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Bhutan Birding in the Himalayas

  • Off the beaten track
Bhutan is home more than 700-recorded species of birds, and many more have yet to be discovered. Forests and other habitats sustain 84% of Bhutan’s breeding birds. It has harbors the rarest species of birds on Earth! For the serious watchers among you, we've come up with a full-fledged bird watching expedition where you can camp in the park, accompanied by a ...

Bhutan is home more than 700-recorded species of birds, and many more have yet to be discovered. Forests and other habitats sustain 84% of Bhutan’s breeding birds. It has harbors the rarest species of birds on Earth! For the serious watchers among you, we've come up with a full-fledged bird watching expedition where you can camp in the park, accompanied by a cook and staff throughout, and discover the main temples and highlights along the way. We can also provide you with an expert guide. Come along and discover a whole new world of winged creatures!

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Tour itinerary includes
  • Walking and trekking
    Walking and trekking
  • Bird watching
    Bird watching
  • Countryside
  • Mountain
  • Local culture
    Local culture

Customisable trip itinerary

This tour idea is fully customisable

The itinerary has been created by our local agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrival at Samdrup Jongkhar Bhutan

Receive by the local representative at Guwahati airport, the largest city in the state of Assam, India. En route to Bhutan, we will try look for some of the birds in India like Indian Pond Heron, Cormorant, egrets, Ashy Drongo and Red-wattled Lapwing in roadside wetlands, with possible sightings of Small Pratincole, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Citrine Wagtail, Rusty-rumped Warbler and Striated Grass bird. We may also find highly endangered species. After immigration formalities, check in the hotel and stall around the town.

Overnight hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.

GuwahatiSamdrup Jongkhar

Day 2:  Look for a lowland species

In the foothills we try to look for a number of lowland species like Wreathed, Oriental Pied, Rufus-necked Hornbill, Great Hornbills, beautiful nuthatch. Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Pin-Tailed Green Pigeon, Rufescent Prinia, Black-napped, Scarlet Minivet, Black-crested, Ashy and Blackbulbuls, Golden-Fronted leafbird, Bamboo-dwelling Yellow-bellied Warbler, White-rumped Shama, Sultan Tit, Asian Fairy-bluebird and Long-tailed Broadbill. We will also be looking for the Black-backed Forktail along the rocky streams.

Overnight hotel: Samdrup Jongkhar.

Samdrup Jongkhar, Tashigang

Day 3: Spot the grey-winged Blackbird

Today we will drive to Mongar, we will stop at Kori La. The forest is rich in mosses and lichens, we will try to spot Steak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-winged Blackbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Long-tailed and Short-billed Minivets, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler and Spotted Wren-Babbler.

The forest is rich in mosses and lichens, we will try to spot Steak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-winged Blackbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Long-tailed and Short-billed Minivets, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler and Spotted Wren-Babbler.

On the way stop at Lingmithang wet subtropical forest and one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas and campsite at Yongkala, for a three-night stay. We bird these lush forested valleys in search of shortwings, Black-headed Shrike-Babbler, Ward’s Trogon, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, barbets, Golden Bush Robin, Chestnut-breasted Partridge and many other rare species alongside Little Forktail, Large Niltava, Russet Bush-Warbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Violet Cuckoo and Rufous-faced Warbler.

Overnight: Yongkola.

Trashigang, Yongkola

Day 4: Yongkala Birding excursion

Here we will spend on birding for two full days along incredible 80 km long road, ranked amongst the top ten birding sites in the world, with waterfalls and ravines appearing around every bend. We will search for such area that has specialties like Wedge-billed Wren-Babbler, Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, Spotted Wren-Babbler, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, flocks of parrotbills, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Scarlet Finch, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings and many more.

Overnight: Yongkala.


Day 5: Search of high altitude species

Today we will be moving early morning, going uphill in search of high altitude species that includes Blood Pheasant and Satyr Tragopan, the bird that draws many birders to Bhutan. The dense conifers forest hold many good species such as Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Bar-winged Wren-Babbler, Red-headed Bullfinch, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Gold-naped Finch and Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler.

You will be visiting Kurje Lhakhang where the Great Indian Saint Guru Padsambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock.  The other is Jamphel lhakhang, which was built in the 7th century by Songsten Goembo, the Tibetan Buddhist King. Jakar Dzong (the fortress of white bird) built in the 17th century by Tenzin Rabgay (the fourth Desi) is another famous landmark.

You will also be visiting, Tamshing lhakhang built in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa (the founder of religious treasures). Kunchosum lhakhang and Membertsho (the flaming lake) are other places. Legend has it that Pema Lingpa discovered several religious text from the lake. 

Overnight: Bumthang.

Yongkala, Bhumtang

Day 6: Encounter the most colorful pheasants

We will drive crossing the high passes, the yotongla, at 3400m. Yotong La is the major habitat for Blood Pheasant and also holds other high altitude species such as Snow Pigeon, Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Great Parrot bill, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Grey-crested and Coal Tits and White-browed Fulvetta. If we are fortunate we may encounter with one of the most colorful pheasants of them all, the Himalayan Monal.

Visit Trongsa Dzong, another majestic architectural masterpiece and once ancient Bhutan’s capital. It is very historic and every King, before ascending the Throne must, as the Crown Prince serve as the Penlop (Governor) of Trongsa.   There will also be a visit to Gangtey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingmapa monasteries, that resembles a Dzong. Hike down to the valley with stunning view of the villages around. Continue will drive towards the beautiful Phobjekha valley, holy wintering ground for the Black-necked Crane. 

