Through our experience, we have learned most of the birders visiting Bhutan are interested in seeing our colorful Pheasants especially Satyr Tragopan, one of the top 10 most beautiful birds of Indian Subcontinent. It is classified Near Threatened by the international union for the conservation of nature (IUCN) and Birdlife international.
After much research in finding out the best season for seeing this species, we have designed this 16 nights and 17 days tour. Apart from seeing Satyr Tragopan, you will likely see some of the most sought-after species like Ward’ Trogon, Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, and Kalij Pheasant, Beautiful Nuthatch and two species of Hornbills. All in all, we will show you over 250 birds, and 10 – 15 species of mammals in 16 days. Other highlights include the visit to some of the beautiful ancient fortress and the temples in 17 days!
Arrive at Paro and receive by our representative at the Paro International airport. Transfer to the hotel. Afternoon visit the Paro Rimpung Dzong (fortress)
In the evening birding along the Paro River searching for one of the biggest target birds, Ibisbill, you may also see other birds like River Lapwing, White Wagtail, Brown Dipper, Black- tailed Crake, White-collared Black bird, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Russet Sparrow, Common Sandpiper, just to name few
Very early in the morning drive to the cool alpine meadow of Chelila pass (3890m). This is the highest pass on the car road. Here we should be reward with the three different species of Pheasants, Colorful Himalayan Monals, flocks of Blood Pheasants and Kalij Pheasants. Beside this you’ll also see other birds like White-browed Rosefinches, White-winged and Collared Grosbeaks, Black-faced, Chestnut-crowned and Spotted laughingthrushes, Coal, Rufous-vented, Rufous-fronted and Grey-crested Tits, Long-tailed Minivet Spotted Nutcracker, Rufous-belied and Darjeeling Woodpecker. Drive back to Paro for lunch.
In the evening drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The drive will take about hour and half.
Early morning drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (3150). Our day starts from this pass with the breathtaking views of eastern Himalayas ranges. The mixed forests of hemlock, fir, oaks and rhododendron here is good habitat for many good species including Fire-tailed Myzornis, Blue-fronted Redstart, Eurasian Jay, Brown Parrotbill, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-bellied and Darjeeling Woodpecker, Scarlet Finch,Yellow-billed Blue Magpie and with the bit of luck Ward’s Trogon and Himalayan Cutia. Later we descend to Punakha valley stopping at Lobesa for lunch.
Afternoon: Visit Punakha’s Punthang Dechen Phodrang (the names means palace of Great Bliss) Standing on the tongue of the land of land where two rivers, Phochu and Mochu, meet. Punakha Dzong has special significance in Bhutan history. Punakha Dzong was place where Bhutan’s first king, Ugyen Wangchuk was crowned in 1907. It is winter residence for Je Khenpo (spiritual leader) and entire central monk body.
Later in the evening, you’ll drive along the Pho Chu River looking for one of the main target birds the White-bellied Heron, one of the 50 rarest birds in the world with the population of 60 birds worldwide. Other birds likely to be seen include Ibisbills, White-throated and Crested Kingfisher, Ruddy Shelduck, Great Cormorants, Common Merganser, Bar-headed Goose and other ducks and shorebirds.
We will spend the whole day birding inside the Jigme Dorji National park and along Mo chu River. We have the possibilities of seeing Red-headed Trogon, the really cute Slaty-bellied and Chestnut headed Tesias, Small Niltava, Black-chinned Yuhinas, a trio of fork tails, several Wren-babblers, Woodpeckers, Laughingthrushes, and with luck Pallas’s Fish Eagle. We also have a good chance of finding the species like Oriental Turtle Dove, Great Cormorant, Blue Whistling Thrush, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Rufous Sibia, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher,Green-backed Tit, Brown Dipper, White-capped Water Redstart, White-throated Laughingthrush, Golden-throated Barbet, Great Barbet, Crested Kingfisher, Grey Treepie, Ashy Drongo, Verditer Flycatcher, Brown-throated Treecreeper, Blackthroated Tit, Black Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, River Lapwing, Grey Wagtail,Gadwall, and Large-billed Crow.
Early morning, start driving to the Phobjekha valley (4hrs) stopping often for birds. We will be looking for Ward’s Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and mixed species flocks. Before reaching Pelela pass we’ll take the side road to Phobjekha Valley. When crossing the Gangteyla pass the vegetation changes into dwarf bamboos that are good for Laughingthrushes and Bush Warblers.
