Indian Subcontinent

Birding and wildlife from Nepal to Sri Lanka. An introduction to our holidays.

HEATHERLEA – your natural choice in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka!

Our holidays in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife. All include expert guiding during rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country. Most are led by one of our regular team travelling from the UK, and with more than seven clients you will usually have two Guides. We employ very experienced local ground agents, who offer a warm welcome to Heatherlea clients, and some Guides are based in the destination country, giving  invaluable advantages, including up-to-date wildlife information, which will enhance your holiday experience.

These holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst enjoying excellent wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take regular comfort breaks and sensible midday breaks in these very hot places. We seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference, and above all our relaxed, informal holidays are great fun. 

This page gives you an outline of each holiday, and you can click through to a dedicated page which also contains an 'EXTRA PACK'.

We have added many important elements to our holidays to give you extra value, please check the detail! As an example, in India and Nepal we include internal flights to reduce roadtime and minimise travelling, elements which cost extra but are worth it - when you are there you will appreciate these touches! Heatherlea also sometimes include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance tips to hotels, so if comparing be sure these ‘extras’ are taken into account! 

We are your complete holiday provider, and our ‘Pre-flight Service’ makes arrival at the departure gate easier. We include pre-flight Hotel, Airport Lounge and birding Field Guide as standard in your holiday, and arrange car parking, upgrades, seat selection, in-flight dietary catering and other services so you can feel relaxed and comfortable whatever your needs. Most holidays to the sub-continent begin with a flight in the evening, and return to the UK arriving in the afternoon, so you may take your complimentary airport hotel on your return should you wish. Our friendly team will help you plan!

 

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In Brief ....

Our Nepalese itinerary is an ideal introduction to the birds, mammals and culture of the country. There is excellent birding close to Katmandu, and visits to two unforgettable wildlife areas, Royal Chitwan and Koshi Tappu. You will probably see around 300 bird species, and exciting mammals including Indian One-horned Rhinocerous, Gaur, Sloth Bear, perhaps Jungle or Fishing Cat and even Tiger. This is also a rewarding cultural experience, and we strongly recommend the extra day at the end of the trip, which includes a flight to Mount Everest. Our Nepalese holiday is operating normally - birding areas were largely unaffected by earthquakes in 2015. Please consider adding your support for Nepal by visiting their country!

In India you have a choice of three very different itineraries. (Please note our GOA itinerary appears seperately). Those new to India who want the full experience might want to consider 'Birding, Tigers and Taj', which does what it says in the title! 'Tigers and Birding' is different, featuring three excellent reserves, with many game drives to really concentrate on Tigers. Birding content will also be a key focus of this holiday. 'Central India - Tadoba, Pench and Satpura' is for the traveller who wants to avoid the main centres, and to appreciate the wild ecosystem. This is a more remote and private experience, and the high quality of lodges adds a different dimension.

In Sri Lanka, we take you on a comprehensive journey through the principal habitats and distinct climatic zones. Our itinerary provides us with every possibility of finding most if not all of the island’s endemic bird species, as well as some of Asia’s most iconic large mammals, and many smaller endemic animals, plus an optional extension which targets impressive whale-watching off the southern coast. By making whalewatching an extension, we give you an option to avoid the most expensive part of the holiday, returning to London after the main birding and mammals part.

A little more about each holiday ...
(click the title to go to the full page) 

NEPAL
Birds, mammals and culture
Thurs 23 February – Wed 8 March 2017     

Price: £3495pp    Single Supplement: £365pp    Deposit: £800
Optional Everest/Kathmandu extension £260pp, ssupp £35

Leader Ian Ford and experienced local guides – we have friends in high places! Max 12 clients. Departure from London Heathrow. Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are included.

This carefully planned itinerary offers a relaxing experience of Nepal's birds, mammals, landscape and lifestyle. We focus on the best lowland habitats, rich in wildlife, during a very enjoyable bird and mammal watching holiday. Our key destinations are the country's two finest reserves, Chitwan National Park and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, and we have time to thoroughly explore both places at a gentle pace. We spend two rewarding days birding the Kathmandu Valley, as we drive close to the 2,740-metre summit of Phulchowki, where our list will grow quickly. We visit Phulchowki at both ends of the holiday, as migration guarantees very different species. Also, the effects of bad weather and flight disruption, always possible in this mountainous country, are minimised by this (many Nepalese holidays don't offer this extra day!).

