Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chopta - Tungnath: A Birding Haven in Western Himalayas (02nd Dec. to 07th Dec.2016)

There are few birding destinations in India which are on MUST VISIT list for every birder. Chopta-Tungnath is one such fantastic birding place, apart from the splendid natural beauty.

Nature India proudly announces a new Birding destination, Chopta-Tungnath, in western Himalayas. Only 8 participants per batch, Please go through the dates & details :-) 
Date: 02nd December, 2016, 10.00 am to 07th December, 2016 eve 7.00 pm (Travel days excluded). The bookings for the Meticulously planned bird-watching trip are on…..book your seats now (see the complete details at the end of this blog).....Birdwatch in one of the India's greatest birding hot-spots with Nature India.

We will be visiting Chopta, Tungnath, Mandal and Makkumath areas during the trip.

Chopta (Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary)
Situated in the Western Himalayan mountain ranges in the State of Uttarakhand, Chopta is a part of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and with its lush green meadows interspersed with Pine & Fir forest, it is popularly known as mini Switzerland. Chopta came to prominence recently not just because of its abundant birdlife, but also because of the diversity and ease of birding.. Situated at an altitude of 2600 meters msl this small hamlet provides some mesmerizing views of the imposing Himalayan ranges & grassy slopes dotted with Pine, Deodar & Rhododendron trees, surrounded with lush green meadows.

Chopta is around 225 kms from Dehradun with a comfortable roads that travels along the rivers of Ganga, Alaknanda & Mandakini. The Best season for birding in Chopta valley is between November to May.

A birding hotspot, Chopta became famous because of its amazing bird diversity, which include a long list of Western Himalayan birds, especially the Himalayan Monal which is supposedly a relatively easy bird to see along with several good birds including, Koklass Pheasant, Various species of Tits like, Rufous-vented, Grey-crested, Fire-capped, Black-throated, Spot-winged, Green-backed etc..., several species of Warblers like,  Grey-hooded; Black-faced; Ashy-throated; Buff-barred; Western-crowned etc..., Bar-throated Minla, Mrs. Gould and Green-tailed Sunbird; Collard,  Black & Yellow and Spot-winged Grosbeak; White-throated, Striated, Streaked & Variegated Laughingthrush, Rufous-gorgeted, Blue-throated, Ultramarine & Verditer Flycatcher; Himalayan, Rufous-bellied & Grey-headed Woodpecker; Great Barbet; White-tailed and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch; Bar-tailed Treecreeper; Mistle Thrush etc.....

Along with the bird-life, the scenic natural beauty is what also catches your fascination, no wonder it is called a mini Switzerland of India :-)

Tungnath Ji   


Situated just above Chopta at around 3700 mtrs, Tungnath is also known as third temple of Panch Kedar. Its a very steep but easy climb of around 3.5 kms, with paved path wide enough for a comfortable passage....however to maximize birding, it is recommended to take a Pony/horse ride to reach the top and descend down walking. Tungnath provides mind-blowing views of Himalayan ranges of Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba.....And off course great place for high altitude birding. The 1st half of this trail passes through Rhododendron tress, which quickly give way to the stunted bushes and then the grassy meadows, thus giving an opportunity to see some different & high altitude bird species. A morning cup of hot tea in on of the Dhabas here is something to experience. 

Being a popular pilgrimage destination,  it is part of the Panch Kedar Yatra, hence this place becomes crowded from May to October, hence it is recommended to avoid planning a trip during this time.Just a 1.5 km steep trek from here leads you to the top called Chandrashila peak which offers stunning 360 degree view of the Greater Himalayas.....however this climb is strenuous and will not be covered in our itinerary. 

Some of the birds that can be encountered here include Himalayan Monal; Snow Partridge; Hill Partridge; Snow Pigeons; Rufous-vented, Grey-crested & Coal Tits; Koklass Pheasant; Fire-tailed Sunbird; White-browed Fulvetta; Dark-breasted, White-browed, Pink-browed and Spot-winged Rosefinch, Variegated and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush; Himalayan Bluetail; Grey-sided Bush Warbler; Fire-tailed Sunbird; Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture); Himalayan Griffon; Rosy & Tree Pipits, Several species of woodpeckers including Himalayan Pied, Scaly-bellied & Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers....also Speckled Piculet, Red-billed Blue Magpie etc... 

Makkumath & Mandal

In Himalayas altitude changes rapidly within short distances, so bird life also varies. That is the reason why it is very important to cover both, high as well as low altitudes places to see diversity in bird life. Along with Chopta & Tungnath, which are high altitude areas, we will be visiting Makkumath & Mandal areas which are at approx.2000 mts to get some low altitude species. These regions are clothed with the lush green forests where several species can be encountered including Golden Bush Robin, White-tailed Rubythroat, Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Tickell's Thrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Oriental Turtle Dove, Eurasian & Black-headed Jay, Grey-winged Blackbird, Great Barbet, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Long-tailed Minivets, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Green-backed Tit, Russet Sparrow,  etc..

