On arrival in Kathmandu you will meet your local guide and be transferred to your accommodation, level 3-4* (Hotel Potala). Your accommodation will be situated in the Thamel region on the city. This is the heartbeat of Kathmandu and you will be free to explore the winding streets or explore the nearby sights with your guide. Your evening meal will be at the accommodation or a nearby restaurant.
Today you will be transported along the southern rim of the Himalayas by plane as you travel to Bhutan. The flight has spectacular views of 8 of the top 10 highest mountains in the world (Everst, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Manasulu & Annapurna). Once you arrive in Paro you will meet your Bhutanese guide and be taken into Paro for some sightseeing. You will visit the National Museum which is a converted watch tower and home to some of the finest pieces of art in the country. You will also pay a visit to Rimpung Dzong (a fortress built in 1646); this is a fantastic welcome to Bhutan and we guarantee you will begin to fall in love with the people and the country here. During the afternoon we will look out for ibisbills, brown dippers, black-tailed crake, Hodgson’s water-redstart, plumbeous water-redstart and white-capped water-redstarts which all roost in the Paro Valley. You will have your evening meal in your accommodation, level – Class A (Tenzinling).
This morning is your first real birding quest and you will rise early as we head to Chelela Pass. Here we should see Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, Satyr’s tragopan, kalij pheasants, white-winged grosbeak, white-browed rose finch, streaked rose finch, spotted nutcracker, rufous sibia, white-browed fulvetta, and various warblers. After a picnic lunch we will continue onto Thimpu where we usually see ibisbill, river lapwing, ruddy shelduck and other assorted shorebirds along the river banks. Your evening meal will once again be in the accommodation, level – Class A (Olathang).
Cheri – Dochula
After early breakfast we drive to the northern reaches of Thimphu and to Cheri, the site of a number of tranquil Buddhist retreat’s, the area is also the habitat of various species of birds. The river banks at Cheri are home to yellow-rumped honeyguide, rufous-bellied woodpecker, sunbirds, blue-fronted redstarts, rufous flanked and yellow brown tits, blacked-faced laughingthrushes, wallcreepers and many others. You will enjoy a picnic lunch at this picturesque location and in the afternoon enjoy a hike (2 hours round trip) to Tangu Buddhist University located north of Thimphu. The trail offers ample opportunities for more birding along the way. In the late afternoon we start on a scenic drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. This pass offers a panoramic view of the eastern Himalayan ranges on the clear days. We will stop briefly here to take in the view and admire the 108 stupas built to honor His Majesty the King, world peace and for the benefit of all living beings and multi hued prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. Your evening meal will be at our accommodation, level – Class A.
Punakha – Dochu La
We rise early today again to enjoy the panorama of the Bhutan Himalayas. From the pass, it is a scenic winding descent into the sub-tropical Punakha valley, which is about 1,700m below the pass. This district is also famous for its agricultural produce grown in its alluvial fields. En route we spot the Satyr’s tragopan and a host of mixed species that dwell in the cool broadleaf forests. En route to Punakha, we have a good chance to see the red-flanked bluetail and golden bush-robin, grey bushchat and rufous-breasted accentor, blue-winged, red-tailed and chestnut-tailed minlas, rufus-winged, white-browed and Nepal fulvetta and whiskered, stripe-throated, rufus-vented, black-chinned and white-bellied yuhinas. It is possible to see both barwings plus a good selection of laughingthrushes before Punakha. You will have the chance for a short easy hike to Chimmi lhakang, a temple dedicated to the divine madman/god of fertility. Walk past villages and rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang-temple of the Divine Madman who is popularly known as Drukpa Kuenly. Your evening meal will once again be at your accommodation, level – Class A.
