Join Travis Audubon on an exceptional and affordable Birding and Wildlife Trip to India in November 2020!

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 3-12, 2020
Cost per person: $3,250 per person in double occupancy
Single supplement: $650

  • A $750 non-refundable deposit is due to confirm.
  • A second payment of $1000 due May 15, 2020.
  • Final payment due by August 15, 2020.
  • The purchase of personal travel insurance is recommended, including medical evacuation.

To confirm your spot, please contact Mowgli Expeditions at sachin@mowgliexpeditions.com or call 210-951-0101

5-day extension to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Agra and the Rajasthan recommended and available.

Included: All lodging, meals as listed, tips for meals, group airport transfers, all internal transportation including 2 flights, 2 train rides, and air-conditioned vehicle with driver, park fees, all taxes, 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.

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).

Itinerary Summary
Day 1 — Tue Nov 3, Arrive Mumbai (L,D)
Day 2 —Wed Nov 4, Dandeli National Park (B,L,D)
Day 3 —Thu Nov 5, Dandeli (B,L,D)
Day 4 —Fri Nov 6, Dandeli (B,L,D)
Day 5 —Sat Nov 7, Dandeli (B,L,D)
Day 6 —Sun Nov 8, Bangalore (B,L,D)
Day 7 —Mon Nov 9, Nagarhole (B,L,D)
Day 8 —Tue Nov 10, Nagarhole (B,L,D)
Day 9 —Wed Nov 11, Bangalore (B,L,D)
Day 10 —Thu Nov 12, Departure (B)
B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner

 

Detailed Itinerary

Birding and Wildlife trip to India – November 2020
This is what our expedition looks like:

Nov 1 – Sunday –  Fly from home to Mumbai via London
Suggested flight:  British Air 190, departs Austin 6:55 pm*

Nov 2 – Monday – 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 not 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 3 – Tuesday – Welcome to India!
Arrive Mumbai 11:15 am

After clearing customs, and picking up our luggage, we shall travel by an AC mini bus from the airport to our hotel. After some rest, we shall head out for sight seeing and dinner. Our first visit shall be the Victoria Terminus – one of the few operational UNESCO World Heritage sites. We shall then head to Gateway of India that was built to represent the grandeur of the British Raj in India. The Gateway was built in 1924 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to India and years later, the last of the British troops left India through this gateway. With a possible visit to the hanging gardens, we shall head to an amazing local restaurant that serves local delicacies “Thali” style. Night stay at a Hotel Ibis or similar.

Nov 4 – Wednesday – 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 head to the airport around 11 a.m, will have lunch there and take a short flight to Hubli en route to Dandeli. (included in tour price)

On arrival, we’ll be picked up in a van/jeeps for the 2 hour drive to our lodge, 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 5 – Thursday – 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 6 – Friday – Ganeshgudi
To ease the pace of the trip, today we shall get up at leisure at 8:00 and have breakfast. The morning will be spent birding the grounds of Kali river camp.

Around 11:00 am 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 several 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.

After lunch, we head to Old Magazine house at Ganeshgudi, one of the prime spots for bird watching in the Western Ghats. The Old Magazine House, was originally a British building that was used to store ammunition. It has now been set up as a lodge 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), 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. Night Stay at Old Magazine House or Kali River Camp.

Nov 7 – Saturday – Trek and Village Life 
After our early coffee/tea, we will take off driving about one hour to reach the village near Joida where everyone can go for one of the 2 hikes planned.

There are 2 separate hikes planned. One is of easy to moderate difficulty. It shall be through farmland and fields and also have a trail through the forest. This shall be for about 2 hours and not have much change in elevation.

For those fit and willing, there is also an alternate hike through the shola grasslands (see the video on the website) which is of moderate to strenuous difficulty level. This hike is about 5-6 miles and involves going up and down various hills (elevation change of about 500 feet) and at times involves walking a path that is rocky and eneven. While parts of this trek can be difficult and this trek is suited for people with stable footing and in good shape, everyone who went on this trek last few years loved it. It’s has amazing views and you shall be walking through pristine forests and grasslands. Total trek time is approx 5 hours. We will make stops along the way for packed breakfast, rest and snacks.

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.

We shall have a late lunch at the village. This shall be prepared by the local host family and consist of what they have on a daily basis. 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 give you, the visitor, a glimpse into their lives.

The jeeps will return us to the lodge, arriving around 4:00 -4:30 pm. Night Stay at Old Magazine House or Kali River Camp

Nov 8 – Sunday – 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 Hubli          5:45 pm – arrive Bangalore (included in tour price)

This evening we will take you to a crafts bazaar where you might find something to take home as a reminder of your trip. Then we’ll have a dinner of typical Indian cuisine. Overnight in Bangalore. Stay at Taj Gateway or similar.

Nov 9 – Monday — 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 go straight for a boat Safari on the Kabini river, giving us an opportunity to look for water birds and hopefully seeing elephants on the riverbank.

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 10 – Tuesday – Nagarhole National Park
After our early coffee/tea, we’ll take a jeep safari in Nagarhole National Park.

This national park has some of the best wildlife of India and we shall shift our focus from birding to mammal species – Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus), Spotted deer or chital (Axis axis), Indian muntjac or Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak).

Just before or right after lunch , we will walk the trails of the lodge for more birding.

We shall go for our second jeep safari in the afternoon looking for 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 a good chance to spot the Bengal tiger here!

Nov 11 – Wednesday – Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, return to Bangalore
Our final morning will be spent with our last safari into the national park hoping for an encounter with the elephants or the predators. We’ll return to Bangalore by our private air-conditioned mini-bus, stopping at the amazing Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary comprises of six islets on the banks of the Kaveri river. Roughly 170 bird species have been recorded here. Of these, the Painted stork, Asian openbill stork, Common spoonbill, Woolly-necked stork, Black-headed ibis, Lesser whistling duck, Indian shag, Stork-billed kingfisher, egret, cormorant, Oriental darter, Spot-billed pelican and heron breed here regularly. The Great stone plover, and River tern also nest here.

We should arrive at Bangalore around 6:00 pm. It’s your final evening in India and we will take you to special place. The final evening for this trip will also be memorable.

Nov 12 – Thursday – Departure
You can catch your flight back home or fly to Delhi for the Northern India extension.

NOTE: The order and sites visited and other parts of the itinerary may vary due to weather, road conditions, and other factors.

The trip has been organized for Travis Audubon by Mowgli Expeditions. To confirm your spot, please contact Mowgli Expeditions at sachin@mowgliexpeditions.com or call 210-951-0101

Come join us for this memorable trip!