Northern India: Tiger, Birds & the Taj Mahal

Though it hardly seems possible to me, we’ve been visiting northern India now for over ten years, and by carefully tweaking the itinerary here and there, we have what we think is the very best tour available. From the misty dawns among the waterfowl at Bharatpur to the clear air and forests of Corbett National Park, with Indian Elephant, Spotted Deer, and Wild Boar, Ibisbill on the river at Ramnagar, and woodpeckers, redstarts, forktails, and laughingthrushes in the Himalayan foothills, we visit all the best areas on the northern subcontinent.

Indian Peafowl
The common and gorgeous (and wild!) Indian Peafowl photographed by participants David & Judy Smith.

A boat trip on the Chambal River, near Agra and the TajMahal, is a recent addition to the tour. Here, Red-naped Ibis walk along the banks, Black-bellied Terns feed over the open water, and (with luck) the endangered Ganges Dolphin surfaces close by. To the south, Kanha National Park, where we spend three nights, is the best place in all of India to see that most magnificent of cats—the fabulous Tiger! The park also gives us a chance for the rare Dhole (or IndianWild Dog), Gaur, Sloth Bear, and even Leopard, as well as a number of birds that should include Painted Francolin, Alexandrine Parakeet, SirkeerMalkoha, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, and Indian Scimitar-Babbler. In several areas we benefit from the assistance of some excellent local guides, giving us an even better chance than ever to see some of the rarer species like White-rumped and Indian vultures (both critically endangered) or a Tawny Fish-Owl, perhaps a fruiting tree with hornbills, barbets, and greenbuls or a dense thicket with a wintering Siberian Rubythroat or secretive Long-billed Thrush.

Bengal Tiger
Bengal Tiger photographed by participant Marshall Dahl in Kanha NP.

But northern India isn’t just about traveling from one birding hotspot to another. For a first-time visitor, the sheer mass of vibrant color, gorgeous women in saris, vegetable stalls piled high with produce, unfamiliar smells of unusual spices, and the jostle of camel carts, rickshaws, painted trucks, and buses will all have your senses running amok. Add to this some of India’s most famous historical sights, including the Palace of Akbar the Great and the just out-of-thisworld Taj Mahal, and Northern India really is a tour not to be missed.

Visit our Northern India tour’s web page for more information including an itinerary and some past triplists.

India photos
A few images from Northern India: the glorious Taj Mahal; Brahminy Starling; Rose-ringed Parakeet; and Eurasian Spoonbill. Photos by participants David & Judy Smith & Marshall Dahl.