Bhutan - the jewel of the Himalayas
8-28 March 2019
Few nations are so mythical and still relatively little known as the small, Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Few countries are so genuine and unexploited in terms of both culture and nature.
Bhutan is traditionally linked to Tibet and itīs buddhism a philosofy respecting all life and influencing the view of not only life, but also nature and wildlife throughout the nation. Few areas in Asia have such huge areas of untouched forest.
The small east Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan - the land of the Dragon - is not bigger than Switzerland (46.000 km2) and consists of 72,5% of natural forest (!) An intact eco-system with a rich and diverse fauna, with a good selection of bird attractions, several so rare that people travel here from all over the world to see just them. Beautiful Nuthatch
(Sitta formosa), Rufous-necked Hornbill
(Aceros nipalensis), Wardīs Trogon
(Harpactes wardi) and White-bellied Heron
(Ardea insignis) are the most well-known.
Some charismatic and colourful pheasants like Blood Pheasant
(Ithaginis cruentus), Satyr Tragopan
(Tragopan satyra) and the mighty Himalayan Mounal
(Lophophorus impejanus) also breed here and this is probably the best place in the world to see them. We will focus on seeing them all well and even getting good photographs of these stunning birds.
Here we will also meet a number of bird families not at all represented in Europe; Minivets, Forktails, Cochoas, Niltavas, Fulvettas, Treepies, Drongos, Leafbirds, and more. Among bird families we know gorgeous thrushes, chats, flycatchers, tits, accentors, warblers, shrikes, woodpeckers are also seen. Naturally we dont lack Raptors or Owls either. The fact that few western people travel in Bhutan, makes it a unique destination for you explorers with a need for adventure in your blood.
We visit Bhutan in March when the weather is usually balmy and enjoyable and spring have just started. March - June is high season for birdwatching in Bhutan. The monsoon period is June-September, December is also dry, sunny and pleasant.
We do a one way tour through the country from east to west, flying in to Guwahati, India, crossing the near border to Bhutan and birding our way through the best National Parks and bird attractions east to Thimpu, where we eventually fly out. The flight along the Himalayas is nothing but spectacular and clear days we could even see the mighty top of the Mount Everest. We will see and visit all different types of nature in the country except for the highest altitudes. Most nights we stay in comfortable hotels but some nights we also do camping in bigger tents and proper camping beds. The camping-crew provide us with breakfast and hot meals the days we camp. We have an english-spoken, local bird guide and driver throughout the tour. Our bird guide is - like all Bhutanese guides - very educated in local history and traditions, ensuring us a deep understanding of the culture and religion.
We will also visit the Tigerīs nest monastery and Punakha Dzong - two very important cultural sites in the country.
Here are a few examples of the habitats and birds we will see:
The warm, subtropical broad-leaved forests on 1.000-2.000 meters elevation is the most diverse habitat in the country. Bhutan hold the biggest coherent subtropical forests in Asia, a result of a conservation strategy where the king himself is a leader and visionary. In Bhutan there is no commercial logging at all. In these forests we will look for attractive birds like Beautiful Nuthatch
, Sultan Tit
, Chestnut-breasted Partridge
, Yellow-vented Warbler
, White-naped Yuhina
, Broad-billed Warbler
, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler
, several Woodpeckers and many other birds.
, (Aceros nipalensis) with a
conservation status qualified as vulnerable, is one of our target species, having a stronghold here in Bhutan.
In the cooler zone with broad-leaved forests growing up to 2.900 m, among them Wardīs Trogon
, Bhutanīs Wood Snipe
, Hoary-throated Barwing
, Brown-throated Fulvetta
(Cutia nipalensis) and the rare Plain-backed Thrush
are birds to look for.
Higher altitude areas with fur trees like Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii), Blue Pine (Pinus wallichiana), Spruce and Hemlock (Tsuga dumosa) are not as rich in species, but Buff-barred Warbler
and several species of Tits, like Grey-crested Tit
breed here. Here we also recognize familiar birds like Spotted Nutcrackers
and Common Crossbills
. However donīt be fooled by the seemingly common looking Treecreeper - itīs in fact a species in itīs own right; Hodgsonīs Treecreeper
On this trip, we donīt go higher than about tree-level (4.000 meters), where the habitat consists of low Junipers and Rhododendron bushes, with some taller pine trees. Several high passes are drive-in-sites where a lot of good birds can be seen and scenic views can be obtained. These sites dont require any longer walks, in fact just short walks on more or less flat tracks, making bird watching nice and easy. Several species of Rosefinches, White-winged Grosbeak
, Sunbirds, Laughing thrushes and raptors can be seen on these places.
On about 3.000 meters, the forest is dominated by lichen-clad fur-trees like East Himalayan Fur (Abies spectabilis) and often have a rich understory of Rhododendron and Bamboo. Here we can find specialities like Satyr Tragopan
, Fire-tailed Myzornis
, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin
and Hoary-throated Barwing
Stands of Bamboo is an important habitat for certain species including four species of Parrot-bills; Greater-
and Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill
, Great Parrotbill
and Fulvous Parrotbill
. This is also the place to see Broad-billed Warbler
och Golden-breasted Fulvetta
Bhutan is a very undulated country with smaller areas of lowland valleys. There are not many bigger wetlands other than the rivers and riversides, often with rock- and shingle shores. Habitat for birds like the monotypic Ibisbill
, White-bellied Heron
, Pallas' Fish Eagle
, White-capped Water Redstarts
, Blue Whistling Thrush
, Wagtails and several species of Kingfisher and graphic Forktails.
In the Phobjekha Valley some wetlands and old-fashioned farmlands are an important wintering area for Black-necked Cranes
(nov-feb). Here we can also find birds like Long-tailed Shrike
, Oriental Turtle-Dove
, Spotted Dove
, Red-vented Bulbyl
, Grey Bushchat
and Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler
Tour leader: Daniel Green
Local guide: Norbu Bhutan
Price: 55.000 SEK
/ person (excluded flight to Guwahati, India)
We offer to book you the air-ticket. Itīs important for us to arrive at the same time.
Included: Full board accommodation in double room, English spoken tour leader and local bird guide the whole trip, all transports, all entrance fees to national parks and reserves.
Not included: Air ticket, transfer to the airport, insurance, alcohol, souvenirs or other personal expenses, tips, etc.
Maximum nr of participants: 12
Other: This is a "mixed group" trip where Swedish- and English-speaking travelers are welcome.
When youīve applied we send you an invoice on 3.500 SEK
when that is paid you are guaranteed a seat on the tour.
Link to pdf with preliminary itinerary