Birdwatching India Tour in Northeast India
Babita Tours offers a spectacular India birding tour holiday that combines the mighty Himalayan Mountains, the tropical mountain forests of the Eaglenest reserve and the low-lying Kaziranga grasslands. We will hope to see well over 400 species of birds, many of them rarely seen Eastern Himalayan and Indian specialties. In addition, with luck, we hope to see India’s most iconic animal, the Bengal Tiger.
The Eastern Himalayas are classified as one of the most biodiverse hotspots in the whole world. Sitting at the juncture between Asia and the Indian subcontinent the Eastern Himalayas is home to over 160 globally threatened species. The abundant variety of species is due to the widely differing habitats resulting from the varied topography. Only one hundred miles separate the Brahmaputra river in Assam, lying only one hundred metres above sea level, seven thousand metre high peaks in the north.
This tour offers a unique and comprehensive cross-section of the birdlife and fauna of this seldom visited and remote biodiversity hotspot. We have a rare opportunity to search some of the most exotic and sought after birds such as Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, Temminck’s Tragopan, Bengal Florican, Ward’s Trogon, four species of Hornbills, Beautiful Nuthatch, the recently found and described Bugun Liocichla, Himalayan Cutia, Grandala, Ibisbill, the endangered White-winged Duck, and clown-like Fire-tailed Myzornis. In addition, especially Kaziranga, the area has many mammals and we can expect to see some mighty creatures like Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Asiatic Elephant, Water Buffalo and Swamp Deer. Kaziranga also holds the densest population of Bengal Tiger. This is truly the trip of a lifetime.
Alternative Name : North-East India Highlights
After breakfast full day visit the Sultanpur lake.
From Delhi, we take a domestic flight to the capital of the state of Assam, Guwahati. From Guwahati we head northeast to Nameri National Park lying on the edge of the Assam grass plains. We will try to reach our comfortable safari-style camp accommodation in Nameri Eco Camp before dark, so there is not much time for birding, but we are sure to see more common birds on the way such as Asian Openbill, Black-winged Kite, Black Drongo, Long-tailed Shrike, Indian Roller and with luck the rare Greater and Lesser Adjutant Stork.
In Nameri we focus mainly on the lower altitude species. The camp's surroundings consist of lush forests, cultivations and river valleys, so our first mornings birding can start right from the cottage door. One of the most important target species is the endangered White-winged Duck for which Nameri is probably one of the best places in the world. Other possible species include Sultan Tit, Barred Cuckoo-dove, Green Cochoa, Hill Myna, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Streaked Spiderhunters and, with luck, even the rarely seen Pied Falconet.
After lunch we will board small rubber boats and enjoy an afternoon’s peaceful rafting down the Jia Bhareli River. The river and its surroundings are quite natural and not heavily populated, rare in a country of more than a billion people! While floating downstream we look closely at the rocky river sides as this is a regular wintering area for every birder’s dream bird, the Ibisbill. Other species to be found on the river are Small Pratincole, River Lapwing, River Tern, Great Thick-knee and the jackdaw sized Crested Kingfisher. We may see Forktails or even Wreathed and Great Hornbills.
We spend more time looking for the wonderful wildlife to be found in Nameri.
Today we will head north to the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh is a mountainous state along the border of China and Bhutan. It has an area of almost 84,000 km2 and a population of less than a million, so it is one of the least populated areas in India. We will be in the westernmost part of the state, which is called West Kameng.
En route we will explore some lower elevation bamboo and mixed broad-leaved forest where some very special species can be found. We stop in Bhalukpong at the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh where passports and special permits are checked. The special permit required for Arunachal Pradesh is called the Restricted Area Permit and it is required for all foreign visitors.
Immediately after Bhalukpong, the landscape changes quite a bit when we start climbing along the edges of the ravines up towards the Himalayan foothills. Soon we turn from the main road and Jia Bharel valley to a small winding road that passes through Eaglenest National Park. Along this little road we spend the next four full days and five nights. Our first accommodation Lamacamp, is located at 2350m just besides the Eaglenest National Park.
