12 Days – 
Tour in Search of Birds, Mammals, Butterflies and Flowers of Bhutan

12-days-in-search-of-birds-mammals-butterflies-and-flowers-in-Bhutan
Detailed Itinerary

Synopsis

Bhutan has been protected by its isolation within the Himalayas and its mountainous terrain. The deep valleys and almost impenetrable jungles have acted as allies in preventing destruction of the forests. Today over 70% of the land is forested and 60% is protected with 10 National Parks, together with great variation in altitudes from 150 m to 4,500m, creates an extremely wide range of habitats from undisturbed tropical jungles, through mixed temperate broadleaved forests to high alpine meadows. In this pristine environment where religion states that all life is sacred, wildlife flourishes, making Bhutan one of the top ten bio-diversity hot spots in the world. To date Bhutan has 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 the most amazingly beautiful landscape, full of birding excellence, where we should encounter some 350 species of birds, over 14 species of mammals and 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 a gentle hike to Tigers Nest Monastery. Overall, experience the unique culture of Bhutan, expanding your interests but not compromising your main objectives!


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 (fairly common on many of Bhutan’s river), Common Snipe, Common and Green Sandpipers, Common Hoopoe, Himalayan Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Grey-backed Shrike, Russet Sparrow, Rosy Pipit, Siberian Stonechat, White Wagtail, Rufous-breasted Accentor and Wallcreeper (winter visitor).
Northward migration will be underway and many of the valleys throughout Bhutan act as important conduits, therefore, it is possible that you may see species as yet not recorded in Bhutan.
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 at 3,780m, the highest point we will reach on this tour. Along this route we can look out for Grey Nightjar, often seen on the roadside at dawn. Arriving at the pass there are breathtaking views of the high Himalayan peaks of Jhomolhari (7,219m), Jichu Drake (6,989m) and down into the Paro and Ha valleys.
Birds we may see include the colourful Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant (often feeding obligingly along the roadsides), Bearded Vulture (formally known as Lammergeier), Hen Harrier (rare), Himalayan Cuckoo, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-fronted Tit, Greenish Warbler, Spotted Laughingthrush (beautiful caller), Red-tailed Minla, White-browed Fulvetta, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Red-throated Thrush (rare), Collared Grosbeak, White-browed Bush Robin, Brown Parrotbill, and Himalayan White-browed and Blanford’s Rosefinches.
After breakfast we will continue birding the beautiful areas of Chele La before gradually making our way Thimphu, stopping en-route for Long-legged Buzzard (rare), Mandarin Duck (rare), Oriental Turtle Dove (common), Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Hodgson’s Redstart and Olive-backed Pipit.
Overnight Hotel Yak & Yeti or similar, Thimphu, 2,300m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we must leave early in order to see the high Himalayas as dawn breaks over Dochu La at 3,150m. It is an awe-inspiring sight, where prayer flags flutter in the breeze and 108 white chortens greet us!
Exploring the mixed broad-leafed forests at Dochu La, we should find an incredible wide range of birds which may well include Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Rufous-vented Tit, Buff Barred Warbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Chestnut-crowned and Grey-sided Laughingthrushes, Rufous Sibia, Fire-tailed Myzornis (one of the top targets for Bhutan), White-collared Blackbird, White-browed Shortwing, Slaty Blue Flycatcher, Green-tailed Sunbird and Olive-backed Pipit to name just a few.
Continuing to Lampelri we will explore the Royal Botanical Park where we may find, Hill Partridge, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Red-billed Leiothrix, Fire-capped Tit, Blue-fronted Redstart, Verditer Flycatcher, Blue-fronted Robin (very shy and rare), the impressive Scarlet Finch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch and with a bit of luck, a much rarer Maroon-backed Accentor.
Eventually we arrive in Punakha where we will take a short cultural break to visit the majestic Punakha Dzong built in 1637, situated on a promontory at the confluence of the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) Chhu (river), Punakha Dzong is known as the “Palace of Great Happiness” and considered to be one of the most beautiful Dzongs in Bhutan.
Looking around our hotel grounds in Punakha we should find Slender-billed Oriole (localized), Scaly-breasted Munia, and as nightfall’s we can try for the resident Collared Scops Owl.
Overnight Meri Puensum Resort or similar, Punakha, 1,300m. (Meals: B, L, D).

