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Thattekad Bird Photography Tour

Birding in Wonderland

Flitting between high branches a Malabar pied hornbill issues a strident call. Excitedly you look up only to be distracted by a brilliant colour-riot in the garb of a Malabar trogon. Further afield the calls of a mountain hawk eagle stop you in your tracks. As you scan for it, a red spurfowl crosses your path leaving you reeling in waves of visual delight.

If you love birds and photographing them, it’s not long before you realize why Thattekad is a goldmine. And this Tour will bring you the best of this avian wonderland and make it endemic to your heart.

Tour Highlights

  • Three nights and four days in one of the best birding destinations in the world
  • A wealth of birding and natural history knowledge
  • Plenty of practical photography learning

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Upcoming Departures

25-28 OCT 2018
Phillip Ross

Maximise photo opportunities

Led by ace photographers

Immense experience

Hands-on assistance on and off the field

Image reviews and presentations

Photography gear on rent

Expert Advice

Want to tailor-make your own tour?

If you are not looking for a fixed group-departure, we can tailor-make a Personalised Vacation for you to suit your dates and travel needs – all with a great price match!

Photo Gallery

How is it?

A sanctuary for bird and mind.

Sandwiched between two branches of the Periyar River, the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a little oasis of rare treats. The montane moist deciduous forest forms a fascinating setting that provides sanctuary to more than 250 species.

Famously described by Dr. Salim Ali as “the richest bird habitat in Peninsular India, comparable only to Eastern Himalayas,” it was notified a sanctuary in 1983 and its diminutive size of merely 25km2 is in contrast to the immense riches it harbours.

What you will see and photograph:

Never sans excitement and ever seeped in novelty, you’ll be uttering the word ‘lifer’ oftener than any other.

Thattekad is most famously an endemism hotspot, and many species among its prime attractions are found only here or in the Western Ghats.

While Indian scimitar babbler, pompadour green pigeon and flame-throated bulbul adorn the daytime scene, Jerdon’s nightjar and collared scops owl create a sensation by the crepuscule. But perhaps Thattekad’s most captivating attraction is the Sri Lanka frogmouth, to photograph which there is probably no better place on Earth. A relative of the nightjar, the frogmouth is a striking bird equipped with binocular vision and amazing camouflage, and captures the imagination with its remarkably quirky looks.

In a more flamboyant bracket, the comely Nilgiri and white-bellied blue flycatchers and crimson-backed sunbird are eminently photogenic, and a stroke of favourable fortune can yield that most coveted of all sittings with the whimsical black baza.

This apart, the somewhat outspoken denizens such as the white-bellied treepie and dark-fronted babbler inhabit the understorey rather raucously and ensure that there is never a dull moment.

Tour Itinerary

We leave Cochin at around 11:30 a.m. and reach Thattekad after a road journey lasting around two hours. After checking in, we venture out on a birding trail near the camp and afterwards enjoy a homely dinner before retiring for the night.

We enjoy full-day’s guided trekking in the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary looking for the prime attractions of the Tour. This effort offers a high chance of producing the sight of a frogmouth. We will also spend sizeable time near the lodge and surrounding areas, where birds and opportunities are aplenty. Later in the evening we go in search of owls and nightjars. All the while, your Toehold Skipper will assist you in every way possible to ensure a productive time.

After a last morning’s birding in Thattekad, we gather for a conclusive huddle and are transferred back to Cochin from where we depart for our abodes.

Cost & Terms


INR 33,000
  • Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation


INR 64,000
  • Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation

Toehold Patrons

INR 31,500
  • Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation

All prices above are excluding taxes. 5% GST would be applicable.

Toehold Patrons: Customers who have participated in at least three previous Toehold Photo Tours.

What’s included?

  • Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable rooms unless single occupancy purchased at extra cost
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea) for Tour duration
  • Road transfers between Cochin and Thattekad
  • All excursions and entry fees

What’s not included?

  • All airfare and travel expenses between your home and Cochin
  • Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
  • Insurance, laundry and phone calls
  • Bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Camera fees if any (participants will be advised of the estimated fees in advance)
  • Anything that is not included in the Inclusions list
  • All applicable taxes

Payment Terms

    • At least INR 10,000 booking amount (not refundable)
    • Remainder fee by 10 September 2018

All figures per person.

Cancellation Fees

  • 35% on or before 10 September 2018
  • 100% on or after 25 September 2018

All figures per person.

Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Toehold Photo Travel vs Vacations

While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.

  • Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
  • The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
  • A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.

So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.

Who should participate in this Tour? Are there any eligibility criteria?

Anybody with an interest in birding, photography or birding will thoroughly enjoy this Tour. And although this Tour is optimized for photographers, non-photographers are most welcome too. There are no eligibility criteria except that you must be over 18 unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?

Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we suggest you be familiar with at least the basics of photography. If you are not, please consider signing up for an Art and Science of Photography Workshop first.

What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?

Although it is often said about bird photography that the ideal focal length is 100mm more than the one you brought, a lens with a focal length of around 400mm is essential. An additional 100mm often proves very effective. However, if you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need.

How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?

Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.

I do not have the requisite equipment. What should I do?

If you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer. What’s better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours!

Reviews by Tour Participants

Interested? Make a Booking Enquiry

It’s easy. Call us on 1800 1200 901 (Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.) or simply fill this form, and we’ll get back to you like the whirring wind.