Day 1: Arrival in Bangalore. Overnight at Mysore:
On arrival at Bangalore International airport, pick up and transfer to Mysore. En route visit Kokrebellur birding village (130 kms) and Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary (60 kms from Kokrebellur) . An hour long boat ride through the lake and some short walk will be apt to start this photography tour. After birding and photography move to Mysore (20 kms) for overnight stay. Both these places are perfect locations for bird watching and photography.Kokrebellur village is named after the painted stork(Ibis leucocephalus) called “kokkare” in Kannada language. Apart from painted storks the spot billed pelicans, are also found here. Both are classified as “near threatened category” in IUCN Red List of 2009. The village is one of the 21 breeding sites existing in India.The uniqueness in Kokrebellur is the long established bonding between the spot-billed pelicans and the villagers who have adopted this bird as their heritage, since they consider the birds as harbingers of good luck and prosperity to the village. The benefits derived by the villagers from these birds are basically in the form of phosphorus and potassium rich manure obtained from the bird droppings (also known as guano). Further, over the years, the popularity of this uniqueness has also attracted tourists to the village to watch the birds.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka in India. It is the largest bird sanctuary in the state, only 0.67 km2. in area, which is about 40 acres and comprises six islets on the banks of the Kaveri river. Ranganathittu is located three kilometers away from the historic town of Srirangapatna and 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) north of Mysore.
Roughly 170 birds have been recorded here. Of these, the painted stork, Asian open bill stork, common spoonbill, woolly-necked stork, black-headed ibis, lesser whistling duck, Indian shag, stork-billed kingfisher, egret, cormorant, Oriental darter, and heron breed here regularly. The great stone plover, and river tern also nest here. The park is home to a large flock of streak -throated swallows. During the months of January and February, more than 30 species of migratory birds are found and the season of the sanctuary is from November to June. About 50 pelicans have made Ranganathittu as their permanent home.
Day 2: Mysore – Nagarhole National Park (Approximate 80 kms, 3 hrs drive )
After breakfast, transfer to Nagarhole, for accommodation in Kabini River Lodge of the famous Karnataka Jungle Lodges & Camps.
Nagarhole National Park (also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park), has rich forest cover, small streams, hills, valleys and waterfalls. The park has a healthy predator-prey ratio, with many tigers, Indian bison and elephants. The vegetation here consists mainly of North Western Ghats moist deciduous forests with teak and rosewood predominating in the southern parts.
The important predators and carnivores in Nagarhole National Park are the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Indian Wild Dog, sloth bear and the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena). The herbivores are chital, sambar deer, barking deer, four-horned antelope (Tetracercus quadricornis), gaur (Bos gaurus), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and Indian elephant. Nagarhole National Park provides an opportunity to see some of the southern population of gaur (jungle bison). Other mammals includes the gray langur (Presbytes entellus), bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), jungle cat, slender loris (Loris tadigradus), leopard cat (Felis bengalensis), civet (Viverricula indica and Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), mongoose (Herpestes fuscus and Herpestes vitticollis), European otter (Lutra lutra), Indian giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista), Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), porcupine, golden jackal, chevrotain (Tragulus meminna), hare and pangolin (Manis crassicaudata). Over 250 species of birds are found at Nagarhole National Park. Besides the enormous variety of woodland birds, there are large congregations of waterfowl in the Kabini river. Birds range from blue-bearded bee-eater, scarlet mini vet and Malabar whistling thrush to the more common ospreys, herons and ducks.
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 darters (Anhniga melanogaster), oriental white ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), greater 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 tree pie (Dendrocitta leucogastra). Some of the birds that can be sighted here include the white cheeked barbet (Megalaima viridis), Indian scimitar babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii), Malabar trogan and Malabar whistling thrush (Myiophonus horsfieldii) and Malabar Trogan. Birds commonly seen in drier regions like painted bush quail (Pendicula erythrorhyncha), Sirkeer malkhoa (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultia), ashy prinia (Prinia socialis), Indian robin (Saxicoloides fulicata), Indian peafowl (Pava cristatus) and yellow legged green pigeon (Treron phoenicoptera) can be found here.
Check-in by afternoon. Post lunch, go for a wildlife safari in a shared vehicle with other tourists organized by the Forest Department. Back to camp by nightfall.
Day 3: Nagarhole
Early morning wildlife safari. Back to camp for breakfast. Move around your camp with naturalist for further bird/animal spotting and photography sessions. Post lunch go for an evening safari organized by Forest department. Back to camp by nightfall. Nagarhole is so rich in bio-diversity. Asiatic Elephants, Indian Wild Gaur, Leopards, Tigers, Indian Wild dogs, Sambar deers etc thrive in these jungles.
Day 4: Nagarhole – Masinagudi / Mudumalai National Park (Approximate 130 kms, 3 hrs drive)
Early morning wildlife safari or Coracle ride. Back to camp for breakfast. After breakfast check out and proceed to Masinagudi, a part of the Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is also a declared tiger reserve. The protected area is home to several endangered and vulnerable species including Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, gaur and Indian leopard. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered Indian white- rumped vulture and long-billed vulture.
