Chambal River Safari

Chambal River Safari : Looking For Ghariyals

Not far from Ranthambhore National Park, barely some 60km away is the magnificent Chambal River, famous for its ravines and once considered the land of dacoits. If you are around, do make it a point to go for the Chambal River Safari, looking for migratory and resident birds, the critically endangered Ghariyal (Gavialis gangeticus), the Muggermuch (Indian Crocodile, Crocodylus palustris ), Smooth Coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) and many other species native to this eco-system.

The 960 km long Chambal River originates at Singar Chouri Peak on the northern slopes of the Vindhyan Range and flowing through Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, it joins the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh at Jalaun district. The banks of this river were once famous for the Chambal Ravines with its infamous dacoits. Phoolan Devi also operated amidst the ravines of Chambal.

To book a Safari, head out to Khem Villas or call them and book one. You will be taken, along with a small picnic basket to the Ghariyal Conservation Trust, (which has rather nice views and excellent clean toilets), from where a boat with a knowledgeable naturalist will take you for a ride into the waters. Carry binoculars, since most of the animals are very shy and will not be approached. After the safari is over come back to the terrace, luxuriously sip a cup of chai and if you so wish, go for a walk into the thick forest. The Safari SUV will drop you back to where you came from. On the way back you will pass forested regions of the Ranthambhore and Keladevi National Park and if lucky, you can spot a Tiger, Leopard or a Sloth Bear.

These ravines, the calm flow of the river and once abundant greenery around created a unique riverine eco-system, which is home to the Ghariyal. Named after its ‘ghara’ (earthen pot) like snout, these gentle and shy fish-eating reptiles have thrived here for many many centuries, until recent human encroachments, dam building, agriculture and its related chemicals, fishing, hunting, excessive noise levels etc have reduced their populations to about 200 only.

These waters are also fantastic habitat for Smooth Coated Otters, Muggermach (Indian Crocodile), many species of Turtles, and the endangered Gangetic River Dolphin. Red Crowned Roof Turtle, Striped Hyena, Indian Wolf, Indian Narrow Headed Softshell Turtle, Three Striped Roof Turtle, Crowned River Turtle, Indian Flapshell Turtle, Soft Shell Turtle, Indian Roofed Turtle, Indian Tent Turtle, Monitor Lizard, Golden Jackal, Bengal Fox, Common Palm Civet, Indian Small Mongoose, Indian Grey Mongoose, Jungle Cat, Wild Boar, Grey Langur, Rhesus Macaque (the common monkey you find in north India), Sambar, Nilgai, Blackbuck, Indian Gazelle, Northern Palm Squirrel, Porcupine, Indian Hare, Indian Flying Fox, Hedgehog etc can be found here.

Being a Ramsar site Chambal has 320 species of resident and migratory birds. Vulnerable species include Indian Skimmer, Sarus Crane, Pallas’ Fish Eagle and Indian Copurser. The Pallid harrier and lesser Flamingo are near threatened. Winter visitors include Black Bellied Terns, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Bar headed Goose. Resident species include Great Thick Knee, Darters, Brown Hawk Owl, Cormorants, Indian Small Pratincoles etc. The government’s forest departments and some non-government organisations are doing a commendable job in conserving this precious eco-system, but they need our support.

Starting the Chambal River Safari

 

