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18 Days

Hornbills in Bhutan

18 Days Birdwatching Adventure in Bhutan: A Journey with the Hornbills

Embark on an 18-day odyssey through the enchanting landscapes of Bhutan, a secluded Himalayan kingdom where the ethos of environmental preservation and respect for all life forms shapes every experience. This unique journey offers bird enthusiasts an unparalleled opportunity to observe a wide array of avian species in their natural habitats, including the majestic hornbills and the elusive Ward’s Trogon.

Highlights on Hornbills in Bhutan:

  • Biodiversity: Explore the rich biodiversity of Bhutan, from tropical rainforests to alpine meadows, housing nearly 650 bird species.
  • Cultural Immersion: Experience the unique Buddhist culture of Bhutan, where reverence for nature deeply influences daily life.
  • Scenic Beauty: Enjoy breathtaking mountain vistas and pristine forests, showcasing the country’s diverse ecological zones.

Summary on Hornbills in Bhutan

The 18-day birdwatching tour in Bhutan, “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” is a journey through a nation that has remained isolated from the rest of the world, preserving its natural and cultural heritage. Over 72.5% of Bhutan is forested, offering pristine environments for birdlife. This tour takes you from the subtropical rainforests in the south to the alpine zones at higher altitudes, revealing a rich tapestry of flora and fauna.

Participants will have the chance to see species like Rufous-necked Hornbill, Ward’s Trogon, and Ibisbill, which are more accessible in Bhutan than anywhere else due to the country’s untouched habitats. The journey traverses various regions, including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, and the stunning Bumthang Valley, blending birdwatching with cultural insights at monasteries, dzongs, and traditional Bhutanese villages.

The tour is not just about birdwatching; it’s an immersion into Bhutan’s culture, where Buddhism’s influence is evident in the respect for all life forms. Accommodations range from boutique resorts to eco-friendly camps, ensuring a comfortable and authentic experience. This birding adventure offers a unique blend of natural beauty, wildlife observation, and cultural exposure, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

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Detailed Program

Today we will head east of Thimphu. We will leave early for Dochula pass (alt. 3150 meters) spend 2 & 3 hours birding and have breakfast in Dochula Café. Entering the pristine forest of hemlock, fir, oak, and blossoming magnolias and rhododendrons we should see a wealth of birds in species-rich feeding flocks. The highlight of the day might be Satyr Tragopan, Fire-tailed Myzornis, or Golden Bush Robin a quarrelsome nutcracker. Several times we will explore the roadsides before we head to Punakha (alt. 1380 meters).

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After early breakfast at the hotel, we will follow the Mo-Chu River to Tashithang, the rich area for birds. The species we will come across here are White-bellied Heron, which is one of the 50 rare species in the world. We may also see more Ibisbill as well as a host of forest birds like Greater Yellow nape, Bay woodpecker, and perhaps three species of Forktail, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Golden-spectacled Warbler, and Green-tailed Sunbird. We may be able to spot more species on our way back to the hotel.

On our way back to the hotel, we will stop to see the magnificent Punakha Dzong. We will stop to look out for Ibisbill on the surrounding gravel beds of Mo-Chu River.

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Continuing east, past Wangdue Dzong (a monastery and fortress combined), the birders will make a series of brief stops to scan the braided river channel. We have seen Palla’s Gull and Palla’s Fishing Eagle regularly here. We also check forest edges and explore some of the small patches of cultivation.

We will enter productive forest near the end of our journey and will stop here to look for species such as Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, or majestic Himalayan Monal. Spotted Laughingthrush, Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, and White-winged Grosbeak also occur here. We will also make a proper search for Ward’s Trogon, perhaps Bhutan’s premier avian prize, before heading to our superbly situated hotel.

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The early morning part takes a viewing of the Black-necked Cranes from the designated viewing spot. Leave Gangtey after a hearty breakfast from the guesthouse following the twisting road over the Pelela Pass and into Central Bhutan. A stand of bamboo extends for about three miles below the pass and we will search here for specialties such as Great and Brown Parrotbills, and Golden-breasted Fulvetta, surely one of the world’s most attractive passerines.

From Trongsa, w will continue further east over another pass, Yuthong La through a truly magnificent rhododendron/magnolia forest into Bumthang valley. After crossing the pass, we will descend through equally impressive silver fir and Spruce forest to the upland valley of Bumthang. These broad glacial valleys harbor some exciting species including Kalij Pheasant, accentors, and the incomparable Wallcreeper. Spotted Nutcrackers can be common though we will have to spend a lot of time searching for Beautiful Rosé finch, Sunbird, and Brown Parrotbill.

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We will continue further east and cross the Thrumsing La (12,400feet) one of the highest passes on the motorable road. The road descends spectacularly into the rich semi-tropical rainforest near Lingmethang. Many of Bhutan’s most sought-after birds can be found here, including Hill Partridge.

