Trip Reports

By guests and our in-house naturalists

Assam and Nepal Trip Report

Michael Graham (Guest)
28th February 2020

Meet and Greet

Deep (plus driver) was at Delhi to meet us from the flight ex Dubai. Escorted us to Pride Plaza Hotel where he delivered all the vouchers and cash plus the 2 hats (thank you for those). Deep (plus driver) collected us on time @ 0330 from Pride Plaza Hotel and escorted us to Delhi Domestic Terminal.

Met at Guwahati by driver.

Internal Flight

INDIGO flight left on time and arrived @ Guwahati 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Very impressed with INDIGO – new planes, nice staff, very efficient and look like an airline that is going places.

Guwahati-Kaziranga

Journey took just 3h 45m as we got away from Guwahati before the morning rush. Stopped en route for the bathroom at a decent café. Good driver, took no risks. So many trucks once you leave the 4-lane highway and go onto the 2-lane section.

Diphlu River Lodge

Very comfortable accommodation (building No1) with all amenities – TV, shower, tea/coffee making facilities, fridge, bottled water, charger bank, etc. Large room with ample space and a balcony with table and chairs. Comfortable bed. Lounge at the ‘Machan’ was comfortable with WiFi, a fire in the evening and a bar with barman. We thought that the food (normally a buffet for all meals with everything labelled) was excellent. Plenty of choice and with lots of flavour. Very pleasant staff working in the restaurant. Drinks were a little expensive to what we are used to in SA but we accept that. I over-estimated the costs which I told Deep as I didn’t account for the fact that the drinks were double measures.

Very quiet location in large grounds.

Our guide was Bablu who was with us the whole time except the first afternoon as he was with a party of Americans who were leaving next day. A very nice person, well spoken. His birding knowledge was one of the best I have seen anywhere. Worked really hard at finding different species and trying to find Tigers which evaded us completely. Only 1 had been seen in the previous 7 days. Plenty of 1-horned Rhinos, all the Deer species. Never seen so many Bar-headed Geese – thousands. We went to all the zones – Eastern, Central, Western and Far Western along with a circuit of a tea plantation and a morning in the Panburi Forest.

Always brought a printed itinerary for each day at the evening meals. Took his time in driving through each zone, hardly ever achieved 20kph.

We really enjoyed the Diphlu River Cruise and had a very nice lunch on the sandbank. Managed to see a lot of dolphins and also 9 ‘lifers’ whilst on the water. Recommended for anyone.

Overall impression

A very good addition to your list of lodges. Certainly recommended. The longest drive is around an hour to the Eastern Zone or the Far Western Zone on the main road. Western Zone is just 10 minutes. Good birding on the road as well in the paddy-fields and adjacent forests. Wreathed Hornbill was our best find on the road – quite rare. Bablu is ‘the’ guide for birdwatchers.

Kaziranga-Guwahati

A good trip back in 4 hours. No complaints. Air India on time.

Meet and Greet

Deep was at Delhi Airport to meet us yet again. Transported to Pride Plaza Hotel. Received the XL size shirt (thank you for that). Deep again collected us on time @ 0430 for transport back to the International Airport.

Delhi-Kathmandu

Air India delayed 35 minutes due to fog at Kathmandu but we still arrived 5 minutes early. There is a new Visa system at Kathmandu. It is a self-service machine to print the ticket so you can pay fee (US$ 30), get a receipt and then go to Immigration Desk.

Meet and Greet

Driver collected us outside and it was a 5h drive to Chitwan. Stopped halfway for bathroom in a clean restaurant. Good journey on a very busy road. No complaints on driving ability.

Barahi Jungle Lodge

This is a large lodge not what we are used to but it was very comfortable. A party of 60 Indians arrived as we did for a family celebration over 2 nights so the manager put us down at Cottage No2 away from them where it would be quiet. Cottage overlooked the river. Room was comfortable, smaller than Diphlu but with tea/coffee facilities, TV and WiFi, safe, comfortable bed, bathroom with bath and shower. Balcony with table and 2 chairs.

The Food and Beverage Manager looked after us well and all that we ate was very nice. On the Sunday before we left we had a lovely meal outside with snacks before a Nepalese/Chinese meal!!!! Very nice staff, always pleasant and helpful. Food was different to Diphlu but very good all the same. A Bar area outside the restaurant.
We had 2 picnic lunches which were very nice and a Jungle Breakfast out on safaris and a Sundowner trip the last afternoon.

