Discover the birding experience of a lifetime. Spot diverse rare and exotic species in a setting of pristine forests, ancient Dzongs and Buddhist Temples. The altitude varies from 800 m to 3810 m with a variety of bird rich habitats including sub tropical and warm broad leaved forests, savannah, and grasslands, cool broad leaved forests, dry alpine scrub land, and wet lands. This tour also explore the many cultural highlights of the gentle valleys of the west, spiritual central Bhutan & the rugged east including ancient fortresses, sacred monasteries, remote temples, farm houses and royal palaces.
The best time to do this tour is between April and mid June.
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa and walk to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge that is still in use.
Birding in the Paro area, particularly along the Paro Chhu (river) will reveal Ibisbills, Common Merganser, Red-billed Chough, Hodgson’s and Plumbeous Redstarts, massive flocks of Plain Mountain Finch, River Lapwing, Large-billed Crow, Kalij Pheasant, a Northern Harrier, a Yellow-browed Warbler, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Russet Sparrow and exquisite looking White Wagtails.
Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you high above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, a historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang.
Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Start early for an excursion up to Cheli La Pass through mixed forests. searching for the Kalij Pheasant and the iridescent Himalayan Monal, nicknamed the “bird of nine colors”. We‘ll also sift through flocks of pink rosefinches and chunky grosbeaks. In the denser forests below we hope to track down Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes. On clear day at Cheli La Pass (3900m) there are panoramic views of the snow-capped Himalayas.
As you head back down towards Paro, keep your eyes peeled for a myriad of species including Black-faced Laughingthrush, Spot-winged Grosbeak, White-throated Redstart, Gold-billed Magpie, Black Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Snow Pigeons, Rosy and Olive-backed Pipits, Rufous-breasted Accentors and White-collared Blackbirds to name but a few.
Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Along the way look out for White-capped Water Redstart, Osprey, roosting Snow Pigeons, Long-tailed Minivets, fishing Brown Dipper and roosting Great Cormorants.
After checking into your hotel visit the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in the year 1972. You will also visit the 12th century Changangkha Temple and Zilukha Nunnery. You may also visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong.
Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Drive northwards to enjoy an exploration of the beautiful Cheri Valley. This area is frequented by Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Dipper, White-collared Blackbird, and Hodgson‘s and Blue-fronted Redstarts. Enjoy afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu including the School for Arts and Crafts, The National Library, the Traditional Paper Factory and the Folk Heritage Museum.
Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Begin your drive to the Punakha Valley (about 3 hrs total driving time) passing along the western slopes of Dochu La through pristine mixed forests of hemlock, fir, and rhododendron. This area features offers spectacular bird viewing opportunities including the scarlet Satyr Tragopan, Gold-billed Magpie, Golden Bush-Robin, Cutia, and the Fire-tailed Myzornis. Continue over Dochu-La Pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into the Punakha Valley.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. Search the nearby rivers for the scarce Pallas‘s Fish Eagle and White-bellied Heron. Continue north to Tashithang Valley, location of our fully serviced camp site for overnight.
For night halt camp site at Tashithang.
Tashithang Valley follows the Mo Chu, popular with waterfowl. Some of the birds that are found in this area include rare White-bellied Heron, Tawny Fish Owl, River Lapwing, Red-headed Trogon, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Striated Bulbul, Little Niltava, all three tesias, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher, Pygmy Wren-Babbler, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Scarlet Finch, Spotted Wren-Babbler, Ibisbill, Bar-headed Geese, Great-headed Gulls, etc. In 1994 the first Baer’s Pochard was also sighted. Return to the campsite for overnight.
Drive to Trongsa (5.5 hrs) over Pele La pass (3,420m). The summit is marked by a large white Chorten and prayer flags, and may reveal Kalij Pheasant, Spotted Forktail, White-browed Rosefinch, and White-winged Grosbeak. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo, a refuge for several perky parrotbills. Stop en route at the beautiful Chendebji Chorten en route. It is built in a style unusual for Bhutan, with painted eyes facing the four directions. Arrive at Trongsa and check into the lodge for overnight.
Early morning departure for the district of Zhemgang (3 hrs). The drive from Trongsa to Zhemgang takes you along the valley of Mangdi Chu passing the former ancestral royal palace of Kuenga Rabten on the way. Leaving the Mangdi Chu, you ascend to Zhemgang on a hillock. The quaint small town has a Dzong and spectacular views. You can find a lot of handmade bamboo items in Zhemgang.
