Day 1: Arrive at Delhi and local birding.

Arrive in Delhi to spend the day birding locally or at leisure.  
Night in a city hotel.

Day 2: Birding at several locations from Delhi to

Depart Delhi in the morning to spend the day travelling west
into Rajasthan state to the town of Bikaner (8hrs), through
the fascinating transition from the city, its surrounding plains
with their irrigated farmland and acacia scrub, and finally into
the desert environment of the Thar as the landscape
becomes distinctly drier to the west. Throughout the journey
become acquainted with a host of India’s more common and
widespread species, such as Black and Black-eared Kites,
Common Myna, Spotted and Laughing Doves, Indian Roller,
Green Bee-eater, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Hoopoe
and House Crow. Arrive by evening to spend the night in a
restored colonial-era lakeside hunting palace in Gajner.

Day 3: AM birding at Bikaner and PM birding at
Jaisalmer via Khichan

Spend the morning exploring Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, the
former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Bikaner, famous
for its extravagant sandgrouse shoots during the days of the
British Raj. Today Gajner provides safe refuge to a host of
mammals, including Chinkara or Indian Gazelle, Nilgai or
Blue Bull, and Wild Boar, as well as a good selection of birds,
in particular Yellow-eyed Dove, a scarce winter visitor to
northwest India from central Asia. Other species here include
White-eared Bulbul, Common Babbler, Brahminy Starling,
Steppe Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and the first of many species
typical of the arid landscape, including Southern Grey
Shrike, Variable and Desert Wheatears and Brown Rock
Chat. Later depart Gajner on the drive to the desert town of
Jaisalmer (6hrs), breaking the journey to witness the
remarkable spectacle of up to 5000 overwintering Demoiselle
Cranes congregating to feed at the small village of Khichan,
whose villagers put out vast quantities of grain twice daily
from October to March. Continue on to Jaisalmer, arriving by
evening to spend the night in a comfortable hotel

Days 4-5: Full day birding at Desert National Park

Spend two days exploring this eastern corner of the Thar, or
Great Indian, Desert, which stretches south into the state of
Gujarat and west into the Sind district of southern Pakistan,
protected around Jaisalmer within Desert National Park, or
‘DNP’. This is one of India’s largest protected areas,
established as a vital refuge for the critically endangered
Great Indian Bustard, our key target here. Sand dunes
comprise 20% of the reserve, complemented by sparse
grass and scattered shrubs, and interspersed with craggy
rocks.  Part of the area is fenced, protecting the natural
grasslands from overgrazing by cattle, and although the
bustards can be found elsewhere this enclosure provides the
most suitable habitat and will be the focus of our search.
DNP is also home to White-browed (Stoliczka’s) Bushchat, a
species restricted to the Thar Desert and peripheral areas,
and Chestnut-bellied and occasional Black-bellied
Sandgrouse, drawn to pools of water. Other notable species
include Cream-coloured Courser, Isabelline Wheatear, a
variety of larks including Greater Hoopoe, Desert,
Bimaculated and Greater Short-toed, Black-crowned
Sparrow-lark, Asian Desert Warbler, Desert Whitethroat,
Graceful Prinia, Trumpeter Finch, Common Raven, and a
host of raptors including Tawny and Eastern Imperial Eagles,
and Laggar Falcon. Mammals include Chinkara (Indian
Gazelle), the secretive Desert Cat, Bengal and Desert
Foxes, the Indian endemic Blackbuck, and diurnal Indian
Desert Jird. Nights in Jaisalmer.

Days 6-7: AM and PM birding at Siana. Mammal
watching in the evening

Depart Jaisalmer in the morning, heading south to Siana
(4hrs), a small village lying where the Thar Desert begins to
merge into the rugged Aravalli Hills. Siana is surrounded by
dry plains disrupted by rocky outcrops, and the beginning of
the scrub jungle which cloaks the deeper Aravallis. This
mosaic of habitats supports a good diversity of birds,
including Sirkeer Malkoha, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark,
Indian Bushlark, Striolated Bunting, Yellow-legged and
Barred Buttonquails, Rock Bush-quail, Indian Thick-knee,
Red Collared Dove, the scarce and localized White-bellied
Minivet, Dusky Crag-martin and Indian Eagle-owl. Siana’s
primary attraction, as seen in David Attenborough’s ‘Life of
Mammals’, is as one of the best places in India to encounter
Leopard. Two evening jeep drives will provide excellent
chances of this instinctively secretive big cat, alongside
smaller Jungle Cat, and with a realistic chance of the elusive
Indian Wolf. Nights in a comfortable rural lodge in Siana.

Days 8-9: Full day birding at Kumbalgarh Wildlife

Travel east from Siana into the Aravalli Hills to Kumbalgarh
Wildlife Sanctuary (2hrs) to spend the afternoon and
following day exploring the dry deciduous forest and scrub of
the sanctuary, as well as surrounding pastoral villages and
irrigated farmland. These varied habitats, dominated by the
impenetrable walls of the 15th century Kumbalgarh Fortress,
offer good birding, with notable species including Sulphur-
bellied Warbler, White-capped and Crested Buntings, Tawny-
bellied and Yellow-eyed Babblers, White-naped
Woodpecker, Indian Grey Hornbill, Painted Francolin, Red
Spurfowl, Grey Junglefowl, Jungle Owlet and Crested Hawk-
eagle. Spend two nights in a comfortable hotel in

Day 10: Green Avadavat experience, birding at Mount

Depart Kumbalgarh for Mount Abu, a small hill station at an
elevation of 1220m on the large plateau formed by the peak
of the same name. This is one of few places where the rare,
endangered and delightful Green Avadavat is regularly
seen, and this will be our key target during the afternoon
spent around Mount Abu. Night in a comfortable heritage
hotel in Mount Abu.

