Bird Watching Tours - 13 Days
Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 747 plus species of birds have been recorded and many more are yet to be discovered. Around 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants. These include ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches and buntings. The partial migrants to Bhutan include cuckoos, swifts, bee-eaters, warblers and flycatchers. The country harbors more than 16 species of vulnerable birds. They are the Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White bellied Heron, Satyr Tragopan, Gray-bellied Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Blyth’s King Fisher, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, Rufous Throated Wren Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blyth’s Trogon, Wood Snipe, Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Gray-crowned Prinia and the Beautiful Nuthatch all of which breed in Bhutan.  Bhutan is home to many species of birds that are in danger of extinction, including the Imperial Heron or white-bellied heron, which is one of the rarest birds in the world.

Kuzuzangpola – Welcome to Bhutan!

Day 01 Arrive Paro: The flight into Bhutan takes you the great Himalayas, offering you the most scintillating scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the silvery Pa-chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley with lush green paddy fields, pristine forest, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers. On arrival at the Paro International Airport, you will be received by Away Smile Travels representative.

Do some birding around Paro Chhu in which you may encounter birds like Ibisbill, River Lapwing.Grey-backed Shrike, Oriential-turtle Dove, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Hodgson’s Redstart and perhaps Black-tailed Crake. Overnight Hotel in Paro.

Day 02 Paro-Chelela Birdwatching 

Morning drive to Chelela pass. We spend the morning birding at Chelela Pass. Birds you may encounter include Himalayan Monal, Blood and Kalij Pheasant, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Grey-crested &Rufous-fronted Tits, Black-faced Laughing Thrush, Collard Grosbeak, White-browed & Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Long-tailed Thrush.

Visit Ta-Dzong. The Ta-Dzong was originally the watchtower for the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. In 1968, it was inaugurated as the National Museum, and now holds a fascinating collection of arts, relics, religious thangka paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins, handicrafts, and a small natural history collection.  A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan. 

Visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built in the 7th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. As the name suggests, the temple is a reservoir of peace, where you will really feel at peace. Overnight Hotel in Paro.

Day 03 Paro Sightseeing (Tiger’s Nest) -Thimphu (Drive 1 hour)

After breakfast drive to Ramthangka village and hike to Tiger Nest. Taktshang meaning the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites and a very popular site for all tourists visiting Bhutan. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktshang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four-hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever. (Round trip 5 hrs).  

Later drive to Thimphu making a few stops for birding along Thimphu chu for river birds. Overnight Hotel Thimphu.

Day 04 Thimphu-Punakha (Drive 3 hours) 

Drive to Punakha with having stops for birding at Dochula Pass. Entering the pristine forest of hemlock, fir, oak and blossoming magnolias and rhododendrons. White-Throated, Striated and Chestnut-Crowned Laughing thrushes are present here, Ibisbill, River Lapwing, Grey-backed Shrike, Oriental Turtle Dove, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Hodgson’s Redstart and perhaps Black-tailed Crake, Darjeeling Woodpeacker, Hoary-throated Barwing, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Rusty –flanked Treecreeper, Red- headed Bullfinch are the birds you may encounter too. Overnight Hotel Punakha

Day 05 Punakha Birdwatching

After Breakfast, birding along Pho chhu river for White-bellied Heron which can be seen in Punakha.  In the late afternoon, visit the Punakha Dzong. Overnight Hotel Punakha

Day 06 Punakha-Gangtey (Drive 2 hours) 

After breakfast drive to Gangtey Valley. We will make stops for birding along the way. Gangtey is winter home for the Black-necked Cranes. They are migratory bird from Tibet and China in November till the end of February. Visit Black-Necked Crane Information Center. The Center has informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. On this stretch you are likely to spot the White-winged Grosbeak, Spotted Laughingthrush, Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler, Rusty -flanked Treecreeper, and the prized Ward’s Trogon. Gangtey is winter home for the Black-necked Cranes. They are migratory bird from Tibet and China in November till the end of February. Several brief stops shall be made for birding.   Overnight Hotel/Home Stay in Gangtey

Day 07 Gangtey-Trongsa (Drive 4 hours)

After breakfast drive to Trongsa with birding stop at  Pelela pass (16 km from Phobjikha valley) and take a birding downhill of the old highway in which you may come across with Himalayan Griffon, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Great and Brown Parrot bill, etc. Several brief stops shall be made for birding. Overnight Hotel Trongsa. 

