Our inaugural journey to the Kingdom of Bhutan left so many lasting impressions. It was one of the most remarkable tours our founder, Peg Abbott, has made and she can’t wait to return. This Bhutan birding tour adds several days, with more time in prime areas for birding and scenic vistas — the Himalayan forests are intriguing and views abound! Nestled between India and China, biodiverse Bhutan is home to seven percent of the world’s bird species. Roughly the size of Switzerland, it is naturally dramatic, rising from the lowland rainforest of the Indian-Malay subcontinent to Himalayan heights far above tree line, its mountains interspersed with valleys carved by fast-moving rivers. Bhutan’s elevation ranges from 315 feet to a staggering 24,500 feet above sea level.

This Buddhist kingdom is also a conservation champion, with a quarter of its lands protected by national parks and a constitutional decree that no less than 60 percent of the country should be covered in forest. More than 70 percent of it is now richly forested, an important reason some 700 birds call Bhutan home. The incredibly scenic region we travel includes many of the largest and most distinctive birds in Asia, and many riotously colorful and charismatic ones as well, including hornbills, sunbirds, parrotbills, wren-babblers and laughingthrush, to name just a few. On this year's Bhutan tour we stay longer in the mountain areas on this trip, dropping down a bit into broadleaf forest valleys.

For the lowland species we offer an extension to Manas National Park from India, a highly recommended experience if you want to add 100+ species to your trip list. Twin parks occur with Manas and Royal Manas in India and Bhutan respectively — it’s just MUCH easier to access this habitat, and to look for specialties such as the endangered Bengal Florican from India. As the main route into Bhutan connects through Delhi, it’s easy to combine the two on this Bhutan nature tour.

We chose spring as Bhutan is home to a rich array of colorful rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs. There are striking mammals we hope to see too, including Giant Squirrel, the beautiful and endangered Golden Langur monkey, and even rarer Red Panda, seen just after our group last year on one of our stops!

Our Bhutan birding tour is also culturally rich, a glimpse of rural life hosted by wonderful guides that share their country’s story as well as their expertise with birds. We visit architecturally marvelous Buddhist fortress-monasteries, locally called “dzongs,” where we observe traditionally robed monks and their devotees in training. We stop at a weaving studio and try out one of Bhutan’s first brew pubs. Join us to learn why Bhutan is known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” an emblem that adorns the national flag expressing the mysticism that pervades this fascinating culture.

Tour Highlights

  • Marvel at some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the world, including mountain peaks approaching 25,000 feet as a gorgeous backdrop to our birding.
  • Visit at the height of the rhododendron bloom, a special experience in a country with nearly 50 species found both in the wild and cultivated in special parks in Thimphu and Punakha. Bhutan’s rhododendron season is a riot of color.
  • Enjoy tremendous diversity of birdlife thanks to our tour’s varied altitudes and habitats as we cross this Himalayan nation, ranging from lowland rainforest at 500 feet (on our extension to adjacent Manas National Park in India) to mountain passes well above tree line at 13,000 feet. Special birds here include some of the world’s largest hornbills, a half dozen species of laughingthrush, charismatic wren-babblers and parrotbills, and many glorious sunbirds.
  • Marvel at bird superstars, including technicolor Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Ibisbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, and gorgeous Ward’s Trogon.
  • Admire traditional architecture and visit Buddhist dzongs in this highly devout country. Prayer flags flapping in the breeze are ubiquitous in the settled (not really urban) areas we visit, imbuing our journey with a unique sense of place.
  • Travel adventurously with us, birding the single road that crosses this sparsely populated country, thrilling at mixed flocks in its most productive habitats close to our nature lodge.
  • Cross your fingers and toes as we search for White-bellied Heron, one of the most critically endangered bird in the world.
  • Keep an eye on the skies for one of thirty raptors found in Bhutan, including Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Himalayan Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, and Pallas’ Fish Eagle.

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sun., Apr. 13: Early Arrivals: Paro, Bhutan or Delhi, India

We strongly recommend that you arrive today or earlier; you have flown a very long way and we want you to be rested for this amazing journey. Paro is a small city with a spectacular setting … even at the international airport, just the landing is exciting! The airport is welcoming and it’s easy to walk and explore in town and along the river.

Alternately, you may arrive to the international airport at Delhi, India, today where you can rest up and meet our group members returning from the Manas National Park extension. Our operator can book your flight (additional cost) to fly with the group to Paro the following morning.

