The wonderfully diverse nation of India is well-known for its verdant landscapes and the snow-capped Himalayas. It therefore surprises many people to learn that India is also blessed with some incredible deserts, and our tour showcases this much-underrated habitat by exploring some of India’s less frequented parks and reserves in the county’s dry, western parts. Desert National Park, Tal Chappar and the Great and Little Ranns of Kutch are amongst the most important of the protected areas of western India and we will visit all of them. We will also pay a visit to the more verdant Mt Abu along with an extension to the deciduous forests of Tansa Reserve.
Along the way we are going to see some of the most threatened and rare birds not only of India but of the whole world. Species we are searching for include the Great Indian Bustard which sadly teeters on the brink of extinction, the almost equally rare White-browed Bush Chat, along with Indian Spotted Creeper, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Green Avadavat, Sociable Lapwing, Macqueen’s Bustard, White-naped Tit, Marshall’s Iora, and for those doing the extension the recently rediscovered Forest Owlet. We also stand a great chance at picking up two of the more difficult monotypic families in the world, namely Crab-Plover and Grey Hypocolius. The general birding is excellent with lots of breeding specialties supplemented by vast numbers of overwintering northern migrants including famous congregations of cranes, impressive flocks of waterfowl and waders and a number of interesting passerines. Mammals are yet another interesting feature of this trip and along the way we can expect to see Blackbuck, Indian Gazelle and Indian Wild Ass amongst others.
Grey Hypocolius, Great Indian & Macqueen’s Bustards, huge numbers of Demoiselle, Common & Sarus Cranes, Dalmation & Spot-billed Pelican, Green Avadavat, Indian Spotted Creeper, Sociable Lapwing, Crab-plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Indian Courser, Red-headed, Cinereous & White-rumped Vultures, Eastern Imperial Eagle, White-eyed Buzzard, Laggar Falcon, Merlin, Jungle Bush & Rock Bush Quails, Yellow-legged & Barred Buttonquails, Black Francolin, Painted, Spotted & Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Sykes’s & Savanna Nightjars, White-naped & Indian Black-lored Tits, Marshall’s Iora, Brown Rock Chat, Pied & White-browed Bush Chats, Bimaculated, Rufous-tailed & Sykes’s Larks, Indian Bush Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Desert Whitethroat, Bay-backed Shrike, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Eastern Orphean, Asian Desert Warbler and Striolated Bunting.
Asiatic Wild Ass, Asiatic Lion, Blackbuck, Nilgai, Chinkara (Indian Gazelle), with chances for Golden Jackal, Bengal and the desert subspecies of Red Fox, Striped Hyena, Wolf, Jungle Cat and Wild Cat
semi-desert scrub, salt-flats, seasonal wetlands, grassland, scrubland, dry deciduous forest, coastline
warm during the day, with cooler nights and cold mornings
Max Group Size
8 with 1 Rockjumper leader & local birding leader
Tour Pace & Walking
mostly relaxed with some longer drives
mostly good, basic but comfortable around Zainabad
Ease of Birding
This trip was great! We were told the trip should generate about 250 bird species and our total was very close. Peter was excellent at finding birds, leading us and keeping a positive group atmosphere. The local guides also were competent and helpful. Accommodations are not an important aspect of a trip to me but the ones we stayed at were excellent, as were the meals. The trip was an excellent introduction to India for me tho I was happy to have it very much concentrate on birding.
I just have to write and tell you how much I enjoyed the N. India trip and how superb the leaders are... You know that, you only have world class guides. The last two days made the trip 'beyond expectations' with the birds we saw in Saital… Erik and Rich worked so well together and both are so funny, such a great combination. I especially have to thank Rich for taking pictures for me: I can immediately tell which ones he took: they make clear memories that are memorable…. With much gratitude to RBT for bringing birds and mammals into my life.
Greg de Klerk and David Erterius were great - super knowledgeable and really kind. You can tell that they both care about birds and their guests. I hope I can go on a Rockjumper tour with them again.
I thought David was an excellent guide. He certainly knows his birds and was very passionate and I also found him to be very keen to discuss birds and pass on knowledge; I enjoyed being able to share his passion. I also found him to be friendly and I had the impression that he was always trying to make sure that the group was generally satisfied. He was certainly very thorough at making sure that everybody had seen all the birds.
This was a great trip. A terrific itinerary and we saw lots of birds and we saw tigers at Ranthambhore and Corbett. Glen and [the local leader] were excellent guides—great spotting skills, and they made sure everyone saw the bird. The logistics worked very well because Glen and [the local leader] were a great team.