The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp

Even as some of us sit in Delhi and discuss the intricacies of ecotourism and how it’s different from tourism, there are people all over this country who are practicing the former – in the real sense of the word (‘eco’-tourism).

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi

One such person is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’. The camp is located in Kakragad on the bank of River Mandakini en route to Sri Kedarnath.

Devbhumi Uttranchal/Uttrakhand Magpie Bird watcher camp billboard

The Camp

Mr. Negi is a wonderful person who is not only dedicated towards his work but also has in-depth knowledge about birds and the Himalayas. He has been running this camp for the past seven years which is wonderfully exemplified by his experience and expertise.

Apart from bird watching, Mr. Negi also takes interest in collecting bird nests. He has a good collection of bird nests and also of some classic books on bird identification, wildlife and Himalayan Biodiversity. Lately, he has also started making a herbarium of those plant species in which the birds make their nest or feed.

nest collection by Mr. Negi

Nest Collection

Ecotourism!

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi may not know the difference between Tourism and Ecotourism. He may not have even heard of ecotourism. But how he runs his bird watchers camp can be a basic case study of ‘ecotourism in the Himalayas’.

tent houses at the mandakini magpie bird watchers camp

 

Tent houses

He runs his camp all himself with some help from other people of the area. The tent houses are well maintained and are very inviting with names like ‘Woodpecker Tent, Sparrow Tent, etc!

In his camp, very little of ‘transmitted’ electricity is used. He has solar lanterns which are extensively used instead of the regular electricity.

Solar lanterns at Mr. Negi’s Mandakini Magpie Birdwatchers camp

Solar Lanterns at Mr. Negi’s Camp

All in all, a visit to the Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp is a must for every bird watcher, nature lover or for anyone who wants a lesson or two in Ecotourism!

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi can be contacted at the following number: 09412909399

P.S. High Quality Original Images can be made available on demand.

 

  

About the Author

has written 390 posts on this blog.

Govind Singh is Co-Founder of Delhi Greens organisation and the Editor-in-Chief of the Delhi Greens Blog.

40 Comments on “The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp”

  • vishal narain wrote on 7 April, 2007, 15:03

    My apreciation to Mr. Negi and best wishes for further work. This is very impressive. Perhaps we will hear more from him on Delhibird and about his sightings…

  • Vineeta wrote on 7 April, 2007, 16:20

    I had only heard about him. thank you for the pictures.

  • Gaurav Dinesh wrote on 7 April, 2007, 23:24

    Your description has whetted my appetite to visit this place and meet Mr. Negi. Please give more details about the activities, whereabouts, contact info related to this camp.

  • Leena Taneja Rao wrote on 8 April, 2007, 3:39

    Was both alarmed and dismayed to read your report about Yashpal Singh Negi. Laudable as it may sound, collecting nests is definitely to be discouraged. In fact, even collecting plants – especially high-altitude plants – is a no-no. Both pursuits lead to a decline in species and a desecration of nature. However, his interest in flora and fauna is commendable, and he could be steered in the direction of conservation instead of collection.

  • Govind wrote on 8 April, 2007, 4:53

    @Gaurav Dinesh: His is a rather small camp with just about 3 tents and space to accommodate about 8 people at the same time.

    I have posted his number above and you can talk to him for rest of the details. His camp is one or two hours drive up north from Rudraprayag..and one and half kms before Kund (the place where the road bifurcates, one leading to Ukhimath and another to Gaurikund).

    @Leena Taneja Rao: I appreciate your concern. Needless to say, Mr. Negi collects only abandoned nests (is that a problem too?) And even then, he knows well which birds’ offspring use the abandoned nests even after the parent-birds leave and he never touches those.

    I, having done my Bachelor’s in Botany have myself collected the high altitude plants (with utmost care) and I think it becomes important for study purpose (the same debate between conservation and academics!). Besides, we saw that Mr. Negi wasn’t guided well and he was just collecting and preserving one or two leaves. So, we (one of the sirs actually) advised him to preserve entire branch, along with the inflorescence (for identification purposes). There aren’t no rare plants that he’s collecting, he’s only preserving a twig of tree.

  • Leena Taneja Rao wrote on 8 April, 2007, 5:16

    Hi Govind, thanks for the reply. Well, I guess if he’s particular about not disturbing breeding birds, it should be ok, though I have observed some birds returning to their old nesting sites – and even other birds using disused nests. Regarding the subject of conservation versus academics, I’m sorry I feel very strongly that really very little, if anything, justifies disturbing ecosystems in the interests of ‘science’. In fact, I think sometimes scientists, and even ‘conservationists’ can be the most selfish and self-indulgent group of people. Having worked since the late ’60s with conservation organizations here in India, I have been amazed at how many conservationists feel quite self-righteous about jetting off across the country and the world to attend seminars and conferences (‘in the larger interests of science’) oblivious to the damage they inflict on the environment. We all tend to think that we are justified in picking the odd wildflower or branch or leaf. Multiply that by the number of botany students/teachers/tourists/local and other biotic pressures… you do the maths!

  • Saswati Ghosh wrote on 8 April, 2007, 17:15

    Hi Govind !

    I am extremely thankful to you for publishing on such a nice website about Mr. Negi. Mr. Negi is like a family friend to us. I met him in Chopta in 2002, while returning from Tunganath. He is a nice and intelligent person with vast knowledge about birds, trees of the Himalayas. Hope this site will help to spread the information about Mr. Negi and his work. Hope many tourists visit his camp every year.
    Well done Govind.

  • Surya wrote on 9 April, 2007, 3:39

    Well done Mr. Negi. and Govind . My all good wishes are with both of you.

  • Harneet wrote on 10 April, 2007, 16:51

    Good work, thanks for this.

  • vinod wrote on 10 April, 2007, 16:56

    This is a fantastic job.Keep it up

  • Kallol Shome wrote on 30 April, 2007, 19:38

    I had been at the Mandakini Magpie camp in Dec 2006. Met Mr Yashpal Negi. What a person he is! I have never seen anyone so perfectly at one with one’s passion..as Negiji is.

  • Kallol Shome wrote on 30 April, 2007, 20:04

    (contd)
    I stayed at his camp 4 three days. I trekked with him along Mandakini, watched birds like Blackcapped Sibia, Himalayan Bulbul, Grey Bushchat, Whitecapped Water Redstart, Plumbeous Redstart, Striated Babbler n so on. I trekked to Deoriataal with Negiji, to Guptakashi for some ‘otherworldly’ sunset.. What an exceptional person he is! I hardly saw anyone so focused on one’s pursuit.During a chat he told me”..see, Birds are all I understand in life, they come to me ahead of anything else” . The simplicity of what he said is stunning bcause he actually lives what he said. In my opinion Negiji is a lesson himself specially in 2day’s context when everything seems too transient. We r still in touch thru sms. I do plan 2 go back 2 his camp.. and his birds.

  • Arunesh Singh wrote on 24 May, 2007, 11:05

    I am so happy to see the great progress that Negiji has made. We were part of the original team that along with Negiji linked the Camp to the Eco Toursim Project of a local NGO working in Ukhimath. For the most part the credit goes to Negiji for his hard work and ingenuity, I can asure you if you visit the Camp it will be a memorable experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Upwards and onwards Negiji !

  • Bindu wrote on 30 May, 2007, 17:39

    Govind, good to know you have written about Negiji.
    I had the advantage of his company for five days and believe me
    they were the most interesting,educative explorativeand memorable—not a
    single dull moment. Will be cherished always– till visit him again perhaps!!
    Actually i had already written about him and his camp in my trip report
    to Mussoorie,negi’s camp and Dugalbittha.There were many inquiries about
    him and his camp after that and i had replied to all of them.
    Regards,
    Bindu

  • Dr. Partap Singh Sangwan. wrote on 11 June, 2007, 1:28

    Wonderful!
    I will send him a print out by post.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Regards,
    Dr. Partap Singh Sangwan.
    Sangwan Hospital
    Uklana Mandi Distt. Hisar Haryana -125 113
    Ph. 01693-233077, 233677, 235077, 9416044077
    pssangwan@rediffmail.com

  • Shankar Bhatt wrote on 3 January, 2008, 9:03

    I Like The Collections of nets & interest of negi ji for tourism . I am regarding to Mr. Yaspal Negi. SHANKAR BHATT (SARI)

  • Shankar Bhatt wrote on 3 January, 2008, 9:04

    I Like The Collections of nets & interest of negi ji for tourism . I am regarding to Mr. Yaspal Negi. SHANKAR BHATT (SARI) Phone No. 01364212954

  • Shankar Bhatt wrote on 3 January, 2008, 9:05

    Lovely

    I Like The Collections of nets & interest of negi ji for tourism . I am regarding Thank & Best Wishes To Mr. Yaspal Negi. SHANKAR BHATT (SARI) Phone No. 01364212954

  • Arvind Semwal wrote on 27 June, 2008, 13:18

    Great ……. I would like to vist the camp .

  • Bhagwati Semwal wrote on 24 October, 2008, 13:02

    Hi Friends Jaspal ( Mr. Negi ) is my childhud friend. We did our schooling from guptkashi years back. when I went to his camp 6 years back got surpeised to see the remakable job which he did. I can not explain abou it. We come to know about it only once he talk to us about birlds and himalaya. now i visit to his camp every year. THIS IS WHAT REAL ECO TOURISIM.

  • roopa wrote on 3 November, 2008, 14:15

    Like so many others I would love to visit this camp and learn a thing or two from Negi ji.Will talk to him on the phone.given above.
    thanks
    http://ecoworrier.blogdrive.com

  • Ghinga wrote on 8 February, 2009, 11:51

    Thanks for making this available!

  • Sujoy Bhattacharyya wrote on 14 October, 2009, 21:38

    I stayed with Negi ji from 2nd to 8th of Oct’09 which was my second time in two years and first time with my family. It was a pleasureable experience and also a learning experience.But self and my daughter was very saddened to know that the Mandakini now flowing in front of his camp will deplete in years to come as NHPC is harnessing the river about 2 kms upstream and channelising it through a tunnel to produce Hydro Electricity from it. The warmth Negi ji’s wife had in looking after us during our stay is still remembered by my family

  • himadri wrote on 18 May, 2010, 11:03

    hi,
    i am earnestly looking for a trip in kakdagad for watching birds,but i don’t know the time to see flowering chopta.pls. inform.

  • bhagwati semwal wrote on 9 November, 2010, 13:35

    dear himadri,

    the best time to go chopta is september october or april may, it is quite cold during this time, so you need to carry woollen clothes, let me tell you its wonderfull place to see, you can call yeshpal singh negi on 09412909399 or 09720658019, he is the person who can give you detailing about the birds and himalaya.

  • himadri wrote on 5 March, 2011, 21:21

    hi,
    i am enough bored and immediately want to go for a moderate trek in the garhwal or kumaon himalyas,i am a resident of ‘rishra’ in hooghly district of westbengal.have the experience of trekking in “amarnath”,gobindaghat-ghangria-valley of flowers-hemkund,badri-mana and gomukh way back 1987/1989.i am passionate about trekking in mountain regions and birds.pls,enroll me somewhere with gentries to have the trekking exp. again.my mob.9433982462.

  • himadri wrote on 26 April, 2011, 12:12

    hi, atlast i got time and opportunity to visit kakragad in 4th april,2011.met mr.negi,he is a genious in his profession and i have not seen such a person with such passion about birds.ours stay was not very long ,again within a very short period of time i got some rare tips regarding typical behaviour of birds from mr. negi.

  • Sivesh wrote on 27 December, 2011, 13:40

    Been there and seen it, it is one of the best trips that i ever had… I am a traveler and traveled a lot but the personal attention that you will get from Negi ji and his wife is par exceptional…Ya its a small camp but he is happy with the size of his camp, as per his words if he will try t commercialize his camp, birds will move away from that place and for him birds and nature is more imp than money.

    It a place only for nature lovers and Bird lovers, rest will find it a bit deserted.

  • Sivesh wrote on 27 December, 2011, 13:44

    We have interviewed him and will be making a documentary on him. Plans are to submit the same to WWF.

  • Sivesh wrote on 27 December, 2011, 13:46

    @Leena Taneja Rao, We interviewed him and found out that he only collects nests which are already dead. After the  nesting season the birds leave that nest and make another next year. 

  • Sudipto Roy wrote on 8 April, 2012, 12:00

    @ Leena Taneja Rao > Though a bit late on this, but I must mention that bird nests are not like human houses. They build nests only during the breeding season, lay the eggs, raise the chicks and leave/abandon  it after the chicks grow up and fly out. The entire process is done again in the next breeding season. Sometimes due to natural calamity like strong wind or earthquake etc nests might fall off and get destroyed too.
    Therefore it is perfectly alright to collect such abandoned nests. 
    Though I have not met Mr Negi yet but I am sure someone like him will never collect a live nest. 
    Though it might be obvious to many but it is worth mentioning for novices that birds don’t live in nests round the year, like we do. 

  • ravi wrote on 28 June, 2012, 18:00

    Can anyone please advise me as to how to travel from Delhi to Mandakini Magpie Bird watchers Camp by road in a public transport system? Thank you friends

  • Radhika Sharma wrote on 28 June, 2012, 18:46

    From ISBT in Delhi, take a bus to Rudraprayag. Luxury coaches are also available. After you reach Rudraprayag, you can take a taxi to Kakragad on the way to Sri Kedarnath shrine.

  • Subrato Sanyal wrote on 19 June, 2013, 16:41

    The Magpie Bird watching Camp is almost destroyed by the unprecedented flood in this week.The two new rooms Negi constructed recently,his own rooms,kitchen, dining area all are under the water of Mandakini.I am shocked.I know every body who has been there will be shocked too.Please come forward at this hour of need to render your hands of assistance to Negi so that he will be again able to rebuilt the Camp.His telephono no.09412909399.

  • himadri banerjee wrote on 22 June, 2013, 14:03

    today i had a talk with mr. negi over tel.,he is under immense shock,as his recent construction is under the flow of mandakini river.it is also very painful.pls,extend a coperative hand towards him ,so that he can rebuilt,by which we the bird lovers will be very happy to see him again as before without any pain of destruction.thanks.

  • Basab Ghosh wrote on 22 August, 2013, 21:51

    I tried in vain to contact Mr. Negi. Can some one ask him to contact me or sms his postal address; I was hoping against all hopes that Bird Watching Camp would be fine. I am shocked. We had such good time just a few days before the flood. Mr. Negi – pl contact me. Basab Ghosh (09831055367)

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