Winters are the best to visit Asia's biggest wetland. In winters, this sanctuary grows as a temporary home for thousands of birds who stay here from October till March. Bharatpur is a changeless home of more than 180 species and this number reaches up to 300 during winters.
Throughout the peak season, one can comfortably spend 3-4 days doing photography here. If you are little in time, a minimum of 2 days is a must.
There are three ways which you can use to roam inside the park
1) Take a rickshaw (two people at max). All rickshaw pullers are guides too. (It costs around INR-2,000/person to use rickshaw for 8-10 hours)
2) Take a bicycle (this is what I always do). Do it if you are not carrying a 500 or 600mm lens or heavy tripods. Using a cycle will keep your mind free as well. (Along with the entry fee, it will charge you around INR-250 for 8-10 hours)
3) Walk (many people do this too). Yeah, if you love walking, this place is for you. Trust your senses and roam freely here.
Arise early and touch the park before the first ray of the Sun. Keep an eye on your left side while riding the bicycle because probabilities are that you may see a Peacock or any bird in front of the Sun (presumably near the first temple).
After observing a stunning sunrise, capture some fishing shots at Sapan Mori. It will be a delight seeing several birds like Cormorants, Darters, Spoonbills, Ducks, Kingfishers, and Pelicans, etc. The morning fishing session will stop around 10:30 - 11:00 am. After that, you can explore for raptors as they habitually start their movement at that time. The most suitable area to capture raptors is after taking the left turn from the Keoladeo Shiva Temple.
Between 1:00 to 2:00 pm, you can think about taking a short tea or lunch break. At that time, sit at the bank of a water body which is located opposite to the second canteen and appreciate observing various birds busy in their routine work. You can also relax on any watchtower and experience the mesmerizing show.
Post 2:30 pm, begin planning for the second half of the day. Consider looking out for pythons and the monitor lizards which you can easily find near Hanuman Temple or Jatoli chowki. Capture them between 2:30 - 4:00 pm as they'll start going in their den post 4:00-4:30 pm. After 3:30 - 4:00 pm, you can again visit Sapan Mori or any other water body to capture some "last of the day" action shots.
The golden light of the sunset will be at its peak between 5:00 - 5:45 pm and that will be the best time for you to make some creative images. The sunset point near the solar panel is famous for the sunset view it gives but you should try and explore and find a different sunset point to get different frames.
Day - 2
This bird sanctuary has plenty of animals as well which includes Spotted Deers, Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Blue Bulls, Hares, and Porcupines, etc. You can keep this day for animals. 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 day can be foggy as well. Be creative and take full advantage of the soft light. When the fog will disappear, you can search for raptors and owls.
If you are fascinated by the pythons, you can ask any forest guard about the python point. At 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 begins near barricade number 2. In the boat ride, you may spot Kingfishers and Nightjar. You can get the chance to take some imaginative shots of various birds.
If you are looking for another area, take the right turn just before entering the second barricade and cross the gate located behind govt office. That place will take you to the less searched area of the park. This the best place to capture Saras Cranes, ducks, and Pelicans from a closer distance.
Below are some basic points you should keep in mind while roaming in the park:
- You are not lost,
- Stay away from wild animals and birds,
- Respect nature and it'll respect you back,
- Try not to roam alone,
- Keep yourself hydrated,
- Keep your lunch with you as the canteens do not give heavy meals, and
- Please do not litter inside or outside the park.
Note: You can click here to know my blog on Beginners tips for wildlife photography.