We travel around Nepal in a medium-sized bus, and inside the reserves by a variety of means including 4WD jeeps, boats and elephants! Road travel can be tiring, and an important feature of this holiday is our internal flight back to Kathmandu after visiting Koshi Tappu. This may not seem important before you travel, and many alternative itineraries don’t include it, but this flight saves a lot of ‘road-time’ at the end of the holiday, and we are certain you will prefer it to a long drive. You may also enjoy spectacular scenic views from the aircraft, giving an opportunity on a clear day to see the Himalayan Range including Mount Everest. Above all, we take our time on a relaxing and enjoyable holiday, filled with wildlife.

We visit in the Nepalese spring, as temperatures are beginning to rise, and enjoy a pleasant climate with good chances of seeing wintering wetland birds, passerines from Siberia and high Himalayan breeders migrating through the lowlands. We expect around 300 species, including woodpeckers, minivets, warblers, flycatchers, laughing-thrushes, yuhinas, fulvettas, sunbirds, flowerpeckers, and many more. Elsewhere we spend time looking for rare Ibisbill, and may see sought-after and delightful Eurasian species including Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Rubythroat and Wallcreeper. Other fantastic birds include Cutia, Swamp Francolin, Tickell's Red-breasted Blue Flycatcher and many more – a big list of special species!

Mammals are a very important part of the holiday, particularly at Chitwan, where we have chances of Bengal Tiger (seen in 2015), and Leopard, Sloth Bear, Indian Rhinoceros and rare freshwater Gangetic Dolphin, amongst many others. Mugger Crocodile and gharials should be seen.

An optional extension includes a panoramic flight around Mount Everest, a guided tour of Kathmandu, and visits to both a sacred Hindu temple and a 5th Century Buddhist ‘stupa’. Highly recommended!

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Tigers of Central INDIA – Tadoba, Pench & Satpura
Mon 20 February – Sat 4 March 2017

Price: £3495pp    Single Supplement: £545pp    Deposit: £800
Leader Dave Pullan joined by experienced local guides. Max 12 clients. Departure from London Heathrow. Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are included.

This is a very different holiday, as we visit three of central India’s lesser-known tiger reserves, where just a handful of lodges allow a limited number of guests access to the quieter forests of the Central Indian Highlands. This holiday is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts who wish to see Tiger but also want to see many of the wider selection of mammals found here, with excellent birding throughout. Crucially, we avoid the inevitable congestion found around India’s more famous tiger reserves.

Tadoba-Andhari has until recently been overlooked by mainstream tiger tourism, and still lies off the beaten track. This is one of India’s best-protected tiger reserves, with the potential for some memorable wildlife encounters. With a total of five game drives here we have realistic chances of good Tiger sightings, with additional opportunities at our next destination, Pench, also renowned for its Leopard sightings, where we take two drives.

Our final reserve is wonderfully wild Satpura, where jeep drives, excursions by boat and canoe, night drives, and unique walking safaris allow us to fully appreciate the ecosystem. These alternative and less intrusive methods of exploration encourage a deeper understanding of Tiger country. Highly knowledgeable lodge naturalists are on hand to interpret the tracks and signs that indicate the presence of large mammals, and although  less frequent than elsewhere, Tiger sightings are not uncommon. Satpura is excellent for smaller, shier mammals, including elusive Sloth Bear.

Birding will be varied and exciting, including Brown Hawk-owl, Spotted and Jungle Owlet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Crested Serpent-eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Orange-headed Thrush, Indian Stone-curlew, Plum-headed and Rose-ringed Parakeets, and Purple Sunbird. We should see many mammals, perhaps including Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Dhole (Indian Wild Dog), Gaur (Indian bison), Jungle Cat, herds of Chital (Spotted Deer), Sambar, Barking Deer, and Malabar Giant Squirrel.

The tour is timed at the beginning of the summer season when vegetation begins to die down facilitating mammal sightings, but before the rising temperatures make walking uncomfortable.

Longer stays in two of the reserves allow you to relax and really savour these wonderful places. We stay in excellent lodges (hence the higher relative cost of this tour), particularly at Satpura, use comfortable transport in what can be an uncomfortable country, and take two internal flights to make travel quicker and easier. You will have the services of a professional India-based ground agent and an experienced UK-based Heatherlea guide, important element swhich make for a relaxed and rewarding holiday. Jeeps for our exclusive use are at all reserves, and main tips to hotels are included. Once you arrive in India, you will be aware of how much all these things add to the experience!

An optional extension to Agra and the Taj Mahal can be arranged on request.

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INDIA -  Tigers and birding
Fri 3 March – Tues 14 March 2017

2016 PRICES HELD FOR ADVANCE BOOKINGS
Price: £3245pp    Single Supplement:  £395pp     Deposit:  £800pp
Leader Dave Pullan plus experienced local guides. Max.11 clients.

