Nepal is situated along the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain range. The landscape is comprised of lush tropical jungles, terraced valleys, forested hills, frozen peaks, barren deserts and tundra, all irrigated by impressive rivers that meander down from the heart of the Himalayas.
Renowned for an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, including more than 900 species of birds - an astounding variety given the country’s small size - Nepal is a birdwatcher's paradise. There are very few places in the world where one can observe birds in a variety of habitats from jungle to alpine to Tibetan steppe regions as one travels from the low lying southern plains to the rugged mountains. This complete tour offers you the opportunity to see most of what Nepal has to offer in two exciting weeks.
During the first part of the trip we’ll be staying in Langtang National Park. This is one of the three most important protected areas in Nepal for birds, and holds some of the most charismatic high altitude species in the world. We’ll be trekking up to 3,700m to see: Snow Partridge, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Himalayan Monal, Bearded Vulture, Black Eagle, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Snow Pigeon, Himalayan Bulbul, Brown Dipper, Fire-tailed Sunbird and Altai Accentor among many other species. Apart from the great variety of birds that can be seen here, other wildlife in this park are Red Panda, Snow Leopard and Himalayan Black Bear.
During the second half of the trip we will travel deeper into the low-altitude southern regions, dominated by the tropical and sub-tropical species. The jungles and forests of Chitwan and Daman are a true paradise for birdwatchers. 566 species of birds have been recorded in Chitwan only including: Lesser Adjutant, Crested Honey Buzzard, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Indian Spotted Eagle, Collared Falconet, Bengal florican, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Great Hornbill, Greater Goldenback, Scarlet Minivet, Grey-crowned Prinia, Slender billed Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler and Verditer Flycatcher among many others. The park also holds the greatest number of the endangered Bengal Tiger in Nepal, as well as Asian One-horned Rhino, Asian Elephant and the Critically Endangered Gharial Crocodile.
Arriving in Kathmandu in mid-afternoon, we transfer to the hotel. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, with a parade of artifacts, Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, and bubbling markets.
Inside the city we’ll be able to see some of Asia’s most characteristic birds: Jungle and Common Myna, House Swift, and the ubiquitous Black Kite. The rest of the day is free for relaxation and preparing for the trek, which includes a short briefing in the evening.
We make a very early start this morning, driving northwards to the hill village of Dhunche. On the latter part of the drive we will start to look out for riverside and hill specialties such as White-capped Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart and Blue Whistling Thrush, a variety of mynas, Indian Roller and the localized Spot-winged Starling. We will pass through (and above!) pretty Tamang villages, steep terraced fields, and watery ravines filled with dense subtropical vegetation and tall alder groves. Moving higher all the time, we’ll enter different ecosystems. Pines replace alders before we reach remnant forests of oaks, rhododendrons and hemlocks. We will reach Syabru Besi village (1,372m) for our first night beside the Langtang River.
From the village of Syabru Besi we will follow the Langtang Khola (Khola means river in Nepali), which is the main river of the Langtang National Park and an outstanding area for wildlife. We soon enter the magnificent mixed forest that dominates the lower valley. Amongst oaks and rhododendrons, beautifully decorated with mosses and lichens, are Himalayan Black Bears and Red Pandas! Birding here is excellent and includes forest gems like Bay Woodpecker, Mrs. Gould's Sunbird, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Red-headed Bullfinch and Slaty-bellied Tesia, among many others. We will also stop along the way to inspect cliff-hanging bee nests which sometimes attract the rare and very elusive Yellow-rumped Honeyguide. By the evening we should be in the heart of the subtropical-temperate forest of the lower Langtang Valley. We will spend the night at Lama Hotel (2480m).
We will spend as much of today as possible birdwatching in the fine forests of the lower Langtang Valley as we continue our trek slowly, with occasional tantalizing glimpses of Langtang Lirung (one of the region's highest peaks), until at last the trail enters open ground at Ghora Tabela (2,987m). We will be entering a different ecosystem now as the valley broadens and climbs above the tree line. As we approach Langtang village we will see flocks of Snow Pigeon and Alpine Chough, Plain Mountain Finch, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Tickell's Leaf Warbler and Blue-fronted Redstart. We will spend the night at Langtang (3307m), a village built in the Tibetan style.
