Summary : Join wildlife expert Mark Brazil on this Western India expedition to discover the treasures of this intriguing region. Prolific wildlife is revealed as you visit several national parks and reserves—including a Gir National Park tour and visits to Velavadar and Little Rann of Kutch. Through a variety of landscapes, from wetlands to desert, seek unique species such as Asiatic lions, Indian wolves, and the elusive khur, a rare wild horse. Throughout this Western India adventure travel tour, birders will enjoy the impressive variety of species present this time of year, including the beautiful Demoiselle crane. Also enjoy the spectacular cultural diversity of this western region of India with visits to bustling Mumbai, traditional rural villages, and historic Jodhpur.
Activities : Birding, Culture
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart the USA on your independent flights to Mumbai. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to the beautiful Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, your home for the next two nights.
This morning travel to Elephanta Island to see the extraordinary Hindu and Buddhist rock-cut stone sculptures in the Elephanta Caves, dating back from the 5th to 8th centuries. A tour of Mumbai this afternoon includes visits to the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum, and Kamla Nehru Park before ascending the slopes of Malabar Hill for a panoramic view and visit to the Hanging Gardens.
After a leisurely breakfast board your flight to Diu and then drive to Gir National Park. The park is best known for its range of wildlife, including its prize species, the rare Asiatic lion, and leopards— spend the next two full days immersing yourself in the diverse flora and fauna of this dry deciduous forest. This evening, enjoy dinner and relax at The Gateway Gir Hotel, where you will stay for three nights.
While at Gir National Park, enjoy morning and afternoon safaris, punctuated by lunch at your hotel. In addition to searching for Asiatic lions and leopards, while on safari, you can also watch for nilgai, spotted deer, golden jackal, Indian grey mongoose, grey langurs, and have chances of jungle cat, and more. The Kamleshwar reservoir in the middle of the sanctuary is also home to a population of marsh crocodiles.
After an early morning safari, return to your hotel for breakfast before driving to Velavadar National Park. Arrive late in the afternoon and settle into the Blackbuck Lodge for dinner and to rest up for your explorations the following day.
Spend a full day exploring this diverse park, made famous by its elegant blackbuck, but also hope for glimpses of scarcer creatures such as Indian wolves. You can also seek out the local avian cast, including francolins, shrikes, and larks. At the end of your day you witness a special sight, the gathering of harriers as they move towards their roosting site. Velavadar hosts the largest known harrier roost in the world, you have the opportunity to see some of the over 2,000 raptors that return here to sleep after hunting all day. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
After your final morning safari in Velavadar, drive across country to Dasada, located on the fringes of the Little Rann of Kutch experiencing along the way some of the roadside ‘incidental culture’ that India offers. Your destination, the Little Rann of Kutch is a geographically unique landscape that was once an arm of the Arabian Sea and is now a vast plain of salty clay. After an introductory exploration of the area, enjoy dinner and overnight at Rann Riders in Dasada, your home for the next three nights.
During the mornings and late afternoons of both days, set out on safaris to seek out the park’s wildlife, including the khur, Indian fox, and white-footed desert fox, plus desert-adapted birdlife—birds of prey, bustards, sandgrouse, and more. Return to the lodge for lunch each day, followed by a visit to nearby tribal villages
After breakfast you have a full day drive to Siana, stopping for lunch at Palanpur Palace near Mt. Abu. Siana is a small hamlet in Rajasthan, beyond which lies your camp. The landscape here is comprised of the rugged and rocky Aravalli hills bordered by sand dunes and agricultural lands. Upon arrival, you will be met by camels for a 30-minute ride into Siana Camp, your base for the next two nights. Conclude your day with a night-time desert safari in search of elusive nocturnal wildlife including: desert hedgehog, Indian porcupine, and striped hyena.
Today, enjoy both morning and early evening safaris in the desert by jeep or on foot to seek out the region’s birds and mammals, including the elusive leopard. This rural and rugged part of Rajasthan presents wonderful arid landscapes that contrast dramatically with all other areas you visit during your journey; also take the opportunity to walk in a local village to observe the contrasts resulting from the rapidly changing pace of life that is now so typical of modern India.
After breakfast and an early morning safari, set off for Jodhpur. Here you will enjoy lunch at a local family’s home and visit the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, one of India’s largest forts. Then, check into the luxurious Umaid Bhawan Palace. Part hotel, part personal residence of the Maharaja, the palace boasts superb architecture, delightful rooms and extensive gardens.
After a morning of sightseeing in Jodhpur or relaxing at our palatial hotel, make the short drive to Phalodi which has become famous for its proximity to Khichan, the wintering grounds for Demoiselle cranes. The smallest in the world, their visiting has turned into a wildlife spectacle with as many as 9,000 gathering each winter. Upon arrival in Phalodi, visit the local wetlands in search of cranes, duck and shorebirds, followed by dinner and overnight at your haveli-style hotel, the Lal Niwas Palace.
Make an early visit to the village of Khichan to watch and photograph the famed Demoiselle crane gathering. You’ll drink tea on a roof top overlooking the “garden” into which the birds crowd for food. After their early morning feeding, the cranes all settle on the sand dunes beyond the village and as they turn to face the sun, their black chest feathers contrast magnificently with the blue winter sky. Soon after, they disperse in different directions in small family flocks.
Return to the Lal Niwas Palace for an early lunch, then make your way to Mihir Garh, stopping at the Osian Sun Temple on the way. You arrive as darkness falls on your luxurious desert oasis, at wonderful Mihir Garh (sun fortess), for a two-night stay.
Rise early to enjoy beautiful views of the desert from your “fort.” After breakfast set off by jeep to visit the photogenic local communities and for one last wildlife safari in search of Indian gazelle. Enjoy a picnic lunch out in the desert before returning to Mihir Garh for dinner and overnight.
After a morning walk and a leisurely brunch, drive to Jodhpur for your flight to Mumbai. In Mumbai, transfer to your day rooms at Taj Lands End and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, followed by dinner and late night or very early morning flights homeward.
Arrive in the USA and connect with homeward flights.
All gratuities; all accommodations and meals as outlined in the itinerary; guided excursions as stated in the itinerary; all transfers on the group arrival and departure days; entrance fees at site; domestic air transportaion within India; $50,000 of emergency sickness/accident medical expenses and $75,000 in evacuation insurance*.
All air transportation except as listed above; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; accident/baggage/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.