India bird watching holiday in the Himalayas

“With over 400 bird species and landscapes from wetlands to woodlands, Bharatpur and Chambal are a birders' paradise – with tigers and river dolphins too.”


Magnificent landscapes of Bharatpur and Chambal | Keoladeo Ghana National Park | Chambal River wildlife cruise | Kumaon Hills and Saatal | Forests of Pangot | Cheena Peak Range | Corbett National Park tiger reserve | Over 400 bird species – plus leopards and river dolphin

Description of India bird watching holiday in the Himalayas

This unique birding trip combines exotic Himalayan locations with the contrasting landscapes and wildlife of Bharatpur and Chambal.

Bharatpur is at the heart of the Keoladeo Ghana National Park - explored both on foot and cycle rickshaws. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts breathtaking wetlands where a third of around 400 bird species have flown in from as far afield as Siberia and Central Asia. During two days here look out for multiple species of crane and stork, Asian Openbill, Black-headed Ibis, Pheasant-tailed and Bronzed-winged Jacanas and Oriental Darter.

The park's wooded areas, meanwhile, are home to Yellow-footed Green-pigeon, Taiga Flycatcher, Indian Pygmy Woodpeckers, complemented by birds of prey such as Crested Serpent Eagle and, as dusk falls, Collared Scops Owl and nightjars.

Transferring to the Chambal River, you'll cruise in search of Indian Skimmer, River Lapwing, Small Pratincole and Lesser Pied Kingfisher, as well as looking out for fish-eating crocodiles and Gangetic dolphins.

Next, explore the magnificent scenery and wildlife of the Kumaon Hills and Saatal, home to an array of rainbow-hued Himalayan species such as Rufous-breasted Accentor, Blue-Throated Barbet, Green-backed Tits, Lemon-rumped Warblers, Siberian Rubythroats and Orange-flanked Robins.

Driving through rich forests to Pangot, there's a full-day birding in and around the Cheena Peak Range. More than 200 species have been recorded in the area, including Himalayan Griffon, Slaty-backed Forktail, Rufous-bellied Niltava and Khalij Pheasant. But in a land of both perennial and seasonal creeks, you may also see a host of other magnificent wildlife including leopards, yellow-throated Himalayan Martin, Himalayan palm civet, ghoral, barking deer and sambhar.

A chance to experience the region's non-bird marvels continues with a finale in the wonderful tiger reserve of the Corbett National Park, where you will also have an elephant safari by jeep.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year and can be adapted to suit your requirements for 2 to 12 people. The best time to travel is October to June
Holiday type

Travelling with a local operator

This holiday is operated by a company based in the holiday destination and they will be able to provide expert local knowledge. They will be able to tailor make your holiday to suit your requirements not only concerning the dates of travel but also typically the standard of accommodation, and thus price. It is rare for local operators to be able to help with the booking of your flights.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

This is a specialized Himalayan birding tour so all the birding guides are from the local area who we have trained over the years. We were the first tour operator to start birding tours in this region and have spread awareness among youngsters that they can easily have a good livelihood by becoming a good birding guide.

We use local transport and the drivers are all from the local community. We support a small school (Gram Vidhyalaya) for 50 students and a contribution of £5 per person goes to this school.

When birding we carry bags and guests are advised to bring back waste to their accommodation. We stick to the trails and advise not to harm the local flora & fauna. We do not use play back as the mothers come out from their nests & leave their offspring at risk from predators.

Meals are taken in the locally owned lodges which we use, which only cater for max 10 persons and thus minimise the impact on the environment:

Saatal lodge: The lodge is locally owned and the staff are all employed from the local region, trained and paid well. The lodge is equipped with solar water heating system & has been constructed using local materials. A little dip pool attracts various species of birds including occasional kingfisher and Forktail.

Pangot lodge: This small locally owned accommodation is in a typical Kumaoni hill settlement with about 15 families where you can still observe the age old lifestyle of the hill folk in Pangot. The staff are all employed from the local region, trained and paid well. The lodge is equipped with solar water heating system & has been constructed using local materials.

Corbett lodge: This locally owned tiger camp is located on the periphery of Corbett National Park surrounded by thick jungles on one side and river Kosi on the other. The lodge has cottages constructed in a village theme to blend with the environment. The entire staff is locally employed and very well paid. The lodge has a solar water heating system and the drivers are locally employed for the game safaris.

Chambal lodge: The staff come from the local area and receive good training. Procurement of goods and services for the lodge is done locally, as far as possible and local craftsmen and technicians are employed in all restoration and extension work.

The lodge recycles organic waste through compost pits and inorganic wastes through traditional ‘kabari’ collection systems. Bath & kitchen water and rainwater runoff in ponds is re-used through the use of soak-pits.

All visitors are provided with information for reducing water and power consumption. The bathrooms all have showers but ‘bucket baths’ are recommended, as they use only 20 litres of water compared with 100 litres required for an average shower.

