India Birding Tours
The Republic of India (simply “India” hereafter) is the seventh-largest country by area in the world and the second-most populous country in the world. The vast majority of the country’s population can be found in the mega cities, the top three being New Delhi, India’s capital and where several of our northern India birding and wildlife-watching tours start, Mumbai, home of Bollywood movies, and Bangalore, the ‘Silicon Valley’ of India, both of these cities are also the starting or ending points for some of our exciting Indian tours.
India shares land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian Sea. Sri Lanka is situated just off the southern tip of the Indian Peninsula and is also a great birding destination. Situated at the meeting of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India comprising over 570 (mostly uninhabited) islands which we visit on our specially designed tour! Rivers feature prominently in some areas of the country, such as the mighty and famous Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, also relatively well known are the Yamuna, Kosi and Chambal Rivers and these will form a backdrop to some of our birding adventures either from land or on specially arranged boat trips.
India has a long and fascinating history and there are reminders of this all around the country and many of these can be seen during a typical tour, such as the Taj Mahal which is always a ‘non-birding’ highlight of our northern India tour. Visits to other cultural sites can be added as extensions to our tours for those wishing to delve deeper into the cultural aspects of this amazing country.
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India has an incredibly rich biodiversity and wildlife always appears to be at a high density which provides constant excitement on our tours. The Indian bird list stands at nearly 1,350 species following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) taxonomy and includes almost 80 endemic bird species (such as Malabar Whistling Thrush, Forest Owlet, Andaman Hawk Owl, and Green Avadavat) with many near-endemics shared with neighboring countries which are known as Indian Subcontinent Endemics. Over 100 Indian species are of global conservation concern, with 17 Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) species, including rare birds such as Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Siberian Crane, Sociable Plover, Bugun Liocichla, Yellow-breasted Bunting, and four species of vulture, among others.
India, known as one of the 17 megadiverse countries of the world, contains four of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots, has over 500 wildlife sanctuaries, and supports 13 biosphere reserves. Furthermore, there are 12 Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) in India, as identified by BirdLife International, some of these include Assam Plains, Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, Deccan Plateau, and Western Himalaya. There are also over 550 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). We visit a number of the above protected areas during our many and varied tours in order to find the key birds (Jim Corbett National Park is one of our favorite national parks for example).
India supports several monotypic families and these feature across our range of tours with Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Crab-plover, Spotted Elachura, and Grey Hypocolius all being highly sought by family listers and world birders on our set-departure tours. Please drop us a message if you have particular target birds in mind, if they are not possible on one of our scheduled tours we are able to organize customized trips too.
It is not just birds that feature prominently on our tours to India, a plethora of stunning wildlife such as Bengal Tiger, Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros, Gharial, Asiatic Lion, Indian Leopard, Asian Elephant, and so much more can all be enjoyed too and on some of our tours we make specific trips to look for certain animals.
All of our birding tours are small-group tours, we believe this is the best way for you to get the most out of your trip in terms of seeing the most birds, having more space in safari jeeps and vehicles as we drive around the country, and an overall higher enjoyment factor for all. Most of our tours to India run in the period January to April as this is considered the best time to bird those areas (when taking into consideration weather conditions among other important factors). We have also organized our tours so that should you wish to combine two tours together you have that option to do so, great if you fancy an extended vacation to maximize your time in-country, after your international flight. Gaining your Indian visa is now also much simpler than in previous years with an effective online system now in place for visitors of most nationalities.
Our most popular Indian tour is our Birding Tour India: The North – Tigers, Amazing Birds, and the Himalayas. This is an excellent introduction to the country, with a great blend of wildlife (Bengal Tiger, Asian Elephant, Indian Leopard), 400 species of bird including several monotypic families and an interesting mix of resident and over-wintering bird specialties, boat rides on the Chambal River, culture in the form of the Taj Mahal and other such magnificent places, great accommodation and food, and simply staggering views of the high ( 23,000 feet + / 7,000 meter +) Himalayas.
We have developed many other tours you might like to peruse for either side of our northern tour, all designed to focus on the specific key species (birds and other wildlife) of that area, whether that be restricted range endemics (e.g. Wayanad Laughingthrush), overwintering important locations for globally threatened species, or simply a staggering spectacle (e.g. flocks of thousands of Demoiselle Cranes in the northwest). Click the link to see details for each tour; in chronological order these are:
- South India – a tour focusing on Western Ghats endemics, Nilgiri endemics, and regional resident and over-wintering specialties
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands – a short tour for Andaman island endemics
- Northwest India – including Gir National Park for Asiatic Lions and Raan of Kutch for desert birds
- West India – a short tour for the recently rediscovered Forest Owlet near Mumbai
- Northeast India – Kaziranga National Park and Eaglenest which includes some of the best forested habitat in all of Asia, a plethora of mega birds (like Temminck’s Tragopan) and Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros. We also have a shorted version of this tour, which visits two lowland sites (Kaziranga and Nameri National Parks), details here, this short tour runs as an extension to our Bhutan spring and autumn tours.
We also have a new ‘out of season’ tour – our Monsoon Birding tour of Rajasthan in August/September when several highly sought mega secretive birds tend to show a bit better than usual, such as Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican, Indian Pitta, and Indian Spotted Creeper. The monsoon season is a great time to see India looking green and beautiful and connect with some highly sought species.
We can run any of the above as private tours for you and your partner or group of friends, your local bird club or society, or anyone else you wish to travel with. We can also target trips to ‘go after’ any particular species or family you may be keen to see whether that be a certain bird or animal. Please get in touch with us via the contact form available here.
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Testimonials from our India birding tours
Highlights of the Western Ghata and Nilgiri tour included seeing the regional endemic bird species such as Nilgiri Blue Robin, White-bellied Blue Robin, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Sri Lanka Bay Owl, giant squirrels and Asian Elephants. The local cuisine was also a highlight! Dylan was friendly and professional with a good sense of humour. He knew when to be intense, when to lighten up on the birding and was always cordial. Dylan was never demeaning when answering questions. Our local guides were excellent, especially in Thattekad and Masinagudi.Ira - On Dylan and India
The 2016 Northern India Birding Ecotours trip was everything I had hoped for and more. As a novice both when it came to Asian birds and Indian travel, the trip couldn’t have been better. Andy Walker, our guide, was brilliant at finding the expected birds and some amazing rarities and getting us good looks. I managed close to 400 lifers combined with Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal, some fascinating glimpses of rural India and a spectacular time in the Himalayan foothills. Our driver, van, train travel and hotels were all comfortable and worked like clockwork. Thanks for the trip of a lifetime.Hume - On Andy and India
I had an awesome two weeks’ trip in northern India in January 2016 with Andy Walker of Birding Ecotours. Total bird species seen by the group was 401. Highly recommended for life birds, collecting bird families and beautiful scenery. Some highlights included: Hill Partridge, Painted Spurfowl, Koklass and Cheer Pheasants, Black Bittern, Himalayan Vulture, Sarus Crane, Barred Buttonquail, Ibisbill, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Indian Courser, Painted Sandgrouse, Sirkeer Malkoha, Crested Treeswift, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Himalayan Flameback, Collared Falconet with prey (Cinereous Tit), Chestnut-headed Tesia, Striated Laughingthrush, White-rumped Shama, White-tailed Rubythroat, Golden Bush Robin, Brown Dipper, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Crested Bunting and Altai Accentor. The group total also included 10 owls and 17 woodpeckers, all seen.Lisl - On Andy and India