Day 1 (Thursday, 28 December 2023)
- Arrival at the homestay in Kiraksal
- Lunch: ~ 1 pm
- A brief presentation on Kiraksal Biodiversity Region: 3 pm
- Birding in Kiraksal Agricultural Patch (Jambhalhel Region): 4 – 6 pm
Anticipating fatigue from your journey, we’ve thoughtfully arranged a gentle activity for your first day. A haven for bird enthusiasts, Kiraksal’s expanse in this region offers plenty of opportunities for birdwatching. Here, you’ll encounter a diverse array of avian wonders, such as the majestic Gray Hornbill, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Black Redstart, the graceful Indian Paradise Flycatcher, the elusive Tree Pipit, the charming Common Rosefinch, and the melodious White-browed Bulbul, just to name a few.
- Evening tea and snacks: 6.30 pm
- Dinner: 8 pm
Day 2 (Friday, 29 December 2023)
- Forest walk for wildlife sightings: 6 – 9 am
The break of dawn offers the perfect opportunity to take in Kiraksal’s enchanting wildlife. A leisurely stroll through the forest will provide you with an insight into the Kiraksal grasslands. This particular grassland enclave is the residence of diverse creatures, including the elusive Jackal, the vigilant Hyena, and the swift Indian Hare. In addition, various avian inhabitants from the Eagle, Shrike, and Babbler families contribute their distinct charm to this natural landscape.
- Breakfast: 9.30 am
- Lunch: 1 pm
- Birding at Nali Grasslands: 3.30 – 6 pm
Nalli Grasslands is home to raptors like Bonell’s Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Common Kestrel, Red Necked Falcon, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Falcon, White-eyed Buzzard, Black-winged Kite and Peregrine Falcon. They are quite active during this time of the day and there is a high probability of sighting quite a few of them in close proximity.
- Evening tea and snacks: 6.30 pm
- Dinner: 8 pm
- Night Safari: 9 – 11 pm (Photography not allowed)
Day 3 (Saturday, 30 December 2023)
- Birding in various places (Yeralwadi, Suryachiwadi, Dhondewadi & Pingali Lake): 6 am – 12 pm
Grasslands possess an inherent allure for a diverse array of migratory birds, and Kiraksal stands as no exception to this natural phenomenon. In the vicinity of Kiraksal, these wetlands come alive every winter with the arrival of an impressive 250-300 species of migratory birds. These serene pastures provide the perfect foraging habitat for migratory birds from across the globe, which make these awe-inspiring landscapes their home for a few months each year. Noteworthy among the feathered visitors are the majestic Bar-headed Geese, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Indian Courser, Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Shelduck, Greater Spotted Eagle, and the graceful Greater Flamingo, among others.
Breakfast will be packed from Kiraksal.
- Lunch: 1 pm (in Kiraksal)
- Wildlife Safari in Kiraksal Forest (Bombale – Dambhedwadi route): 3.30 – 6 pm
Following a rejuvenating afternoon nap, we’ll embark on an invigorating offroading adventure within the Kiraksal forest. This area harbors the enigmatic Wolves, and if fortune favors us, we might catch a glimpse of a solitary wolf or even a pack. However, the wildlife extends beyond these elusive creatures to include the likes of Wild Boar, Indian Fox, Jackal, Hyena, and Palm Civet. Adding to the allure, the region boasts typical grasslands specialist birds such as the Sirkeer Malkoha and Rufous Fronted Pirnia. As the safari unfolds, you’ll also be treated to panoramic views of the undulating Dambi Hills, enhancing the rich biodiversity of the Kiraksal region.
- Evening tea and snacks: 6.30 pm
- Visit to Shree Gondawalekar Maharaj Temple with dinner (optional): 7:30 pm
- Campfire with Popti Party: 9 – 10 pm (optional)
Unlike a typical gathering, the Popti Party is an enchanting cultural extravaganza unique to Western Maharashtra. With the arrival of winter and the joy of harvest season, locals celebrate the bountiful produce by hosting Popti Parties. This celebration is centered around the Popti, a one-pot harvest specialty made over a winter campfire. This delectable dish features an array of seasonal vegetables, tubers, beans, and indigenous spices, with the spotlight on the val beans, which grow in abundance in this region.
A clay pot is lined with bhamburdi leaves to create the Popti. Vegetables and peanuts, seasoned with a blend of salt and local spices, are tossed inside the pot, which is then marinated in homemade masala. Traditionally, the pot is placed upside down in a pit dug into the ground, covered in hay and dried leaves, and ignited to create a fervent fire. As the leaves are heated, they release oils and water, resulting in steam that cooks the vegetables. After cooling, the pot is ceremoniously overturned, unveiling the succulently cooked vegetables, ready to be relished alongside an assortment of chutneys.
- Stargazing: 10.30 pm onwards (optional)
Nestled far from the hustle of urban life, Kiraksal stands as an oasis untouched by the glow of city lights, ensuring minimal light pollution. Amidst rolling hills accented by picturesque tabletop summits, this location reveals an unparalleled charm. These hills are particularly picturesque during the winter months, when the night skies are clear, providing an excellent opportunity for stargazing from their elevated vantage points.
