"So many things - not just the birds - were new and exciting, and I am still trying to assimilate everything we saw and did.
It was truly an amazing trip."...... Mrs E, Berwickshire
click here for a pdf version of this destination write-up - easier to print - no photos
The rich diversity of Nepal's culture, scenery and wildlife is perfectly complemented by the friendliness of its people. From the magnificent Himalayas to the sub-tropical lowlands the visitor is given the warmest of welcomes.
For a country roughly the size of England, there is a fantastic diversity of birdlife, created by the Indian and Palearctic influences, plus the changes in altitude. Kathmandu and Pokhara offer first class birdwatching in the shadow of the mighty Himalayas. Chitwan National Park is situated in the lowlands and is famed for its Bengal Tiger, One-horned Rhinoceros and Leopard, as well as a myriad of bird species.
Our first three nights are spent at Godaveri, near Phulchowki, on the southern edge of the Kathmandu Valley. We will then drive to Chitwan. A four night stay here will give us lots of time to find its rare birds, mammals and reptiles. From Chitwan we will drive to Pokhara, for a three night stay in the shadow of the mighty Annapurna range. We will then fly back to Kathmandu, spending the final two nights at the wonderful Meridien Hotel in the heart of Gokarna forest, on the eastern side of the valley.
Nepal is one of the poorer countries of the world. By staying in good quality accommodation, however, we will find that our visit is a very comfortable one. For those with a little spirit of adventure we shall find great beauty in the endless shrines and monasteries, the narrow streets and markets, the dramatic snow-capped mountains and bird-rich forests and wetlands. Nepal's magical qualities will stay in your memory forever.
Our first three nights will be spent at Godaveri, on the southern edge of the Kathmandu Valley. Our superb hotel is close to the National Botanical Gardens and Kathmandu’s premier birding site, Phulchowki mountain.
The area is famous for its botanical gardens which are frequented by numerous species of bird and butterfly. We will visit both the gardens and surrounding forest in the hope of finding Speckled Piculet, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Rufous-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, White-crested Laughing-thrush, Red-billed Blue Magpie and Red-flanked Bluetail.
Phulchowki is the highest of the mountains which encircle the Kathmandu Valley. Rising to a height of 9053 feet, it gives a breathtaking view of the Himalayas, stretching from Everest to the Annapurnas. In order to get a glimpse of Everest we will drive near to the summit of Phulchowki, watching the beautiful peaks in the morning sun. Birding on Phulchowki is the most productive in the Kathmandu area, and we should be treated to such delights as Chestnut-crowned Laughing-thrush, Chestnut-tailed Minla, White-browed Fulvetta, Rufous Sibia, Maroon Oriole, Fire-tailed Sunbird and perhaps even the scarce Nepal Cutia.
CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
On day four we will drive to Chitwan, birdwatching en route. Our first stop will be by the Bagmati River, an excellent area in which to look for migrants and winter visitors. Noisy Red-wattled Lapwings announce their presence, and this is the only place in Nepal to find Grey-headed Lapwing. At a small lake we have seen Spot-billed and Falcated Ducks and Lesser Spotted Eagle. At Chobar the river has cut through rocks to produce a dramatic gorge where both Plumbeous Redstart and Blue Whistling Thrush can be found. Further on, we will look for the enigmatic Ibisbill, at a regular wintering site. Nearby, there may be four species of forktail, Little, Spotted, Slaty-backed and Black-backed.
The lowland forest and grassland at Chitwan is famous for its wildlife and birds. The elusive Bengal Tiger is the most well known inhabitant. We had superb views on one visit. The Indian One-horned Rhinoceros is equally spectacular and rather more reliable, and there is also a chance of seeing Leopard, Sloth Bear, Gaur and Gharial.
During our stay here we will be based at the excellent Island Jungle Resort. Located inside the national park, we can expect numerous birds on our doorstep, ensuring that there will never be a dull moment.
Our best chance of seeing the rare mammals is on an elephant ride. Moving through the grassland atop one of these gentle giants is an unforgettable experience. With the mist hanging over the grassland, there can be no finer way to observe wildlife. Sightings of the rhino are virtually guaranteed, and we have seen both Leopard and Sloth Bear this way. Birds seen from elephant back on our previous visits have included both Himalayan and Siberian Rubythroats and Brown Fish Owl.
With the help of the leader and local bird guides, there will be many thrilling moments during this four-day jungle safari. After our final birdwatching at Chitwan we will drive to Pokhara, for a three night stay.
