7 Days – Short Bird Watching and Cultural Tour in Bhutan

7days-birding-and-cultural-tour-in-bhutan-with-langur-eco-travels
Detailed Itinerary

Synopsis

BHUTAN is set high in the Himalayas between India and China; where snow-capped mountains, verdant valleys, dense jungles and crystal-clear rivers combine with a calming ancient Buddhist culture.
During this tour we visit the major historical and religious sites in Paro, and Punakha; watch dawn break over the High Himalayas; enjoy birding in pristine and undisturbed forests looking for top attractions like Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan and Blood Pheasants and perhaps ride a mule to the iconic Taksang monastery in its lofty position 740m above the Paro valley.

As always in the land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon, ‘Gross National Happiness’ is ever present!


This morning you take the Drukair/Bhutan Airlines flight to Paro, where you should have good views of the Himalayas, including many of the highest mountains in the world. After clearing customs and immigration, you will be met by your guide from Langur Eco Travels.
Next we will stop by the Pa Chhu river, where camouflaged amongst the glacial stones, Himalayan riverine species such as the Ibisbill can be seen as it dips in the snowmelt, searching for food. In this area we should also find; Brown Dipper, Common Snipe, Common and Green Sandpipers, Common Hoopoe, Himalayan Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Grey-backed Shrike, Russet Sparrow, Hodgson’s Redstart, Rosy Pipit, Siberian Stonechat, Citrine Wagtail, Rufous-breasted Accentor and Wallcreeper (winter visitor).
Overnight Hotel Olathang or similar, Paro, 2,300m.  (Meals: B, L, D).

An early morning departure for our journey up through ancient high boreal forests to Chele La pass at 3,780m, the highest point we will reach on this tour. On the way we hope to see Grey Nightjar. Arriving at the pass there are breathtaking views of the high Himalayan peaks of Jhomolhari (7,219m) and down into the Paro and Ha valleys.
Chele La gives us the opportunity to ascend above tree line into alpine meadows and dwarf rhododendron scrub where we have the possibility of seeing some of Bhutan’s special high altitude birds such as; Himalayan Monal, Blood and Kalij Pheasants, Satyr Tragopan, Himalayan Cuckoo, Snow Pigeon, Coal, Rufous-vented, Rufous-fronted and Yellow-browed Tits, Greenish Warbler, Red-tailed Minla, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Black-throated and Dusky Thrushes, Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Blanford’s and White-browed Rosefinches, Collared and White-winged Grosbeaks, White-throated Redstart, White-browed Bush Robin, Alpine Accentor, Plain Mountain Finch and Red-headed Bullfinch.
After breakfast we will continue birding the beautiful areas of Chele La before gradually making our way back to Paro and continue east to Thimphu city.
Overnight Hotel Yak & Yeti or similar, Thimphu, 2,300m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we must leave very early in order to see the high Himalayas as dawn breaks over Dochu La at 3,150m. It is an awe-inspiring sight, with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze and 108 white chortens, celebrating the safe return of the fourth king from a threatened invasion, it is unlike any other pass in the world! Once again on clear days there are panoramic view across the snow-capped mountains.
In this high elevation, mixed evergreen broad-leafed forests, there is an incredible wide range of birds, and flowering plants. The forests holds many attractive birds such as: Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Grey-crested Tit, Buff Barred and Lemon-rumped Warblers, Streak-breasted and Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Chestnut-crowned and Grey-sided Laughingthrushes, Rufous Sibia, Fire-tailed Myzornis (one of the top birds in Bhutan), White-collared Blackbird, White-browed Shortwing, Slaty Blue and Ultramarine Flycatchers, Green-tailed and Gould’s Sunbirds and Olive-backed Pipit.
Continuing to Lampelri we will explore the Royal Botanical Park where we may find, Hill Partridge, Ward’s Trogon (globally vulnerable and very range restricted to Eastern Himalayas), Eurasian Jay, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Red-billed Leiothrix, Fire-capped Tit, Blue-fronted Redstart, Verditer Flycatcher, Blue-fronted Robin (very shy and rare), Scarlet Finch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch and Maroon-backed Accentor. 
Looking around our hotel grounds in Punakha we should find Slender-billed Oriole, Scaly-breasted Munia, and as nightfall’s we can try for Collared Scops Owl.
Overnight Meri Puensum Resort or similar, Punakha, 1,300m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we will visit the Tashithang Valley – section of the Jigme Dorji National Park. Once we reach the broad-leaved forest, at 1,600m, we hope to see Black, Mountain Hawk and Crested Serpent Eagles, Red-headed Trogon (rare), flocks of Nepal Fulvetta, Spotted Elachura , Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Bay and Rufous Woodpeckers, Golden-throated, Blue-throated and Great Barbets, Grey-bellied, Slaty-bellied and Chestnut-headed Tesias, Hair-crested Drongo, Slaty-backed, Spotted and Little Forktails, Striated and Bhutan Laughingthrushes and flocks of Scarlet Minivets.
When the heat of the day increases, birding lessens so we will drop down to Punakha to visit the majestic 17th century Punakha Dzong which is spectacularly situated on a promontory at the confluence of the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) Chhu (river) becoming the Puna Tsang Chhu which eventually joins the Brahmaputra.
In the late afternoon we will drive along the Pho Chhu valley, looking for the critically endangered and probably the rarest bird in Bhutan the White-bellied Heron, as well as Pallas’s Fish-Eagle (globally endangered).
Overnight: Meri Puensum Resort, Punakha at 1300m. (Meals: B, L, D).

