Days 1:  Arrival in Kochi with Birding as we Reach Ooty.

Most of the group will likely fly through Delhi or Mumbai
before making connections to Kochi. Everyone should arrive
in Kochi in the morning by 10 AM.  

After the group meets up in Kochi, we spend the balance of
the day with a few birding stops as we make our way to Ooty.
We will be driving north to the erstwhile colonial hill station of
Ooty, at about 7,000 feet. We should find a few bird species
as we drive along. We should find Black Kite, Black Drongo,
Indian Roller, Green Bee-eater, Laughing Dove, Rose-ringed
Parakeet, White-throated Kingfisher, Eastern Cattle and
Little Egrets, and Indian Pond-heron.  

If we use our time well on the drive, we will have a chance for
some birding near Ooty in the late afternoon. Ooty is in the
rolling Nilgiri Hills, or Blue Mountains, and it is a great place
to become acquainted with a wide variety of typical Indian
species. This afternoon we may start on birding in the Ooty
area with species including Large-billed Leaf-warbler,
Common Rosefinch and Forest Wagtail.  

Spend first of two nights in a comfortable hotel with a rich
history in the area.

Day 2: Full Day Birding in and near Ooty

We continue the trip with an early morning start to a full day
of birding in the Ooty area. Udhagamandalam, shortened to
Ootacamund and finally Ooty by the British, was originally
developed as a summer retreat to escape the oppressive
heat of the plains.

The native forests of this now sprawling settlement have
been largely replaced by tea, eucalyptus, conifers, and vast
arable farms; however, remnant montane shola forests
provide refuge to altitude-dependent endemics.  We hope to
find several of these and in particular Black and Orange
Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue Robin and Nilgiri Thrush.  

We will also bird near the Ghats’ second highest peak,
Doddabetta (literally “big mountain” at nearly 8,000 feet).  
This is an excellent place for Nilgiri Blue Robin and Nilgiri
Laughingthrush, both often confiding here yet difficult to find
elsewhere. Ooty is also perhaps the only reliable place in
southern India to find wintering Kashmir Flycatcher, a
species otherwise only found in Sri Lanka during the winter

Spend second of two nights in a comfortable hotel with a rich
history in the area.

Days 3-4:  Nearly Two Full Days Birding Mudumalai
National Park

The morning of Day 3, depends upon our success in the
days before. We may spend one or two hours with early
morning birding near Ooty, if we have missed any key
species in the Ooty area.  However, in most cases, we will
leave Ooty in the early morning of day 3, descending via the
forested and often bird-rich Kalhatty Road to Mudumalai
National Park just a few hours away at the foot of the Nilgiri

Mudumalai is part of the larger Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
aimed at preserving over 2000 square miles of southern
India’s finest forests. Forest types within Mudumalai range
from tropical moist deciduous on windward western slopes to
tropical dry deciduous and southern tropical thorn on
leeward eastern slopes. Overall, this area has a far drier
ecosystem than that which prevails in the hills and further
south, particularly in the spring when trees lose their leaves
and the landscape appears barren. The leafless trees and
dry grasslands are however rich in birds, presenting a new
selection of species with specialities here including the highly
localised White-bellied Minivet.  

We will easily fill our two days here with productive birding. A
limited selection of endemics occur in this habitat, including
Malabar Lark, Nilgiri Flowerpecker, Malabar Woodshrike and
Grey-headed Bulbul.  Mudumalai is home to a host of other
species, many unlikely to be seen elsewhere, including
Tawny-bellied and Yellow-eyed Babblers, White-browed
Bulbul, Indian Nuthatch, Blue-faced and Sirkeer Malkohas,
Streak-throated Woodpecker, Red and Painted Spurfowl and
Painted Bush-quail. Mudumalai also boasts an array of
mammals, including one of the largest populations of Asian
Elephant in India.

We spend the night of day 3 in a comfortable wildlife lodge
on the edge of the sanctuary. Having spent most of day 4 at
Mudumalai, we return to Ooty for the night at the end of Day

Day 5: Morning Transfer; then Birding at Palghat Gap
and Anamalai

We will leave early from Ooty for Anamalai, arriving by noon
to spend the afternoon birding among the bamboo brakes
and deciduous forests of the Palghat Gap.