Day 4 (Sunday, 31 December 2023)
- Birding along the Canal
As the heartbeat of Kiraksal’s agricultural prosperity, the water canal has instigated a transformation in the village’s agricultural landscape. Amidst vast stretches of cultivated land, featuring crops like millets and wheat, the canal becomes a true haven for birds. The atmosphere resonates with the melodious tunes of birds, their symphony seamlessly intertwining with the tranquil cadence of the canal’s waters. During a leisurely stroll along the waterway, you can see many species of birds, including flocks of House Sparrows. It is an ideal setting for bird photographers as feathered creatures gracefully alight upon millet stalks.
- Morning Breakfast: 9 am
- Roam around Kiraksal and nearby area
- Lunch: ~12 noon
- Departure from Kiraksal
2-sharing non A/C room in a homestay.
Alcohol, drugs and smoking are strictly not allowed.
The food provided in homestay will be basic Maharashtrian vegetarian dishes. This is a remote place so, please do not expect exotic cuisine.
Transportation and Logistics
Situated at a distance of 170 km from Pune, 300 km from Mumbai, 70 km from Satara, and 70 km from Karad, Kiraksal offers multiple travel options for your convenience. You can opt for a flight to Pune/Mumbai or choose a train journey to Karad or Satara. Satara, in particular, boasts well-established road connections from various parts of South India, with numerous private buses en route to Mumbai/Pune making convenient halts in the city.
Should you prefer, we can arrange a car pick-up for you from either Pune or Satara. The neighboring towns of Dahiwadi (10 km from Kiraksal) and Gondavale (5 km from Kiraksal) are seamlessly connected by MSRTC buses originating from Pune, Karad, and Satara. Additionally, we offer the option of arranging your pick-up from Dahiwadi or Gondavale for added convenience.
What’s included in the package
- Accommodation for 3 nights and 4 days
- Food (Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Snacks and Dinner)
- Local transportation
- Wildlife Safaris
- Visits to wetlands and birding hotspots
- Local guide
- Forest entry fees
What’s not included
- Pickup to and from Pune/Satara or nearby towns
- Popti Party (additional INR 500 per person)
- Food/Beverages other than included in the package
- Personal expenses
- Your accommodation is thoughtfully arranged in a local residence, not a conventional hotel, resort, or professional homestay. Kindly show respect to your host and the amenities provided in their home.
- Keep in mind that Kiraksal is a small village, not a bustling tourist hotspot. The locals may express curiosity about your presence, so be open to communication and exhibit respect for the residents, their culture, and customs. While Marathi is the local language, most locals can understand and communicate in Hindi.
- We are committed to fostering sustainable tourism in Kiraksal. Although the locals are friendly, they may not have professional hospitality training. Your support and acknowledgment of their efforts are highly appreciated.
- When exploring the wilderness, always adhere to the instructions provided by local guides. Strictly follow the guidelines to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
- Residents of Kiraksal have a deep understanding of the local wildlife, habitats, and conservation practices. They navigate this forest with an intimacy akin to knowing their own backyard. This is an exemplary model of harmonious coexistence between humans and animals. Respect their knowledge and appreciate their collaborative conservation efforts.
- Obtain permission before taking pictures of locals and their surroundings. Respect their privacy and avoid intruding on their personal space.
- Refrain from entering private agriculture farms, even if they lack fencing.
- Please do not feed, tease or intimidate wildlife.
- You are responsible for your belongings including gadgets and cameras.
- Please bring your towels and toiletries.
- Please wear dull-colored clothes while in the wild.
- Given the colder temperatures during early mornings and nights, pack light to moderate winter clothing for your comfort.
- There will be 4-5 km of walking every day, including in the wild and after the sunset. It is recommended to pack following:
- Water bottle
- Comfortable walking shoes, preferably trekking shoes
- Crew-length socks
- A torch or headlamp
- Insect repellent
- High-energy snacks
- Basic medicines
- Wildlife sightings depend on various factors beyond our control and hence, can’t be guaranteed.
- Kiraksal has a mesmerizing landscape – take pictures for lasting memories.
I’m Rahul, a traveler, writer, and photographer hailing from the vibrant city of Bangalore.
Having personally traveled to 62 countries and meticulously planned each journey, I understand the trials and tribulations of travelers. With Turuhi, I aspire to address the needs of explorers like you, offering guidance, insight, and the opportunity to savor the very essence of travel at its best.
I’m not one to boast, but when individuals read my travel blogs, they often express feelings as if I have personally transported them to those destinations. They sense a distinctive perspective on travel that sparks their imaginations and inspires them to go on similar journeys. They often ask if they can join me on my journeys.
Travel is a highly personalized experience, and unless you’re accompanied by like-minded individuals, the true essence of the journey can be elusive. So, I contemplated inviting like-minded individuals and families to accompany me on select trips, thus creating the concept of “Travel with me.” The idea stems from a genuine desire to connect with fellow wanderers who share a common passion for exploration.