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Birding Itineraries

BIRDING

If someone whistles at you, it is more likely to be the Malabar Whistling Thrush rather than a schoolboy playing truant.The campus of Jungle Hut and its surrounding areas are prime bird habitat all year round. The Nilgiris is home to over 320 species of birds, both migratory as well as resident. Jungle Hut offers bird watching treks with knowledgeable guides who will assist you in spotting as well as listening to the calls of our feathered friends.

The Mudumalai and Bandipur Tiger Reserves are a contiguous stretch of mixed deciduous forests divided by state lines. The tiger reserve is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, a crucial conservation landscape within the Western Ghats complex. Largely known for some spectacular mammals like the Tiger, Dhole, Leopard, Elephant and a host of Ungulates, this stunning landscape is also home to some stunning Avian life. The altitudinal variation is between 600-1400 msl, providing a variety of habitats from dry scrub to wet evergreen patches of forest.

The Reserve is at the base of the Nilgiri hills and is home to species like the Malabar Trogon, Great Hornbill, Rufuos-bellied Eagle, Black and Orange Flycatcher and vulnerable birds like the White-rumped Vulture, Nilgiri wood pigeon, Rufuos-bellied Shortwing and Lesser Adjutant. In winter a host of migrant birds also make the Tiger reserve their home. The Pied Harrier, Indian Pitta and the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher are some of Migratory birds that frequent these forests during winter.

The following Checklist is reasonably comprehensive but does not claim to be complete, as new species are recorded over time. The Nomenclature follows The Birds of The Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, CarolInskipp and Tim Inskipp.

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The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the first of its kind to be set up in India, in the year 1986. This critical habitat encompasses the Tiger Reserves of Bandipur ,Mudhumalai and National parks like the highland Montane forests of Mukurthi and the Evergreen forests of Silent Valley. The Floral and Faunal diversity of the Biosphere Reserve is unparalleled in Peninsular India and has Global significance. The diverse habitats found within the Reserve make it an Avifaunal paradise, with a number of endemic species.

The Nilgiri Biosphere is home to some spectacular Avifaunal species , some of them restricted to this Bio-geographic region. A number of critically endangered species like the White-backed Vulture, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, White-bellied blue Robin and the Nilgiri Blue Robin can be found here. A glimpse of the Grey-headed Bulbul and the Black and Orange Flycatcher is also possible. The region is also home to the Malabar Trogon and the Great Hornbill

Click to see Birds List

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ABBREVIATED ITINERARY

5 NIGHTS
Day 1: Arrive at Jungle Hut, Masinagudi from Bangalore Airport. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2: Morning spent bird watching in Masinagudi with an option of a game drive at Bandipur Tiger Reserve in the evening.
Day 3: Day spent bird watching in the hills around Masinagudi.
Day 4: Drive to Kotagiri in the morning, stopping at The Botanical Garden in Ooty, Sims Park in Coonoor and Doddabetta. Stay the night in Farview Kotagiri.
Day 5: Day spent bird watching in Kotagiri. Stay the night in Fair View, Kotagiri.
Day 6: Drive to Coimbatore and fly out of Coimbatore Airport.

TOUR COST:
INR 62,240 [For double for 5 nights]
INR 48570 [For single for 5 nights]
** Senior Naturalist (Optional) : INR 3500

Birding Packages in Extensions : Valparai & Thattekad
INR 4500 for transport

Guide Charges: INR 3000 per person for day sessions and INR 1500 optional/ additional for night sessions. The rates vary according to area. Please check with the guide or agency before booking.

Our recommendations for hotels which you can book on your own are: Windermere Riverhouse in Thattekad and Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow in Valparai. These properties can be used for groups of upto 8 people.
(All the rates mentioned above are for a Toyota Innova)

DETAILED ITINERARY

DAY 1 – Land in Bangalore Airport and drive to Masinagudi via Mysore. Check-in to Jungle Hut in Bokkapuram, a 14 cottage property located at the fringe of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and at the base of the Nilgiri Hills. Spend the rest of the day doing short walks around the property looking for birds. Stay the night in Jungle Hut.
Bangalore Airport- Jungle Hut | Distance: 290 Kms | Time: 6 Hrs.

