Travel to one of the least visited countries in the planet; Bhutan, and enjoy some of the finest birding in all of the Himalayas. The pristine environments we travel to in Bhutan are some of the last untouched areas of the world and the expert local guides we use ensure that you will be in safe hands as we aim to find all the endangered species here including the black-necked cranes and white-bellied herons around here. But along with the spectacular bird species here you will fall in love with the landscape, people and culture of Bhutan and your tour will culminate in visiting the exceptional Tigers Nest monastery which is one of the most stunning building in the whole world!
Black-necked crane Centre Visit
Stunning views of the Himalayas by plane
Incredible birding destinations
Tours of spectacular Dzongs (Fortresses)
Expert local guides throughout
Luxury accommodation in Bhutan
Tour Dates: 22/4/2021 – 3/5/2021
Duration: 12 nights
Type / Focus: Birding
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.
The weather from March to May in Bhutan is very reasonable, March is the end of the winter and beginning of spring and temperatures throughout these three months will range between 12-25 degrees C. The skies are usually clear but occasional showers are not unknown.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned vehicle with an excellent local driver. We have brilliant local guides and specialist birding guides.
All our excursions including treks, guided walks monastery and park entrance fees are also included.
Your Bhutanese visa is included in the cost and all national taxes as well.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes as well as comfortable walking shoes. As the nights can be chilly we recommend you bring a fleece, long trousers, scarf and a woolly hat and as it can be rainy waterproofs are handy. Insect repellent is also handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any departure taxes applicable when leaving are not included (but may be included in the cost of your flights), Please check this before hand.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Qatar Airways as a good airline for flights to Kathmandu. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is www.travelup.co.uk. They are an ATOL bonded company and this provide all the securities related to ATOL protection. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Nepal & Bhutan. Your Bhutanese visa is included in the costs and you do not have to worry about this. We may ask for a photocopy of your passport but everything will be taken care of. Your Nepalese visa is easy to get and are usually issued on arrival at the airport for a fee. The fee for a multiple entry tourist visa valid for 30 days is £35. For more information look on the Nepalese embassy website www.nepembassy.org.uk/ (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Nepal or Bhutan, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Bhutan as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Due to the high altitude in Tibet a reasonable amount of fitness is needed but the altitude can affect anyone (regardless of fitness) so please read up or ask your GP about altitude sickness before leaving.
The Packers, Tamworth
Sean & Suzie, Belfast
Garry Barlow, Tanzania
Alan Beckett, Cardiff
Kris & Sophia, Cheshire
Joe Boyer, Michigan
Rhoda Perkins-Boyer, USA
Ms. Beatrice Potter, UK
Cecilia Simon, Mexico
Geal & Michelle, Dubai - UEA
Mr. H. Kronsten, UK
Dan & Ann Milquet, USA
Lorraine Corfield, UK
Peter & Amanda Wallis, UK
Mr & Mrs Zardis, USA