Or first travel with nature as target went to India. It was back in March 2001, which to some part explains the picture quality. They were all positive/negative film, scanned recently with a good scanner, the original is the problem...
It was all about birding, organized through the local Birdlife organization. Our target was Ranthambore National Park, Keoladeo National Park, Corbett National Park and the highlands around Nainital in the lower Himalaya. To us, norwegians with little tropical experience, the first impressions of India was massive: temperature, traffic, people (especially children), smells, sounds, light - everything felt different to our own culture.
|Indiutenforisn elephant family group, outside Dikali, Corbett NP, India 2001|
|White-breasted Crake, Keoladeo NP, India 2001|
Ranthambore National Park (Ranthambore, Rajasthan), is a small forested area saved as old hunting grounds around an old fort. This was a hot dry place, with dry jungle and riverine forest as typical habitat, supplemented by som water bodies inside the park. Known for a few tiger territories, it contains a broad range of wildlife, mammals as well as birds. We spent a few days here, walking outside the gates, as well as having jeep safari inside the park. Our main target was met, a great male tiger displayed for us. Sorry for the bad picture, the imression was too big to actaully bring the camara forward while it was just looking at us.
|Tiger - not a great picture - bt the only one, forgot to use the camera! Ranthambore, India, 2001|
Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur, Rajasthan) was our next stop. A very tiny wetland reservoir outside the city, with an absolutely stunning density of birdlife, fenced by a wall to protect the original hunting park. Especially was the diversity in wetlandbirds and raptors stunning. It's all based upon walking distances, although bikes are for hire. The park even contains deer, ant the rumour was that both tigers and leopards jumped the walls to visit the "dinner-plate" now and then!
|Axis Deer, India, 2001|
From here we had a short cultural experience, visiting the closely located old capital Fatehpur Sikri and the famous city of Agra with Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and Ganges. All very impressive, and definitively not something you can drive by, oppsite, we should have stayed longer in this area!
|Rufous Treepee, Ranthambore, India, 2001|
From here we turned into Uttarkhand, the mountain forests, and Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest park in India). The park is famous for it's elephants and tigers. And the birding was again extremely good. Most impressive was probably the Great Hornbill, but the vultures was all over the place, and (at least) four different species. We were lucky to meet two large familigroups of the Asian elephants, with animals of all sizes. Here they are in their almost westernmost habitat today, the animal once populating the whole Persia and Arabia, even Southern Europe (another subspecies). No more tigers seen, but living inside the park in an unfenced environment was a thrill, especially in the evenings. We did as well do walks on foot, and on the back of local (tamed) elephants with its mahout (owner).
|A baby Rhesus Maqaque, India 2001|
After Corbett we ended our trip with some days in Nainital, Uttarkhand. This was a town ment for retreat when the plain was to hot (for Englishmen) in colonial times. The area around was hilly, and at this altitude, another round with new species was given. We walked above the city looking directly at Nanda Devi, which is Indias second highest mountain, at 7816 meter. The Himalaya view was impressive! The last day we visited a nice place called Saa Tal, with monkeys and woodpeckers in abundance.
|Bengal Sacred Langur, India 2001|