Other species we may encounter include Satyr Tragopan, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Mountain Hawk-eagle; Chestnut-bellied RockThrush, Orange-Flanked, and White-browed Bush-Robin, etc. We even have the chance of seeing Tibetan Siskin, Red crossbill, Red-headed Bullfinch, White-winged and Collared Grosbeaks and the dappers, Gold-naped Finch, in addition to a host of confusing but very nifty rosé finches. We will camp at Sengor, in truly breathtaking scenery at about 10,000 feet.

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We will explore the upper elevations of Lingmithang road to look for some of Bhutan’s most prized bird species such as Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Slender-billed Scimitat-babbler, and Bar-winged Wren-babbler. Today we will bird along the road to Namling (2300meters).

The Namling road is truly one of the greatest birding areas. From the pass at 12,300 feet, this road leads us through some of the most beautiful & rich forests in the entire Himalayas. We have almost three days to explore the wonderful rich subtropical warm and cool broad-leaved forest along a section of this road (2800 to 7200 feet). Orchids abound and the understory of the forest is often relatively clear, although the higher strata are often strung with enormous woody vine and lianas.

3 nights in the camp were catered by the camping crew.

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We will drive back to Trongsa and will continue birding on the way.

Overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.

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Today our birding takes us south of Trongsa along the road towards Zemgang. Here we will explore the mixed broad-leaved evergreen forests. We will encounter some special birds including the strange and rare Yellow-rumped Himalayan Honeyguide.

This bird is only found in the vicinity of huge hives belonging to the Rock bee. Other species we might see include Rufous-Bellied Eagle, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Barred Cuckoo-dove, Himalayan Swiftlet, flocks of nesting Fork-tailed Swifts, Crimson-breasted Woodpeckers, Striated Bulbul, Spotted Bush-Warbler, the richly marked Red-billed Leiothriz, flocks of captivating Long-tailed Minivets, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Long-billed or Scaly thrushes purple Cochoa, pairs of Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Slaty-blue and little pies Flycatchers.

It is a long drive to Zhemgang and our campsite beyond. However, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and bird. The ever-changing landscape and profusion of flowering plants and trees, combined with the imposing traditional Bhutanese homes are some of the features one will come across. Our camp tonight is located at a superb site within a forest quite close to a tumbling river at 2000 feet and beset by Great Hornbills and Pin-tailed Green Pigeons.

Overnight: camp at Tingtibi (2000feet).

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After a final morning of birding, we will drive back to Trongsa with birding on the way back.

Night in Trongsa.

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We will drive early in the morning to Chelila, a pass at 4200 meters. If we are lucky and the weather is clear, we could see splendid views of both Jumolhari and Jichu Darke and a view of Paro and Haa valley and surrounding hills. Cheila allows ascending above tree line into alpine meadows and dwarf rhododendron scrubs and thus has the possibility of several birds that we have not encountered so far.

The primary target here is to see the blue poppy, Bhutan’s national flower, and the Himalayan Monal. By keeping quiet and very alert, we may see this stunning bird as we take a short walk along an adjoining ridge. Other species, we may encounter are Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Kalij Pheasant, Spotted Laughingthrush, Rosy Pipit, Blue-fronted Redstart, Rufous-breasted accentor, and exquisitely colored White-Browed Rosefinches.

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Frequently Asked Question

Bhutan is a tiny landlocked country in the eastern Himalayas, sandwiched between India to the south and China to the north. Its terrain varies from subtropical plains and woodlands in the south to subalpine woods and snow-capped mountains in the north.

Bhutan is a Buddhist country that is often regarded as the final bastion of Mahayana Buddhism.

There are several airports from which to travel in Bhutan (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore, and Mumbai.). Bhutan now has two airlines, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. In addition, there are three land border crossings into the kingdom. Phuntsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only crossings along the Indian border.

All travel to Bhutan must be booked through a local tour operator. All essential preparations will be made by us and you can call us on WhatsApp number: +97577111115

The Bhutanese currency is called the Ngultrum. Its value is linked to the Indian Rupee, which is likewise legal money in India.

However, Indian notes in denominations of Rs. 500/ and Rs. 1000/ are not accepted.

There is no annual limit on the number of visitors allowed into the nation. To safeguard our culture, customs, and natural environment, the government has implemented a rigorous “High Value, Low Impact Tourism” policy.

This strategy aims to attract discriminating tourists who would respect Bhutan’s distinct culture and values while also offering visitors an incredible journey.

The spiciness of Bhutanese food is its most distinguishing feature. Chilies are an integral component of practically every cuisine, and most Bhutanese people would not eat a meal that was not spicy. The major component of most Bhutanese meals is rice. It is served with one or two side dishes of meat or vegetables.

The most popular meats are pork, beef, and chicken. Many restaurants around the nation serve a diverse range of Western and Indian cuisine.

  • Inclusion
  • Exclusion
  • Insurance
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
  • 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium update).
  • Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
  • Route Permit
  • Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
  • All land transportation by private vehicle
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Monuments entrance fees where applicable
  • Drinking water
  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable development fee of $200. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)
  • Airfare & Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
  • Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Package does not include insurance of any kinds, and that you are required to obtain separate coverage from your home country before your trip begins.

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