These forested areas at lower altitudes support a habitat
invaluable to those species not usually associated with
higher elevations. The vegetation here is a rich combination
of coastal Malabar and peninsular Deccan elements, which
have endowed the sanctuary with a rich floral diversity, and
resultant variety of fauna. Key targets here include White-
bellied Treepie, Malabar Woodshrike, Heart-spotted and
Rufous Woodpeckers, Lesser Yellownape, Emerald Dove,
Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Barbet, Flame-throated Bulbul,
Small Sunbird, Malabar Grey, Malabar Pied and Great Pied
Hornbills, Malabar Trogon, Malabar White-headed Starling
and Common Hill Myna.  

After a full day, we spend the night in a comfortable hotel in
a plantation resort area.

Day 6: Early AM Birding Anamalai; and Most of Day
Birding Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary; Later in PM Arrive
in Munnar

We may spend an hour or so birding around the lodge,
focusing on any species we may have missed.  

After departing Anamalai, we spend several hours reaching
our main birding destination for the day. We then spend
much of the day at Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. In contrast to
most protected areas within the Western Ghats, Chinnar,
which lies in the rain shadow of the Ghats, is dominated by
thorn scrub and dry deciduous forest and of huge ecological
importance as a pocket of this distinct habitat type. The
rugged terrain within the sanctuary is dissected by two
perennial rivers, whose riparian forests support a healthy
population of Grizzled Giant Squirrel. Forest (Spot-bellied)
Eagle-owl, Eurasian Eagle-owl and Brown Fish-owl are some
of our primary avian targets here, alongside Black Baza,
White-bellied and White-naped Woodpeckers, Speckled
Piculet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Sirkeer Malkoha and Rain

We then complete our journey today by traveling through the
dramatic scenery of the Kannan Devan Hills to Munnar at
about 5,0000 feet.

Spend the night in a comfortable mountainside resort in

Days 7-8: Birding Munnar: Eravikulam National Park
and Bodi Ghat and Additional Sites in Area

We will spend the next two full days birding at Munnar and
nearby Eravikulam National Park. Munnar is uniquely
picturesque, and although, like Ooty, the vast expanses of
tea estates that envelop this erstwhile colonial hill station
have all but decimated much of the natural vegetation. The
vista they have created is spectacular, while the resultant
combination of open grassland, vegetated gullies, and
patches of woodland shading cardamom crops has allowed a
variety of species to flourish here. Kerala Laughingthrush,
Malabar Whistling-thrush, Rufous Babbler and Indian
Scimitar-babbler can be found foraging in the understorey,
while Bonelli’s and Black Eagles, Alpine and Fork-tailed
Swifts, and Brown-throated Needletail are regularly seen
over the hillslopes alongside Indian Swiftlet and Hill Swallow,
both endemic to the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Our
birding at Munnar will be concentrated at Eravikulam National
Park, an upland plateau which encompasses the Ghats’
highest peak.  

Eravikulam National Park preserves the largest and least
disturbed remaining patch of the montane Shola (stunted
forest) grassland ecosystem unique to the southern portion
of the Western Ghats, once prevalent throughout the upper
reaches of the Nilgiri and Anamalai Hills but largely
devastated in the bid to raise tea plantations. The
interspersion of forest within the extensive rolling grassland
creates a specialised habitat, but one whose limited species
include some of the most restricted-range of endemics,
having affinities only in the distant evergreen forests of
northeast India or Southeast Asia, and in many cases
nowhere else in the world. Key species here include White-
bellied Blue Robin, Black and Orange and Nilgiri Flycatchers,
Nilgiri Pipit, the nomadic Nilgiri Woodpigeon, and the elusive
Indian Broad-tailed Grass-warbler, alongside the endemic
and inquisitive Nilgiri Tahr (a small mountain goat), Nilgiri
Langur, Dusky Striped Squirrel, and butterflies such as Red-
disc Bushbrown, confined solely to the Shola-grassland

Munnar also makes a convenient base to visit Bodi Ghat,
home to the elusive and localised endemic Yellow-throated

During our two full days here, we will spend two further nights
in a comfortable mountainside resort.

Days 9-11: Nearly Three Full Days Birding Thattekad
Bird Sanctuary

On the start of Day 9, we descend quickly through the
foothills of the Western Ghats to Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.
In just a few hours, we reach the foot of Kerala’s Cardamom
Hills and arrive at Thattekad Bird Sancutary, where we will
bird the rest of the day and the next two full days.  

