Summary

Birds in BhutanBhutan is endowed with a rich fauna that few other countries can parallel. As a mountainous country beating altitudes every kilometer and supporting a climate conducive to the fauna population, Bhutan is a bird lover’s paradise. If you are a bird enthusiast, there is so much to explore and experience. On this tour, you will be able to sight some of the rarest bird species in the world such as Satyr Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasants, Beautiful Nuthatch, Ibisbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, White-bellied Heron, varieties of Wren Babblers, and many more birds.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival, Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, our tour executive will welcome you. After check in at the hotel, we will visit the nearby places of cultural interest like fortresses, monuments and temples. Post lunch, preferably around late afternoon, we will scour Paro river for Ibisbill. We may be able to see other birds like White-collared Blackbird, River Lapwing and Black-tailed Crake. Night halt in Paro.

Day 2: Paro/Thimphu

We will leave very early for Chelela pass (3,890 m). This cool alpine meadow carpeted with beautiful alpine flowers and stunning landscape is the highest road point in western Bhutan. We will comb this area for pheasant species like the Kalij Pheasant, Himalayan Monal and Blood Pheasant. You will be able sight Laughing Thrush, Rosefinch and Grosbeak. After lunch, we will drive down to Paro and from there to Thimphu.

Day 3: Thimphu

Today, we will drive to the north of Thimphu in the morning and hike to Cheri monastery. Enroute, we hope to catch sightings of various species of Laughing Thrush – Spotted, Chestnut-Crowned, White-throated – plus Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Dipper and White-collared Blackbird. We should be able to see Mountain Goats in the vicinity of the monastery. After lunch, we will visit palces of religious, social and cultural place in and around the capital. These include Tashichhodzong, the palace-fortress of the King, the world’s tallest Buddha, Folk Heritage Museum, and if time permits, a traditional archery match at Changlimithang. Night halt at Thimphu.

Day 4: Thimphu/Shaten

Today, we will drive to Dochula Pass (3,150 m) where we absorb and savor the beauty of the mighty Himalayas. We skirt through forests of hemlock, oak and fir besides an amazing array of rhododendron species. This mixed forest habitat spawns the beautiful Satyr Tragopan, a rarity of the Himalayas. Other species we will come across include the Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, and Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher. We will visit the exquisite fortress-palace called Punakha Dzong and head to our destination at Shaten inside the Jigme Dorji National Park. Night halt in camp, Shaten.

Birds in BhutanDay 5/6: Jigme Dorji National Park

From our base at Shaten camp, we scour the park for two whole days, primarily the riverbanks and the foothills, for what should be our opportunity to sight prized bird species. If lucky, we could even catch a glimpse of the White-bellied Heron, a rarity with less than 200 alive worldwide. Another rare one found here is the Pallas’s Fish Eagle. Others include the Red–headed Trogon, Black-chinned Yuhina, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Small Niltava, Forktails, Wren-babblers, Woodpeckers and Laughingthrushes.

Night halt in camp, Shaten.

Day 7: Punakha/Phobjikha

Today, we will drive early to Phobjikha valley where, enroute, we will look for Ward’s Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and other flocks of mixed species. We will stopover for the sighting of various species of Bush Warbler and Laughingthrush which dwell in the dwarf bamboos in the vicinity of Gangteyla Pass. The highlight of our visit to Phobjikha, however, is the Black-necked Crane. As the bird’s biggest wintering ground, we should be able to sight many. Afterwards, we will visit the Black Necked Crane Information Centre and also take time to see the majestic 17th century Gangtey monastery. Night halt in camp, Phobjikha.

Day 8: Phobjikha/Trongsa

On our way to Trongsa, our first birding spot is the Pelela pass (4,000 m) where high altitude species are often spotted. These include varieties of Finches and Bush Warblers, Brown Parrotbill, Spotted Laughing Thrush and Himalayan Griffon. We will have lunch in Trongsa and visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong. We will halt for the night at Trongsa.

Day 9: Trongsa/Zhemgang

Today is going to be an exciting day. The vegetation along the road to Zhemgang is a rich habitat of birds. The habitat includes Crested Bunting, Long-tailed Shrike, Prinia, Rufous Woodpecker, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia and Minivets. Besides, you can also sight the Golden Langur, discovered just about half a century ago and endemic to Bhutan. Night halt at camp, Zhemgang.