This morning we will bird along the Puna Tshang Chhu valley looking for some water birds such as, Osprey, Bar-headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Great-crested Grebe, Goosander, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great Cormorant, River and Red-wattled Lapwings, Long-billed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common Greenshank, Pallas’s Gull (rare), White-throated and Common Kingfishers, White-browed Wagtail, Spotted Dove and Richard’s Pipit.
Continuing our journey through the terraced fields at Lobesa we reach in the mixed broad-leafed forest of Menchuna where we will take a short off-road trial for birding, here we can look for species such as Scaly Thrush (also known as White’s Thrush), Short-billed Minivet, Ashy Drongo, Black-throated Tit, Golden Bush Robin, Striated Bulbul, Pygmy Wren Babbler (also known as Pygmy Cupwing), Brown-throated Treecreeper, Slaty Blue Flycatcher and Russet Sparrow.
After having picnic lunch in a beautiful setting, we will continue birding in this area before traveling to Paro, stopping briefly at the Dochu La to enjoy the stunning landscape view from this vantage point.
Overnight Hotel Olathang or similar, Paro, 2,300m.  (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we will have a fabulous last day in Bhutan with a great mix of birding and some of the Paro Valley’s cultural treasures. The cultural highlight will be the walk up to the famous Taksang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery.  The monastery is perched some 600m up on a cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from East Bhutan on the back of a tiger to defeat demons who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan.
It is a steep uphill walk through woods, of about 1½-2hrs, to reach a cafeteria (an ascent of 340m). Apart from offering welcome refreshment, at the cafeteria, this is one of the principle viewpoints of the monastery, and those who prefer not to climb any further can relax here whilst others continue their trek. 
From the cafeteria it is a further half hour’s ascent, which brings you to another viewpoint directly across from the monastery. The final section of the walk takes you from this viewpoint steeply down 100m into the gorge that separates you from the monastery and then climbs back up again to reach the monastery.
Up at the monastery by the rocky ledges we will look for flocks of Snow Pigeon and Altai Accentors, while the waterfall next to the monastery often gives us the opportunity to see Little Forktail, White-capped and Plumbeous water redstarts, Other regular birds on this journey include, Large-billed Crow, Red-billed Chough, Brown Parrotbill, White-browed Fulvetta, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker and Green-back Tit.
After visiting the monastery we will then descend to the valley floor by your outward route back to where our vehicle will be waiting. The full walk to the monastery and back involves approximately 740m of ascent.
Farewell dinner at the hotel.
Overnight Yangkhil Resort or similar, Trongsa, 2, 000m. (Meals: B, L, D).

