` Good Karma Travels

Lateral Route Bird Watching Tour

Day 1
Arrive in Paro
A presentation on birds of Bhutan and birding destinations will be made in the evening at a convenient location, most probably at our hotel. The presentation will include slide shows, a talk, and questions and answers session.

Day 2
Paro is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan. Located between 2,150 metres and 2,950 metres above sea level, Paro also presents some of the exciting birding spots in Bhutan. The birding spots include farmland, lower and upper broad-leaved forests, riversides, and sub-alpine forests.
Some bird species in Paro are: Aberrant Bush Warbler (Cettia flavoivacea), Blyth's Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum), Himalayan Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus), Common Teal (Ana crecca), Grey-headed Flycatcher Warbler (Seicercus xanthoschistos), Green-backed Tit (Parus monticolus), Hodgson's Redstart (Phoenicurus hodgsoni), Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos), Himalayan Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasi), Crestee Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), Himalayan Treecreeper (Certhia himalayana), Hill Pigeon (Columba rupestris), Rufous-breasted Accentor (Prunella strophiata), Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptoppelia orientalis), Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle (Hieraaetus kienerii), Stripe-throated Yuhina (Yuhina gularis), Long-tailed Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus).

Day 3
Paro to Thimphu
Time: 2 hrs
Distance: 54 km
Today, we drive from Paro to Thimphu which takes us across barren, rocky hillsides. Compared to Paro, Thimphu valley is much more crowded and grey. Thimphu valley is surrounded by blue pine and temperate evergreen forests. However, the growing human settlement, vehicle number, and disappearing green spaces has pushed birds further away from the valley. The nearest birding spots are least 10 km from the valley. The best birding spots are around the stream near Motithang and around Begana and Cheri areas.
The recorded bird species in Thimphu include: Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Red-rumped Swallow (Hirunda daurica), Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus melaschistos), Grackle or Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla caspica), White-bellied Yuhina (Yuhina xanthoteuca), Upland Pipit (Anthus sylvanus), Plumbeous Redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosus).

Day 4
Thimphu to Punakha & Wangduephodrang
Time: 2.1/2 hrs
Distance: 75 km
Today, we drive from Thimphu to Dochula pass at 3,050metres. From the pass, the road descends some 1,800 metres to Punakha and Wangduephodrang valleys through a temperate forest and then through semi-tropical forests
Common birds species found in the two valleys are: Black-chinned Yuhina (Yuhina nigrimenta), Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), Black-chinned Babbler (Stachyrispyrrhops), Black-breasted Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata), Red-breasted Rosefinch (Carpodacuspu niceus), Fulvous-breasted Pied Woodpecker (Picoides macei), Large Grey Babbler (Turdoides malcolmi), Himalaya Tree Pie (Dendrocitravagabunda), Little Bunting (Emberizastriolata). Slaty-backed Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus), White-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Yellow-billed Blue Magpie (Cissaflavirostris), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Steppe Eagle (Aquila rapax nipalensis), Small Niltava (Muscicapa macgrigoriae), Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Speckled Wood Pigeon (Columbia hodgsonii), Grey Tit (Parus major) and Red-crowned Jay (Garrulusglandarius).

Day 5
Punakha & Wangduephodrang to Gangtey/Phobjikha
Time: 3 hrs
Distance: 70 km
Today, we drive from Wangduephodrang to Phobjikha, the famous wintering valley of the black-necked crane. We take the Wangdue-Trongsa highway eastward. We climb Pelela Pass, one of the major mountain passes in Bhutan. Before we hit the crest of the mountain, we leave the highway behind and head towards Gangtey.
As we descend into Phobjikha valley, we pass through forests of oak and rhododendron. The journey is easy with regular stops for birding and photography along the way. The wide Phobjikha valley with a silvery stream meandering through is not only the wintering ground for the black-necked crane, but also home to a number of bird species which feed and live on the valley floor.
The bird species thriving in this part of Wangduephodrang District are: Amur Falcon (Falco vesertinus), Red-mantled Rosefinch (Carpodacus rhodochlamys), Fire-breasted Flowerpecker (Dicaeum ignipectus), Red-headed Bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala), Scarlet Finch (Haemmatospiza sipahi), White-tailed Nuthatch (Sitta himalayensis), Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Great Pied Hornbill (Bucerosbi cornis), Common Hill Partridge (Arborophila torqueola), Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota), Rufous-breasted Accenter (Prunella strophiata), White-backed Munia (Lonchura striata).

Day 6 Gangtey to Trongsa
Time: 5 hrs
Distance: 130 km
Today, we come back to the Wangdue-Trongsa highway and cross the Pelela Pass. Our drive today covers a wide range of habitats including dense moss- and lichen-laden evergreen forests to oak and rhododendron forests containing broad-leaved trees such as horse-chestnuts, laurels, maples and alders.
At higher elevations, the vegetation is dominated by coniferous trees like fir, spruce, larch, hemlock, and juniper. The bamboo habitat in this region is home to a number of special, but elusive, species.
This region is not a popular birding area. However, a few important species such as the following can be found here: Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Himalayan Swiftlet (Collocalia brevirostris), Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Snow Partridge (Lerwa lerwa), Purple Cochoa (Cochoa purpurea), Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler (Pnoepyga albiventer), Long-tained Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus), Himalayan Monal Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Speckled Wood Pigeon (Columba hodgsonii) and Rufous-bellied Bulbul (Hypsipetesmcclellandi).

