LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON
Butterflies and Birds of Bhutan with Greentours
Bhutan’s unique cultural heritage has been nurtured by successive monarchs and is evident from the moment you land at Paro, which must be one of the smallest towns in the World to have an international airport! High above the town is the famed Tiger’s Nest Monastery at Taktsang, where legend has it Guru Padma Sambhava, flying on a Tiger out of Tibet, landed on the cliff and meditated in a cave, the monastery was built some three hundred years ago to celebrate this.
For the first week we’ll explore beautiful valleys and flowery passes where Blue Admirals and Pale Jezebels fly above swathes of yellow Primula smithiana and pink Primula denticulata and with rhododendrons of all hues. We’ll visit monasteries with golden roofs surrounded by purple Jacarandas with snow-capped Himalayan peaks for a backdrop. We’ll see the improbably red Satyr Tragopan and the amazingly colourful Himalayan Monal and in the submontane forests an amazing show of butterflies. Puddling along the tracks and by the streams are groups of fabulous Great Nawabs and there’s no shortage of swallowtails with Spot Swordtails, Common Windmill, Great Windmill and Batwings. Angled Sunbeams flash their colours as Fire-tailed Sunbirds and lovely Yellow-billed Magpies survey us from white-flowered Schima trees. Autumn Leaf, Black Prince, Black Raja, Circe and Commander are just some of the butterflies we’ll see as Great Mormons bat up and down tracks where we can admire several species of flowering Cobra Lily and the extraordinary yellow and pink Curcuma aromatica. Western Centaur Oakblue, Small Yellow, Spotted and Yellowjack Sailors, and the lovely Leopard Lacewing are all on the agenda. We’ll see Orchids such as Pleione humilis and the spectacular Dendrobium nobile while Ward’s Trogons and Red Panda inhabit the mossy woodlands by the Rhododendron-rich Lamperi Botanical Garden.
On the edge of the Brahmaputra’s floodplain and extending from India high into the Bhutanese mountains is Manas one of Asia’s most important and perversely little-visited national parks. We are sure the latter will soon change! We’ll spend the second week exploring Bhutanese Manas, over a thousand square kilometres of superb habitat from the mossy montane forests near the stunning Zhemgang Monastery to the lowland monsoon and dry deciduous forests of Panbang. There are so many stunning butterflies in this area. We’ll find unusual and elegantly shaped lycaenids such as the Fluffy Tit, Bright Sunbeam, Chocolate Royal and the brilliant Purple Sapphire. Tigers occur both here and in Kaziranga and Manas also holds no less than seven other species of cat however seeing any of these will a huge bonus – but we’ll try! We’ll see the fabulous Golden Langur, one of the world’s rarer and more beautiful primates, as well as Indian Elephant, Gaur, Hog Deer and Yellow-throated Martens. Five species of elegant Forktail frequent streams where butterflies such as the Grey Count, Indian Purple Emperor, Fourbar and Fivebar Swallowtails, Common Rose and Bluebottle congregate. Red-headed Trogons sit quietly as noisy groups of Blue-winged and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes course though the vegetation. Yellow and black Sultan Tits form feeding parties with Long-tailed and Beautiful Sibias whilst Assamese Macaques and Capped Langurs enjoy a buffet of wild mangoes. Everywhere are gorgeous birds - Long-tailed Broadbill, Himalayan Cutia, Beautiful Nuthatch - and spectacular ones too - Great Slaty Woodpecker, Rufous-necked Hornbill and Grey Peacock Pheasant. Butterflies on the wing will include Golden Birdwing, Paris Peacock, Red-base Jezebel, Orange Oakleaf, Common Tinsel, Popinjay and the Punchinello – beauties every one!
Butterflies and Birds. Also Mammals, Landscapes and Culture.
Very easy. No more than three or four miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace ideally suited to photographers.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in India and Bhutan. Bhutanese visas. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, Indian visas and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 9.
We'll start and finish at the excellent Atrio Hotel close to the airport in Delhi. Arriving in Bhutan we’ve two nights in the very comfortable Khangku Hotel at Paro. Here the spacious light rooms have balconies that look out over the Paro Valley. We’ve two nights at the Lobesa Hotel near Punakha. Overlooking rice paddies and little farms the Lobesa is a delight, the comfortable rooms have all the usual modern facilities and there’s plenty of birds right outside your window. Next is a night in an excellent little hotel just outside Trongsa. Now we’ll descent to the lowlands where the quality of accommodation also descends! For the remainder of the tour we’ll be staying in guesthouses and small hotels that are rather more basic. This is a region that has been little visited by tourists yet and our group in February were among the first foreign tourists to stay in Bhutanese Manas. We start the lowland section in Tingtibi at a local guesthouse situated in the foot of the valley. The accommodation in the guesthouse in the eco-lodge at Gongphu (1 night) is the most basic on the trip. Here we stay in new little wooden chalets that have windows with wooden shutters (no glass) and only beds inside the rooms. There are rather nice little balconies. The situation amid superb habitat is quite wonderful. Next we’ll have 3 nights in a guesthouse in Panbang. This is a really more of a little hotel, as is the Hotel Kuku in Gelephu where we’ll spend the last night in Bhutan. These lowland hotels and guesthouses are rather simple and sometimes various things (e.g. the hotel water, or lights, or …) may not work or need fixing, but they are in rarely visited places full of wonderful wildlife. This tour has en suite facilities throughout except for the 1 night in Gongphu where there are outside toilets only.
Very pleasant. Mornings are cool and days pleasantly warm during our first week in the higher parts of Bhutan. The second week is in the lower regions and it can get quite hot at Manas. We can expect occasional rain in all areas.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form (or contact us and we will send one to you)from the Booking Information section. Complete and send to us. A detailed information pack will be dispatched twelve weeks prior to departure. This will contain up-to-date health information. Mammal, butterfly and bird checklists are available.