Mon., Apr. 14: Welcome to Bhutan! Paro | Thimphu

Paro is a lovely small city in one of Bhutan’s loveliest valleys rimmed by high peaks of the Himalayas. Its centerpiece is the Paro Chhu River and the impressive Rinpung (Paro) Dzong. One has the feel in Paro of ancient meeting modern, as trendy coffee shops and cafes have sprung up and you have a chance to see some of the region’s arts and crafts.

The airport luggage carousel is a welcoming treat and a glimpse into how much this country supports art and artisans. Those already in Paro will meet up with the group flying in today from Delhi. The scenic drive to the capital city of Thimphu takes about two hours and along the route you see classic Bhutanese architecture and some chortons and stupas, small spiritual sites. Along the river we check for Ibisbill, one of Bhutan’s iconic species. We settle into our accommodations at a cool and comfortable 7000 feet. At dinner we provide an overview of our journey and for those that wish, we start our nightly species checklist to tally what we find each day.
Accommodations in Thimphu (B,L,D)

Tues., Apr. 15: Thimphu | Punakha

Enjoy a nice breakfast before we depart the city and start to climb up Dochu La Pass. We top out at 10,335 feet, which, weather permitting, provides us with fabulous views of Bhutan’s seven highest Himalayan peaks, all above 23,000 feet. Here the 108 Memorial Stupas stand impressively. On the grounds we find mixed flocks at the forest’s edge. We bird in lush forests of pine, rhododendron, and evergreen oak, and with luck we see a number of interesting birds like the Fire-tailed Myzornis, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Chestnut-capped Babbler, and Ultramarine Flycatcher. We also have a chance for Indian White-eye, Gray Bushchat, Blythe’s Leaf Warbler and the showstopping Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird. Noisy laughingthrushes may be present (White-throated, Chestnut-crowned, and Spotted), as well as White-collared Blackbird, Green-backed Tit, Whistling Warbler, Large-billed Warbler and Rufous-throated Fulvetta. With luck we could find a troop of Himalayan Gray Langur.

At the Royal Botanical Garden, we walk a loop trail among blooms of wild strawberries, violets, gentians, rhododendrons, and magnolias. At lower elevation than the pass, we can find other species of laughingthrushes (Chestnut-capped, White-throated, and Gray-sided), Rufous-crowned Babbler, both Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Himalayan Cuckoo, and colorful Rufous-bellied Woodpecker. We marvel at colorful butterflies and with luck could find a Large-eared Pika, one of six species in Bhutan.

Late afternoon, we arrive in Punakha, a scenic city defined by the impressive Punaka Dzong (Punthang Dechen Phodrang), or 'Palace of Great Bliss', the winter home of Bhutan’s spiritual leader and over 350 monks. This fortress is one of the most beautiful in the country, built in 1637 between the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. This afternoon enjoy photos from the edge of the river before we check in to our lodgings.
Accommodations at Four Boutique or similar at Punakha (B,L,D)

Wed., Apr. 16: Punakha

An early start from Punakha takes us to the Jigme Dorji National Park, a dramatic and beautifully scenic park of snow-capped peaks and lush mountain valleys. We bird in broad-leafed forests for a number of interesting species including Golden-throated Barbet and Black-winged Cuckooshrike. We hope to have the chance to visit Lamperi, too, looking for birds like Black Eagle, Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon, Asian Koel, Asian Emerald Cuckoo, and Nepal Fulvetta, The park is also home to the bizarre Takin, as well as 30 or so other mammals.

Back in Punakha, we enjoy a privately guided visit to the impressive Punaka Dzong.
Accommodations at Four Boutique or similar at Punakha (B,L,D)

Thurs., Apr. 17: Punakha | Chumey Nature Resort

This morning we pack up our gear and head on to Chumey, about six hours driving to the east. Before we leave the Punaka valley, we have a second chance at birding the Mo Chhu River in search of White-bellied Heron, Great-crested Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, various ducks and Black-winged Stilt. Then we continue on, looking for mixed flocks on birding breaks. We hope to find Red-tailed Minla, White-tailed Nuthatch and Black-throated Tit. We may find Dark-sided Flycatcher and Brown-flanked Bush Warbler. Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush are quite common along the road, and we stop at several photogenic waterfalls.