The lodge limits the use of electrical equipment and uses power efficient products when necessary eg. water heaters. There is limited use of electrical generators and the lodge have started growing Jatropha, a source of bio-diesel. Vegetables and grains grown organically in our own fields and also buy the organic produce of other local farmers.

3 Reviews of India bird watching holiday in the Himalayas

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 14 Feb 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

For us the nature based activities and birdwatching were tremendous. We had some really good guides and got to see tigers and a leopard which is very rare. The people, the culture and the environment were very exotic to us. People were on the whole very gracious and helpful and we left feeling we wanted to come back to other parts and to learn and understand more.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Relax and enjoy the experience. It's India and people do things differently. Keep an open mind but don't be bullied into doing things you don't want to do. We felt a lot of pressure from some guides and drivers to give larger tips than those suggested and to do things and buy things we didn't want. We had trouble finding the right compartment on trains even though we had reserved berths. Somehow things work themselves out but you need to be patient and persistent; assertive but not aggressive.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. We had local people providing services throughout. The National Parks and Reserves we visited had very good conservation standards and tried to limit the impact of tourism while providing opportunities to experience the wildlife and unique environment. It was very hard to see so many very poor people alongside clearly great wealth. Since we had paid for all services in advance we were sometimes unsure if people providing some of the services received a fair wage or whether they were dependent on bigger tips.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good to excellent. Better than expected.

Read the operator's response here:

First of all we thank you sending us your valuable feedback of your recent trip to India.
We have gone through your comments and yes I agree the drivers here do have a habit of asking for more tips. We on regular basis brief our drivers on this and will continue doing so. Also we realise that you had difficulty in finding your compartment so as compared to other countries here in India things are a bit different as you will find humans overcrowding everywhere. But we have taken a note on this & for sure it will not be repeated again.

Reviewed on 24 May 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the Taj Mahal at Sunrise is an unforgettable event in our lives. Many special rare species of birds seen on our Birding Himalyan tour.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go and explore and see India's very special flora and fauna. Trust Neelesh to organise a trip of a lifetime for you. Trust his staff such as Sanddeep our driver, who was excellent, polite, kind thoughtful and full of important to know information. Trust the guides provided, who have very specialized information to point you in the right direction to see wonderful sights.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes definitely. We left little behind we hope, but I'm not sure the general population of India really know how to recycle and conserve their environment. Much education needed here.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Superbly organised. The lodges and tented camps were fine, but the Delhi Hotels could be uplifted to provide better accommodation. We would go back tomorrow and would hope Sandeep would be there for us.

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks a ton that you both enjoyed your recent tour to India.We look forward to have you here again with some more great memories....

Reviewed on 16 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The bird watching was excellent, please see specific comments below

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Check the hotels on offer, we changed a few and were happy with the result. Ask for guides who speak good English (not all did).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Here's the feedback sent to the operator:

Hi Neelesh - a quick e mail to thank you for organising an
excellent holiday and to give you some feedback

Driver Mr Khan (first 2 weeks) was excellent - punctual, safe, pleasant to
be with. We did have one concern viz. that when we stayed at the Sunbird Hotel in Bharatpur he had nowhere to sleep and we both felt uncomfortable about this. Please let me make it clear that he never said a word about this himself.

Bird guides were very good too, and all knew their local birds. However outstanding was Sunil (Kumar?) in Nainital. His excellent English made our outings a great pleasure (I'm afraid that some did not speak such good English) and again I'd recommend him without reserve to any birders. Would have preferred that he accompanied us to Corbett.

As for hotels,
State bandb (Delhi) - good but inconveniently far out for sightseeing.
Sunbird Hotel - acceptable, but nowhere for driver to sleep, can this be improved?
Chambal Safari Lodge - very pleasant, would definitely recommend.
Two Chimneys Nainital - delightful, we loved this place and hope you send more people there.
Jungle Lore Pangot - fine but don't recommend staying in the extension, it would have been much nicer in the bungalow near the main house.
Homestay in Kerala (Heritage Heaven) - very nice, simple, so pleased we didn't stay in the big resort down the road.

Hoping that is helpful and that we will be back again.

Read the operator's response here:


We thank you for the valuable feed back given by you & have gone through all the comments & suggestion which you have made as below:

The drivers are all paid for their daily food & shelter but its really unfortunate that sometimes some drivers do try to take sympathy from guests that they don’t have any place to stay, but now onwards we have taken a serious note on this & will also inform all our guests about this.

Yes we agree the Hotel in Delhi was a bit far but again it has got its own charm but as suggested we will let the guest know about the location, we have taken this very positively.

At pangot sometimes the guest finds the bunglows too high but again good idea suggesting the guest in advance.

WE look forward to have you here again for another memorable trip and thank again for your valuable feedback.

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