Join Travis Audubon on an exceptional and affordable Birding and Wildlife Trip to India in November 2018!
We invite you to experience the bird life in the Western Ghats of India – from the amazing hornbills and sleek drongos to colorful barbets and kingfishers. Wild elephants, giant squirrels, gaur (Indian bison) and maybe even tiger! We visit national parks, tiger preserves and local villages. Our accommodations will be in rustic cottages with en suite bathrooms and hot water. You will be escorted by Sachin Aggarwal, owner of Mowgli Expeditions and Bamboo Rustles, an Austin resident and TAS member, originally from India. Sachin will be assisted by local naturalist birding guides. Our birding and wildlife tour is an amazing opportunity at a very affordable cost.
Dates: November 11-20, 2018
Cost per person: $3,250 per person in double occupancy
Single supplement: $600
Payment by check only.
- A $750 non-refundable deposit is due to confirm.
- A second payment of $1000 due June 11, 2018.
- Final payment due by August 26, 2018.
- The purchase of personal travel insurance is recommended, including medical evacuation.
To confirm your spot, please contact JB Journeys at 512-217-4814 or fill out this reservation form for JB Journeys.
Included: All lodging, meals as listed, tips for meals, group airport transfers, all internal transportation including 2 flights, 1 train ride, and air-conditioned vehicle with driver, park fees, all taxes, JB Journey’s administrative fee, and a Travis Audubon donation of $300 per person
Not Included: International flights, visa, beverages, laundry, tips, travel insurance, and items of a personal nature. Suggested tips: driver-$2 per person per day; lodges-$2 per night per room; Safari driver-$5 per person per day; safari guide-$5-7 per person per day.
Guiding: Sachin Aggarwal, a Travis Audubon’s member and Austin resident who grew up in India will escort the trip. Guiding will be provided by local birding guides and naturalists.
Vaccinations Required: Standard childhood shots, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, and Malaria prophylaxis (to be taken before, during, and after the safari).
Day 1 — Sun Nov 11, Arrive Mumbai (L,D)
Day 2 — Mon Nov 12, Dandeli National Park (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Tue Nov 13, Dandeli (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Wed Nov 14, Dandeli (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Thu Nov 15, Dandeli (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Fri Nov 16, Bangalore (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Saturday Nov 17, Nagarhole (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Sunday Nov 18, Nagarhole (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Monday Nov 19, Bangalore (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Tue Nov 20, Departure (B)
B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
Birding and Wildlife trip to India – November 2018
This is what our expedition looks like:
Nov 9 – Friday – Fly from home to Mumbai via London
Suggested flight: British Air 190, departs Austin 6:55 pm*
Nov 10 – Saturday – Day room in London, fly to Mumbai
Arrive London Heathrow 10:05 am.
Go to your day room at Thistle Hotel close by to London Heathrow airport, reached by new self driving pods from the terminal T5 (hotel room included in tour price) for a rest before the evening flight.
Suggested flight: British Air 199, departs London Heathrow 8:55 pm for Mumbai *
Nov 11 – Sunday – Welcome to India!
Arrive Mumbai 11:15 am on Nov 11
After passport control, collect your luggage and pass through customs. We will meet our driver outside the airport and head to a hotel for an overnight stay in Mumbai.
After a rest, we’ll see a little of the sights and have dinner. Our first visit may be the Gateway of India, a monumental landmark overlooking Mumbai harbor. It was built to represent the grandeur of the British Raj in India. The Gateway was finished in 1924 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai and years later, the last of the British troops left India through this gateway.
Nov 12 – Monday – Fly Mumbai to Dandeli
This afternoon we’ll fly from Mumbai to Dandeli, but first we will visit one of the natural areas around Mumbai. This may be Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a green island amidst the bustling metropolis of Mumbai. SGNP has over 1,300 species of plants and 274 of birds, including many species of sunbirds (old world equivalent of the hummingbirds), various kingfishers, woodpeckers and drongos, parakeets, and more.
We will have lunch then head to the airport for the short flight to Belgaum en route to Dandeli.
2: 50 pm – depart Mumbai / 4:10 pm – arrive Belgaum SpiceJet #2842 (included in tour price)
On arrival, we’ll be picked up in a van/jeeps for the 2 hour drive to our lodge for the next four nights, Kali Adventure Camp, where we will stay in safari style tents located on the Kali River. The tents have en-suite bathrooms with hot water.
