Bhutan Birds – A Bhutan Birding Itinerary

Bhutan Birds
Great Horn Bill in the Warmer Slopes of the Himalayas in Bhutan (Sub Tropical to Temperate Zone)

This itinerary is designed for those interested in understanding and watching Bhutan birds. This Bhutan Birding Itinerary is a 15 day’s itinerary covering the destinations of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue and Phobjikha, Trongsa and Zhemgang. This Bhutan Birding tour also gives the opportunity to explore other aspects of Bhutan including the cultural aspects.

Tour Highlights of Bhutan Birds, A Bhutan Birding Itinerary

  • Opportunity to see and understand birds in Bhutan, many of them either extinct in other Places or vulnerable.
  • Zhemgang is not promoted as a tourist destination by many operations. Opportunity to visit Zhemgang, one of the untouched places in Bhutan.
  • Opportunity to live with nature, You will be camping in many places which could be a different experience to adventure seekers.
  • Visit less traveled places in Phobjikha, one of the most beautiful Glacial valleys in the Himalayas and winter roosting place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes.
  • Opportunity to visit the Chelela Pass, Dochula Pass, Lawala Pass and the Pelela pass.
  • Opportunities to walk around less touristy places and villages in Phobjikha, Punakha, Trongsa and Zhemgang.
  • Travel hassle free with your own guide and driver. Travel as per your convenience and visit places as per your interest. We are flexible with the itineraries except for the confirmed overnight destinations. Enjoy a real holiday.
  • Personal attention by the tour operators.
  • A private traditional cultural show and experience of the traditional hotel stone bath.
  • Wonderful day hike to the abode of gods and monks, the world famous, Taktshang Monastery (Tigers’ nest)
  • Visit to the age old Lhakhang (Monasteries/ temples) and dzongs ( Fortress)
  • Opportunity to explore villages, visit to village houses and interact with local people.
  • Opportunity to play archery (the national game of Bhutan) and many more.

Detailed Itinerary of Bhutan Birds, A Bhutan Birding Itinerary

Day 1. Arrive Paro/Drive to Thimphu

Driving Distance: 65 km, Driving Time: 1.5 – 2 hr, Altitude of Paro: 2280 m.

On arrival, you will be received with a warm welcome by your Bhutan tour guide from Neptune Holidays Bhutan with “Tashi khadar”, then drive to Thimphu.  Driving through the well maintained road between Paro to Thimphu shall be a great experience. The barren mountains, the Paro River (Pa Chhu) joining the Thimphu River (Wangchhu) at Chuzomsaa and the three stupas, and the Tamchog Lhakhang are some of the interesting sights as you travel from Paro to Thimphu.  Lunch at Thimphu. After Lunch, you may relax or go around the Thimphu town and valley – A time for yourself. If you are interested in cycling, you may choose to do so, we shall arrange it for you at an extra cost. If you have enough time, you can also choose to sightseeing.

In the evening, visit the Tashichhodzong, the fortress of the glorious religion. A Private traditional cultural show.

Dinner and overnight in Hotel.

Day 2: Thimphu

Altitude of Thimphu: 2350 m.

Morning, drive to the base of Cheri Monastery. And then hike to Cheri Monastery. We may see Spotted Laughing Thrushes, Chestnut–crowned Laughing Thrushes, White-throated Laughing Thrushes, Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers, Brown Dippers, and White-collared Blackbirds during the hike. In addition we can see Goral (mountain goat) around the monastery. Drive back to Thimphu. In the afternoon visit the Sangaygang view point (for a great view of the Thimphu valley), Takin Preserve Centre (Takin is the national animal of Bhutan), Changangkha Monastery and the Tashichhodzong, a beautiful medieval fortress/ monastery that houses Government offices and the King’s Throne room.

Dinner and overnight in Hotel.

Day 3. Thimphu – Punakha 

Driving Distance: 76 km, Driving Time: 2.5 – 3 Hr, Altitude of Punakha: 1310 m.

In the early morning, drive to Punakha over the Dochula pass (3150m). Our day starts from this pass with the breathtaking views of the eastern Himalayan range. The mixed forest of hemlock, fir, oak, and rhododendron here is good habitat for many bird species, including: Satyr Tragopans (the bird that draws many birders to the Himalayas), Fire-tailed Myzornis, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Rufous-breasted Bush Robins, Black-eared Shrike Babblers, and Yellow-billed Blue Magpies. Later, we descend to the Punakha valley, stopping at Lobesa for lunch.

In the afternoon, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, which is said to be one of the most beautiful dzongs in all of Bhutan.

Dinner and overnight in Camp or hotel.

Day 4. Punakha (Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park)

For the next two days, we spend the full day birding for Bhutan Birds inside the Jigme Dorji National Park and along the Pho chhu. Here, we have the potential to see: Red–headed Trogons, Cute Slaty-bellied and Chestnut-headed Tesias, Small Niltavas, Black-chinned Yuhinas, a trio of Forktails, several Wren Babblers, Woodpeckers, Laughing Thrushes, and with luck, Pallas’s Fish Eagles and White-bellied Herons, birds with a population of less than 200 worldwide.

Dinner and overnight in Camp or hotel.

Day 5. Punakha (Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park)

As described in day 5.

