Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ladakh - Birding in cold desert (08th July to 17th July, 2013 )

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

Dates: 08th July 13 to 17th July 2013 (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 & Hemis Buddhist Monasteries that are situated on the way...

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

Zangskar Valley - Zanskar (also called Zangskar) lies in Western Ladakh which separates Ladakh from Kashmir. Zanskar is at a height between 3500 to 7000 meters and is also considered the most isolated of the Trans Himalayan valleys. Zanskar river goes through the valley and the majestic "Drang-drung" glacier looms prominently. Spread over an estimated area of about 5000 sq kms, this is considered one the remotest regions and the population so thin that the locals stay very far from each other and take several weeks to travel to each others place..... Fantastic birding here !!

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 lanscape here. Some of the birds seen here are; Black-billed Magpie, Reed Bunting, Mountain Chiffchaff, Humes 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.

Hemis National Park - Situated in eastern Ladakh, Hemis is largest National Park of India of area around 4500 sq. km. It is the only National park ii India that is situated north of Himalaya. The well-known Rumbak valley is also part of Hemis NP. Famous for endangered Snow Leopard, this park presumably hold population of 200 Snow Leopard. Other mammals seen are Lynx, Pallas's Cat, Tibetal Wolf, Red Fox. Brown Bear, Blue Sheep (Bharal), Tibetan Argali, Ladakh Urial etc... Hemis NP is also a fascinating place for Bird-watching. Birds seen here are... Golden Eagle, Lammergier, Fire-fronted Serin, Mongolian Finch, Red-fronted Rosefinch, Rock Bunting, Rufous-throated Accentor, Himalayan Snowcock, White-throated Dipper etc..


Khardungla Pass - One of the highest motorable road in the world, at height of approx. 5500 mtrs, this pass gives us 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, Lammergier etc.. also enroute to Khardungla birds like Chukar, Plain-backed Snowfinch, Wallcreeper, Brandt's mountain Finch, Blue-fronted Redstart 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 - "Tsokar" means salty lake in local language. Here the waters are alkaline. This is probably the best birding place in Ladakh... Famous for Tibtan Wild Ass & endangered Black-necked Cranes, this place is also known for breeding of Bar-headed Geese & Ruddy Shelduks..... other birds here include Great-horned Lark, Tibetal Snow Finch, Plain-backed Snowfinch, Twite, Eurasian Linnet, Streated & Great Rosefinch, Raven, Eurasian Nightjar, Upland Buzzard, Little Owl, Tibetal Partridge, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Red-throated Pipit, Altai Accentor, Hill Pigeon, Pied Wheatear, Whie-browed Accentor, White-winged Redstart, Lesser & Common Kestrel, Bar-headed Geese, Brown-headed Gulls, Red-crested Pochard 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 8th July to 17th July 2013 (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:

Delhi to Leh

Reach Delhi Airport early morning on 8-Jul-13, to catch flight to Leh
  • GoAir Flight No. G8-195, Delhi (5.15) to Leh (6.35)

  • GoAir Flight No. G8-193, Delhi (8.40) to Leh (9.55)
Leh to Delhi 
  • Go Air Flight No. G8-196, Leh (07.00) to Delhi (08.20)


  • Go Air Flight No. G8-194, Leh (10.20) to Delhi (11.40)

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 (8-Jul-13): 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 (9-Jul-13): Morning Tea - Breakfast - Lunch at Hotel Bijoo - Compulsory rest (for acclimatization  for 1st half - 2nd half, visit Shey palace & Thikse monastery and nearby areas - dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 3 (10-Jul-13): Morning Tea/coffee - Breakfast - Visit to Shey marshes - Return for Lunch at Hotel Bijoo - Afternoon birding in Shey Marshes - Dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 4 (11-Jul-13):
Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Hotel Bijoo - Depart for Hemis NP with Packed Lunch - Full day birding - Hemis NP & visit to Hemis Monastery - Dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 5 (12-Jul-13):
Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Hotel Bijoo - Depart for Khardungla with Packed Lunch - Full day birding - Dinner & Stay at Hotel Bijoo

Day 6 (13-Jul-13): Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Hotel Bijoo - Depart for Pangong with Packed Lunch - Dinner & stay at tent in Pangong

Day 7 (14-Jul-13): Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Pangong - Start for Tsokar - Lunch on the way - Dinner & Stay at Tsokar Village Resort

Day 8 (15-Jul-13): Full day birding around Tsokar... Brekfast - lunch - Dinner in Tsokar

Day 9 (16-Jul-13): Morning Tea/coffee & Early breakfast (6.00am) at Tsokar - Start for Leh  with Packed Lunch - Dinner & Stay at Leh

Day 10 (17-Jul-13):
Morning Tea/coffee - Departure from Leh by 5.30AM to Airport .... or participants can continue with their other plans.

Trip Charges (Leh to Leh): Rs.35500/- only (Leh to Leh)  (Includes AC rooms on Twin Sharing Basis in Leh, Twin sharing in tents in Pangong & Tsokar), 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 and 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.12,000/- 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 & Tsokar
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.12000/- as advance amount to the following address
Name: Mr.Mandar Khadilkar
Address: Flat No.2, Blossom Apartments, LM Road, Below Shantighan hospital, Kandarpada, Dahisar-West, Mumbai - 400068.

Please Note:

1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 12000/- 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
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect & Conserve

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Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature