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Trails of Crane | Bhutan Bird Watching Tour | Bhutanitis Travels


Trails of Crane

Total Duration: 19 Days - 18 Nights of Bhutan Bird Watching Tour.

This trip is specially meant to explore the central part of the country. Some of the areas that you will cover are Thimphu, Phobjikha, Sengor, Namling, Zhemgang, Tsirang and Gelephu. Along with Birding you can also hike to the Paro Taktsang, take up photography in high Pass such as Dochula Pass and Chele-La Pass.



Day Activity Distance Time Altitude Accommodation
1 Arrival in Paro –Thimphu 54km 1hr 2400m Hotel in Thimphu
2 Thimphu to Punakha 72km 3hrs 1350m Hotel in  Punakha
3 Punakha to Phobjikha 88km 4hrs 2900m Hotel in   Phobjikha
4 Phobjikha to  Bumthang 188km 6.5hrs 2800m Hotel in    Bumthang
5 Bumthang – Phrumshingla – Sengor 2800m  Sengor Campsite
6 Sengor – Namling – Yongkala Yongkala Campsite
7 Yongkala – Namling – Limithang Road Limithang campsite
8 Yongkala – Phrumshingla – Trongsa 2200m Hotel in     Trongsa
9 Trongsa to Zhemgang 1900m Hotel in      Zhemgang
10 Zhemgang – Tingtibe – Gomphu Road Tingtibe camp
11 Zhemgang – Tamala – Gelephu 40km 50mins 1900m Hotel in Gelephu
12 Gelephu – Sarpang – Tsirang Hotel in  Tsirang
13 Darachu – Tsirang – Paro 2200m Hotel in  Paro
14 Paro to CheleLa Birding Hotel in  Paro
15 Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Excursion 2200m Hotel in  Paro
16 Departure from Paro Airport


Day 1: Arrival in Paro- Thimphu.

  • On your arrival at the Paro international airport, our representative from Bhutanitis Travels will receive you.
  • Drive to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan.
  • Spend the Evening birding around sewage pond in Thimphu searching for one of the main target bird, Ibisbill, other birds we will be searching here include Black-tailed Crake, Wall creeper, Brown Dipper, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Merganser, White-capped and Plumbeous Water Redstart, White Wagtail, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Common and Green Sandpiper, Common and Crested Kingfisher.
  • Dinner and Overnight stay will be in a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 2: Thimphu to Punakha.

  • Early morning drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (3150). Our day starts from this pass with the breathtaking views of eastern Himalayan ranges. The mixed forests of hemlock, fir, oaks and rhododendron here is good habitat for many good species including, Spotted and Black-faced Laughing thrush, Blue-fronted Redstart, Eurasian Jay, Stripe-throated and Rufous-vented Yuhina, Spotted Nutcracker, Long-tailed Minivet, Rufous-vented and Coal Tit. Then drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (3150). En route stop at LamPelri Botanical Garden and take the nature walk for about hours, birds we will be looking here include Brown Parrot bill, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Darjeeling and Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Plain-backed Thrush White-collared Blackbird and Green-backed Tit.
  • Continue your drive to Punakha valley, along the drive you will look for the species like Chestnut-tailed Starling, Great and Golden-throated Barbet, Long-tailed Shrike, Spotted Dove, Red-vented and Black Bulbul, Common Kestrel.
  • In the Afternoon Visit Punakha Dzong.
  • Spend the evening birding along the Pho Chu valley looking for one of the main target bird, White-bellied Heron. It is one of the rarest birds in the world, with a population of less than 60 numbers worldwide. Other birds we might see Pallas Fish Eagle, White-throated and Crested Kingfisher, Ibisbill, River Lapwing, and few species of Ducks.
  • Dinner and overnight stay will be in a hotel in Punakha.

Day 3: Punakha – Nobding – Phobjikha.

