Birding in Eastern Bhutan

Birding in Eastern Bhutan

Tour Pace & Walking: Moderate pace, undemanding walks & some long drives.

Average temperature: Temperate & cold to warm tropical with some rain expected.

Number of species expected: 200 – 250

Photographic Opportunities: Excellent

Duration : 11 nights
Local Leader : Sonam Tshering
Group Size : Maximum 12
Accommodation : 7 nights in hotels and 4 nights in camp.
Altitudes : 150m/492ft – 3,300m/10,826ft.
US$5,000/person

Day 1:  Flight from Delhi/Calcutta to Guwahati and drive to Samdrup Jongkhar, 110kms.

Day 2: Birding along the Bangtar Road and back to Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 3: Samdrup Jongkhar to Morong, 40kms. Birding en-route. Camp

Day 4: Morong to Narphung, 20kms. Birding along the farm road of Orong.Camp

Day 5: Narphung to Trashigang, 120kms.

Day 6: Trashigang to Lingmethang, 130kms, birding enroute.Camp

Day 7: Am around the upper Lingmethang and continue to Yongkola.

Day 8: Yongkola region. Explore the birding hotspots.

Day 9: Yongkola to Tashigang, 150kms, 4 hrs.

Day 10: Trashigang to Morong, 110kms, 4hrs. Camp

Day 11: Morong to Samdrup Jongkhar, 40kms, 2 hrs.

Day 12: Samdrup Jongkhar to Guwahati and connect to Delhi/Calcutta, India.

Day 1: Flight from Calcutta/Delhi to Guwahati and drive to Samdrup Jongkhar (110kms).
At the airport you will be met by Langur Eco Travels, Indian representatives who will drive you to Samdrup Jongkhar (approx 3 hrs drive). Along this drive please keep an eye out in the fields for the rare Lesser and Greater Adjutants; Little cormorant; White-throated Kingfisher. The Bhutanese hosts will greet you at the Bhutan gate in Samdrup Jongkhar and take you to our hotel for your first night in Bhutan. After Checking into the hotel, as time allows we will bird in the surrounding area; Indian and Chinese pond herons; Little Heron; Black-crowned Night Heron; Little and Cattle egrets;Asian Pied Starling; Common Myna; Rose-ringed and Alexandrine parakeets; Common Tailorbird; Oriental Magpie Robin; Yellow-footed Green Pigeon; Common Iora; Green Bee-eater and with a bit of luck the very rarely seen Blyth’s Kingfisher; Dark-rumped Swift and Black-backed Forktail.

NIGHT: Hotel Tashi Gasel, Samdrup Jongkhar, (250m).

Day 2: Samdrup Jongkhar to Deothang and Bangtar road and back.
We begin with a short drive out of Samdrup Jongkhar where we will bird in sub tropical forests along the 18km stretch to Deothang. Along this stretch we look for: Black Kite; Savanna Nightjar; Emerald and Red-collard doves; Coppersmith Barbet; Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker; Common and Himalayan flamebacks; Rufous Treepie; Lesser and Greater racket-tailed drongos; Black-nape Monarch; Grey-throated and Jungle babblers; Black-crested, White- throated and Ashy bulbuls; Oriental Pied, Great and Wreathed hornbills; House Crow; Green-billed Malkoha; Greater Coucal; Long-tailed Sibia; Chestnut-tailed Starling; Hill Myna; Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush; Plain Flowerpecker; Red-throated Flycatcher; Siberian Rubythroat (rare); Hooded Pitta (rare); Asian Fairy Bluebird; Violet and Plaintive cuckoos (both rare); Dollarbird and Red-headed Trogon.

NIGHT: Tashi Gatsel Hotel, Samdrup Jongkhar, (250m).

