Best time to visit

October - March (ideal)
April - May (good)

For Whom

Birdwatchers and photographers; Wildlife enthusiasts

Extended Weekend Tours

Long Breaks

Bird endemics & more 11 Nights / 12 Days from $1175/-

Summary

Explore south India’s rich birdlife on this expertly guided tour. In this tour we to take you to some of the best locations for bird-watching in the Western Ghats of south India, a mountainous ecoregion from where over 400 species of birds are known to occur. The ghats are also categorised as an Endemic Bird Area by Birdlife International, with about 20 endemic birds and several other sub-continental specialities recorded from ecoregion.

Many of the locations we visit on this tour are also very scenic and rich in other wildlife. In addition, south India’s vibrant and historic culture and friendly people will be a charming addition to your overall travel experience.

Itinerary Outline

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad (Transfer from Cochin, Kerala)
  • Day 4 & 5: Munnar (Pampadum Shola & Eravikulam National Parks)
  • Day 6, 7 & 8: Anamalai Tiger Reserve.
  • Day 9, 10 & 11: Bandipur & Mudumalai Tiger Reserves.
  • Day 12: Ranganathittoo Bird Sanctuary & Transfer to Bangalore, Karnataka

Facilities

Accommodation: : Quality accommodation in comfortable tented resort, plantation bungalows & quaint resorts.
Food: : Largely local and pan-Indian, with a few international dishes.
Transport: : Road transfers in A/C vehicles.
Difficulty level: : Easy to moderate with a little hiking in mountainous terrain involved.
Dates : TBA
Please note that we can customise schedule for independent travel
Costs : INR 1,05,000/person  (USD 2190/GBP 1350/EUR 1420)
- based on minimum 2 persons traveling.
INR 85,000/person  (USD 1175/GBP 730/EUR 885)
- based on 4 persons & above traveling.
INR 20,000/person  (USD 420/GBP 260/EUR 320)
- Single supplement.
Price inclusions : Accommodation / Meals / Travel / Naturalist / Local Guide / Activity Charges / Fees & Taxes

Terms & Conditions

  1. Maximum group size for this tour is 6.
  2. Tour costs are per person based on twin sharing basis ex-Cochin and is all inclusive (transport, accommodation, food, personnel and all taxes and fees). Personnel includes an expert birding guide/a tour leader and resource persons from the local community. Alcoholic beverages, porter charges, laundry and room service are extra. Please check with us on specific items to make sure if it is included in the published tour costs.
  3. Our preferred mode of payment is through electronic transfers into our bank account. Relevant details will be provided to you once you are ready to make the payment. Alternatively we accept demand drafts/cheques in the currency of your choice.
  4. If you are paying in foreign currency, we might have apply a currency surcharge on the published rates, if the INR appreciates against your currency at the time of payment.
  5. In the unlikely event in which we are forced to cancel the tour we will refund you the entire booking amount. In case we are unable to conduct the tour due to circumstances beyond our control (for e.g. forces of nature, political conditions), we will make every effort to refund as much of the booking amount as possible.
  6. In case you to cancel your booking more than one month in advance from the tour date, we will refund at least 50% of the tour cost (assuming tour costs are fully paid). The precise refund beyond this will be dependent on the refund policies of our travel partners that we use on tour. In case you cancel your booking less than 1 month from the start of the tour, we will refund 10% of your booking amount

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1, 2 & 3, Thattekad :

We leave Cochin, Kerala mid-morning and reach Thattekad (Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary) by noon on Day 1. We spend three days exploring the small sanctuary for a significant chunk of south India’s bird specialities.

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located on the banks of the Periyar River on the foothills of the Western Ghats of Kerala. The habitat matrix of the location, which includes riverine, lowland evergreen and plantation forests, contain an amazing density of birds and offers excellent photographic opportunities for several Western Ghats bird specialities among an impressive bird-list of over 300 species. Renowned ornithologist, the late Dr. Salim Ali, once suggested that Thattekad contains among the highest species density of birds in India outside of the Eastern Himalaya. Some of the south India’s endemic birds found here include the Greyheaded Bulbul, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, White-bellied Treepie, Wynaad Laughing Thrush (rare), White-bellied Blue Flycatcher and White-cheeked Barbet. Sightings of rarities such as the Black Baza, Crested Goshawk, Red Spurfowl, Malabar Trogon and the Sri Lanka Frogmouth are not uncommon. Winter is interesting for several migrant flycatchers and warblers.

Elephants are regularly seen in and around the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, along with several other mammals including rare sightings of top predators such as Indian wild dogs and leopards. The wet, humid habitats of the location also contain an exciting diversity of plants, herpetofauna and invertebrates.

Day 4 & 5, Munnar :

We reach Munnar in the afternoon on Day 4 and will spend two days exploring the landscape for mid and high altitude bird specialities of the Western Ghats.

Munnar is a small hill station town (1500m) nestled among tea plantations and wet montane forests (sholas) in the Western Ghats of Kerala. The shola forests surrounding Munnar and the montane forest-grassland ecosystem of the nearby higher reaches are excellent locations to encounter several of south India’s high altitude endemic birds. Some of the Western Ghats specialities you are likely to encounter around Munnar include the White-bellied Shortwing (White-bellied Blue Robin), Painted Bushquail, Black and Orange and Nilgiri Flycatchers, Grey-breasted (Kerala) Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Barbet, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Crimson-backed (Small) Sunbird and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon. Winter reveals several warblers and rarities such as the Blue Rock Thrush.

