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India - Dragonflies & Butterflies of the Western Ghats

Tour Code: IND49

A 10-day holiday, led by one of India's foremost experts, David Raju, in search of the wealth of dragonflies and butterflies, and other wildlife, found in one of the World's bio-diversity hotspots - India's Western Ghats.

10 days from £2995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2495 SRS: £495

The Western Ghats form a biodiversity hotspot and centre of endemism that is of special appeal to the naturalist and on this exciting, and unusual, holiday we will focus in particular on the beautiful dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies of the region. After a flight to Cochin we will drive to Kumarakom on the the eastern banks of Lake Vembanad, Kerala’s largest lake. Our base here, the Coconut Lagoon Hotel, has a wonderful butterfly garden which will provide our first taste of the region’s species; and we will search for dragonflies and damselflies in the nearby lake, ponds, canals and paddyfields. Next we travel to Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary, where over 40 species of dragonfly have been recorded within a 100-metre stretch! Butterflies are well represented in the sanctuary’s lowland forests, and we will look for species such as Red Helen and Tamil Catseye, while dragonfly species include Emerald Banded Skimmer, Crimson Marsh Glider and Splendid Dartlet. Finally we head south-east into the moist evergreen forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve which provide a haven for a wide range of mammals and birds, as well as a wealth of dragonflies and butterflies.

  • Led by David Raju, an outstanding Indian naturalist
  • Southern Birdwing, Common & Tailed Jays, Chocolate Albatross, Coconut Lagoon Hotel
  • Blue Grass & Kerala Dartlets, Pygmy Blue Spot, Common Picture Wing & Globe Skimmer
  • Malabar Torrent Dart, Steam Glory, River Helidior among dragonflies at Thattekad
  • Clipper, Malabar Rose & Banded Blue Pierrot among butterflies at Thattekad
  • Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Sloth Bear, Nilgiri Langur & Malabar Giant Squirrel, Periyar
  • Periyar’s dragonflies include Blue Hawklet, Emerald Spreadwing & Ruby Marsh Dart
  • Paris Peacock, Western Centaur Oak Blue & Malabar Raven among host of butterflies
  • Special birds include Malabar Trogon & Malabar Grey Hornbill, Periyar


All included in the price.


Tourist hotels at Kumarakom and Marari; comfortable lodges elsewhere. All rooms have private facilities.

Common Jezebel (David Raju)

Common Jezebel (David Raju)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2 Arrive Cochin and drive to Kumarakom

Day 3/5 Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary

Day 6/8 Periyar Tiger Reserve

Day 9 Marari

Day 10 Fly London

The Western Ghats comprise an ancient chain of hills that runs from north to south along the western coast of India. They form a biodiversity hotspot and centre of endemism that is of special appeal to the naturalist, such is the impressive range of endemic and near endemic species that they hold. On this exciting new holiday we will focus particularly on the beautiful dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies of the region, many of which are endemic, in the company of David Raju, an outstanding allround Indian naturalist from this area who is particularly expert in this field. He is also a renowned frog expert, adept at finding the most exquisite and colourful species that the untrained eye would never spot, not to mention the region’s birds and mammals.

We will concentrate our explorations on the lush forests of the Western Ghats, exploring a rich tapestry of habitats that includes scenic hills and mountains, extensive tracts of characteristic evergreen forest, grasslands, and beautiful lakes, streams and other wetlands. These landscapes and ecosystems are significant in that, not only do they sustain large human communities, but they also support a rich natural history, so much of it unique to the region.

We begin in Cochin, from where we will drive straight to Kumarakom, on the eastern banks of the vast Lake Vembanad, the largest lake in Kerala and the longest in India. The Coconut Lagoon Hotel, where we will be staying, has a wonderful butterfly garden. Here we should find such beautiful species as Southern Birdwing, Common Jay, Tailed Jay, Chocolate Albatross, Blue Tiger, Great Orange-tip, Monkey Puzzle, Gram Blue, Tiny Grass Blue and Bush Hopper, amongst others.  We will also search the lakeside, canals and ponds in the region looking for the many dragonflies and damselflies found here — species such as Blue Grass Dartlet, Kerala Dartlet, Pygmy Blue Spot, Common Picture Wing and Ground Skimmer. The paddyfields here also attract a good number of migratory dragonflies, amongst them the Globe Skimmer, which flies all the way from Africa!

