Monday, January 25, 2016

Ladakh - Birding in cold desert (31st July to 10th August, 2016)

The eagerly awaited Birding watching trip to Ladakh opens now for booking!!

Dates: 31st July 16 to 10th August 2016 (Leh to Leh)... Book your seat now, as very limited seats are available... A very meticulously planned trip including a chance to explore the amazing landscapes and some famous monasteries ..... this is one trip that you surely don't want to miss!

Ladakh - Birding in the Cold Desert

“The Land is so barren and the passes so high that only our fiercest enemies or Our best friends would want to visit us” -Ladakhi Saying


India is one of the most diverse country in terms of habitats. We have rain forests of Western Ghats & North-East, Grasslands of Central Western India, Seashores on Western &  Eastern borders, Deserts of Rajasthan, Rann of Gujarat, Islands of Andamans & Lakshadweep, Himalayan foothills in North & the  Cold Desert, Ladakh in extreme North India.

Ladakh: Known as "The Moonland", "Little Tibet" or more romantically "The Last Shangri-La", is the most remote region of India, a barren, virtually rainless region. A desert in high altitude, has to be cold one. Due to rain shadow created by the mighty Himalaya, monsoon clouds are denied to reach Ladakh & hence the cold desert. For water supply, Indus River is backbone of Ladakh, as the  main source of water. Indus river is fed by the melting glaciers on the mountains. The mindblowing landscapes and the rugged mountains greet you as soon as you land in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The mesmerizing beauty of this place has to be felt to believe.

Ladakh has been explored by many tourists for sight seeing, Monastery, landscapes etc... but not much for Bird-watching... Ladakh lies between 3000 to 6000 mtrs, which obviously will have some very interesting high altitude birds that, otherwise are very difficult to see in rest of India. The rigours are extreme, but the rewards are equally lucrative..... Birding in this paradise is every birders dream and a photographers wish. Even an ordinary camera here can give you postcard quality images... so pure is the air and so magical is this place. No wonder many come her repeatedly :-)

We will also be visiting the famous Thikse Buddhist Monastery...

The following areas will be covered during our trip...

Shey Marshes

Just 7 kms from Leh, famous for Shey Palace, this place is also well known with bird-watchers, because of the diversity and quality of birds in the various marshes that adorn the landscape here. Some of the birds seen here are; Black-billed Magpie, Reed Bunting, Mountain Chiffchaff, Hume's Whitethroat, Carrion Crow, Eurasian Hobby, White-winged Redstart, Winter Wren, Ibisbill, Northern Lapwing, Common Rose finch, Black Redstart, Oriental Turtle Dove, Citrine & White Wagtail etc ..... and all should be in their breeding plumage.

Tanglangla & Changla Passes - Considered as the 2nd and 3rd highest motorable passes in the world, at height of approx. 5500 mtrs, these high altitude passes gives us an opportunity to see some very high altitude birds like Robin Accentor, Yellow & Red-billed choughs, Raven, Golden Eagle, Upland Buzzard, Little Owl, Snow Partridge, Great Rosefinch, Lammergeier etc.. also enroute to these passes birds like Chukar, Plain-backed Snowfinch, Wallcreeper, Brandt's mountain Finch, Blue-fronted Redstart, White-winged Redstart, Tibetan Snowcock etc. can be seen...

Pangong Lake - Known for sheer natural beauty, Pangong can easily be termed as one of the most picturesque places in the World! ......Best seen in evening, this place is a paradise for landscape photography  Birds seen here are; Brown-headed & Pallas's Gulls, White-winged Tern, Common Merganser, Bar-headed Geese, Red-crested Pochard, Golden Eagle etc...


"Tsokar" means salty lake in local language. Here the waters are alkaline. This is probably the best birding place in Ladakh... Famous for Tibetan Wild Ass & endangered Black-necked Cranes, this place is also known for breeding of Bar-headed Geese & Ruddy Shelducks..... other birds here include Great-horned Lark, Tibetan Snow Finch, Plain-backed Snowfinch, Twite, Eurasian Linnet, Streaked & Great Rosefinch, Raven, Eurasian Nightjar, Upland Buzzard, Little Owl, Tibetan Partridge, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Red-throated Pipit, Altai Accentor, Hill Pigeon, Pied Wheatear, White-browed Accentor, White-winged Redstart, Lesser & Common Kestrel, Bar-headed Geese, Brown-headed Gulls, Red-crested Pochard etc...


Tso - Moriri

Tso Moriri is the largest High altitude lake in Himalayas, situated at 4,522 mtrs (14,836 ft.). Also called as Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. Among birds, Bar-headed Geese, Brown-headed Gulls, Ruddy Shelduck etc. breed here in large nos. Tso Moriri is also known for Black-necked Cranes & Tibetan Wild Ass.

Hanle: Another less explored place in Ladakh, Hanle is located in ancient Ladakh - Tibet trade route in Hanle valley. Known for Indian Astronomical Observatory & 17th century Hanle Monastery, is also home to birds like Black-necked Crane, Tibetan Lark, Upland Buzzard, Great Rosefinch & mammals like Tibetan Wild Ass, Tibetan Wolf, Red Fox, Tibetan Gazelle etc.

Photo Credits: Our heartfelt thanks to  Sandeep Dhumal, Nayan Khanolkar & Abhijit Narvekar for allowing us to use some of their excellent images for this blog.... they own all the copyrights of the images.  Use in any form of any of their images from this blog can only be done after obtaining their written consent.

