Dragon Birds Extension Spring Tour 

Starts and ends in Paro, Western Bhutan

Blood Pheasant
Blood Pheasant

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Himalayan Monal
Himalayan Monal

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Satyr Tragopan
Satyr Tragopan

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Blood Pheasant
Blood Pheasant

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Objective: Connect you to the high elevation bird species during the beginning of the breeding season.

 

Bird Type: We expect to encounter high elevation bird species of  Eastern Himalayas Endemic Area Birds, locally rare birds and sought after birds among other bird species. 

 

Bird Habitat: Habitats are higher elevations of subalpine and temperate habitats and a small portion of nearby subtropical habitat. These habitats are made up of Important Bird Areas (IBA), parks, biological corridors and unprotected forest areas

 

Habitat Location: The route passes through the northern parts of the six districts in the west, center and east of Bhutan.

 

Bird No: We expect to encounter about 260 to 280 bird species along this birding route.

 

Birding Season: Spring is one of the best birding seasons in Bhutan.

 

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

Tour overview

From: 19 April - 1 May 2023 

13 days

      12 nights in twin bed hotels

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      1-12 people

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      260-280 bird species

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      Subtropical to subalpine habitats

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      1,200-3,800m/3,937-12,467ft elevation

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      Moderate pace tour

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      Mountain zigzag roads

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      15-31°C (59-87°F)

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Tour price starts from US$4,100 per person

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Tour Outline
Detailed Itinerary
Bird Family
Price and Service
Tour Advice

Day 1. Paro

Day 2. Paro - Chele La - Thimphu

Day 3. Thimphu- Dochu La - Punakha

Day 4. Punakha Birding 

Day 5. Punakha- Pele La - Bumthang

Day 6. Bumthang Birding 

Day 7. Bumthang- Thrumsing La - Yongkala

Day 8. Yongkala Birding 

Day 9. Yongkala Birding 

Day 10. Yongkala- Bumthang

Day 11. Bumthang-Punakha

Day 12. Punakha- Paro

Day 13. Depart for home

Day 1. Paro

We receive you at Paro Airport (2,230m/7,316ft) and proceed to your hotel, which is your base while in Bhutan. Towards the evening, depending on time, we will bird along the Pa Chhu (Paro River), dipping into a taste of birding in our Important Bird Area (IBA) No.5, for waders –Ibisbill, Brown Dipper, Solitary Snipe, IUCN Red List vulnerable River Lapwing Black-tailed Crake and Wallcreeper. While the Pa Chhu river meanders through the valley, it passes under a traditional cantilever bridge roofed with wooden shingles and near the base of the massive fortress and Buddhist monastery built in 1645 overlooking the town of Paro valley.

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

Day 2. Paro - Chele La (3,810 m/12,500ft) – Thimphu

Early in the morning, we ascend to our Important Bird Area 4 (IBA) Chele La pass, which consists of dwarf rhododendrons and alpine meadows vegetation at an elevation of 3,810m/12,500ft, for beautiful pheasants (Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant), and other high-altitude species of Grosbeaks (Collared, White-winged), Hen Harrier, Spotted Nutcracker, Treecreepers (Hodgson’s, Rusty-flanked), and Snow Pigeon. While Tits (Grey-crested, Coal, and Rufous-vented) are also in this habitat, we explore for Laughingthrushes (Spotted, Black-faced, and Chestnut-crowned) and Rosefinches (Himilayan White-browed, and Beautiful). 

From the Pass, you can view the majestic mount Jomolhari (7,326m/24,035ft) and adjacent Jichu Drake (6,989m/22,930ft) Mountain during the clear skies, and also offers a gorgeous view of Haa and Paro valleys.

After birding at the Pass, we descend to Paro valley for onward journey to Thimphu.

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

 

Day 3. Thimphu— Dochu La – Punakha, (85km, 2h30min)

After an overnight stay in Thimphu, while driving early in the morning en route to Punakha, we stop at Dochu La pass (3,100m/10,171ft) to look for Fire-tailed Myzornis (rarity), Bullfinches (Red-headed, Brown), White-browed Shortwing, Plain Mountain Finch (winter visitor) and Fire-tailed Sunbird. 

Subsequently, while descending to Lampelri Royal Botanical Park, exploring for birds along the walking trail inside the Park is exciting. We are likely to encounter our Near Threatened Ward’s Trogon, which is also one of the 22 restricted-range endemic area birds of Eastern Himalaya, a rarity in other areas of Bhutan, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Parrotbills (Great, Black-throated, Brown), Golden-breasted Fulvetta (rarity) and Scarlet Finch as well.

Gradually, we descend to warmer spring Punakha, which is situated in subtropical vegetation (1,200m/3,937ft). The freshwater rivers— Pho Chu (male river) and Mo Chu (Female river)—flow through the valley, and it makes the valley suitable for growing rice and healthy habitats for migratory and non-migratory birds.