Our route crosses two high passes today; at lunch we may find a herd of free-range yak and an expansive view. Mid-afternoon we descend into the Chumay valley, a peaceful place with a mosaic of agricultural fields and farms; our lodge is of cozy log construction. As we check in we find the cheer of a woodfire welcome. Once settled, we gather to enjoy homemade food featuring local ingredients.
Accommodations at Chumey Nature Resort, Chumey (B,L,D)

Fri., Apr. 18: Chumey

The air will be fresh this morning in our little mountain retreat and a hot breakfast hits the spot. We enjoy a walk down the rural road and birding the edges of fields and forests. After our day of travel yesterday it’s a more relaxed morning. Among fields of barley and newly planted potatoes, we find fat cattle, still-woolly ponies, and fruit trees in bloom. With the architecture of farmhouses rivaling that of any building seen in town, this rural tapestry creates a lovely background for finding Black-rumped Magpie, Red-billed Chough, and Gray-backed Shrike.

The focus of our afternoon birding is a drive up through forests to a clearing at the Tharpaling Monastery. For birders, this is an interesting place (apart from the cultural value). The monks here co-habit the space with Himalayan Monal and occasionally Satyr Tragopan. We walk on the grounds of the monastery and then wait for the birds to arrive in the late afternoon. Return for a second delicious meal at the lodge and a chance to catch up on our species tally. This evening appreciate that your room is heated and you have a nice, locally made wooly blanket!
Accommodations at Chumey Nature Resort, Chumey (B,L,D)

Sat., Apr. 19: Chumey | Sengor

We savor a nice breakfast at the lodge and although we hate to leave this place, it’s off to another terrific birding area at Sengor. Getting there takes much of the morning. We have a picnic lunch and then we bird in forests around the camp (a legendary Bhutan birding location) this afternoon and the following morning.

Although there are no hotel facilities, we solve that issue by having our camp crew set up a tented camp for us, with catered meals and a campfire to enjoy. Camp life is simple; we have our own tents with cots and nice foam mattresses and two bathroom tents that are shared. There is a wash system set up and wonderful meals are served right there. With luck we hear owls and see if we can bring them in. It’s just one night … but on our last visit everyone wished for more!
Accommodations at Sengor Campsite; Outfitter Camp Tents (B,L,D)

Sun., Apr. 20: Sengor | Yongkola

After campfire coffee and a snack we bird the forest by our camp, spending time in moss-draped, mid-altitude broadleaved forests of the foothills across a range of elevations. As we enter the remarkable forests, we scan the understory vegetation, stands of thick bamboo, streambanks, and the sky for a good selection of lower elevation species in superb habitat. Some of our most sought after species include Kalij Pheasant, Streaked Spiderhunter, Slaty-backed Forktail, Red-breasted Pied-flycatcher, Blue Rock Thrush, Indian Blue Robin, White-hooded Babbler, White-crested Laughingthrush, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Blue-throated Barbet and Crested Serpent-Eagle (with a whole lot more!).

We pack up and after lunch continue with a drive to Yongkola, making a few birding stops en route to our next lodge. Once we reach Yongkola, we check into Trogon Villa where we find bird-themed rooms. This evening it’s nice to compare notes with other birders at the lodge as we meet for dinner and afterwards, our checklist tally. We have three nights here in the heart of one of Bhutan’s best birding areas.
Accommodations at Trogon Villa, Bumthang-Ura Hwy (B,L,D)

Mon., Apr. 21 - Tues., Apr. 22: Two Full Days Birding from Yongkola

The lodge is located close to very pristine forest, and we explore different patches of it from the same road, spending time in lush, mid-altitude subtropical broad-leafed forest, rich in moss, lichens, orchids, and ferns. This is ideal habitat for many species characteristic of the Eastern Himalayas and is one of the finest birding areas throughout the entire Himalayan chain. We search for Beautiful Nuthatch, Himalayan Cutia, Red-headed Trogon, Bay Woodpecker, Black-throated Parrotbill, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, and possibly Black Eagle.
Past groups have seen Sultan Tit, Himalayan Bulbul, Golden Babbler, Gold-naped Finch, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Crested Bunting, Asian Barred Owlet, and more. This area throws some pleasant surprises and we may even have a chance at seeing mammals like Himalayan Black Bear or a Common Leopard if we’re very lucky.

