Complete Bhutan Autumn Tour

Start from Paro, Western Bhutan and end in Samdrup Jongkhar, Eastern Bhutan

Ibisbill
Ibisbill

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White-bellied Heron
White-bellied Heron

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Fire-tailed Myzornis
Fire-tailed Myzornis

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Ibisbill
Ibisbill

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Tour overview

From: 1 - 19 March 2023  

18 days

      17 nights in twin bed hotels

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      1-12 people

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      4360-380 bird species

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      Subtropical to subalpine habitats

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      150-3,822m/3,492-12,539ft elevation

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       Moderate pace tour

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       Mountain zigzag roads

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      - 6-31°C (21-86°F)

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Objective: To provide a comprehensive quality birdlife and their growing broods in the autumn season in various habitats across the country, when the landscape is at its best of autumn season.

Bird Type:   They are restricted- range birds of Eastern Himalayas, 11 of the 22 birds are on this route, IUCN Red List threatened birds, sought after birds, locally rare birds and other equally important bird species of alpine, temperate and subtropical/tropical birds. Another important highlight is the Himalayan Wedge-billed Babbler along this route, which is one of the two endemic birds of this Endemic Bird Area. The other bird is in Mizoram, India. The bird details are in the detail itinerary below.

Habitat Type: The birding route starts near the tree line in the west, and it descends to the temperate, subtropical and tropical habitats in southern Bhutan. Then the trail ascends north to the subtropical, temperate habitats and  ascends further to the subalpine habitat of central Bumthang. Slowly, we descend back to the subtropical habitats, and move to lower elevations of the tropical climate in Samdrup Jongkhar where this birding tour ends. 

Habitat Location: The tour passes through high mountains, deep valleys,  freshwater rivers, spare human settlements of 11 districts across Bhutan as indicated in the tour map.

Bird No: We expect to encounter 360-380 bird species along this route.

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

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

Price starts from US$ 5,700

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Tour Outline
Detailed Itinerary
Bird Family
Price and Service
Tour Advice

Day 1.   Arrival at Paro

Day 2.   Birding at Chelela pass- Thimphu

Day 3.   Thimphu- Punakha

Day 4.   Birding at Punakha

Day 5.   Punakha –Tsirang

Day 6.   Tsirang-Darachu-Gelephu

Day 7.   Gelephu-Tamala-Tingtibi

Day 8.   Tingtibi birding

Day 9.   Tingtibi-Trongsa-Bumthang 

Day 10. Birding at Tharpaling 

Day 11. Bumthang to Yongkala

Day 12. Day 13 and Day14. Birding at Yongkala

Day 15. Yongkala to Trashigang via Kori La

Day 16. Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar

Day 17. Birding at Samdrup Jongkhar (Bangtar road)

Day 18. Depart for home.

Day 1. Arrival at Paro

We will proceed to your hotel after we receive you at Paro Airport. Towards the evening, considering your comfort and the birding time, we will bird along the Pa Chhu river, which flows under the wooden cantilever bridge that is at the base the fortress and museum overlooking Paro valley, for waders-Ibisbill, Brown Dipper, Solitary Snipe, IUCN Red List vulnerable River Lapwing, Black-tailed Crake and Wallcreeper (specialty).

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

 

Day 2. Birding at Chele La pass—(34km, 1h)

Early in the morning, we leave our hotel for Chele La pass (3,988masl/13,084ft) to watch high-altitude pheasants—Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus cruentus, a subspecies found in western region of Bhutan), IUCN Red List near threatened beautiful Satyr Tragopan, Collared Grosbeak (rarity), Alpine Accentor, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-headed Bullfinch, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail, Indian Blue Robin, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Tits (Grey-crested, Rufous-vented, Coal, Yellow-browed) and White-bellied Redstart(rarity). 

 

 After birding at the Pass, we descend to lower elevations and drive to Thimphu.

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

 

Day 3. Thimphu to Punakha via Dochu La pass, (85km, 2h30min)

Descending towards Punakha, we stop at Dochu La Pass (3,100m/10,171ft)) for species like Fire-tailed Myzornis (rarity), White-browed Shortwing (rarity), Plain Mountain Finch, Fire-tailed Sunbird, and Tits (Rufous-fronted, Black-throated). 

During clear and sunny skies, within the background of 108 Buddhist stupas at the Pass, we can see stunning panoramic view of snow capped Himalayan mountain range.

After a short break for the scenic view, we descend the elevation and halt at Lampelri Recreational Park.  We follow the Nature Trail inside the Park to check some of our bird highlights such as near threatened Ward’s Trogon, which is also one of the 22 restricted-range bird of Endemic Bird Area of Eastern Himalayas, a rarity in other areas of Bhutan and the near threatened Yellow-rumped Honeyguide (rarity).  

Other species like Bush Warblers (Brown-flanked, Grey-sided, Aberrant, Chestnut-crowned), Bush Robins (Rufous-breasted, White-browed), Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-fronted Robin (rarity), Cuckoos (Lesser, Large Hawk, Oriental, Eurasian), Maroon-backed Accentor, Scarlet Finch and Speckled Wood Pigeon are also in this habitat. 

