18 Days Nature tour itinerary for india: Go Birding In Bhutan's Lush Valleys
Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Bumthnag, Mongar, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Trongsa, Guwahati, Phobjikha
Travel to Bhutan, a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 670 species of birds have been recorded and much more are yet to be discovered. Around 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants like ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches, and buntings.
Birding along Paro River
The flight into the Himalayas is one of the most scenic and breathtaking with the views of some of the tallest mountains in the world. On your arrival at the Paro international airport, you’ll be received by our representative.
Transfer to the hotel.
In the afternoon, visit the Paro Rimpung Dzong (Fortress).
In the evening, go birding along the Paro River searching for one of the biggest target birds, Ibisbill; other species we’ll look for are Plumbeous Redstarts, Oriental Turtle Dove, Rock Pigeon, River Lapwing, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-billed Chough, Common Hoopoe, Black-tailed Crake, Grey-backed Shrike, Blue Whistling Thrush, White-collared Blackbird, Black Bulbul, White Wagtail, Eurasian Tree and Russet Sparrow.
Overnight in Paro.
Paro – Chelila
Very early in the morning, drive to the cool alpine meadow of Chelila pass (3890m). This is the highest pass on the motorable road.
Here, we should be reward with the three different species of Pheasants - Colorful Himalayan Monals, Blood Pheasants and Kalij Pheasants. Beside this, you’ll also see other birds like Rufous-bellied and Darjeeling Woodpecker, Large Hawk and Eurasian Cuckoo, Black Eagle, Eurasian Jay, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Long-tailed Minivet, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Rufous-gorgetted and Ultramarine Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, White-browed Bush Robin, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Blue-fronted Redstart, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Rufous-vented, Coal, Green-backed and Grey-crested Tits, Buff-barred Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf, Blyth’s Leaf and Large-billed leaf Warblers, White-throated, Black-faced, Chestnut-crowned and Spotted Laughingthrushes, Dark-rumped and White-browed Rosefinches.
Evening: Free time to stroll around Paro town.
Overnight in Paro.
Tiger’s Nest Excursion
After breakfast at the hotel, a 15 minutes drive will take you to the parking lot at the base of Tiger’s Nest monastery.
From here you can hike to one of the most beautiful and holiest temples in Bhutan. As Bhutan’s most scenic icon and most important destination for pilgrimages and reflection for over 1200 years, Takshang (or the “Tiger’s Nest”) clings to the side of a steep cliff, some 200 meters above the Paro valley.
The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, founder of the tantric form of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, in the 8th century. It was said that he meditated there for about three months. After him, many high Buddhist priests came to meditate at this location and attained the highest level of spirituality. The original temple was built in the 17th century; but tragically, it was consumed by fire in 1998. Like a phoenix, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003. Takshang is considered to be the 10th-holiest site in the Buddhist world.
The total hike will take the average person about four hours. From the parking area, it will take about one hour to the tea house (rest and refreshment provided) and then another one and a half hours to the temple.
Then in the evening, drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The drive will take about an hour and a half.
Thimphu – Dochula – Punakha
Early morning, drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (3150). Our day starts with the breathtaking views of Eastern Himalayan ranges. The mixed forests of hemlock, fir, oaks, and rhododendron here are good habitat for many species including the Fire-tailed Myzornis, White-throated, Spotted and Striated Laughingthrushes, Oriental, Indian, and Large Hawk Cuckoos and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher.
After breakfast at the pass, we descend down to the Lamperi Botanical Garden and take the nature walk for about an hour. Birds we’ll be looking for here include Brown Parrotbill, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Maroon Oriole, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Scarlet Finch, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Eurasian Jay, Grey-winged Blackbird and Strong-footed Bush Warbler.
Afternoon: Visit Punakha Dzong. We’ll visit impressive Punakha Dzong - supposed to be one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan.
Drive along the Po-chu River looking for White-bellied Heron, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and other shore birds.
