Bar-winged Wren Babbler

Best of Bhutan Birding

19 DAYS
FROM $4,600

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 2 clients or larger groups possible

Maximum 8PAX

Moderate

Space Available

Tour Overview

This tour is a shorter version of our comprehensive 20 nights and 21 days (Birding Across Bhutan) tour, this tour is personally led by Norbu, founder of the company. Norbu is one first few local birding guides in Bhutan. He guided many known international birders including Steve and Sue Gantlett from “Birding World” and he closely worked together with Tom Stephenson, Author of The Warbler Guide.

He has also researched and recorded the vocalization of many of the species of Bhutan. And his recording for some rarest species reside in Cornell’s Macaulay Library of Natural Sound and Xeno Canto, including several species, not before represent in their collection

You will likely see all the key species of Bhutan including four species of Pheasants, Ward’s Trogon, Ibisbill, five species of Parrotbills, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and Beautiful Nuthatch, one of the most sought-after specialties of the Bhutan avifauna, it also offers a good chance for the summer migrants including Flycatchers and Cuckoo, we will also focus on the super skulker species like Tesias, Shortwings, and Wren Babbler. All in all, we will show you over 300 birds and 10 – 15 species of mammals such as three species of langurs, including the nearly endemic Golden Langur. Himalayan Giant Squirrel, Yellow-throated Marten and Himalayan Goral.

Other highlight include visit to Bhutan’s most scenic icon and most important destination for pilgrimages Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), most beautiful and impressive Punakha Dzong and visit a typical Bhutanese farmhouse to experience the local hospitality.

Itinerary

Day 1: Guwahati – Samdrup Jongkhar

We’ll meet at Guwahati airport in the Indian state of Assam. Transfer to Bhutan through the plain of Assam. In the evening birding around Samdrup Jongkha. (Overnight: Samdrup Jongkhar)

Day – 2: Samdrup – Deothang – Morong

After our final morning exploring lowland forest between Samdrup Jongkhar and Deothang. We will head further north Morong. The remainder of the afternoon will be spent birding a stretch of mossy, mid-altitude broad-leaved forest around morong. (Overnight: Morong)

Day – 3: Morong – Trashigang

We will have a before-breakfast outing. After breakfast at the campsite, we make our way to Trashigang stopping along the way for birding. (Overnight: Trashigang.)

Day – 4: Trashigang – Mongar – Yongkala

En route to Yongkala, we stop at Kori La for birding. In the afternoon we will reach lower Limithang road. (Overnight: Yongkala)

Day – 5 & 6: Yongkala – Namling - Limithang Road

We spend two full days birding along this incredible 80 km long road, ranked amongst the ten top birding sites in Asia. (Overnight: Yongkala)

Day – 7: Yongkala – Namling – Sengor

After early breakfast, we’ll be moving uphill in search of high altitude species. En route to Sengor, we’ll make several stops for any missing species. Evening birding around Sengor. (Overnight: Sengor)

Day – 8: Sengor – Phrumshingla – Bumthang

Today we cross one of the high passes, the Phrumshing La, at 3800m. Phrumshing La is the prime habitat for many high altitude species; we’ll spend morning time around the pass. Continue our drive to Bumthang. (Overnight: Bumthang)

Day – 9: Bumthang – Trongsa

After early breakfast we hit our road to Trongsa, en route birding at Yotongla, after lunch, we will have the opportunity to visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong. (Overnight Trongsa)

Day – 10: Trongsa – Zhemgang

Today on our drive to Zhemgang, we will have lots of stops at several forested valleys. This is also our best chance for the Golden Langur, a rare monkey near endemic to Bhutan and only discovered in the 1950s.
In the evening birding along Zhemgang – Dakphel road. (Overnight: Tingtibe)

Day – 11 & 12: Zhemgang – Tingtibe Road

These two days We’ll explore the entire stretch of Zhemgang – Tingtibe and Gomphu road, the road that lead to the Manas National Park. (Overnight: Tingtibe)

Day – 13: Zhemgang – Trongsa – Phobjekha

We head back to Trongsa today, birding many sites on the way looking for any species we might have missed earlier. Crossing Trongsa, we’ll make stops along the way to search for any interesting species that comes along our drive. After a fairly long drive, we reach the Phobjekha valley, sacred wintering ground for the Black-necked Crane. (Overnight: Phobjekha)

Day – 14: Phobjekha – Pelela – Punakha

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. Later we drive to Punakha, traveling through the valley of Wangdiphodrang; Afternoon. Visit the impressive Punakha’ s Punthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Bliss) standing on the confluence of the two rivers, the Phochu and Mochu. (Overnight: Punakha)

Day – 15: Punakha – Jigme Dorji National Park

We will spend the whole day birding inside the Jigme Dorji National Park and along Mo Chu River. (Overnight: Punakha)