Days 11-12: Birding en-route, Mount Abu to Dasada
and Full day birding at Little Rann of Kutch

Depart Mount Abu in the morning of day 11 to spend the
morning driving southwest into the state of Gujarat to
Dasada in the Little Rann of Kachchh (3hrs), birding en-
route, in particular for the numerous raptors of the region
which include Bonelli's and Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged
Buzzard, Red-headed Falcon, and six species of vulture.
Here in northern Gujarat the southern edge of the Thar
Desert develops into the vast saline flats of the Great and
Little Ranns of Kutch (or Kachchh), perhaps the bleakest,
dustiest, most desolate region of India. This is the furthest
extension the Gulf of Kutch which, along with much of
northern Kutch touching the border of Pakistan, has been
transformed by geological uplift and the resultant marine
transgression into an immense region of salt flats, inundated
to a depth of 0.5m during the monsoon when it becomes one
of the world's largest saline wetlands. This unique
environment is preserved as India's largest protected area, a
part of which is the Wild Ass Sanctuary whose principal role
is the strict protection of the last remaining population of
Khur, or Asiatic Wild Ass.  From a base at Dasada spend two
days exploring the birdlife of the edge of Little Rann,
astonishingly rich given the inhospitable conditions and
almost featureless landscape of the Rann proper. Birds are
concentrated around the bets, elevated patches of salt-free
scrub and grassland, surrounding villages, and vast
seasonal wetlands such as Bajana Creek and nearby Nawa
Talao, key species including Houbara (MacQueen's)
Bustard, Bluethroat, Blue-headed Rock-thrush, Orphean
Warbler, Graceful Prinia, Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin, Indian
Courser, and White-tailed Lapwing, with the possibility of
rare Sociable Plover.  13 species of lark have been recorded
in the area, including Greater Hoopoe, Rufous-tailed and
Sykes'.  Resident Sarus Cranes and Lesser Flamingos are
accompanied in the winter months by thousands of
Demoiselle and Common Cranes, and Greater Flamingos,
alongside sizeable groups of Great White and Dalmatian
Pelicans, Painted, Black-necked, Black and White Storks,
Indian Black, Glossy and Black-headed Ibis, Collared,
Oriental and Small Pratincoles, Bar-headed and Greylag
Geese, and huge congregations of a variety of ducks. Nights
in a comfortable wildlife lodge on the edge of the sanctuary.

Days 13-15: Birding adventure at Kutch

Depart Dasada in the morning of day 13, heading north
across the Gulf of Kutch into the Kutch peninsula to Moti
Virani near the town of Bhuj (7hrs). Spend the remainder of
the day plus a further two full days exploring this peripheral
part of the Thar Desert. During the long dry season this is a
land of sun-baked alluvial mudflats, however despite first
appearances the region is particularly rich in birds. The
inherently saline soil is naturally suited to the growth of
nutritious grasses and succulents which, along with stretches
of water in dhands, natural depressions left by the monsoon,
and islands of dry thorn forest that punctuate the otherwise
flat landscape, provide food and refuge to great numbers of
waterfowl, waders, raptors and larks. This is the only known
wintering site of Grey Hypocolius in India, which we will
search for in the Fulay village region within the grasslands of
Banni. Other key species in the area include White-browed
(Stoliczka's) Bushchat, White-naped Tit and Rufous-fronted
Prinia in the thorn forests of Phot Mahadev, Marshall's Iora,
Grey-necked Bunting, Indian Courser, Southern Grey Shrike,
Red-tailed Wheatear around the rocky outcrops that
punctuate Banni’s otherwise featureless terrain, Short-eared
Owl, Syke’s and Savanna Nightjars, and various waterfowl in
Banni's Chhari Dhand.  A host of gulls, terns and waders can
be found in the Jakhau mangrove swamps and Pingleshwar
sea coast, including the striking Crab Plover, Broad-billed
and Terek Sandpipers, rare Great Knot, Black-bellied,
Caspian and Whiskered Terns, Great Black-headed Gull,
and a selection of egrets.  Some of the more distinctive
mammals of the region include Desert Cat, Chinkara or
Indian Gazelle, Long-eared and Pallas's Hedgehogs, and
Indian Desert Jird. Nights in a simple but comfortable
guesthouse run by a conservation organization.

Day 16: PM birding at Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary

Depart Moti Virani for Jamnagar (6hrs) on the southern
shore of the Gulf of Kutch. Spend the evening at Khijadiya
Bird Sanctuary whose vast saline and freshwater lagoons
host overwintering cranes, storks, flamingos and pelicans
which congregate here, along with waterfowl in their
thousands. Overnight in a city hotel in Jamnagar.

Day 17: Jamnagar to Ahmedabad, flight to Delhi

Depart Jamnagar for Ahmedabad (4hrs) to connect to a
domestic flight to Delhi.  Night in a city hotel.

Day 18: Depart Delhi

Depart Delhi on your onward journey.
Detailed Itinerary
18 Days Birding and Enjoying Wildlife in
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Oriental Dwarf  Kingfisher
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Crab Plovers
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Great Indian Bustard
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Ashy-crowned Sparrow
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Sociable Plover
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Great Indian Bustard
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White-eared Bulbul
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Ashy-crowned Sparrow
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Banni Grasslands
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Asian Desert Warbler
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Great White Pelicans
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Indian Roller
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Lesser Flamingos
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Rufous-tailed Lark
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Variable Wheatear
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Asian Desert Warbler
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Great White Pelicans
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Rajasthan & Gujarat