Day 6. Punakha – Phobjikha

Driving Distance: 78 km, Driving Time: 2.5 – 3 hr, Altitude of Phobjikha: 2900 m.

Early in the morning, we will start driving to the Phobjikha valley (4 hours), and there will be many birding stops along the way. We will be looking for Ward’s Trogons, Yellow-rumped Honey guides, and other flocks. Before reaching the Pelela pass, we’ll take the side road to the Phobjikha Valley. Crossing the Lawala pass, the vegetation changes into dwarf bamboo, which is good for Laughing Thrushes and Bush Warblers. Visit Gangtey Goemba, the monastery dating back to 1613. In the evening, visit the Black-necked Crane Information Center to watch the cranes and get more information on these beautiful and endangered creatures.

Dinner and overnight in Camp or hotel.

Day 7: Phobjikha – Trongsa

Driving Distance: 120 km, Driving Time: 4 – 5 hr, Altitude of Trongsa: 2300 m

After an early breakfast, we drive to the Pelela pass (4000m). Spend the morning hours birding along the old road at Pelela for the high-altitude Bhutan Bird species such as Spotted Laughing Thrushes, Himalayan Griffons, Brown Parrot bills, Finches, and Bush Warblers. Continue the drive towards Trongsa.

In the afternoon, visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong, which is the ancestral home of the Royal family of Bhutan. The first king, before becoming the King of Bhutan, was the Governor (Penlop) of this Dzong. Even now, it is tradition that any future King of Bhutan must first serve as Governor of Trongsa before the coronation (a form of governance training).

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 8: Trongsa – Zhemgang

Driving Distance: 115 km, Driving time: 5 hr, Altitude of Zhemgang: 1050 m.

Today on our drive to Zhemgang, we will make a number of stops at several forested valleys along the way, where we may see the following birds: Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers, White-browed Scimitar Babblers, Steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Grey-bellied Tesias, Crested Buntings, Long-tailed Shrikes, Prinias, Rufous Woodpeckers, Common Green Magpies, Rufous-bellied Eagles, Mountain Hawk Eagles, Common Kestrels, and Minivets. There is also a good chance of sighting the Golden Langur, a leaf monkey endemic to Bhutan.

Dinner and overnight in Camp or hotel.

Day 09; Zhemgang & Tingtibee Road

For the next two days, we’ll be exploring a wide variety of habitats of Bhutan Birds on the Zhemgang – Tingtibee road. The habitats range from the moss forest to the streamside lowland forest. This is also our best chance to see Bhutan’s endemic Golden Langur leaf monkey, as it is fairly common here. Here, we’ll be searching for Rufous-necked and Great Hornbills, Pin-tailed Green Pigeons, Cutias, Scarlet Minivets, varieties of Cool Laughing Thrushes, Woodpeckers, Chestnut-headed and Grey-bellied Tesias, Spotted Wren Babblers, and the very rare and sought after Beautiful Nuthatches.

Dinner and overnight in Camp

Day 10. Zhemgang & Tingtibee Road

A whole day to explore Bhutan Birds – Birding along Tingtibee road.

Day 11: Zhemgang – Trongsa

Driving Distance: 115 km, Driving time: 5 hr, Altitude of Zhemgang: 1050 m.

After a final round of morning birding in Bhutan, we work our way back to Trongsa, looking for any species we might have missed before. In the evening, take some time to explore the town of Trongsa at your leisure.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 12. Trongsa – Thimphu:

Driving Distance: 200 km, Driving time: 7-8 hr, Altitude of Thimphu: 2350 m.

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. In the evening free time to relax.

Day 13. Thimphu – Paro

Driving Distance: 65 km, Driving time: 1.5 hr, Altitude of Paro: 2280 m.

After breakfast, drive to Paro and then hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s nest), one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions. After lunch, visit the Kyichhu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan and Drukgyel Dzong.

In the evening drive to a Village and visit a village house. Experience the traditional hot stone bath and local alcohol (Arra). You may also choose to have your dinner with the family in the village house.

Overnight in hotel.

Day 14. Paro

Early in the morning, drive to Chelela pass (3890m). This is a cool Alpine meadow. We should be able to see three different species of Bhutan Birds such as Pheasants i.e., colorful Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasants and Kalij Pheasants. Other birds such as Rose Finches, Grosbeaks, and Laughing Thrushes can also be seen here. Drive back to Paro. After lunch, visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong and the Ta Dzong, the national museum of Bhutan.

In the evening try the traditional Bhutanese Dress and also try Archery or Khuru.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 15. Departure

After breakfast, drive to Paro Airport and farewell

Important Notes

The comfort, convenience and interest of the travelers is very important to us. We are flexible with the itinerary. Sightseeing can be done as per the convenience and interests of the guests. If it is of interest to the guest, they may choose to visit places that may not be in the itinerary, except for the change of overnight destination.

We reserve the right to change the itinerary or hotels anytime as may be required to, in case of unforeseen contingencies (natural/man made) or unavailability of hotels.

Some of the sites to be visited may be closed on government holidays or during breaks. In such cases we shall do other sightseeing in its place.

This itinerary can be tailor made for any duration or within any destination and can be combined with any kind of activities such as trekking, rafting, walking tour, cycling , etc.

It is advisable to book tours in Bhutan at least 6 months prior to the travel date because of limited Bhutan tourism infrastructures and inventories.