Day – 16: Punakha – Thimphu

Today after early breakfast we will make our way to Dochu La. Leaving the almost tropical Punakha Valley, we ascend through mixed evergreen and broad-leaved forests to the pass at 3140 meters stopping en route at Lamperi Botanical Park and take nature walk. (Overnight: Thimphu)

Day – 17: Thimphu – Paro

In the early morning before breakfast we visit the local sewage pond and along the Wang Chu, back to the hotel for breakfast, then Take two hrs. drives 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 temples in Bhutan. (Overnight: Paro)

Day – 18: Paro – Chelila Birding

Very early in the morning drive to the cool alpine meadow of Chelila pass (3890m) for the high altitude species. This is the highest pass on the car road. Evening: visit the typical Bhutanese farmhouse to experience the local hospitality. (Overnight: Paro)

Day – 19: Departure

Departure

What to Expect

  • This birding tour will be on selected sites that do not pose any threats such as steep slopes. During these trips, you should expect yourself to walk at least 6-7 kilometers on average per day
  • Like elsewhere, the best time for watching birds is in the morning. You can expect an early start in the morning most of the time. However, a couple of very early mornings are required to look for high elevation dwelling Pheasant that comes out to the roadside early in the morning.
  • Accommodation on this tour is generally simple but comfortable. The hotels are generally spacious, clean and comfortable, built-in westernized Bhutanese style, and all rooms have private facilities. However, due to the limited availability of good lodges and hotels in some remote part of the country, you will spend a couple of nights in basic hotels or tented camp.

Bhutan Birding Experts

Norbu is the founder of Off to Bhutan. He has been leading birding tours and exploring the country’s varied ecosystems for over 20 years. With a long-time avid interest in birding, he has spent many weeks traveling the country, surveying and discovering all of the best places to find the most sought-after rarities, including all of the difficult wren-babblers, pheasants, trogons and all of the important species of Bhutan. During these explorations, he has contributed to the knowledge of the status and distribution of many species that were previously poorly known.

With the help of his birding friend Tom Stephenson, co-author of The Warbler Guide, he is done an extensive recording in Bhutan and has a very large library of local songs. Many of these songs and calls he has generously donated both to Cornell University’s Macaulay Library and to the public site, xeno-canto.

Over the years he has led many birding groups and has long years of experience finding and helping birders see even the rarest target species. Norbu also has in-depth knowledge of local culture, which adds an exciting dimension for any clients wishing to know and experience more of the unique and colorful culture of Bhutan.

Hear from our Guests

I’ve just returned from an excellent birding trip to Bhutan with Off to Bhutan. Norbu guided us. We could not have asked for a better guide or a better company to conduct our trip. Norbu’s bird knowledge and the very professional organization of the whole trip gave us a very rewarding experience. I would highly recommend Off to Bhutan for anyone planning a birding trip to the country
Val George
Victoria, BC, Canada
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Norbu over the last few years, tallying almost 3 months of time with him in Bhutan. His knowledge of the vocalizations and habits of all of the rarest and most sought-after birds in the country is without parallel. In fact, he has personally been responsible for finding locations for many species that, a few years ago, were never even seen by most groups visiting the country. He has also researched and recorded the vocalizations of many of the species of Bhutan. And his recordings for some of the rarest species reside in Cornell’s Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds and xeno canto, including several species not before represented in their collection. Of equal importance, Norbu has shown incredible energy and passion for making sure every guest has the pleasure of seeing all of the target birds for each location. I have seen him spend many extra hours, even in difficult conditions, searching for trogons or wren-babblers, just to be sure everyone had a chance to see these amazing species. And finally, he has a great knowledge of the history and culture of Bhutan, and contributes this important and valuable background to every group he serves. This knowledge extends to the infrastructure and logistics of the country. And he has always worked very hard to ensure all of his clients have the most comfortable and smoothest experience possible. When visiting any country it is important to support that country’s own people, ensuring the resources needed to conserve and explore the culture and environment stay in the country as much as possible. Working with Norbu fills these criteria. And you also gain the benefit of traveling with one of the most knowledgeable and experienced Bhutan bird guides from anywhere in the world.
Tom Stephenson
Author, The Warbler Guide New York USA
Norbu is undoubtedly Bhutan’s top birder and, with now 15 Years of experience leading birders, he knows all the key sites really well and, Importantly, he is hot on the calls for locating all the scarcer species. He is also extremely good company and tirelessly helpful. I recommend him most highly.
Steve and Sue Gantlett
Birding World, Norfolk United Kingdom

Prices & Dates

Date3 or More PeopleLes than 3 People
06th May to 24th May 2021$4,600
per person
$5,140
per person

What is Included

  • All internal taxes and charges (including royalties)
  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis
  • All meals, tea, snack, and bottled 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

What is not Included

  • Optional tours/excursions, personal & incidental expenses.
  • Tips, laundry, phone calls, and bars.
  • International and domestic airfare, and insurance.

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