10 Days – Short Bird Photography Tour in Bhutan

10 days in Bhutan with Langur Eco Travels to photograph and see as many as 350 species of birds including Bhutan top birds and mammals
Detailed Itinerary

Synopsis

Bhutan has been protected by both its isolation within the Himalayas and the topography of its mountainous land, resulting in over 70% of the land remaining forested with 60% protected by 10 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. The diverse range of habitat varies from sub-tropical jungles at 150m to alpine meadows at over 4,500m, supporting an extraordinary range of birds and wildlife. Today, Bhutan has some of the best birding sites in the world with over 780 species of birds and lies within one of the 221 Global Endemic Bird Areas with 28 species of birds endemic to Eastern Himalayas.
Our Spring birding tour will take you through eastern Bhutan’s most beautiful landscape, where we should encounter some 350 species of birds including the country’s star attractions like the Satyr Tragopan, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Beautiful Nuthatch and Ward’s Trogon. In addition to the great number of birds, we should also find over 10 species of mammals and an amazing variety of butterflies and flowers.
There will also be time to see the amazing architecture, visit dzong’s and meet the friendly Bhutanese people and finally, witness the Trashigang Festival – a celebration of good over evil.
It is a land of the unknown, where culture and heritage remain the essence of life.


This morning you will take the flight from Kolkata or Delhi into Guwahati where Langur Eco Travels, Indian representative will receive you at the Guwahati airport and travel 110 km to Samdrup Jongkhar, en-route we will stop at the rubbish dumpsite near Guwahati and Dipor Bil wetland, looking for plains birds like Greater and Lesser Adjutants, Purple Heron, Indian Pond Heron, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple Swamphen, Paddyfield Pipit, Black Kite, Little Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher, Asian Openbill, Eurasian Collared Dove, and Bronzed-winged Jacana.
Arriving at the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar in Bhutan, may produce, Red Junglefowl, Asian Koel, House Crow (common), Coppersmith Barbet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Greater Goldenback (also known as Greater Flameback), Ashy Woodswallow, Black-naped Monarch, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown Shrike, Pale-chinned Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama (little songster), Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Jungle Babbler (common around the hotel grounds), Common Hill and Bank Mynas, Red-whiskered Bulbul (only found in this part of the country), Asian Pied Starling, Taiga Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Warbler (very territorial), Crimson Sunbird (very obliging and colourful), Oriental Scops Owl and Large-tailed Nightjar (rare).
Overnight Tashi Gasel Guesthouse or similar, Samdrup Jongkhar, 400m. (Meals: L, D).

Today we will explore the varied tropical forest of Samdrup Jongkhar and Deothang which is one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas and so we hope to encounter: Wreathed and Oriental Pied Hornbills (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Red-headed Trogon (surely one of the prettiest trogons in the world), Changeable Hawk Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza (rare), Oriental Hobby (rare), Thick-billed and Pin-tailed Green Pigeons, Crested Kingfisher, Emerald Dove, Streaked Spiderhunter, Plaintive and Grey-bellied Cuckoos, Blyth’s Kingfisher (a rare forest kingfisher), Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Blue-eared and Lineated Barbets, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Black-hooded Oriole, Striated Heron, Cattle and Intermediate Egrets, Green Bee-eater, Black-backed Forktail (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Large Woodshrike, Thick-billed Warbler (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Dusky Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Taiga Flycatcher, Scarlet Minivet, Siberian Rubythroat (adult males has a jewel like red throat-stunning!), Common Iora, White-throated Bulbul, Black-naped Monarch, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Little Spiderhunter (again rare elsewhere), Puff-throated Babbler (beautiful calls can be heard before we see the bird), Rufous-backed Sibia, Hooded Pitta (rare), Asian Fairy Bluebird, Dollarbird, Lesser Coucal, Indian Roller (a brightly coloured bird with various shades of blue- magnificent!), Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Plain Flowerpecker, Oriental White-eye, Great Tit, Pin-striped Tit Babbler, House Sparrow, Jungle and Great Mynas, and perhaps with a bit of luck the rare vagrant Rosy Starling (our first Bhutan record was in March 2020 from Samdrup Jongkhar).