Some good reads about birding in Ladakh ....

Nature India is proud to organize, its first ever Birdwatching - landscape photography trip to this cold desert from 31st July to 10th August 2016 (travel days excluded)..... Come and soak yourself in this mystifying land of Bliss........ 

Travel Details:(To & Fro Leh, to be arranged by participants)

We suggest you to book tickets for following flights:

Mumbai to Leh
  • GoAir Flight No. G8-386, Mumbai (04.00 hours) to Leh (6.15) - Non stop Flight

  • Air India Flight No. AI - 101 on 30th July 2016, Mumbai (21.30 hours) to Delhi (23.45 hours) & Air India Flight No. AI 445 on 31st July 2016, Delhi (05.55 hours) to Leh (07.25 hours)
Leh to Mumbai / Delhi
  • Go Air Flight No. G8-386, Leh (06.45 hours) to Mumbai (10.45 hours)  - One hop
  • Jet Airways Flight No 9W-2369, Leh (07.40 hours) to Delhi (09.15 hours) & Delhi (11.35 hours) to Mumbai (13.40 hours)

Note: Please book return flight early morning (between 06.00 to 08.00) from Leh, late morning flights may get cancelled due to bad weather

Several other flights also available, but the above suggestion is best in terms of time & charges....  Please check the arrival & departure timing at Leh for to & fro flights. Book fast to get concessional rates.

Travel Itinerary: (To & Fro Leh, to be arranged by participants)

Day 1 (31-Jul-16): Arrival at Leh (latest by 11am) pick up from Airport for Hotel Bijoo - Absolute compulsory rest (for high-altitude acclimatization  for rest of the day - Lunch - Eve. Tea/coffee - Dinner - Stay in Hotel Bijoo on twin sharing basis

Day 2 (01-Aug-16): Morning Tea - Breakfast - Lunch at Hotel Bijoo - Compulsory rest (for acclimatization)  for 1st half - 2nd half, visit Spituk valley, Magnetic hills & nearby areas - dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 3 (02-Aug-16): Morning Tea/coffee - Breakfast - Visit to Hemis National Park - lunch  - Visit to Thikse Monastery & Shey Marshes - Dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 4 (03-Aug-16):
Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Hotel Bijoo - Depart for Pangong - Birding on the way -  Dinner & Stay at tents in Pangong

Day 5 (04-Aug-16):
Early morning spend some time & Pangong & then start for Leh - birding on the way - Dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 6 (05-Aug-16): Early morning Tea/coffee & Depart for Tsokar - Breakfast at village karu - birding on the way - Lunch  Birding on the way -  -  Dinner & stay at rooms in Tsokar

Day 7 (06-Aug-16): Full day birding around Tsokar... Breakfast - lunch - Dinner in Tsokar

Day 8 (07-Aug-16): Start early morning from Tsokar - proceed towards Tso Moriri - Birding on the way - Stay at Tso Moriri

Day 9 (08-Aug-16): Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Tso Moriri - Start for Hanle - Birding on the way -  Dinner & Stay at Basic Home-stay in Hanle

Day 10 (09-Aug-16):
Morning Tea/coffee - Start for Leh - Birding on the way - Dinner & stay at Hotel Bijoo in Leh.

Day 11 (10-Aug-16): Morning departure from Leh by 7.00AM to Airport .... or participants can continue with their other plans.

Trip Charges (Leh to Leh): Rs.*****/- only (Includes AC rooms on Twin Sharing Basis in Leh, Twin sharing in tents in Pangong & Tso Moriri), Twin sharing in rooms in Tsokar, triple/quadruple sharing in home-stay at Hanle, Veg. meals, Breakfast, Ladakh Permit, travel in comfortable Innova/Tavera, entry fees, Guide charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

This does not include Travel charges from any destination to  Leh & back, Camera Fees, Tips or any charges other than the above.

Important Note: This tour involves roughing out in (sometimes) extreme weather conditions with long walks & drive in high altitude and remote locations. Hence there is an age restriction (15 to 65 years) to participate in this trip. Also, the participant would be required to submit a medical fitness certificated from any qualified medical practitioner and a "trip consent" form, before embarking on the tour.  Kindly note and co-operate.

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to with contact details and by paying a non refundable Advance of  Rs.20,000/- after our confirmation mail…..The remaining amount will be collected on the day of travel in cash only. 

Kindly register soon to avoid the rush for train bookings……….

Group Size: Max 12 Pax only

Stay Arrangements: 
  • Hotel Bijoo, Leh
  • Tents in Pangong 
  • Rooms in Tsokar Eco Resort
  • Tents in Tso Moriri
  • Home stay in Hanle
Note: Since these are remote locations, facilities are basic, specially in Pangong & Tsokar, with accommodation in attached tents on twin sharing basis.... and mostly basic packed lunch. 

Resource Persons: Mr.Adesh Shivkar, Mr.Mandar Khadilkar 

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the advance money directly to our HDFC A/c (Please send a mail for details).. please mention your name, date and other details…. OR
2) Courier a cheque of Rs.20,000/- as advance amount to the following address
Name: Mr. Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Near Sion Signal, Sion (East), Mumbai-400022.

Please Note:

1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 20,000/- is strictly non-refundable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India tours
3) Nesting photography is prohibited.
4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on ID, in case you need any clarification. For any other queries we are available on 9869071091 / 9820455713(Adesh) or 9930318665 / 9967518665 (Mandar)....

Hope to see you for this wonderful trip Thanks for your patience.

Jullay in July,

Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar

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Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature