Bhutan........2nd to 20th March 2021
Strong religious beliefs (Buddhist) have protected Bhutan’s historical culture, its Nature and environment. Bhutan is considered as a bird-watchers' paradise, because of the large number and diversity of species. The Eastern Himalayas of which Bhutan is a part, has been designated as one of the world's top 10 biodiversity "hotspots". Wet summers and altitudinal gradation from sub-tropical lowlands to arctic-like mountain peaks provide an array of climatic conditions and a layering of distinct biotic communities from jungles through temperate forests to tundra. Over 70% of the country is forested, and unlike other Himalayan countries, most of Bhutan's original forest remains intact. Each community has a unique assemblage of wildlife -- with Golden Langurs and Elephants in the lowlands, tigers, Leopards and Red Pandas in the mid-lands, and Snow Leopards and Takins on alpine meadows. The diversity of Bhutan’s birdlife (over 600 species) is accentuated by the migrations of hundreds of species between their breeding grounds and wintering grounds of the subcontinent of India. Amongst Bhutan’s amazing avifauna, are many exotic and rare species, several of which that are more easily seen here than anywhere else on earth. Black-necked Cranes, White-bellied Heron, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Bar-winged Wren-Babbler, Beautiful Nuthatch, Blue-fronted Robin and Firetail Myzornis are amongst the dazzling treasure chest of avian jewels. (No Camping on this Tour)
Days 1-3: On Day 1 fly from UK to Delhi. After arrival, we’ll transfer to a Delhi Airport hotel for an overnight stay. On Day 2 we’ll catch a morning flight to Guwahati. We will be met at the airport by our ground agents and then transferred by road to Samdrup Jongkhar. After passing through the Bhutan Gate we’ll check-in to our hotel. Time permitting we’ll bird the local area looking for Asian Pied Starling, Common Iora, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Black-hooded Oriole, Black-backed Forktail and numerous other species. On Day 3 we will spend time exploring the tropical forest between Samdrup Jongkhar and Deothang. A host of species present, includes Ruby-cheeked Sunbird; Little Spiderhunter; Pied Harrier; Hooded Pitta; Golden-fronted Leafbird; Asian Paradise Flycatcher; Blue-eared, Coppersmith and Lineated Barbets, Great Hornbill; Slaty Blue Flycatcher and Black-naped Monarch.
Overnights – Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 4: We travel to Trashigang, birding the temperate forests of Morong & Narphung en route, where we’ll look for such avian delights as Beautiful Nuthatch, Red-headed Trogon; Rusty-fronted Barwing, Bay Woodpecker; Yellow-billed Blue Magpie; Maroon Oriole; Long-tailed Broadbill and many other species.
Overnight – Trashigang
Days 5-7: On Day 5 after and early breakfast, we’ll drive to Yongkola via Chazam and Sherichhu, travelling through wonderous mountain passes and broad-leaved forests. The diverse birdlife compliments the scenery and an array of dazzling birdlife awaits us in the Thrumshing La National Park, amongst which are Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill; Lesser Yellownape; Fire-tailed Myzornis; Himalayan Cutia; Rufous-crowned Laughing Thrush; Red-billed Leiothrix; Blue-bearded Bee-eater; Black-eared Shrike Babbler; Golden-throated Barbet; Russet Bush Warbler; Golden-breasted Fulvetta; Red-faced Liocichla and Scarlet Finch to mention but a few.
Overnights – Yongkola
Day 8: Travelling west, we’ll explore the cool broadleaved forests of Namling & Sengor looking out for Satyr Tragopan; Blood Pheasant;
Fire-tailed Sunbird; Rufous-breasted Bush Robin; White-throated Redstart; and Streaked Spiderhunter. Overnight – Bumthang
Day 9: We depart early for Tharpaling Monastery looking for Satyr Tragopan; Himalayan Monal; Blood Pheasant; Alpine Accentor and Beautiful Rosefinch. Later travelling through the mountain pass of Yotung La (3,450m) the Rhododendron Forest support Black-faced Laughing Thrush; Darjeeling Woodpecker; Chestnut-headed Tesia; Crimson-browed Finch and White-winged Grosbeak.
Overnight - Trongsa
Days 10–11: Transfer to Tingtibi for a two-day stay. En route we’ll Bird the Shemgang Road, considered to be one of the best birding routes in Bhutan. On Day 11 we’ll explore the bird rich Tingtibi Bamboo Forests. An impressive avifauna includes White-bellied Heron; Collared Falconet; White-browed Piculet; Spot-bellied Eagle Owl; Sultan Tit; Short-billed Minivet; Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch; Rufous-faced Warbler; Long-tailed Broadbill; White-crested Laughingthrush; Yellow-bellied Warbler and White-hooded Babbler.
Overnights – Tingtibi
Day 12: En route to Trongsa we’ll visit the temperate forests of Dakphai the habitat of the Beautiful Nuthatch. Other species to look for include, Rufous Woodpecker; Blyth’s Shrike Babbler; Blue-winged Laughing Thrush; Himalayan Cutia and White-naped Yuhina.
Overnight – Trongsa
Day 13: The journey to Pele La Pass and beyond is suitable habitat for Bhutan & Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Green Shrike Babbler;
Bar-winged Siva; Himalayan Vulture; Solitary Snipe and Large Niltava. Later in the glaciated valley of Probjikha we’ll look for the remaining endangered Black-necked Cranes and we my also see Hen Harrier; Oriental Skylark and Ruddy Shelduck.
Overnight – Probjikha
Day 14: Morning birding the Lawa Pass (3.350m) and Dangchu Farm Road with a chance to encounter Ward’s Trogon; Long-billed Thrush; Pygmy Cupwing; Red-Tailed Minla; Spotted Elachura; Crimson-breasted Woodpecker; Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush and Fire-capped Tit. Later, at Punakha we’ll visit the famous Dzong and then bird along the Puna Tshang Chhu River looking for Bar-headed Goose; Pallas’s Fish Eagle; Green Sandpiper; Crested Kingfisher; Slender-billed Oriole and Scaly-breasted Munia.
Overnight – Punakha
Days 15-16: On Day 15 while travelling through the temperate rainforest of the Menchuna Valley, we’ll look for Black Eagle; Black-tailed Crake; Rufous-bellied Woodpecker; Golden Babbler; Golden-throated Barbet; Scarlet Minivet; Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Maroon-backed Accentor. We then continue our journey to Paro with spectacular views of high Himalayan peaks. On Day 16 an optional choice of visiting Tigers Nest Taksang Monastery (5 hrs return hike) or birding the Paro Chhu River. Birds we should encounter along the river include Ibisbill; Goosander; Brown Dipper, Rosy Pipit; White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts and Wallcreeper.
Overnight – Paro
Days 17-19: We catch a morning flight to Delhi for an overnight stay. On Day 18 fly to UK, arriving on Day 19.
Tour ref: AA2131
Tour Cost: £5,495
Single Room Supplement: £440
Leaders: Chubzang Tangbi & Neil Glenn
Max. Group: 10 plus Leaders/Guides
Economy Class schedule return flights: UK-Delhi-UK; domestic flights; accommodation (based on twin occupancy); meals; Bhutan Visa; transportation & transfers in Bhutan; tips to guide; driver & catering team and services of leaders.
Indian visa, travel insurance, drinks; porterage tips and items of a personal nature.