Departure from London Heathrow. Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are included.

This holiday has a specific focus on Bengal Tiger as our main objective, ideal for those who want to see this most powerful and awe-inspiring cat. We visit three of the best Tiger reserves, and the holiday is timed when the animals are more active, and midday heat is less of a problem than later in the spring. Of course we also seek to show you an exciting list of birds and other mammals, making the holiday very exciting for all wildlife enthusiasts.

Bandhavgarh National Park is simply the most reliable place to regularly experience close Tiger encounters. We do everything to get the best sightings, using committed drivers and local guides who are specialists in tracking and monitoring the animals. Tigers often rest for hours at a time, regularly giving unforgettable views. We take five game drives both here, and at Kanha, our second major reserve. Pench is more remote, with fewer tourists (but more than 20 Tigers!), and encounters are frequent yet often private. Drives here should be equally exciting and productive. There are no guarantees, and you may have to be very patient, but that’s why we take so many game drives on this holiday; last time we enjoyed a total of 12 Tiger sightings, with all group members satisfied with excellent views.

Birding will be varied, and amongst many species are Spotted and Jungle Owlet, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Red Junglefowl (the original chicken!), Brown Fish Owl, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Purple Sunbird, Plum-headed Parakeet, White-browed Wagtail, Wire-tailed Swallow, Rufous Treepie, Shikra, Brown Rock Chat, Egyptian Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Black-hooded Oriole, Racket-tailed Drongo, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Common Woodshrike and Red-throated Flycatcher. We will see many other mammals, perhaps including Leopard, Sloth Bear, two monkey species, Jungle Cat, Indian Wild Dog (Dhole), Gaur, Swamp Deer, and Spotted Deer.

We have designed this holiday so you can savour the huge excitement of these wonderful places. We also include two internal flights to minimise your time travelling. This is an important feature, which we think you will appreciate! We use good accommodation, comfortable transport, the services of an experienced Heatherlea guide and a professional ground agent. As an extra detail, we use private jeeps for our exclusive use. Once you arrive in India, you will be aware of how much all these things add to the experience! An optional extension to the Taj Mahal and Delhi can be arranged on request.

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NEW! INDIA   Birds, Tigers and Taj Mahal
Bharatpur, Chambal, Agra & Bandhavgarh
Sun 4 Dec – Wed 14 Dec 2016

Price: £2795pp       Single Supplement: £260      Deposit: £800
Leader Dave Pullan, joined by experienced local guides. Max 12 clients
Departure from London Heathrow. Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are included.

This holiday is an enjoyable combination of mammal watching, birding and sightseeing. We pass through fascinating cities, pastoral landscapes and protected forests on a splendid introduction to the wildlife and culture of northern India, as we visit the world famous wetlands of Bharatpur, the iconic Taj Mahal, and of course look for Tiger!

We begin at two of the best birding sites in the north Indian Plains, Bharatpur, India’s most famous bird sanctuary, and the Chambal River, one of the country's healthiest river environments. Birding at Bharatpur will be varied and exciting, with a superb selection of wetland birds on man-made lakes and marshes, including Sarus Crane, Black-necked and Painted Stork, Indian Spot-billed and Comb Duck, Black Bittern, Indian Scops-owl, Orange-headed Thrush and Siberian Rubythroat in a mosaic of habitats surrounding the wetlands. The Chambal River, a serene stretch of water that feeds India’s agricultural heartland, is home to Indian Skimmer, as well as the curious Gharial and Ganges River Dolphin.

Our visit includes India’s rich Mughal history and archaeological heritage, at the magnificent Taj Mahal and Red Fort in Agra, before boarding an overnight train to take us into the heart of India’s tiger country.

We target perhaps the most reliable reserve for Tiger sightings in India, Bandhavgarh National Park, where a total of five game drives in jeeps for our exclusive use will provide excellent chances of some truly memorable encounters. Other mammals might include Leopard, Sloth Bear, Jackal, Jungle Cat, Black-faced Langur, Rhesus Macaque, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, and perhaps a pack of the secretive Dhole (Indian Wild Dog).  More than 250 bird species are known, and Lesser Adjutant, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Emerald Dove, Brown Fish Owl, Mottled Wood Owl, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Shahin Falcon, Orange-headed Thrush and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher may be seen.  