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

 

Day 4. Punakha Birding

Early in the morning, we drive through Gasa highway (Jigme Dorji National Park), Important Bird Area (IBA) 1 in Bhutan, and the species expected to see are Spotted Elachura (a monotypic species), Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Maroon Oriole, Mountain Bulbul, White-bellied Erpornis, Black-chinned Yuhina, Black-throated Sunbird, Forktails (Spotted, Black-backed), Treecreepers (Hodgson’s, Rusty-flanked), White-tailed Nuthatchand Thrushes (Plain-backed, Long-tailed, Scaly).

During the afternoon birding, we will drive along the Pho Chu river looking for IUCN Red List threatened species. Critically endangered White-bellied Heron, endangered Pallas’s Fish Eagle, vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle, vulnerable River Lapwing, and vulnerable waterfowl Common Pochard are in this habitat. Other bird species like Brown Dipper, Kingfishers (Crested, Common), Osprey and White-browed Wagtail are also found in this Important Bird Area. Additionally, along the way, we will also look for waders: Sandpipers (Common, Green), Timminck’s Stint, Plovers (Little-ringed, Long-billed) and waterfowls which are migratory: Mandarin Duck, Northern Pintail, and other waders and waterfowls that are winter visitors to this place.

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

Day 5. Punakha- Pele La- Bumthang

As we drive towards Bumthang, we will be stopping at Pele La Pass, which is situated at 3,390m/11,122ft with sub-alpine conifers and bamboo vegetation, for Bearded Vulture and Griffon Vulture. While other birds like Thrushes (Red-throated and Black-throated), Crimson-browed Finch, White-browed Rosefinch, White-throated Redstart and Spotted Nutcracker are in this habitat, Pheasants (Himalayan Monal and Satyr Tragopan) are also in this vegetation. 

Along the way, before reaching Bumthang, we will look for species like Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Nepal House Martin, Himalayan Swiftlet and Asian Palm Swift. 

Overnight: Chumey Nature Resort (2,935m/9,629ft), Bumthang

 

Day 6. Bumthang Birding 

Today, we drive early in the morning towards Tharpaling monastery (3,800m/12,467ft) for morning birding, and the habitat in this area consists of healthy forests of blue pine, hemlock, birch, rhododendron, fir, juniper, bamboo, maples and spruces, and chestnuts. Highlights around here are Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Snow Pigeon, Altai Accentor, Red-billed Chough, Rosefinches (Himalayan White-browed, and Beautiful), Laughingthrushes (Black-faced, and Spotted), Redstarts (White-throated, and Daurian), Himalayan Bluetail, Goldcrest, Bullfinches (Brown, & Red-headed) and many more. For the afternoon we will be birding in patches of bamboo thicket for Great Parrotbill (rarity), Rufous-breasted Accentor and Redstarts (Hodgson’s and Blue-fronted). Just after the dusk, we will be spotlighting for Himalayan Wood Owl (rarity).

Overnight: Chumey Nature Resort (2,935m/9,629ft), Bumthang

 

Day 7. Bumthang- Thrumseng La- Yongkala

We start early in the morning. On the way close to Thrumshing La pass (3,780m/12,309ft), we look for Bar-winged Wren Babbler, Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus tibetanus—a subspecies distributed in eastern region only), Fire-tailed Sunbird and Griffon Vulture. As we descend towards Sengor valley, we will stop to look for Fulvous Parrotbill (rarity), Thrushes (Black-throated and Red-throated), Slaty Blue Flycatcher, and Red Crossbill. As we continue to drive towards Yongkala, we stop look for Gould’s Shortwing (rarity), Black-headed Shrike-babbler (rarity), and Golden-breasted Fulvetta (rarity). 

 

Overnight: Trogon Villa Lodge (1,600m/5,249ft), Yongkala

 

Day. 8 and 9. Yongkala

We have reached cool broad-leaved forest of Phrumsengla National Park, Important Bird Area (IBA) 16, which is one of the best birding stretches in Bhutan.

 

Early in the morning, we drive along Yongkala-Namling road for restricted-range bird species of Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA), which Bhutan is a part of this Endemic Area. While these birds are the restricted-range, some of them are also threatened species in IUCN Red List. Vulnerable Chestnut-breasted Partridge, near threatened Ward’s Trogon (the most sought after specie), near threatened Rufous-throated Wren-babbler are not only under IUCN Red List, they are also the restricted-range birds of the Endemic Area. The other restricted-range birds like Hoary-throated Barwing, and Yellow-vented Warbler are also in this habitat.

