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Sattal and Pangot, both are found in the Nainital district of Uttarkhand and offer an array of delightfully different species of birds that flock and perch themselves in this Himalayan abode. Sattal as the name suggests is a group of seven freshwater lakes located near Bhimatal in the Nainital district, whereas Pangot is about 15k away from the Nainital hill station. Both of these together form the bird paradise of the Western Himalayan region and are a treat for avian and nature connoisseurs.
Sattal and Pangot abound in magnificent beauty and its naturalness and splendor is a trademark of the Himalayan region. The biodiversity is predominated by the colorful, sometimes chirpy, exotic, exclusive and delicate avian kinds. The drive from Sattal to Pangot crosses through the forested areas of Cheena Peak Range through the Snow View Point and Kilbury, each of which are marvelous bird watching site as well.
How to reach
Situated in Uttarkhand in the Nainital district Sattal Pangot are quite easily accessible. Rail – Kathgodam (27km) and Ramnagar (40km) are the closest railway stations. Air – Patnagar at 61km is the closest airport. One can also fly to Dehradun (260km). Road – Sattal is about 360 km from Delhi and 27km from Nainital. Pangot is 55km away from Sattal and you should stop over Snow View Point and Kilbury on the way.
What to see
Before we jump to the different types of birds that are seen here, it is worth spending some time also getting to know the topography and vegetation cover that sustain and support such a diverse and humungous bird population. Sattal is fraught with orchids, shrubs, climbers, ferns medicinal herbs and fungi. On the other hand, Pangot is a mixed forest with pine, oak and rhododendrons dominating its landscape. A large area houses dense vegetation and it is watered by a network of streams and creeks. Sattal gives shelter to the Himalayan griffon, lammergeyer, crested serpent eagle, Khalij pheasant, leaf birds, purple sunbird, flowerpeckers, blue whistling thrust, dollarbird, stork billed kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white throated kingfisher, Koklas pheasant and many more. The list can go on since Sattal can really have a bird watcher’s heart racing with joy. At 1370m above sea level, Sattal also is home to about 20 mammal species, 500 butterfly species and over 11000 species of beetles, bugs and insects. Pangot is known for sheltering over 225 bird species, some of which include the yellownapes, yellow breasted greenfinches, jays, rosefinches, blue magpies and more.
Things to do
Travelling to Sattal and Pangot, there are a number of spots and trails enroute as well as around these two that are worth visiting for not only bird watching, but also trekking, camping and photography. Sattal has an area called the Studio Place where one can just sit with a camera or binoculars and view the surrounding wildlife. Near Pangot you can check out the following spots:
1. Woodpecker point – 2km
2. Timla Pani – 9km
3. Vinayak Cheer Point – 11km
4. Pangot also has trekking trails that one can hike through the forest. A few popular trails include Pangot to Naina Peak and Pangot to Jim Corbett National Park.
5. Camping is also a great idea when there is a large group involved. On the way from Sattal to Pangot, make sure to spend some time at Cheena Peak (8km), Snow View Point and Kilbury.
A well planned route will help to make appropriate stops to view the range and mystic of birds and wildlife.
Day 1 – Arrive at Sattal and check into the hotel. Spend the afternoon and evening along the lakes, identifying and photographing the winged miracles. Retire for the night after a quiet meal.
Day 2 – We visit the lakes area early in morning to watch the birds flap around as the day begins. After a couple of hours we start for Pangot. We make the necessary stops and reach Pangot in the evening. Retire early for the night.
Day 3 – Head out of the hotel and roam around in the wilderness to watch the birds that abound here. Visit the different bird viewing spots post lunch and continue the quest for bird watching as the day progresses.
Day 4 – You may choose to hike on one of the many trails, or visit Nainital or Corbett National Park from here before continuing on your onward journey.
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