Wildlife specialities from here include the Nilgiri Tahr, an endemic mountain goat, Nilgiri Langur, an endemic primate, and a rarely seen endemic mustelid, the Nilgiri Marten.

Day 6, 7 & 8, Anamalai Tiger Reserve :

After some morning birding around Munnar, we drive through a scenic route on our way to Sethumadai (on the edge of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve). Excellent birding opportunities on the ghat route along the way, with the road passing through sholas, shaded hill streams and grassy/rocky hill sides and deciduous forests and scrub in the lower elevations. We reach Sethumadai in the early evening and spend the next two days exploring the biodiverse moist forests and lowland habitats of the location for the ecoregion’s bird endemics and rarities.

The Anamalais are among the the most interesting natural history locations in south India for their biodiversity rich, extensive mid-elevation and montane evergreen forests. These forests are excellent habitat for nesting populations of Great Pied Hornbill among other species that require large tracts of mature forest. Among the noteworthy rarities that have been recorded from here are the Jerdon’s Baza and Rufous-bellied Eagle. The cryptic Sri Lanka Frogmouth are regularly sighted here, and endemics found here include White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Rufous Babbler, Malabar Parakeet and Wynaad Laughing Thrush among a bird list of over 300 species.

The Anamalais are also known for their endemic primates including the Nilgiri Langur and Lion-tailed Macaque and we could come across other typically elusive mammals including Brown Palm Civet and Brown Mongoose that are restricted to the moist forests of the Western Ghats. Megafauna such as Elephant and Gaur and several other herbivorous mammals are regularly sighted. Tiger and Leopard are found here, but are difficult to see in the area. The moist forests here typically engross naturalists with their fascinating diversity of herpetofauna, invertebrates, flora and forest scape

Day 9, 10 & 11 Bandipur / Masinagudi :

We reach Bandipur, driving down the steep Sigur road from Ooty, by evening on Day 9. Good birding opportunities in the scrub and deciduous forests along the way, including the possibility of sighting the Black-chinned Laughing Thrush and Nilgiri Blue Robin in montane habitats en-route. We spend the next two days exploring the habitats in and around Bandipur, Masinagudi and Ooty, mostly for dry habitat bird specialities of the Western Ghats and montane birds that are restricted to the Ghats of the Nilgiris and north.

The Masinagudi plateau (900m) is located on the northern foothills of the Nilgiris, adjacent to the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The area immediately surrounding Masinagudi town falls in the rain-shadow of the Nilgiris and consequently, the vegetation here largely comprises dry, thorny scrub species with few patches of luxuriant riverine forest. Visibility is excellent for birding and birdlife is very good, with over 250 species recorded from here and the adjacent deciduous forests of the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Some of the bird specialities from these locations include the White-bellied Minivet, Jerdon’s Bush Lark, Malabar Lark, White-bellied Woodpecker, Sirkeer Malkoha and quite a few south Indian endemics that we might have missed in Thattekad or Anamalai. Further we will concentrate some birding effort around Ooty for high altitude bird specialities of the Western Ghats, that are not found in Munnar (Black-chinned Laughingthrush, Nilgiri Blue Robin and Kashmir Flycatcher)

Wildlife is abundant and very visible around Masinagudi, where megafauna such as Elephant, Tiger, Gaur and Leopard, in addition to much other wildlife, are regularly sighted. The area lies within the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve and is contiguous with some of south India’s most wildlife rich protected areas of Mudumalai, Bandipur and Nagarhole.

Day 12, Ranganathittu / Bangalore e:

After some early morning birding and breakfast, we head towards Bangalore, a major city well connected by road, air and rail networks. En-route we stop at the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - a famous heronry on islands in the Cauvery River. The sanctuary is excellent for close views, especially of Eurasian Spoonbill and Night Heron among species of terns, cormorants, herons and storks. We reach Bangalore in the evening, from where you can transfer to onward destinations.

Suggested Extension (with south India wetland birds - Nov to Mar only)

Pulicat Bird Sanctuary : Migratory waders and wildfowl in a brackish lagoon
Point Calimere : Migratory waders and wildfowl and terrestrial birds in diverse habitats

Potential Extensions (please let us know if you would like to include any of the following destinations onto the itinerary)

Periyar Tiger Reserve : Endemic Birds & Mammals
Kabini (Nagarhole National Park) : Peninsular Birds & Megafauna
 
 

 

FYI and Guidelines

  1. South India is politically stable and is a very safe and tourist friendly region. While petty crimes occur sporadically, crimes rates, are generally low in the region.
  2. Climate in south India is generally tropical and constant. However, due to broad elevational range that we cover during the tour, weather conditions can be quite variable based on where you are and when you travel. We will advice you on weather conditions, clothing etc dependent on when you choose to travel.
  3. Please bring your binoculars or spotting scope along.
  4. Most birding will be on foot and sometimes in mountainous terrain. We recommend you wear comfortable walking/trekking shoes while birding.
  5. A hat and sunblock are highly recommended and sunglasses will be useful.
  6. Please bring essential medication with you, since the local outlets will not always carry what you are looking for. Do check with your doctor on medication and medical safety before you travel to the region.