As we descend further into warmer Punakha valley, we will look for Little Bunting, Slender-billed Oriole, Flycatchers (Ultramarine, Little Pied, Dark-sided, Rufous-gorgeted, Verditer) and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker.

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

 

 

Day 4. Birding at Punakha

Early in the morning, we move along the road towards Gasa province to watch birds like 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 Nuthatch and Thrushes (Plain-backed, Long-tailed, Scaly).

 

During the afternoon, we will search along the Pho-Chhu river for the threatened bird species in IUCN Red List that are found in this Important Bird Area (IBA). We will encounter critically endangered White-bellied Heron, vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle, vulnerable River Lapwing, endangered Pallas’s Fish Eagle are in this habitat, and we will also come across migratory waterfowls like vulnerable Common Pochard and near threatened Ferruginous Duck.

 

The Bird Area is also a habitat for Brown Dipper, Kingfishers (Crested, Common), Osprey, and White-browed Wagtail. We will also look for waders: Sandpipers (Common, Green), Timminck’s Stint, Plovers (Little-ringed, Long-billed) and those waterfowls, which are migratory, are Mandarin Duck, Northern Pintail, Great-crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Bar-headed Goose and Eastern Spot-billed Duck.

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

 

 

Day 5. Punakha –Tsirang (117km, 3h30min)

Passing through chir pine and warm broad-leaved forests early in the morning, we will explore for vulnerable Great Hornbill, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Barbets (Blue-eared, Golden-throated, Great, & Blue-throated), Sunbirds (Black-throated, Crimson, Purple), Orange-bellied Leafbird, Woodpeckers (Grey-capped Pygmy, Fulvous-breasted, Rufous, Bay), Nuthatches (Chestnut-bellied, Velvet-fronted (rarity), White-tailed Nuthatch, Eagles (Crested Serpent, Mountain Hawk and Black) and Minivets (Scarlet, Grey-chinned, and Long-tailed). 

Night: Damphu Nature Resort (1,410m/4,659ft), Tsirang

 

 

Day 6. Tsirang-Darachu-Gelephu (98km, 3h)

 On the way to Darachu, our focus on the specialty birds are vulnerable Rufous-necked Hornbill, Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Forest Wagtail (rarity), Warblers (White-spectacled, Chestnut-crowned), White-crested Laughingthrush, Black-eared Shrike-babbler, White-naped Yuhina, and Golden Babbler.  

 

Descending towards Gelephu valley, which is humid tropical and subtropical climate and vegetation, during the later part of the day, we will look for vulnerable Wreathed Hornbill and Oriental Pied Hornbill, Collared Falconet, Coucals (Greater and Lesser), Black-winged Kite, Owlets (Spotted, Asian Barred), Green Bee-eater, Indian Peafowl, Red Junglefowl, Barred Buttonquail and many more. 

Night: Twin Dragon Hotel (260m/853ft), Gelephu

 

 

Day 7. Gelephu-Tamala-Tingtibi –(170km, 4h30min)

Early in the morning, we drive towards Tamala to look for Red-faced Liocichla, Laughingthrushes (Blue-winged and Grey-sided), Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, IUCN Red List near threatned Rufous-bellied Eagle and other Eagles (Mountain Hawk, Changeable Hawk and Black), Niltavas (Rufous-bellied, Small and Large), Barred Cuckoo Dove and many more.

Night: Twang Hotel (570m/1,870ft), Tingtibi

 

 

Day 8. Tingtibi birding

As Tingtibi is located in the temperate forest with bamboo under-growths, we will look for bamboo specialists’ species, especially White-hooded Babbler, Pale-billed Parrotbill, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Warbler and Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler. 

 

Along this part of the trail, the two restricted-range birds of the Endemic Bird Area are Broad-billed Warbler and White-naped Yuhina. Some of the other specialty birds along this road are ICUN Red List vulnerable Great Hornbill, vulnerable Grey-crowned Prinia.

We will also search for other species like vulnerable Great Hornbill once more, Warbler (Yellow-vented and Broad-billed), Mountain Tailorbird, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Red-headed Trogon, Sultan Tit, Minivets (Scarlet and Long-tailed), Long-tailed Sibia, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Crested Serpent Eagle, Bar-winged Flycatchershrike, Ashy Woodswallow, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Common Iora, Black-naped Monarch, Black-hooded Oriole, Common Green Magpie and many more.

Night: Twang Hotel (570m/1,870ft), Tingtibi

 

Day 9. Tingtibi-Trongsa-Bumthang(Chumey)—168km, 4h30min

Heading to our destination Bumthang via Trongsa in the Northern Central Bhutan, our morning birding includes Grey-headed Parrotbill, Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Warblers (Grey-hooded, Ashy-throated and Lemon-rumped), Bulbuls (Red-whiskered, Black-crested, Himalayan and Ashy), White-bellied Erpornis, Fork-tailed Swift, Eurasian Crag Martin, Himalayan Swiftlet, Asian Palm Swift, Speckled Piculet and many more. 