  • We will have a pre-breakfast outing back to Pho Chu River for White-bellied Heron, if we didn’t find it yesterday. Then start driving to the Phobjikha valley (4hrs) stopping often for birds. We will be looking for rare and little known Species like Ward’s Trogon and Yellow-rumped Honey guide, one of the two species of Honey guide occurs in Asia. Other possibilities include Blyth’s Shrike Babbler, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rusty-flanked Tree creeper, Golden-throated and Great Barbet, Plain-backed Thrush and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker. Before reaching Pelela pass we will take the side road to Phobjikha Valley. When crossing the Gangteyla pass the vegetation changes into dwarf bamboos, here we will be searching for Brown and Great Parrot bill, Spotted and Black-faced Laughing thrush.
  • In the afternoon visit Gangtey Gompa, a monastery dating back to 1613. We will hike through the Nature trail; it goes through the blue pine forest and small settlements. Some of the birds we may see on the hike are Spotted Nutcracker; Grey- crested Tit, Hen harrier and Black-necked Crane. Later we will visit a farmhouse to see the rural Bhutanese life.
  • In the evening, we will visit the Crane information center to get more information on cranes.
  • Dinner and Overnight stay will be in a hotel in Phobjikha.

Day 4: Phobjikha – Pelela – Bumthang.

  • After early breakfast, we will drive to the Pelela pass (3400) and spend the morning hours birding along the old road at Pelela for high altitude species like Spotted Laughing thrush, Himalayan Griffon, Brown and Great Parrot bill, Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, Spotted Nutcracker, White-winged and Collared Grosbeak, Darjeeling and Rufous-breasted Woodpecker, Stripe-throated and Rufous-vented Yuhinas, White Collared Blackbird, Crimson-browed Finch, White-browed and Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Blue-fronted and White-throated Redstart continue you drive to Trongsa, along the way you will be looking for the other species like Black-throated Parrot bill, Golden-breasted and Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Rusty-cheeked and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Coal and Yellow-browed Tit, Green Shrike Babbler and Rufous Sibia.
  • Crossing Trongsa, the road wind up at the Yotongla pass (3400m). Some of the likely species we may encounter around here are Red-headed Bullfinch, Grey-crested, Coal, Rufous-vented and Yellow-browed Tits, Bar-throated Minla, Green-tailed and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Yellow-bellied and White-throated Fantail, Chestnut-crowned, Black-faced and Spotted Laughing thrush, Spotted Nutcracker, Rufous-breasted Accentor and Brown Parrot bill.
  • In the evening drive to the temple up the mountain to have the very close view of the Himalayan Monal, the place here offer the best chance to photograph the Himalayan Monal because in the morning and evening, the birds comes very close to the monk quarter for feeding, other birds you will looking for include Black-billed Magpie, Oriental Skylark, Russet and Eurasian Tree sparrow.
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in a hotel in Bumthang.

Day 5: Bumthang – Phrumshingla – Sengor.

  • After breakfast, drive from Bumthang to Sengor going over Phrumshingla (3800m). Phrumshingla is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasants and also hold other high altitude species like, Snow Pigeons, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Golden and White-browed Bush Robin, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Greats and Fulvous Parrot bills, Stripe-throated and Rufous-vented Yuhinas, Grey-crested, coals, Rufous-vented Tits, White-browed Fulvetta, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Plain-backed and Long-tailed Thrush, White-collared Blackbird, Rusty-flanked and Hodgson’s Tree creeper Buff-barred, Ashy-throated, Whistler’s Warbler, Blyth’s leaf Warbler.
  • Later in the evening we will be birding around Sengor looking for Bar-winged and Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Gold-naped Finch, Hoary-throated Barwing, Bar-throated and Red-tailed Minlas, Whistler’s and Grey-hooded Warbler, Red Crossbill and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler.
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in Sengor Camp.

Day 6: Sengor – Namling – Yongkala.

  • In the morning before we hit our road to Yongkala, we will drive back to the pass to search for the Blood Pheasant and Parrot bills once again if we have missed the other day, back to the camp for breakfast.
  • After breakfast we will hit the Bhutan’s wet subtropical forest and one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas. For the next day we will be birding the lush forested valley searching for Bay Woodpecker, Great and Golden-throated Barbets, Rufuos-necked Hornbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Maroon Oriole, Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets, White-gorgeted, Little Pied, Ultramarine and Verdieter Flycatchers, Little Forktail, Black-throated Prinia, Grey-hooded, Grey-cheeked and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Ward’s Trogon, Scaly, Bhutan, and Blue-winged Laughing thrush and many.
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in Yongkala Camp.