One evening from Yongkola, weather permitting, we try for nocturnal birds like Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Himalayan Wood Owl, Brown Wood Owl and possibly a few mammals like the endemic Bhutan Giant Flying Squirrel on a night outing.
Accommodations at Trogon Villa, Bumthang-Ura Hwy (B,L,D)

Wed., Apr. 23: Yongkola | Trongsa

We start out early, and after some travel enjoy a full picnic breakfast, set up and catered by our wonderful team. This are not your every day picnic … there are tables and chairs and the team cooks fresh hot food for us in the field. Fresh flowers adorn the tables and they always seem to be around the bend waiting for us just as our energies falter. We love this Bhutanese hospitality on wheels!

There is prime birding at the subtropical forests between Yonkola and Namling; over the course of the day we gradually head to Trongsa. This one-night stop breaks up what was a long travel day on past trips, and the lovely hotel we have chosen is a good rest stop. It has a view of the historic Trongsa Dzong. On arrival, you can settle into your room and enjoy the ambiance and views. In the evening we gather for dinner and the checklist tally. Some may want to try to photograph the Tronsa Dzong at night as it is spectacularly lit.
Accommodations at Hotel Yankhill, Trongsa (B,L,D)

Thurs., Apr. 24: Trongsa | Phobjikha

We get an early start as we have about a morning drive to our next stop, crossing back over Pele La Pass. Our destination today is Phobjikha, a lovely timbered valley with extensive wetlands in several patches. This is where Black-necked Cranes spend the winter and while we are too late in the year to see them, we enjoy seeing crane-themed signs and artwork and witnessing the local conservation support. Along our drive, our picnic lunch is set up with a fine view.

Last year a colorful Indian Roller was seen on the road in and out of our hotel. We should arrive by mid-afternoon. Some may wish to call it a day and relax at this lovely spot, but those that wish can retrace our drive to the pass to bird a near-abandoned road at Pele La Pass. We walk here on the old Pele La Road, which hosts incredible rhododendron blooms and on a clear day, fine views and outstanding birding. Mixed flocks are common and Darjeeling and other woodpeckers fly between massive trees, often calling.

Dinner tonight is at the lodge and we finish the day with our checklist tally.
Accommodations at Dewachen Hotel, Gangtey (B,L,D)

Fri., Apr. 25: Phobjikha

This morning we head out early, wanting to be in the magic of morning activity on the old Pele La Road, one of the best birding spots of our trip. We hope to hear and see the gorgeous Satyr Tragopan, and should also find Blood Pheasant, and Himalayan Monal — a pheasant family extravaganza! The smaller species hold excitement too, and are plentiful. We may find Green Shrike Babbler, Scaly-breasted Cupwing, and a host of warblers, tits, and yuhinas in mixed flocks. We have the full morning to walk and bird and take in this stunning setting. There is a craft market on the pass we can stop at if you wish … you can even try yak cheese!

This afternoon is guide’s choice, depending on what we still hope to see we choose the best spot.
Accommodations at Dewachen Hotel, Gangtey (B,L,D)

Sat., Apr. 26: Phobjikha | Paro

We have our breakfast at the lodge and head off to bird and explore the route between Phobjikha and Pele La Pass — then from Pele La to Paro — the total drive is about 5 hours with several good stops. This is the day we hope for good views of beautiful Ward’s Trogon and finding this beauty takes some time. We are not in a hurry, and we plan to stop near Thimphu at the national weaving center where we can see artists at work and perhaps purchase a woven treasure. On arrival, some may also enjoy looking around the town of Paro a bit, with its trendy shops and cafes it seems another world from the rural areas we’ve explored. Our dinner tonight is at a fun local restaurant.
Accommodations at Hotel Olathang, Paro (B,L,D)

Sun., Apr. 27: Paro | Chele La Pass Birding

We have one more incredible day of birding, and we head out early to climb Chele La Pass to the west of Paro. We want to spend time in semi-alpine forests where we have a chance to see White-winged Grosbeak, Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch, Blanford’s Rosefinch, and both Gray-crested, and Rufous-vented Tits. With luck we may find pika and Yellow-throated Marten. We bring a picnic breakfast with us.

Late afternoon we visit a wetland looking for Black-tailed Crake. If for any reason we have not had good views of Ibisbill, we can work along the river with very good chances to find them. This is the start of their nesting season and we may find a pair with a chick!