 

Before reaching Bumthang, we will stop at Yotong la pass (3436m/11,272ft) to look for Spotted Nutcracker, White-winged Grosbeak, Winter Wren, Great Parrotbill (rarity), Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Rufous-fronted Tit, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Dark-rumped Rosefinch.

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

 

Day 10. Birding at Tharpaling

Early in the morning, we will drive towards Tharpaling monastery (3,800m) for morning birding. Bird highlights in this area are Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Snow Pigeon, Altai Accentor, Red-billed Chough, Rosefinches (Himalayan White-browed and Beautiful), Laughingthrushes (Black-faced, Spotted), Redstarts (White-throated, and Daurian), Himalayan Bluetail, Goldcrest,Bullfinches (Brown, and Red-headed) and many more.  

 

In 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). 

 

Later in the evening, just after the dusk, we will be spotlighting for Himalayan Wood Owl (rarity).

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

 

Day 11. Bumthang to Yongkala via Thrumshing la pass—(134km, 5h30min)

We start early in the morning. On the way, near 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 of Bhutan only), Fire-tailed Sunbird and Griffon Vulture. 

 

As we descend into Sengor valley, we stop along the road to explore for Fulvous Parrotbill (rarity), Thrushes (Black-throated, & Red-throated), Slaty Blue Flycatcher, and Red Crossbill. 

 

Descending further and continuing towards our next destination Yongkala, we occasionally stop to scour the area for Gould’s Shortwing (rarity), Black-headed Shrike-babbler (rarity) and Golden-breasted Fulvetta (rarity). 

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

 

Day 12, Day 13 and Day 14. Birding at Yongkala

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

 

While driving through Yongkala-Namling road early morning, we focus on today’s bird highlights of 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.

In this bird area stretch, we should look out for Himalayan Wedge-billed Babbler (rarity to only find in this habitat). It is not only a restricted-range bird of the Endemic Area and near threatened of IUCN Red List, 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.

As we pass along the trail, we must focus on the majestic and vulnerable Rufous-necked Hornbill, Flycatchers (Pygmy Blue, and Snowy-browed), Rufous-throated Partridge, Lesser Shortwing, Wren Babblers (Pygmy, Long-billed, and Scaly-breasted), Parrotbills (Black-throated, Grey-headed, 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-fronted Barwing,  Blanford’s Rosefinch, Scarlet Finch and Brown-throated Treecreeper.

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

 

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

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

 

Day 15. Yongkala to Trashigang via Kori La pass—(111km, 3h)

We ascend to Kori La pass to bird for Fire-tailed Myzornis (once again) before we start descending to warmer chir pine forests. Prior to our descent for Trashigang, we will attempt to locate Golden-naped Finch, Niltavas (Large, Rufous-bellied), Olive-backed Pipit, Grey-winged Blackbird, White-tailed Nuthatch, Warblers (Ashy-throated, Grey-hooded), Striated Bulbul, Green-tailed Sunbird and White-browed Shrike-babbler in the area.  

 

As we continue to drive towards our destination, we will be looking for Eurasian Golden Oriole, Himalayan Bulbul, Striated Prinia, Red-rumped Swallow and Spot-winged Starling. 

Night: Druk Deothjung (1,210 m/3,979ft), Trashigang

 

Day 16. Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar via Morong and Narphung—(189km, 6h30min)

We drive early in the morning, and on the way, we will look for the near threatened Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Flycatchers (Verditer, Pygmy Blue and Dark-sided), Grey Bushchat, Redstarts (White-capped, & Plumbeous), Spot-winged Grosbeak and Blue Rock Thrush. 

 

Our next stop will be at Morong –an amazing spot for vulnerable Beautiful Nuthactch, Rufous-backed Sibia, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-billed Leiothrix, Accipiters (Shikra, Northern Goshawk and Besra), Raptors (Mountain Hawk Eagle, near threatened Rufous-bellied Eagle and Black Eagle) and White-crowned Forktail (rarity). 

Night: Tashi Gatsel Hotel (230m/755ft), Samdrup Jongkhar

 

Day 17.  Birding at Samdrup Jongkhar (Bangtar road)

Early in the morning, we drive along the Bangtar road. On this road, we will watch, if we can, all four species of Hornbills:  ICUN Red List vulnerable Hornbills (Rufous-necked, Great, Wreathed) and the least concern Oriental Pied Hornbill. In addition, we bird for the restricted-range and vulnerable Dark-rumped Swift (rarity).

 

Other bird species that we should watch are Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-breasted Broadbill (rarity), Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Slaty-backed Forktail, Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Woodpeckers (Grey-headed, Fulvous-breasted, & Rufous), Beautiful Sibia, Barbets (Great, Golden-throated, Blue-throated), Hooded Pitta, Black-naped Monarch, Common Iora and Ashy Wood Pigeon.

Night: Tashi Gatsel Hotel (230m/755ft), Samdrup Jongkhar

 

Day 18. 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

                                                   Approx. Price*** for the Complete Bhutan Birding Tour is below:

1 Person                                            US$ 8,700  

Per person for 2 people                    US$  6,600     

Per person for 3 people or more       US$  5,700

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 a day

  • 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.