Our hotel, the best in Pokhara, is located on the shores of Lake Phewa. Its grounds resemble a botanical garden, with abundant birdlife. Weather permitting, the views across to Fishtail Mountain (Machupuchare) are spellbinding. However, Asian Barred Owls, Great Barbets, Beautiful Niltavas and various sunbirds will be doing their best to distract you!
The valley is at a lower altitude than Kathmandu and therefore contains a subtly different variety of birds. We shall search forests, scrub-covered hillsides, marshes and streams. Although the nature of this trip prevents us from venturing into the highest mountains, a number of altitudinal migrants will be seen, having moved down to escape the harsh winter at high-altitude.
The forest by the lake holds Kalij Pheasant, Puff-throated Babbler and Crimson Sunbird. Green Magpie and the equally wonderful Red-billed Blue Magpie can both be seen in the hotel grounds. Nepal’s only endemic bird, the Spiny Babbler, was seen on our last visit. All our recent trips have yielded Wallcreepers wintering along the Seti River.
The highlights here are undoubtedly the raptors. Crested Honey Buzzard, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Golden Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Shaheen Falcon, Lammergeier, Black Vulture, King Vulture and Himalayan Griffon Vulture have all appeared alongside the commoner species. Indeed, during one picnic we recorded no fewer than six species of vulture!
THE KATHMANDU VALLEY
We will fly back from Pokhara to Kathmandu, eliminating what would be the longest drive on this itinerary. Our final two nights will be spent at the fantastic Meridien Hotel, set in 470 acres of forest in the Kathmandu Valley. Here we can walk the trails in the hotel grounds.
We are just half an hour from the famous Durbar Square, with its exotic market and richly carved shrines and temples. We will also visit Bouddhanath, the largest stupa in Nepal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the afternoon of day 14 we will drive the short distance back to the airport, with lovely memories of one of the most exotic destinations on the planet.
There will be opportunities for pre-breakfast watching in the gardens of each base. Early mornings in the beautiful grounds of Fishtail Lodge are particularly productive. Breakfast will be taken at about 7am most mornings, perhaps later if the previous day has been tiring. Basic fitness is all that is required. Full days will be spent in the field and short/medium length walks will be undertaken regularly. There will be very little uphill walking, and this will be done at a sensible pace. There are a moderate number of steps between the rooms and restaurant/reception area at the Godaveri Village Resort.
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
Full-board accommodation is provided with three nights at the Godaveri Village Resort near Kathmandu, four nights at the Island Jungle Resort, Chitwan, three nights at Fishtail Lodge, Pokhara and two nights at Le Meridien, Kathmandu. All are very comfortable/superb, with en suite facilities and excellent food. Packed lunches will be taken when we expect to be away during the middle of the day.
PRICE INCLUDES …..
All birdwatching excursions with expert leader and local guide, full-board accommodation (starting with dinner on 24th, ending with lunch on 8th), soft drinks at meal times, local transport by mini-coach, reserve entrance fees, Chitwan jungle activities, one internal flight, international flights and airport taxes.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED
Travel insurance. Cost of obtaining a visa (approx. £25 and obtainable on arrival in Kathmandu). Items of a personal nature, alcoholic drinks, laundry.
Return flight from London Heathrow to Kathmandu (via Bahrain) using the scheduled services of Gulf Air. Outbound flight departs late evening, return flight arrives back early morning. Domestic flights from Manchester and other UK airports are available on this tour. See booking form for details.
click here to see the photographs in our Nepal Album
Nepal Cutia, - the stunning male is depicted below.
Boat trip, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Forktails, Gharial, Himalayan Bulbuls, juv Steppe Eagle, Zebra butterfly, Ibisbill and Leopard
Photographs from the Nepal 2008 tour by Paul Willoughby and Chris Brookings
Nepal February 2010. Photographs by Paul Willoughby
Kathmandu's Patan Durbar Square
Monks in the durbar square
Wood carvings in a palace at Patan Durbar Square
The gardens at Fishtail Lodge, Pokhara
A rather tame Black-headed (Rufous-backed) Shrike
Lesser Adjutant Stork
Elephant safari at Chitwan
Watching a rhino at Chitwan
Indian One-horned Rhinoceros. What a beast....
Ibisbill. This year it took us 15 seconds to find one....
Plumbeous Water Redstart
Asian Barred Owlet
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