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  • Photograph of Rufous-necked Hornbill

    Rufous-necked Hornbill along the Lingmethang Road in Bhutan by Paul Noakes.

    BHUTAN

    Best Wildlife in Bhutan

    Mammals
    Capped, Golden and Nepal Grey Langurs, Assamese Macaque, Yellow-throated Marten, Black Giant, Hodgson's Flying and Red Giant Flying Squirrels, Moupin Pika and Indian Muntjac. Also a chance of Common Goral, and on the three-week-long Tashitang Trek, an outside chance of Snow Leopard, Red Panda and Takin.

    Photograph of Golden Langur

    Golden Langur by Jon Hornbuckle.


    Birds


    Specialities
    Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Yellow-vented Warbler, Beautiful Nuthatch, Blue-fronted and Indian Blue Robins, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Spotted Elachura (formerly Wren Babbler, now in a family of its own), Bar-winged, Long-billed and (Sikkim) Wedge-billed Wren-Babblers, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, White-naped Yuhina and Fire-tailed Myzornis. Also a chance of Chestnut-breasted, Common and Rufous-throated (Hill) Partridges, White-bellied Heron, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Black-tailed Crake, Black-necked Crane (up to 350 spend the northern winter in the Phobjikha Valley, mostly Nov-Mar), Solitary Snipe, Snow Pigeon, Dark-rumped Swift, Blyth’s Kingfisher, and Blue-naped and Hooded Pittas.

    Others
    Ibisbill, Crested Kingfisher, Great, Oriental Pied and Wreathed Hornbills, Long-tailed Broadbill, Sultan Tit, Asian Fairy Bluebird, White-crested Laughingthrush, Himalayan Cutia, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, and Gould’s and Fire-tailed Sunbirds, as well as Kaleej Pheasant, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Black and Rufous-bellied Eagles, River Lapwing, Green-billed Malkoha, Asian Emerald and Violet Cuckoos, White-throated Needletail, Red-headed Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Dollarbird, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, barbets, woodpeckers, minivets, Grey-backed Shrike, Maroon and Slender-billed Orioles, drongos, Yellow-bellied Fantail, Common Green and Yellow-billed Blue Magpies, (Spotted) Nutcracker, tits, Brown Dipper, bulbuls, Mountain Tailorbird, Chestnut-headed, Grey-bellied and Slaty-bellied Tesias, warblers, parrotbills, flycatchers including Sapphire, niltavas, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings, Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail, Golden and White-browed Bush Robins, White-rumped Shama, redstarts, White-tailed Blue Robin, forktails, rock thrushes, laughingthrushes including Spotted, Crimson-faced Liocichla, scimitar babblers including Slender-billed, shrike babblers, wren babblers, Red-billed Leiothrix, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-tailed Minla, barwings, Rufous and Long-tailed Sibias, yuhinas, Gold-fronted and Orange-bellied Leafbirds, Streaked Spiderhunter, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Crimson-browed, Gold-naped and Scarlet Finches, Red-headed Bullfinch, rosefinches, and Collared and White-winged Grosbeaks. Also a chance of Lammergeier and Wallcreeper.

    Plants
    Bhutan has an amazing flora including many species of buddleias, daphnes, magnolias and rhododendrons.

    Other Natural Wonders in Bhutan

    Gangkhar Puensum
    The beautiful Himalayan scenery in Bhutan includes many snow-capped mountains. The highest is Gangkhar Puensum, which at 7541 m (24,740 ft) is also the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Bhutan

    Best Times for Wildlife in Bhutan

    The best time to be in Bhutan for birds is normally late March to early May when many resident species nest, species which breed at high-altitude are still wintering at lower altitude, summer visitors from the south are arriving and migrants are passing through on their way north. Late March to early May is also usually peak time to see many rhododendrons and magnolias in flower.

    Recommended Books etc. for Bhutan

    Birds of Bhutan by C and T Inskipp, and R Grimmett. Helm, 2004 (Second Edition).

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Nepal by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2000 (Second Edition due September 2016).

    Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2 by P C Rasmussen and J C Anderton. Lynx Edicions and Smithsonian Institution, 2012.

    Indian Mammals: A Field Guide by V Menon. Hachette, 2014.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Bhutan

    Many trip reports, some for Bhutan, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Bhutan. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Bhutan' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Bhutan

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Bhutan

    Some Organized Tours to Bhutan

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Bhutan include the following.