Odisha Bird Watching – For passionate wildlife photographers

A state in Eastern India, Odisha formerly known as Orissa is famed for its abundance wildlife, bird life and natural beauty. The district is thickly covered by forests both of tropical moist as well as tropical dry which make up about one-third of the state. Orissa, a place of Koraput district is well-known for its Chilka Lake Wildlife Sanctuary that is Asia’s largest inland salt-water lagoon. In addition, Orissa is eminent for the growth of trees like bamboo and teak in large quantities.

5 Days • Bhubaneshwar – Bhitarkanika – Mangalajodi – Gopalpur – Chilika Lake

Day 1: Arrival to Bhubaneshwar - Transit to Bhitarkanika

Bhubaneshwar, the capital and the largest city of Orissa is a place well-known for its extraordinary architectural Hindu temples and a centre of economic importance.

Reach Bhubaneshwar easily by train via Bhubaneshwar Railway Station (BBS) that is accessible from most of the places. By air you can reach Biju Patnaik International Airport (BBI), Orissa which is just 3km from the city centre.

Bhitarkanika, a place in Kendrapara district of Orissa is one of the largest Mangrove Eco System in India and is a home for many migrating birds, turtles and crocodiles. On the way visit Ratnagiri, Udaigiri and Lalitgiri Excavated Buddhist places.

Khola and Gupti are the two main entry-points to enter the Bhitarkanika that is about 160km away from Bhubaneshwar.

Day 2: Bhitarkanika

This place of wetland is surrounded by Bhitarkanika National Park, Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. The Bhitarkanika National Park spread over an area of 672 sq km is the habitat of about 215 species of birds which includes 8 different Kingfisher species. The most prominent birds here are Egrets, Black ibis, Darters, Cormorants and Asian Open Bill. It is home to the rare white crocodiles, deer, cobras, pythons, rhesus monkeys, wild boars and lizards.

The most popular tourist activity here is Croc (saltwater crocodiles) spotting. Indulge photography and bird spotting near the water bodies during the Nature Trek inside the park.

Gahirmatha Sanctuary at the south is the only turtle sanctuary in Orissa. Gahirmatha beach listed in UNESCO heritage site is mass nesting spot in Indian Ocean.

Visitors should take entry permit here from the Forest Check Gate via Waterways where both Forest Department’s and private boats are available.

Photo Identity Proof is mandatory for each and every individual entering the Park. Booking confirmation is only on 100% advance payment at the time of reservation. Fully furnished tents for accommodation/over-night stays and package offers are available in the park. The facilities are very modest.

The Park is open from January to May and September to December only. Timing is from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.

Stay overnight at camp.

Day 3: Return back to Bhubaneshwar

Early morning treks in and around. Start boat cruising from Jayanagar jetty to Kalibhanja Diha, Dhamara Port and Dhamarai Temples. Later do soft-trekking to Hunting tower of ancient king.

Return back to Bhubaneshwar for onwards journey.

Day 4: Bhubaneshwar - Mangalajodi - Gopalpur

Mangalajodi is just 75km via NH5 from Bhubaneshwar on the banks of Chilika Lake. It is a wetland destination for ‘Birds paradise’ hosting more than 300000 birds in its waters mostly winters. You can witness the protection offered by locals accompanying you on the boat as Eco-guides. Watch different creeks and migratory birds.

Ideal time to visit this place is during winters (October – March) to have a glimpse of migratory birds.

Drive to Gopalpur to visit Taptapni (Hot Sulfur Spring Water). Relax at the beach and overnight stay.

Day 5: Gopalpur - Chilika Lake - Bhunabeshwar

Drive from Gopalpur to Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary at a distance of 92km that is studded with small-islands. This pear-shaped island spreading over 1100 sq km is a unique-ecosystem with a wide range of bird life, both native and migrant. Some of the birds are Ruddy Shelduck, White bellied sea-eagles, Jacana, Pied-Kingfisher, Gadwall, Mallard, Red-collared Dove, Tufted-duck, Red-crested Pochard, Indian Nightjar and many more.

Other than birds, it is home for blackbuck, spotted deer, golden jackals and hyenas and the lake is rich in aquatic-life including 160 species of fish and other marine creatures. Also it is famous for Chilka dolphins seen at Satapada in their natural best.

Long-range migratory birds in winters can be viewed from Nalabana.

Kalijai temple is famous here for its scenic surroundings. Parikud, Malud and Brahmaputra are the other places to be seen.

The services of local-boatmen and OTDC’s (Orissa Tourism Development Corporation) motorboats are available for access to the islands. Outdoor boats are not allowed near the bird sanctuary. There are few hotels on the banks of the lake including OTDC run-hotel and tariffs are comparatively less.

You can visit this place anytime throughout the year as the weather remains moderately warm all year round. However, the best time is during October-March when the lake is crowded with migrating birds.

Drive back to Bhubaneshwar for 103km via road. There are 2 direct trains available taking 1h 40m.

  • You have to make sure that you carry your passport, Visa and Photo ID cards on the tour
  • Know about the route maps or carry one along and also learn about the transport facilities available so that these things might come in handy. Learn about the vegetation and the diseases causing insects and the remedial measures.
  • Maintain silence at Mangalajodi and don’t wear flashy clothes.
  • Wear life jackets when boating inside the lake.
  • Make sure to wear clothes as per the climate so that you will protect yourself from the weather changes.
  • Do not litter the lake or the islands.
  • Non Hindus are not allowed inside the temples in Puri , you can see the temple from the old library roof top.
  • If you are a foreign visitor then learn about the Indian currency as that is the only mode of transaction in the place.
  • It’s advisable to take a travel insurance as you will be traveling and exploring the isolated places.
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