Day 3: Samdrup Jongkhar to Morong, (40kms).
Birding en-route.An early start so that we can spend the morning exploring the sub-tropical forest above Samdrup Jongkhar looking for species such as:Chestnut-breasted Partridge (rare); Silver-breasted Broadbill (rare); Beautiful Nuthatch (rare) any of which represent a very special experience; Red-faced Liocichla; Blue-winged, Bhutan and Rufous-necked laughingthrushes; Greater Coucal; Rufous-necked Hornbill (good population in Bhutan but rare elsewhere); the spectacular Greater Flameback (woodpecker); Crimson Sunbird; Silver-eared Mesia; Long-tailed and Silver-breasted broadbills (the later is very rare and elusive); Chestnut-winged, Hodgson’s Hawk, Grey-bellied and Drongo cuckoos; White-throated Needletail; Grey Nightjar; Brown Shrike; Slender-billed Oriole; White-throated Fantail; Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike; Hair-crested Drongo; Ferruginous, Blue-throated and Grey-headed Canary flycatchers; Small Niltava; Green Cochoa (rare); Brown-throated Treecreeper; Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch; Yellow-cheeked and Sultan tits; Himalayan and Black bulbuls; Striated and Hill prinias; Hume’s, and Greenish warblers; Grey-cheeked, Grey-hooded and Broad-billed warblers; Chestnut-crowned and White-crested laughingthrushes; Rufous-throated Wren Babbler; Rufous-capped, Grey-throated and Golden babblers; Striated, White-naped and White-bellied yuhinas; Greater Rufous-headed and Lesser Rufous-headed parrotbills; Streaked Spiderhunter; Grey and White wagtails; Grey-headed Bullfinch; Spot-winged Grosbeak and Gold-naped Finch.

NIGHT: Camping at Morong, (1,500m).

Day 4: Morong to Narphung, (20kms).
Birding along Orong farm road.We will begin the day with birding around our lovely campsite returning to have breakfast in these beautiful surroundings before we continue our drive to Narphung. The rest of the day is spent birding along the Morong – Narphung road (approx 20km stretch). These superb forests in this area, will provide us with opportunities to study the birds such as: White-browed Shrike Babbler; Cutia; Rusty-fronted Barwing; Red-tailed and Blue-winged minlas; Hill Partridge; Kalij Pheasant; Bay and Crimson-breasted woodpeckers; Greater and Lesser yellownapes; Golden-throated and Great barbets; Plaintive, Lesser and Asian Emerald cuckoos; Himalayan Swiftlet; Fork-tailed and House swifts; Collard and Asian Barred owlets; Spot-bellied Eagle Owl (rare); Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon; Eurasian Sparrowhawk; Besra; Northern Goshawk; Steppe and Bonelli’s eagles; Orange-bellied Leafbird; Long-tailed and Grey-backed shrikes.

NIGHT: Camping at Narphung, (2,000m).

Day 5: Narphung to Trashigang, via Moshi, Womrong, Khaling and Kanglung, (120kms).
Camping in these warm broad-leaf tropical forests, allows a second daywhere we will begin with birding around our lovely campsite returning for breakfast in these beautiful surroundings before we continue our scenic drive with spectacular view of the hills, isolated farms and tiny hamlets to Trashigang. Species we may encounter include along this drive are: Yellow-billed Blue Magpie; Grey Treepie; Eurasian Jay; Large-billed Crow; Maroon Oriole; Long-tailed Minivet; Yellow-bellied and White-throated fantails; Ashy and Black drongos; Blue Whistling Thrush; Long-billed Thrush (rare); Ultramarine, Slaty-Blue, Little Pied and White-gorgeted flycatchers (the later is rare); Large and Rufous-bellied niltavas; Spotted Forktail; Common Stonechat; White-tailed Nuthatch; Fire-capped, Green-backed, Black-throated and Rufous-fronted tits; Striated, Mountain, Black and Red-vented bulbuls; Aberrant Bush Warbler; Mountain Tailorbird; Ashy-throated, Chestnut-crowned and Lemon-rumped warblers; Blyth’s Leaf Warbler; Striated, White-throated and Chestnut-crowned laughingthrushes; Rusty-cheeked and Streak-breasted scimitar babblers; Rufous-throated and Spotted wren babblers; Red-billed Leiothrix; Green-tailed and Mrs Gould’s sunbirds; Russet and Eurasian Tree sparrows; White Wagtail; Olive-backed Pipit; Maroon Accentor (rare); Yellow-breasted Greenfinch and Tibetan Siskin.

NIGHT: Druk Deojung Resort, Trashigang, (1,100m).

Day 6: Trashigang to Lingmethang via Mongar and Kore La (2,298m), birding en-route.
We will leave Trashigang after and early breakfast as there are no productive birding areas in the immediate vicinity and driving down to Chazam. The journey continues through Sheri Chhu from where the road climbs by means of 10 hairpin bends, known as the Yadi Loops, in just 10 Kms! From here we continue to the little village of Yadi. The road passes fields of corn and broad-leaf forests where we will stop and bird before our final ascent to Kore La.

