Drive to the Sahyadris
2 Jan 2017: Day 2 (Sariska – Kumbhalgarh, 449 km, 7 Hrs)
As per our original plan, we had two options for the day, either do a morning safari at Sariska or leave early and do some evening birding at Kumbhalgarh. However, weather had some other plans; fog had engulfed the entire region and visibility was down to a few meters.
By 0900 Hrs, visibility slightly improved and we decided to proceed to Kumbhalgarh. The drive was initially tricky due to low visibility, but then we started to follow a sedan keeping a safe distance and this helped us cover a good amount of distance.
By 1100 Hrs, fog cleared up and gave way to an extremely scenic drive across the countryside with striking yellow mustard fields stretching into the horizon.
We reached Kelwara by 1600 Hrs and settled in at the Karni Palace Hotel. Since not much daylight was left for birding, we just did a bit of recce of the fort area before calling it a day.
3 Jan 2017: Day 3 (Trekking the Aravalis)
We drove to the fort area early morning and went straight to the Forest Check Post where we purchased entry tickets (Rs. 50 each) and hired a trek guide (Rs. 500).
Even in the peak winter month, the heat made the trek into the vast rocky Aravalis intense and tiring. In three hours, we were completely drenched with sweat and had finished off three liters of water. Anyway, some of the birds spotted during the morning trek were the Common Woodshrike, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, White-capped Bunting, Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, White-bellied Drongo, Great Tit and Common Rosefinch.
A rough map of the trek route can be found here.
We returned to Karni Palace and had a scrumptious lunch of Dal Bati Churma with lots and lots of Chhach.
In the evening we headed back to the fort area and went towards a village where we discovered a large colony of Indian Fruit Bats. We also spotted a few more birds in this area like the Red-breasted Flycatcher, Lesser Goldenback, Plum-headed Parakeet, Crested Bunting, Common Kingfisher and Baya Weaver.
Karni Palace: The hotel is located in the main market of Kelwara, a small town next to the Kumbhalgarh fort. The rooms are clean albeit a bit old fashioned, the staff is excellent and always happy to assist. The food is delicious and we would recommend this place as a value for money stay option.
Phone: 099 501 593 01, 094 149 263 97
Kumbhalgarh is a major tourist destination owing to its magnificent fort. Almost every tourist visiting the fort ends up doing the wildlife safari. So be prepared for huge crowds in the forest. If you are extremely lucky, you may spot a Hyaena or a Sloth Bear. We did not do a forest jeep safari and only trekked in the rocky Aravali hills.
Please feel free to ask us any question that you may have on Kumbhalgarh. Also, do stay tuned for the next leg of the road trip.