Day 1:  Arrive in Delhi, birding local locations

After everyone has arrived in Delhi, we will spend the day
birding locally or at leisure, and spend the night in a hotel in

Days 2 & 3:  Internal flight to Guwahati, birding along
drive to Bhutanese border, and birding foothill &
subtropical forests around Samdrup Jongkhar &

We will depart Delhi on an early morning flight to Guwahati (2.5
hrs), the capital city of the NW Indian state of Assam. On
arrival, we set out on the road journey to the Bhutanese border,
crossing the Brahmaputra River and its floodplain, becoming
acquainted with a host of widespread Indian species such as
Indian Pond Heron and Red-wattled Lapwing along the way,
and making a special effort to find the endangered Greater
Adjutant, now largely restricted to the plains of Assam. On
reaching Bhutan we will complete the immigration formalities,
and continue to the town of Samdrup Jongkhar. We have the
afternoon and following day to spend exploring the lowland
forest around Samdrup Jongkhar, and the foothill forests up to
the town of Deothang at 870m. Remarkably, the Bhutanese
side of the border still has some intact foothill forests and
stands of bamboo, which we will explore for lowland species,
such as Great Pied, Oriental Pied and Wreathed Hornbills, Pin-
tailed Green-pigeon, Emerald Dove, Puff-throated Babbler,
Sultan Tit, Banded  Bay and Violet Cuckoos, Green-billed
Malkoha, Speckled and White-browed Piculets, Dollarbird, Long-
tailed Broadbill, the bamboo-dwelling Yellow-bellied Warbler,
Dark-rumped Swift, and Pied Falconet, with Black-backed
Forktail in forest streams and the chance of rarities including
Grey Peacock-pheasant. Around Deothang, some good
subtropical forest still exists at higher altitudes, holding species
such as Bar-tailed Cuckoo-dove, Whistling Hawk-cuckoo,
Streaked Spiderhunter and Common Green Magpie. We'll
spend two nights in a simple hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar (220m).

Day 4:  Birding in Morong

We will depart early on the 4-hour drive to Morong, setting out
along the well-maintained Lateral Road that bisects Bhutan.  
We begin here in the plains of the Brahmaputra, ascend into
the Himalaya, travel over a series of high mountain passes, and
return to the plains once again, 400km to the west. This
extraordinary feat of engineering allows relatively easy access
to habitats from 150m to 3750m, and with such a good
proportion of natural forest cover throughout Bhutan, journeys
are as interesting as destinations, producing a host of species
and spectacular mountain scenery. We will spend the afternoon
around Morong, birding in the moss-draped, mid-altitude,
broadleaf forests of the foothills, where we have a good chance
of one of Bhutan’s key species, Beautiful Nuthatch; our other
target species will include Black-faced Warbler, Grey-headed
Canary-flycatcher, Striated Laughingthrush, Silver-eared
Mesia, and Long-tailed Sibia.  We will overnight at a campsite in
Morong (1710m).

Day 5: AM birding in Morong and birding along the drive
to Trashigang

If still needed, we will make an early morning outing for Beautiful
Nuthatch, followed by a campsite breakfast before setting out
for Trashigang. A 6 hour journey will bring us to Trashigang
which, though nothing more than a large village, is the capital of
eastern Bhutan. The long drive will take us north through good
forest, and birding along the way may produce species such as
Indian Blue Robin, Ludlow’s (Brown-throated) Fulvetta, Grey-
sided Laughingthrush, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Black Eagle,
and Mountain Hawk-eagle. We'll spend the night in a
comfortable hotel on the outskirts of Trashigang (1150m).