Dandeli is a nature paradise, home to numerous plants, mammals, reptiles, insects, butterflies and is especially rich in birds with plenty of Western Ghat endemics.
Nov 13 – Tuesday – Birding at Timber depot & Anshi National Park
Days in the field follow a typical pattern that begin with an early cup of coffee/tea around 6:00 am, a morning of birding more or less 6:30 – 9:30 am, return for breakfast, and rest. Lunch mid-day and an afternoon adventure from around 3:30 – 6:30 pm. Evenings include dinner, a bon fire and either a movie or talk by your local guide.
This morning, after our early cup of coffee/tea, we head to the ‘Timber Depot’, a teak plantation and timber auction site filled with birds. It is located only about 15 minutes from our lodging and we will spend a couple of hours here walking trails before returning to the lodge for breakfast.
In addition to teak, a variety of fig trees offer fruits that attract a greater number of birds. We hope to see Malabar Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), and Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) – along what is commonly called the ‘Hornbill Trail’. Additionally, we hope to see the gorgeous Greater Flameback or Greater Goldenback Woodpecker (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus), Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) and Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus), Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis), Malabar (or Blue-winged) Parakeet (Psittacula columboides), Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis).
What a great way to begin birding in this beautiful foreign land!
This afternoon we’ll drive to Anshi National Park. It is an evergreen tropical rainforest covering an area of about 140 square miles. Once mined for manganese, much the wildlife moved away from the forest. Chances of seeing big mammals like elephants are very limited, but we hope to see mammals like spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, common langur, sloth bear, bonnet macaque, slender loris, mongoose, jungle cat, jackal, pangolin, Malabar giant squirrel and the porcupine.
About 200 species of birds are listed for the preserve and we may see some hornbills, Ashy Swallow-shirke (Artamus fuscus), Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), Ceylon or Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) and Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus).
Return to the lodge around 6:30 pm for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Nov 14 – Wednesday – Village Life
This will be a full day in the field. After our early coffee/tea, we will take off driving about one hour to reach the trail head for today’s hike. Here we can eat our boxed breakfast before walking through the forest. Our destination is the village of Joida, about 5-6 miles total walking time. The walk is not difficult, a good trail, and we’ll make stops along the way for comfort and snacks.
Joida lies within the Anshi National Park and is a heavily forested area. Along the way should come across several different tree species, many with medicinal value. We shall also see many birds like Greater coucal (Centropus sinensis), Common hawk Cuckoo (locally known as Brain fever bird) (Hierococcyx varius), Ashey Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus), Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker, also known as Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) etc.
Our visit to the village offers you the chance to experience rural life in India, not much has changed through the years, and take lunch with one of the families here. This is a true example of sustainable tourism, offering the villagers an opportunity to earn extra money and giving you, the visitor, a glimpse into their lives.
The jeeps/van will return us to the lodge, arriving around 4:00 -4:30 pm.
Nov 15 – Thursday – Ganeshgudi & Kali River birding
After our early coffee/tea, we head to Ganeshgudi, one of the prime spots for bird watching in the Western Ghats. It’s easy birding here as we visit the Magazine House, a lodge nearby set up with bird blinds, feeders, and bird baths. As Malabar Giant Squirrels scurry about for food on the ground, we’ll look for Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus), Indian Black-lored Tit (Machlolophus xanthogenys), Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) , Yellow-browed Bulbul (Acritillas indica), Indian Paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi), Indian Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii), White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata), Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra), Malabar Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus), White-bellied Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes), Tickell’s Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae), and the stunning Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella). Did we mention butterflies? They are abundant.
We will have breakfast here at Magazine House before returning to our lodge around 11:00 am.
After lunch, around 3:30 pm we will do an ‘only in India’ type adventure – a coracle boat ride looking for wading birds on the Kali RIver. A coracle is a small round boat used mostly for crossing the rivers, but they are perfect for birding, giving you the opportunity to see crocodiles sunning on the riverbank as well Crested (or Changeable) Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus), Crested Serpent-eagle (Spilornis cheela), White-throated (or White-breasted) Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) , Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) and hornbills overhead.
Nov 16 – Friday – Dandeli to Bangalore
This morning we shall go on a trail close to the Kali Adventure Camp, looking for birds we may have missed. After lunch at the lodge, we’ll return as we came. The ride to the airport is about 1.5 – 2 hours.