Day 08 Trongsa-Chhumey Bumthang (Drive 4 hours)

Morning after breakfast drive to Bumthang. On the way you may find birding and it might include Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler, Great Parrotbill, Fulvous Parrotbill, Red-headed Bullfinch, White-winged Grosbeak, Gold-naped Finch. Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Himalayan Griffon, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Grey-sided Bush.  Overnight Hotel Chhumey. 

Day 09 Chhumey-Bumthang (Drive 1 hour)

Morning drive to Tharpling monastery. You have a good chance to see the Pheasants (Monal, Tragopan, and Blood Pheasant). 

Visit Kenchok Sum Lhakhang. Kenchok Sum Lhakhang dates back to the 8th century. The inscription on the large bell testifies to it being cast for the Tibetan Royal Family.  You will find statues of the past, present and future Buddhas.

Visit Kurjey Lhakhang. Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang is comprised of three temples.  The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century.  The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the holiest.  The temple on the left was built in the 1990s by Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, Royal Grandmother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108-chorten wall.

Explore Chamkhar Town. Overnight Hotel Bumthang.

Day 09 Bumthang- Yongkola/Mongar (Drive 8 hours) 

After breakfast drive to Mongar.  You will continue further east and cross the Thrumsing La (12,400feet), Bhutan’s highest pass. The road descends spectacularly into rich semi-tropical rainforest near Lingmethang. Many of Bhutan’s most sought after birds can be found here, including hill partridge. Other species that you may get are satyr tragopan, eurasian sparrowhawk, mountain hawk-eagle, chestnut-bellied rockthrush, orange-flanked and white-browed bush-robin etc.

You also have a 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. Overnight Hotel Yongkola/Camp/Local Home Stay.

Day 10 Yongkola/Mongar Birdwatching

Birding down the famed Lingmethang road from Sengor to Namling. Today we will hope to find Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Satyr Tragopan, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Rufous-throated Wren-babbler, Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler, Broad-billed Warbler, Black-throated Parrotbill. With luck we will find Sikkim Wedge-billed, Long-billed or Bar-winged Wren-babblers. Other possibilities include Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Streak-breasted and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babblers, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Sapphire Flycatcher, White-browed and Lesser Shortwings, Black-headed Shrike-babbler, Crimson-browed Finch and hopefully much more. Overnight Hotel Mongar

Day 11 Mongar-Trashigang (Drive 3 hours)

After breakfast drive to Trashigang with birding stops. Travelling through untouched forest we stand further chances of  Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Black-throated Parrotbill, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Broad-billed Warbler, Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Long-billed and Bar-winged Wren Babbler, Streaked-breasted and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler and Bhutan Laughingthrush. Overnight Hotel Trashigang. 

Day 12 Trashigang-Dewathang/Samdrup Jongkhar. (Drive 6 hours)

After breakfast driev to Samdrup Jongkhar. Birding along the way. Today, birds we hope to find are Brownish-flanked Bush-warbler, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Little Bunting, Black Eagle, Emerald Dove, Bronze Drongo, Beautiful Nuthatch, Red-billed Leiothrix, Red-faced Liocichla, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Blue-winged Laughingthrush, Black-nape Monarch, Grey-throated Babbler, Black-crested Bulbul, Oriential Pied Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Green-billed Malkoha. Overnight Hotel Dewathang/Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 13 Dewathang/ Samdrup Jongkhar exit India.

Morning birding around Deothang, and then between Samdrup Jongkhar (250m) and Deothang (850m). A wide variety of birds might include Black Eagle, Emerald Dove, Bronzed Drongo, Green-billed Malkoha, Great and Oriental Pied Hornbills, Black-crested Bulbul, Grey-throated Babbler, Black-naped Monarch, Blue-winged Laughingthrush, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Red-faced Liocichla, Red-billed Leiothrix and with luck Beautiful Nuthatch.

After early lunch, exit to India. Our representatives will bid you goodbye!

Thank you (Kardrienchhey) for visiting Bhutan with Away Smile Travels “Smiles for Miles “

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