Over dinner we share the many highlights and favorite birds of our trip and we do our final checklist tally.
Accommodations at Hotel Olathang, Paro (B,L,D)

Mon., Apr. 28: Departures

Today our flock disperses. We have breakfast and time airport runs for departing flights. (B)

Pre-Tour Extension

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Mon., Apr. 7: Early Arrivals, New Delhi

We will be met at the airport and transferred to this delightful and modern airport hotel to get settled and rested up from your journey. If anyone wants to do sightseeing or explore nature areas around Delhi, requiring more days, we can put you in touch with our local operator (your guide for the tour) for custom planning. This night is at additional cost but highly recommended so you are rested up for this amazing journey, whether the extension or main tour.

Tues., Apr. 8: Arrivals in New Delhi | Flight to Guwahati

Some of our group may arrive in Delhi at dawn and continue on with us on the domestic flight. We worry about tight connections so HIGHLY recommend you come in the day ahead.

We plan to take a packed breakfast from the hotel to eat after you have checked into your flight to Guwahati. This flight is included with the extension and we fly as a group – hopefully we see the high Himalayas en route!

Once in Guwahati, we are met by drivers for the drive to Manas National Park (about three and a half hours). There are birds right from the start and we stop along the route as time permits.

Depending on our flight time, lunch may be en route or at the lodge in Manas. We want to be sure to be there in time for our afternoon jeep safari at Manas National Park. Bird highlights in travel may include Asian Palm Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Green Imperial Pigeon, Rufous Treepie, and Crimson Sunbird.

Safaris into the park can be very good for mammals as well as birds. Highlights may include Indian Rhino, Asian Elephant, Indian Gar, and though rare, this is a Tiger reserve and we have found tracks in past years. We may find Lineated and Blue-throated Barbets, Red-collared Dove, Green-billed Malkoha, Black-naped Monarch, Himalayan Flameback, and Gray-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.
Accommodations at Thobgang Jungle Tourist Lodge, Assam (B,L,D)

Wed., Apr. 9: Full Day Safari, East Side of Manas National Park

Enjoy the sunrise in India! This morning we head to a grassland section of the park. The habitat is open and we look directly into neighboring Bhutan with mountains that rise above the Manas River that outlines the border. We hope to find Bengel Florican, a critically endangered and impressive member of the bustard clan. In spring, they leap into the air and vocalize, making it possible to find them so we are here at a good time. Golden-headed Cisticola gleam in the sun, perched up on emergent stalks taller than the main grassy areas. We search for Siberian Stonechat, both Ashy and Plain Prinias, and four species of babblers: Striated, Slender-billed, Yellow-eyed, and Chestnut Capped. Changeable Hawk Eagle patrol above along with the more common Oriental Honey-Buzzard. In wet areas we can pick up Red-wattled Lapwing, Lesser Adjutant, and Asian Openbill. Wild Peacock (Indian Peafowl) call and display from tree tops, memorable!

We return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon go into the forested part of the park close by on a safari drive. Asian Fairy-bluebird and two lovely minivets, Scarlet and Rosy, brighten the forest with color. This is a great area for several species of green-pigeon, which enjoy flowering trees alongside Red-breasted Parakeet. Silver-breasted Broadbill nest here and mixed flocks abound.
Accommodations at Thobgang Jungle Tourist Lodge, Assam (B,L,D)

Thurs., Apr. 10 - Fri., Apr. 11: West Side of Manas National Park

The first day, we cross over to the other side of the park to check in to a different lodge for two nights and to enter and explore from a different gate. Travel through local villages is fun, watching the buzz of local life. Collared Falconet are agile small predators that feed on butterflies. The first morning we bird the edge of the park and rural areas, wetlands, the second we drive deep into the forest. There is so much to see in Manas!

On both days we have lunch at our lodge and go back out for afternoon safari. Our route in from the gate parallels the river, and we make a few side turnoffs to see what we can find. Likely candidates include Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Puff-throated Babbler, White-rumped Shama, and Small Niltava. Long-tailed Broadbill, Asian Barred Owlet, and Kalij Pheasant are all possible. Inside the park we find extraordinary lushness to the forests, with activity at a level of a bird explosion, it’s spring! We may find both Greater and Black-rumped Flamebacks, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, and the usual mix of drongos, bulbuls, and warblers. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater show off their array of color, and here we can find Great Hornbill — absolutely incredible birds, not unlike the New World toucans. Rufous-necked Laughingthrush might feed on tracks of the dirt roads we travel while Bengal Monitor Lizards sun themselves on trunks of trees.