In the morning we will bird along the Puna Tshang Chhu valley looking for some water birds such as, Pallas’s Fish Eagle (rare and globally endangered), Osprey, Bar-headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck (abundant during winter months), Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Indian Spot-billed Duck (rare), Northern Shoveler (rare), Tufted Duck (rare), Great-crested Grebe (rare), Goosander, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great Cormorant (common), River Lapwing, Long-billed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common Greenshank, Pallas’s Gull (rare), White-throated Kingfisher, White-browed Wagtail, Spotted Dove and in the nearby paddy fields we should find the scarce Richard’s Pipit.
Leaving Punakha we take the winding mountain road up through oak and rhododendron forests, festooned with lichens towards Lawa La at 3,350m. Along these diverse habitats we will look for the areas top attractions such as: Ward’s Trogon (a montane species found only in the Eastern Himalayas), the strange looking Long-billed Thrush and the chunky Spot-winged Grosbeak.
From Lawa La we will descend into Phobjikha valley stopping at Gangtey to visit the largest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan, set on a spur above the Phobjikha valley and surrounded by the quaint village of Gangtey.
We stay overnight in the Phobjikha, considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is also the wintering ground of the rare and little-known Black-necked Crane (globally vulnerable), driven off the vast open plateau of Tibet by the ferocity of its high altitude winter, the cranes find refuge here from November until March.
Also within the valley we can look for the areas specialties like, Oriental Skylark (fairly common but rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Red-billed Chough (seen quite often in huge flocks), Hen Harrier (at least a pair), Upland Buzzard, and Lammergeier (also known as Bearded Vulture).
Overnight Gakiling guesthouse or similar, Phobjikha, 2,800m.
(Meals: B, L, D).

Starting early we will travel eastwards to explore the high boreal forests of Pele La, 3,350m hoping to find Himalayan Vulture (often found in flocks of up to 30 birds soaring high above Pele La), Solitary Snipe (a rare inhabitant of the roadside marshes), Lesser Cuckoo, the amazing Black-faced Laughingthrush, Hume’s Bush Warbler (a bamboo dweller), Short-billed Minivet, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch, Red Crossbill, Brown Bullfinch and Little Bunting.
We continue our birding as we travel through beautiful rhododendron forests to the village of Chendibji, where a Nepalese styled Chorten is picturesquely situated alongside the river.
The road then takes us through the village of Tangsibji where we stop near a small stream looking for a pair of Black-tailed Crake that are at resident. We eventually arrive in Trongsa for an overnight stay.
Overnight Yangkhil Resort or similar, Trongsa, 2,000m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we drive along the quiet, forest road towards Tingtibi. Blue Whistling Thrushes fly off the road at regular intervals, and we keep a sharp lookout for Spotted Forktail at the beautiful mossy waterfalls that are a feature of the journey.
The whole section of todays journey is spectacular as we look for an amazing variety of rare and special birds in the mixed broad-leafed forests that stretches from 2000m down to 700m. This is also home to the Endangered Golden Langurs, which can be seen in small groups along the roadside forests.
In the early part of the morning we will look for species such as Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon (seen in mixed feeding flocks), Large Hawk and Grey-bellied Cuckoos, Green-billed Malkoha, Red-headed Trogon (one of the finest trogons in the world), the noisy Great Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Lesser Yellownape, Bay Woodpecker, Long-tailed Minivet, Large Niltava, Green-backed Tit, Eurasian Woodcock (rare), White-throated Laughingthrush, Spot-winged Starling (rare), Ashy Bulbul, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Pygmy Blue and Ferruginous Flycatchers, Blue Rock Thrush, Long-tailed Broadbill, and Tibetan Siskin.
Arriving in the warmer sub-tropical area of Tingtibi, we will look for Crested Kingfisher (by the Mangde river), Lesser Coucal, Rufous Woodpecker, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Common Cuckoo, the spectacular Crimson Sunbird, Daurian Redstart (a rare vagrant), beautifully coloured Emerald Dove, Brown Shrike, Common Tailorbird, Oriental Magpie Robin, Common Stonechat, and several flocks of White-crested and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes.
Overnight Hotel Twang or similar, Tingtibi, 600m. (Meals: B, L, D).

After a quick tea/coffee at our hotel, we will drive along the Tingtibi – Gomphu road, exploring the rich bamboo forests, looking for the areas top birds such as Tawny Fish Owl (at a roosting site at Tingtibi), Collared Owlet, Red Junglefowl, White-browed Piculet, White-hooded Babbler (the only known site in Bhutan), Rufous-faced Warbler (rare), Pale-headed Woodpecker (very rare and elusive), White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Long-tailed Sibia (seen in flock), Slaty-backed Forktail, Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher (previously thought to be Asian Paradise Flycatcher which has been split into 3 separate species), Pin-tailed Green Pigeon (fairly common in the area but rare elsewhere), the amazing Great Hornbill (globally vulnerable), Eurasian Wryneck, Barred Buttonquail (rare), Banded Bay Cuckoo, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Large Woodshrike, Scarlet Minivet, White-rumped Munia, Silver-eared Mesia, Yellow-bellied and Yellow-vented Warblers (both are fairly common in these area but rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Common Hill Myna, Black Redstart, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher, Forest Wagtail (rare), Collared Falconet, and along the Mangde chhu (river) we will look for perhaps the rarest bird seen in Bhutan the critically endangered White-bellied Heron, the population of this birds is estimated at only 60 individuals left in the wild.
After breakfast, we will continue birding the beautiful areas of Gomphu searching for Blue-throated Barbet, Squire-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Nepal Fulvetta, White-naped Yuhina (undoubtedly the most beautiful yuhinas in Bhutan), Sultan Tit, Grey-chinned Minivet, Bronzed Drongo, Rufescent Prinia, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Black-crested and White-throated Bulbuls, and with a bit of luck, we could also find the tougher species Rufous-throated Partridge (near-threatened), and Rufous-bellied Eagle (another near-threatened species).
Our hotel in Tingtibi is situated in the sub-tropical forests, where one can occasionally hear the eerie calls of the scarce Spot-bellied Eagle Owl.
Overnight Hotel Twang or similar, Tingtibi, 600m.
(Meals: B, L, D).