Eaglenest National Park covers an area of about 218km2 and its altitude ranges from 500m to 3200m. The attraction of the Eaglenest National Park over other Arunachal Pradesh parks and woodland is its extreme altitudinal variation combined with the drivable road winding through the park making it very accessible.
A wide variety of Himalayan species and the pristine, tropical mountain forest with huge moss-covered trees spreading on both sides of the road make Eaglenest a magical place. Early in spring the birds are still in large flocks, forming “bird waves” swarming along the forest canopy. This makes birding challenging, but at the same time very exciting.
We hope to reach Lamacamp before dark to have the first chance to find the most sought-after star of this place the Bugun Liocichla. Named after the local tribe in the area, this species was first described for science in 2006! It is only known to occur in this small area around Lamacamp.
In Eaglenest we will stay in two different camps the Lamacamp and Bompu Camp inside the park. Both have tents built as "row houses". The tents are equipped with sleeping pads and warm sleeping bags or blankets are provided. The nights and the morning are still cold so you should pack plenty of warm clothes.
In Eaglenest we spend most of the time along the small road leading through the park. We drive for a while, jump out and walk along the road while the jeeps follow so we can jump back on when we need. We have four full days to explore the park and we will visit a wide range of altitudes to enable us to search for the many exciting species that occur here. And the list is very impressive! Mouth-watering species like Blyth’s and Temminck’s Tragopans, Chestnut-breasted, Rufous-throated and Hill Partridges, Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Slender-billed and many other Scimitar Babblers, Himalayan Cutia, Black-headed Shrike-Babbler, Gould’s Shortwing, five to six different Wren-Babblers, Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler, about a dozen Laughingthrushes, Brown, White-breasted and Black-throated Parrotbills, Long-tailed, Beautiful and Rufous-backed Sibia to mention a few. Rest assured we will try to see as many of these Himalayan gems as possible, so it will be a busy but rewarding four days!
After breakfast and some final birding, we will say our farewells to this wonderful area and depart for the town of Dirang. We try to reach Dirang by lunch time to have time to visit the Sangti Valley in the afternoon. We will be birding a wide cultivated plateau by the Tengi river. The target species here include Long-billed Plover and Black-tailed Crake. In the past the place has been famous for its wintering Black-necked Cranes and though they haven’t been around for a while, who knows, maybe this year? We will be staying in a hotel here for the next two nights.
Today we hope for clear skies and calm winds, because our aim is to climb all to way up to an altitude of 4200 m at the Sela Pass. It was via this very pass that the Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet to India in 1959. We set off before dawn to get as high as possible before the sun rises. We rise up through coniferous forests and at about 3,800 meters the trees fade out completely. Landscapes are breath-taking! In these spectacular snowy and mountainous landscapes, we have great opportunities to see exciting Himalayan mountain specials, such as Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge, Snow Pigeon, Grandala, Brandt’s and Plain Mountain Finches, Collared Grosbeak, many different rosefinches and with some luck, the rarely seen Solitary Snipe.
Please note: We will be hoping for good conditions as bad weather can restrict access at these heights. Bad conditions reduce visibility and snow will still be a possibility which may prevent birding and with safety in mind, we may not be able to visit at all. This is why we have allowed two days at this location in order to give us the best chance. In order to avoid high altitude sickness our visits will of necessity be of limited duration, although we will have been getting acclimatised to higher altitudes at Eaglenest.
Today, if we managed to reach the Sela pass on the previous day, we will visit another high-altitude area, Mandala Phudung. It is not quite as high as the Sela pass and is dominated by rhododendron and conifer forests. Our targets here are in particular Bar-winged Wren-babbler, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Fire-capped and Grey-crested Tit, many sunbirds, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Grey-headed and Red-headed Bullfinch and several laughingthrushes.
In the evening we will head back south to Bomdila to reduce the driving on the next day.
