Locations Covered:
Cochin- Silent valley - Ooty- Mudumalai National Park- Munnar- Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary- Thattekad- Kumarakom – Houseboat – Cochin
Overview :
India homes a wide variety of birds. The most fascinating part of this story is that it also provides temporary shelter to the vast majority of migratory birds. Well, it’s indeed a haven for magnificent birds and you can enjoy unimaginable opportunities in its wildlife vicinities.
DAY 01: Arrive Cochin
On arrival at Cochin International airport, welcomed by Indian voyages representative and transfer to hotel. Cochin means harbor and even before the building of Ancient Rome, spices, silks, ivory and sandalwood were traded here. Cochin proudly boasts a rich cultural heritage, but is also one of the most fast-paced and modern cities in India. It is also one of the finest natural harbours of the world and a major Indian port. It is its charm and a relatively good infrastructure that make it the ideal gateway to the state. This has been the case since 1341, the year nature carved out Cochin's harbor with a massive flood. As a result, Cochin became the first port of call for Arabs and came to be known as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea." This city offers visitors Forts, palaces, museums, old churches, cool backwaters; palm fringed lagoons, beaches and the practicality of a contemporary metro. On arrival check-in your hotel. In the evening you can go and watch the Kathakali dance performance at a local theatre. Kathakali is a traditional dance form, depicting Indian epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata). The dancers are dressed in very colorful and elaborate costumes. Their faces are painted to depict various characters of the see pics. This dance has a lot of facial expressions and brisk, yet articulate body movements. Overnight at hotel.
DAY 02: Cochin – Salient valley
Morning after breakfast drive to Sailent valley national park. Sailent Valley bird watching in an absorbing pursuit, the best part is that they are more approachable than most birds. All it requires is patience and the art of stalking. Attapady is a birding paradise. The region being surrounded by evergreen forests on almost all sides, Attapady has all types of forests, evergreen, semi-evergreen and some areas totally dry shrubby jungles, being rain shadow. Attappady is a part of the nilgiri biosphere reserve. This mixture of types of nature offers plenty of birding possibilities. Lot of migratory birds from adjoining silent valley national park makes seasonal visits. As the temperature is cooler here they are easily approachable, by mid-day most of them retreat into the shade, especially along stream banks and in dense foliage, one could spot them on close observation treks around the lodge and silent valley national park(prior permission required).Over 128 species of birds and 400 species of moths live in this region. According to the park records,13 species are endemic to south India of which 5 species of protected status,7 species where observed to migrate in mixed swarms of thousands towards the valley.
Day 3 & Day 4: Sailent Valley national park.
We also offer the services of specialised birding guides for your birding in silent valley national park and the adjoining areas of attappady, the core areas of nilgiri bio-reserve. Do inform us a couple of days in advance.
Day 5: Sailent Valley - Ooty
Morning after breakfast drive to Ooty (short for Ootacamund). Perched up at 7250 feet Ooty is southern India's premier hill station and a retreat from the oppressive summer heat of the plains. Our route takes us through a patchwork of agricultural fields, wetlands and arid waste ground. We'll make several stops and search for such our first southern Indian specialties on our ascent to this sprawling, almost colonial town, high in the towering Nilgiris. Night in Ooty, a modern, bustling city that has a distinctly faded colonial charm.
Day 6: Ooty
Breakfast at resort and the whole day around Ooty exploring a variety of areas close to the town and concentrating on finding some of the region's higher altitude specialties such as Black-chinned Laughing thrush, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Nilgiri Woodpigeon, Indian Blackbird and the skulking, but not uncommon, Nilgiri Blue Robin. We may also see our first strikingly patterned Nilgiri Langurs today. Night in Ooty.
Day 7: Ooty - Mudumalai
Morning after breakfast leaving Ooty and the Nilgiri Hills we'll descend a short distance into the plains to our next accommodation just outside Mudumalai National Park. We'll stop to search for such delights as Nilgiri Thrush (a recent 'split' from the White's and Scaly Thrush complex) as well as Nilgiri Flycatcher, Malabar Lark, White-bellied Minivet and Booted Warbler. As with many of India's Tiger reserves, access in Mudumalai National Park is restricted and we'll spend much of our time exploring areas of dry deciduous forest and thorny scrub outside the park, searching for a variety of species including Red Spurfowl, both Grey-fronted and Yellow-footed Green-pigeons, Blue-faced Malkoha, Grey-headed Bulbul, Tawny-bellied Babbler and the elusive Painted Bush-quail. Up to 12 species of woodpecker can be found here and Mudumalai is also our best site for Indian Pitta. We'll spend two nights just outside the reserve.
Days 8 & Day 9: Mudumalai National Park
Venturing away from Mudumalai we'll explore two very different areas today, one an area of lowland, moist evergreen forest where we hope to find species such as Indian Rufous and Dark-fronted Babblers, Indian Blue Robin and, if we're very lucky, the enigmatic White-naped Tit. Later in the day we'll visit an area of scrub and arid grassland in search of specialties typical of the extensive tracts of dry deciduous forest. The latter include the endemic Grey Jungle fowl, Pallid Harrier, White-eyed Buzzard and Blyth's Pipit. We'll return to Ooty for the night during the afternoon of Day 6.