Today we will drive northwards to Tashithang, the starting point and supply route for many of Bhutan’s trekking expeditions. Tashithang is also famed for its pristine environment teeming with a multitude of avian species. We will explore the broad leaved forests of Tashithang to look for the crested kingfisher, lesser shortwing, Ward’s trogon, greater yellownape, bay woodpecker, orange-bellied leafbird, little and slaty-backed forktail, pygmy wren-babbler, golden tree-babbler, striated and rufous-chinned laughingthrushes, black-eared shrike-babbler, tesias, golden-spectacled and broad-billed warbler, small niltava and black-throated tits, Pallas fishing eagles and the tawny fishing owl. In the afternoon you will retrace the drive back to the fertile Punakha valley, and walk across the recently renovated traditional footbridge that spans across the river into the castle of Punakha as well as exploring Punakha Dzong miraculously located between the two rivers. On the banks of one of the rivers, the Pho chu the highly endangered white bellied heron and a variety of other water fowl can be seen. Your evening meal will be served at your accommodation, level – Class A.
Whilst driving from Punakha to Phobjikha valley we will stop at Wangdiphodrang and visit the Castle of Wangdiphodrang and also take a brisk walk around the extraordinary bazaar. The tress that line the bazaar of Wangdiphodrang are also a favourite haunt of the red vented bulbul and the common mynah we then take the onward route to the Black Mountains and take the diversion to beautiful Phobjika Gangtey valley to Phobjikha. After arrival at tranquil, enchanting valley of Sha Phobjikha, we visit the Gangtey Monastery a 16th century monastery , an exemplary work of traditional architecture and also the Crane Information Center in Phobjikha valley & walk around the valley in the afternoon. The afternoon will be spent crane spotting in the valley along with bird watching in the ecologically diverse valley of Phobjikha. We then walk the beautiful nature trail to the Phobjikha valley sanctuary area where the highly endangered black-necked crane flock from November – April Enjoy a Picnic Lunch in the meadows of Phobjikha valley and later on a very nice traditional herbal hotstone bath to soothe and relax the tired muscles from the hike. Your evening meal will be at the accommodation, level – Class A.
Today we drive to Trongsa across Pele la pass in the Black Mountain ranges, the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large monument and many prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. The journey passes through farm house and road side villages. This area is a favoured habitat of yaks. The drive between Gangtey to Trongsa passess through 2 climatic zones thus offering ample opportunities to catch sight of myriad species of birds such as yellowish-bellied bush warbler ,fire-tailed myzornis, brown parrotbill, great parrotbill, yellow-billed blue-magpie and the gray-sided bush-warbler. There will be plenty of photo opportunities along the way such as at Chendebji Chorten, replicated on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. On arrival at Trongsa you will have some afternoon tea before visiting Trongsa Dzong built in 1648. It is the biggest of all the fortresses in the Kingdom. It is the most impressive and aesthetic with magnificent work of tradition architecture in the Kingdom. You will have a tour of the Museum on Bhutanese Monarchy before your evening meal at your accommodation, level – Class A.
Today we begin retracing our way back to Wangdiphodrang taking in some excellent birding along the way. You will picnic along the way and have your dinner at the accommodation, level – Class A.
You will continue travelling back through Bhutan and get to Paro today with some more excellent birding along the way. You will picnic along the way and have your dinner at the accommodation, level – Class A.
Today you will visit one of the untold wonders of the world and a building which easily holds its own against any other in the world. Tigers Nest Monastery – One of the most venerated places precariously perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. Guru Rinpoche arrived at this spot on a back of flying tigress and meditated here in a cave and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as the most spiritual of sites in Bhutan and many eminent saints have meditated in this area. Now it is visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their life time. The monastery defies both gravity and imagination. Lunch and refreshments at the cafeteria which offers an imposing view of the cultural landmark. Evening at leisure and time to explore Paro town area or visit a local farmer’s home for refreshments and to also observe the traditional way of life and living.
This morning you will be checked into the flight back to Kathmandu well in advance to make sure you can get the best seats for the stunning views on the flight back. Once we arrive back in Kathmandu you will be escorted to your accommodation in Thamel, level 3-4* (Hotel Potala) and you will have the rest of the day at your leisure. Either exploring more of the sights of Kathmandu or going over the highlights of the trip. Your evening meal will be at your accommodation.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.