Rajasthan is perhaps best known for its history and culture. However, the royal heritage of the state is highly evident not only in the palaces, and monuments of the state but also in the wildlife. There is something regal about the animals and birds that call this state home. This tour gives you the opportunity to explore some of the best birding destinations in Rajasthan.
The city of Jaipur boasts beautiful architecture, monuments, forts and palaces, a royal era or queens and kings, and delicious food. No trip to Jaipur is complete without visiting the famous Amer Fort, the majestic fort, walled through and through, City Palace (where the royal family of Jaipur still lives), a beautiful palace with various rooms that used to serve different purposes to the royals back in the day, Hawa Mahal, the palace of windows and the local markets, as you walk around the pink city, you realize the heritage value of the monuments, forts, palaces, and markets.
In addition to all this, the forests of Jhalana make for a quick and easy wildlife addition. Once a sport hunting ground for the nobles of Jaipur, Jhalana is a leopard-rich forest that is the perfect quick addition to any Jaipur visit. Apart from Leopard, Jhalana has other attractions such as Striped Hyena, Golden Jackal, Indian Palm Civets, various species of deer, and a myriad of birds, including Indian Pitta, Dusky Eagle-Owl, Spotted Owlet, Jungle Nightjar, and more.
Ranthambore National Park is arguably one of the best wildlife reserves in North India to spot a tiger. In fact, Ranthambore is credited to be home to the world’s most photographed wild tigers. A park is also a great place for birders, with species like Large Cuckooshrike, Indian Scops Owl, Dusky Eagle-Owl, Black-rumped Flameback, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, and more, calling it home.
The park is made up mainly of deciduous forest and is considered to be among India’s most beautiful national parks thanks to the ruins of the Ranthambore Fort, and the various adjoining man-made lakes, that create a regal backdrop. Many villages and resorts are usually located around the fringes of the buffer areas.
In addition to safaris, a popular activity is a visit to Ranthambore Fort. The Fort itself lies inside the park, and the drive to and from the fort is a mini-safari in itself. If time permits, you will also have the chance to visit Dastkar, an organization that utilizes the unique talents of displaced villagers, especially women, and thus generates income for the locals of this region.
Keoladeo National Park, more popularly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is a famous bird sanctuary near the town of Bharatpur. The man-made wetland was created more than 250 years ago by Maharaja Suraj Mal, then the ruler of Bharatpur, as a duck hunting ground. It was designated as a bird sanctuary in 1976 and established as a national park in 1982. Over 230 bird species are known to be resident here, and many more visitors in the winter. The wetland system consists of many small habitats, including lakes, marshland, forest patches, and grassy patches. This variety of habitats results in a variety of wildlife being found here.
The Chambal River Sanctuary is a protected area in northern India. Located on the tri-point border of the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, it lies on the Chambal River. One of the cleanest rivers in India, the Chambal is home to the endangered Gharial (or Fish-eating Crocodile), as well as the endangered Gangetic Dolphin. In addition, it is home to a variety of wetland birds, such as Indian Skimmer, Black-bellied and River Terns, and many more.
How Rajasthan made me feel like royalty
If ever that there is a place in India that exudes royalty, then it is Rajasthan. For me, visiting this state is like stepping into a paradox, a place where the past and the present meet, creating something that may seem chaotic but is beautiful in its blending.
This is a feeling that begins as soon as I arrive in Jaipur, welcomed by the massive forts and palaces, pink gates, and hospitality. I always start my visit here exploring the city and its beautiful heritage sites, experiencing the royal aura. From the famous monuments like City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, to a walk around the local markets, getting a peek into the local way of life, I feel like I can’t afford to miss a single thing.
If food is your thing, like it is for me, then Jaipur has it all. From local Rajasthani cuisine of Dal, Baati, Choorma, to street food like Chaat, Pakoras, and the local sweets, there is no tastier way for me to experience Rajasthani gastronomic culture.
Of course, being wildlife and amateur photographer, no trip anywhere is complete for me with at least a quick birding visit nearby. Luckily, in Jaipur, there is a leopard-rich habitat that is just a stone’s throw away from the city.
Of course, being a wildlife lover, just sightseeing wasn’t enough for me. I needed some wildlife near Jaipur. Jhalana Leopard Reserve is the perfect quick addition to any Jaipur visit, whether you enjoy wildlife or not. With the help of expertly guided safaris, I not only got some great sightings of Leopard here, but also managed to see and photograph a great number of birds, including Indian Pitta, Spotted Owlet, Jungle Nightjar, and more. If you are in love with India’s national bird, the Indian Peafowl, then a leopard safari in Jhalana definitely will never disappoint. A rich density of these regal birds will give you great sightings and get you some amazing images to remember your tour by.
