Birdwatching tour of the Andaman Islands

The Andaman Islands are fabled in travellers tales as India’s secret paradise. Stunning white beaches, pristine coral reefs, dense forests, active volcanoes, hostile tribals, the cellular jail and tales of ‘Kala Pani’ or ‘Black Water” from the colonial era, all add to the draw and mystique of these Jewels of the Indian Ocean. Join our birdwatching tour of the Andaman island and tick most of your endemics in 5 days.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands have a total of about 22 endemic birds species. Since only parts of the Andaman Islands have recently been opened to tourists we will be concentrating on 15 endemic species. The other species are found on islands that are not open to tourists. Come tick all the Andaman endemic bird species. A special tour can be organised for the Narcondam Hornbill.

Best Time: October to April

Outline Summary

Port Blair is the base for the entire stay. Day trips will be made to various locations in search of different bird species.

Day 1: Mount Harriet National Park
Day 2-3: Sippighat and Mount Harriet National Park
Day 4-5: Chidia Tapu
Day 6: Farar Ganj
Day 7: Departure

Optional Extensions:
Scuba diving and/or snorkeling off the Havelock Island.
Visit to the Sundarban Tiger Reserve

The Destination

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands form an archipelago at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Roughly 300 islands are home to several endemic species and a tribe of the only known Paleolithic people, the Sentinelese, who have no contact with any other people amd several negrito-ethnic groups like the Onge.

The islands are famous for their 270 species of birds, 225 species of moths and butterflies, and 50 mammals. There is rich and diverse marine life including the dugong, sharks and prized shellfish. The islands have 96 wildlife sanctuaries, 9 national parks and 1 biosphere reserve.

The Andaman islands play an important role in the Political history of India. The Cellular Jail National Memorial is a former british prison and serves as a shrine to the political dissidents it once jailed. There is also Ross Island, once an administrative headquarters for the British. An earthquake rocked the Island in 1942 after which it was deserted. The jungle has now taken over the structures in the style of Angkor Wat.

Detailled Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Port Blair by the early morning flight and check into a hotel. We will bird around Mount Harriet National Park, a tropical moist evergreen forest. Here we look for the Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Cuckoo Dove , Andaman Crake, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Dollarbird, Andaman Cuckooshrike, Collared Kingfisher, Brown Coucal, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Andaman Bulbul, Pintail Snipe, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Andaman Treepie , Black-naped Oriole, Andaman Drongo, Orange-headed Thrush, Olive backed Sunbird, White-headed Starling, Andaman Shama. Overnight in Resort.

Day 2-3

Very early morning drive towards Sippighat, located to the South of Port Blair. The area is a marshy wetland and good for sightings of water birds & waders. This is good habitat for the Andaman Scops-Owl, Andaman Hawk Owl, Sunda Teal, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Red-breasted Parakeet, Oriental Scops Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Edible nest Swiftlet, Common Snipe, Black-naped Tern, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Black-naped Oriole, Andaman Drongo , Orange-headed Thrush, Olive backed Sunbird. We then return to Mount Harriet for some more birding till the evening. Overnight in Resort

Day 4-5

Very early morning trip to Chidiya Tapu, a patch of moist evergreen forest located to the South of Port Blair and excellent for birding. The track for birding starts 4 km before Chidiya Tapu and 2 km along the seashore forest. The Andaman Woodpecker, Andaman Crake, Andaman Treepie, Andaman Serpent Eagle, Black-naped Oriole, Andaman Drongo, Olive backed Sunbird, White-headed Starling, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Andaman Flowerpecker, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Coucal, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet and Mangrove Whistler are found in this area. Overnight at Resort

Day 6:

Birding at Farar Ganj in the morning & in the afternoon visit areas nearby for endemics missed out during earlier trips. Today we will go for some night birding for owls and nightjars including the Andaman Scops-Owl, Andaman barn-owl, Hume’s Hawk-owl and Andaman Hawk-owl in fields north of Port Blair. Overnight at resort

Day 7:

Take flight from Port Blair back to Mainland India.

Optional Extensions:

1) Diving and / snorkeling in the Andamans

The Andamans offer warm, clear waters with a large variety of coral and fish life.

  1. Take a 3 day trip for diving or snorkeling to Havelock Island. Live near a beach with white sands, and dive with a team of PADI/SSI/NAUI dive professionals.
  2. Alternately do a four day course in open water diving and have the option of following this up with a three day advanced certification.

Diving Holiday Extensions will take place on the Havelock Islands. Daily ferries operate from Port Blair to Havelock. The extension will be customized according to your requirements.

2) Visit the Sundarban Tiger Reserve in West Bengal

Sundarban National Park is the single largest tidal halophytic mangrove forests in the world and is a part of the world’s largest delta (80,000 sq. km) formed with the sediments deposited by three great rivers, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, which converge on the Bengal Basin.

Sundarban is a Tiger Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve and has one of the largest populations of tigers in the world. The mangrove waterways are home to the Gangetic Dolphin and 370 species of birds are found on the islands including 15 globally threated species. The Sundarbans were designated a Ramsar Site in 1992 as it is home to 315 species of waterfowl, raptors and forest birds including nine species of Kingfishers and the White-bellied Sea Eagle.

A visit to the Sundarban Tiger Reserve will be organized from Kolkatta for a duration of 3 nights and 4 days.

See some birds of the Andamans from previous trips