Thattekad is a small patch of lush lowland forest.  Officially
named Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in honour of the eminent
Indian ornithologist, Thattekad lies along the banks of the
Periyar River, preserving the last remnant of a habitat once
extant across much of this region, now largely converted to
agricultural land and extensive plantations. The gently
undulating terrain is densely covered with tropical deciduous
and evergreen forest dissected by streams, riverine
vegetation, and patches of scrub and grassland, its birdlife
rich and varied as a result. Specialities here include a
significant number of Western Ghats endemics, including
White-bellied Treepie, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Grey-
headed Bulbul, Kerala and scarcer Wynaad
Laughingthrushes, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Barbet
and Malabar Parakeet, among Dollarbird, White-bellied and
Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Speckled Piculet, Malabar
Trogon, Black-naped and Black-hooded Orioles, Tickell's
Blue and Blue-throated Flycatchers, Black-throated Munia,
Red Spurfowl, the striking Black Baza, Grey-headed Fish-
eagle and Crested Serpent-eagle. The sanctuary and
surrounding areas are exceptional for night birds, which we
will place particular emphasis on finding during our stay.
These include Ceylon Frogmouth, Great-eared Nightjar,
Brown Fish-owl and Oriental Scops-owl, with good chances
here of the scarce and elusive Mottled Wood-owl, Forest
Eagle-owl and Ceylon Bay Owl. The wet, humid forests are
extremely rich in butterflies, while mammals include the
endemic Malabar Giant Squirrel, Bonnet Macaque and Asian

We spend all three nights in a comfortable heritage lodge on
the edge of the sanctuary.

Day 12: Thattekad to Kochi, flight to Chennai

We may have time for a few hours of birding before we leave
the Thattekad area, and we will focus on any key species we
may have missed. With some luck, we may just have a final
few hours of birding together without any target species.

Just after breakfast, we must set off early for Kochi, which is
about two hours away. From Kochi, you have two choices.

• You may decide to return to Mumbai or Delhi for flights
• For those able to enjoy the extension to the Andaman
Islands, you will catch a flight at Kochi for Chennai, flying
across the Indian peninsula to the east coast. For those on
the extension the day ends with a comfortable city hotel in

Days 13-17: South Andaman Island:  Birding Chiriyatapu
and Mount Harriett National Park and More

Day 13/Ext. Day 1: Arrival in South Andaman Island and
AM Birding near Port Blair; PM Chiriyatapu and
including Nocturnal Birding

We will depart Chennai for an early morning flight across the
Bay of Bengal to the island of South Andaman.

After checking into our hotel, we will head out to bird the
balance of the morning in the Port Blair area. Around the
town we should find some of the Island's more common
inhabitants, most of which will be new for the trip, such as
Pacific Reef-egret, various warblers including Oriental Reed
Warbler and Dusky Warbler; Long-tailed Parakeet and Red-
breasted Parakeet; and White-bellied Sea-eagle. We will
also hope to start finding some of the Andaman Island
endemics, including Andaman White-headed Starling and
near-endemic Andaman Coucal.  

More interesting birding will take us further afield. And we
start this afternoon with a visit to Chiriyatapu (“bird point”), a
small patch of coastal rainforest at the southernmost tip of
the island. This spot is always worthwhile, and we should find
Andaman Treepie, Andaman Shama, Andaman White-
headed Starling and most commonly the near-endemic
Andaman Drongo, associating with species such as Greater
Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Black-naped
Blue Monarch, Dollarbird, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-naped
Oriole, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Large Cuckooshrike, and
Asian Glossy Starling in fast-moving mixed-species feeding
flocks. Andaman Crake and Andaman Woodpecker are often
more elusive and they will take a bit more effort to find.  

Around dusk, we will spend a bit more time in Chiriyatapu,
which is also excellent for finding night birds. We will place
particular emphasis on finding during visits here the endemic
species of the islands. We will hope to find Hume's Hawk
Owls, Andaman Scops Owl, Andaman Barn-owl and
Andaman Nightjar.

We will spend the first of our four nights on the island at one
of the nice resort hotels in the area.

Day 14/Ext. Day 2: Full Day Mount Harriett National Park
and Including Nocturnal Birding

We will want early start to catch the first ferry to Mount
Harriett. We will spend a full day at Mount Harriett National
Park, a patch of rainforest at the island’s highest point.  This
Park provides an opportunity to find all of the endemics
occurring on South Andaman, and we will focus on those
best seen at Mount Harriett. These species include Andaman
Cuckoo-dove, Andaman Bulbul, and the near-endemic
Andaman Green-pigeon.  

Mount Harriett is also an exceptional watchpoint for raptors,
swifts, and hirundines, in particular the endemic Andaman
Serpent Eagle, as well as Crested Serpent Eagle,
Changeable Hawk Eagle, White-bellied (Glossy) and Edible-
nest Swiftlets, Brown-throated Needletail, as well as the
elusive Andaman Woodpigeon.  