Birding Inside Jigme Dorji National Park
You will spend the whole day birding inside the Jigme Dorji National park and along Mo chu River. We have possibilities of seeing Redheaded Trogon, Wallcreeper, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Small and Large Niltava, Black-chinned Yuhinas, a trio of forktails, Pygmy and Spotted Wren-babblers, Woodpeckers, Laughingthrushes, and with luck the White-bellied Heron and Pallas’s Fish Eagle.
We also have a good chance of finding species like Oriental Turtle Dove, Great Cormorant, Blue Whistling Thrush, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Rufous Sibia, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher,Green-backed Tit, Brown Dipper, White-capped Water Redstart, White-throated Laughingthrush, Golden-throated Barbet, Great Barbet, Crested Kingfisher, Grey Treepie, Ashy Drongo, Verditer Flycatcher, Brown-throated Treecreeper, Black-throated Tit, Black Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, River Lapwing, Grey Wagtail, Gadwall, and Large-billed Crow.
Punakha – Nobding – Phobjekha
Early morning, you’ll wind up the way to the Phobjekha valley (4hrs), stopping along the way to look for Brown Dipper, Ward’s Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Cutia, Grey-bellied Tesia, Grey-hooded, Blyth’s and Black-faced Warblers, Green-tailed and Mrs. Gloud’s Sunbird, Striated Prinia, Blue-capped and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Pale-Blue Flycatcher, White-capped River Chat, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Yellow-browed Tits and few different species of Cuckoos.
Before reaching Pelela pass, we’ll take the road to Phobjekha valley, crossing Lawala pass. The vegetation changes into dwarf bamboo and here you’ll be searching for species like Spotted, Chestnut-crowned and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Spotted Nutcracker, Great and Brown Parrotbills, Oriental Skylark, White-browed Shortwing Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, chestnut headed Tesia, Red-billed Chough, Large-billed and Whistler’s Warbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler and Oriental Skylark.
Overnight: Phobjekha (3000m).
Phobjekha – Pelela – Trongsa
After early breakfast, we’ll drive to the Pelela pass (4000) and spend the morning hours birding along the old road at Pelela for high altitude species like Spotted Laughingthrush, Himalayan Griffon, Great and Brown Parrotbill, Plain Mountain Finch, White-winged and collared Grosbeak, Spotted Nutcracker, Slaty-blue, Verditer and Dark-sided Flycatcher, Grey-sided Bush Warbler and varieties of Tits, Some of the key birds you’ll be looking for include Himalayan Monal, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Scarlet Finch and Gold-naped Finch.
Along the drive to Trongsa, we’ll also be looking for Speckled Wood Pigeon, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Golden-breasted and White-browed and Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Streak-breasted and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler. Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Nepal House Martin, Blyth’s Swift and White-throated Needletail, Black Eagle and many more.
Overnight at Trongsa.
Trongsa – Zhemgang
Today on our drive to Zhemgang, we will have lots of stops at several forested valleys. The species you’ll for looking for along the drive are Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Crested Bunting, Spot-winged Starling, Long-tailed Shrike, Black-throated and Hill Prinia, Rufous Woodpecker, Sultan Tit, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel, Blue-capped Rockthrush and various minivets. This is also our best chance to spot the Golden Langur, a rare monkey endemic to Bhutan and only discovered in the 1950s.
Later in the evening, we’ll be birding on Zhemgang – Dakphel road searching for species like Blyth’s Shrike Babbler, Cutia, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Hornbill, Red-faced Liocichla, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush and may more.
Overnight at Tingtibe Camp (800m).
Zhemgang – Tingtibe – Gomphu Road
Today, you’ll explore wide varieties of habitats on the Zhemgang – Tingtibe roads. Habitats vary from mossy forests to streamside lowland forest. This is another chance to see the Golden Langur, which is fairly common here.
We’ll also be searching for Rufous-necked and Great hornbill, Pin-tailed and Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Cutia, Scarlet Minivet, varieties of beautiful Laughingthrushes, Spotted Wren Babblers and very rare and sought after Beautiful Nuthatch.
