Black-necked Crane Spot Winter Tour

Starts and ends in Paro, Western Bhutan

Black-necked Crane
Black-necked Crane

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Black-necked Crane
Black-necked Crane

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Himalayan Monal
Himalayan Monal

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Black-necked Crane
Black-necked Crane

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Objective: The objective is to bird Black-necked Cranes that have arrived in Bhutan from the Tibetan plateau for the winter season, attain the Crane Festival and bird for other high elevation birds along the route.

 

Bird Type: Black-naked Crane, subalpine and high elevation temperate bird species

 

Habitat Type: Subalpine and higher temperate habitats.

 

Habitat Location: The route passes through 5 districts of western Bhutan

 

Bird No: 150-180 bird species

 

Birding Season: Good season for winter birding, however, the weather is colder in the higher elevations in the country during the season. Requires warm clothes.

 

Bird Detail: The bird species you will encounter along this trail are in the detailed itinerary below.

Tour overview

10 days

From: 1-10 December 2023  

      7 nights in twin bed hotels

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      1-12 people

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      150-180 bird species

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      Subalpine to subtropical habitats

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      1,285-3,810m/6,085-12,500ft elevation

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      Moderate pace tour

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      Mountain zigzag roads

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      -5-16°C (14-61°F)

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Tour price starts from US$2,600 per person

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Tour Outline
Detailed Itinerary
Bird Family
Cost and Service
Tour Advice

Day 1. Arrival at Paro 

Day 2. Paro to Thimphu via Chele La Pass

Day 3. Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula 

Day 4. Punakha to Phobjikha 

Day 5. Black-necked Crane festival at Phobjikha

Day 6. Phobjikha to Paro

Day 7. Paro Taktshang Monastery Excursion and Birding

Day 8. Depart for home

Day 1. Arrival at Paro

We will check into your hotel after we receive you at Paro Airport. Towards the evening, depending on time and your wellbeing, we will go along the Pa Chu (Paro river) for waders –Ibisbill, Brown Dipper, Solitary Snipe, River Lapwing (vulnerable), Black-tailed Crake and Wallcreeper.

Overnight: Tashi Namgay Resort (2,250m/7,382ft), Paro

 

Day   2. Paro to Chele La Pass to Thimphu—50km, 1hr 30min

Today, we leave your hotel early morning for Chele La pass, which is en-route to our destination Thimphu. The Pass is located at an altitude of 3,988m/13,084ft, and it is the Important Bird Area (IBA) no.4 in Bhutan. The area is one of the habitats for higher elevation species Pheasants such as Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, and Blood Pheasant. The other higher altitude bird families, which are found in this habitat, are Grosbeaks (Collared, White-winged), Hen Harrier, Spotted Nutcracker, Treecreepers (Hodgson’s, Rusty-flanked), Snow Pigeon, Tits (Grey-crested, Coal, and Rufous-vented), Laughingthrushes (Spotted, Black-faced, and Chestnut-crowned) and Rosefinches (Himilayan White-browed, Beautiful). After birding at the Pass, we descend to Paro valley for onward journey to Thimphu.

 

Aside from the attraction of pristine habitats and higher elevation bird species at this location, it is an attraction to see the majestic snow covered Jomolhari mountain (7,326masl/24,035 feet) in Bhutan. 

Overnight: Peaceful Resort (2,560m/8,399ft), Thimphu

 

Day 3. Thimphu to Punakha –70km, 3hrs

On day 3, during our early morning drive en-route to Punakha, we stop at Dochu La pass (3,100m/10,171ft) for Fire-tailed Myzornis (rarity), Bullfinches (Red-headed, Brown), White-browed Shortwing, Plain Mountain Finch (winter visitor) and Fire-tailed Sunbird. Descending to Lampelri Royal Botanical Park and birding along the walking trail inside the Park is exciting as we are likely to encounter near threatened Ward’s Trogon (rarity), Parrotbills (Great, Black-throated, Brown) and Golden-breasted Fulvetta (rarity).  