DAY 2 – Spend the day bird watching around the Bokkapuram area. Hike to the hills following a perennial stream, amidst mixed evergreen forests and bamboo patches. The habitat is ideal for Woodpeckers, Minivets, Barbets and a number of species of Raptors. There is also a chance of seeing the mammals of the area. The second half of the day can be spent watching birds or there is also an option of a game drive in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Jungle Hut- Bandipur Tiger Reserve | Distance: 25 Kms | Time: 45 Min.

DAY 3– Spend the day watching birds in and around Masinagudi. Explore the forested tracts, looking for species like the Sun birds, Flowerpeckers, Nuthatches, Kingfishers, Swallows and Warblers. There is also a little farmland in the surrounding area that is home to Pipits, Larks, Lapwings and Robins. These areas can be explored on foot and can be surprisingly productive. Spend the night in Jungle Hut.

DAY 4– After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Kotagiri in the Nilgiri Hills. The journey passes through Ooty, a hill station. In Ooty, the Botanical Gardens is a great place for watching some of the smaller woodland birds like the Flycatchers. We will also do a quick stop at Doddabetta, which is the second highest point in South India to explore the forest tracts and look for some migrant birds that use these forests during winter. Drive to Kotagiri and spend the night in Farview Mountain Villa Resort.
Jungle Hut – Kotagiri | Distance: 60 | Kms Time: 2 Hrs.

DAY 5– The Highland Montane Shola forests are a great habitat for birds. Spend the day exploring the ancient Shola of Longwood, looking for the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Black and Orange Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue Robin and the Nilgiri Flycatcher. Post lunch, drive to the mid elevation moist deciduous forests around Kotagiri to look for the Grey headed Bulbul, Malabar Trogon, Orange Minivet and the Asian Fiary Bluebird. Spend the night in Farview Mountain Villa Resort, Kotagiri.

DAY 6– Post breakfast drive to Coimbatore and fly out of Coimbatore Airport. If the flight is in the evening, the morning can be spend exploring the lower slopes around Mettupalayam for birds.
Farview Mountain Villa Resort, Kotagiri – Coimbatore Airport | Distance: 85 Kms | Time: 2 Hrs 15 Min.

ITINERARY EXTENSIONS

EXTENSION 1 : VALPARAI
Valparai is a quaint hill station in the Annamalai Hills surrounded by forest tracts that adjoin the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. These forested patches are home to some unique Mammals like the Nilgiri Thar, Lion-tailed Macaques, Stripped-neck Mongoose and Elephants. The region is also a great place for Bird watching. The Wayanad Laughing Thrush and Broad-tailed Grass bird are a possibility. The area is also home to a the Great Hornbill.
Farview Retreat – Valparai | Distance : 200 Kms | Time: 5 Hrs

EXTENSION 2 : THATTEKAAD
The lowland evergreen forest of Thattekaad Bird Sanctuary is an hour’s drive from the port city of Cochin. The sanctuary has an amazing diversity of avian species in a 25 sq km area. These forests are home to the Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Yellow-Browed Bulbuls, Heart-Spotted Woodpeckers, Collared Scops Owl and a varied list of wetland birds. The species density is surprisingly high for an area so small. Thattekaad is also home to reptiles like the King Cobra and mammals like the Leopard, Sloth Bear and Porcupines. Elephants visit these forests during the drier months.
Cochin Airport- Thattekaad | Distance : 45 Kms | Time : 1 ½ Hrs.
Coimbatore Airport – Cochin Airport | Time: 45 Min

FAQ

Q: Do I need a Visa to enter India?
Yes/ No. Find out here: indianvisaonline.gov.in

Q: What kind of climate should I expect?
India is tropical and would be hot and humid most of the year except during November to February when it is cooler. In addition, the highlands are cooler and cold at nights during the winter months.

Q: Are tour dates flexible?
Yes.

Q: What are the accommodations like?
Accommodations we use are all birder friendly accommodations near the birding areas, reputed, clean and with great service.

Q: Can you provide me with a list of the hotels we will be staying at?
A list of hotel recommendations are given above. You can look them up on the internet

Q: Can I book extra nights of hotel accommodation before or after my tour ?
Yes, we can arrange pre and post night extensions based on availability

Q: Do you cater to dietary requirements?
Yes we do but we would require adequate advance notice.

