Grand Southern India Train Odyssey: Feb 21—Mar 06, 2008
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David BishopDavid Bishop loves his vocation and cannot imagine anything better than exploring wild and b...
Bob FlemingBob Fleming is one of the foremost experts on Nepal and India. He has spent most of his life...
The Deccan Odyssey
Experience the natural history, culture, and birds of southern India, and spend a few days on the luxurious Deccan Odyssey, India's premier train. We will visit some of India's foremost national parks.
VENT's tours to southern India have consistently surprised participants with the richness of the region's birds and other wildlife, the comfortable accommodations, and the exquisite cuisine. This specially designed tour provides a rare opportunity to see the very best of Southern India's wildlife and landscapes. In addition we will visit several outstanding ancient cultural sites such as the World Heritage caves of Ellora and Ajanta and magnificent Daulatabad Fort. Traveling for part of our journey on the lovely train, the Deccan Odyssey, will permit a relaxed pace and the opportunity to absorb the fascinating countryside of the Malabar coast. Southern India is home to several large herds of Asian elephants and, with a bit of work, we should also encounter the giant gaur, the handsome Nilgiri langur, with a bit of luck—Bengal tiger, dhole (Indian wild dog), and, if we are very fortunate, the peculiar sloth bear.
Our accommodations range from a Maharaja's palace in the city of Mysore to the attractive Kabini Lodge located within roaring distance of Nagarhole National Park and some of Southern India's richest forest areas. The Western Ghats, a dramatic series of granitic mountains, extend along the entire western edge of peninsular India, rising from emerald-green lowlands garnished with paddies of ripening rice and a mosaic of deep, little-known forests. Here a large number of species reside that are found nowhere else in the world (some are shared with neighboring Sri Lanka). We will make a special effort to locate as many of these species as possible, including Gray Junglefowl, Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Gray Hornbill, Malabar Crested Lark, White-bellied Treepie, Yellow-browed and Gray-headed bulbuls, Black-fronted Babbler, White-bellied Flycatcher, Malabar Whistling-Thrush, and Small and Loten's sunbirds.
Southern India is distinctly different from the north. Life is more genteel, caressed by a balmy tropical winter and nurtured by frequent rains. Exotic Dravidian temples punctuate the lush countryside and add a special element to our journey. Our explorations will take us to the finest reserves in Southern India including magnificent Nagarhole National Park which contains the best concentrations of wildlife in the peninsula. We will also explore remnant patches of bird-rich montane forest among little-known sholas hidden in the folds of these granite mountains, vast areas of semiarid woodland, and a medieval village graced by Painted Storks and Spot-billed Pelicans nesting in the thatch roofs. In addition to the large number of endemic birds, we will also encounter a number of species rarely if ever recorded in northern India: Red Spurfowl, Pompadour Green-Pigeon, the impressive White-bellied Woodpecker, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Indian Pitta, the rare White-bellied Minivet, Indian Scimitar-Babbler, Indian Blue Chat, Kashmir Flycatcher, Forest Wagtail, and Black-throated Munia. We will also encounter several species of mammals ranging from the spectacular Indian giant squirrel to the impressively common leopard.
We will also offer a post-trip safari to the Kipling country of central India to search for the Bengal tiger. We will visit both Bhandavgarh and Kanha national parks where our chances of seeing this magnificent predator are excellent, in addition to a host of birds and other wildlife.
During the first part of our trip we will stay in lodges near wildlife and cultural sites, and the remainder of our time will be spent on the Deccan Odyssey in private accommodations with en suite bathroom and shower; little walking; warm and dry conditions.