Loading Events

Bhutan

The Land of the Thunder Dragon is most well-known for its snow-capped Himalayan Peaks, vibrant buddhist culture, and project of “Gross National Happiness,” and perhaps underappreciated as a sanctuary for a vibrant fauna, including over 700 species of birds.

On this two week trip, we’ll traverse from the lush subtropical jungles abutting the Brahmaputra plain on the southern border to prayer-flag laden passes at over 14,000 feet as we make our way from the relatively undeveloped east, to the hub for culture and government in the west. 

Bhutan goes from near-sea level on its southern border to its apex at the peak of Gangkar Phunsum, the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. All of this is less than 80 miles as the crow flies, meaning that the mountains are steep, and ubiquitous. There are no straight roads in Bhutan, and the birding feels like it can change every mile, as you climb another 1,000 feet. 

We’ll start in the east, the least developed part of the country, and as we make our way along the national highway, we’ll slowly start to see larger and larger towns, and the characteristic “Dzongs,” or temple fortresses, that are emblematic of the history of buddhistic unification of the country in the 17th century. We’ll follow the national highway all the way to the capital of Thimphu, visiting the famed “Tiger’s Nest,” before ending the trip in Paro, where we will fly out.

In addition to over 700 species of birds (in a country one-sixth the size of Oregon), Bhutan is home to a variety of captivating mammals, from the common Yellow-throated Martens and Giant Squirrels, to many harder to find species like a variety of cats, several primate species including the endangered Golden Langur, large numbers of Asian Elephants, and the elusive but much-beloved Red Panda. We’ll keep our eyes open for all these species, but since they are free-roaming, we know it will require a lot of luck to see even one of them. 

Along the way we’ll enjoy the outsized culture of one of the world’s smallest countries by population, rich with traditional textile production, vibrant buddhist art and monastic tradition, and the ever-present Bhutanese joy that has made this country more than just a destination, but an enchanting experience.

Explore Bhutan with Us!

Bhutan is well-known for its snow-capped Himalayan Peaks, vibrant Buddhist culture, and project of “Gross National Happiness,” and is perhaps underappreciated as a sanctuary for a vibrant fauna, including over 700 species of birds. Join Bird Alliance of Oregon trip leader Brodie Cass Talbott, who spent three years living and birding in Bhutan, as we enjoy some of the most charismatic birds in Asia, from Green Jays to Himalayan Monals, and search for species hard to find anywhere else, like Beautiful Nuthatch, Ward’s Trogon, and White-bellied Heron, amidst the backdrop of one of the most scenic and captivating countries on earth.

Register!

Accessibility

Lodging: Much of Bhutan has very little development, particularly on the east side of the country, and this is one reason for such a rich bird-life. Our itinerary will take us to modern hotels in the larger towns, but we will also be staying in relatively rural areas, in comfortable camping settings, with large wall tents and fresh-cooked food, for three nights. Each person will have a camp cot and bedding provided. We will have limited access to electricity in these camps, and will likely be without phone or internet. 

Accessibility: While the terrain is among the most rugged in the world, making for slow, windy roads, our hiking will mostly be short hikes on gentle slopes. Participants should expect to hike 2-3 miles per day. One exception is the optional hike to Tiger’s Nest monastery (see day 13 on the itinerary), which is 4 miles round trip, with 1,700 feet elevation gain. While it is a top highlight, we understand that not everyone will be physically capable of the hike, and participants should honestly evaluate whether this is feasible for them.

Climate and health: Expect a variety of conditions, ranging from hot subtropical climate to cold mountainous terrain. Tropical diseases like mosquito-borne fevers are rare here, but travelers should be prepared for some level of gastro-intestinal issues, and remember that access to pharmacies or definitive medical care will be many hours away for the first half of the trip. 

Visas: Bhutanese visas will be paid for and arranged by our in-country provider. However, in order to be able to travel the breadth of the country (there is only one highway across the country) it will be necessary to start our journey in Guwahati, and participants will need to arrange an Indian Visa. 

Travel: It is a long journey to Bhutan. We strongly recommend working with Willamette Travel to arrange tickets. We will be meeting in Guwahati, Assam at the beginning of the trip, and ending in Paro, both of which are small international airports. Travel time can take as little as 30 hours, with minimal layovers, but we would recommend planning on spending the night in one of the connecting cities, which could include Bangkok, Delhi, Singapore, or Kathmandu, or one of the connecting cities to those airports, such as London. Please note that staying in Bhutan beyond the date of the trip would require approval from our in-country provider because of visa regulations.


Trip Details

  • Trip Leaders: Brodie Cass Talbott and local guides
  • Trip Fee: $6,950 members / $7,795 non-members
  • Deposit: $3,475
  • Single supplement: TBD
  • Group size: Limited to 14 participants
  • Fee Includes: All lodging accomodations, breakfast and lunch, all local guide fees, park entrance fees, excursions, and the services of your skilled leader. A portion of your fee is a tax-deductible contribution to Bird Alliance of Oregon.
  • Fee Does Not Include: International airfares, your Indian Visa, dinner, alcoholic or carbonated beverages, travel insurance or personal expenses.

 


Join us for a trip extension to Kaziranga, April 17-21, 2025

*Fees have not yet been identified for this extension. Please click the inquire button to add yourself to the interest list for this portion of the ecotour.

Participants will have the option for a five-day Kaziranga extension. Located on the Brahmaputra floodplain east of Guwahati, Kaziranga National Park is home to large numbers of Asian Elephants and Indian Rhinoceros, along with an abundant bird life, much of which will be new to the trip. Tigers are often spotted here, and we’ll make our best effort as we explore the park by safari jeep over three days. We’ll also make a visit to the Hoolock Gibbon preserve, a crucial piece of habitat for South Asia’s only ape species. We’ll also take time to bird nearby tea estates in search of hard to find species like the elusive Blue-naped Pitta. Other bird highlights may include the critically endangered Greater Adjutant, as well as stunning Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Swamp Francolin, and Indochinese Roller, all of which are difficult or impossible to find in Bhutan. With great luck, we may encounter Bengal Florican, a critically endangered Bustard that is a speciality of the region.

We will contact you when more information is available!

Inquire

 

Bengal Florican, phoot by Nejib Ahmed

Details

Start:
April 3, 2025
End:
April 17, 2025
Event Categories:
, ,

Organizer

Tara Lemezis
Email:
tlemezis@birdallianceoregon.org