Behold the splendid experience of voyaging through the unexplored mountain kingdom of Bhutan savoring the serene beauty and wisdom of viewing the most beautiful creatures on the planet, Birds.
Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is popularly recognized for its monasteries, fortresses and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. There is one more thing in which it is incredibly famous for, i.e., Bird Watching.
Bhutan is sheer heaven for bird lovers and ornithologists as it is home to more than 770 species of bird and the globally endangered white-winged duck also has been added recently. Bhutan is an ideal place to see a wide variety of the Himalayas’ most enigmatic and elusive bird species. Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, White-bellied Heron, Ibisbill, Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler, and Fire-tailed Myzornis are some of the rare species that are hard to encounter outside of this pristine Kingdom.
Not just bird watching, besides that you get to uncover a purity of culture, traditions, and kindness when you trek through remote trails of Bhutan and visit Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Phojikha and Bumthang.
If you’re thinking about planning a bird watching tour to the acclaimed land of the happiness and well-preserved environment, Bhutan should unquestionably be on the top of your list.
Fly to Paro Airport from Kathmandu, on a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational including the Everest, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steeps turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro International Airport. Upon arrival and completing your immigration formalities, you will meet your guide at the exit gate. We begin our tour from Paro in western Bhutan. We explore the valley, which is a delight to see as it is filled with cultural and historical monuments. Our particular interest will be to spot Ibis bill, which inhabits sandbanks of the rivers and the Black-tailed Crake. Other birds to look for include Brown Dipper, Plumbeous and White-capped Water-Redstarts, Siberian Stonechat, Grey Bushchat, Blue Whistling Thrush, Himalayan Wagtail, River Lapwing, Oriental Turtle Dove, Eurasian Hoopoe, Himalayan Black Bulbul, Grey-backed Shrike, Red-billed Chough, Large-billed Crow, Green-backed Tit, Russet Sparrow, Green Sandpiper, Rosy Pipit, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Black-throated Thrush and Hodgson’s Redstart.
Today we start early to the scenic Chelela mountain pass (3,780 m). This place is excellent to spot Himalayan Monal, considered to be among world’s 10 most beautiful birds. We will also sour the area for Blood Pheasant and Kalij Pheasant. Other species found include: Long-tailed Thrush, White-collared Blackbird, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Olive-backed Pipit, the huge Collared Grosbeak, White-winged Grosbeak, Himalayan White-browed and Dark-rumpedRosefinches, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Grey Nightjar, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted (or Eurasian) Nutcracker, Long-tailed Minivet, Coal, Grey-crested and Rufous-fronted Tits, Black-faced Laughingthrush, White-browed Fulvetta, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Buff-barred Warbler, Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail (split from Northern), Blue-fronted Redstart. Later in the evening, we will drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu (2,350m).
Morning, drive to Punakha, the road climbs a series of zigzags over the Dochula Pass (3050 meters) with its (weather permitting) spectacular views of the snowcapped Eastern Himalayas.Dochula (3,050m) is the most scenic mountain pass in Bhutan, surrounded by forests of hemlock, fir, rhododendron and evergreen oak. With the mighty peaks of the eastern Himalayas as the backdrop, we begin to look for White-throated, Striated and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Darjeeling Woodpecker, RufousSibia,Hoary-throated Barwing, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Rufous-winged Fulvettas, Lemon-rumped and Ashy-throated Warblers, Whistler’s Warbler, Yellow-browed Tit, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Green-tailed Sunbird, Common Crossbill, Dark-breasted Rosefinch and Red-headed Bullfinch. We may even spot the beautiful Fire-tailed Myzornis here. Towards the evening we descend to Punakha (1,350m)
This sub-tropical valley has its crown jewel, the splendid PunakhaDzong, the ancient capital flanked by male and female rivers, Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. We hike up the Mo Chhu, and along a wide stretch of forests along the riverbank and its tributaries, we look for Crested Kingfisher, Great Cormorant, and Slaty-backed Forktail. In particular we will be keen to see, among numerous other species, Yellow-vented Warbler, Spotted Wren-Babbler and, if lucky be on our side, the extremely rare White-bellied Heron, and Pallas’s Fish Eagle. Other species found in this area include Grey-headed Woodpecker, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Maroon Oriole, Ashy and Hair-crested Drongos, Common Myna, Grey Treepie, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike, Mountain Bulbul, Ultramarine, Verditer and Grey-headed Flycatchers, Small Niltava, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Blyth’s Leaf, Green-crowned and Grey-hooded Warblers, Black-throated Tit, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Crested Serpent Eagle, Spotted Dove, Himalayan Cuckoo, Himalayan Swiftlet, House Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Great and Golden-throated Barbets, and Black-throated Sunbird. We will also look for babblers including Rufous-capped Babbler, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Red-tailed and Blue-winged Minlas, Whiskered Yuhina and Nepal Fulvetta.
Today, we head into the interior, from Wangdue all the way to Phobjikha valley, winter home for the Black Neck Cranes. The route is thickly forested and we will be birding along this way amongst ever-changing vegetation from the sub-tropics to the temperate to the alpine. We will look out for the elusive Yellow-rumpedHoneyguide among hives of Rock Bees. Other birds usually found in this stretch include Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Fork-tailed Swift, Chestnut-bellied and Blue-capped Rock Thrushes, Yellow-bellied Fantail, Fire-tailed Sunbird Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Indian Blue Robin, and Hume’s Bush Warbler.
Morning drive to Bumthang, along what is locally termed as “lateral highway,” crossing two mountain passes, Pele La (3,300m) and Yotong La (3,400m) We will try to spot Himalayan Wood Owl, the rare Wood Snipe, and high altitude species such as Alpine Accentor, White-browed Bush Robin, Great and Brown Parrotbills, and Fulvous Parrotbill. Other new birds along this stretch may include Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Spotted Forktail, and Speckled Woodpigeon. We finally reach the wide pine-forested Bumthang valley, considered one of the most beautiful in Bhutan.
Day halt at Bumthang, you can either do some birding at Chumey Valley or do some cultural sightseeing visiting Dzong, JambayLhakhang and KurjeyLhakhang.
Drive back over the Yotola Pass and Pelela Pass, the drive may take about 7-8 hours.
Drive to Paro over the Dochula Pass may take about 5 hours. Upon arrival at Paro, you can have the rest of the afternoon exploring the town of Paro or you can visit the Paro Dzong and Tag Dzong (National Museum)
Drive to Paro International Airport to catch your flight.