After breakfast we will drive to Paro airport and fly to Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu or Bangkok for your onward connections. (Meals: B & L).


Included in Bhutan Land Cost:

✓ Bhutan Visa and Tax
✓ Tour Guide who is expert in the field
✓ All activities as mentioned in the itinerary
✓ All accommodation based on sharing twin room
✓ All meals
✓ Tea/coffee and snacks
✓ Bottled water throughout the trip
✓ Ground transportation
✓ Some non alcoholic drinks
✓ All entrance fees for museums and parks

Not Included in Bhutan Land Cost:

✖ Travel insurance (essential)
✖ Laundry, phone calls and alcoholic drinks
✖ Personal expenses
✖ Charges incurred as a result of circumstances beyond the control of Langur Eco Travels
✖ International flights
✖ Tips/gratuity for guide, driver and porters

Note Regarding Single Supplements:
Single occupancy US $25 per night.

Walking and Terrain
Easy to moderate. There will be some long drives and short walks at altitudes of up to nearly 4000 m. Most birding is done close to our vehicle, and walks are comfortable with majority of birding done on roadside. The walk to Tiger’s Nest (Taksang) Monastery is on uneven forest trails, with 740m of ascent.

Climate
The climate will vary from cold in the mornings at altitude to quite warm during the day (mostly 0°-30°C). Some rain is possible but usually not enough to impede birding, and snowfall is possible at the high mountains passes.

Accommodation
All hotel accommodations are of medium to good quality and is normally the best available in the areas visited and in good locations with great views and delicious food. No camping is involved with this tour.

Transport

By 18 seater minibus or SUVs for private journeys

Food
For group size of 3 and above will have a catering team who will cook and serve hot breakfasts and lunches as picnic style, taken in the field. Dinners are mostly buffets served at the hotels where we stay, with continental, Indian and Bhutanese.

This is a birding tour, but photographers will have great opportunities to photograph birds throughout the tour. Bhutan is a Buddhist country where killing is considered sinful, therefore birds and mammals appear to be much tamer than in other parts of the world, allowing you to take stunning photos.

Health
Although no mandatory vaccinations are required for entry into Bhutan, health requirements change frequently so please consult with your GP.

Insurance
We strongly advise that your travel insurance policies include medical assistance and helicopter evacuation – we believe that it is ‘better to be safe than sorry!’ Should you decline to do so, we must state that we will in no way, accept responsibility for expenses incurred, should you require medical attention/evacuation whilst on holiday with us.

Passports
A valid passport is required; the passport must be valid for at least six months past your intend stay in Bhutan. There must be clear pages available for your visa and entry stamps; we recommend at least 3 blank pages.

Visa requirements
Bhutan and Indian (if you are traveling via India) visas are required, Bhutan visa will be arranged for you at cost price of $40 (included in your ground cost) but you will need to apply online for an Indian multi-entry visa. Please visit the following website for more details: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html


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Overview

Dates: 28 Mar - 03 Apr 2022
Starting city: Paro, Bhutan
Ending city: Paro, Bhutan
Pace: moderate
Physical difficulty: easy
Focus: birding and culture
Max group size: 3-11* + 1 local leader from Langur Eco Travels
*We can also run this tour as private journey for 1 or 2 guests.

Please read the General Information before booking.

Tour Cost

No of Guest Price Per Guest
1 US $ 1,885
2 US $ 1,765
3-12 US $ 1,645 (twin sharing cost)

Single Occupancy (Optional) - US $150

Flights are not included in the tour cost.
You can choose one of the options below for your Bhutan connection.
Option 1. Delhi-Paro-Delhi = US$ 750
Option 2. Kolkata-Paro-Kolkata = US$ 465
Option 3. Kathmandu-Paro-Kathmandu = US$ 400
Option 4. Bangkok-Paro-Bangkok = US$ 972

TOUR MAP - Click map for larger version

Got questions? Please ask!

CALL: +975 1716 0228
EMAIL: [email protected]

Birding in Bhutan with Langur Eco Travels

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