|Date||17th – 7th May 2018|
|Duration||20 nights / 21 days|
|Group size||Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 2 clients or larger groups possible|
|Accommodation||From basic lodge to comfortable hotel. Luxury camping.|
|Climate||Wide varieties of weather are expected, hot and sunny to cold at the high elevation. Occasionally rain is expected in some places|
Day 1: Guwahati – Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 2: Samdrup – Deothang – Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 3: Samdrup Jongkhar – Morong
Day 4: Morong – Trashigang
Day 5: Trashigang – Mongar – Yongkala
Day 6 & 7: Yongkala – Limithang Road
Day 8: Yongkala – Namling – Sengor
Day 9: Sengor – Thrumshingla – Bumthang
Day 10: Bumthang – Yotongla – Trongsa
Day 11: Trongsa – Zhemgang
Day 12 & 13: Zhemgang – Tingtibe Road
Day 14: Zhemgang – Trongsa – Phobjekha
Day 15: Phobjekha – Pelela – Punakha
Day 16: Punakha – Jigme Dorji National Park
Day 17: Punakha – Thimphu
Day 18: Thimphu – Paro
Day 19: Paro – Chelila Birding
Day 20: Paro – Tiger’s Nest excursion
Day 21: Departure
We’ll meet at Guwahati airport, in the Indian state of Assam, located on the south shore of the Brahmaputra River. We leave Guwahati along busy roads packed with cars, street hawkers and rickshaws, cross the Brahmaputra River, and continue across the Indian plain of Assam. We look out for Little Cormorant, egrets, Indian Pond Heron, Ashy Drongo and Red-wattled Lapwing in roadside wetlands, with possible sightings of Small Pratincole, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Citrine Wagtail, Rusty-rumped Warbler and Striated Grassbird. We will also make a special effort to find lesser and Greater Adjutants, both highly endangered species. We enter Bhutan, complete the immigration process at the border, and enter the town of Samdrup Jongkhar where we spend the night.
Overnight: Hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 2. Samdrup Jongkhar Deothang Birding
We will spend the morning exploring the foothills surrounding Samdrup Jongkhar. The forest patches and small stands of bamboo around the Samdrup Jongkhar hosts a number of lowland species. Like Wreathed, Oriental Pied and Great Hornbills, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Rufescent Prinia, Black-naped Monarch, Scarlet Minivet, Black-crested, Ashy and Black Bulbuls, Golden-fronted Leafbird, bamboo-dwelling Yellow-bellied Warbler, White-rumped Shama, Sultan Tit, Asian Fairy-bluebird and Long-tailed Broadbill we’ll also be looking for the Black-backed Forktail along the rocky streams in the area as well If we are fortunate we may encounter rare birds such as Dark-rumped Swift and Pied Falconet.
Overnight: Hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 3. Samdrup Jongkhar – Morong (4hrs)
After our final morning exploring lowland forest between Samdrup Jongkhar and Deothang. This forest is remarkably rich and diverse; target species here include the rare Dark-rumped Swift, Pied Falconet, Jungle Babbler, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Wreathed and Great Hornbill and Puff-throated Babbler. We will head further north towards through the forested foothills towards the Morong. The remainder of the afternoon will be spent birding a stretch of mossy, mid-altitude broad-leaved forest. Our main target here is the extremely special, Beautiful Nuthatch. Other interesting species we may encounter this afternoon while searching for the highly-sought nuthatch include Black-faced Warbler, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Striated Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Sibia, Silver-eared Mesia and Rufous-necked Hornbill to name a few.
Overnight: Morong Campsite, at 1710m.
Day 4. Morong to Trashigang (6hrs)
We will have a before-breakfast outing back to the location of the Beautiful Nuthatch if we didn’t find it yesterday. After breakfast at the campsite, we make our way to Trashigang stopping along the way for birding. Today’s target species will include Rufous-necked Hornbill, Grey-sided Laughingthrush, and Long-tailed Broadbill with other possibilities such as Black Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, and few species of yuhinas.
Overnight: Hotel in Trashigang.
Day 5. Trashigang to Kori La to Mongar to Yongkala (5hrs)
En route to Yongkala, we stop at Kori La. The forest here is rich in mosses and lichens, and we search these mountain forests for Steak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-winged Blackbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Long-tailed and Short-billed Minivets, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler and Spotted Wren-Babbler. In the afternoon we will reach Bhutan’s wet subtropical forest and one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas, at Campsite Yongkala, for a three-night stay. We bird these lush forested valleys searching for shortwings, Black-headed Shrike-Babbler, Ward’s Trogon, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, barbets, Golden Bush Robin, Chestnut-breasted Partridge and many other rare species alongside Little Forktail, Large Niltava, Russet Bush-Warbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Violet Cuckoo and Rufous-faced Warbler.