From Jaipur, my next destination was the popular Ranthambore National Park. What can I say about Ranthambore? There is something truly regal about this place. Maybe it is the fort that looms over the wildlife-rich forests or the beautiful lakes that remind me of period films depicting the age of the Maharajas. Or maybe even the fact that the park’s star animal, the Tiger, is in itself such a royal-looking creature.
I have never been disappointed wildlife-wise when it comes to this place. Apart from tigers, I have had the luck to see animals like leopards, Jungle Cats, Mongoose, and even more. As a birder and amateur photographer, Ranthambore is a paradise. Birds like Crested Bunting (looking like a little prince with its crest, reinforcing the royal theme), Rufous Treepie, and Indian Scops Owls make amazing photo subjects, while you get the occasional glance of the skittish birds like buttonquails and spurfowl darting across the safari roads. I’ve even had the amazing opportunity to witness Indian and Egyptian Vultures sharing a Spotted Deer carcass. While this may seem like a grisly sight, I find it fascinating as it reminds me of the circle of life in nature, as well as an opportunity to observe the behavior of what are sadly now somewhat rare birds.
The food here is also amazing. Wholesome, rich Rajasthani cuisine at the resorts, pagodas, and chai after a safari while discussing the day’s sightings, and so much more keep a foodie like me happy indeed.
There are also several NGOs in the villages here that I have visited. Not only have they allowed me to do my bit by supporting the local economy, but I’ve walked away with some amazing souvenirs for both me and my friends and family. From fridge magnets depicting the local wildlife to local traditional textiles, I really don’t think you will fail to find any sort of souvenir here.
My next stop on this journey through Rajasthan was the Keoladeo National Park. Better known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, this place, located near the town of Bharatpur, is possibly one of India’s most popular birding destinations, and birding in Bharatpur has always been a dream for me!
Bharatpur itself has an old city charm. Carved doors, intricate architecture, and warm people make up most of the landscape of the city. Apart from the forts, palaces, Bharatpur is also home to some of the most beautiful museums, that showcase the history and heritage of the city and the relics and artifacts. Bharatpur is home to the Bharatpur Palace and Museum, the beauty of which blew me away. Many of the old Havelis and palaces have now been turned into hotels or resorts, but they still retain much of their original structure and character. It’s really not difficult to imagine what Bharatpur must have been like a hundred years ago.
A full day inside the park was bliss for my inner birder. From regal-looking storks and cranes to scores of ducks, grebes, waders, and more, there was plenty to keep my eyes and camera busy! With the help of my guide, I even got a faraway glimpse at a Dusky Eagle-Owl, a lifer for me, and even more special as I am partial to owls.
Much of my second day here was spent with a day trip to nearby Dhaulpur and the Chambal River.
Heritage, History, and Culture together form a major chunk of Chambal. Chambal is home to some majestic Havelis and homes of the locals, some of which are still inhabited by the owners. There are many local villages that exhibit heritage values. One such village is Holipura, the locals there have stories to share, tales to tell about the city, their village. Chambal is a lot more than just being home to some of the most dreaded dacoits back in the day. The Havelis and Homes in Chambal are a mix of Mughal and Colonial architectural styles that exhibit the historic value of the place.
Now if there is one group of animals I like as much as birds, it is the crocodilians, and Chambal is the best place to see the Gharial, a very special animal for me. The best way to explore is by boat specially provided by the Forest Department, and this Chambal river safari was the perfect way for me to get up close and personal with some of the more special river denizens for some amazing birding in Chambal. I managed to see some amazing wildlife, including my targeted Gharials, and birds like Indian Skimmer, Black-bellied and River Terns, and various waders.
I returned to Bharatpur later that day, with enough time to spend some time in the park in the company of my winged friends.
After a week in beautiful Rajasthan, it was, unfortunately, time to get back to my daily life. However, the amazing royal feeling that Rajasthan gave me is something that I will never forget.
Please Note, the Acronyms in Bird Species
R stands for Resident Birds
S stands for Summer
W stands for Winter
Meals Included: Dinner in Jaipur
Accommodation: In the hotel
In the morning, you will be picked up from Delhi and driven to Jaipur (05 hrs). Arrive in Jaipur at noon. After a quick check-in, we will leave for a half-day sightseeing tour of Jaipur, one of India's most colorful and exciting cities. Visit the Amber Fort - the ancient capital of the State, where you can take an elephant ride. We will also get a chance to visit the Sheesh Mahal or the Hall of Victory glittering with mirrors, the Maharaja's City Palace, the Observatory & Ram Niwas Gardens. We will have a short lunch break during sightseeing where you can order Indian cuisine on direct payment. Return to the hotel in the evening.
Dinner and Overnight stay.
Meals Included: Breakfast in Jaipur, Dinner in Ranthambore
Accommodation: Ranthambore Heritage Haweli
Enjoy a morning safari at Jhalana Leopard Park. Originally a ground for sport hunting for the Maharajas and other nobles of Jaipur, Jhalana is a leopard-rich forest that is the perfect quick addition to any Jaipur visit. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Check out at 1130 hrs and drive to Ranthambore National Park. We will have a lunch break on the way where you can order Indian lunch on direct payment.
