Duration: 12 Days / 11 Nights
Destination: Thimphu, Punakha & Paro
This tour provides unique opportunities for bird watching enthusiast to see rich diversity of Bhutan’s birds in abundance. You will explore some of the special and beautiful birds of this mystical kingdom from amazing matrix of broad valleys and densely forested nature with elevation ranging from 1300 m – 3500m. The forest here are magical and you will see birds in abundance as you traverse through isolated and remote with pristine ecology and breathtaking vistas.
Day 01: Arrival in Paro
Today at your arrival at Paro Airport, our local representative will greet you and after short introduction, you will be then drive to do some short guided tour through the enchanting Paro valley. Your sightseeing begins with a visit to the 17th century Paro Dzong towering over the valley below. It is also an awesome and impressive introduction to the world of dzongs. According to the history the dzong the date goes back to the 12th century and the present building that you see was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the year 1646. After the dzong drive further uphill above the dzong lies the Ta Dzong or watch tower of Paro Dzong. Since 1967 the Ta Dzong was re-established as the National Museum and holds a fascinating collection of arts, relics, religious painting and armor of the ancient warriors. The drive takes you downhill and en-route stop to visit the Jangsa Dumtse Lhakhang, the only temple built in the shape of a chorten. It was built by Tibetan Saint Thongtong Gyelpo in 1421. This impressive temple is literally chained down and local people believes that otherwise it will fly off to heaven. The Paro town is just close to the temple and you make a short leisure walk towards the town. Stroll around the town and in the evening you will be transferred to your hotel for leisure.
Day 02: Birding in Paro Valley
Today after your morning breakfast in the hotel with a short introduction regarding the your day birding activity, our special birding leader will take you around to spot some of the fascinating birding sights in Paro valley. The idle place for your birding can be around the farmlands and through the riverside. The other optional program we can suggest you is drive to Chele La Pass caring picnic lunch. The pass lies between Haa region and Paro and lies at an altitude of 12,200ft/3720m. The surrounding region provides you to spot some of the birds like – vibrant Himalayan Monal, perhaps the most spectacular bird in the entire Himalayan range! Additional pheasants that may put in an appearance this morning are Blood and Kalij Pheasants as well as Satyr Tragopan. Other species we may see here include Darjeeling Woodpecker, Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch, the bright Redheaded Bullfinch, Collared and White-winged Grosbeaks, high-flying Plain Mountain Finch, the warbler-like Goldcrest, retiring Rufous-breasted Accentor, elusive but sometimes vocal Long-tailed Thrush, giant Spotted Laughingthrush and perhaps even a lone Eurasian Woodcock concealed motionless on the forest floor. Driving back following the same road our tour leader will take you through Paro Chhu and also through the farmlands to spot Black tailed Crake, Pin-tailed Snipe, Rosy Pipit and one of the most sought-after shorebirds in the world – the beautiful Ibisbill!
In general the available bird that habits in Paro valley are: Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum), Himalayan Whistling Thrush (Myiophonus caeruleus), Common Teal (Ana crecca), Greyheaded Flycatcher Warbler (Seicercus xanthoschistos), Greenbacked Tit (Parus monticolus), Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptoppelia orientalis), Hodgson’s Redstart (Phoenicurus hodgsoni), Himalayan Whistling Thrush (Myiophonus caeruleus),Aberrant Bush Warbler (Cettia flavoivacea), Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos), Himalayan Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasi), Himalayan Treecreeper (Certhia hamalayana), Hill Pigeon (Columba rupestris), Rufousbreasted Accentor (Prunella strophiata), Rufousbellied Hawk-Eagle (Hieraaetus kienerii), Stripethroated Yuhina (Yuhina gularis), Longtailed Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus), Crestee Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus).