Day 10 – 11: Zhemgang/Tingtibi Highway

The short stretch of forest along Zhemgang-Tingtibi Highway is home to a rich diversity of avifauna. We will be combing the area for the next two days mainly for Rufous-necked Hornbill, Great hornbill, Chestnut-headed Tesia and Grey-bellied Tesia, Spotted Wren Babbler, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Cutia, Scarlet Minivet, and an amazing variety of Laughing Thrush and Woodpecker. Night halt at camp, Tingtibhi.

Day 12: Zhemgang/Trongsa

Today we will return to Trongsa. On the way, we will be looking for species we may not have sighted when we drove to Zhemgang. In Trongsa, we will visit the Trongsa Ta-dzong, a museum dedicated to Bhutanese kings. Night halt at hotel, Trongsa.

Day 13: Trongsa/Bumthang

We will start early and comb Yotongla pass (3,500 m) for sightings of Brown Parrotbill, Chestnut-crown Laughingthrush, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Hill Partridge, Chestnut-tailed Minla, Gold-naped Finch and Darjeeling Woodpecker. On arrival in Bumthang, we have lunch and take a cultural tour of the valley filled with myths, legends, temples and sacred sites. Night halt at hotel, Bumthang.

Day 14: Bumthang/Sengor

Today we drive to Sengor. The journey will cut through Thrumshingla (3,800 m), a key habitat for Blood Pheasants. This high altitude protected area is home to Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Great Parrotbills, Stripe-throated Yuhinas, Snow Pigeon, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, White-browed Fulvettas, Grey-crested Tits and Coal Tits. Towards evening in Sengor, we will be looking for the coveted Satyr Tragopan, as this area is well-known for its sightings. Night halt at camp, Sengor.

Birds in BhutanDay 15: Sengor/Namling/Yongkala

Today, we will be entering the wet sub-tropical forests, a stretch that goes all the way to Lingmithang. It is known in some circles as the “birding capital of the world”. It is undoubtedly the finest birding place in the Himalayas. The lush forests are home to several rare species. We will scour for Shortwings, Bar-winged Wren Babblers, Black-headed Shrike Babblers, Ward’s Trogon, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Barbets, Golden Bush Robin, Chestnut-breasted Partridge and many other rare species. Night halt at camp, Yongkala.

Day 16-17: Yongkala/Lingmithang

This place indeed is the birding capital in the Bhutan, perhaps in the world. We will spend the entire two days birding the upper and lower Limithang road. Here we will be able to sight Wedge-billed Wren Babblers, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Spotted Wren Babblers, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Coral-billed Scimitar Babblers, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, flocks of Parrotbills, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Scarlet Finches and many more. Night halt at camp, Yongkala.

Day 18: Yongkala/Trashigang

A quick morning birding will be done before we head further eastward to Trashigang. On the way we stop at Korila pass we can sight Steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Long-tailed Minivet, Grey-winged Blackbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Bhutan Laughingthrush, and Long-tailed Minivet. Night halt at hotel, Trashigang.

Day 19: Trashigang/Morong

Our next campsite is Morong. As the journey is fairly long, we drive early, to catch sights of Hill Prinia, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Red-billed Leiothrix, flocks of Striated Yuhinas, Streaked Spiderhunter, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Common Green Magpie and Red-faced Liocichla. Again, we have an excellent opportunity to see the prized Beautiful Nuthatch. Night halt at camp, Morong.

Day 20: Morong/Samdrup Jongkhar

This trip will take us to the lowest elevation of our entire journey. Along the way, we will sight low altitude species like Pied Falconet, Dark-rumped Swift (extremely rare), Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Sultan Tit, Black-backed Forktail, Red- headed Trogon, Black Eagle, House Sparrow, several species of Cuckoo, Jungle Babbler, Grey-sided Laughingthrush besides many others. Night halt at hotel, Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 21: Samdrup Jongkhar/Guwahati, Assam

See off at the airport in Guwahati, Assam.