On arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport you will be met by your zoologist escort and our local guide/driver. From the airport we will be transferred in our private vehicle to Kathmandu (20-30 mins). Once in Kathmandu we will head to our accommodation, level – guest house (Hotel Potala / Kathmandu Guest House or similar). Depending on what time the flights were we will eat either just our dinner or lunch and dinner at our accommodation and in the meantime you will be free to walk around Thamel. Thamel is the heartbeat of Kathmandu and a place which teems with colour, sights and sounds. You can easily get lost meandering down the maze of streets souvenir shopping and we can spend hours here enjoying the hustle and bustle of Nepals busiest city.
Today you will be taken to explore some of the famous Kathmandu valley, if you have not been taken to see some of the cities sites such as Boudnath Stupa, Swayambunath and Durbar Square yesterday you will visit here today as well as exploring the sister cities of Patan and Bhaktapur. These two cities and Kathmandu used to be separate kingdoms but under the leadership of the King they were unified. You will return to your accommodation, level – guest house (Hotel Potala / Kathmandu Guest House or similar) for your evening meal.
Today you will be transferred back to the airport and to the domestic terminal. From here you will be taken on one of the most scenic internal flights in the world as you head east to border town of Bhadrapur (45min flight) you can spot Mt. Everest if the weather is good. In fact around 7 of the top 10 highest mountains in the world can be seen from this flight on a clear day. Once you land in Bhadrapur you will meet your local driver and be taken in a private vehicle north to the town of Ilam (4 hours). This is the closest large town to the wildlife watching habitats and our place of rest tonight. As you drive along you will notice the terraced farms and tea plantations covering the beautiful rows of hills steadily increasing in height until the dominating Himalayas break into view in the distance. You can visit a tea plantation today as this is Nepals tea growing region, all the local communities are dominated by this very productive plant. Your evening meal will be provided in the accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house. Tomorrow you head into red panda territory.
Dobate & Nearby Forests
On day 4 you will be transferred in our private jeep once again. This time you will be taken into true rural Nepal and to the small village of Dobate (4 hours). This road will be bumpy as we head well off the beaten path and into the wonderful world of the red panda. The population of red pandas here is relatively new to science and it is through the work of the scientists here (from the Red Panda Network (RPN)) that we are able to visit here in order to see red pandas. Over the next 3 full days you will hike around the rhododendron and oak forests in search of the fire fox, otherwise known as the red panda. During our time in Dobate we will be helping the local people and contributing the sustainable development of the village and increasing the value of the local wildlife to the villagers. It is so important to contribute to the local communities in order to preserve endangered species and ecosystems and that is why we use our accommodation, level – local tea houses. It helps to bring in financial rewards to the local people for keeping the red pandas habitat intact. Whilst hiking around the forests looking for the red pandas it is always worth keeping a keen eye out for other wildlife as leopards, leopard cats, mainland serows, Himalayan orange-bellied squirrels, yellow-throated martens, large Indian civets and dozens of birds share these dense and spectacular forests with the beautiful red panda. Depending on the local conditions we will look to arrange some spotlighting through the forest after dark. This is by far the best way to catch a glimpse of the rare predators here such as martens, leopard cats and maybe an Asiatic black bear. As the RPN have been training local people to track red pandas the success rate in finding them has increased to a current high of around 95%, so we hope for views of this little arboreal mammal within the 3 days we have here before heading off in search of rarer mammals.
Today you will travel back from Dobate to Ilam (4 hours), through the tea plantations and terraced farms. Today is a rest day before continuing onwards to our next destination. You will be taken to the same accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house; as day 3.
Day 9 will be mostly taken up with the transfer to Tapejung in our private jeep (7-8 hours). But once you arrive here you will notice the change in landscape. There is far less tea grown here and we have increased in altitude. The district of Taplejung is overlooked by the impressive mountain Kanchenjunga. This is the 3rd largest mountain in the world and a creates a great backdrop for exploring the forests in search of some of the worlds most sought after species. There is a great mix of dense temperate and subtropical forests on the lower slopes before rocky outcrops and alpine grassland take over as you ascend. However it is not the upper reaches of Kanchenjunga that interests us on this tour. We will instead explore the forests of the foothills. By day and after dark we will search out the cryptic and almost mythical clouded leopards as well as other cat species such as marbled cats, leopard cats, Asiatic golden cats and their larger cousin the leopard. The snow leopard also lives around here but is seldom seen and lives well in the high reaches of the mountains. These forests are not often visited by many mammal watchers and so we are never 100% sure on what we may or may not see. After each day hiking and evening spotlighting we will head back to the accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house for our evening meals and nights sleep.
Once again we will head back to Ilam (7-8 hours) and begin our journey back to Kathmandu. After the long drive south and back to the familiar town you will be taken to the same accommodation, level – local guest house or tea house; as used on days 3 and 8.
This morning you will be transported the border town of Bhadrapur in order to catch your return flight to Kathmandu. Try and get a seat on the right hand side of the plane (especially if you were not on the left hand side on the way out) and enjoy the Himalayan view. On arrival in Kathmandu you will be transferred to your accommodation, level – guest house (Hotel Potala / Kathmandu Guest House or similar) for your last night in Nepal and your farewell meal.
This morning you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that whilst we expect to see and have a great track record in finding red pandas we must stress that to see clouded leopards or the other mammal species mentioned is more luck than skill. We will be in great habitat for them and they have been seen before but it is not a guarantee.
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.