Day 6-8:  Birding in Kori La to Yongkola & the Limithang

We depart Trashingang in the morning, setting out on the
Lateral Road, driving west and ascending to Kori La, a
mountain pass (in the Bhutanese Dzongka language, La =
pass) at 2300m surrounded by forest rich in moss, lichens,
orchids, and dense stands of bamboo beneath the broadleaf
canopy. These forests are characterised by exhilarating fast
moving mixed species flocks, containing species such as Streak-
breasted Scimitar Babbler, Hoary-throated Barwing, Dark-sided
Flycatcher, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Red-billed Leiothrix, Brown
Bullfinch, Scarlet Finch, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Chestnut-
bellied Nuthatch, and Brown-throated Treecreeper; the
understory may hold Brownish-flanked Bush-warbler, Grey-
bellied Tesia, Mountain Tailorbird and Spotted Wren-babbler.  
Further on, the delightful Shonkhar Chu Valley, with its grazing
meadows and terraced fields, marks the lower limit of the
ornithologically celebrated ‘Limithang Road’, the section of the
Lateral Road between here and Thrumshing La. The Limithang
Road twists and turns through 3130m of altitude in just 79km,
from 650m on the valley floor to 3780m at the pass, allowing
access to pristine forest across the altitudinal range on
otherwise impossibly steep slopes. Almost the entire stretch of
road, together with its surrounding forests, is protected as
Thrumshing La National Park, widely regarded as one of the
finest birding sites in Asia. To enable thorough exploration of
the range of elevations and the distinct set of species
associated with each, our nights along the Limithang Road will
be divided between 2 campsites – Yongkala at 1875m, and
Sengor at 3000m. We will move up or down daily as the
weather permits or birding dictates, using our vehicles to cover
distance. After about 5 hours, we will arrive at our first camp,
Yongkala, by afternoon, and spend the remainder of the day
and following 2 days birding at mid-altitudes among lush
subtropical broadleaf forests. Here the trees are draped with
epiphytes, orchids, lichens, and ferns, the ideal habitat for
many species characteristic of the eastern Himalaya. Key
species around Yongkala include Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-
necked Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, four Scimitar
Babblers (including the peculiar, bamboo-dwelling Slender-
billed and difficult Coral-billed), Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler,
five Wren Babblers (including Long-billed and Rufous-
throated), Red-faced Liocichla, a dozen Laughingthrushes,
Blue-fronted Robin, Golden Bush-robin, Slaty-bellied and
Chestnut-headed Tesias, Rufous-faced Warbler, several bush-
warblers, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings, Cutia, Black-
headed Shrike-babbler, Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated
Fulvettas, an assortment of Fflycatchers including Sapphire
and Pygmy Blue, Large Niltava, Greater and Lesser Rufous-
headed Parrotbills, Purple Cochoa, several Ccuckoos, vocal at
this time of year, all three species of Bullfinch, Speckled
Woodpigeon, Little Forktail, and Chestnut-breasted Partridge.  
We will spend 3 nights camping at Yongkala (1875m).

Day 9:  High Altitude Birding in Sengor along the
Limithang Road

An early morning start will take us uphill, to spend the night at
higher elevation Sengor, in search of high altitude species.  
The views over seemingly endless swathes of forest and ever-
changing skyscapes are spectacular. This area is home to
many of the species that draw birders to Bhutan, in particular
the stunning Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, and Fire-tailed
Myzornis. Around the tiny, shingle-roofed settlement of Sengor,
the pasture lands are good for a variety of Thrushes, alongside
flocks of Snow Pigeons feeding on the fields or roosting on the
cliff faces. The high-elevation coniferous forests are
characterised by roving Tit flocks, containing Rufous-vented,
Coal, Grey-crested, Green-backed, and Yellow-browed Tits,
and drawing numerous Fulvettas, Warblers, and Sunbirds
(including Mrs. Gould’s, Green-tailed and Fire-tailed) to the
activity. Other species at these altitudes include Crimson-
breasted Woodpecker, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Rusty-
fronted Barwing, and the striking Gold-naped Finch, while the
bamboo-specialist Bar-winged Wren Babbler can be found on
bamboo-covered rock faces. The night will be spent camping at
Sengor (3000m).

Day 10: Birding along the drive to Jakar via Thrumsing La

We set out early today along the Limithang Road for Thrumsing
La at 3780m, the second highest mountain pass in Bhutan. A
high treeline (around 4000m) is a feature of the eastern
Himalaya, and even at this altitude the pass is shrouded in thick
forest. The pass is prime habitat for Blood Pheasant and home
to the fabulous Himalayan Monal. Other species at this altitude
include Spotted Nutcracker, Collared Grosbeak, Red-billed
Chough, Great Parrotbill, Goldcrest, Alpine, Altai, and
occasional Robin Accentors foraging along the roadside, and
Wallcreeper moving across the rock faces.  After crossing the
precipitous mountain roads of Thrumsing La, we descend
through towering firs, with their understory of rhododendrons,
into the dry Ura valley from where, on clear days, Mt. Gangkar
Puensum is visible; at 7550m, it is Bhutan’s highest peak and
the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.  We then continue
for about 5 hours on through the pine-forested Bumthang
valley, to the one-street town of Jakar. We will overnight in a
comfortable hotel in Jakar (2800m).