In addition to the astonishing number of birdlife, Samdrup Jongkhar also holds many varieties of Orchids and butterflies.
Overnight: Dungsam Trashiling Resort or similar, Deothang, 800m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Our adventure continues as we travel to Trashigang, an area little visited by tourists. Leaving the little town of Deothang, the road climbs quite steeply through dense sub-tropical broad-leafed forest – a wildlife paradise where we look in particular for the rare Rufous-necked Hornbill (globally vulnerable, relatively uncommon in Bhutan but rare elsewhere) and Blue-winged Laughingthrush (another stunning bird), Lesser Cuckoo, Red-rumped Swallow, Pied Harrier (seen in Spring of 2015, our first ever record for Bhutan), Long-tailed Broadbill, and Scaly-breasted Munia.
Arriving in Morong valley we will scan the warm broad-leafed forests looking for Beautiful Nuthatch (globally vulnerable and one of the top target for Bhutan), Mountain Tailorbird, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Shrike Babbler, Silver-eared Mesia, Long-tailed Sibia, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, White-throated Fantail, Black-throated Sunbird, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill and Striated Yuhina.
After a hot picnic breakfast set up by our catering crew we will drive through the road, known as Melong Brak which is hewn out of a solid cliff face, to the market town of Narphung. We cross-mountain passes where there are panoramic views of mountain ranges, rolling into the distant valleys before reaching the high pass at Kharung La at 2,350m, stopping along this section should produce, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Spotted Dove, Long-tailed Shrike, Common Tailorbird, Little Pied and Ultramarine Flycatchers, Golden Babbler, and the stunning Gold-naped Finch.
Our journey continues through more valleys and over mountain passes to Yonphu La at 2,570m and our final descend to Sherubtse College before winding its way through terraced fields to Trashigang, once the centre of important trade with Tibet.
Overnight Druk Deothjung Resort or similar, Trashigang, 1,100m. (Meals: B, L, D).

We will leave the hotel at the early hour, which will take us through Sheri Chhu valley from where the road climbs by means of 10 hairpin bends, known as the Yadi Loops, in just 10 km!
From here we continue to the little village of Yadi where the road then passes through cool broad-leafed forests to Kore La, 2,450m along which we will look for birds such as Hill Partridge, Asian Barred Owlet, Grey-sided Laughingthrush, the impressive Scarlet Finch, White-collard Blackbird, Black-chinned Yuhina, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Brown-flanked Bush Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Dark-sided and Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers.
Crossing the pass we descend through cool broad-leafed forests, with rhododendron undergrowth to the eastern town of Mongar. Here we will stop briefly to walk around the town before driving to Yongkola stopping along Lingmethang road to look for Steppe Eagle (globally vulnerable), a short side road at Lingmethang should produce the rarely seen Tawny Fish Owl, and Blue-naped Pitta, other species in the area include Rufous and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, Grey-bellied and Chestnut-winged Cuckoos, Grey Treepie, Speckled Piculet, Bhutan Laughingthrush (the only near endemic species for Bhutan), Orange-headed Thrush, Blue-capped Rock Thrush (beautiful colours on the male is not to be missed), Hair-crested Drongo (also known as Spangled Drongo), Himalayan Bulbul, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Barn Swallow, Black-throated Prinia, Grey-throated Babbler, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Common Stonechat, and Crested Bunting.
Overnight Trogon Villa or Chengala Farmhouse, Yongkola, 1800m.
(Meals: B, L, D).

The areas of Yongkola, Namling, Tshamang and Lingmethang are considered to be one of the finest birding spots in the world.
We have two full days to explore the pristine forests of Thrumshing La national park using a paved yet rarely used road and it is in this birding hotspot that we look for some of Bhutan’s most sought-after birds such as, Chestnut-breasted Partridge (globally vulnerable), Ward’s Trogon (near threatened and another top target for Bhutan), the amazing Yellow-throated and Golden-breasted Fulvettas, the strange looking Himalayan Wedge-billed Babbler (rare), Long-billed Wren Babbler (rare elsewhere in Bhutan and the world), Rufous-throated Wren Babbler (another near threatened species but fairly easy to find in Yongkola), Spotted Elachura (formally known as Spotted Wren Babbler), Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler (another mega bird), Broad-billed Warbler, Black-headed Shrike-babbler (Namling valley is the only known regular site for this species in Bhutan), Nepal House Martin (big colony of nests on a overhanging cliff near Namling waterfall), White-naped Yuhina (undoubtedly the most beautiful yuhinas in Bhutan), Black Bulbul, Scaly Laughingthrush, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Gould’s Sunbird, Yellow-bellied fantail, Rusty-fronted Barwing (often seen in mixed feeding flocks), Lesser Shortwing, and White-gorgeted Flycatcher.
After birding in the upper region of Yongkola, we have time to explore the wonderfully rich, warm broad-leafed forests of Lingmethang road where we hope to find, Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Grey-headed Woodpecker, very secretive Red-faced Liocichla, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Maroon Oriole, Streaked Spiderhunter, Grey-bellied Tesia, Striated Prinia, Rufous-capped Babbler, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Mountain Bulbul, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Common Rosefinch (on Tshamang road), the chunky Spot-winged Grosbeak, Grey-cheeked and Black-faced Warblers.
On one evening, we will take a short night drive hoping to find Bhutan Giant Flying Squirrel (which has been regularly seen on our birding tours to Yongkola), Owls and frogmouth we will look for include Hodgson’s Frogmouth (Yongkola is the only known regular site for this species in Bhutan), Brown Wood Owl (seen near settlements of Yongkola), Mountain Scops Owl (heard only on most of our Bhutan tours), and the more numerous Collared Owlet.
Overnight Trogon Villa or Chengala Farmhouse, Yongkola, 1800m. (Meals: B, L, D).