 

In the evening, we drive along the Pho Chu river, a part of Important Bird Area 8, and look for birds, categorized in IUCN Red List, like critically endangered White-bellied Heron, endangered Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and the other least concern Osprey and some other raptors too. We may encounter Waders and Waterfowls, which are winter visitors, along the riverside. 

Overnight: Meri Puensum Hotel (1,340m/4,396ft), Punakha

 

Day 4. Punakha to Phobjikha—70km, 3hr

Our next destination is the vast U-shaped glacial Phobjikha valley, which is Important Bird Area (IBA) 9. We drive early in the morning through cool broad-leaved forest and stop for Yellow-rumped Honeyguide (rarity) and Black-headed Shrike-babbler (rarity). Along the way, we explore for Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Minivets (Scarlet, Long-tailed), Laughingthrushes (Bhutan, Scaly), Golden Bush Robin, Forktails (Spotted, Little), Barbets (Great, Blue-throated, Golden-throated), Fire-capped Tit, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Buzzards (Common, Long-legged), Warblers and Yuhinas.

 

As we drive towards Phobjikha valley, we will come across Lawa La pass, where we stop for amazing high-altitude Griffon Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Beautiful Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch, Alpine Accentor and other high altitude species.  

 

Entering into Phobjikha valley, the enchanting and pleasant songs from the flocks of endangered (IUCN Red List) Black-necked Crane greet the visitors.

Overnight: Phobjikha

 

Day 5. Attend Black-necked Crane festival at Phobjikha

Today, we attend the Black-necked Crane festival, which is held annually, in the Valley. The Valley has a good and suitable high-altitude wetland area (above 3,000m/9,842ft) to support the lives of the majestic Black-necked Crane, and they use the marshes in the valley as their winter ground from the late October to early March, every year. About 625 Black-necked Crane roosted in this valley in 2018 (RSPN). The Cranes fly from Tibet over the Himalayas for roosting in in this valley in winter. It is their non-breeding habitat outside Tibet. 

 

The valley occupies an area of about 162 sq.km, and the two rivers Nakay Chhu (black river) and Chhu Karp (white river) meet at Chakze and drain the valley. While the minimum average temperature is – 50C in December and maximum average temperature 160C in August, the valley experience rainfall between 1, 472 to 2,189 mm annually.

 

Black-necked Crane is locally known as “Thrung Thrung Karm” –revered as heavenly bird and hence the local community conducts the annual crane festival, which ultimately uplifts the awareness on importance of crane conservation.  

 

After the festival, we bird in the valley, and some of the species expected to see are Oriental Skylark, Red-billed Chough, Pin-tailed Snipe, and some winter visitors like Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Pintail, Mallard and Gadwall.

Overnight: Phobjikha

 

Day 6. Phobjikha to Paro—120km, 4hr 30min

We retrace to Paro early in the morning en-route to Pele La pass (3,390m/11,122ft for birding at the Pass along the old abandoned Trongsa- Wangdue Phodrang highway. We expect to see again Pheasants (Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant and Satyr Tragopan). The other birds like Thrushes (Dark-throated, Red-Throated, Plain-backed, Long-tailed), Green-tailed Sunbird, and varieties of Warbler species also habitat in this route. 

 

Continuing to Paro, we will also look for Brown Bullfinch, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Yuhinas (Whiskered, Stripe-throated, Rufous-vented), Blth’s Shrike-babbler, Yellow-browed Tit, Spot-winged Grosbeak and Speckled Wood Pigeon.

Overnight: Tashi Namgay Resort (2,250m/7,382ft),  Paro

 

Day 7. Paro (Taktshang Monastery Excursion)—6km, 1hr 30min

Today is your last day before departing for home. To complete your journey and add to your memorable experience, we hike to Takshang Monastery, which is hanging from the precariously sheer cliff. It is located at an altitude of 3,120m/10,240ft, and the distance is about 6 km to the north of Paro valley. 

