Birdwatching in Bhutan

Days

15

Trip style

Adventure

Ratings

4.5/5
5/5

From

$3,190

Birdwatching Trip West & Central Bhutan

There are more than six hundred recorded species of birds in Bhutan of which 14 are globally endangered.

Bird watching, ethno-botany, photography and other academic pursuits are thriving in Bhutan. A record diversity of flora and fauna make Bhutan a literal paradise for those specialized in these fields. Bhutan Travelers customizes such trips so that those keen can get professional packages dwelling in these fields.

Itinerary

Before landing off at the international airport, you have an opportunity to enjoy the stunning view of the Paro Valley with the green terraced field below. After landing and completing all immigration procedures, our representative will be waiting to warmly welcome you and drive you to Thimphu, the capital city. If your flight is in the morning you will head to the suburbs in Thimphu, like Upper-Motithang and the northern end of the Valley (Cheri, Doedena, and Begana). Start with the Upper-Motithang area, a good area to witness several popular bird species such as the Rufous Fronted Tit, Sparrow Hawk, Rufous-Bellied Woodpeckers, Hoopes, Nepal House Martin, and Hill Myna. Overnight at the hotel.

Get up early and enjoy the trip to the outskirts of Thimphu where you will pass through the rich vegetation of fir, pine, rhododendron, apple trees and make sure you do not miss the Red Billed Chough that is frequently seen in this area. First you will visit the Giant Bronze Buddha Statue and then continue the journey to Cheri, Dodema and Begana areas. These areas provide the best birding spots in the Valley as you immerse yourself in the areas fulfilled with the sound of peaceful tweets of many bird species like Ibisbills, Sandpipers, Crested-Pie kingfishers, Red-rumped Swallows, Long-Tailed Minivets, Grey Wagtails, Yellow-Billed, Blue Magpies, Spotted Nutcrackers, White-Bellied Yuhina, Red-Billed Choughs, Black-Browed Tits, Upland Pipits and more. You will then visit some attractions like the Memorial Chorten and Tashichho Dzong. Overnight at the hotel.

After a hearty breakfast, head to the east to the Dochula pass. Once there, you can admire the breathtaking vistas of the whole Himalayan mountain range while standing on the border between Bhutan and Tibet. What’s more, do not forget that this area is also a heaven for bird-watchers as when you hike through the fir, birch, and rhododendron forest, you will reach the place where many species of birds thrive. Continue heading to Punakha. In the afternoon, make your way to the bird-rich subtropical valley of Punakha. On reaching the destination, stop for a while to explore the edge of a forest and agricultural land in a nearby village. On your way heading to the Valley, there will be your chance to witness several subtropical species of birds. Some common sightings are the Red-headed Trogon, Wedge-Tailed Pigeon, Fire-capped Tit, White-Gorgeted Flycatcher, and other rare species such as Yellow-Vented Warbler, Magpie Robin, Green Magpie, and Osprey.

This area is a destination that is renowned for the critically endangered White Bellied Heron. Today, after having breakfast, you will continue your birding trip. Stop and attentively behold the impressive Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan, then head to the forests of the upper Punakha valley converging bird species such as the Bay Woodpeckers, Red-headed Trogons, Wedge-Tailed Pigeons, Fire-Capped Tits, White-Gorgeted Flycatchers, rare Yellow Vented Warblers, Magpie Robins, Green Magpies, Ospreys, River Lapwings, Rubby Shelducks, and Eurasian Wigeon. Make sure that you keep your eye out for a variety of skulkers like Spotted Elachura and Pygmy Wren-Babbler, and two of Bhutan’s three species of Tesia.

Today, you will depart for Phobjikha. On reaching the destination, stop for a while to discover the edge of a river channel and scan the forests for Flycatchers and Wedge-Tailed Green Pigeons. The place is also home to many other species. Fall in love with birds such as the Carlet Finch, Black Drongo, Chestnut-Bellied Nuthatch, Slaty-Backed Forktail, Gorgeted Flycatcher, White-Throated Laughingthrush, Eurasian Jay, Wedge-Tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Verditer Flycatcher, and so on.

If you travel between October and March, the famed Black-Necked Cranes will be waiting for your appearance. In the afternoon, you will stop at the Black-Necked Crane Center and if time permits, bird-watchers can take leisurely stroll around the glacial Phobjikha Valley and enjoy the beautiful tweets of White-Throated Laughing thrushes, Mountain Imperial Pigeons, Slaty-Backed Forktails, Rusty-Flanked Tree Creepers, White-Browed Bush Robins, and White-Winged Grosbeaks making their home. Once there, remember not to miss the century-old Gangtey Gompa overlooking the valley. Today you will stay at a farmhouse to experience the  traditional Bhutanese lifestyle.
Today you will hike through Phobjikha valley to explore the nearby villages. The valley is mostly covered with high altitude dwarf bamboo, hiking trails, pine trees and farmhouses with impressive art and wood carvings. You can visit the Nature Information Center which has informative displays about the crane and the general environment of the valley. Overnight at a hotel in Gangtey.

Drive up to Lawa La pass at 3360m and after a moments drive on strip of rough road we will eventually join the highway. Ascending up to Pele La pass (3420m) with amazing views of the distant mountains such as Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. Drive past evergreen forests which slowly change to broad leaved forests and you descend. You will pass a few small villages, among them being the Chendebji village. The Chendebji Chorten imitates the famous Swayambhunath stupa in Kathmandu architecturally.

