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 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 and Marshall’s Iora. 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 several 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!

 

Top Birds

Great Indian & Macqueen’s Bustards; Grey Hypocolius; Crab-plover; huge numbers of Demoiselle & Common Cranes; Dalmation & Spot-billed Pelicans; Green Avadavat; Indian Spotted Creeper; Sociable Lapwing; Indian Courser; Red-headed, Cinereous & White-rumped Vultures; Eastern Imperial Eagle; White-eyed Buzzard; Laggar Falcon; 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; Desert Whitethroat; Bay-backed Shrike; Rufous-fronted Prinia; Eastern Orphean & Asian Desert Warblers.

Top Mammals

Asiatic Wild Ass; Blackbuck; Nilgai; Chinkara (Indian Gazelle); with chances for Golden & Grey Wolves; Bengal and the desert subspecies of Red Fox; Striped Hyena; Jungle & Wild Cats.

Habitats Covered

semi-desert scrub, salt-flats, seasonal wetlands, grassland, scrubland, dry deciduous forest, coastline

Expected Climate

warm during the day, with cooler nights and cold to very mornings

Max Group Size

8 with 1 Rockjumper leader & local birding leader

Tour Pace & Walking

target orientated, some very long drives / travel days

Accommodation

mostly good, basic but comfortable around Zainabad

Ease of Birding

mostly unchallenging

Photographic Opportunities

very good

What our clients say about us

David Hoddinott
LB - India 2019

To David Hoddinott with many thanks. In my book, you are still the best guide I’ve ever birded with. Please give my regards to the office team. I am very proud to be part of the Rockjumper Family.

Glen Valentine
BG, Pvt Castleman India

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.

Stephan Lorenz
LC & PD, Northern India 2017

We had a wonderful trip with Rich Lindie and Stephan Lorenz, and we would certainly be happy to travel with either of them again. They were both excellent with the birds, had a great sense of humour, and were helpful and patient when individuals required extra assistance. In addition to the birding, we enjoyed a long list of mammals sighted in the various national parks. The accommodations and meals were also very good.

David Hoddinott
FG, India 2018

David Hoddinott was at his best even on new grounds full of lifers.

Nigel Redman
MC, India 2023

This was the first group birding tour Ive ever taken (meaning, more than myself and either one or two other persons). Rockjumper and Nigel Redman made it a very pleasurable experience, with wonderful birds, beautiful landscapes, and good flexibility and adaptability to the various challenges and obstacles thrown our way on the trip. I heartily recommend both this tour and Nigel Redman as a tour leader! I would happily go on any tour for which Nigel was the leader; his knowledge of ornithology, history, and birding folklore is encycylopedic, and his easy humor and casual nature made for happy hours in our vehicles or over dinner tables (this, in contrast to the group next to us in some of the dining halls, where hardly a word was spoken by any tour member when the trip leader was going through the days list; that was a dictatorship; Nigels tour was a democracy in many ways.)

India - Western: Desert Specials 2025

17 Feb 2025 - 01 Mar 2025 (13 days)

USD4,495 - Spaces Available

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Tour Leader: André Bernon

Tour price (Per person): USD4,495 * GBP3,608 * EUR4,217 * AUD6,928

Single Supplement: USD640 * GBP514 * EUR600 * AUD986

Flight costs: USD280 * GBP225 * EUR263 * AUD432

Can be linked with: India - Forest Owlet Extension 2025

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Tour Route Map

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