Endemics of South India

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India is probably the only country in the world that can boast of harboring over 1314 species of a varied and rich birdlife. With over 42 species of birds to be found in India only, this country is a veritable paradise for any birdwatcher. South India is the peninsula shaped like a triangle that lies between the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Vindhya and Satpura Mountains. The region has a very tropical habitat and has a number of biodiversity hotspots. A trip to this incredible region is a adventure that dreams are made of for most birdwatchers.

Best Time: October – March

The Journey


Your trip begins in Bangalore or Bengaluru the capital of the state of Karnataka. The city was founded in 1537 when Kempe Gowda built a mud fort at the site. Located on the Deccan plateau, the city is called the "Silicon valley of India". The city is 40% gardens and parks and about 15% lakes and water bodies and has a beautiful palace in the centre of the city. From Bangalore you travel to Mysore. Mysore is called the city of palaces and is located at the base of the Chamundi hills. The city lies between the Kabini and Kaveri Rivers.

From Mysore you travel to the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. The Nagarhole Tiger Reserve is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and lies in the foothills of the Western Ghats. With moist and dry deciduous forests, sub-montane valley swamps amd bamboo the Reserve is important habitat for mammals like tigers, leopards, Asiatic elephant, indian bison and recognized as an Important Bird Area with 270 species of birds. The area is also the home of the Jenu Kurubas – a tribe known to be honey gatherers and shepherds.

Mudumulai Tiger Reserve lies on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills. The protected area is home to several endangered and endemic species including 55 mammals and 227 species of birds. The park has moist bamboo brakes amongst dry and moist deciduous forests. There are patches of semi-evergreen forests, dry thorn forests and riparian forests making this an incredible feast for the senses.

The next day you travel to Ooty or Udhagamandalam, a town that features a subtropical highland climate. The town used to belong to the Todas but was ceded to the East India Company in 1799. The region is known for its Tea plantations and for the manufacturing of chocolate and pickles.

Topslip is located on the southern side of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in the Annamalai Hills. Topslip is the entry point to the Parambikulum Wildlife Sanctuary. Known for its rich mammal life, the sanctuary has over 250 species of birds and 315 species of butterflies.

From Topslip you travel to Munnar. Munnar is located at the confluence of three mountain streams in the Idduki district. The rolling hills of Munnar provide the right conditions for some of the best tea and coffee plantations in India. There a number of protected areas in and around Munnar that are known for several endangered and endemic species including the Nilgiri Thar, the giant squirrel, amongst others and a plant called the neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.

Periyar Tiger Reserve is known for its large elephant populations. The Periyar lake and river provide a rich habitat for wildlife. The Park has large grasslands with tall elephant grass and tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests. With 35 mammals species and 265 species of birds, the park offers great opportunities for both wildlife viewing and photography on land and from boats.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary was declared a protected area after famous ornithologist Dr Salim Ali declared it as the richest bird area on peninsular India. Thattekad means the flat forest and is an evergreen low-land forest located along the periyar river. The area has 282 bird species with three globally threatened species and several endemics.

You end your journey in the town of Cochin or Kochi. This lovely seaside city lies between the Western Ghats in the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. The city has an interesting history because a lot of trade was conducted in spices and other materials by traders from the Chinese court of Kublai Khan. Till today peculiar Chinese style fishing nets are used in the city by the fishermen.


Outline Summary

Day Journey
Day 01 Bangalore – Mysore .
Day 02 Mysore – Nagarhole Tiger Reserve
Day 03 Nagarhole Tiger Reserve
Day 04 Nagarhole Tiger Reserve – Mudumulai Tiger Reserve
Day 05 Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
Day 06 Mudumalai Tiger Reserve – Ooty
Day 07 Ooty
Day 08 Topslip:Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park – Munnar
Day 09 Munnar: Eraviculum National Park
Day 10 Munnar – Periyar Tiger Reserve
Day 11 Periyar Tiger Reserve – Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
Day 12 – 13 Thattekad Bird Sanctuary and surrounds
Day 14 Thattekad Bird Sanctuary – Cochin

DETAILED ITINERARY :

Overview

Destinations Covered: Bangalore/ Mysore /Ooty/ Cochin

Tour Duration: Day 14

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