Day 1 :
You will arrive at Bengaluru International Airport (at 5.00am on the direct flight from London, Heathrow) where you will be met and taken to Mysore. We will make a stop at the delightful Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary where we can enjoy a gentle introduction to the birds of southern India and take a short boat ride on the Kaveri River. The sanctuary harbours numbers of Oriental Darters, Purple Herons, Little Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons, Asian Openbills and Eurasian Spoonbills. Wire-tailed and Streak-throated Swallows, Dusky Crag Martin, White-throated Fantail and White-browed Wagtail, Little Cormorant and Painted Stork are also here. This is a reliable location for Great Thick-knee and Indian River Tern. There is a huge roost of Indian Flying Foxes. The travel time is approximately 5-6 hours and we will spend th enight in Mysore.
Day 2 :
After breakfast we will drive to Nagarhole Reserve. En-route we can make stops for any interesting birds, with species such as Malabar Lark, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Oriental Honey-buzzard, White-rumped and Indian Vultures among the possibilities. On arrival at Nagarhole we will check-in at the delightful Kabini Lodge, where we have a two night stay. In the afternoon we will go for an excursion with local guides.
Day 3 :
Nagarhole has extensive forests which are home to a wonderful variety of wildlife. We will undertake morning and afternoon safaris with our local guides and will see an excellent selection of birds. South Indian endemic species to be found here are Grey Junglefowl, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Parakeet and Malabar Lark. Further species we should see also include Common Peafowl, Asian Koel, Plum-headed Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Indian Swiftlet, Coppersmith Barbet, Blue-faced Malkoha, Bay-backed and Brown Shrikes, White-bellied, Ashy, Bronzed and Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, Chestnut-tailed and Brahminy Starlings, Southern Hill Myna, Malabar Trogon, Rufous Treepie, Large and Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrikes, Small Minivet, Common Iora, Yellow-billed Babbler, Common Tailorbird, Blyth’s Reed, Indian Robin, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped and Purple Sunbirds, and Chestnut-shouldered Petronia. Not far from the lodge the Kabini River has been dammed and the resulting lake, together with its well-vegetated margins and stark, dead, partly submerged trees, provides a welcome habitat for Great and Intermediate Egrets, Spot-billed Duck, White-breasted Waterhen, Black-bellied Tern and Stork-billed Kingfisher. The mammals in the park are represented by the usual Grey Langur, Gaur, Chital and Sambar, which are of course may fall victim to one of the Tigers that the park is home to and which with some luck we may catch a sighting of.
Day 4 :
We have a final morning excursion with our local guides in Nagarhole. We then transfer to Mudamalai, a journey of 2-3 hours, taking lunch on the way. Mudumalai (and the adjacent Bandipur sanctuary) comprises a huge area of mainly dry deciduous forest and scrub. The park is situated in the lowlands at the foot of the Nilgiris. We will stay at the Jungle Retreat Hotel. In the afternoon we will explore the local area for birds with the local guide.
Day 5 & 6 :
We will do morning and afternoon trips to explore the park with local guides looking for some of the local endemics as well as other wildlife. Amongst the species we may see here are Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Blue-faced Malkoha, Crested Treeswift, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-naped and Streak-throated Woodpeckers, Black-rumped and Common Flamebacks, Black-hooded Oriole, Gold-fronted Leafbird, the endemic Grey-headed and White-browed Bulbuls, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Red-breasted and Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch and Plain Flowerpecker. If we are lucky we will also find the highly localized White-bellied Minivet.
Day 7 :
After breakast we have a 4-5 hour drive, bird watching as we go, with our destination being to Ooty, situated at 2250m in the relative cool of the Nilgiri Hills. On arrival we check into the Sullivan Court Hotel and in the afternoon we will have a chance to go in search of birds. Most of the natural forest in the area has been replaced with tea plantations and also by eucalyptus and conifer plantations. We shall search some ravines with remaining natural forest for Nilgiri specialities such as Nilgiri Laughingthrush, Black-and-orange Flycatcher and the elusive Nilgiri Blue Robin. Other species we may find include Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Nilgiri and Grey-headed Flycatchers, Ashy Prinia, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Indian Blue Robin, Blue-capped Rock Thrush and Common Rosefinch.
Day 8 :
After breakfast we have a 7 hour drive to Parambikulam, where we will stay in a tented camp. We will be staying inside the forest area, so there will be plenty to see.
Day 9 :
The extensive forests here are famous for their wildlife, in particular the numbers of large mammals including the magnificent Gaur. The endemic Nilgiri Langur is also particularly common here. We will have morning and afternoon excursions with local guides as we look for the avian inhabitants of this magnificent forest. Malabar Grey Hornbill, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Dark-fronted Babbler, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Black-throated Munia and Wynaad Laughingthrush are among the specialities here. Other species might include Emerald Dove, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, White-bellied and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher and Grey-breasted Prinia, Indian Pitta, Puff-throated Babbler or Orange-headed Thrush.
Day 10 :
After breakfast we have a 4-5 hour drive to Valparai. Our accommodation will be in a traditional British-style bungalow on a tea plantation, surrounded by spacious gardens. This is the area where we will be hoping to find the Lion-tailed Macaque, one of the most threatened primates in the world, which is endemic to this part of India.
Day 11 :
Before breakfast we will have an early walk to look for the Macaques again, before we leave for Munnar. We will making birding stops en route including the Chinnar Sanctuary. Among the species we might encounter are Large Grey Babbler, Ashy Woodswallow, Loten’s Sunbird, Jungle Prinia, Mountain Hawk-eagle, Blue-tailed, Little Green and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Spotted Owlet, Small Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole and Brown Shrike. On arrival in Munnar we check in at the Hotel T&U, where we have a two night stay.
Day 12 :
Today our destination is the Eravikulum Plateau, where we visit the Rajamalai Sanctuary. Here we expect to find the rare and endangered Nilgiri Tahr. A number of birds are also among our targets here, as we look for Nilgiri Pipit, Painted Bush-quail, Grey-breasted Laughingthrush, White-bellied Blue Robin and Malabar Whistling Thrush.
Day 13 :
We leave Munnar to travel to the Periyar Reserve situated in the Cardamom Hills at the southern end of the Western Ghats. The journey will take most of the day, although we will break it up with opportunistic stops for birding en-route. We will spend the night in the Mountain Courtyard Hotel.
Day 14 :
We spend the day exploring the magnificent forests of Periyar. Amount the many possibilities here are Malabar Trogon, Wynaad Laughingthrush, White-bellied Treepie, Rufous Babbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Crimson-backed and Loten’s Sunbirds, Black Baza, Red Spurfowl, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Jungle Owlet, White-rumped Spinetail, Little Spiderhunter, Asian Brown, Brown-breasted and Rusty-tailed Flycatchers and more besides.
Day 15 :
This morning we will take a boat trip on the Periyar River. After lunch we will drive to Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. We will stay in a tented camp at the Seventh Heaven Hotel.
Day 16 :
We will have a full day watching wildlife in the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. Many of the birds are similar to those we may encounter in Periyar, but we make a special effort to find Sri Lankan Frogmouth, whilst further species we might find include White-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous Babbler, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher Green Imperial Pigeon, Black Baza, Orange Minivet, Orange-headed Thrush and others.
Day 17 :
This morning will be our last bird watching excursion at Thattekad. After lunch we will drive to Kochin airport, from where we fly to Bengaluru and transfer to our hotel.
Day 18 :
Fly home to the UK.
Please note the best time to visit this area is November to March, but the Rajamalai Sanctuary is closed in February to avoid disturbing breeding Nilgiri Tahr.