The first day we had a special long river trip through the rapids (2h 30m) followed by a jeep safari with picnic lunch. This was not normal but our guide had arranged it.

Karan Giri was our guide (see him on Facebook). Very, very good bird guide and keen on photography as well. Skilled and worked hard to get large numbers of birds for me. The driver, Govander, also good company too. Unfortunately no Tiger again but we did see Leopard, Tiger and Sloth Bear Prints. Saw the Gharials and Marsh Mugger Crocodiles. Rhino here too but not in the same numbers as Kaziranga. Saw all the Deer species and a Bengal Monitor Lizard.

Meet and Greet

The journey back to the airport was OK but the traffic for the last hour or so into Kathmandu was horrific. Was not impressed by our driver who must have made and received 40 calls on his mobile phone whilst driving. Took too many chances in overtaking for my liking. You may wish to take that up with Barahi Jungle Lodge as the driver that brought us to BJL was fine. A stop for the bathroom was at a public toilet rather than at a restaurant.

Overall impression

Despite its large size the Lodge looked after us personally very well. We couldn’t fault our bird guide (who we invited to dine with us every evening). Karan Giri is ‘the’ man for birdwatchers. Different to Diphlu but very nice all the same.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS

As with our trip of 22 months ago everything went like clockwork and we thank all you guys for that. Deep looked after us at your end very well. Two different types of park this time. Weather was coolish but apart from 3 hours of unscheduled rain one afternoon it was good weather for bird watching although light levels were often poor for photography because of the foggy conditions and my lens software failing after 3 days made things very difficult using manual focus (will be fixed tomorrow in Cape Town).

Think that covers all of it. If there is anything that I have missed that you would like to know then please ask.

Sultanpur Birding

Deepkul Chhetri, Naturalist
30th September 2019

Delhi has one of the most fertile lands in India. For over a million years, the Yamuna has been depositing alluvial soil in Delhi flatlands from The Great Himalayas. Unfortunately, the recent boom in population has to lead the city looking like a concrete jungle. The outskirts, however, tell a different story. It is rich in avifauna with more than 300 species of birds.

On the morning of 30th September, we began on a fairly early note, around 0600 hrs. Robert, Vijay (our driver) and I journeyed away from the city hustle of New Delhi, towards the calm of Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. The park gate opens at 0700 hrs. At the gate we Sanjay, a local avifauna enthusiast, with a plethoric knowledge about birds. He was kind enough to guide us through the entire Sanctuary, all morning.
The Park also revolves around a water body, which is the breeding ground for most water birds.

The loud shrill sound of Rose Ringed Parakeet welcomed us in the Park. Flocks of Common Myna, Jungle Babbler, Large Grey Babbler, Scaly Breasted Munia, Cormorant, Common Teal, Painted stork, Red Napped Ibis, Northern Pin Tail, Northern Shovler, Knob-Billed Duck, Lesser Whistling Ducks and many more, were a delight to spot. It was nothing short of a “Bird’s Paradise”.

Then come the blues. First, the European Roller. A passage migrant to India, the European Roller perched itself on top a canopy of trees, giving us the perfect view of the colour of its wings. Second, the White-Throated Kingfisher, flying close over the water with wings painted bright blue. Third, and we actually got lucky with this one, and saw the distant Indian cousin to the European Roller, the Indian Roller.

Post a quick lunch, we drove to Bindawas, looking for the Eagle Owl. I guess our luck really worked its charm; we heard our naturalist, Sanjay shout out loud, Owl Owl Owl!!…. His excitement overtook everything we were doing and that’s when we saw what we came for. Right across the stream was this big owl looking right towards us, refusing to let its gaze slip even for a second.

After sighting over 100 species of birds, we came back to the hotel at around 1900 hrs in the evening.

However, we weren’t ready to settle with just a day’s birding trip. Came 2nd October and we began a journey to Najafgarh Wetland and later to Sultanpur National Park. The Najafgarh wetland area really surprised us by the numbers. Thousands of waders like Timinick’s Stint, Little Stint, Ruff, Greater Painted Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and a lot more.

Eurasian curlew, a bill with bird- A bird with exceptionally long beak equipped to find food at marshland, Ruff, little ringed plover, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana, Black-winged stilt and many more.

Till 1100 hrs we had again managed to see 100+ bird species.
At the end of the tour, we closed our bird count at 144 species.

enquire-button