Day 03: Paro – Thimphu
After your early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the capital Thimphu lies at anelevation of 7700ft/2350m.. The drive takes you through traditional settlements and terrace of rice fields and lovely stands of conifer trees. The capital lies in a steep valley with alpine forest, golden topped forest and with many decorated new building scattered throughout. Reaching Thimphu, check in to your hotel. After your early and quick lunch, drive further north of the city to Begana Valley. This area is less crowded by people and best spotted some of the birds like – Upland Pipit (Anthus sylvanus), Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus melaschistos), Grackle or Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla caspica), Whitebellied Yuhina (Yuhina xanthoteuca), Redrumped Swallow (Hirunda daurica), Plumbeous Redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosus). Returning from Begana you can also wonder around the streamline of Motithang, where you will get a chance to spot some of the birds. In the late evening stroll around the downtown of Thimphu.
Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha
We suggest you making an early start because on a clear day the view of the mighty Himalayan range from the Dochula Pass can be seen. The Dochu La Pass lies at an altitude of 10150ft/3100m. It takes around 45 minutes to reach to the Pass. The pass is unlike that many of the pass you will encounter in the country and populated with 108 memorial chortens and colorful prayer flags. Beside this magnificent chortens the amazing view of the mighty Himalayan peaks can be seen like – Mt. Masa Gang (235012ft/7165m), Mt. Tsenda Gang (23288ft/7100m), Mt. Teri Gang (23944ft/7300m), Mt. Jejegangphu Gang (23484ft/7158m), Mt. Kangphu Gang (23524ft/7170m), Mt. Zongaphu Gang (23163ft/7060m), Mt. Gangkar Puensum (24735ft/7541m). From the lofty spot, the descent takes you through many twist and turn till you reach the valley of Punakha which lies at an altitude of 1300m. At your arrival check in to the hotel and after lunch drive further north of Punakha through the river bank the common birds that you will encounter in this region is Steppe Eagle (Aquila rapax nipalensis), Himalaya Tree Pie (Dendrocitra vagabunda), Blackchinned Yuhina (Yuhina nigrimenta), Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), Blackchinned Babbler ( Stachyris pyrrhops), Blackbreasted Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata), Redbreasted Rosefinch (Carpodacus puniceus), Fulvousbreasted Pied Woodpecker (Picoides macei), Redcrowned Jay (Garrulus glandarius), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Whitebreasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Small Niltava (Muscicapa macgrigoriae), Large Grey Babbler (Turdoides melcolmi), Little Bunting (Emberiza striolata). Slatybacked Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus), Yellowbilled Blue Magpie (Cissa flavirostris), Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Speckled Wood Pigeon (Columbia hodgsonii), Grey Tit (Parus major). In the evening you can walk down through the main town of Khuruthang.
Day 05: Punakha – Phobjikha Valley
Today your drife from Punakha to Phobjikha takes around 4 hours which takes you from a lofty 1300m to savor the pristine natural beauty of Phobjikha Valley at 3000m. The drive takes you through rewarding views of the Jichu Drakey, Kang Bum and other peaks en route. This hill slope also provides you with many stop for birding. Reaching the glacier valley of Phobjikha the valley is famed for the migratory black-necked crane that makes it their winter home. This endanger bird arrives from Tibet towards the end of October and fly off back to Tibet during the month of March when Summer arrives. It is one of the most wildlife reserved valley in the country. The available birds that you can spot along the way and in Phobjikha valley are Whitetailed Nuthatch (Sitta himalayensis), Common Hill Partridge (Arborophila torqueola), Amur Falcon (Falco vesertinus), Great Pied Hornbill (Buceros bicornis), Redmantled Rosefinch (Carpodacus rhodochlamys), Firebreasted Flowerpecker (Dicaeum ignipectus), Redheaded Bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala), Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota), Rufousbreasted Accenter (Prunella strophiata), Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis), Whitebacked Munia (Lonchura striata), Scarlet Finch (Haemmatospiza sipahi). If you are coming in the month of October until early March, the Black-Necked Crain are common and available bird throughout the valley.