In the afternoon, we’ll be exploring the Gomphu Road that goes to Manas National Park. Here we’ll be searching for species like Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill, White-hooded Babbler, Grey-throated and Rufous-capped Babbler, Lesser Yellownape, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Striated and Black-chinned Yuhinas, Chestnut-winged and Drongo Cuckoo, Common Green Magpie, Emerald Dove and with a little bit of luck, Pale-headed Woodpecker.
Overnight at Tingtibe Campsite (800m).
Zhemgang – Yotongla – Bumthang
We'll work our way back to Trongsa, looking along the way for species we might have missed before.
After Trongsa, another 3hrs drive takes you through the Yotongla pass. Here, we will search for Hill Partridge, Chestnut-tailed Minla, Brown and Great Parrotbill, Chestnut-crown, Black-faced and Spotted Laughingthrush, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Red-headed Bullfinch, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Grey-crested, Coal, Rufous-vented and Rufous-fronted Tits, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Plain Mountain Finch, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Rufous-gorgeted and Slaty Blue Flycatchers.
After crossing Yotongla, we will bring you to the Chumey valley in Bumthang. Bumthang is famous for its distinctive woollen weaves, known as 'Yathra'.
At the village of Zugney, you will see the fine samples of 'Yathra' hanging by the roadside. The weavers are all women, who can be seen at their looms beside the road.
The road continues over the Kikila pass to enter the next valley in Bumthang (Jakar), the district headquarters.
Overnight in Bumthang.
Bumthang – Thrumshingla – Sengor
We drive from Bumthang to Sengor going over Thrumshingla (3800m). Thrumshingla is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasants and also holds other high altitude species like Snow Pigeons, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Golden and White-browed Bush Robin, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Greats Parrotbills, Stripe-throated and Rufous-vented Yuhinas, Grey-crested, coals, Rufous-vented Tits, White-browed Fulvata, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Plain-backed Thrush, White-collared and Grey-winged Blackbird, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper Buff-barred, Ashy-throated, Blyth’s and Large-billed Leaf Warbler.
Later in the evening, we will be birding around Sengor looking for Satyr Tragopan. Other birds you’ll be looking out for includes Bar-winged and Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Gold-naped Finch, Hoary-throated Barwing, Bar-throated and Red-tailed Minlas, Whistler’s and Grey-hooded Warbler and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler.
In the evening, you’ll also try spotting for the Himalayan Owl, which comes around to your campsite.
Overnight at Sengor Camp (3000m).
Sengor – Namling – Yongkala
Before breakfast, we’ll once again drive toward Thrumshinla pass to try looking for the Blood Pheasant and Satyr Tragopan.
Then we will hit Bhutan’s wet subtropical forest and one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas. For the next two days you will be birding in the lush forested valley, searching for Black-headed Shrike Babblers, Ward’s Trogon, Slender-billed, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Golden-throated and Great Barbet, Coral-billed and Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Black-throated and White-breasted Parrotbills, Golden-breasted, Yellow-throated, Ruofus-winged and Nepal Fulvettas, Grey Treepie, Green-tailed, Black-throated and Crimson Sunbirds, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Streaked Spiderhunter, Grey-sided and Blue-winged Laughingthrush, Whiskered , Black-chinned, White-naped and Striated Yuhinas, Golden and Rufous-capped Babblers, Cutia, Rusty-fronted, Barwing, and Black-tailed Crake.
Overnight in Yongkala Camp (1400m).
Yongkala – Namling – Limithang Road
We spend two full days birding the upper and lower Limithang road. The Yongkala-Limithang road has been touted as one of the best birding sites in Asia, as it allows the birder an opportunity to access the wide varieties of habitats from the pristine broad-leafed to coniferous forests that span across a vast altitudinal range. All this is protected within the Thrumshing La National Park.