Day 7 & 8: Yongkala – Namling – Limithang Road.

  • You will spend 2 entire days birding upper and lower Limithang road ranked amongst the ten top birding sites in the world, we will search for the area’s specialties such as Rufous-throated and Pygmy Wren Babbler, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Lesser and Greater Yellownape, Grey-headed and Bay Woodpecker, Speckled and White-browed Piculet, Coral-billed, Slender-billed, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Scarlet Finches, Blue-throated, Great and Golden-throated Barbets, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Black Eagle, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey Treepie, Grey-chinned and Scarlet Minivets, Ashy, Spangled and Black Drongos, Small, Large and Rufous-bellied Niltavas, Rufous-gorgeted, Little Pied, and Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Green-backed, Black-throated, Sultan, Black-Spot Yellow Tits, White-breasted and Black-throated Parrot bills, Golden-breasted, Yellow-throated, Nepal and Rufous-winged Fulvettas, Blue-winged, Grey-sided, Scaly and Rufous-necked Laughing thrushes, White-tailed, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Green-tailed and Black-throated Sunbird. We will also make our every effort to find the Beautiful Nuthatch and many more.
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in Yongkala Camp.

Day 8: Yongkala – Phrumshingla – Trongsa.

  • After a final morning birding in this wonderful habitat, we will be retracing our way back to Trongsa passing though the Sengor valley, after crossing one of the high passes, the Thrumshing La (3800m). Thrumshing La is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasant and also holds other high altitude species such as Snow Pigeon, Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Great Parrotbill, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Grey-crested and Coal Tits and White-browed Fulvetta. We continue through the valley of Bumthang, one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. After crossing the Bumthang valley it is another 3hrs drive to Trongsa crossing the Yotongla pass (3400m).
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in a hotel in Trongsa.

Day 9: Trongsa – Zhemgang.

  • Today on our drive to Zhemgang, we will have lots of stops at several forested valleys. We have chances of spotting rare and little known Yellow-rumped Honey guide, one of the two species of Honey guide occurs in Asia, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Crested Bunting, Long-tailed Shrike, Prinias, Rufous Woodpecker, Blue–bearded Bee-eater, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel, Blue-bearded Bee-Eater, White-crested and Rufous-necked Laughing thrush and various Minivets. This is also our best chance for the Golden Langur, a rare monkey endemic to Bhutan and only discovered in the 1950s.
  • In the evening we will also take opportunity of birding along the Dakphel road in Zhemgang looking for the species like Cutia, Blyth’s Shrike Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Coral-billed and Streaked-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-chinned and Rufous-necked Laughing thrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Black-chinned, Whiskered and Striated Yuhina, Blue-winged Minla. We will also make a special effort to find Beautiful Nuthatch, is one of the rarest species of Nuthatch in the world.
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in Tingtibe Camp.

Day 10: Zhemgang – Tingtibe – Gomphu Road.

  • We will explore the entire stretch of Zhemgang – Tingtibe road in the morning. We drop in elevation as we head towards Tingtibe targeting the low elevation birds like, Great and Rufous-necked Hornbill, Green Pigeons, Cutia, White-browed Shrike Babblers, Minlas, White-tailed Nuthatch, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, and whole host of cool Laughing thrush such as Red-faced Liocichla, Rufous-chinned, Blue-winged and Grey-sided Laughing thrush, Ashy and Bronze Drongo, Grey-headed Canary, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Blyth’s Shrike Babbler, Our main target bird for the day will be Beautiful Nuthatch.
  • Later in the afternoon, we will explore the Gomphu road, the road that lead to the Manas National Park, Here we will for looking for the species like White-hooded Babbler, Greater and Lesser Yellownape, Crimson-breasted, Grey-capped and Pale-headed woodpecker, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Pale-bill Parrot bill.
  • Dinner and overnight halt will be in Tingtibe Campsite.

Day 11: Zhemgang – Tamala – Gelephu.

