BHT/17: 26 days Bhutan, with Kaziranga NP and Shillong in India

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TOUR DETAILS

A grand tour breathtaking in its sweep. 18 days in Bhutan: Birding all the hot spots in a setting of pristine forests, ancient Dzongs and Buddhist Gumpas. 08 days in India: Kaziranga National Park, Shillong, and Cherapunji. Habitat includes sub tropical and warm broadleaved forests, savannah, and grasslands cool broadleaved forests, dry alpine scrub land, and wet lands, with altitude variation from near sea level to 3810. Target of 300-400 species. Includes 07 days camping in Bhutan. Tour starts at Paro airport ( Bhutan) and ends at Guwahati Airport (Assam, India).

Dates: Feb – Mar. Best in Feb
Max Altitude: 3810 m by car

ITENERIES

Day 01: Arrive Paro, 2280m

Fly in to Paro, 2280m. Transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 02 Birding Cheli la, 3810 and Paro Valley

Drive 34 Kms for birding around Cheli la, 3810 – the highest point of this tour. Afternoon local sightseeing tour and birding along Paro Valley. Overnight at Hotel.

Day 03: Paro-Thimpu

Morning birding Paro Valley. After breakfast drive to Thimpu. 65 Kms in 02 hrs. Check in at hotel. Afternoon; sightseeing tour of Thimpu. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 04: Birding drive Thimpu – Dochu la, 2250 m – Punakha, 1550 m – Shaten Camp, 1800m

Birding drive to Dochu la, 2250m. followed by birding walk cum drive to Punakha, 1550m. Continue to Shaten Camp, 1800 m, in the Jigme Dorjee National Park. Overnight at fully serviced camp at Shaten.

Day 05: Shaten camp- Birding Mo Chhu Valley

Birding along Mo Chhu Valley, 1600 to 1800m in the subtropical forests of the Jigme Doirje National Park. Return to camp at Shaten for overnight.

Day 06: Shaten- Punakha – Gangtey la, 3140m – Probjikha Valley

Birding drive along Mo Chhu Valley to Punakha. Sighseeing Punakha Dzong. Continue birding drive via the Gangtey la pass, 3140 m, to the Probjikha Valley. Visit Gangtey Gompa. Overnight at hotel.

Day 07: Probjikha Valley – Trongsa, 2120m

Birding Probjikha Valley, followed by birding drive cum walk to Trongsa, 2120m via Pele la pass, 3420 m. Sightseeing Trongsa Dzong. – the ancestral home of the royal family. Overnight at hotel.

Day 08: Trongsa – Shembang road –Tingbiti, 880 m

Birding drive along Shembang road, to Tingbiti, passing through variety of habitat and altitude range from 2120m to 880m. Overnight in fully serviced camp at Tingbiti.

Day 09-10: Tingbiti – birding Shembang road

Two full days birding in Shemgang Area, 880 m. Forest birding drive astride Tam la pass, 2070 m between Tingbiti and Korsu la pass. Overnight in Tingbiti camp.

Day 11: Tingbiti – Trongsa

Birding drive back to Trongsa. Overnight at hotel.

Day 12: Trongsa – Yotung la pass 3425m – Jakar, 2580m

Birding drive over the Yotung la pass, 3425m, to Jakar (Bumthang), 2580m. Visit Yathra (textile) weaving cottage industry. Sightseeing tour of Jakar Dzong, (1646 A.D), and ancient and sacred monasteries – the Jambay Lhakhang, and Kurjey Lhakhang. Overnight at Lodge.

Day 13: Jakar – Thrumsing la, 3750 – Sengor, 3000m

Birding drive to Sengor, through the Shertang la, 3573 m, Ura Valley, 3100m, and Thrumsing la, 3750 m, followed by descent to Sengor, 3000m. High altitude habitat between 2500 to 3700m.

Day 14: Sengor – Yonkola, 1855m

Birding drive down the spectaculat cliff hanging spiral staircase of a road through Namling, 2460m to Yonkola, 1855m. Rich semitropical rainforest hosts many of Bhutan’s most sought-after birds. Overnight in fully serviced camp at Yongkala.

Day 15: Yongkola – Birding Upper Lingmethang road

Yongkala Camp. Drive back up to Namling, 2460 m and bird back down the road to Yongkola Camp along the fabulous lush primary forests, in search of the area’s specialties. Back to camp for overnight.

Day 16: Yongkola – birding lower Lingmethang road

Birding along lower Lingmethang road down to an altitude of 850 m, through the fabulous lush primary forests, in search of the area’s specialties. Back to camp at Yongkola, for overnight.

Day 17: Yongkola- Mongar, 1500m- Trashigang – Kori la, 2450m – Narphung la 1920m

Drive Yongkola to Trashigang ( 117 Kms in 04 hrs) with birding across the Kori La pass (2450 m). in temperate broadleaf forests. Contine 101 Kms (03 hrs), to the Narphung la ridge (1698m -1920m). Overnight in camp.