Day 11:  Birding along the drive to Trongsa and PM

Leaving Jakar, we descend into the Chume valley, famed for its
distinctive woollen handloom weaves, or ‘yathra’. Our journey
will take us up to 3425m at Yutong La, searching here for  
Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Brown Parrotbill,
Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch, White-browed Bush-robin,
White-winged Grosbeak, and Grey-sided Bush-warbler. After 3
hours, we will arrive in the small hill town of Trongsa by midday.
We will take the opportunity to visit Trongsa Dzong, the
ancestral home of the Royal family of Bhutan and a major
monastic and temple complex. The impressive fortress once
controlled all trade from east to west, with the precursor to the
lateral road passing through the dzong’s courtyard – closing
the dzong’s gates effectively cut the country in two. We will then
spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the surrounding
broadleaf and evergreen forests in search of specialities such
as Spotted Forktail and Spotted Elachura (previously Spotted
Wren Babbler). Our night we be spent in a comfortable hotel on
the edge of Trongsa (2300m).

Day 12-13:  Birding in Tingtibe

Today will see a detour from the Lateral Road, heading 6 hours
south through Zhemgang to Tingtibe, at a mere 720m. Much of
Zhemgang district is protected as
Black Mountain and Royal
Manas National Parks
, which connect via biological corridors
to Thrumsing La National Park and Assam’s Manas National
Park to the south, a unique achievement of conservation that
has created a continuous protected landscape encompassing
the entire range of natural habitats, from tropical duars to
alpine meadows. Tingtibe itself lies on the boundary of these
protected areas, the road from Tronga passing through several
forested valleys and a variety of habitats. This area is rich in
avifauna, with species such as Slaty-backed Forktail, Rusty-
cheeked, White-browed and Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers,
White-browed Shrike-babbler, Blue-winged Minla, White-bellied
Erpornis, various Woodpeckers, Blue-bearded Bee-eater,
Common Green Magpie, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Crested
Bunting, and Beautiful Nuthatch, alongside the endemic Golden
Langur which is fairly frequent here. Spend the afternoon of
day 12 and all of day 13 birding the road between Zhemgang
and Tingtibe, with two nights camping at Tingtibe (720m).

Day 14:  Birding along the drive to Phobjikha

We'll set out early on the long, 9-hour drive from Tingtibe, back
through Trongsa, and west again on the Lateral Road to the
Phobjikha valley. This vast glacial valley is the sacred wintering
ground of Black-necked Crane, which will have returned to their
Tibetan breeding grounds by mid-March. However, the journey
should produce a host of interesting species, in particular Black-
throated Parrotbill, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, and Himalayan
Griffon. Our night will be spent in a comfortable hotel
overlooking the Phobjikha valley (3000m).

Day 15: Birding along the drive to Punakha via Pele La

This morning we will drive up to Pele La at 3390m, spending the
morning birding along the old road for high altitude species
such as Himalayan Monal, Spotted and Bhutan
Laughingthrushes, Plain-backed Thrush, Maroon-backed
Accentor, various Finches and Bush-warblers, and
Lammergeier. We later drive on 4 hours to Punakha, to spend
the evening birding in the Pho Chu valley in search of one of
Bhutan’s primary targets, the enigmatic and critically
endangered White-bellied Heron. A host of species can be
found along the river and its tributaries, notably Crested
Kingfisher and Ibisbill. We will spend the night in a comfortable
hotel overlooking the Punatsang Chu River in Punakha
(1200m) or nearby Wangdue (1300m).