The excellence of Mount Harriet birding continues into the
early evening. We do have to watch ferry times, but we will
squeeze in some nocturnal birding before leaving the Mount
Harriett area. We will focus on those nocturnal species found
here, including Andaman Hawk Owl, Andaman Scops Owl,
and several other species. Our goal will be to finish the day
with a look at all of the nocturnal species of the Andamans.

After taking the ferry back, we will get back to our hotel in
Port Blair.

Day 15/Ext. Day 3: AM Sippighat and PM Other Wetland

Throughout the Andamans almost every waterway and
coastline is edged with mangrove swamps. One of the best
of these sites is Sippighat, and we will start the day here.
Sippighat provides refuge to several Kingfisher species,
including Ruddy Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Black-
capped Kingfisher and Stork-billed Kingfishers. We will also
look for Chestnut Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Slaty-breasted Rail,
Ruddy-breasted Crake, Eastern Baillon's Crake, Watercock
and Mangrove Whistler. Coastlines and marshes also host a
variety of waders, such as Ruddy Turnstone, Lesser Sand
Plover, Greater Sand Plovers, Wood, Terek, Broad-billed
and Curlew Sandpipers, Rufous-necked Stint, Bar-tailed
Godwit, Whimbrel, Grey Plover and rarer Beach Thick-knee
and Crab Plover.   

Nearby flooded fields provide refuge to good numbers of
Andaman (Sunda) Teal among commoner Lesser Whistling
Duck, Cotton Teal, and both Indian Pond Heron and Chinese
Pond Herons.  

After a full day birding in wetland areas, we will head back
tour our comfortable sea-view hotel in Port Blair.  

Day 16/Ext. Day 4: Focus on Any Species We May Have
Missed around South Andaman Island

We will focus our final full day of birding here on any
endemic species we may have missed. We may return to any
of the major sites (Chiryatapu, Mount Harriett National Park,
and/or Sippighat) in search of any species we may have
missed. Our experienced guide may also take us to some
other sites around South Andaman Islands, depending upon
what we have not yet seen.

After a full day birding, we will head back tour our
comfortable sea-view hotel in Port Blair.  

Depending on our success on previous nocturnal birding
adventures, we may take one last try at finding some of the
nocturnal endemic species of the Andamans. This being
said, we often do not need to go out a third time.

Day 17/Ext. Day 5: Focus on Any Species We May Have
Missed around South Andaman Island and Mid PM Fly
to Chennai

On this last morning on the Andamans, we will spend a few
hours trying to find any species we may have missed.  If we
have been successful on finding all of the endemic and near-
endemic species on the days before (which is possible), we
may simply just enjoy birding at one of the major birding sites
on the islands until the day warms up.

After an early lunch at the hotel and completing our packing
for the travel home we will head to the airport for our mid-
afternoon return flight to Chennai, where we will spend our
final night of the extension.

Day 18: Departures from Chennai

Chennai is a city of over four million with an international
airport, and you may find your best return flight options from
here. If not, you can easily fly from Chennai to either Mumbai
or Delhi for flights home.
Detailed Itinerary
18 Days Birding and Enjoying Wildlife in
Western Ghats Details
More Details on This Trip
Green Bee-eater
Photo by
Malabar Whistling Thrush
Photo by
Sri Lanka Frogmouth
Photo by
Malabar Lark
Photo by
Malabar Grey Hornbill
Photo by
Please call Charles (in the USA at 720-320-1974 or toll free at 888-203-7464) or Ian
(in the UK at 07719-052820), and/or email Also feel free to click
Indian Blue Robin
Photo by
Indian Blackbird
Photo by
Purple Sunbird
Photo by
Coppersmith Barbet
Photo by
Orange-headed Thrush
Photo by
Indian Blackbird
Photo by
Purple Sunbird
Photo by
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Photo by
Oriental Dwarf  Kingfisher
Photo by
Andaman Serpent Eagle
Photo by
Andaman White-headed Starling
Photo by
Coppersmith Barbet
Photo by
Green Bee-eater
Photo by
Malabar Whistling Thrush
Photo by
Orange-headed Thrush
Photo by
Indian Blackbird
Photo by
Sri Lanka Frogmouth
Photo by
Purple Sunbird
Photo by
Malabar Lark
Photo by
Malabar Pied Hornbill
Photo by
Malabar Grey Hornbill
Photo by
Indian Blue Robin
Photo by
Oriental Dwarf  Kingfisher
Photo by