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India – Endless Discoveries.....

Day 01. On arrival in Delhi, you will be met and taken to your hotel for a night stay. The capital of India, Delhi is a bustling city of great antiquity and history. Uniquely, Delhi also has two very distinct areas – Old Delhi with its colorful markets, grand mosques and ancient monuments and New Delhi with its wide tree-lined avenues, political buildings, and charming Raj-era bungalows. The remainder of the day is at leisure to relax and acclimatize after your journey.

Day 02. After breakfast drive to Bharatpur, one of the ornithological wonders of the world. We’ll arrive in time to sample some of the region’s ornithological delights. Night in Bharatpur.

Day 03. Keoladeo National Park, or simply Bharatpur, was originally a vast wetland developed for duck shooting. Coaches are not allowed inside the park, so we’ll explore the 10 square miles on foot, by bicycle-rickshaw, and on the park’s electric bus. Birding here is always very rewarding, with the possibility of more than 150 species ranging from Saras Crane to Small Minivet, from Brown Crake to Eastern Imperial Eagle. Amongst the vast numbers of water birds, Black-necked and Painted Storks, Intermediate Egret, and Oriental Darter will vie for our attention as we search for more sought-after species such as Ferruginous and Red-crested Pochards or Greater Painted-snipe. In the trailside trees, we’ll look for Marshall’s Iora, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Common Wood-Shrike, White-bellied Drongo, Coppersmith Barbet, and Ashy Prinia. Beneath the bushes, the slightest movement could signal a Bluethroat or, with luck, an Orange-headed Thrush or Siberian Rubythroat. In the sky above there might be Greater Spotted Eagle, Red-headed Vulture, or Crested Serpent-Eagle. Dusk may bring us Collared Scoops Owl, Dusky Horned Owl, or a nightjar or two. Note that Bharatpur is suffering from a long-term acute water shortage, and although the actual amount of water in the park varies, depending largely on the magnitude of the previous summer’s monsoon, the sanctuary has been very dry for most of the 21st century. Because of this, we might now spend only one full day inside the reserve, and we might visit other sites outside the reserve during our time here. Nights in Bharatpur.

Day 04. Early breakfast and proceed to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Gliding through the open countryside of the Gangetic Plain will be a wonderful introduction to rural India, and we can expect to see Indian Pond Heron, Black-shouldered Kite, Common Peafowl, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Indian Roller, Black Drongo, and Common and Bank Mynas along the way. Arriving around midday, we’ll go straight to our hotel, and in the afternoon we’ll have our first of six safari drives in the reserve in search of the majestic Bengal Tiger. Night at a comfortable lodge outside the Tiger Reserve at Ranthambore.

Day 05. Ranthambore is the subcontinent's most famous and accessible Tiger reserve, and we’ll take a number of drives inside the park during the mornings and early evenings. Our open-topped vehicles will allow excellent views of the wildlife, and we will undoubtedly see good numbers of Spotted Deer, an important prey item for the elusive Tigers. Elusive they may be but the habitat here is fairly open and a healthy population ensures that we have a good chance of at least one encounter with this magnificent cat. Ornithological distractions could include Painted Spurfowl, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, and White-naped Woodpecker. Night at Ranthambore.

Day 06. This will be our third full day in and around Ranthambore. If we still haven’t seen a Tiger we’ll concentrate our efforts to find one. There are numerous other attractions here as well, including a spectacular ancient fort and a series of bird-thronged lakes. Outside the reserve, we have a good chance of finding regional specialties such as the gorgeous Indian Courser and elusive Painted Sandgrouse. Night in Ranthambore.

Day 07. After breakfast at the hotel, we leave for Kota - In the heart of the Chambal Valley lies an oasis of Tranquility nestling in sprawling acres of reclaimed woodland. Day at leisure in Kota.

Day 08. Today a motorboat safari has been booked for you between Kota and Jawahar Sagar dam The Boat safari takes you inside the Sanctuary and gives you an opportunity to spot the Crocodile, Gavial, Other many species of turtles and the unique flora of the river valley. Also, the wonderful intrinsic tales of mystery and History which surrounds the entire Valley.

Day 09. Today after early breakfast you will be driving to Udaipur {this will be a long drive of 5 hours through some rural parts of Rajasthani villages}. Arrive Udaipur – Dinner, and overnight at the hotel.

Day 10. Breakfast at the hotel and your day today starts with a visit to the Jagdish Temple, a large Hindu temple made in the Indo-Aryan style of architecture. Later you will be visiting The City Palace also adorns your itinerary. This grand palace complex was completed over a period of nearly 400 years and narrates the history of Mewar. 

Your next destination is Saheliyon Ki Bari, a major garden adorned with fountains and kiosks of ancient times. After some moments of relaxation, take a beautiful boat ride on enchanting Lake Pichola to enjoy bliss views sprawling around. Return to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 11. Early breakfast and drive to Abu. A small hill station in Rajasthan at an elevation of 1220m on the large plateau formed by the peak of the same name.  This is one of few places where the rare, endangered, and delightful Green Avadavat is regularly seen, and this will be our key target during the afternoon spent around Mount Abu.  Night in a comfortable heritage hotel in Mount Abu.

