We begin our tour in Kathmandu, where we’ll bird on Phulchowki, the highest peak in the Kathmandu Valley. From there we’ll fly to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, one of Asia’s finest wetlands where almost all of Nepal’s wildfowl, waders, storks, ibises, herons, egrets, terns and gulls occur. Next we’ll drive to Chitwan National Park which has over 480 bird species as well as a wealth of mammals including langurs, and elusive species such as Tiger and Sloth Bear, though we’d be very fortunate to spot either of the latter. We then travel west to Bardia National Park where we’ll stay by the Karnali River and explore the park’s many habitats before returning to Kathmandu for our flights home.
We arrive in Kathmandu in the afternoon and transfer to our 5-star hotel, generally the Hotel Yak & Yeti or the Hotel Shangri-la. The rest of the day is free for relaxation.
Today we will spend birdwatching on the forested slopes of Phulchowki, at 2,740 metres the highest peak in the valley. The variety of laughing thrushes, babblers, bulbuls, flowerpeckers, flycatchers, sunbirds, tits and warblers is tremendous. We will drive up Phulchowki in the early morning, ascending as far as the ice will allow. Here we should get good views of the snow-clad Great Himalaya, including the Annapurna range, Langtang and many of Nepal's other high peaks (provided the weather is clear!). We will then spend the rest of the day walking down the mountain through its fine temperate and subtropical forest, with a picnic lunch en route. Some of the many highlights should include Red-flanked Bluetail, Fire-tailed Sunbird, White-collared and Grey-winged Blackbirds, Long-tailed Minivet, White- tailed Nuthatch, Orange-barred Leaf Warbler, Orange-bellied Leafbird and many more. More elusive species include Cutia, Kalij Pheasant, Red-billed Leiothrix and Black-faced Leaf Warbler.
If you would prefer to spend the day doing a sightseeing tour of the city and temples of Kathmandu we will be pleased to arrange this for you (but this must be booked with us prior to your departure from London and will cost £195 for single traveller and £150 per person for 2 or more). The tour will include Nepal's largest Hindu temple at Pashupatinath, the Buddhist "stupa" (shrine) and Tibetan settlement at Boudhinath, the Buddhist "monkey temple" at Swyambunath with its fine view over the city, and the temples and old royal palace in Kathmandu's Durbar Square.
This morning we will take a 40-minute internal flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar, a bustling town situated on the Gangetic floodplains of south-eastern Nepal. The spectacular flight will take us along the edge of the Great Himalaya and, if the weather is clear, it is possible to see some of the world’s highest peaks including Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Everest itself. On arrival at Biratnagar we will be met by a representative from Koshi Camp and there will be vehicles to transfer us to Koshi Camp situated on the north-eastern edge of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve beside the great Koshi River. The drive from the airport to Koshi Camp takes about 1 hour, 30 minutes but we will stop for any interesting species of birds or mammals we encounter on route. Here we will be based for the next four nights in simple but comfortable permanent walk-in safari tents.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is situated in the Sapta-Koshi river plain in the far eastern corner of Nepal, close to the country's southern border with India. The reserve covers 175 square kilometres to the north of the kilometre-long barrage that spans the Koshi River, which acts as a bridge and a flood control dam. This was built between 1958 and 1964 to control and prevent flooding in the plains of northern India to the south. The vast expanse of open water created by the Koshi River, and the marshes, lagoons, sandbanks, mudflats and arable land that lie around it offer an outstanding wetland habitat, and one of the finest birdwatching sites in Asia.
Almost all of Nepal's long list of wildfowl, waders, storks, ibises, egrets, terns and gulls occur here, plus a great variety of landbirds, especially warblers and birds of prey. Well in excess of 100 species should be seen each day in this wonderful area (the record to date is 174 in a day!), amongst them such local specialities as Swamp Francolin, Red- necked Falcon and Striated Marsh Warbler. Other sought after species include the Black-necked Stork, Greater Stone Plover, Pied Harrier, Brown Fish Owl, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Falcated Duck, Baer’s Pochard, the beautiful Siberian Rubythroat, White’s and Black-throated Thrushes, Blyth’s Reed, Paddyfield, Clamorous Reed, Thick-billed, Tickell’s, Smoky and Greenish Warblers and both Black-faced and Yellow-breasted Buntings. The sharp- eyed may also be lucky enough to see one of the highly endangered Gangetic River Dolphins that live here. The heart of the Reserve lies some 14 kilometres north of the barrage, where seasonally inundated grasslands, lagoons and remnant patches of Khair (Acacia catechu) and Sissoo (Dalbergia sissoo) forest lie alongside the eastern bank of the broad Koshi River. This region is the last refuge of the Wild Water Buffalo in Nepal, of which only 100 or so individuals remain. Other commonly seen mammals include Asiatic Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat, Common Mongoose, Wild Boar and Hog Deer, whilst species such as Fishing Cat are far more elusive and thus rarely seen.