Day 7
Trongsa to Chamkhar (Bumthang)
Time: 3 hrs
Distance: 68 km
On this leg of our birding tour, we climb from 2,100 metres in Trongsa to Yotongla Pass at 3,400 metres before we descend to Chamkhar valley at 2,600 metres.
The vegetation changes from temperate forests of Trongsa to coniferous and mixed alpine forests of Bumthang. The best birding spots in this part of the country are the area before we reach Yotongla Pass, the farmland in the valley, and by the banks of Chamkharchhu River.
Some bird of this area include: Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Blyth's Pipit (Anthus godlewskii), Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Little Bunting (Emberizafucata), Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhoco raxgraculus) and Cormorant (Phalacro coraxcarbo).

Day 8
Chamkhar to Ura
Time: 2 hrs
Distance: 50 km
The road to Ura winds across spectacularly beautiful open countryside. Ura is the highest valley of Bumthang. The road reaches its highest point at Ura La Pass at 3,600 metres. Ura village is among the characteristically clustered villages of Bhutan. Today, we spend the day exploring Ura valley and village.
We spend the night in tents pitched in the open fields.

Day 9
Ura to Lingmithang in Mongar
Time: About 2 hours
Distance: 80 km
Today, the road climbs through forests of firs with undergrowth of rhododendron. Some stretches of the road cut across sheer cliffs and rocky hills. The road reaches Thrumsengla at 3,750 m, the highest pass in the country. From there, the road descends to the village of Sengor, a roadside hamlet. This area is home to Thrumsengla region’s most special bird, Monal Lophophorus Impejanus.
The important species thriving in this area are: Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus), Blyth's Pipit (Anthus godlewskii), Bronzed Drongo (Dicrurus aeneus), Gould's Shortwing (Brachypteryx stellata), Red-headed Bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala), Speckled Piculet (Picumnus innominatus), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla caspica), White-throated Munia (Lonchura malabarica), White-browed Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapaleucomelanura), Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum melanoxanthuon), Blue-beaed Bee-Eater (Nyctyornis athertoni), Parrotbill (Paradoxornisnipalensis), Honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus), Red-vented Bulbul (Pyconotus cafer), Lesser Racket-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer), Fantail Warbler (Cisticolaexilis) and Rufous-throated Hill Partridge (Arborophila rufogularis).

Day 10
Lingmithang through Mongar to Trashigang
Time: 4 hrs
Distance: 118 km
A short distance from Lingmithang, we reach Kuri Zampa, the bridge over the Kurichhu River, at 650 m. The choeten or stupa here was built in 1800 in the style of Nepal’s Boudhanath stupa to hold the precious religious objects of Zhongar Dzong when the dzong was abandoned. Today, Mongar Dzong built in 1953 is both the administrative and monastic centre of the district.
The eastern districts of Mongar and Trashigang are not interesting for birding. So, the last two days of the tour are spent for cultural experience. From Mongar, we climb to Korila Pass at 2,450 m. Seven kilometres after crossing the pass, we reach the village of Ngatshang which was the centre of a principality before the whole country was consolidated under Drukpa rule in the 17th century.
The road descends further through Yadi village to Sherichhu Stream. A dirt road branches off from there towards Dramitse Monastery, the ancestral home of Dramitse religious aristocrats who were descendants of the great 15th century treasure discoverer, Pema Lingpa.
The town of Trashigang lies 20 km from the point the Dramitse road branches off from the highway. As we approach the bridge over Drangmechhu River, one of the principal rivers of Bhutan, we can see Trashigang Dzong precariously standing on a spur overlooking the Drangmechhu gorge. The dzong, as every dzong in Bhutan, is the centre of district administration and monastic body.
We spend the night at the lodge in Trashigang town.

Day 11
Trashigang to Mongar
Time: 3 hrs
Distance: 91 km
Today, we return to Mongar by the same road we came to Trashigang. We will spend the afternoon exploring the burgeoning town of Mongar and its surroundings.
We spend the night at the lodge in the town.

Day 12
Mongar to Bumthang
Time: 7 hrs
Distance: 198 km
We start the journey early today so that we reach Bumthang for lunch. After lunch, visit the Yathra (woolen cloth) weaving centre and local market.
We spend the night at the lodge in town.

Day 13
Bumthang to Thimphu
Time: 8 hrs
Distance: 268 km
Today, en route to Thimphu, we visit village houses and interact with the local people. Halt for lunch in Wangduephodrang town.
Drive to Thimphu after lunch for overnight stay.

Day 14
Thimphu to Paro Airport
Time: 2 hrs
Distance: 55 km

Other Bird Watching Tours

Six-day White-Bellied Heron Tour
Eleven-day Birding Tour
Sixteen-day Bird Watching