4:25 pm – depart Balgaum 5:45 pm – arrive Bangalore Spice Jet #1028 (included in tour price)
This evening we’ll have a dinner of typical Indian cuisine and overnight in Bangalore.
Nov 17 – Saturday – Bangalore to Kabini by train
Early morning before breakfast this morning, we’ll visit Lalbagh Botanical Gardens for an hour. Lalbagh has a famous glass house and boasts India’s largest collection of tropical plants. While Lalbagh is known for plants, there are many birds here as well, like Indian Myna (Acridotheres tristis), Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), or Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii), Black-hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus), Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
On our return, we’ll pack up our things onto the bus and head to the train station. The bus continues, but we’ll travel from Bangalore to Mysore by a comfortable train, with only our day packs. It’s about two hours and gives you another perspective of the country. On arrival we’ll have lunch after we meet up again with the bus and head to Kabini, about 2.5 to 3 hours. Depending on arrival time, we may have a walk around the grounds.
Kabini River Lodge was the former hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore and is a sprawling colonial estate in the heart of elephant country. We’ll stay two nights at Kabini River Lodge in cottages with en suite bathrooms with hot water.
Nov 18 – Sunday – Nagarhole National Park
After our early coffee/tea, we’ll take a jeep safari in Nagarhole National Park. Recognized as an Important Bird Area, the park has over 270 species of birds including the ‘critically endangered’ Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), ‘vulnerable’ Lesser Adjutant (Leptopilos javanicus), Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila changa) and the Nilgiri Wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii). ‘Near threatened’ species like Indian Darters (Anhniga melanogaster), Oriental White Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), Grey-headed Fish-eagle (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus) and Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) too can be found here. Endemics include the Blue-winged Parakeet (Psittacula columboides), Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) and the White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra).
The national park also has a large number of mammal species including Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Indian bison or gaur Bos gaurus), Spotted deer or chital (Axis axis), Indian muntjac or Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Indian wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus), Indian boar (Sus scrofa cristatus), Gray langur or Hanuman Langur (Semnopitheaus entellus), Indian grey mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi), and Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca).
There is also a chance to spot the Bengal tiger here!
After lunch and break, we will walk the trails of the lodge for more birding. (It may be reversed, with trails in the morning and jeep safari in the afternoon)
Nov 19 – Monday – Mysore Palace, return to Bangalore
Our final morning will be spent going on a Boat Safari on the Kabini River, giving us another opportunity to look for water birds and hopefully seeing elephants on the riverbank. We’ll return to Bangalore by bus, stopping in Mysore for lunch and if time permits, a visit to the beautiful Mysore Palace.
Mysore Palace is the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty who ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1950. The original palace, built in the 14th century, was demolished and reconstructed several times; the current one was finished in 1912. Commissioned by the Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV, this palatial building comprises of two halls, a number of colossal courtyards, and strikingly beautiful gardens.
We should arrive Bangalore around 6:00 pm. It’s your final evening in India and Sachin will take you to a crafts bazaar where you might find something to take home as a reminder of your trip. Your final dinner for this trip will also be memorable.
Nov 20 – Tuesday – Departure
You can catch your flight back home or fly to Delhi for the Northern India extension.
NOTE: The order and sites visited may vary due to weather, road conditions, and other factors.
Sample return schedule utilizing British Airways Bangalore to Austin
7:00 am – depart Bangalore 12:45 pm – arrive London Heathrow British 118*
3:45 pm – depart London Heathrow 6:35 pm – arrive Chicago Ohare British 297*
8:05 pm – depart Chicago O’Hare 10:57 pm – arrive Austin British 5172*
7:00 am – depart Bangalore 12:45 pm – arrive London Heathrow British 118*
Tuesday afternoon – Stay at Thistle Hotel(not included). Dinner at British Pub – 3 Magpies across the hotel.
11:20 am – depart Heathrow (Wednesday) 3:55 pm – arrive Austin British 191*
(Avoid immigration and customs at Chicago)
*Current price for British Airways flights mentioned here is $1240-1421 roundtrip (Austin to Mumbai / Bangalore to Austin). 2 Carry-on and 2 check bags (51 lb ea) free of charge. Pre-assigned seats at additional fee. Price valid at time of printing (January 2018) and subject to availability.
Come join us for this memorable trip!