Continue south from Zhemgang into the Tingtibi valley where again you come across the mighty Mangdi Chu. The famed Golden Langur are found foraging by the roads in this area. Also the rich avifauna in this region includes Chestnut-breasted Partridges, Pin-tailed Green Pigeons, nine species of cuckoos, Red-headed Trogon, Blyth’s Kingfisher (with a bit of Luck), Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Rufous-Necked Hornbill, White-browed Piculet, Bay Woodpecker, White-tailed Robin, several scimitar-babblers, Black-faced laughingthrush and other thrushes, fulvettas, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Rufous-faced Warbler, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher. It is also possible with a bit of luck to see the Beautiful Nuthatch, White-bellied Heron, Collared Treepie and Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill. Late afternoon arrival at the campsite, located right on the edge of a forest in the midst of some spectacular birding. Overnight at fully serviced campsite.
Spend the day exploring the Tingtibi area, rich with diverse birdlife at elevations ranging from 650m to over 2000m. Possible viewing includes Great Hornbill, Rufous-Necked Hornbill, Lesser Yellownape, Scarlet Minivets, Sultan Tits and possibly several woodpeckers.Overnight at fully serviced campsite.
Spend the morning exploring the area for Beautiful Nuthatch and the Sapphire Flycatcher. Drive to Trongsa, stopping en route for any possible viewings. On arrival in Trongsa, visit the Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Trongsa is the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the location of where the institution of monarchy in Bhutan began. The view from the Dzong is spectacular and one can see across the impressive landscape for many miles. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
After breakfast proceed towards Bumthang (2.5 hrs), one the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual and historical heartland of the kingdom. Bumthang is home to some of Bhutan’s oldest Palaces, Buddhist temples and monasteries.
On arrival visit Jakar Dzong (Dzong of the white Bird) and Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Terton Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) and containing ancient Buddhist wall paintings. After lunch visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and Jambay Lhakhang, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples. Overnight at your lodge in Bumthang.
Continue eastwards through more rugged terrain. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan’s road network, Thrumsing-La Pass (4,000m). This Pass is Blood Pheasant country, and also holds Himalayan Bluetail and Spotted Nutcracker. Continue onwards through the dense conifers of the Ura Valley, populated by Mrs. Gould‘s Sunbird, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Bar-winged Wren-babbler, and Red-headed Bullfinch. From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. On arrival at your campsite in Sengor, keep your eyes out for Long-billed and Plain-backed Thrushes. Overnight at fully serviced campsite.
Today we travel to one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas. The roadside scenery from Sengor to Yonkgola features sheer drops of thousands of meters, huge cascading waterfalls, endless turns and is considered some of the most spectacular in Bhutan. Enroute, scour the roadsides for mixed flocks of warblers, parrotbills, babblers, and sunbirds amongst many other species. If you are lucky you may also spot a Satyr Tragopan. There are also Barking Deer and the rare Himalyan Black Bear in the area. In the late afternoon you will arrive at your campsite located near lush forested valleys rich with a staggering diversity of birdlife. Overnight at fully serviced campsite.
Spend the day exploring the forested valleys along this excellent birding route for the great variety of birdlife on offer. These include Rufous-necked Hornbills, Ward’s Trogons, Golden-throated Barbets, mixed parrotbill flocks, Collared Treepies, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babblers, Golden-breasted Fulvettas, and vermillion Scarlet Finches, to name just a few. The area is also frequented by Capped Langurs. Late afternoon arrival in Mongar. Overnight in guesthouse.
Drive to Kori La, searching for the stunning Short-billed Minivet, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush and Hoary-throated Barwing. Continue on through pine forests to Trahigang, keeping an eye out for Asian Barred Owls along the way. Overnight at your hotel in Trashigang.
After breakfast drive to Samdrup Jongkhar, the gateway to India. It is about 9 hours drive from Trashigang. Birding around the Samdrup Jongkhar area may yield colorful birds like Silver-eared Mesia, White-rumped Shama, and Greater Flameback. Overnight at your hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.
After breakfast, your guide will arrange an Indian vehicle your transfer to Guwahati, the capital town of the Indian north-eastern state of Assam, for your onward flight.
This tour can also be tailored and customized within western and central Bhutan for less duration without visiting the eastern region. If you are interested, you may kindly forward your request in our customer enquiry form.