Bhutan: Apr 01—23, 2013

The Blue Ribbon Tour

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Price: $11,995
Departs: Delhi
Tour Limit: 8
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (1.1 MB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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David Bishop

David Bishop loves his vocation and cannot imagine anything better than exploring wild and b...


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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Satyr Tragopan

Satyr Tragopan— Photo: David Wolf

A spellbinding trip to a seldom-visited Himalayan mountain kingdom, featuring the pinnacle of Himalayan birding, enchanting primeval forest, glorious mountain scenery, and rich Buddhist culture.

VENT is widely regarded as THE Bhutan bird tour expert. We first began operating full-length tours to Bhutan in 1994 and have operated tours annually (sometimes twice annually) there every year since. In many ways this is perhaps our most successful and highly regarded Asian tour.

This country is truly paradise on earth. Untouched, primeval forests extend as far as the eye can see, and the birding is fantastic beyond anyone’s dreams. Each year we locate more and more little-known, spectacular, and rarely seen species, including some of the rarest and most desirable on our planet. The Bhutanese people have one of the most fascinating and least disturbed cultures in the world. It is a rich Buddhist culture which respects all forms of life, resulting in an avifauna that is not only marvelously diverse, but remarkably visible and approachable. Some of the species we regularly encounter include the incomparably beautiful Ward’s Trogon; extraordinary numbers (as well as superb, long, close views) of the endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill; a fascinating assemblage of babblers, including several globally little-known species; Fire-tailed Myzornis, and a galaxy of enthusiastic laughingthrushes; and breathtaking encounters with male Satyr Tragopans and Himalayan Monal, in addition to the incomparable Beautiful Nuthatch and globally endangered White-bellied Heron.

Our tours also encounter a remarkable array of mammals. Recent tours have recorded as many as 26 species including an extraordinary incident when a pack of dhole (Asian wild dogs) brought down and killed an adult Sambar deer right in front of our breakfast camp; rare daytime views of exquisitely marked marbled and leopard cats; Himalayan black bear; exceptional nighttime views of the gigantic Hodgson’s flying squirrel; and large numbers of the lovely golden langur. We also take time to look at reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and an exciting array of Himalayan flowering plants. Add to this the discovery of many new species to the kingdom’s known avifauna (we added yet another first for Bhutan on our 2012 tour—Bay Owl), as well as recording a plethora of other gorgeous and little-known Himalayan species, and you have all the ingredients of an extraordinary tour.

The Himalayas are made up of the world’s highest mountains, pristine and majestic. Satin skies are pierced by rugged, snow-encrusted peaks, their slopes blanketed in untold birders’ dreams. Imagine birding among woodlands clothed in a rhododendron and magnolia mist, the haunting calls of cosmic Satyr Tragopans, innumerable glowing sunbirds, dapper grosbeaks, and subtle rosefinches—all to the accompanying delicate bouquet of flowering daphnia. Primulas carpet every spare patch of open ground, and azaleas and terrestrial orchids cling to the steeper inclines.

For some years now, scientists and naturalists alike have been aware that the further east one travels in the Himalayas, the richer the forests become in birds and other wildlife. Bhutan is the pinnacle of that diversity. From the immense grassy flood plains and duars of the northern edge of the great Brahmaputra, we will ascend in stages through mighty lowland Sal forests, super-rich subtropical forests, temperate deciduous and evergreen forests, eventually reaching a pass with an elevation of 12,400 feet.

A mix of lodge-style accommodations and comfortable walk-in tented camps with cots; elevations from 600 to 12,400 feet; good mix of walking and easy-paced bus drives (in a superb bus driven by a world-class driver); wide mix of weather conditions from hot and sunny to occasionally cool or even cold (at night) and overcast, with once in a while some rain, and rarely snow at high elevations.