Next we will travel north to Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary, stopping en route at a small stream to look for more dragonflies.  Here over 40 different species of dragonfly have been recorded within a 100-metre stretch — amongst them Malabar Torrent Dart, Stream Glory, Black-tipped Forest Glory, River Helidior and others. Butterflies will also be an attraction here, with species such as Grey Count, Commander and Common Sailor. Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in honour of the preeminent 20th century Indian ornithologist, is situated on the northern bank of the Periyar River. The Sanctuary was established in 1983, based on a recommendation made by Dr. Salim Ali many years previously. He described Thattekad in the 1930s as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with that of the eastern Himalaya.  Much of the forest of that time has been lost, but the surviving areas certainly give glimpses of the rich diversity of the once widespread lowland forests of Kerala, and the area still remains excellent for butterflies and dragonflies. The Clipper, Common Rose, Crimson Rose, Malabar Rose, Tamil Catseye, Red Helen and Banded Blue Pierrot are just some of the butterflies we should see here, while dragonfly species may include Crimson Marsh Glider, Emerald Banded Skimmer, Splendid Dartlet, Fulvous Forest Skimmer and many others. For birders, this is also a good spot for Sri Lankan Frogmouth.

Finally we head south-east into the more moist evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, afforded protection within the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Its 777 square kilometres provide a haven for a wide range of mammals, including Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Asian Wild Dog, Nilgiri Langur, Lion-tailed Macaque and Malabar Giant Squirrel.  Periyar also supports a wealth of dragonflies which include Blue-tailed Forest Hawk, Blue Marsh Hawk, Crimsontailed Marsh Hawk, Blue Hawklet, Ruby Marsh Dart, Emerald Spreadwing and Travancore Torrent Dart. Many spectacular butterflies also occur here, amongst them Paris Peacock, Black-vein Sergeant, Western Centaur Oak Blue, Malabar Raven and Malabar Tree Nymph, while the birdlife includes several of the species found only in southern India and Sri Lanka, such as Malabar Trogon and Malabar Grey Hornbill.

Common Jezebel (David Raju)Kerala Dartlet (David Raju)Rounded Palm Red Eye (David Raju)Ruby-Tailed Hawklet (David Raju)Stream Jewel (David Raju)Taliled Jay (David Raju)Amber Winged Marsh Glider,  Hydrobasileus croceus (Steve Dutmer)Asiatic Bloodtail, Lathrecista asiatica (Steve Dutmer)Black Stream Glider, Trithemis festiva (Steve Dutmer)Blue Bush Dart, Copera vittata (Steve Dutmer)Blue-Tailed Yellow Skimmer Female,  Palpopleura sexmaculata (Steve Dutmer)Common Clubtail, Ictinogomphus rapax (Steve Dutmer)Common Picture Wing (female), Rhyothemis variegata (Steve Dutmer)Common Picture Wing (male), Rhyothemis variegata (Steve Dutmer)Crimson Marsh Glider and Fluvous Forest Skimmer, Tr. aurora en N. fulvia (Steve Dutmer)Crimson Marsh Glider, Trithemis aurora (Steve Dutmer)Crossing Lake Periyar (Steve Dutmer)Ditch Jewel, Brachythemis contaminata (Steve Dutmer)Fulvous Forest Skimmer Female, Neurothemis fulvia (Steve Dutmer)Fulvous Forest Skimmer Male, Neurothemis fulvia (Steve Dutmer)Ground Skimmer, Diplacodes trivialis (Steve Dutmer)Looking for Larvae (Steve Dutmer)Looking for Larvae (Steve Dutmer)Orange Marsh Dart, Ceriagrion rubiae (Steve Dutmer)Pied Paddy Skimmer, Neurothemis tullia (Steve Dutmer)Rubytailed Hawklet, Epithemis mariae (Steve Dutmer)Sapphire-Eyed Spreadwing, Lestes praemorsus (Steve Dutmer)Scarlet Marsh Hawk, Aethriamanta brevipennis (Steve Dutmer)Stream Ruby, Rhinocypha bisignataSyrandhri Clubtail, Davidioides martini (Steve Dutmer)Tricoloured Marsh Hawk, Orthetrum luzonicum (Steve Dutmer)Trumpet-Tail, Acisoma panorpoides (Steve Dutmer)

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Sat 7th September 2019 - Mon 16th September 2019



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2495 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: India

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