I had visited Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur last December of 2017. It is not very far from Noida, a 4 hours drive. However it took me over 6 hours to reach the guesthouse where I had arranged to stay due to some traffic congestion. I arrived just after 10pm where the owner was nice enough to provide dinner after settling in my room. I had stayed at Kiran Guest House for the next 4 nights.
The guesthouse is managed by two brothers Tarun Singh and Arun Singh. Tarun Singh is also a professional guide as he has lots of knowledge on the birds. I would recommend him due to his knowledge and professionalism.
I had previously visited Bharatpur back in August of 2003 but that time, I was neither interested much in bird photography or photography in general. I was just interested in taking snaps of whatever I could see. Anyhow during this recent trip, I had visited the park for 5 days leaving the guesthouse by 9am and returning just after sunset. During these 5 days, I had great sightings of the various birds, snakes including python, jackals and lots more. There are many ways to access the park but first one will need to buy an entry ticket. Next to the ticket office is a shop which sells a number of books and local handmade goods which support the local economy. There is also a museum dedicated to Salim Ali, a famous birder.
To access the park one can do so independently on foot with or without a guide, hire a cycle, hire a rickshaw or even a horse drawn tonga. Even the rickshaw vendors have a good knowledge of birds and this option can be useful for people who want to cover more distance in less time. The Rickshaw vendors charge around Rs.150/hour daily and the guides charge Rs.250/hour. These rates are official Govt. rates and cannot be negotiated and is completely worth it.
My recommendation would be if visiting the park for 3-4 days, then explore the park with a rickshaw vendor for entire day and try next day on foot with guide as the guide can take you to many places where rickshaw does not have access to. However even with guide, one would need to book a rickshaw back to the gate if one is interested in watching/photographing the sunset at sunset point as this would mean a 3km walk back and gate closes around 6:30pm. Keoladeo National Park can be visited anytime of the year however winter is best for migratory birds.
The first day I visited the park, it was very noisy with so many tourists which is disturbing to both local and migratory birds. There is a small canteen which sells snacks such as samosa etc and this was very crowded on the first day where everyone is standing all around the counter instead of standing in a straight line and waiting for one’s turn. As I am writing this, I realize that I should have filmed the entire commotion taking place. This went for like half an hour and the person serving all these customers never got a minute break. Everyone shouting Bhaiya one after the other like worse than a fish market. Even he got annoyed with this behaviour. Anyhow the remaining days after this were calm. I am assuming it was due to the Christmas holidays.
The last day of my trip was also great however same evening I had to return back to Delhi as I had an afternoon flight next day back to Birmingham, England and my pre-booked taxi did not arrive which I had booked a week earlier through the “Make My Trip” website. On contacting the driver a number of times, he said he was in the area and will be there shortly like around 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 minutes and so until his phone got switched off. It was due to support from the owners at Kiran Guest House that I was able to get a last minute taxi that arrived within half an hour. We left around 8:30pm and reached Delhi just after midnight. Therefore anyone booking long distance taxis, avoid “Make My Trip”, Uber, Ola etc and use only private companies.
Here are some of my images which I shot over 5 days at Keoladeo National Park. I had used a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR and Tamron 150-600mm VC USD lens which is a good lens however now I updated to the G2 version of this lens.
Any questions about my trip then do contact me on [email protected].