Wanting a perfect introduction to India’s rich and varied wildlife? Look no further, as this tour is likely to exceed all expectations.
Be amazed at the diverse birdlife you can see by the roadside – the pink plumage of Indian Rollers, the flash of blue as a White-throated Kingfisher alights on a roadside wire and Green Bee-eaters with their jingling calls. White-breasted Waterhen, Indian Pond Heron, Black-winged Stilt and several species of egret are all seen around the margins of the smallest of pools on a typical journey.
Discover the delights of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary’s incredibly diverse wildlife in the company of an experienced guide. In the Sanctuary, also known as Keoladeo National Park, it is possible to see well over 100 bird species in a day. Almost everywhere you look you’ll see something colourful – from iridescent Purple Sunbirds, loud bulbus and the very leggy but regal Sarus Cranes.
While walking trails it is not uncommon to be pleasantly surprised by a “wild experience” as you round a corner. You may come across a Monitor Lizard emerging from a hollow tree, or an adult Rhesus Macaque monkey grooming one of her youngsters and as you leave the Sanctuary at dusk you may hear the eerie calls of Golden Jackals. Your guide will help you discover these things and so much more.
A scan across the extensive marsh shows the wetland is peppered with birds – Glossy and Black-necked Ibises, flocks of Bar-headed Geese, large concentrations of unfamiliar duck species – Comb, Spot-billed and Lesser Whistling Ducks mixed with Cotton Pygmy Geese and perhaps Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck.
The National Chambal Sanctuary offers a very different experience. A boat safari allows you to get close views of some of the rarer inhabitants of the river system including the not-to-be-forgotten Indian Skimmers. Also Small Pratincoles grace the skies here, while huge Marsh Muggers (Crocodiles) haul themselves out on the sandy river islands that are also used by the scarce fish-eating Gharials and several species of fresh water turtle.
The Taj Mahal can be easily included as it’s on the journey between Bharatpur and Chambal, so just let us know if you’d like to include it and we can provide you with the small supplement.
The famous Ranthambhor National Park and Tiger Reserve once echoed with the bravery of Rajput rulers. Today it is world renowned for Tigers and boasts over 250 species of birds. Three large water bodies and their surrounding grasslands and dry forest habitats are attractive to Tiger, so exploring by jeep or canter (an open-topped lorry) can be a very exhilarating experience. The population estimate (August 2016) is an impressive 56 Tigers here. With a little luck you should see Tiger and definitely their prey species – Spotted Deer, Sambar, Wild Boar and Nilgai (Blue Bull) are all common. The Park is home to healthy numbers of Leopard, Sloth Bear, Hyena and even a few Caracal, but whilst present, all of these species are likely to prove more difficult to see than Tiger, especially Caracal.
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 - Bharatpur
Arrive at Delhi International Airport where you will be welcomed by our representative and driven to Bharatpur (approx. 5 hours). Your driver will leave you once you have checked in to your hotel as you don’t require a vehicle for the next three days. Depending on the time you reach your hotel it may be possible to enjoy a few hours birdwatching outside Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary with a guide.
Check in to your hotel and relax for the remainder of the day.
Days 3, 4 and 5: Bharatpur
Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner at Bharatpur
Enjoy full days inside Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary with an experienced birding guide. One entry per day is included in the price. Each day you’ll explore the sanctuary on foot. Birdlife is relatively tame here so you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to take incredibly good photos of many of Bharatpur’s species.
With so much to see you’ll be pleased to have three full days here. In the UK you are very lucky to see a Bittern but at Bharatpur with just a bit of luck you can see three species: Black, Yellow and Cinnamon! Visit the heronries late in the afternoon and your senses will be bombarded by the noisy, squabbling juvenile Painted Storks, jostling Eurasian Spoonbills and elegant Egrets before they all settle for the night.
With three days available there is plenty of time to explore the wetlands, woodlands and dry grasslands with scattered scrub. In the extensive wetlands you will see many species of duck. Mallard are scarce here and instead you’ll see many Spot-billed Duck, Comb Duck, Cotton Pygmy-goose, the very vocal Lesser Whistling-duck and colourful Ruddy Shelduck. Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck are also likely to be found. As you scan across the wetland you’ll pick out Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer, perhaps some Wild Boar and most certainly the strange shape of Nilgai, also known as Blue Bull because the adult males are grey with just a hint of steely-blue if you have a little imagination! Nilgai is the largest member of the antelope family that you’ll see in India.