Arrive in Ranthambore and check in to the resort. In the late afternoon, visit Ranthambore fort with your driver.
Key Species: Leopard, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Indian Peafowl (R), Spotted Owlet (R) , Indian Pitta (S), Crested Bunting (S), Jungle Nightjar (R)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Accommodation: Ranthambhore Heritage Haveli
Explore the wilderness of Ranthambore with morning and afternoon shared canter safaris for tiger tracking, wildlife viewing and bird watching. You will also visit Dastkar, a women’s social enterprise and ecotourism initiative between the two safaris. Dastkar helps local women earn a living by creating authentic traditional crafts that make excellent souvenirs.
Key Species: Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Indian Vulture (R), Red-headed Vulture (R), Indian Scops Owl (R), Ashy Drongo(R), Rufous Treepie(R), Crested Bunting(S), Yellow-throated Sparrow ®, Greater Painted Snipe (S), Crested Serpent Eagle (R), Short-toed Snake Eagle (R).
Meals: Breakfast in Ranthambore, Packed Lunch and Dinner in Bharatpur
Accommodation: Hotel Kadamb Kunj
Enjoy a final morning shared canter safari in the park. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Post breakfast, check out from the hotel and drive to Bharatpur with a packed lunch. Arrive in Bharatpur, and enjoy some birding in the fields outside the Keoladeo National Park. See how the traditions of local farmers allow them to peacefully coexist with the rich wildlife here. While birding, don’t miss the beautiful old Havelis and old-style houses, many of which have been converted into lodges and homestays.
Key Species: Tiger, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker(R), Black-rumped Flameback(R), Large Cuckooshrike(R), White-browed Fantail(R), Large Grey Babbler(R)
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Kadamb Kunj
Spend a full day of bird walks in Keoladeo National Park, looking for targets, or just enjoying the company of the feathered beauties. Keoladeo National Park has a variety of habitats, including marsh, grassland, and forest patches. This park is the winter home of over 350 species of birds. The park was once the hunting grounds for the royals of the area, and many old structures still exist inside the park.
Key Species: Sarus Crane(R), Black-necked Stork(W), Painted Stork(R), Egyptian Vulture(R), Dusky Eagle-Owl(R), Lesser Whistling Duck(R), Knob-billed Duck(R), Great White Pelican (S+W), Red-crested Pochard (W), Black Bittern (R), Siberian Rubythroat (W), Booted Eagle (W)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Accommodation: Kadamb Kunj
After an early breakfast, proceed to the Chambal River at Dhaulpur (1.5 hrs drive) for a boat safari, which will last about 2-3 hours. The Chambal River is the best place in India to see the Gharial, and also a variety of birds including Indian Skimmer, Black-bellied and River Terns, and more. If time permits, visit the nearby village of Holipura, home to many houses and havelis built in the traditional architectural styles. The villagers in the area around Chambal have helped keep the region safe during its tumultuous history.
Return to Bharatpur for a late lunch. Rest of the day, birding in Keoladeo National Park.
Key Species: Gharial, Marsh Crocodile, Gangetic River Dolphin, Indian Skimmer(W), Black-bellied Tern(W), River Tern(R), Spotted Owlet(R)
After a morning of birding outside the park, check out at 1100 / 1200 hrs and proceed to Delhi. Arrive in Delhi in the evening.
Key Species: Grey Francolin(R), Indian Peafowl(R), Spotted Owlet(R), Egyptian Vulture(R), Greater Spotted Eagle(R), White-browed Fantail(R), White-eared Bulbul(R)
- Explore one of India’s most popular tiger reserves
- A rich variety of flora and fauna
- Birdwatching in some of North India’s best birding destinations
- Wildlife safaris to search for big cats and other wildlife
- Great photography opportunities
- Delicious Rajasthani cuisine
- Stay in some of the region’s best ecolodges
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis Meals as per the itinerary
- 01 Private Jeep Safari in Jhalana 03 Shared Canter safaris in Ranthambore
- Entrance fee in Bharatpur for Indian Nationals Only 1.5 Days of birding in Bharatpur on Cycle Rickshaws
- 01 Boat Safari in Dhaulpur River Transport in a private vehicle for all long and short journeys | Government tax
Gir National Park Gujarat
Sometimes it's not just the species spotted but also the amazing moments. Some of our guests had the unique opportunity to witness the mating of Asiatic Lions in the Gir Forest, truly a special moment.
Surajpur is an amazing wetland close to the nation’s capital. Apart from being one of the monsoon homes for the Bristled Grassbird, it is also home to another sought-after species: the Bengal Bush Lark.
One advantage of living near the birding hotspot of Bharatpur is that you can see some amazing birds, like the graceful Sarus Crane, in your backyard during this lockdown