Of 15 cat species in India, four live in Mudumalai: Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, jungle cat and leopard cat. There are 44 to 80 tigers in the Mudumalai forest. The single largest tiger population in India (Mudumalai – Nagarhole – Wayanad) includes the Mudumalai tigers. These tigers are a breeding source for populating the northern and eastern parts of the Western Ghats. This population exists at high density due to the high density of prey species thriving in its deciduous forests.
The Indian leopard (P. pardus fusca), the dhole (Cuon alpinus), the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), the golden jackal (Canis aureus) and the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) are some of the carnivorous species commonly found here. The population of Indian elephants, Elephas maximus indicus, totals several hundred animals. Three primates found here include the gray langur (Semnopithecus priam) and the bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata). Important prey animals for tigers and panthers here are the ungulates including the gaur (Bos gaurus), the sambar deer (Cervus unicolor), the chital deer (Axis axis), Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), the Indian spotted chevrotain, Moschiola indica, and the wild boar (Sus scrofa), all of whom are common here. Rodents include the Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica maxima) and the red giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista)
Check-in to the resort on the fringes of forests. Evening jeep safari.
Day 5: Masinagudi
Go for a morning ride with your naturalist to try your luck on spotting wildlife. After breakfast rest and lunch, another round of jeep safari for more exploration. Back to resort for dinner and Overnight stay stay.
Asiatic Elephants, Indian Wild Gaur, Leopards, Tigers, Indian Wild dogs, Sambar deers etc thrive in these jungles.
Day 6: Masinagudi – Ooty (Approximate 30 kms, 1 hr drive)
After breakfast transfer to Ooty for spotting the Western Ghat endemic bird Nilgiri Laughing Thrush. Overnight stay in a resort.
Day 7: Ooty – Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (Approximate 220 kms, 5 hrs drive)
After breakfast, transfer to Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has a rich diversity of animal life including: 39 species of Mammals , 16 species of Amphibians , 268 species of Birds, 61 species of Reptiles , 47 species of Fishes, 1049 species of Insects,. and 124 species of Butterflies. This sanctuary is also referred to as the “state capital for the massive gaur” by wildlife experts.
Important mammals include: Lion-tailed Macaques, Nilgiri Tahr, Elephants, Bengal Tigers, Indian Leopards, Wild Boar, Sambar deers, Bonnet Macaques, Nilgiri Langurs, Sloth Bears, Nilgiri Marten Small Travancore Flying Squirrel and Indian Wild Gaur.
There are 124 species of butterflies recorded in the sanctuary of which 34 are rare and endemic.
268 bird species have been recorded in the sanctuary. 134 species are listed as rare and 18 species are endemic to Western Ghats.
Check-in to the tented niche. Go for a safari by canter at 3.30 and return to the camp by 7.30pm. Dinner and overnight stay in Swiss tents.
Day 8: Parambikulam
Short trek through the jungle after breakfast. Back to camp by noon. Go for a safari by 3.30pm and return to the camp by 7.30pm. Dinner and overnight stay in Swiss tents. Parambikulam Tiger reserve is one of richest in population of Wild elephants, gaurs, Leopards, Tigers and Indian Sloth Bears.
Day 9: Parambikulam – Chinnar (Approximate 110 kms, 3 hrs drive)
After breakfast, transfer to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Stay in a log hut in the middle of the jungle. The vegetation here is dry deciduous with scattered trees and thorny scrub jungle which makes spotting wildlife easier. Apart from the common wildlife species found in the Southern western Ghats, here you have another Western Ghat Endemic, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel.
Day 10: Chinnar- Munnar (Approximate 65 kms, 2 hrs drive)
After breakfast, transfer to Munnar. En route visit Rajamala the tourism zone of Eravikulam national Park where you can try to find another endemic the ‘Nilgiri Tahr’. Birding trips in the evening. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 11: Munnar – Thattekkad Bird sanctuary (Approximate 100 kms, 3 hrs drive)
After a birding trip and breakfast, proceed to Thattekkad.
Thattekkad Bird sanctuary: Some of the rare and most-wanted species found here are Orange-headed thrush, Large-billed leaf-warbler, Jerdon’s nightjar, Indian cuckoo, Oriental darter, Cormorants, Whiskered terns, Collared scops owl, Ceylon frog mouth, Grey-fronted green pigeon, Yellow-browed bulbuls etc.
The sanctuary is a habitat for different varieties of cuckoos and a region of the sanctuary popularly called “Cuckoo Paradise” is home to them, among which are the: Drongo cuckoo, which may be easily mistaken for drongo, Indian hawk cuckoo, which is highly vocal, and the Large hawk cuckoo, which looks relatively massive compared to other types of cuckoos, and is characterized by a dark grey and heavily streaked throat. The Indian pitta, which visits the sanctuary during winter and spends almost six months here.
Check-in to a birding lodge or resort. Evening birding walk. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12: Thattekkad Bird sanctuary
Today we have two sessions of birding and photography, one in the morning 6.30 am till 11:30 am and the second session starts by 4pm till 8 pm. Though the Ceylon Frog mouth is the highlight of the bird list found here, you can spot more than a hundred species of species in a two day tour. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Departure Cochin Airport (Approximate 70 kms, 2 hrs drive)