Our first wonderful birding area is at Tama La (pass), 1,660m, where we hope to see new birds such as, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Shikra, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Swift, Golden-throated Barbet, Greater Yellownape, Long-tailed Minivet, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Grey Treepie, Red-vented Bulbul, Red-faced Liocichla, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Pale Blue Flycatcher, and White-tailed Robin.
Crossing Tama La, we will look for a pair of Yellow-rumped Honeyguide installed near nests of Giant Rock Bees that hang from a cliff before continuing our journey to Gelephu, with magnificent views of the ever-changing landscape views. Interesting species along this section include, Striated Heron, Intermediate Egret, Red-wattled Lapwing, Oriental Hobby (rare), Common Kingfisher, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Little Ringed Plover, Green Imperial Pigeon (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Alexandrine Parakeet, Green Bee-eater and Black-throated Sunbird.
Gelephu is well known for few species of owls, so we will take a short night drive with searchlights, where we hope to see the Brown Hawk Owl, Spotted Owlet (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), and if luck favors, the rare and elusive Oriental Bay Owl.
Overnight Hotel Kuku Grand or similar, Gelephu, 250m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we will visit the Gelephu sewage pond for our morning birding, here we can look for species such as Black Baza (rare), Black Stork (rare), Lesser Whistling Duck, Red-naped Ibis (rare), Cinnamon Bittern (rare elsewhere in Bhutan), Indian Pond Heron, Little Egret, White-breasted Waterhen, the strange looking Great Thick-knee, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Pin-tailed Snipe (rare) and Sand Lark.
After breakfast we will drive along Tsirang road, looking for the much sought-after Himalayan foothill species as Indian Peafowl, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Red-collared Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon (often seen in small flocks), Rose-ringed Parakeet, Bonelli’s Eagle, Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Lesser Coucal, Indian Roller (a brightly coloured bird with various shades of blue- magnificent!), Coppersmith Barbet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Ashy Woodswallow, Brown Shrike, Rufous Treepie (rare), Large Scimitar Babbler (rare and very shy), Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, and the more commoner species such as Common Hill Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Oriental Magpie Robin (abundant), Taiga Flycatcher, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Grey Wagtail, House Crow and Jungle Babbler.
Overnight Hotel Kuku Grand or similar, Gelephu, 250m.
(Meals: B, L, D).

This morning we will take the 25 minutes flight to Paro, from your flight there are breathtaking views of Himalayan Mountains. Arriving in Paro we will visit Paro Dzong, the Fortress of the Heap of Jewels, which was featured in some scenes of the film ‘Little Buddha’ (1993). Built in1644, this 5 storey building has white-washed walls, magnificently carved and painted wooden doors and windows, which add to the sense of power and wealth required to build this fortress. Walking through the two guard houses we enter the courtyard where we can see the intricately carved central tower, considered to be one of the finest and most beautiful in Bhutan.
From here we will follow the stone path down to the Paro Chhu (river) and cross the Nyamai Zam – the wooden cantilevered bridge festooned with prayer flags.
Perhaps we can have another look at the enigmatic Ibisbill before heading on Chele La road, searching for the stunning Kalij Pheasant, hopefully feeding by the roadsides. Other species that frequent the area include, Northern Goshawk, Grey-backed Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Large-billed Crow, Black-throated Tit, Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Ashy-throated Warbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Striated Laughingthrush and Dark-breasted Rosefinch.
Overnight Hotel Olathang or similar, Paro, 2,300m. (Meals: B, L, D).

Today we will have a fabulous 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. Regular birds we see on this journey include: Himalayan Buzzard, Eurasian Jay, Darjeeling Woodpecker, White Wagtail, Green-tailed Sunbird, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
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.
The rocky ledges near the monastery holds gems like Snow Pigeon and Altai Accentor, both of which are found in small flocks, while the waterfall next to the monastery should produce Little Forktail, White-capped and Plumbeous Water Redstarts.
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.
Returning to our hotel we will enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner to mark the end of the tour.
Overnight Hotel Olathang or similar, Paro, 2,300m. (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).


What is included?

✓ Bhutan Visa and Tax
✓ Tour Guide who is a birding and cultural expert
✓ 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
✓ Tips/gratuity for guide, driver and porters
✓ A printed bird checklist to keep track of sightings
✓ All entrance fees for museums and parks

What is not included?

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

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, most 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
The accommodation in Tingtibi 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
By18 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 (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: 15th – 27th Mar 2022
Starting city: Paro, Bhutan
Ending city: Paro, Bhutan
Pace: Moderate
Physical difficulty: Moderate
Focus: birding, culture and flowers
Max group size: 3-11* + local leaders 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 $ 3,410
2 US $ 3,190
3-12 US $ 2,970 (twin sharing cost)

Single Occupancy (Optional) - US $ 275

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
Internal Flight. Gelephu-Paro = US$ 180

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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