  • After early breakfast at the camp we will be heading to a lower elevation than we have been able to visit so far on the trip. We will target the varieties of low elevation specialties including Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Sultan Tit, Red- headed Trogon, Black Eagle, House Sparrow (rare in Bhutan), Jungle Babbler, Silver-eared Mesia, Long-tailed Broadbill, Long-tailed Sibia, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Emerald Dove, Orange-bellied leaf bird, and many more.
  • Dinner and overnight stay will be in the hotel in Gelephu.

Day 12: Gelephu – Sarpang – Tsirang.

  • Before breakfast, we will have an early morning outing around the plain of Gelephu, chances of encountering the low elevation birds like Oriental Pied and Wreathed Hornbill, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black kite, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-naped Monarch and back to hotel for breakfast.
  • Then We start climbing from the foothills experience lots of changes in the elevation, after crossing Sarpang we start our ascend through the sun tropical forest searching for the species like Collared Falconet, Cutia, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted and Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Spotted Elachura, Slaty-backed, Spotted and Little Forktails, Rufous-winged and Nepal Fulvetta, Rufous Sibia, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Grey-chinned and Long-tailed Minivet, Winter Wren, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Grey-throated and Rufous-capped Babbler and many more.
  • Dinner and overnight stay will be in the campsite at Darachu.

Day 13: Darachu – Tsirang – Paro.

  • After final morning birding around Darachu to Tsirang road, We head back to Paro today, birding many sites on the way; some of the species we will be looking along the drive include Wall creeper, Striated Prinia, Great, Golden-throated and Blue-throated Barbets, Black, Ashy and Black-crested Bulbul, Blue and Chestnut-bellied Rock thrushes, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Crested Serpent Eagle, Common Kestrel, Striated and White-throated Laughing thrush and many more.
  • Dinner and overnight halt in a hotel in Paro.

Day 14: Paro to CheleLa Birding.

  • Very early in the morning, drive to the cool and stunning alpine meadow of CheleLa pass (3890m). This is the highest pass accessible by car in Bhutan. Here we should be rewarded with three different species of Pheasants: the colorful Himalayan Monal flocks of Blood Pheasants and Kalij Pheasant. Beside you will also be looking for the other species like White-browed, Dark-rumped and Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Plain Mountain Finch, White winged and Collared Grosbeaks and Black-faced and Spotted laughing thrushes, Alpine and Rufous-breasted Accentor, Snow Pigeon, Hodgson’s Tree creeper, Spotted Nutcracker, Darjeeling and Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Grey-crested, Coal, Rufous-vented and Rufous-fronted Tits.
  • In the afternoon, Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong and Ta Dzong (the national museum).
  • In the evening, you will be birding along the Paro River searching for one of the biggest target birds, Ibisbill, we may also see other birds like River Lapwing, Black- tailed Crake, Brown Dipper, Solitary and Pin-tailed Snipe, Russet and Eurasian Tree sparrow and few species of Ducks.
  • Dinner and overnight stay will be in a hotel in Paro.

Day 15: Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Excursion.

  • After breakfast, drive 15 minutes to the starting point in order to hike to Taktshang Monastery (the Tiger’s Nest).
  • After visiting the monastery, stop at the cafeteria half way down for lunch.
  • In the evening, visit a typical Bhutanese farmhouse to experience the local hospitality and a traditional hot stone bath.
  • Dinner and overnight stay in a hotel in Paro.

Day 16: Departure from Paro Airport.

  • After breakfast, drive to the Airport and farewell.


Package Includes

  1. All Meals [Breakfast /Lunch/Dinner].
  2. Accommodation [Twin Sharing] Single Room. Supplement Extra US $: 40 per room per night.
  3. All transportation within the country including airport transfers.
  4. Royalty & Govt. Taxes.
  5. Entrance fees for Museums and Monuments.
  6. English speaking Local guide.
  7. Sightseeing.

Package Does Not Include

  1. Druk Air fares.
  2. Insurance Premiums.
  3. Payments for service provided on a personal basis.
  4. Cost for any services not mentioned in the “Cost Include head”.
  5. Cost incurred due to mishaps, strikes, political unrest etc.
  6. Personal expense in items such as laundry, soft drinks, Camera Charges, Bottle water.
  7. Incidentals, Portage, Bellboy charges tips or any other services.
  8. Visa Fees


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