Day 16:  AM birding in Jigme Dorji National Park and PM
birding along the drive to Thimphu

Our morning will be spent birding within Jigme Dorji National
and along the Pho Chu River, with our target species
including Red-headed Trogon, Small and Rufous-bellied
Niltavas, Yellow-vented Warbler, Black-chinned and Whiskered
Yuhinas, Red-tailed Minla, Black-throated Sunbird, three
species of Forktail, a selection of Babblers including Rufous-
capped, Pygmy Wren  Babbler, Bay Woodpecker, Great and
Golden-throated Barbets, and Slender-billed Oriole. In the early
afternoon we'll visit Punakha’s impressive Punthang Dechen
Phodrang, or ‘Palace of Great Bliss’, situated at the confluence
of the Phu Chu and Mo Chu Rivers; a Tawny Fish-owl is usually
in residence at this location!  We'll later depart Punakha for
Thimphu, about a 3 hour journey, and the route heading up to
Dochu La at 3150m, which permits a spectacular panorama
across the high Himalaya in clear conditions. Toward the pass
the road emerges through pine forests into rhododendron and
evergreen oak that hosts a variety of Himalayan specialities,
such as Lemon-rumped, Ashy-throated and Whistler’s
Warblers, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Hoary-throated Barwing,
Darjeeling Woodpecker, Common Crossbill, and Fire-tailed
Myzornis.  A comfortable hotel on the outskirts of Thimphu
(2350m) will be our night's lodging.

Day 17:  AM birding in Thimphu and PM transfer to Paro

We will spend the morning birding around Thimphu, Bhutan’s
capital, where Ibisbill and Black-tailed Crake can be found in
local sewage ponds, and at the Cheri Monastery, where
Himalayan Goral (a small mountain goat) can be found
alongside Wallcreeper, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, White-
throated, Red-headed and Spotted Laughingthrushes, and
White-collared Blackbird. We will depart Thimphu in the
afternoon for the 2 hour drive to Paro (2200m), where we'll
spend the night in a comfortable hotel.

Day 18:  Paro & Cheli La Birding adventure

In the morning we will be birding among the alpine meadows of
Cheli La (3890m). This is the highest pass accessible by road
in Bhutan, and home to a selection of high altitude specialities,
in particular three Himalayan pheasants – Kaleej Pheasant,
flocks of Blood Pheasant, and the fabulous Himalayan Monal,
as well as Spotted Nutcracker, and a selection of Grosbeaks,
Rosefinches, and Laughingthrushes. After lunch, we head back
to Paro and visit the 7th century Kichu Monastery and spend
some time birding in the Paro valley, where Ibisbill can be found
in fast-flowing rivers alongside Brown Dipper, Plumbeous Water-
redstart and White-capped River-chat.  Our night will be spent
in a comfortable hotel in Paro (2200m).

Days 19-20:  Paro to Delhi and then Home

Our return travel begins by departing Paro on a flight to Delhi,
where we'll spend the night in a comfortable city hotel. Trip
participants will then depart Delhi on their trips back to their
home airports.
Detailed Itinerary
Bhutan East to West
Samdrup Jongkhar, Deothang, Morong, Brahmaputra Plains, Trashigang, Kori La (pass),
Shonkhar Chu Valley, Thrumshing La National Park, Yongkala, Limithang Road, Sengor,
Thrumshing La (pass), Jakar, Chume Valley, Trongsa & Trongsa Dzong, Black Mountain
National Park, Royal Manas National Park, Thrumshing La National Park, Manas National
Park, Phobjikha Valley, Pho Chu Valley, Punakha, Jigme Dorji National Park, Punthang
Dechen Phodrang, Thimphu, Paro
Bhutan East to West
For more information or to register for this trip, call Charles in the United States or Ian
in the United Kingdom. Charles can be reached at 888-203-7464 or directly at
720-320-1974. Ian can be reached at 07719-052820. Also feel free to e-mail at
Satyr Tragopan
Photo by
Blood Pheasant
Photo by
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler
Photo by
White-bellied Heron
Photo by
Golden Langur
Photo by
Punakha Dzong
Photo by
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler
Photo by
Ward's Trogon
Photo by
Blood Pheasant
Photo by
White-bellied Heron
Photo by
Satyr Tragopan
Photo by
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler
Photo by
Golden Langur
Photo by
Punakha Dzong
Photo by
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler
Photo by
Ward's Trogon
Photo by
Blood Pheasant
Photo by
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler
Photo by
White-bellied Heron
Photo by
Golden Langur
Photo by