Today we will start early. After breakfast, we will make a morning ascent to the village of Kyangjin, situated at 3720m in the Upper Langtang Valley. To our left is the impressive sight of Langtang Himal, and ahead is the great snow-covered bulk of Ganchempo. By lunch time we should reach the monastery of Kyangjin, set well above the Langtang River and surrounded by snowy peaks. We will spend the afternoon exploring and focusing our attention in particular on the braided, stony riverbed in this spectacular alpine wilderness. Birds found here are Himalayan Monal, Red-Flanked Bluetail and Golden Bush Robin. Mountain pigeons, and several species of finches are likely to be seen. We will spend the night in Kyangjin, which will give us an opportunity to fully appreciate these Himalayan uplands.
After spending time during the first part of the morning in further exploration of the alpine surroundings of Kyangjin, we will begin our descent to Ghora Tabela around mid-morning. This is an excellent location that is very rich with birds. We may see several species of Laughingthrushes, Babblers, woodpeckers, warblers, tits and sunbirds. Pink-browed Rosefinch, White-winged Grosbeak and Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker are likely to be seen. We will spend the night at Ghora Tabela.
For most of today’s long walk we will be passing through the extensive oak and rhododendron forest again which holds a great variety of trees, and a lush undergrowth ideal for many species of babblers, tits, Laughingthrushes, Barbets and Minlas. It’s a good place to see Scarlet Finch, Brown Bulfinch and Collared Grosbeak. Our afternoon climb brings us to the village of Thulo Syabru, strung out along a ridge at 2134m.
This morning we will rise early in order to descend to Bharkhu. Here our vehicle will be waiting for us, and we will spend much of the rest of the day driving back to Kathmandu and birdwatching along the way.
We make a very early start this morning, driving southwest of the Kathmandu Valley to Daman. Daman offers the only unimpeded view of the entire Himalayan range, a sight guaranteed to leave the early riser spellbound for days to come. There are well preserved beautiful oak and rhododendron forests here and it is paradise for birdwatchers. There are a great variety of flycatchers, warblers, tits, bulbuls, minlas, laughingthrushes, buntings, babblers, tesias, niltavas, sunbirds, cuckoos, yuhinas, finches, woodpeckers, pipits and pheasants. Over night in Daman.
Today we will taken an early morning drive to Chitwan National Park. We will be birding along the highway and stopping in many places as we pass beautiful forest areas which are home to several species of mid-hill birds of Nepal. We’ll overnight in Sauraha, at the edge of Chitwan National Park.
Day 11 and 12
We’ll have two full days of birdwatching on foot inside Chitwan National Park which encompasses three different types of ecosystems: grasslands, riverine forest and moist deciduous forest.
The birding in this well-preserved area is fantastic: Lesser Adjutant, Great and Oriental Pied Hornbill, Greater, Himalayan and Lesser Goldenback, Scarlet, Rosy and Small Minivet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Alexandrine, Red-breasted and Plum-headed Parakeet, Chestnut-capped, Striped Tit, Striated, Jerdon’s and Slender-billed Babbler, Grey-crowned Prinia, White-browed and White-throated Fantail, among many others, can be seen. We will eat our lunch at a wildlife watching hot-spot. Apart from seeing birds, we may also see mammals such as rhinos, deer, monkeys and, with luck, one of the region’s species of wild cats.
The morning begins with a safari on elephant back. The guide will show you animals such as rhino, deer, wild boar and maybe even a tiger. This trip will give you an unforgettable lifetime experience riding on one of the biggest animals on earth. We then proceed to Kathmandu through Trisuli river valley.
After breakfast we take a two hour drive towards the upper parts of the Phulchowki hill forest, the richest for wildlife in the valley and also the most convenient place to see some birds which are rare or local in Nepal. Its slopes receive exceptionally high rainfall which support luxuriant forests. We’ll spend a full day birding in this well preserved area. In vehicle and on foot we will search for such species as: Green and Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Hoary-throated Barwing, Yellow-browed Tit, Himalayan Cutia, Barred cuckoo Dove, Striated and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Chestnut Thrush, Pink-browed Rose Finch, among many others.
This morning after breakfast, and depending upon your flight, we will drive one hour to the Godawari or Royal botanical garden for a short birding trip. The gardens are a blend of exotic and local plants surrounded and interspersed with natural vegetation around ponds and streams. Many species typical of the lower slopes of Phulchowki occur here.