Remaining of the afternoon we’ll spend time walking around this beautiful valley of Phobjekha. Phobjekha valley sits at 3000 meters, and is 162sq kms, Bhutan’s largest wetland. This area is the most favored wintering habitat of Black-necked Crane in the country. The arrival of cranes in this valley also signal the end of harvesting season and it’s the traditional time when local communities in Phobjekha move to warmer, lower altitudes for the winter
After early breakfast, we’ll drive to the Pelela pass (4000) and spend the morning hours birding along the old road at Pelela for high altitude species like Spotted Laughingthrush, Himalayan Griffon, Brown Parrotbill, various Finches and Bush Warblers. Main bird you’ll for looking for this morning is Himalayan Monal and Satyr Tragopan.
Along the drive to Trongsa we’ll also be looking for the species like Speckled Wood Pigeon, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Golden-breasted and White-browed Fulvetta, Streak-breasted and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler.
Afternoon: Visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong. This Dzong is the ancestral home for the Royal family of Bhutan. Before becoming the king of Bhutan, the first king was the governor of this Dzong. Even now, we have the tradition that before becoming king, the regent receives the title as governor of Trongsa Penlop.
Today on our drive to Zhemgang, we have lots stop at the several-forested valleys on the way, we may see the following birds, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers, White-browed Scimitar Babblers, Steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Grey-bellied Tesia, Crested Buntings, Long-tailed Shrikes, Prinias, Rufous Woodpeckers, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel and minivets. This is also our best chance for the Golden Langur, Leaf monkey endemic to Bhutan.
Today you’ll explore wide varieties of habitats on the Zhemgang- Tingtibe roads. Habitats vary from mossy forests to streamside lowland forest. This is another chance to see Golden Langur, which is fairly common here. We’ll also be searching for Rufous-necked and Great hornbill, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Himalayan Cutia, Scarlet Minivet, varieties of beautiful Laughingthrushes, Bay and Pale-headed Woodpecker, Chestnut-headed and Grey-bellied Tesia, Spotted Wren Babblers and very rare and sought-after Beautiful Nuthatch.
Today we have a long drive to Bumthang, first leg of the journey we’ll be backtracking our way to Trongsa basically looking for any missing species.
Crossing Trongsa our journey continues going over the Yongtola (3450m). Yongtola pass is the good spot for Bush Warblers, Brown Parrotbills, Eurasian Treecrepper, Gold-naped Finches and Red-headed Bullfinch.
In the morning we drive from Bumthang to Sengor going over Thrumshingla (3800m). Thrumshingla is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasants and also hold other high-altitude species like, Snow Pigeons, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Greats Parrotbills, Stripe-throated Yuhinas, Grey-crested and coals Tits and White-browed Fulvata. Later in the evening we will be birding around Sengor looking for Satyr Tragopan. Sengor is known as the hotspot for Satyr Tragopan.
Today we will hit the Bhutan’s wet subtropical forest and one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas. For the next day we will be birding the lush forested valley searching for Short Wings, Bar-winged Wren Babblers, Black-headed Shrike Babblers, Wardss Trogon, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Barbets, Golden Bush Robin, Chestnut-breasted Partridges and Hill Partridges.
We spend the two full days birding the upper and lower Limithang road. This Yongkala-Limithang road has been touted as one of the best birding sites in Asia road as it allow the birder an opportunity to access the wide varieties of Habitats from the pristine broad-leaved to coniferous forest that spans across a vast altitudinal range. All this is protected within the Thrumsing La National Park.
Some of the species you’ll be searching for the here include flocks of busy Lesser Rufous-headed and Black-throated Parrotbills, Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated Fulvettas; very shy Rufous-throated, Long-billed, Pygmy and Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Red-headed Trogon, Hoary-throated Barwing, Great and Golden-throated Barbet.
Now we will be re-tracing our way back. So basically we will be looking and listening to the flocks, we will also be looking for the missing species.
Drive should take us about 8hrs re-tracing journey back; we will stop whenever we run into the flocks.
After breakfast at the hotel, 15 minutes drives from here will take you to the parking lot at the base of the Tiger’s Nest monastery, from here you can hike to one of the most beautiful and holiest temples in Bhutan. The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, founder of the tantric form of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, in the 8th century. It was said that he meditated there for about three months. After him, many high Buddhist priests came to meditate at this location and attained the highest level of spirituality. The original temple was built in the 17th century, but tragically, it was consumed by fire in 1998. Like a phoenix, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003. Takshang is considered to be the 10th-holiest site in the Buddhist world.
The total hike will take the average person about four hours. From the parking area, it will take about one hour to the tea house (rest and refreshment provided) and then another one and a half hours to the temple.
You can visit three different temples inside the main Takshang complex.
Evening: visit the typical Bhutanese farmhouse to experience the local hospitality and traditional hot stone bath.
After breakfast at hotel our representative, your tour guide and drive will drive you to the airport and bid you good-bye.