Himalayan Bulbul (grounds of Jungle Lore Birding Lodge)
The village of Pangot and the birding route I travelled is within the larger Naina Devi Himalayan Bird Conservation Reserve, a protected area. We stayed at Jungle Lore Birding Lodge at Pangot. A fantastic place to put up for Birders. There are other hotels and lodges in the vicinity (see below) but none offers the kind of birding ambience that Jungle Lore offers. If you read my review of the Lodge here, you will understand why this is the preferred place to put up.
The nearest rail head is Kathgodam. There is a fast Shatabdi Express from Delhi which leaves New Delhi at 6 am and reaches Kathgodam at 11.40 am. There are other express trains as well between Delhi and Kathgodam. Train time tables are available here.
Google Map of Kathgodam to Pangot route (Click map to enlarge)
Kilbury Road. From Nainital to Pangot is 15 kms along Kilbury Road. The 50 kms from Kathgodam to Pangot usually takes 2 hrs. But during peak tourist seasons of May and June (as happened to us), be prepared for a 45 min crawl through horrendous traffic to cross Nainital. Sometimes that goes upto 1 hour plus.
There are several so called eco-tourism resorts at Pangot. The best and the most renowned with a rich history of hosting Birders is Jungle Lore Birding Lodge. Then there is The Nest Cottages, adjacent to Jungle Lore. Slight lower down the pecking order from Jungle Lore but still scores well with Birders. Mind you, they serve only vegetarian food. The other options, in order of my personal preference are, Mountain Quail Lodge (Spartan but lovely forest and plenty of bird life), Ashokas Naini Chalet (like a 2 star hotel in a built up area with a good valley and mountain view but no birding) and Green Valley Birding Lodge (spartan with good valley views but limited birding).
I paid Rs 8,000/- for the two of us in the 4-bedded Cheer Cottage at Jungle Lore Birding Lodge. Although it was a 4-bedded accommodation, there were only two of us and hence plenty of space to spread out in. The cost was for full American Plan i.e. Accommodation plus Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Tea and Dinner. Cost of pick-up and drop from/to Kathgodam Railway Station in a large Mahendra Bolero was Rs 2,500/- each way. The SUV was big enough for 6 people with luggage. Hire of SUV for half a day’s Birding is Rs 1,500/-, and for a full day they charged Rs 2,500/-. Guide charges is steep at Rs 3,500/- per day, if you want to hire one. You can also drive around on your own if you have your vehicle. Stop anywhere on that stretch and you will see birds!
Harish is a knowledgeable and extremely helpful taxi driver with his own somewhat aged but reliable Mahendra Bolero. Ever ready to take you out on Birding trips or nature adventures. He will also gladly do pickup and drop duty from Kathgodam Rail Station or Panthnagar Airport. His contact +91 96902 52767.
Rahul Singh is young enthusiastic Birding guide with a good knowledge of local flora and fauna. He is attached to Jungle Lore Birding Lodge and does guiding duty in his spare time. His contact +91 70552 94828.
From Kathgodam to Nainital up in the hills is 35 kms on an undivided 2 lane, well paved hill road. For Pangot, one has to continue through Nainital, on the Mall Road that runs along the northern shore of the Naini Lake and exit at the west edge of the town on the
Pangot, Uttarakhand, India,
24-27 June 2016.
Black-headed Jay (grounds of Jungle Lore Birding Lodge)
Scaly-bellied Woodpecker (grounds of Jungle Lore Birding Lodge)
Grey-winged Blackbird (1 km beyond Pangot)
Rufous Sibia (grounds of Jungle Lore Birding Lodge)
Black-throated Tit (10 km beyond Pangot, 4 km beyond Vinayak)
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Female
(8 km beyond Pangot, 2 km beyond Vinayak)