As you continue on we will drive into the Mangde Chhu river valley. Followed by the view of the majestic Trongsa Dzong, arriving Trongsa after 2.5 hours on the road. The Trongsa district being surrounded by high mountains and dense jungles provide the perfect habitat for a variety of birds. The beginning of June is the best time to sight rare birds in Trongsa. The Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Crested Bunting, Steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Rufous Woodpecker, Long-tailed Shrike, Prinias, Common Green Magpie, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Minivets and Common Kestrel may be sighted. Visit the Trongsa Dzong located above the Mangde Chhu river. Trongsa Royal Heritage Museum is also worth a visit, an archive of Bhutan’s glorious history. 

Today we will drive to Zhemgang following the Mangde Chhu river. On the drive we will make several stops in the densely forested valleys to enjoy some birding. In this area, species of birds such as the Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Crested Bunting, Long-tailed Shrike, prinias, Rufous Woodpecker, Blue–bearded Bee-eater, Spot-winged Starling, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel and various minivets can be found. Bird-watchers may even be able to spot some rare species such as the highly endangered White-bellied Heron and the Collared Treepie.

Other species that you may be lucky enough to spot in this nature-rich area are the Nuthatch and Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush, and Greater Necklaced LaughingthrushWe may even spot an endemic mammal species to Bhutan – the Golden Langur, only discovered in the 1950s.

Explore Tingtibi today. Driving through subtropical forests, mossy forests to streamside lowland forest are great strips of land for birding. One may spot the Beautiful Nuthatch perched on the taller trees. Some other birds we have chances of encountering are the Crested Honey Buzzard, Black Eagle, Emerald Dove, Bar-tailed Cuckoo-Dove, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, the secretive but noisy Whistling Hawk-Cuckoo (split from Hodgson’s), Indian and Violet Cuckoos, White-throated Needletail, Blue-throated Barbet, White-browed Piculet, Rufous Woodpecker, the gorgeous Long-tailed Broadbill, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Common Green Magpie, Scarlet Minivet, Red-vented, White-throated and Ashy Bulbuls, Bronzed Drongo, Long-tailed Shrike, Oriental Magpie Robin, Blue Rock Thrush, Striated Prinia, Rufous-faced Warbler, Yellow-bellied Warbler, the superb Rufous-necked and Blue-winged Laughingthrushes, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, the lovely Crimson Liocichla (split from Red-faced), White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Silver-eared Mesia, Striated Yuhina, Long-tailed Sibia, the impressive Sultan Tit, Streaked Spiderhunter and Crested Bunting. Tingtibi near the river serves the perfect spot for birders. The dense jungles surrounding the campsite is home for Rufous-necked Hornbill and the endemic Golden Langur. The road from Zhemgang to Tingtibi is yet another golden opportunity for birdwatching and spotting some exotic birds. 

In the morning try to catch sight of the Beautiful Nuthatch and the Sapphire Flycatcher. Bumthang, the cultural heartland of Bhutan has several of Bhutan’s greatest cultural attractions and religious structures. The day will be well-spent visiting monuments and visiting neighboring villages. Most importantly, birding in the agricultural peripheries will likely allow some amazing sightings of birds such as the Rose Finch, Rufous breasted Accentor, Little Bunting, Red Billed Chough, Black billed Magpie and countless more. Some monuments we will visit are the Jambay Lhakhang, Tamshing Monastery, Kurjey Lhakhang and the Jakar Dzong — each with striking architecture and long-standing tales. Overnight in a hotel in Bumthang.

Today we will visit the Chumey Valley, a short 40 min drive from Bumthang. We will visit the Tharparling monastery. As you climb further into the hill we may be lucky enough to spot the Monal Pheasant and the Satyr Tragopan. Other common sightings are the Spot-winged Grosbeak, Daurian Redstart, Oriental Skylark, Black-billed Magpie and Olive-Baked Pipit. Overnight stay in Chumey Valley.

Today we will catch a domestic flight from Bumthang to Paro. This is the most spectacular flight. The flight from Kathmandu affords views of Himalayan peaks such as Mt.Everest (8848m) however certain peaks are hidden from sight. However, on this 25 min flight, mountains such as the highest unclimbed peak – Mt. Jumolhari and Masangang, Tsendagang and other snow-laden Himalayan giants can be seen. You fly parallel the national Highway for a while too. Visit some monuments in Paro such as the Rinpung Dzong “fortress of Heap of Jewels”, adorned with intricate wall paintings and ancient Buddhist folklore that entails. Then we will visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred monastery in the Kingdom. The National Museum of Paro, and some typical farmhouses are also worth the visit. Explore the cutesy Paro town at your own time in the evening. Overnight at a hotel in Paro. 

There are several birding spots in Paro where one can spot the Ibisbill in the gravel islands of the rivers. The Black-tailed Crake can also be seen in the fast-flowing rivers of Paro. Some others species are the River Lapwing, Large-billed Crow, Brown Dipper, Blue Whistling Thrush, Oriental Turtle-Dove, Green-backed Tit, Himalayan Wagtail and the Russet Sparrow. The Green Sandpiper, Rosy Pipit, Rufous-breasted Accentor, and Black-throated Thrush are some birds that may be spotted if you visit in the Winter. Overnight in Hotel.
Today you will start early from Thimphu and drive to Paro for your hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. It is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria, located about halfway up on the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. Explore the monastery and hike down to the valley floor. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Today we will bid you farewell as you catch your flight from Paro to your next adventure. 

Inclusions

Accommodations

14 Nights

Meals

Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners

Transportations

Land transportation included. Intra-air between cities is not included, please contact us for details.

Guide

English speaking guide through out the trips

Entrance fees

Included in a price

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