We use good accommodation, comfortable transport in what can be an uncomfortable country, the services of a professional India-based ground agent and an experienced Heatherlea guide accompanied by a knowledgeable local naturalist throughout. We include travel by overnight train and one internal flight from Jabalpur to Delhi, which maximises time available in the field. Once you arrive in India, you will be aware of how much all these things add to the experience! This itinerary is ideal for the enthusiast who wants to see Tigers as top priority whilst enjoying excellent birding and a glimpse of India’s rich heritage.
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NEW! SRI LANKA
Birds and mammals
Sat 18 March – Sat 1 April 2017

Price: £4495pp       Single Supplement: £340      Deposit: £800

optional Whale-watching extension
Sat 1 April – Mon 3 April 2017
Price: £ 695pp       Single Supplement: £110 
    

Leader Dave Pullan, joined by experienced local guides. Max 12 clients
Departure from London Heathrow. Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are included.


This birding and mammal watching holiday takes us on a comprehensive journey through Sri Lanka’s principal habitats and distinct climatic zones. Our itinerary provides us with every possibility of finding most if not all of the island’s endemic bird species, as well as some of Asia’s most iconic large mammals, and many smaller endemic animals, plus impressive whale-watching off the southern coast.

The tour is an enjoyable combination of birding and mammal watching, where our key targets are a part of a rich natural history. We pass through lush rural landscapes, pristine protected forests and montane grasslands, fascinating towns steeped in history, and idyllic tropical palm-fringed coastlines.

We begin in the wet zone in Kandy, exploring the historic reserves of Sri Lanka’s ancient capital, before moving up into the central highlands whose plateau grasslands and stunted cloud forests are home to enigmatic, altitude-restricted endemics such as Ceylon Whistling Thrush. Descending into the tropical wet zone lowlands we explore the lush rainforest reserves of Kithulgala and in particular Sinharaja, home to the largest feeding flocks in the world which make for exciting birding.

These forests support almost all island endemic birds, with Ceylon Drongo and Ceylon Rufous Babbler instrumental in forming Sinharajas bird waves, and the recently discovered Serendib Scops-owl a distinct possibility at Kithulgala. From here we move into the contrasting scrub jungle and coastal lagoons of the island’s dry zone, where alongside a good selection of birds we will take game drives in jeeps for our exclusive use to look for Asian Elephant in the plains of Udawalawe, and Leopard at Yala, perhaps the most reliable reserve in Asia for sightings of this otherwise elusive big cat. Finally, an optional extension in the tranquil coastal community of Mirissa allows us to experience some spectacular whale and dolphin watching during two morning pelagic excursions, where we hope, among a number of other marine species, for good sightings of magnificent Blue Whale.

We have carefully designed this holiday to combine first class birding at the prime sites for endemic species, plus more birding for a wider selection of Asian birds, many shared only with peninsular India and a host of migratory species, plus mammal safaris and marine mammal pelagics. This holiday is ideal for serious birders who wish to focus on the available island endemics, as well as natural history enthusiasts who will appreciate the comprehensive overview of Sri Lanka’s diverse fauna. 

We use good accommodation, comfortable transport, the services of a professional India-based ground agent and experienced Heatherlea guide Dave Pullan, an experienced Indian Tour Leader, accompanied throughout by a knowledgeable local naturalist.
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With Heatherlea, the Field Guide is free!

Our unique Pre-flight Service is developing all the time, and now we are offering FREE bird books with these holidays. Currently we are supplying 'Birds of the Indian Sub-continent', Grimmett, Inskipp, Inskipp (Helm).

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WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to help you get the best:

* Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider, and our team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs, so you book the right services, at the best price.

* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for more than 25 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.

* Many holidays include content which might not seem important before you book, but will make a difference when you arrive – examples include internal flights in India and Nepal.

* Often our holidays include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance tips to hotels. Please check when comparing!

* Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience. (NB we reserve the right to increase the number of clients to 13, should a couple wish to book the final place available).


MORE IMPORTANT DETAIL!

* Please read the page for each holiday, which contains a downloadable ‘EXTRA PACK’ for the holiday of your choice. Each contains detailed information covering our itinerary, a trip report, bird list and lots more info.

* ‘Trip Notes’ will be issued to you when you book, including information you need to help prepare for your holiday. Sections headed ‘Before you leave’ ‘What to bring’, ‘During the journey’, ‘On arrival’ and ‘In the field’ will help you to plan – you will be very well informed!

* A ‘Final Information Pack’ will be issued to you prior to travel, containing flight detail, Guide contact details, airport hotels, accommodation in the destination country including relevant websites, plus health and other information you might need whilst abroad (telephone, currency, medical services, etc).

* All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under UK ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended even further. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.

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Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

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Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: 01479 821248

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