Day 12. Depart after breakfast for little Rann of Kutch -  birding en-route, in particular for the numerous raptors of the region which include Bonelli's, Short-toed, and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-headed Falcon, and six species of vulture.  Spend the evening, and following three days exploring a part of what is perhaps the bleakest, dustiest, most desolate region of India.  At its furthest extension the Gulf of Kutch, along with much of northern Kutch touching the border of Pakistan, has been transformed by geological uplift and the resultant marine transgression into an immense region of salt flats, inundated to a depth of 0.5m during the monsoon when it becomes one of the world's largest saline wetlands.  This unique environment is preserved as India's largest protected area, a part of which is the Wild Ass Sanctuary whose principal role is the strict protection of the last remaining population of Khur, or Asiatic Wild Ass. Stay at an Eco-Friendly Wildlife Resort.

Day 13. Morning & afternoon safari in the Little Rann of Kutch, a sanctuary for the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass. The mammals of the Rann other than the wild ass, there are chances of seeing nilgai, chinkara gazelle, white-footed desert and Indian foxes, the wolf, jungle cat (occasionally also a desert cat), pale and long-eared hedgehogs and hare.

Crested and Sykes larks, Oriental skylark, bimaculated lark, greater short-toed lark, singing and Indian bush larks, ashy-crowned and black-crowned sparrow-larks, are likely sightings and greater hoopoe lark is possible. Desert and variable wheatears, southern grey, long-tailed, rufous-tailed and bay-back shrike, common wood shrike are also likely sightings and the desert warbler is among the many winter visiting warblers. We will also look for Chestnut-bellied and spotted sandgrouse, Indian courser (cream-colored visits occasionally), quails, yellow-legged and barred buttonquails, grey francolin, wryneck, brown-rock chat, pied bush chat, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, blue-headed rock thrush, black redstart and buntings in the scrubby areas. At sunset, it is possible to watch marsh, Montagu and pallid harriers, Aquila eagles, falcons and buzzards heading for their roosting sites. Stay at an Eco-Friendly Wildlife Resort.

Day 14. 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 demoiselle 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, open bill, 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 an Eco-Friendly Wildlife Resort.

Day 15. Post breakfast departs by road for Sasan Gir (4hrs), scrub gradually developing into one of the world's largest tracts of dry deciduous woodland as the terrain becomes more undulating to the south and west.  Within this landscape is Gir National Park, the last refuge of Asiatic Lion, a highly endangered species whose range once extended as far as Greece.  Today the population of this species stands at around 400 ++ individuals which, together with the 300 or so Leopards within the sanctuary bestow Gir with one of the most significant concentrations of big cats in India.  

Day 16. & Day 17. Am / Pm Safaris {04 Safaris in Gir National Park} by open Gypsy. Gir is the last abode of the Asiatic lion and has a thriving population of a panther (leopard), sambar, chital (spotted deer), nilgai (blue bull antelope) and wild boar. Other key mammals include Chinkara, or Indian Gazelle, and Chousingha, the world's only four-horned antelope.  The forests, interspersed with grasslands and dissected by rivers, also support a diverse avifauna, with key species here including Brown Fish and Mottled Wood Owls, Laggar Falcon, White-bellied Minivet, Rufous Treepie, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Marshall's Iora, Tawny-bellied and Yellow-eyed Babblers, Rufous-fronted Prinia, and Black-headed Cuckooshrike.  Spend day 4 exploring the forests of Gir from the open jeep.  Nights in a comfortable wildlife lodge on the edge of the sanctuary.

Day 18. Breakfast at the lodge in Gir and drive to Velavadar National Park - (4hrs). Rest of the day at leisure – Stay at a Wildlife Lodge at Velavadar.

Day 19. Morning and Afternoon Safaris by open jeeps /Gypsys in Velavadar National Park known for its large blackbuck antelope population, Velavadar is also one of the few places where the wolf is proliferating in India though they are rarely seen in the daylight. Jackal, jungle cat and hare are more easily seen and Indian foxes 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 specially short-toed snake eagle, imperial, steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted eagles, laggard 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 bush chat. In the evening, witness a massive roost of Montagu, pallid, and marsh harrier. Stay at a Wildlife Lodge at Velavadar.

Day 20. Early morning with packed breakfast depart by road for Nalsarovar – Reach Nalsarovar before sunrise. Nalsarovar is a shallow lake that occurs over a flat, extensive low-lying stretch of land in Gujarat. The lake covers an area of about 115 sq. km. on land, which is mainly marshy. The lake is situated at the junction of the Saurashtra plateau with the Gujarat mainland. It is rain-fed and serves as a water catchment area in the monsoons. Local made Boat Safari in the wetlands of Nalsarovar attracts a wide variety of birds. About 250 species of birds may be seen here, including large species of waterfowl. These include local residents and winter migrants. Various water birds, such as flamingos, pelicans, storks, ducks, egrets, and herons flock at the lake in winter. Kingfishers and darters also make themselves at home here. You may come across cormorants fishing in the lake with their dagger-like beaks or snipes and godwits probing in the mud for food. Jacanas, Moore hens, grebes, coots, and ducks have an interesting straining mechanism where they lift up plant food submerged in water in their bills and then consume only the plant matter, straining out the water. Later proceed to Ahmedabad Airport for your onward journey.

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