This summer, we traveled to India. We had a eight hour layover in Singapore and we decided to visit the Jurong Bird Park, which is Asia's largest bird park to satisfy our bird-crazy, budding ornithologist nine year old as well as to our six year old occupied.
How to get there? - The best way to get there from the airport is by taxi. The ride itself is a tour as you pass through scenic Singapore and catch views of the 'Singapore Eye' and the newly opened Singapore's Gardens by the Bay which are a visual treat.
Entrance fees - If you have a longer stay in Singapore, you can pick one of the park hopper or visit Singapore packages and save quite a bit, but if you are in transit and making use of the few hours you have, you can pick up the package which includes the tram rides and unlimited lori feeding (a must-do, do-not-miss activity in the park).
The park itself - The bird park, like everything else in Singapore, is clean, well maintained, and very organized. There are lots of birds for you to see and wonderful shows as well featuring the trained birds at the park. The highlights for us were the Lori Loft as well as the bird shows. We were lucky we managed to watch both shows in the few hours we were there. My DH was called in as one of the volunteers for the Birds N Buddies show, and sadly, my trusty camera ran out of battery juice at that precise moment (and the spare battery refused to be found in that moment of desperate need!). So, there stood my DH, with the colorful hoop in hand, and smiled for the camera, while I spent my time hunting around for the spare battery, and the beautiful, colorful parrot gracefully glided through the hoop. The Lori Loft offers you the opportunity to feed these friendly, playful birds right out of your hands, your fingers, and anywhere they can sit on you. We also enjoyed the African Waterfall Aviary which was a welcome relief from the heat.
How long do you need? - Suggested time is about four to five hours but if you want to take a few moments to stretch your feet, six hours should be ample time to enjoy the park.
Best time of the year to visit - all year long
Be prepared - to walk, for the heat, for loads of fun!
The park services as well as the website offer you helpful tips and a suggested itinerary for visiting the park - be sure to have a look before you visit and be ready to be thrilled!
All in all, a must visit for all. (:))
Our next experience was the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary while in India. This bird haven is located near Srirangapatna, about 120 kms from Bangalore.
How to get there? - You can drive from either Bangalore - around a two hour drive, or from Mysore - about half an hour. Again, the drive is scenic, in contrast to the drive through the vibrant cityscape of Singapore for Jurong bird park, here you drive through lush green fields alongside the river Cauvery.
Entrance fees - Fees are very nominal and the park entrance fees are paid outside while you can pay for a boat ride inside the sanctuary at the boathouse itself.
The park itself - The park is surprisingly well-maintained and clean. Walkways are well laid out and dust paths are clear of plants and shrubs as well as overlaying trees while at the same time not disturbing the wildlife and plant life too much. The first sighting of the birds and the islets of Ranganathittu is truly magical. And every other moment we spent looking at the wonderful sights here made one more memory for us to store. This is truly a bird-watchers paradise with lots of birds in 0.67 sq km of space - the birds include the darter, kingfisher, ibis, heron, painted storks, spoonbills, bats, egrets, and more. There are also crocodiles here which enjoy a symbiotic relation with the birds - they keep other predators away from the birds (they are the sole predators so it kind of works out). Boat rides are offered here - if you can, take advantage of the longer ride which takes you around more of the islets and gets you closer to the birds. We saw many a crocodile swimming lazily past us while on the boat. The ranger who rows us out on the boat was very knowledgeable and provided us with tons of information all the while pointing us out to all the birds. He was impressed with how much our nine year old birder knew and that he was able to identify many birds himself.
Try to visit early in the day, as soon as the park opens, and finish the boat ride as soon as you reach the park - this is the best time to be able to see most of the birds out in the open.
How long do you need? - You will not need more than three hours to see the park and this includes the 45 minute boat ride. You can feel tempted to spend time there just enjoying nature and that is totally understandable.
Best time of the year to visit - June through October
Be prepared - for the best nature has to offer
Again, a must-visit if you are in Bangalore or around.
Needless to say, our budding ornithologist was thrilled with these trips!!