Another important highlight of this birding trail is to look out for the Himalayan Wedge-billed Babbler (rarity to only find in this habitat). While it is a restricted-range bird of the Endemic Area, it is also near threatened of IUCN Red List, and more importantly, it is one of the two endemic birds of Eastern Himalayas found in Bhutan. The other endemic bird Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler is found in the habitats of North Eastern India in Mizoram state.

Additionally, along this trail, we look for other equally important birds are Flycatchers (Pygmy Blue, and Snowy-browed), Rufous-throated Partridge, a majestic and vulnerable Rufous-necked Hornbill, Lesser Shortwing, Wren Babblers (Pygmy, Long-billed, and Scaly-breasted), Parrotbills (Black-throated, Grey-headed, and Greater Rufous-headed), Himalayan Cutia, Fulvettas (Golden-breasted, Yellow-throated, Nepal, and Rufous-winged), Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Piculet, Small Niltava, Tesias (Grey-bellied, and Slaty-bellied), Sivas (Bar-throated, Blue-winged), Rusty-frontedBarwing,  Blanford’s Rosefinch, Scarlet Finch, and Brown-throated Treecreeper.

In the following morning, we drive through Yongkala-Tsamang road for Beautiful Nuthatch (rarity), Red-faced Liocichla, Laughingthrushes (Blue-winged, Rufous-chinned, and Scaly), Shrike-babblers (White-browed, and Black-eared), Grey Treepie, Flycatchers  (Little Pied, Pale Blue, White-gorgeted, and Ferrugenous), Owlets (Collared, Asian Barred), Mountain Scops Owl, Babblers (Golden, Grey-throated, and Rufous-capped), Golden Bush Robin, Black-throated Sunbird, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Streaked Spiderhunter, Green-crowned Warbler, Black-faced, Rufous-faced, White-spectacled and Grey-cheeked), Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail and Minivets (Scarlet, and Long-tailed). 

Note: After the dusk we will be engaged for few hours in spotlighting for Hodgson’s Frogmouth (rarity) and Oriental Bay Owl (rarity).

Overnight: Trogon Villa Lodge (1,600m/5,249ft), Yongkala

Day 10. Yongkala- Bumthang

Today, we ascend from broad-leaved forest to mixed conifer forest, and we will experience sharp change in vegetation, landscape and temperature.  On the way, we will stop for Shrike-babbler (Black-headed, and Green), Gould’s Shortwing (rarity) and Spotted Laughingthrush.  As we enter the mixed conifer, we will be looking for Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Satyr Tragopan (the most sought after pheasant), Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus tibetanus- subspecies distributed in the eastern region only), Parrotbills (Great and Fulvous), Goldcrest, Gould’s Shortwing, Red Crossbill, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Spotted Nutcracker, Crimson-browed Finch and many more.

Overnight: Chumey Nature Resort (2,935m/9,629ft), Bumthang

 

Day11. Bumthang-Punakha

We leave Bumthang for Punakha via Trongsa and Wangue Phodrang provinces. As we drive towards Punakha, we will stop on the way for Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Brown Parrotbill, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos lathami), Laughingthrushes (Chestnut-crowned, and White-throated), Red-billed Leiothrix, White-browed Shrike-babbler, White-browed Fulvetta, Green-tailed Sunbird, Eurasian Jay, Yuhinas (Stripe-throated, and Whiskered), Little Forktail, Griffon Vulture, and Bearded Vulture. 

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

Day 12. Punakha- Paro

We leave subtropical Punakha (1,310m/4,300ft) for temperate Paro (2,250m/7,382ft) via subalpine Dochula (3,150m/10,334ft) vegetation. On our way we will be looking for Little Bunting, Slender-billed Oriole, Flycatchers (Ultramarine, Little Pied, Dark-sided, Rufous-gorgeted, Verditer), Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, White-browed Shortwing, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Plain Mountain Finch, Tits (Rufous-fronted, Black-throated), Bush Warblers (Brown-flanked, Grey-sided, Aberrant, and Chestnut-crowned), Bush Robins (Rufous-breasted, and White-browed), Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-fronted Robin (rarity), Yellow-rumped Honeyguide (rarity), Cuckoos (Lesser, Large Hawk, Oriental, Eurasian), Maroon-backed Accentor, Scarlet Finch, and Speckled Wood Pigeon.

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

 

Day13. 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

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 Dragon Birds Extension Birding Tour is below:

1 Person                                                     US$ 6,100

 Per person for 2 people                            US$ 4,700  

 Per person for 3 people and above          US$ 4,100

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 the package price

The package price covers

 

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

  • Three meals during your tour

  • All ground transports with a designated driver

  • Competent tour guide for your tour

  • Fees for sightseeing and landmarks as per the itinerary

  • US$65 Sustainable Development Fees (SDF) services

  • Standard SUV is included as per the Minimum Daily Rate.  (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.