Overnight: Phobjikha.

Bhumtang, Phobjikha

Day 7: Watching birds along the old road of Pele

Today we will have an early breakfast, after breakfast we will drive to the Pele la pass (4000 m) and spend the morning hours watching the birds along the old road at Pele la for high altitude species such as Himalayan Griffon, Himalayan Monal, Spotted Laughingthrush. Brown Parrotbill, and various finches and bush-warblers. Later we drive to Punakha, traveling through the valley of Wangdi Phodrang; along the way we look for Ward’s Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and mixed species flocks.

Later in the evening we will do bird watching along the Pho Chu valley looking for one of our main target birds, White-bellied Heron, and these birds are the rare birds in the world with a population of fewer then 200 worldwide. We might see other birds like Common and Crested Kingfisher and the enigmatic Ibisbill.

Visit Punakha Dzong (Fortress), built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal has played a prominent role in the civil and religious life of the Kingdom. From far, it resembles a giant ship, rocked on a mass of still water as it is built at the confluence of two rivers – the Pho (male) and Mo (Female) rivers. Destroyed four times by fire and an earthquake in 1897, the Dzong has been now been fully restored in its original splendour. The Fortress contains some of the most sacred and significant religious relics of the nation.

Overnight: Punakha.

Phobjikha, Punakha

Day 8: Morning walk inside Jigme Dorji National Park

We will spend our morning inside Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park by bird watching along the Phochu river. Here in this area we will find birds like Red-headed Trogon, Slaty-bellied and Grey-bellied Tesia, Small and Ruofus-bellied Niltavas,Chesnut-crowned,Red-vented and Mountain Bulbuls, Bhutan laughing thrushes, Bay woodpecker, white-throated and many more.

On the way to Punakha, you will hike for about one hour (round trip) to Drukpa Kuenley’s monastery, built in the 15th century. A monastery where the Phallus is worshipped, it is associated with Lam Drukpa Kuenley, the “Divine Madmonk”. 

Overnight : Punakha.

PunakhaJigme Dorji National Park

Day 9: Discover one of the most beautiful pass 

We then drive to Thimphu over the Dochula pass (3150m) one of the most beautiful  pass decorated with 108 stupas; on a clear day the whole eastern Himalayan range is visible from here.

In the afternoon, visit the following places:

- Buddha point : Overlooking the Thimphu town, it is one of the biggest statues of Buddha in the country. 

- Takin Preserve  : The national animal of Bhutan, called the Takin, is found only in the eastern Himalayas.  In Bhutan, it is found only in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park in the northern part of the country. This photogenic animal was believed to be created by a lama called Drukpa Kuenley, who is also popularly known as “the Divine Madman.”  It was said that he had joined the head of a goat and body of a cow to form the Takin.

Overnight: Thimphu.


Day 10: Go to the dirt pond to see Ibisbill

Today we will go to the dirt pond to see Ibisbill, Black-tailed and Ruddy-breasted Crakes in the morning itself (i.e. before breakfast).

After breakfast we will drive north of Thimphu and then hike to the Cheri monastery. During the hike we may have the chances to spot Chestnut–crowned and White-throated Laughingthrushes, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, Brown Dipper and White-collared Blackbird. Goral (Mountain goat) around the monastery. We will have the lunch at Thimphu and then continue our drive towards Paro.

In the afternoon visit centenary Farmer’s Market is a two story building with about 400 stalls that provides farmers from around the country the opportunity to display their produce and people a chance to support the local agriculture. Vendors from throughout the region starts arriving on Thursday and Friday, and remain till Sunday night. The best time to explore the market is within these three days when the rush of trade is going on. It is also a great way to get acquainted with the locals and learn about the ingredients of a Bhutanese diet. Also watch the residents’ horde the market, choosing the best of the season’s product. Free time in the town. 

Overnight: Paro.


Day 11: Excursion to Taktshang Monastry (Tiger)

We will have breakfast and after that we will be driving and it will take like 15 minutes to reach us to the parking lot at the base of the Tiger’s Nest. From here we will start our hiking and this monastery is the most beautiful and holiest temple in our country.

Upon arrival at paro, we will check into a home stay, paro is famous for its Varity of food, dumplings either from meet or cheese, greens, datsi (cheese) and chili with different combination of vegetable and other ingredients. You can taste common Bhutanese dishes served with rice, such as pork, chicken, beef, yak.  You can learn the few Bhutanese dishes and taste how it works.  Try hot stone bath very to recover your body after trek. It is believed that the heat of the water, the minerals released from the rock, and the local herbs all combine to produce medicinal benefits for joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders and arthritis. 

Overnight in Dorji Dema home stay.

Day 12: Departure

In the morning we will drive you to Paro airport for onward journey. We will bid you farewell and safe flight/journey until we meet again.


Guwahati Samdrup Jongkhar Tashigang Trashigang Yongkola Yongkala Bhumtang Phobjikha Punakha Jigme Dorji National Park Thimphu Paro Taktsang Monastery

Price details

This tour idea is fully customisable

The price reflects this specific tour itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. £1,840 / 12 days
Excluding international flights
2 pax4 pax6 pax
Price per person in double room£2,120£1,870£1,830
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