Day 06: Phobjikha Valley – Bumthang
Your drive from this lush green valley of Phobjikha to Bumthang takes you through crossing the high Pelela Pass (11070ft/3375m) and leads you through hill slopes covered in bamboos, yak herders settlements and the pass through grove of fir trees to evergreens and finally enter the broadleaved varieties. With many curves and twists and then crossing Mangdue Chhu (river) you will finally make it to Trongsa(6800ft/2073m). We suggest you making a short visit to the Trongsa Dzong which is one of the impressive dzong in the country built by Zhabdrung in the year 1644. After the dzong your drive takes you all the way uphill until you reach Yotong La Pass (11000ft/3354m). Crossing the pass, you will then finally enter Bumthang region. From the starting point until you reach Bumthang you will encounter many species of birds along the way and also in the valley and riverside of Chamkhar Chhu that flows through the heart of Chamkhar valley. The common birds that are likely to see are Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Longtained Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus), Speckled Wood Pigeon (Columba hodgsonii) Himalayan Swiftlet (Collocalia brevirostris), ), Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Snow Partridge (Lerwa lerwa), Blyth’s Pipit (Anthus godlewskii), Purple Cochoa (Cochoa purpurea), Scalybreasted Wren Babbler (Pnoepyga albiventer), Himalayan Monal Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Rufousbellied Bulbul (Hypsipetes mcclellandi), Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Goldcrest (Regulus regulusLittle Bunting (Emberiza fucata), Redbilled Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus).
Day 07, 08: Bumthang – Limithang
Today your drive takes you via crossing Ura Valley (10168ft/3100m) taking you through rich conifer and rhododendron forest and then Thrumshing La Pass (12000ft/3659m) which is usually wreathed in swirling vaporous mists. The drive takes you downhill taking you from a breath taking height above the tree line down to balmy semi-tropical jungle and then through thick forest and finally to a plateau at Limithang (9700ft/2952m) which is an excellent stop for your camping. You will be spending two nights here in this region. All this area is protected within the Thrumsing La National Park and we will spend a full one day covering the various different habitats and altitudes along this road in search of the area’s splendid avian diversity and interesting mammals. The most likely birds you can see here in the protected area are: Rufousthroated Hill Partridge (Arborophila rufogularis), Bluebeaed Bee-Eater ( Nyctyornis athertoni), Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis), Blyth’s Pipit (Anthus godlewskii), Whitebrowed Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapa leucomelanura),Bronzed Drongo (Dicrurus aeneus), Gould’s Shortwings (Brachypteryx stellata), Redheaded Bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla caspica), Monal Lophophorus Impejanus, Yellowbellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum melanoxanthuon), Parrotbill (Paradoxornis nipalensis), Honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus), Redvented Bulbul (Pyconotus cafer), Lesser Racket-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer), Fantail Warbler (Cisticola exilis), Speckled Piculet (Picumnus innominatus), Whitethroated Munia (Lonchura malabarica).
Day 09: Limithang – Bumthang
Today your drive takes you back to Bumthang through the same road ascending the slope that surround Thrumsing La National Park re spotting some of the birds en-route. The most likely birds you can see along the way are large and vociferous Great Parrotbill, Fulvous Parrotbill, Red-billed Chough, Russet Sparrow and perhaps Plain Mountain Finch, dazzling Fire-tailed Sunbird, Firetailed Myzornis, Grey-crested and Rufous-vented Tits, Himalayan Bluetail, White-browed Bush Robin, nomadic Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, the prominently marked White-collared Blackbird, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Eurasian Wren, Dark-rumped, Dark-breasted and Common Rosefinches, Olive-backed Pipit, Snow Pigeon. Finally drive to Bumthang.
Day 10: Bumthang – Paro
There are available domestic flight from Bumthang to Paro and we will be flying to Paro from Bumthang.
Day 11: Paro – Tiger’s Nest Hike
After breakfast, take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery. Legends say that Guru Padsambhava came here flying on the back of tigress and meditated at the place where now monastery stands. Taktsang or Tiger Nest was severely damaged by fire, which took place in April 1998, and now it has been restored in its original splendor. In the evening, visit Kyichu temple built by King Tsongchen Gyampo in 7th century. This is one of the oldest temples in the country. At late evening stroll around the downtown of Paro.
Day 12: Depart