that you may wish to book, but we do not organise or arrange flights on our customers’ behalf. You will need to make your own flight arrangements directly with a flight retailer or the airline concerned; we recommend StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of Flight Centre Travel Group. They can be contacted by completing the online enquiry form or you can call 0800 280 8947 to speak to one of their flight advisors.

For any help or advice please call or email Wild About Travel and we would be happy to assist.
Tel: +44 (0)1480 370593 Mobile: +44 (0)7817 574235
Email: jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk
Wild About Travel Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.
Reg. no. 5522066. Registered Office: 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 1YG, UK

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