Check out some trip report from the area

Nature India is conducting a well planned  trip to Chopta-Tungnath that will cover most of the birding sites in the Chopta valley...... see below for complete details.

Date: 02nd December, 2016, 10.00 am to 07th December, 2016 eve 7.00 pm

Mode of Local Travel :  Comfortable SUV's (Innova / Tavera)

Suggested Travel Options: 

Flight Options (To be done by the participants): Since there is no direct flight reaching early morning to Dehradun, you can break your journey, Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Dehradun

Mumbai to Delhi (02nd Dec.16): Indigo flight no. 6E-154, leaving Mumbai at 2.00hours, reaching Delhi at 4.10hours 
Mumbai to Delhi (01st Dec.16): Air India flight no. AI - 101, leaving Mumbai at 21.30 hours, reaching Delhi at 23.30 hours.

Delhi to Dehradun (01nd Dec.16): Jet Airways flight no. 9W - 2831, leaving Delhi at 6.10 hours, reaching Dehradun at 7.15 hours. 
Train Options (To be done by the participants): 
  1. New Delhi to Dehradun by 12205  Nandadevi Express, Staring from New Delhi at 23:50 Hrs on 25th Nov'16
  2. H. Nizamuddin to Dehradun by 12687 Dehradun Express, starting from H. Nizamuddin at 21.10 hrs on 25th Nov.16
Rough Tour Itinerary: (Dehradun to Dehradun)

Day 1: 02nd Dec, 2016 (Friday): Pick-up from Dehradun railway station / Airport at 05:30 hours – Proceed to Mandal (approx. 270 kms or 8 Hrs) – Breakfast & Lunch on the way -  Birding on the way if time permits - Check-in and Diner – Overnight stay at hotel in Mandal

Day 2: 03rd Dec, 2016 (Saturday): Early morning birding around Mandal - Lunch - Continue birding towards Chopta uptill Kachula Khark Forest Camp - Return back - Dinner - Overnight stay @ Hotel hotel in Mandal 

Day 3: 04th Dec, 2016 (Sunday): Early morning check-out and proceed towards Chopta - Full day birding around Chopta, Monal Point etc.- Overnight stay @ Hotel Green View in Chopta

Day 4: 05th Dec, 2016 (Monday): Start early morning for Tungnath - reach Tungnath top riding on pony / horse by sunrise - Birding on Tungnath top - Breakfast - start descending on foot - Birding on the way - Lunch at resort - afternoon birding at Monal point - Overnight stay @ Hotel Green View in Chopta

Day 5: 06th Dec, 2016 (Tuesday): Start early morning for Makkumath - Full day birding around Makkumath - overnight stay @ Hotel Green View in Chopta

Day 6: 07th Dec, 2016 ( Wednesday): Start early morning for Dehradun - Lunch on the way - reach Dehradun by 16.00 hrs

Trip charges (Dehradun to Dehradun only) : Rs.24000/- (Includes Stay in Hotel in Mandal & Hotel Green View in Chopta  on twin sharing basis, Local travel by Innova / Tavera, All Park entry charges, All meals including lunch, dinner and breakfast , Expert charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

These charges are Dehradun to Dehradun only....... participant has to make their own travel arrangement upto Dehradun and Back . This does not include any charges other than the above.

Group Size : 8 persons

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying non-refundable advance of Rs.9500/- (and only after our confirmation mail) as per the payment guidelines given below…...

Stay Arrangement: Hotel  Gurukrupa in Mandal….. an absolutely basic but neat & clean hotel.

Hotel Green View in Chopta (refer above image), a basic but neat clean hotel with amazing view on lush green valley.

Resource Person: Local Expert & Mr. Mandar Khadilkar,

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the money directly to my HDFC A/c (Please call Mandar @ 9930318665).. please mention your name, date and other details….
2) Courier a cheque in favour of "Mandar Khadilkar" of Rs.9500/- to the following address:
Name: Mr. Mandar Khadilkar
Address:Flat No.2, Blossom Apartments, Below Shantighan Hospital, LM Road,
Kandarpada, Dahisar-West, Mumbai-400068

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 9500/- is strictly non-refunadable
2) The seats will be confirmed only against the advance amount on first come basis
3) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours
4) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
5) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification …..

For any other queries we are available on 9869071091 / 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9930318665 / 9967518665 (Mandar)

Thanks for your patience.

Looking forward for a very rewarding trip with you all !!

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar

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