This exciting new holiday focuses on the rich ecosystems of the eastern Himalaya and, in particular the elusive Red Panda. The Red Panda is such an iconic mammal, sought after by many but seen by very few. But we will also delve deep into the Sub-tropcial Terai region of Nepal. This ecosystem is one of the most biodiverse in the world and runs the length of the southern border of the Himalayas. Here you will enter the forests and grasslands in a variety of ways (all your choice) including by canoe, elephant back, jeep and of course the highlight, hiking and tracking tigers on foot. This is the kingdom of the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino and Asiatic elephant and we hope for you to encounter these animals in Bardia.
Track Tigers on foot in Bardia
Explore Red Panda habitat
Indian One-horned Rhino
On arrival at Kathmandu airport you will be met by your local driver and guide and then taken to the hotel in the Thamel region of the city. Depending on your arrival time you can possibly enjoy some sightseeing, this can be arranged by either speaking to your hotel or local guide on arrival.
Today you be collected from the hotel and taken to domestic terminal of the airport and catch your flight to Bhadrapur. The flight is only 45 mins and we recommend trying to get a seat on the left hand side of the plane. This is because if the sky is clear there will be views of Mt. Everest, in fact it may be possible to see 7 of the top 10 highest mountains in the world whilst in the air. Once we have landed in Bhadrapur your local / driver will be waiting for you and from here you will be transferred higher and higher in the hills towards Ilam and the imposing sight of Mt. Kanchenjunga (the 3rd highest mountain in the world). This drive will take around 4 hours and Ilam is the closest large village / town to the red panda watching area and you will pass through terraced land on every hillside. The main crop here is tea and tea plantations are everywhere, it is one of these tea houses that will host us today as we break up the drive to Dobate by spending a night here in scenic Ilam.
After breakfast you will continue your journey north and along the winding hillside roads to the small town of Dobate. This is the Nepalese headquarters of the Red Panda Network and is home to a growing population of red pandas and this is where you will be based for the next 5 days and nights. When you arrive you will be taken to your accommodation, once again a local tea house / homestay. One of the keys to the success of the red panda and habitat conservation here is that many local people have been trained and are employed in guiding and guardians of the forest. The forests here are regarded as one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world and of massive biological importance. After arriving and having some lunch, if the weather is good and time is with us we will head out into the forests in search of 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 local tea houses. It helps to bring in financial rewards to the local people for keeping the red pandas habitat intact. For the 2 full days that we have here we will be hiking around the rhododendron and oak forests looking for the red pandas with the help of local guide who have probably seen more wild red pandas than anyone else in the world. Whilst searching the dense, damp forest, where oaks, rhododendrons and magnolias, decorated with mosses, lichens and epiphytic orchids it is worth keeping an eye out for some of the other wildlife here. Your local guides will also be searching for some of the rarer mammals like leopards, leopard cats, mainland serows, Himalayan orange-bellied squirrels, yellow-throated martens, large Indian civets and dozens of species of birds share these spectacular forests with the red panda. So there are many mammal species around but it requires lots of patience and luck to get a sighting of one of these species. As the Red Panda Network have been training local people to track red pandas they have a very good track record in finding them (92%), of course we cannot and do not guarantee sightings and our guides will spend a lot of time in the mornings looking for the red pandas as they bask on large tree branches in the morning sun. We will also look for their green pellet like dung that often accumulates in nooks and crevices of commonly used trees. Whilst these other mammals are very hard to see and any sighting must be considered a great bonus there is much more chance of spotting some of the sub-Himalayan and bamboo birds such as scimitar babblers, sibias, piculets, minlas and other exotic birds. This is regarded as one of the best birding destinations in the world as many of the species that inhabit these rhododendron forests are only found in the narrow strip of land in between the Himalaya and the Terai and this strip of land is being developed so heavily at present that many of these birds (and other wildlife) may become extinct in the near future. The hiking for these three days will be of a moderate level, there is no need to be an experienced altitude hiker for this tour, but experience of hiking for a few hours is needed. We will have a break each afternoon for lunch in between searching for wildlife and at the end of each day we will return to the tea house.
This morning you will have another opportunity to try and find a red panda or other wildlife, the night before the jeep will be ordered for an agreed time which is often around midday. Once you leave here you will descend the road back towards Ilam and your last night in the hills of far eastern Nepal. We will have a relaxing drive back and we can stop of pictures out over the terraces and tea plantations and of course the Himalayan backdrop.
After taking in the incredible views of the mountains for the last time before being taken back to Bhadrapur airport in time to catch your return flight to the capital. This time you might want to try and get seats on the right hand side of the plane to take in views of the Himalayas again. Once you arrive in Kathmandu you be taken to the hotel and the rest of the day is at your leisure. You will be briefed by your driver / guide about the time you will be collected tomorrow morning to leave for your next flight, this time westwards to Bardia National Park.
Bardia National Park
After breakfast at the hotel in Kathmandu you will be taken to the airport to catch your flight to Nepalganj. The flight itself is around 1 hour in duration and when you have cleared arrivals at Nepalganj airport you will meet the driver from the lodge and be transferred the remaining distance (around 2 hours) to the lodge. After checking into the lodge you will have the rest of the day to relax; depending on (1) the time of your arrival and (2) the availability of guides at the lodge once you arrive, the lodge arrange for you to have an afternoon visit into the park.