Here amongst other species we may find: Brown Bullfinch; Scarlet Finch; Grey-winged Blackbird; Brown-throated Treecreeper; and Grey-sided Laughingthrush.

Crossing the pass we descend through cool broadleaved trees, dripping with exotic orchids, fern-lined forests of rhododendrons, where again we will stop to bird hoping to see in these pristine environs: Maroon Oriole; Common Rosefinch; Hill Prinia; Fire-capped Tit; Bhutan Laughingthrush; Rufous-bellied Woodpecker; Asian Barred Owlet; Ward’s Trogon (rare); Gold-naped Finch; Kalij Pheasant and Barn Swallow.

Climbing back into our vehicles, we continue our descent to the town of Mongar and on to the sub-tropical forests of Lingmethang at 700m and our camp.

NIGHT: Camping at Lingmethang, (700m).

Day 7& 8: Yongkola region.
Explore one of the best birding hotspots of Bhutan.This morning we will begin our birding around our campsite. Here we will look for the rare Spot-bellied Eagle Owl and the Tawny Fish Owl.
From here superlatives continue to describe the journey as we begin our climb to the broad leaf forests at Yongkola 1800m.

The warm broadleaf forests provide the perfect environment for many avianspecies including many of Bhutan’s sought-after birds. And so today is spent birding in the upper Yongkola region. In this breathtaking landscape we will bird in a protected area of pristine forests using a paved yet rarely used road, providing the ultimate beneficiary birding opportunities. It is here in this birding hotspot that we can look for some of Bhutan’s most prized bird species: Ward’s Trogon; Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler and Rufous-throated Wren Babbler (a little known and endangered species).

After birding the upper elevations above Yongkola, acknowledged being one of the great birding roads of the world, we will slowly descend to our Yongkola camp. We have time to explore the wonderfully rich, subtropical, warm and cool, broad- leaved forests along the lower section of this road where ancient trees are festooned with orchids adding a riot of colour to this verdant land.

Trails criss-cross the forests, but few birders venture far into their depth consequently, exactly what avian delights may be around the corner may be a complete surprise. Here we should encounter: Hill, Rufous-throated and Chestnut-breasted partridges; Rufous-bellied and Crested Serpent eagles; The rare Rufous-necked Hornbill (the forests of Bhutan are the stronghold for this impressive species); Speckled Wood-Pigeon (another rare bird); Blue-bearded Bee-eater and two of the Himalayas’ rarest birds, the cobalt Blue-fronted Robin and the elusive and strange Wedge-billed Wren Babbler; Bay and Lesser Yellownape;Golden-throated and Blue-throated barbets; Large and Oriental hawk-cuckoos; Collared Owlet; Himalayan Treepie; Gray-chinned, Short-billed and Long-tailed Minivets; Yellow-bellied Fantail; Blue-headed Rock Thrush; White-browed Shortwing; Verditer Flycatcher; Large Niltava; Hodgson’s Redstart (in farmland at the edge of the forest); Plumbeous Redstart (males can be seen vigorously defending streamside territories); White-capped Redstart; Slaty-backed Forktail; Rusty-flanked Treecreeper; Sultan, Black-throated, Rufous-fronted, Yellow-browed and Yellow-cheeked tits; Mountain and Ashy bulbuls; Hill and Striated prinias; and Chestnut-headed, Slaty-bellied and Gray-bellied tesias; Gray-sided Bush Warbler; Gray-hooded, White-spectacled, Chestnut-crowned, Broad-billed and Black-faced warblers; White-crested, Striated, Rufous- necked, Gray-sided, and Blue-winged laughingthrushes; Streak-breasted, Coral-billed and Slender-billed scimitar-babblers; Rufous-capped and Golden babblers; Red-billed Leiothrix; Cutia; Rufous-bellied, Black-headed (rare), White-browed and Black-eared shrike babblers; Rusty-fronted Barwing; Chestnut-tailed and Red-tailed minlas; White-naped, Whiskered, and Black-chinned yuhinas; and the exquisite Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated fulvettas (virtually unknown elsewhere); Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill (rarely seen); Fire-breasted Flowerpecker; Crimson-browed Finch; Spot-winged Grosbeak; Scarlet Finch (again, incredibly beautiful males).

