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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

India: Ranthambhore, Bharatpur, Nainital and Corbett

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING INDIA: United States citizens will need a valid passport and a tourist visa. These can be obtained from the Indian Embassy or Consulates in various major cities. Citizens of other nations should contact the nearest Indian Consulate for entry requirements.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1139.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on India at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html.

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: On a number of days there will be pre-breakfast walks. Most of these will start at 6.30am or 6.45am and may last for up to three hours. Most days we should finish at dusk, around 6.30 pm, and we usually manage to have about a one hour break before the checklist and dinner. At Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve most game drives start before dawn – around 6:15am - and usually last for about three or three-and-a-half hours, after which we’ll return to the hotel for breakfast

Most of our walks will be short, level and easy but several will be over uneven, boulder-strewn terrain and possibly the need to cross shallow bits of the river on stepping stones.

At Nainital at least one of the three full days here will have a very early start - 4:45am - so as to be a good site for Koklass Pheasant (and possibly also Cheer Pheasant) at dawn. Our walks at these elevations are gentle and where possible downhill.

HEALTH : The CDC are currently recommending the following vaccinations: Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG); typhoid vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region; as needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults.

Malaria: Although we will not see any mosquitoes away from Ranthambhore and Bharatpur, and very few (if any) there, a malaria preventative is recommended.

Biting insects, except the occasional mosquito, are virtually non-existent on this tour.

Altitude: In Nainital we reach an elevation of 8,000 ft. 

Food Allergies/Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times. Meal times on tour are approximate. Participant who needs to eat according to a strict schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

Tap water is not safe to drink and should be avoided at all times. Bottled water (which the leader provides at meal times and on the longer drives), soft drinks and beer are widely available.

Smoking: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group if possible. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.

CLIMATE: The temperatures throughout this tour will vary dramatically. Bharatpur and Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve should be pleasant with temperatures in the 60°F-80°F range by midday. However the early mornings and late afternoons games drives at Ranthambhore, can be quite cold as we use an open-topped vehicle for these drives.

We can expect early morning frosts in the Corbett Park area and in Nainital even colder weather is likely, at least in the early mornings, and rain, sleet or even, exceptionally, snow is possible.

ACCOMMODATION: At both Sawai Madhopur (near Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve) and Bharatpur we will stay in a nice, medium-sized privately run hotels, both of which have well-appointed rooms have private facilities, including showers. Both properties have outdoor swimming pools (though the one at Bharatpur is often too cold for us to use) and internet access in the lobby.

We will spend one night at Chambal Safari Lodge in clean but fairly simple cabins, each with two beds, an en suite bathroom with western toilet and showers. There are occasional power cuts here – but most of these are brief, and the hotel has its own stand-by generator.

In Corbett National Park we’ll spend two nights at Dhikala Forest Lodge, where the rooms are spartan, and the supply of electricity and hot water, from past experience, erratic: Please be aware that the accommodation here is poor by western standards.

The Quality Inn just outside Corbett Park where we spend two nights is often the favorite of many people on this tour. The rooms are large and the bathroom is fitted with a water heater.

In Nainital we stay at a good, recently refurbished modern hotel. This hotel is designed for summer use and both the bedrooms and the dining room are not heated. A small electric or fan heater is provided in each bedroom, but this has limited effect.

Accommodation on our sleeper train from Dehli north and return are just adequate. There are four beds in each cabin, two upper and two lower bunks. Each room has a sliding door that can be locked from the inside and each railway carriage usually has between six and eight four-berth cabins. There are toilets at either end of the cabin (one western, one continental hole in the floor style) but these are rarely very good. We will be provided with two sheets (and upper and a lower sheet) plus a blanket. Please note that private cabins are not available and that while we will attempt to segregate men and women this may not be possible. Note also that because we will attempt to segregate the sexes, couples might have to be separated for the nights we are on the train.

MEALS: We will be served a wide variety of good quality Indian food, always includes a selection of vegetarian dishes. In some of the places meals are buffet-style, with several different dishes available, while in other places set meals are provided. However a typical Indian set meal actually consists of a choice of three or four different dishes.

We appreciate that not everyone likes to eat Indian food everyday or even at all. Almost all of the places we visit will, if requested, provide western food. If a buffet is being served, this normally includes a western-style dish or two. However if you require western-style food and cannot eat Indian food please advise the WINGS office in advance.

We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them. Meal times are often approximate. If anyone needs to eat according to a fixed schedule, they should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

Bottled water and/or a soft drink, beer or wine is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. Bottled water is also provided on the longer drives. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual.

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation between Delhi and Ranthambhore and between Ranthambhore and Bharatpur is by train. The first journey takes about five and a half hours, the second almost three. We will have seats in some of the best accommodation that is available and will acquire numerous porters to help us with our luggage.

Transportation in Ranthambhore Tiger reserve will be in a small open-topped bus. These 15 or 21 seater vehicles invariably have poor suspension and the unpaved tracks inside the reserve are rough and often strewn with large boulders. An inflatable cushion might prove useful.

Transportation outside Bharatpur Reserve is by coach. Private vehicles are not allowed inside the Tiger Reserve at Ranthambhore and instead we will explore parts of the park using jeeps or a larger truck fitted with rows of seats. Inside Bharatpur reserve we may also use bicycle-rickshaws or possibly one of the park’s 16-seater electric buses to travel around the reserve.

We will travel from the Chambal River near Agra to Delhi again by coach. Transportation between Delhi and the Himalayan foothills at Kathgodam will be on an overnight sleeper train. On arrival at Kathgodam we will be met by a fleet of gypsy jeeps and transferred to a nearby guest house.

At Corbett we will be on foot, on elephant-back, or in these same private jeeps. We will keep these jeeps for our time at Nainital, and we will travel from Kathgodam near Nainital back to Delhi on the same overnight sleeper train that we used for the journey north.

Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: June 2014