Bardia National Park
Over the next 3 full days you will be taken into the heart of this vast and wonderful national park, how you visit the park is up to you and can be discussed with the your guide provided by the lodge. The activities can usually be decided on a day to day basis (however if they are busy there may be limited availability of jeeps or elephant safaris – for example it may not be possible to have an elephant back safari every morning and afternoon if there is another group wishing to have an elephant safari one morning). However you will be able to enter the park in the mornings and afternoons and if you wish the lodge can arrange a packed lunch and you can spend the whole day in the park (when hiking only). This is our preferred activity as tracking tigers, rhinos, elephants, leopards, sloth bears and other wildlife on foot is one of the greatest wildlife experiences in the world; coming across any of these mammals on foot is a heart-stopping and exhilarating feeling. Whilst the guides are experienced and are there for your protection as well as to find wildlife we must stress that every time you enter the park it is at your own risk. The park is typical of the Terai region; the Terai spans nearly 2,000km from north eastern India (and Corbett National Park), through the lowlands of Nepal, North East India, Bhutan and into Burma. The terai is not one ecosystem but e mosaic of lush grasslands fed by annual flooding of large rivers and rich sal forests as well as dense bamboo groves. This range of habitats makes a perfect home for a huge range of wildlife and Bardia is home to at least 53 species of mammals, 407 species of birds, 75 species of reptile and 20 species of amphibians. Amongst the mammals there is a large population of tigers that are actually increasing (albeit slowly) in number. This makes Bardia very important in tiger conservation and maybe the conservation work being done here can be mirrored elsewhere and possibly the tigers here can start to buck the trend in globally declining tiger numbers. One of the reasons for the tigers success in Bardia is that there is so much room for a large and growing population inside the park. Unlike many of the other national parks in Nepal and India where the tiger has to leave the park to find a territory (inevitably coming into contact with people and more often than not coming off second best); the tigers are finding territories deep in the protected core zone of the park. It is here where most of your activities will be focused, but it can take a couple of hours just to get to their territories (so be prepared for long walks if you wish to track tigers on foot). Of course tigers do move around and we have seen plenty of tiger evidence all over the park but we recommend staking out some of the locations where tigers are often spotted. It is a great experience to sit on the banks of a river having lunch waiting for a tiger and her cubs leave the comfort of the grasslands and come for a drink on the opposite bank and one that we hope to share with you on this tour. Whilst you can have 4 full days in the park tracking tigers we recommend having at least one day to explore the park by other means, in order to conserve some energy as the days of tracking tigers on foot can be very tiring. Other activities available include elephant safaris and jeep safaris. Whilst on elephant back you will be able to get closer to the wildlife than any other way. This is because elephants are a naturally occurring part of the environment here and so the wildlife tend to ignore them, unlike jeeps and people on foot; which the wildlife has grown to fear through decades of hunting and persecution. Jeep safaris, the staple safari activity in most of the world can be a great way of exploring the park and the wonderful thing about Bardia is that due to its remote location far fewer tourists visit here (compared with Chitwan for example) and so it can often feel like you have the whole 968km2 to yourself as you walk, ride or drive around the park. The jeep safari will also allow you to get to some of the watch towers set up around here and from which you are able to see out over the grasslands and possibly spot a distant herd of elephants or a tiger leaving the long grass to come down for a drink at the river. In addition to these activities inside the park you will also be able to visit the small crocodile, gharial and freshwater turtle breeding centre at the park headquarters. This is a very valuable project as the gharial are in a very grave situation as are all of the many freshwater turtle species recorded here. All of them are critically endangered and the projects here are indispensable to their long term survival. After your day inside the park be free to enjoy the fine local food at the lodge and unwind in the comfort of Karnali Lodge.
This morning you will have a more relaxed morning without the pre-dawn start and trip into the national park; Then after breakfast you will be transferred the 2 hours or so back to Nepalganj and from there catch your flight return back to Kathmandu. Once again on arrival in Kathmandu you will be met by a driver who will take you back to the hotel and then the rest of the day is free and at your leisure.
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 in Spring and Autumn in eastern Nepal will be warm to hot with daily temperature between 20-30degrees C. The night time temperatures can be cooler especially when in the hills. Rain is possible but very unusual at this time of year and the skies can be beautiful and clear.
March to May are considered the best time for wildlife watching in the Terai. But the weather is very hot, this is the peak of the dry season, so expect no or very little rain and temperature well above 30 degrees C. The evenings and nights will also be hot as well.
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 a professional Red Panda tracker who will escort you on all your excursions and we also use a very knowledgeable English speaking local guides.
All our excursions including treks, guided walks, jeep safaris, elephant back rides, canoe safaris, boat safaris and park entrance fees are also included. Return flights to and from both Bhadrapur and Nepalgunj are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes as well as comfortable walking shoes. Hard wearing khaki shorts, shirts and trousers are recommended. As the nights can be chilly we recommend you bring a fleece, long trousers, scarf and a woolly hat. Insect repellent is handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Andy 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. A head torch or handheld torch is also a good idea as we will be staying in remote rural areas and power-cuts are common and some places only have generators or solar power.
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).
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 applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
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. These are 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, 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 Nepal as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Beatrice Potter, England
Ms. Elizabeth Shaw - Illinois
The McDougall Family - York