Mystical Bhutan, a land of high Himalayan peaks, rich Buddhist culture, dense pristine forests, and a diverse and beautiful avifauna, is so minimally disturbed by the modern world that it is frequently referred to as “The Last Shangri-La”. Indeed, with breathtaking vistas around every corner, Bhutan seems to truly be paradise on Earth. The friendly Bhutanese people still wear their traditional dress, and their way of life has seemingly remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Strict environmental protection laws have conserved much of the natural landscape - over 70% of Bhutan’s original forests still stand, and its rivers flow strong and clear from a near-complete lack of pollution. Hunting or trapping of wild animals is expressly forbidden and as a result, much of Bhutan’s birds and wildlife are both plentiful and approachable, making it a naturalist’s and photographer’s dream.
Over 600 species of birds have been recorded in this relatively small nation, and we could expect to see about ½ that on our incredible 15-day Venture. Mixed species flocks containing dozens of individuals are the norm, and a first-time visitor to South Asia will encounter a dazzling array of unfamiliar and unusual names - yuhinas, babblers, laughingthrushes, minlas, barwings, drongos, sibias, cutia, accentors, and many more. In the higher reaches of the Himalayas we’ll hope for encounters with such spellbinding target birds as Satyr Tragopan, Himalayan Monal, and Blood Pheasant, while in the oak and rhododendron forests we’ll look for Ward’s Trogon, Fire-tailed Myzornis, and the endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill. An exciting selection of mammals are also possible, including the raccoon-like Red Panda, Asiatic Elephant, Indian Leopard and possibly Bengal Tiger, as well as Golden, Gray, and Capped Langurs, Bhutan’s national animal - the Takin (a type of goat-antelope), and if we are lucky, the rare canine Dhole.
As there are so few accommodations, our trip will necessitate a few nights of camping to avoid unnecessary long drives and to place us in prime habitat for the morning’s birding. Rest assured - the camps are quite comfortable (large tents with cots) and our experienced crew will set up and strike camp, prepare our meals, and provide us with every possible comfort while in the field. Our itinerary also makes time to visit several of the historically and architecturally-fascinating ‘dzongs,’ the ancient fortresses built to keep out the Tibetan invaders in the 17th century.
Some of the Birds We Hope to See
Blood Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Himalayan Griffon, Rufus-necked Hornbill, Ward’s Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Snow Pigeon, Ibisbill, White-bellied Heron; Slender-billed, White-browed, and Coral-billed Scimitar-Babblers; Brown, Greater and Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbills; 10 species of Laughingthrush; 6 species of Yuhina; bunches of Babblers; 3 species of Forktails; Sultan Tit; Beautiful Nuthatch; Fire-tailed Myzornis; Cutia; Rusty and Hoary-throated Barwings; Wallcreeper, and many more.
Mammals & Other Wildlife:
Malayan Giant Squirrel; Yellow-throated Marten; Assamese Macaque; Golden, Gray, and Capped Langurs; Takin; Asiatic Elephant; Indian Leopard; Red Panda; Asiatic Black Bear; Dhole, and many more.