After a final morning birding around our hotel we will retrace our journey back to Trashigang stopping along the lower region of Yongkola where the forests holds raptors such as Rufous-bellied and Mountain Hawk Eagles, Crested Goshawk and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Other species we may well encounter on todays journey include Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Streaked Spiderhunter, Golden-throated Barbet, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Crimson Sunbird, the scarce White-browed Piculet and flocks of Rufous-necked and White-crested Laughingthrushes, Greater Yellownape, Grey-capped Pygmy and Rufous Woodpeckers, Blue-throated Barbet, Long-tailed Minivet, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Grey Treepie, Ashy Bulbul, Green-billed Malkoha, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Blue-winged Minla, and White-bellied Erpornis (formally known as White-bellied Yuhina).
Overnight Druk Deojung Resort or similar, Trashigang 1,100m. (Meals: B, L, D).

In the morning we will drive towards Kanglung for a short birding trip, looking for species such as Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Grey Nightjar, Kalij Pheasant, Black and Crested Serpent Eagles, Blue Whistling Thrush (very common), Barred Cuckoo Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon (often seen in mixed feeding flocks), Large Hawk Cuckoo, Collared Owlet, Great Barbet (beautiful calls can be heard throughout our trip), Lesser Yellownape, Ashy Drongo and the winter migrant Wallcreeper.

After breakfast we will return to Trashigang, the largest district in the country, as we have seen travelling through the countryside, the mountains surrounding Trashigang are dotted with little villages.
Today we join hundreds of villagers to witness the festival in Trashigang dzong, to watch the mystical masked dancers as they whirl around in religious purification dances depicting stories of good and evil, evoking blessings on all who attend. Between the dances, Atsaras (clowns or jesters), keep the onlookers amused with their cheeky antics, but above all, your senses are awakened as you are transported into another time and place. The incredible acrobatic manoeuvres, the sunlight glinting on the vibrant silks of the dancers’ robes, the ambience of the ancient, majestic dzong and the people themselves, bedecked in their finest, in jovial mood, makes for a spectacular scene.
Overnight Druk Deojung Resort or similar, Trashigang 1,100m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we retrace our journey to Samdrup Jongkhar through an ever-changing landscape. The distant views of ridge after ridge of forested mountain ranges are nothing short of spectacular and can be appreciated even more on our return journey.
Stopping along todays route may well include Oriental Honey Buzzard, Shikra, Black-tailed Crake, Green-backed and Sultan Tits, Nepal Fulvetta, Oriental Turtle Dove, Whiskered and Stripe-throated Yuhinas, Grey Bushchat, Verditer Flycatcher, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Black-throated Sunbird, Olive-backed Pipit, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch and In Khaling, we will stop near a roadside cliff looking for a pair of Yellow-rumped Honeyguide (another near threatened species) installed near nests of Giant Rock Bees,
Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Great Hornbill (globally vulnerable), Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Himalayan Bluetail, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Green-tailed Sunbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Black-faced and White-throated Laughingthrushes, Plain Mountain Finch (often seen in flocks of up to 100 birds), Bay Woodpecker, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Tibetan Siskin (small flocks usually seen feeding in their favorite alder trees), Blue-throated Barbet, Grey-chinned Minivet, Bronzed and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, Common Green Magpie and Black-crested Bulbul,

Overnight Tashi Gasel Lodge or similar, Samdrup Jongkhar, 250m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today you say farewell to Bhutan and LETs Indian representatives will drive you across the plains of Assam towards Guwahati airport, for your flight to Kolkata or Delhi.
(Meals: B).


What is Included?

✓ 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
✓ Gratuities
✓ A printed bird checklist to keep track of sightings
✓ All entrance fees for museums and parks

What is not Included?

✖ Travel insurance (essential)
✖ Excursions not included in the tour itinerary
✖ Laundry, phone calls and alcoholic drinks
✖ Personal expenses
✖ Charges incurred as a result of circumstances beyond the control of Langur Eco Travels
✖ International flights

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

Walking and Terrain
Easy. There will be some long drives and short walks at altitudes of up to 3,000 m. Most birding is done close to our vehicle, most walks are comfortable with majority of birding done on roadside.

Climate
The climate will vary from cold in the mornings at altitude to quite warm during the day (mostly 10°-30°C). Some rain is possible but usually not enough to impede birding.

Accommodation
The accommodation in Samdrup Jongkhar is a little basic but rooms are clean and comfortable with private facilities.
All the rest of the 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 plus guests 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 some Bhutanese dishes.

Photography on birding tour
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 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: 5 - 14 Apr 2022
Starting city: Guwahati, Assam
Ending city: Guwahati, Assam
Pace: Easy
Physical difficulty: Easy to moderate
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 $ 2,880
2 US $ 2,700
3-12 US $ 2,520 (twin sharing cost)

Single Occupancy (Optional) - US $225

Flights are not included in the tour cost.
You can choose one of the options below for your Bhutan connection.
Option 1. Delhi-Guwahati-Delhi = US$ 250
Option 2. Kolkata-Guwahati-Kolkata = US$ 250

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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