Keoladeo National Park which is also known as Bharatpur bird sanctuary, wetland covering 11.1sq.km is in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, India.
Winters are the best to visit Asia's biggest bird sanctuary. During that time, this sanctuary becomes a temporary home of thousands of birds who stay here from October till March. Bharatpur is a permanent home of more than 180 species and this count goes up to 300 during winters.
During the peak season, one can easily spend a week doing photography here. If you are short in time, a minimum of 2 days is a must.
I have visited here more than 10 times so if you are coming here for a minimum of two days, you can follow this itinerary.
There are three modes which you can use to roam inside the park
1) Take a rickshaw (two people at max). All rickshaw pullers are guides too.
2) Take a bicycle (this is what I always do). Do it if you are not carrying a 500 or 600mm lens or heave tripods. Cycling on your own will keep you free-minded.
3) Walk (many people do this too). Yeah, if you love walking, just do it here, in the lap of nature. Trust your senses and go anywhere in this park, it's 100% safe everywhere.
Wake up early in the morning and try to reach inside the park as early as possible. Keeps an eye on your left while riding the bicycle to see the rising sun. Chances are that you'll get a Peacock or any other bird in front of the Sun (most probably near the first temple). Even if you don't, just enjoy the rise.
After witnessing a beautiful sunrise, you can go to take some fishing shots of birds at Sapan Mori as they'll be most active at that time. From Cormorants to Darters, Spoonbills, Ducks, Kingfishers, Pelicans and whatnot, you may get confused about what to capture. The morning fishing session will last until 10-10:30 am. After that, you can go to look out for raptors as they usually start their activity after 10:00 am. The best area to capture raptors is after taking the left turn from the Keoladeo Shiva Temp
After that, you can take a short break for one or an hour and a half. If you don't want to sleep, you can just sit in front of a water body, situated right opposite to the second canteen and enjoy seeing various birds doing their job. Else, just sit on any watchtower and enjoy the mesmerizing view.
Post 2:30 pm, you should start preparing for the second half of the day. Start by looking out for pythons and monitor lizards which you can easily find near Hanuman Temple or Jatoli chowki and they'll disappear by 4 pm. Post 3:30 - 4 pm, you can go back to Sapan Mori or any other water body to capture some "last of the day" action shots.
Start looking to capture some amazing sunset shots as soon as it'll cross 5-5:15 pm. At that time, the golden light will be on its peak and you may get some once in a lifetime shots. The sunset point here is very famous because of the view it gives but doesn't follow it. Try and find a different sunset point which will be less crowded. The game will be over by 6-6:15 pm, or maybe earlier.
Day - 2
This bird sanctuary has plenty of animals as well which includes Spotted Deers, Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Blue Bulls, Hare, and Porcupine, etc. You can keep this day for animals too. Early morning is the best time to find Golden Jackals and Hyenas. You can find Spotted deers throughout the day. Like all winters morning, this too will be a bit foggy. Try and be as much creative and take full advantage of the soft light. When it'll get a bit clear, you can search for raptors and owls.
If you want to in capturing pythons, ask anyone where the python point is. On the same point, you may get to capture raptors like Oriental Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Common Kestral, and Hobby, etc. You can also go for a boat ride which happens near barricade number 2. While doing that, you may get to capture various Kingfishers (like Common, White-throated, and Pied Kingfishers), Nightjar, and some action shots of various birds. If looking for a different area, you can take a right turn from just before the second barricade. That is one of the best places to capture Saras Cranes and Pelicans from closeness. There are many other things which you can do in Bharatpur.
- You are not lost,
- Stay away from wild animals/birds,
- Respect them and they'll respect you back,
- Try to be with at least one more person
- Keep yourself hydrated, and
- Keep your lunch with you as the canteens do not give heavy meals. And please, do not litter anywhere inside or outside the park.