Overnight: Campsite Yongkala (1875m).
Day 6-7. Yongkala; the Limithang Road
We spend two full days birding along this incredible 80 km long road, ranked amongst the ten top birding sites in the world, with waterfalls and ravines appearing around every bend. We search for the area’s specialties such as Wedge-billed Wren-Babbler, Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, Spotted Wren-Babbler, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, flocks of parrotbills, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Scarlet Finch, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings and many more.
Overnight: Campsite Yongkala.
Day 8. Yongkala to Sengor (3hrs)
We start early, moving uphill in search of high altitude species that include Blood Pheasant and Satyr Tragopan, the bird that draws many birders to Bhutan. The dense conifers forest hold many good species such as Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Bar-winged Wren-Babbler, Red-headed Bullfinch, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Gold-naped Finch and Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler. Our campsite near the pastureland is good for thrushes.
Overnight: Campsite Sengor (3000m).
Day 9. Sengor to Jakar (5hrs)
Today we cross one of the high passes, the Thrumshing La, at 3800m. Thrumshing La is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasant and also holds other high altitude species such as Snow Pigeon, Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Great Parrotbill, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Grey-crested and Coal Tits and White-browed Fulvetta. We may be lucky and have our first encounter with one of the most colorful pheasants of them all, the Himalayan Monal. We continue through the valley of Bumthang, one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, the one of the most scenic drive to Bumthang goes through the beautiful valley or Ura Valley, on a clear day we will be able to see Bhutan’s highest peak, Mt Gangkar Puensum. 7550m and it is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
Overnight: Hotel in Jakar.
Day 10 Jakar – Trongsa (3hrs)
Our journey this morning passes the Chume valley, one of the four main valleys of Bumthang region, this valley is famous for its distinctive woolen weaves, known as yathra. At the village of Zugney you will see the fine samples of yathra hanging by the roadside. The weavers all women can be seen at their looms beside the road. Continuing our journey the road climb up to Yotongla pass, (3500m) the birds we’ll searching along the way include the Brown Parrotbill, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch., White-browed and Golden Bush Robins, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Alpine Accentor, White-winged Grosbeak, Grey-sided Bush warbler.
We will arrive at our hotel in Trongsa by lunchtime, after lunch, we will have the opportunity to visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong. This Dzong is the ancestral home for the Royal family of Bhutan. Before becoming the king of Bhutan, the first king was the governor of this Dzong. Even now, we have the tradition that before becoming king, the Regent receives the title as governor of Trongsa Penlop.
The remainder of the afternoon will be spent exploring the nearby broad-leaved evergreen forest in search of specialties like Spotted Forktail, Grey-bellied Tesia and Spotted Wren-Babbler.
Overnight: Hotel in Trongsa
Day 11. Trongsa to Zhemgang (6hrs)
Today on our drive to Zhemgang, we will have lots of stops at several forested valleys. We have chances for Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Crested Bunting, Long-tailed Shrike, Prinias, Rufous Woodpecker, Blue–bearded Bee-eater, Spot-winged Starling, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel and various minivets. This is also our best chance for the Golden Langur, a rare monkey endemic to Bhutan and only discovered in the 1950s.
Overnight: Tingtibe Campsite (800m).
Day 12 – 13. Zhemgang to Tingtibe Road
Today we explore a wide variety of habitats along the Zhemgang to Tingtibe road. Habitats vary from mossy forests to streamside lowland forest. This is another chance to see Golden Langur, which is fairly frequent here. We also search for Rufous-necked and Great Hornbills, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Cutia, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Scarlet Minivet, various laughingthrushes, woodpeckers, Chestnut-headed and Grey-bellied Tesias, Spotted Wren-Babbler, and another chance to find Beautiful Nuthatch.
Overnight: Tingtibe Campsite
Day 14. Zhemgang to Phobjekha (9hrs)
We head back to Trongsa today, birding many sites on the way; looking for species we might have missed earlier on our way to Zhemgang. After crossing Trongsa, we’ll make stop along the way to search for the Black-throated Parrotbill, Golden-breasted Fulvata, Black-faced, and Chestnut-crown Laughinghtrushes, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, sometimes we can also come across the big flock of Himalayan Griffon flying overhead. After a fairly long drive, we reach the Phobjekha Valley, sacred wintering ground for the Black-necked Crane.