NIGHTS: Trogon Villa, Yongkola, (1,800m).

Day 9: Yongkola to Tashigang, (150kms).
After a final morning’s birding around the camp we will continue to lower region of Yongkola where the different vegetation supports different bird species such as the Blue-eared Bee-eater, Streaked Spiderhunter, Blue-throated Barbet, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Crimson Sunbird and White-browed Piculet to name few. We will descend into Lingmethang a small town at 700m before climbing again to the Town of Mongar.

Our journey continues east. From the town of Mongar, we will ascend through a mixed broad-leaved evergreen forest. For the photographers among us, the opportunities will be endless. At this time of the year, with migrant birds streaming north, virtually anything is possible. In addition, there are a number of species whose main habitat is roadside scrub and agricultural areas, including species such as Siberian Stonechat,Crested and Little Bunting.

We spend the morning birding along the Kore La road where we look for species such as: Grey-sided, Chestnut-crowned, and Scaly laughingthrushes, Red-faced Liocichla, Rufous-bellied and Large niltavas, Kalij Pheasant and the rare Rufous-necked Hornbill. After crossing the Kore La at 2,400 m, we commence the last section of today’s journey, which takes us through a series of switchbacks as we descend to the Gamri River through Chir pine (Pinus roxburghii) forest, corn fields, and banana groves, to the village of Nagtshang where we will look for Himalayan Bulbul, Crimson Sunbird and Crested Bunting.
As we arrive in Trashigang, we should have a superb view of the Trashigang Dzong, one of Bhutan’s justly famous fortified monasteries. Built in 1659, it is superbly located on a spur overhanging the Gamri Chu and is protected on three sides by rivers or ravines. The dzong commands a fine view over the surrounding countryside.

Night: Druk Deojung Resort, Tashigang, (1,100m).

Day 10:Tashigang to Morong, birding at Yonphu La, (140kms).
This is by far the longest settled and most populous region of Bhutan. Consequently, much of the early part of today’s journey meanders through relatively intensively farmed land. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating landscape with plenty of birds to see. We will stop at marshy rice-fields, where we hope to find a pair of rarely observed Black-tailed Crakes in residence as we have seen on previous visits.
We will bird below Yonphu la (2,500m) before breakfast. From Yonphu La we descend to a small town of Khaling at (2,000m). From here we will continue climbing to Kharung La pass at 2,500m.

From Khaling pass we drive southwards to Morong. On this part of the journey, we will pass through the small towns of Womrong, Reserbu and Moshi. The view all along today’s journey is quite beyond description. A panoramic view of ridge after ridge covered in pristine forest, stretches to the distant horizon, with the promise of endless birding opportunities.

Along today’s drive we should encounter species such as: Yellow-billed Blue Magpie; Grey Treepie; Eurasian Jay; Large-billed Crow; Maroon Oriole; Long-tailed Minivet; Yellow-bellied and White-throated fantails; Ashy and Black drongos; Blue Whistling Thrush; Long-billed Thrush (rare); Ultramarine, Slaty-Blue, little Pied and White-gorgeted flycatchers (the later is rare); Large and Rufous-bellied niltavas; Spotted Forktail; Common Stonechat; White-tailed Nuthatch; Fire-capped, Green-backed, Black-throated and Rufous-fronted tits; Striated, Mountain, Black and Red-vented bulbuls; Aberrant Bush Warbler; Mountain Tailorbird; Ashy-throated, Chestnut-crowned and Lemon-rumped warblers; Blyth’s Leaf Warbler; Striated, White-throated and Chestnut-crowned laughingthrushes, Streak-breasted scimitar babblers; Rufous-throated and Spotted wren babblers; Red-billed Leiothrix; Green-tailed and Mrs Gould’s sunbirds; Russet and Eurasian Tree sparrows; White Wagtail; Olive-backed Pipit; Maroon Accentor (rare); Yellow-breasted Greenfinch; Tibetan Siskin; White-browed Shrike Babbler; Cutia; Rusty-fronted Barwing; Red-tailed and Blue-winged minlas; Hill Partridge; Kalij Pheasant; Bay and Crimson-breasted woodpeckers; Greater and Lesser yellownapes; Golden-throated and Great barbets; Plaintive, Lesser and Asian Emerald cuckoos; Himalayan Swiftlet; Fork-tailed and House swifts; Collard and Asian Barred owlets; Spot-bellied Eagle Owl (rare); Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon; Eurasian Sparrowhawk; Besra; Northern Goshawk; Steppe and Bonelli’s eagles; Orange-bellied Leafbird; Long-tailed and Grey-backed shrikes.