Chambal River Safari
The calm waters of the Chambal River arte home to the critically endangered Ghariyal
Chambal River Safari
Our comfortable and rather non-noisy safari boat was manned by a sensitive pilot. But Ghariyals are extremely shy and will submerge if approached.
Chambal River Safari
These beautiful calm waters a delicate ecosystem, home to many species, resident and migratory.
Chambal River Safari
The once gorgeous and mysterious ravines along the Chambal are being flattened out for agriculture, destroying eco-systems and thousands of species, replacing them with one or two, and pumping chemicals into the river.
Chambal River Safari
The ravines of Chambal. This is how the entire river front looked like, not long ago. I can imagine tigers siting here once, lazily watching the river…
Chambal River Safari
A large Muggermuch Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) lies basking in the late afternoon sun as some geese hang around.
Chambal River Safari
Looking at the gorgeous ravines of Chambal trying to spot some wildlife.
Chambal River Safari
A ghariyal in the water (you can see the snout and the eyes) and buffaloes in the banks.
Chambal River Safari
Two Ghariyals in the waters…
Chambal River Safari
A Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) on the Chambal Banks. Once can see the natural grass has been eaten away by livestock and agricultural crops are visible in the frame. Pesticides and fertilisers flow into the river slowly killing the fragile web of life.
Chambal River Safari
Another Muggermuch (Crocodile) with more ducks in the background.
Chambal River Safari
Bar Headed Geese (Anser indicus) flying to the next roosting bank… These birds are migratory and winters are the only to see them in Chambal.
Chambal River Safari
The Indian River Tern (Sterna aurantia). These beautiful birds nest on the ground on sand banks around rivers, and with extensive sand mining, they are losing their habitat. Rated as Near Threatened by IUCN.
Chambal River Safari
Greylag Geese (Anser anser) some Ruddy Shelducks (Tadorna ferruginea) also known as Brahminy Ducks, along a narrow sand bank on the Chambal River. These are both winter visitors.
Chambal River Safari
Ruddy Shelducks (Tadorna ferruginea) and Indian Small Pratincoles (Glareola lactea). The Pratincoles are resident birds and can be seen throught the year, as long as we don’t destroy their habitats.
Chambal River Safari
A pair of Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis) rest on a rock while keeping a sharp eye out for small fish and tadpoles.
Chambal River Safari
A small Magarmach gets the warmth of the late afternoon sun.
Chambal River Safari
Birds fly as the waters flow lazily. What a beautiful world this is…
Chambal River Safari
Rampant agriculture, industrialization is ruining these beautiful ecosystems.
Chambal River Safari
Goats feeding around the lush vegetation on Chambal River Banks.
Chambal River Safari
The river has been a lifeline of the local community for years.
Chambal River Safari
This bridge on the Chambal becomes home to many Honey Bee Hives. Honey bees are extremely crucial links in any ecosystem, as top level pollinators keeping the cycle of life running. No bees, no crops, no fruits, no grains, no new trees…When we destroy their hives for honey, we kill over 50,000 bees, their babies and queen, thereby forever killing an entire clan.
Chambal River Safari
We ended the Chambal river safari with a cup of hot chai here.
Chambal River Safari
We sat here sipping chai and soaked this beautiful view in…
Chambal River Safari
The Ghariyal Conservancy Trust here has tried to save a tiny bit of this critical ecosystem. We went for a walk through these forested Ravines. This is how the ravines should have been always…

 

Chambal River Safari
In these ravines live Neel Gai, Leopards, Porcupines, Hares, Hyenas and many more mammals and birds.
Chambal River Safari
Beautiful old trees cement the soil together preventing erosion, excesses evaporation and a delicate cycle of life.
Chambal River Safari
As the sun sets over the Chambal, it’s time for us to head back. We hope the setting sun is not metaphorical.

Chambal River Safari

[box type=”success” width=”100%” ]How To Reach: Chambal Safari can be booked from Khem Villas at Ranthambhore National Park.

What To carry: If you have a pair of binoculars, do not forget them or ask the good folk at Khem Villas to bring some. Carry a cap and sun glasses. Water, fruit juice etc. Do not leave any trash behind. if you have a bird and animal guide book, carry it.

What To Wear: It can get rather hot in the sun, so dress appropriately. Always wear muted earth colours when going into nature. Be quiet, these animals are shy and will go away.

Best Time To Visit: Although summers have their own charm, winters are when you get the see teh migratory birds. November till March is a good time. Summers are good for many animal sightings (except migratory birds) and monsoons is a no-no.

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5 thoughts on “Chambal River Safari : Looking For Ghariyals”

  1. You may say , I was looking for it . It is in my wish list but could not get there . It is same sanctuary as in Dholpur for crocodiles ?

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