 

We leave the hotel early in the morning to hike to Takshang Monastery at your comfortable walking pace. Along the hiking route, we look for Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Buff-barred Warbler, Ashy-throated Warbler, Altai Accentor, Redstarts (Hodgson’s, Blue-fronted, White-capped, Plumbeous Redstart), and Black Eagle.

Overnight: Tashi Namgay Resort (2,250m/7,382ft), Paro

 

Day 8. Depart for home

Accipitridae

Aegithalidae

Aegithanidae

Alaudidae

Alcedinidae

Anatidae

Apodidae

Ardeidae

Artamidae

Bucerotidae

Burhinidae

Campephagidae

Caprimulgidae

Certhiidae

Charadriidae

Chloropseidae

Ciconiidae

Cinclidae

Cisticolidae

Columbidae

Coraciidae

Corvidae

Cuculidae

Dicaeidae

Dicruridae

Emberizidae

Estrildidae

Eurylaimidae

Falconidae

Fringiliidae

Glareolidae

Gruidae

Hemiprocnidae

Hirundinidae

Ibidorhynchidae

Indicatoridae

Irenidae

Jacanidae

Laniidae

Laridae

Meropidae

Monarchidae

Motacillidae

Muscicapidae

Nectariniidae

Oriolidae

Paridae

Passeridae

Phalacrocoracidae

Phasianidae

Picidae

Pittidae

Ploceidae

Podargidae

Podicipedidae

Prunellidae

Psittacidae

Pycnonotidae

Rallidae

Ramphastidae

Recurvirostridae

Regulidae

Rhipiduridae

Rostratulidae

Scolopacidae

Sittidae

Strigidae

Sturnidae

Sylviidae

Threskiornithidae

Timaliidae

Troglodytidae

Trogonidae

Turdidae

Turnicidae

Tytonidae

Upupidae

Zosteropidae

Package price and services for the duration of the tour

 

                                                             Price*** for the Black-necked Crane Spot Birding Tour

   

1 Person                                            US$ 3,700 

Per person for 2 people                    US$ 2,800

Per person for 3 people or more       US$ 2,600

Note: ***The price of birding tours is slightly higher than other types of tours due to the overtime birding guide services, higher vehicle mileage, additional energy consumption due to frequent and repetitive movements to spot birds in their habitats, continuous additional operational backstops, etc. 

Services from package price

The package price covers

 

  • Twin bed sharing accommodation in 3 star hotels registered with the Bhutan Tourism Council

  • Three meals a day

  • All ground transports with a designated driver

  • Competent tour guide 

  • Fees for sightseeing and landmarks as per the itinerary

  • US$65 Sustainable Development Fees (SDF) services.

  • Standard SUV is included as per the daily package price.  (In case you wish to have Toyota SUVs for your maximum comfort for the mountain roads, we can arrange them for you at an additional price- consult us.)

The package price does not cover

  • Your Travel insurance

  • Your health insurance

  • One time visa fees

  • Airfares

  • Domestic flights

  • Bank transfer fees

  • Single room supplements

  • Extra activities not mentioned in the itinerary

  • Alcohol and beverages

  • Personal laundry and calls etc

Clothes, medical kit, inoculation and insurance

 

Clothes

For spring season, bring light cloths, comfortable walking shoes, sunshades, windproof jacket, light sweaters etc.

Emergency Medical kit

However, we have basic emergency medical kit, we request you to bring anti-diarrhea tablets and dissolvable powder to drink, antibiotic tablets for emergency purpose, water cleansing tablets, paracetamol, band-aid etc.

 

Inoculation

Hepatitis A and B inoculations as required by your medical doctor.

            

Insurance (mandatory)

Health/Medical Issuance and Travel insurance are mandatory.