Q: What is the Indian currency?
Indian Rupee. The higher denomination notes are 100, 500 and 2000 rupees.

Q: Are foreign currencies accepted locally?
The USD, GBP and EURO are easily accepted at some resorts. However, should you visit the local markets for purchases or shopping then we recommend you use Indian rupees.

Q: Are there ATMs available?
Yes. Banking services and numerous ATMs available throughout South India.

Q: Are credit and charge cards widely accepted ?
Yes, all the hotels we use & most shops in locations mentioned in this itinerary accept credit cards

Q: Should I purchase travel insurance before travelling ?
Yes, it is highly recommended that you take out travel insurance before travelling to India, covering any medical situation, hospitalisation, cancellation and loss of your baggage.

Q: What vaccinations will I require?
Please check with your doctor. The areas which fall within this tour are malaria-free.

Q: Are airport transfers included?
Yes. Pick up from the airport and drop to the airport are included as mentioned in the itinerary.

Q: What kind of electrical travel adaptor will I need?
India uses 230 Volts, 50 Hz alternating current as the power source. Plugs and sockets have either grounded / earthed 3 Pin connections (Type D) or ungrounded 2 pin connections (Type C). The two pin plug is also called the Europlug. It has two round 4 mm (0.157 in) pins. It can be inserted in either way into the socket. Hence there is no fixed live (hot) and neutral (cold) terminals. The three pin plug is rated at 6A / 250V. It has three round pins in a triangular pattern. The earth terminal is slightly larger than the live and neutral terminals. For Higher current, there is a 15 Amp version of the same 3 Pin plug, usually called the Power Plug or the M Plug. Live and neutral are 1 inch (25.4 mm) apart. Earth terminal is 1+1⁄8 in (28.58 mm) away from live and neutral terminals. Typically, refrigerators, heaters and other high power devices are connected to this 15 Amp socket.

Q: Will a standard European electric plug (2 round pins) fit into a power point in India?
Yes. To insert the 2 pin plug into a Type D 3 Pin socket which in some cases may be closed by default, push a pen into the Ground/Earth terminal. This opens up the protected 2 Pin terminals and you can insert the 2 Pin plug.

Q: Will a standard American electric plug fit into a power point in India?
No. But any electrical store will sell you an adapter for around 50 cents or less.

Q: What is included in my tour?
Accommodation with most meals, all transfers, all birding walks, birding guide.

Q: What is not included in the tour?
Tips, some meals, personal expenses, beverages and liquor.

Q: How much should I tip?
Tipping is the customary way of saying thank you for a good trip. Any amount is welcome and is certain to augment the income of the bird guide and driver. Please remember that this is their only means of livelihood.

Q: Tell me more about the birding guides?
Our birding guides are knowledgeable. For single or two guests we sometimes provide a car with a driver who is also an accomplished birding guide.

Q: Is there any restrictions on drinking liquor or smoking?
There are no restrictions on drinking liquor but consumption of liquor in public is not permitted. Please check with your guide or driver if the hotel has a liquor license. You can pick up liquor from liquor vends all over South India. Smoking in public is also not permitted. Please check with the hotel for their policies.

Q: What will the meals be like on my tour?
Meals are usually ethnic Indian fare, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Some hotels may provide Continental food.

Q: Is there a 24 hours hotline for me to call during an emergency?
Yes. The number will be provided to you before you start the tour

Q: What is the Internet access like?
All places have internet, not necessarily in the rooms but near the reception & other common areas.

Inclusions
• Accommodation for 5 nights with all meals
• Airport transfers
• All surface transportation, driver’s allowances, parking fees & toll
• Highly experienced birding guide
• Bottled water & refreshments in the field
• All birding walks, safaris and entrance fees to parks & sanctuaries
• All taxes

Exclusions
• Any International airfare to/from India including International airport tax.
• Camera fee wherever levied.
• Any additional taxes levied by the Government of India on the tourism sector
• Any expenses of personal nature such as hard/soft drinks, laundry, phone/fax calls, tips etc.
• Any increase in the entrance fees to the National parks. The quote is based on the presently applicable entrance fee.

PHOTO CREDITS:
1. Ganesh Jayaram
2. Kalyan Varma
3. Surya Ramachandran
MAP CREDITS:
Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. Conservation International
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