Guides often know of at least one Dusky Eagle Owl nest or roost site in the woodland so this large owl is usually easy to see, along with the much smaller Spotted Owlet, Indian Scops Owl and often Brown Hawk Owl, too. Golden Jackal may be seen ambling along the tracks. Sitting on a wall and in the trees you can’t fail to see troupes of Rhesus Macaques.
Towards the far side of the sanctuary extensive grasslands are dotted with trees and shrubs and here you’ll find a different suite of species. You are likely to see Baya Weaver and their characteristic nests, perhaps Indian Silverbill and if you are lucky maybe a Barred Buttonquail, Jungle Bush Quail or a spectacular male Red Avadavat along with pipits, prinias and bulbuls. Many harriers, mostly Marsh, Montague’s and Hen, quarter the sanctuary looking for prey and they roost in the grasslands.
Other birds of prey are in abundance, too, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Greater Spotted, and Eastern Imperial Eagles, to name just a few, and their presence can cause havoc, particularly over the wetlands, scattering ducks and waders in all directions.
Note: If on future days you’d find it helpful to either hire a bike or be dropped at the far end of the sanctuary by cycle rickshaw please mention this to staff at Hotel Sunbird or to your guide and they should be able to arrange this; you will need to pay for the bike hire or rickshaw services directly. Extra note: We have included the cost of a packed lunch for you to take inside the park; however, if you would prefer to return to your hotel for a hot lunch speak with hotel staff the night before, but this may mean you have to pay a second entrance fee directly to re-enter the park. Night at hotel.
Day 6: Bharatpur - Chambal - Bharatpur (with optional Taj Mahal visit)
Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner
Your driver will report to your hotel early this morning (time to be decided by you). Leave for a full day birding at the Chambal river (Dholpur) after an early breakfast, with bird guide accompanying. The journey will take approx. 1¾ hours. Enjoy a two-hour boat safari on the Chambal river. Note: We can provide a supplement for a longer safari on the river if you prefer. The target bird for today is Indian Skimmer and with luck you should see several of them patrolling up and down the National Chambal Sanctuary. Black-bellied Tern is a species that has become more scarce in recent years but it can be seen here. Gharial, a rare fish-eating crocodile, and Marsh Crocodile occur in good numbers as well as several species of turtle and often it is possible to glimpse Ganges River Dolphin, another rare denizen of this river system. Along the river banks look for feeding Red-naped Ibis, Grey and Black Francolins, dainty Small Pratincoles, various waders and perhaps a Pallas’s Gull.
Spend a few hours birdwatching locally with your guide in neighbouring sandy habitats and you might come across White-capped Bunting, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Desert Wheatear, larks including the more distinctive Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark and many others. You can have your packed lunch here, then return in the afternoon to your hotel at Bharatpur and relax for the evening.
Note: If you prefer, you could leave the Chambal area earlier to allow time for a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra, then return to Bharatpur. If you would like to do this please let us know at the time of booking and we can supply a supplement which will cover the cost of the entrance tickets, a monument guide should you require their services and the extra travel costs associated with the slight detour to Agra.
Day 7: Bharatpur – Ranthambhor
Meals: Breakfast and packed lunch from Bharatpur and dinner at Ranthambhor
After breakfast the staff from Hotel Sunbird will arrange the transfer to Bharatpur train station and you will be helped onto the train (train times to be supplied). The cost of a second class train ticket is included in the price. Our representative will be waiting on the platform at Sawai Madhopur station with your name on a placard. From here you will be transferred to your hotel/resort near Ranthambhor National Park and Tiger Reserve, where the staff will explain about meal times and safari times.
Ranthambhor is undoubtedly one of the best known and picturesque Tiger Reserves in the world. Declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1957, it gained Project Tiger status in 1974 and the site was designated a National Park in 1981. Rathambhor’s exquisite location includes several lakes, regularly frequented by the king of this dry and open jungle habitat. Often Jungle Cat are spotted slinking across trails and less likely, but occasionally observed are Sloth Bear, Leopard and even Caracal.