Overnight: Campsite Phobjekha | Hotel (3000m).
Day 15. Phobjekha to Punakha (4hrs)
After an early breakfast, we drive to the Pele la pass (4000 m) and spend the morning hours birding along the old road at Pele la for high altitude species such as Himalayan Monal, Spotted Laughingthrush, Himalayan Griffon, Brown Parrotbill, and various finches and bush-warblers. Later we drive to Punakha, traveling through the valley of Wangdiphodrang; along the way we look for Ward’s Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and mixed species flocks.
In the evening we bird along the Pho Chu valley looking for one of our main target birds, White-bellied Heron, one of the rarest birds in the world with a population of fewer than 200 worldwide. Other birds we might see include Common and Crested Kingfisher and the enigmatic Ibisbill.
Overnight: Punakha (1200m)
Day 16. Punakha full day birding inside Jigme Dorji National Park.
You’ll spend the morning birding inside the Jigme Dorji National Park and along the Phochu River, the bird we might see here include the Red-headed Trogon, Slaty-bellied and Grey-bellied Tesia, Small and Ruofus-bellied Niltavas, Black-chinned and Whiskered Yuhinas, a trio of Forktails, Pygmy and Spotted Wren Babbler, Lesser Yellownape, Bay Woodpecker, White-throated, Rufous-chinned and Bhutan Laughingthrushes, Black, Red-vented and Mountain Bulbuls, Grey-hooded, Chestnut-crowned and Blyth’s Leaf Warblers and many more
Later in the evening, you’ll drive along the Phochu River to try for White-bellied Heron and Pallas Fish Eagle if you have missed the other day.
Overnight: Hotel in Punakha
Day 17. Punakha – Thimphu (3hrs)
After breakfast at the hotel visit the impressive Punakha’ s Punthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Bliss) standing on the confluence of the two rivers, the Phochu and Mochu, this Dzong has special significance in Bhutanese history. It was the place where the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned in 1907. At present it is also used as the winter residence for Je Khenpo (chief Abbot) and the entire central monk body. After we finish with the visit, we will drive to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan, the drive takes us about 3hrs going over the Dochula pass, (3150m) one of the most beautiful pass decorated with 108 stupas
Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu.
Day 18. Thimphu to Paro (2hrs)
In the early morning we visit the local sewage pond for Ibisbill and Black-tailed and Ruddy-breasted Crakes. After breakfast we drive north of Thimphu and then hike to the Cheri monastery. During the hike we may see Spotted, Chestnut–crowned and White-throated Laughingthrushes, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, Brown Dipper and White-collared Blackbird. Goral (Mountain goat) occur around the monastery. We then return to Thimphu for lunch, and continue on to Paro.
Day 19. Paro; Cheli La Birding
Early in the morning, we drive to the cool and stunning alpine meadow of Cheli La pass (3890m). This is the highest pass accessible by car in Bhutan. Here we could be rewarded with three different species of pheasants: Himalayan Monal, flocks of Blood Pheasants, and Kalij Pheasant. Also here are several rosefinches, grosbeaks and laughingthrushes. We then drive back to Paro for lunch.
In the afternoon we have scheduled a visit to Kichu Monastery, one of the oldest monastery dating back to the 7th century. It is believed that in the 7th century a Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, built 108 monasteries representing different parts of the demon.
Day 20. Excursion to Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
After breakfast at the hotel, 15 minutes drives from here will take you to the parking lot at the base of the Tiger’s Nest monastery, from here you can hike to one of the most beautiful and holiest temple 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.
You can visit three different temples inside the main Takshang complex.
Overnight: hotel in Paro.
Day 21, Departure
Transfer to the airport for departure. Off to Bhutan staff will bid you farewell and safe journeys until we meet again.
2 people: USD 5680 per person
3 or more: USD 5080 per person
- All internal taxes and charges (including royalties)
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis
- All meals, tea, snack and bottle water
- All travel with a licensed local birding guide
- All surface transfers by a private vehicle
- Camping equipment and haulage for camping and trekking tours
- All entry fees to monuments, Museum and National Parks
- Bhutan Visa Fee
- Optional tours/excursions, personal & incidental expenses.
- Tips, laundry, phone calls, and bars.
- International and domestic air fare, and insurance