Day 10: Mudumalai-Munnar
Morning after breakfast we will leave Ooty and drive back down to the plains, through the bustling textile city of Coimbatore before climbing back up to Munnar, another hill station, but this time more famous for its tea than its tourism. We'll spend two nights at a comfortable lodge near Munnar.
Day 11: Munnar
Munnar is a convenient and comfortable base from which to explore the Rajamalai Sanctuary (part of the unique Eravikulam National Park) well above the highest of the tea plantations. The sanctuary consists of areas of high rolling grassy hills interspersed with valleys dotted with small patches of shola evergreen forest - a distinctive and biologically rich habitat and home to a number of equally specialised endemics. Once again we'll concentrate on the region's endemics, notably White-bellied Blue Robin, Kerala Laughing thrush and Nilgiri Pipit. Rajamalai is also a spectacular setting in which to search for Painted Bush-quail, Indian Scimitar-babbler and Nilgiri Flycatcher among many others. We are almost certain to encounter some of the rare Nilgiri Tahr, a large wild goat endemic to the grass hills of southern India.
Day 12: Munnar-Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
This morning we'll leave Munnar and make a stop to search for another of the region's endemics, Yellow-throated Bulbul, before continuing south to Periyar Sanctuary in the Cardamom Hills where we'll spend three nights.
Days 13 & Day 14: Periyar Wildlife Sanactuary
Periyar is probably the best known and most popular wildlife reserve in southern India and at 800 square kilometres is undoubtedly one of the subcontinent's largest. From our base beside the sprawling multi-fingered lake in the centre of the reserve, we'll explore many of its vast and varied habitats. The ornithological pace will be fast and furious and could include endemics or near-endemics such as Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Treepie, Wynaad Laughingthrush, Malabar Barbet, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Indian Rufous Babbler, Malabar Whistling-thrush or perhaps even a Ceylon Frogmouth or an Indian Pitta. Other targets include Great Hornbill, White-bellied and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Malabar Parakeet and Malabar Woodshrike while in the evening we'll search for some of the region's night birds. All our birding highlights may be rivalled by our many mammal sightings.
Days 15: Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary- Thattekad
Leaving Periyar we'll have a relatively short drive to Thattekad, another sanctuary in Kerala and one that's more visitors friendly. Thattekad shares many of the same birds as Periyar but some, perhaps more notably the night birds are easier to see here. Consequently we'll spend part of at least one night searching for specialities such as Brown Fish-owl, Ceylon Frogmouth and perhaps even Ceylon Bay Owl! Night at Thattekad.
Day 16: Thattekad
Spending a full day in this reserve we'll have plenty of time to search for species such as Malabar Grey Hornbill, gaudy Malabar Barbet, Yellow-browed and Flame-throated Bulbuls, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher and Black-throated Munia all occur here as does the attractive Asian Fairy Bluebird and the vociferous Lesser Hill-myna. Night at Thattekad.
Day 17: Thattekad- Kumarakom
Morning after breakfast drive to Kumarakom. The enchanting backwater destination of Kumarakom is a small village that is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerela. Kumarkom strengthens Kerala’s reputation for being God’s own country with its unbelievably beautiful mangrove forests, coconut groves and emerald green paddy fields interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with while lillies. It is part of the Kuttanad region, and the bird sanctuary here spread across 14 acres of any ornithologist's paradise. This enchanting backwater destination offers visitors many leisure options. From wandering into the depths of its wildlife sanctuary to cruising down the back waters and fishing, Kumarkom is perfect for a lazy and laid back holiday. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands, as hundreds of swaying verdant coconut palms lining the rivers lean to brush the tops of your heads. Kumarkom is an example of nature at her bountiful best in the fragrant flowers, the riot of multi coloured birds, the surrounding greenery and the clear waters. Upon arrival check-in to the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure to enjoy the Nature’s beauty on your own. Overnight at hotel.
Day 18: Kumarakom
Morning breakfast at hotel and the day at leisure at your resort. Overnight at hotel.
Day 19: - Kumarakom – House boat
Morning after breakfast drive to Alleppey for Houseboat stay. House Boat – A highlight of any trip to Kerala is a night spent onboard a houseboat, or a rice barge. These converted rice barges or "Kettuvallams" sail along shallow, palm-fringed lakes and narrow canals where coconut and cashew is loaded onto dugouts. You pass villages built on narrow spits of land, stopping to visit local markets, or to marvel at craftsmen engaged in centuries-old boat-making tradition. The boats offer one or two cabins with a small sitting room and a crew of 2 staff and a chef. The food is authentic Kerala cuisine, purchased fresh along the way. For most of the journey, the boat is poled, sailing only between dawn and dusk. Although the accommodation on board is basic, this is an unforgettable experience. Dinner and overnight at bord.
Day 20: Houseboat – Alleppey – Cochin.
Morning after breakfast disembark at Alleppey and departure transfer to Cochin International airport for your onward destination.
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