This afternoon enjoy the first of ten canter safaris inside Ranthambhor National Park and Tiger Reserve with a mandatory Forest Department guide. A canter is a type of open-sided, open-topped lorry with most seating approx. 20 people and this is the cheapest safari option to see Bengal Tiger, especially if only one or two of you are travelling. Note: If you would prefer to explore by jeep (maximum of 4 people in a jeep plus Forest Department guide) please enquire and we can supply you with the supplement.
Relax back at your hotel/resort in the evening
Days 8, 9, 10 and 11: Ranthambhor National Park
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Today enjoy morning and afternoon canter safaris inside Ranthambhor National Park. You will be having early morning starts each day, with time to relax back at your hotel/resort either side of lunch. Extra note: You can if you wish opt to visit Soorwal Lake by jeep (in between National Park safaris) with a birding guide for a chance of seeing a wide range of species including Indian Courser, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, bushlarks, pipits, waders, ducks and terns. If this appeals please let us know and we can supply you with a supplement for including this excursion. Note: The mandatory Forest Department guides who accompany canters and jeeps are often not familiar with the difficult-to-identify bird species and sometimes their English can be quite limited. So, to guarantee a skilled bird guide, it is best to pre-book the services of a more experienced bird guide and a supplement for this can be supplied.
Relax at your hotel/resort in the evenings.
Day 12: Ranthambhor - Delhi
Meals: Breakfast and lunch or packed lunch
After a final morning canter safari inside Ranthambhor National Park you’ll return to your hotel/lodge and our representative will arrange for your transfer to the train station to catch the day train to Delhi in a 2nd class air conditioned carriage. On arrival at Delhi station please look for our representative who will be holding a placard with your name on it. You’ll be transferred to your hotel where dinner can be taken and is payable directly today.
Night at Delhi hotel.
Day 13: Delhi
Meals: Breakfast (served from 0700 hours)
Today we have included a transfer to the airport.
Prices for different hotel categories, the names of hotels and a list of inclusions/exclusions are shown below.
There are plenty of ways to extend this tour. Please ask for details.
Price per person for low budget hotels option:
2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1020
3 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £970
4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £930
Single room supplement £180
Low budget price is based on the following hotels:
||No. of nights
||Hotel Sunbird, Standard Room
||Ranthambhor National Resort, Deluxe Room
||Hotel Lohmod, Standard Room
Price per person for mid budget hotels option:
2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1090
3 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1045
4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1000
Single room supplement £250
Mid budget price is based on the following hotels:
||No. of nights
||Hotel Sunbird, Standard Room
||Pugmark Resort, Deluxe Cottage
||Hotel Lohmod, Executive Room
Price per person for standard hotels option:
2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1125
3 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1075
4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1035
Single room supplement £260
Standard price is based on the following hotels:
||No. of nights
||Hotel Sunbird, Deluxe Room
||Pugmark Resort, Deluxe Room
||Hotel Lohmod, Executive Room
Price per person for deluxe hotels option:
2 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1320
3 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1270
4 people travelling together (on a twin share basis) £1230
Single room supplement £440
Deluxe price is based on the following hotels:
||No. of nights
||Hotel Sunbird, Super Deluxe Room
||Dev Vilas, Deluxe Room
||Justa The Residence, Gurgaon, Superior Room
- Accommodation in the above mentioned hotels with meals as listed
- All mentioned transfers by air-conditioned vehicle
- Three full days and one half day birding inside Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary with local experienced bird guide and entrance fee paid once a day
- A 2-hour boat safari on the Chambal river followed by birdwatching at Chambal with guide accompanying from Bharatpur, inclusive of entrance fee and packed lunch – we can supply a supplement if you’d prefer a longer boat safari
- 2nd class air-conditioned train from Bharatpur to Sawai Madhopur and from Sawai Madhopur to Delhi – we can supply a supplement for 1st class which would be subject to availability
- 10 safaris inside Ranthambhor National Park by shared canter inclusive of entrance fee. Note: For a more varied and comfortable experience we would recommend jeep safaris instead of the canter and we can supply a supplement for this on request
- All currently applicable taxes
- Any international airfare to/from India including International airport tax
- Meals not specified
- Tourist visa and travel insurance
- Camera fee where levied
- Cycle Rickshaw or bike hire charges as the use of these services are optional
- Cost associated with a visit to the Taj Mahal should you opt to include this – a supplement can be supplied
- 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 current 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