Day 18: Narphung la – Deothang, 850m – Samdrup Jongkhar , 250 m

Birding drive Narphung la to Deothang ( 55 kms ), followed by drive to the Indian border. Birding in Semitropical forests at 300 meters elevation close to Samdrup Jhonkar bridge, detour along a dirt road for good birding along a walking trail. Overnight at hotel at Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 19: Samdrupjongkhar – Guwahati – Kaziranga

After breakfast cross the border into India. After entry formalities at the Indian border, you will be transferred 100 kms to Guwahati in 2.30 hrs. Visit Adjutant Stork site. After lunch continue drive east 220 Kms ( 4.30 hrs) to Kaziranga National Park Check in at wild life resort. In the late afternoon day light permitting take a birding walk in the dry scrub on the edge of the nearby tea estate. Overnight at your resort.

The World Heritage Kaziranga National Park is a highly reputed wild life protected area, located in Assam. A fabulous mosaic of grasslands, forests, and pools backed by misty hills. The Park has more than 70% of the world’s one-horned rhino population, 70% of the world population of the Eastern Swamp Deer and 75% of the world’s wild Asiatic water buffalo. It has a significant population of the Asian Elephant. Close encounters with the Great Indian one horned Rhino, and wild Indian Elephants Swamp Deer, Asiatic Water buffalo, and a host of animals are assured. There are plenty of Tigers around – but there is only a 25 percent chance of spotting one.

The Park also has more than 450 species of birds, 18 of them are globally threatened species. Because of the varied habitat types that the Park comprises of, as also of the strict protection accorded to them, birding in Kaziranga is very special. The varied terrain provides habitat for wetland, grassland, and woodland species The Bengal Florican is the main attraction. You should also be able to see a good variety of raptors. You are not allowed to walk inside the reserve. Birding is by jeep and Elephant. TheEastern Range of the park is good for water birds such as Falcated Teal, White-eyed Pochard and spot-billed pelican (a colony of 200 pairs is located in this range).

For grassland birds the Western Range is ideal. The Bengal Florican can be seen during the elephant ride in the Central Range. Wood land birds likely to be spotted are yellow-vented Warbler, great Hornbill, and redheaded Trogon. Other interesting birds include Green-backed Heron, White bellied Heron (rare), Lesser and greater Adjutants, Black-necked Storks, Spoonbill, Grey-headed and Pallas’s Fish-eagle (common), Swamp Francolin (common), Grey-headed Lapwing, Black-bellied tern, Marsh Babbler, Jordan’s Bushchat (rare) White-throated Bushchat and many more Other birds recorded by us: Lineated Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Spotted Redshank, River Lapwing, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Pied Harrier, Spot-billed Pelican, Black-necked Stork, Rosy Minivet, Spot-winged Starling, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Streaked Spider – hunter, Forest Wagtail, Blyth’s Pipit, and Yellow-breasted Bunting.

Day 20-22 Apr: Kaziranga

We will spend our three full days in Kaziranga exploring the park as best we can by jeep and on elephant back. There are several watch points scattered throughout Kaziranga, and we are allowed out on foot at these.

We will make daily forays, twice a day into various ranges of the park and the nearby Panbari Reserve Forest by jeep. One morning we will take an elephant safari.

Day 23: Kaziranga National Park – Shillong

In the morning, after birding in the surrounding areas, we will drive 212 Kms in 06-07 to Shillong. Upon arrival check in at Hotel for overnight.

Shillong the capital of Meghalaya State is a set amongst rolling lush green hills, located at an altitude of 1500 meters. It has Pine forested hills, terraced fields, serene river vales, lovely waterfalls, incredible range of flora, exotic plants, and a warm and friendly people.This ” land of the rain clouds” is the wettest place on earth. The climate is pleasant all year around with cold winters in Dec – Jan. The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes, people Meghalaya. Until the arrival of the British missionaries, they were animists, who practiced human sacrifice. Christianity is now the dominant religion of the three tribes. An interesting feature is that the society is matrilineal, and is believed to have originated from the mythological “mother of the root”. Women therefore dominate the society. Children take the mother’s name.

Due to deforestation, birding is confined to few pockets of good habitat. There are several “sacred” groves, which are pristine due to local customs. Specialties such as Dark rumped Swift, Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler, Creasted finch bill, Grey sibia, Assam Laughing thrush, Flavescent Bulbul and others.

Day 24: Shillong

Full days birding around Shillong “hot spots”. Overnight at Polo Towers.

Day 25: Shillong-Cherapunjee-Shillong

Full days birding trip to Cherapunjee ( round trip of 112 Kms- 04 hrs travelling time). Return to Shillong for overnight at Polo Towers.

Day 26: Shillong – Guwahati

After early breakfast drive to Guwahati Airport 103 kms in 3.30 hrs, to board your departure flight END OF SERVICES. Transit arrangement will be provided at Kolkata 0r Delhi on request.

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