Mammal and Birdwatching Tour amid the sublime landscapes of the Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling & Sikkim
The exotic cascading calls of Laughingthrushes emanate from the fairytale forests of Singalila, each tree bough seems carefully gardened with layers of moss interrupted by occasional orchids and Rhododendrons. The gnarled twisting branches of the oaks have the thickest load of all and it is along these that we’ll be looking for the tell-tale orange-red furry ball that is the sleeping Red Panda.
This cutest of animals is found in reasonable numbers in Singalila and we’ll have a very good chance of encountering them during a week’s stay in the Habre’s nest. Habre is the local name for the Red Panda and nest a very good name for the rather lovely accommodation situated on Singalila’s main ridge, seven thousand feet above the plains of Bengal. The views are simply sublime, with four of the five highest Himalayan peaks, Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu, all visible from the ridge. There are other fairy-tale creatures here too – the glorious Satyr Tragopan, stunning butterflies, improbably cute (and elusive) Wren Babblers, and possibly the even cuter, the vintage landrovers that are used as safari vehicles here! However Singalila is not like many Indian National Parks, there’s no need to stay in the vehicle here, and in the main our landrovers will just be ‘in support’ or dropping us off or picking us up so that we can enjoy the wonderful forests in peace. Sleek and confident Yellow-throated Martens cross our trail from time to time hunting the Barking Deer which are common here. We might come across a Leopard Cat or Hodgson’s Porcupine, particularly on nightwalks, but some of Singalila’s more spectacular mammals, such as Himalayan Black Bear and Clouded Leopard, will require a lot of luck to connect with. The Leopards here are often of the black form! The list of amazing birds is impressive with all manner of Laughingthrushes, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Tits, Yuhinas and Minivets. Highlights will likely include Blood Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, Brown and Fulvous Parrotbills, Rosefinches, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, and the gorgeous Fire-tailed Myzornis.
The other side of famed Darjeeling is Suntaleykhola situated at the southern end of the Neora Valley National Park and close by the Bhutanese border. Here we’ll have further chances to see Red Panda. There is a good population of Gaur (Indian Bison), here and we’ll also look for Goral and Serow. The magnificent Sultan Tit will be high on our wanted list, and there’s a host of fine birds including Maroon Oriole, Slaty-backed Forktail and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush. We’ll finish the tour with several days in Jaldapara National Park set in the Terai in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. Amongst the wide-open expanses of tall elephant grass we’ll find the Indian One-horned Rhinoceros. The park holds the largest rhino population in India after Kaziranga National Park. Sambar and Spotted Deer are plentiful, and we’ll see groups of Indian Elepahnts taking their daily baths on the shores of the great Torsha River.
Mammals and Birds. Also Landscapes and Butterflies.
We will be ambling no more than three or four couple of miles in any one day, and always slowly! Note that unlike many Indian National Parks in these we will spend much of our time out of the vehicles on foot.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in India. Entrance fees to reserves and natural parks. Services of your leaders. Please note: items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, drinks and tips, are not included.
Minimum is 4 and the maximum is 9.
The tour starts and finishes at the Holiday Inn very close to New Delhi’s airport. The first week of the tour will be at Habre’s Nest, also known as Red Panda Base Camp. Habre’s Nest is a special place. Camp it is not, though certainly it is quite rustic. More of a small guesthouse. There are only four rooms (hence no guaranteed shared accommodation here). Each room has a large comfortable bed and private bathroom. The balcony has staggering views. We move to Sinclair’s Dooar’s Retreat for 3 nights. Situated in Chalsa Hilltop, the cottage style rooms are spread through twenty acres of grounds that are brim-full of wildlife. Each room opens out on to a private balcony and there are plenty of facilities to take advantage of such as saunas, a pool, and you might even get a game of cricket! The last four nights of the tour are at the Madarhhar Tourist Lodge, our gateway to Jaldapara National park. Here the rooms are spacious, clean and well-maintained and the service excellent. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities. Please note that single rooms are available at all the hotels but are not guaranteed at Habre’s Nest.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow to Bagdogra via Delhi. Indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Very pleasant. Mornings are cool and days pleasantly warm. Jaldapara National park is at lower altitude and it can get quite hot. We can expect occasional rain, usually as afternoon showers, 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. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information. Mammal, bird and butterfly checklists are available.