Your most regular and rewarding wildlife outings will be on foot, exploring the grasslands, river, lagoons and woodlands close to the camp, and the vicinity of the Koshi River, a short drive away. We will also spend one of the mornings aboard inflatable rafts drifting slowing along the wide waters of the Koshi River enjoying the birdlife of the otherwise inaccessible sandbanks and islands.
It is a long day’s drive on the east-west highway from Koshi Tappu to Chitwan National Park. Although tiring, it is also a fascinating journey. Driving through the 'terai' of lowland Nepal we will pass through a variety of villages and towns giving a unique insight into the Nepalese way of life. By making an early start we will aim to reach at the Chitwan National Park by late-afternoon where we will transfer to a comfortable Tigerland Safari Lodge for 4 nights. Located on the edge of Chitwan National Park, Tigerland Safari Lodge is spread over 20 acres of land and have 32 thatched roofs villas on stilts in a natural setting of lush vegetation, overlooking the national park. The villas are tastefully decorated with en suite facilities.
The Chitwan National Park comprises 932 square kilometres of Sal and riverine jungle, a magnificent environment which contains a greater variety of wildlife than any other area of Nepal. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded here, as well as many mammals, reptiles and numerous insects. Mammals are likely to include the endangered Indian Rhinoceros, Wild Boar, Sambar, Muntjac, Spotted and Hog Deer, Rhesus and Terai Langur, whilst reptiles we may encounter include Marsh Mugger Crocodile and the fish-eating Gharial. Leopards, Sloth Bears, and Gaur are all fairly common and occasionally seen by the lucky ones! Chitwan has the largest population of Tigers in Nepal and although never easy to locate, we do have a chance of coming across one of these magnificent cats, especially in the evening when they are at their most active.
Our excursions will include early morning exploration of the surrounding forests and grasslands on elephant back and walks into the woodlands in search of such birds as Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Blossom- headed Parakeet, Red-thighed Falconet, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Himalayan Golden-backed Woodpecker, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and many more. Red-headed Trogon, Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo and White-tailed Rubythroat are three of the most sought after species but along with these we will look for Red-capped and Yellow- eyed Babblers, Common Iora, Scarlet and Small Minivets, Western Crowned Leaf Warbler, White-tailed Stonechat and Orange-headed Ground Thrush.
This morning we will embark on the second of our day-long drives, westwards towards the Bardia National Park. Although long, it is a very scenic drive that will take us across the terai, through numerous small Nepalese communities and across several ranges of forested hills, including the Churia range. Once again we aim to arrive in Bardia late in the afternoon from where we will transfer to our accommodation.
Consisting of magnificent Sal and riverine forests, and extensive grasslands, the park’s 936 square kilometres are home to Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Spotted Deer (Chital), Sambar, Barking, Swamp and Hog Deers, Nilgai, Wild Boar, as well as the Marsh Mugger Crocodile and the endangered Gharial. Nearly 400 species of birds occur in the park and during our time here we will hope to find such species as Great Black-headed Gull, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Crested Kingfisher, Wallcreeper, Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo and White-naped Woodpecker. Bardia is bounded to the west by the Karnali River, the largest in Nepal, and this enables us to explore the park by raft, as well as by jeep and on foot.
A network of game trails in the park allow one to explore the abundant wildlife of the jungle. Early morning and late afternoon excursions by jeep to remote regions of Bardia offer good chances of glimpsing wild Asian Elephant and the Royal Bengal Tiger as well as large herds of Chital. An inflatable raft trip down to the southern boundary of the park is a tranquil way of viewing the birdlife and water-oriented animals such as Smooth Otters, Marsh Muggers and Gharial Crocodiles. The Karnali River is also one of the best areas in Nepal to view the highly endangered Gangetic River Dolphin.
Depending on the time of our return flight to Kathmandu, there might be time in the morning for some last minute bird and mammal viewing. We will make the two hour drive to Nepalgunj Airport, from where we catch our one hour return flight to Kathmandu. If the weather is clear, we will have another opportunity to admire the snow-capped peaks of the Great Himalaya as we head east past Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Machhapuchare ‘Fishtail’ and Langtang. Our final night in Nepal will be spent in Kathmandu.
Today you will be free for your own activities like shopping. Afternoon we will drop you at the Kathmandu Airport end of the package.
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