NIGHT: Camping at Morong, (1,500m).

Day 11: Morong to Samdrup Jongkhar, birding the sub-tropical forest of Morong, (40kms).
At this point, we have travelled deep into the eastern part of Bhutan. Very few birders have ever visited this part of Bhutan, therefore we anticipate finding a number of rare and little known species. Although many of the birds will be familiar, we also hope to encounter a number of the more elusive lower elevation species such as Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Gray Peacock-Pheasant, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Long-tailed Sibia, Red-faced Liocichla and Blue- winged Laughingthrush, any of which represent a very special experience.

We will spend the afternoon exploring the sub-tropical forest above Samdrup Jongkhar. Birds we may encounter include: Thick-billed and Pin-tailed pigeons; Emerald Dove; Banded Bay, Gray- breasted, Violet, and Plaintive cuckoos; Green-billed Malkoha; Greater Coucal; Blue-bearded and Chestnut- headed bee-eaters; with luck, the very rarely seen Blyth’s Kingfisher and Pale-headed Woodpecker; Wreathed, Oriental Pied and Great Hornbills; the spectacular Greater Flameback (woodpecker); Asian Fairy-bluebird; Black-naped Monarch; Greater Racket-tailed Drongo; Asian Paradise-Flycatcher; Hill Myna; and Crimson Sunbird.

NIGHT: Tashi Gatsel Hotel, Samdrup Jongkhar, (250m).

Day 12: Drive to Guwahati,(110kms); Fly to Delhi/Calcutta.
Today you exit Bhutan and connect with your onward journey.

Included in Bhutan Land Cost:

  • 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
  • All necessary camping equipment
  • All entrance fees for museums

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

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


Trip Grade: Gentle to Moderate Hikes:
You should prepare for certain factors of travel in Bhutan. A few of the most important are: elevation, windy mountain roads. Average elevation on this trip is 2,400m. Pass crossings may be up to 4,000m (by vehicle).

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.

Accommodation:
It is our policy to use the best available accommodation in each location. All hotels and lodges we use are government approved and registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan. We have our own camping crew who will set up camps, prepare hot meals and provide hot showers.

Clothing:
It is advised that you have layers of light clothing, perhaps some thermal underwear, a warm jumper, fleece or jacket for the evenings when the temperature can suddenly drop. Generally speaking, casual clothing is suitable throughout your stay and that the main requirement is that you are comfortable.

Laundry facilities are available at all hotels. Waterproofs and/or umbrellas – just in case! Sunglasses and sun-cream or blocks are essential. Hand wipes (wet wipes/ anti-bacterial) and tissues are useful.

Habitats Covered: High altitude up to 3,300m to low at 150m (India). Coniferous, mix broad-leafed and sub-tropical forests including bamboo and banana undergrowth, pastures, rocky slopes and river beds.


Top Birds: Hooded Pitta; Spot-winged Grosbeak; Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated fulvettas; Long-tailed and Beautiful sibias; White Crowned and Black-backed forktails; Oriental-pied, Wreathed, Great and Rufous-necked hornbills; Hooded Pitta; Red-headed and Wards Trogon; Long-tailed Broadbill; Dark-rumped Swift; Beautiful Nuthatch; Cutia; Blue winged, Scaly, Grey-sided and Rufous-chinned laughingthrushes; Tawny Fish Owl; Slender-billed and Coral-billed scimitar babblers; Wedge-billed Wren Babbler; Asian Paradise Flycatcher; Crimson Sunbird and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo.


Top Mammals: Capped Langur, Assamese Macaque, Common Goral, Malayan Giant Squirrel, Five striped Palm Squirrel and Muntjac (Barking Deer).


Other attractions: Strong Buddhist culture, spectacular mountain scenery and magnificent pristine forests.

Number of Pax Price Per Pax
1 US $3,400
2 US $3,260
3-12 US $2,840