Today we head further south to the Kaziranga National Park. On the way, we will have time for some final birding in the Himalayan foothills. We will try to find some of the species missed earlier but the focus will be on the bamboo and lower altitude forests along the road. With some luck, bamboo can produce rarities like Pale-headed Woodpecker and White-hooded Babbler. We will also search the rivers for the rare and elusive Blyth’s Kingfisher. We can expect to arrive at Kaziranga in the late afternoon.
Kaziranga is an exceptional place. A vast grass plain dotted with grey figures of elephants and rhinoceros. In the middle of a densely populated and effectively cultivated plain there is 430 km2 of area for wildlife. Nearly two thirds of this is grassy Brahmaputra floodplain, the rest being forests and small lakes. We now have two full days to explore the Kaziranga National Park by jeep. Walking is forbidden, after all there are tigers here, so we are only allowed off at marked locations! There are several birding towers along the lakes where we will spend time searching for new species.
Originally Kaziranga, like all the remaining grass plains in the Brahmaputra area, were protected for rhino, but many bird species are equally endangered. Today, Kaziranga has 70% of the world's Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, half of the population of Water Buffalo and large numbers of Barasingha (Swamp Deer) and Asiatic Elephants. According to the latest studies, Kaziranga also has the world's highest tiger population! Seeing them, however, is far from easy because of the high grass, but there is always a chance to encounter this majestic creature during our two days here.
Target birds include globally threatened Bengal Florican, Pallas’s Fish-eagle and Swamp Francolin, as well as Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Adjutant, Grey-headed Lapwing, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Asian Barred Owlet, Bar-headed Goose and with some luck Blue-naped Pitta. Add the chance of Smooth-coated Otter and other deer species, there will be plenty to see!!
Today is a long drive to the beautiful forests and grasslands of Manas National Park. This park straddles the border with half the park in Assam and the other half in Bhutan.
This is our best chance of the globally threatened Bengal Florican, which should be performing their display flights at this time of year. Other target species include the beautiful Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbill, Red-headed Trogon, Crested Tree Swift, Capped Langur monkeys, Velvet Nuthatch, Black and Jerdon’s Bazas and we will look for Pied Falconets again. We also have another chance to look for Ibisbill if we missed it at Nameri, along with forktails, Plumbeous and White-capped Water Redstarts. In Manas we will also hope to see the Gaur or Indian Bison, a great end to our trip.
After breakfast we leave Manas & travel home to Delhi via Guwahati airport and then leave India for home with our heads full of wonderful memories!!
Tiger, Greater One-horned Rhino, Water Buffalo, Barasingha, Hog Deer, Indian Muntjac, Gaur, Capped Langur, Himalayan Monal, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Bugun Liocichla, Beautiful Nuthatch, Tragopans, Red-headed Trogon, Bengal Florican, Swamp Francolin, Hornbills, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Long-tailed Broadbill, Ibisbill, Laughing Thrushes, Forktails, Grandala, Sunbirds, Green Cochoa, Parrotbills, Shrike-babblers, Himalayan Cutia, Scimitar-babblers and many more!
What is included?
- All accommodation
- All meals
- All transportation including internal flights
- Local guides
- Park entry fees
- Assistance on arrival and departure
What is not included?
- International flights
- Travel Insurance
- Alcoholic drinks
- Camera & Video permits in national parks (charges vary between 500 Rupees to 1000 Rupees per camera/video per day, approximately £6-£12)
- Spending on a personal nature
Babita Tours is a well-established company based in India offering a wide range of holidays to suit every taste. We offer tailor-made and fixed departure date tours taking you to a wide variety of destinations in this beautiful exciting country. With many years of experience, we can arrange tours for you to enjoy just the wonderful wildlife to be found here, or if you prefer, a combination of wildlife and some of the fascinating culture we can arrange that as well.
Bird/wildlife watching consists of viewing from gypsy jeeps or easy walking up to 10 kilometres per day. In Nameri we will take a raft trip on the river.
Transport will be by car and aeroplane.