Some of the species you’ll be searching for here include flocks of busy Lesser Rufous-headed and Black-throated Parrotbills, Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated Fulvettas; Rufous-throated, Long-billed, Pygmy and Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Red-headed Trogon, Hoary-throated Barwing, Great and Golden-throated Barbet, Cutia, Black-faced, Whistler’s and Grey-cheeked Warblers, White-tailed Nuthatch, Grey-chinned Minivet, Black-spotted Yellow Tit, Coral-billed and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Black Eagle.
Overnight: Yongkala Camp (1400m).
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Yongkala – Korila – Trashigang
After a final morning birding in this wonderful habitat, head toward Trashigang with several stops along the forested road looking for the Himalayan Bulbul, Black-tailed Crake, Crimson Sunbird, Common Green Magpie, Stop at Korila pass. Here the forest is rich in mosses and lichens. Birds we may see here are steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Grey-winged Blackbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Long-tailed Minivet, Crested Bunting, Bhutan, Scaly and Blue-winged Laughingthrushes.
In the evening, free time to explore the town of Trashigang, one of the main trading centres in eastern Bhutan.
Overnight in Trashigang.
Paro – Trashigang – Khaling – Morang
Continue our journey to Morang passing through lofty forests and rhododendron-filled valleys with birding stops along the way. Some of the desirable species that we will be on the lookout for include the much sought-after Ward’s Trogon, Golden-naped Finch, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Blue-winged and White-throated Laughingthrushes.
In the late morning, pass through the place called Khaling where we have the National Handloom Development Project, supported by the National Women's Association of Bhutan to train young girls from different parts of the country. Here you will see the woven Kiras, table runners, and scarves,
Continue our journey through a series of forested areas, stopping along the way for species we might have missed.
Later in the evening, spend time birding around Morang looking for the species like Rufous-necked Hornbill, Silver-eared Mesia, Scarlet Finch and every effort will be made to look for the beautiful Nuthatch.
Overnight at Morong Camp (1600m).
Morong – Dewathang – Samdrup Jongkhar
In the morning before breakfast, we’ll explore the entire stretch of Morang, searching for species like Black-faced Warbler, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Striated, Bhutan, Blue-winged Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Sibia, Silver-eared Mesia, Long-tailed Broadbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill and Beautiful Nuthatch just to name a few.
After early breakfast at the camp, we’ll be heading to a lower elevation than we have been, able to visit so far on the trip. We’ll target the varieties of low elevation specialties including Pied Falconet, the extremely rare Dark-rumped Swift, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Sultan Tit, Black-backed Forktail, Red-headed Trogon, Black Eagle, House Sparrow (rare in Bhutan), several species of Cuckoo, Jungle Babbler, Grey-sided Laughingthrush and many more.
Overnight at Samdrup Jongkhar.
Samdrup Jongkhar – Guwahati
Today, your journey takes you through the Indian plain of Assam, where the wildlife is totally different from the Himalayas.
The species we may see on the drive are Little Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Egrets, Black Ibis, Black Drongo, etc.
We will also keep our eyes open for very rare species like Lesser and Greater Adjutants.
Government Royalty: USD 65 per Person per Night
2% Government Tax per Person per Night
Daily Mineral Water
English Language Speaking Guide
Comfortable and Luxurious Imported Cars for Internal Transportation with Skilled Driver
Entrance fees for Museums
The Government set package rates are valid for accommodation on twin sharing basis
A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium)
Airfare international & Domestic
Tips for Guide & Driver
The partial migrants to Bhutan include cuckoos, swifts, bee-eaters, warblers, and flycatchers. The country harbors more than 16 species of vulnerable birds. They are the Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White-bellied Heron, Satyr Tragopan, Gray-bellied Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Blyth’s King Fisher, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, Rufous Throated Wren Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blyth’s Trogon, Wood Snipe, Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Gray-crowned Prinia and the Beautiful Nuthatch all of which breed in Bhutan.
Note: For groups of less than three, the Royal Government of Bhutan imposes surcharges; surcharges are separated from minimum daily tour prices.
Bhutan visa costs USD 40.
Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Bumthnag, Mongar, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Trongsa, Guwahati, Phobjikha
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