We have an excellent chance to see mammals here, including Asian Elephant. Dinners are at the lodge.
Accommodations at Musa Jungle Lodge, Assam (B,L,D)

Sat., Apr. 12: Return to Guwahati | Flight to Delhi

We enjoy breakfast and one last drive into the park, perhaps spotting Red-headed Trogon. We return to pack up and drive back to Guwahati where we board afternoon flights to New Delhi. We are met at the airport and return in time for dinner and to join those coming in for the main tour – Bhutan here we come!
Accommodations at Andaz Aerocity, New Delhi (B,L,D)

  • Birding Bhutan, Bird watching Bhutan, Asia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Himalayan Monal

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    Long-tailed Broadbill

  • Birding Bhutan, Bird watching Bhutan, Asia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot

    White-hooded Babblers by Peg Abbott

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    Great Hornbill

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    White-naped Yuhnia by Peg Abbott

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    Red-headed Trogon

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    Golden Langur by Peg Abbott

  • Birding Bhutan, Bird watching Bhutan, Asia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Gray Treepie by Peg Abbott

  • Birding Bhutan, Bird watching Bhutan, Asia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Satyr Tragopan

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    Sultan Tit by Peg Abbott

  • Birding Bhutan, Bird watching Bhutan, Asia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Pallas's Fish Eagle by Peg Abbott

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    Rufous-necked Hornbills

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    Ashy Drongo by Peg Abbott

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    Mrs. Gould's Sunbird by Peg Abbott

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    Rufous-backed Sibia by Peg Abbott

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    Bhutan Physiography, Credit CIA via Creative Commons

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $TBD DBL / $TBD SGL, per person, based on double occupancy, from Paro*. Cost includes all accommodations; all meals as stated in the itinerary; group airport transfers; ground transportation in a Toyota Hiace; professional guide services; park, preserve, and other activity fees; and miscellaneous program expenses. 

Tour price does not include: roundtrip airfare to and from Paro, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, porterage, telephone charges, or alcoholic beverages, overstay expenses arising from weather or COVID reasons or other unforeseen situations.

Tour price also does not include the Bhutan tourism fees or your visa cost (2024 pricing was $40). 

*If you choose to come into Dehli and fly with the extension group to Paro, our operator can book that flight for you and we can add it to your invoice.

Cost of the Manas extension is $TBD DBL / $TBD SGL and includes the internal flights (Dehli - Guwahati - Dehli - Paro). 

A note about the cost of this trip: This is an expensive tour. Bhutan limits tourist visits and links visas to the use of an authorized local operator and by requiring local operators to charge a minimum per person per day for even basic services, with a portion of that going back to the government. A visit to Bhutan is a privilege, we do pay for it in the tourism fees.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Paro International Airport (PBH), or book flights to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and have us book your flights to and from Paro with the group (additional cost).

Arrival Details: Please plan to arrive April 12, 2025, at your leisure. It is important to arrive a day early to rest up from your travels. 

Alternatively, you can plan flights to the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi, India on April 6 where you can meet our group members returning from the Manas National Park extension. Our operator can book your flight to fly with the group to Paro the following morning. 

Departure Details: Please plan international flights to depart Paro on April 28, 2025, after 11:00 AM. If you plan to fly in and out of Delhi, please plan international flights after 8:00 PM.

Travel Tip: We highly recommend you add the pre-tour extension as it will give you a better understanding of the lowland habitats, which we do not visit in Bhutan. This is a perfect pairing that will add 100+ species to your list! The guide will be the same on both tours and will make logistics easy for getting to the main tour start in Paro.

If you arrive early in Paro to rest up from your travels, we can book you an early night at a hotel in town where it’s easy to walk around and explore. If you arrive early into New Delhi, we can book a room for you at the Andaz Delhi by Hyatt. If you want to see a bit of the city of New Delhi, our operator can arrange a tour for you on a custom basis. 

Visa Requirements: India: You will need to apply for your own visa if you are entering India. You should apply for the visa not more than 90 days prior to departure. We have had a lot of success using www.joinsherpa.com, who simplify the process and get visas back in just a few days.

You will be requested to give a reference address in India – please use the following: Vana Safaris Pvt Ltd. 226 Platinum Heights, Sector 18B Dwarka New Delhi (this is the city), Delhi (this is the state), 110075 India Telephone: +91-11-47512262.

Bhutan: Your Bhutan Visa will be arranged by the local team in Bhutan and be sent to you a couple of weeks prior to your travel. Please upload a scan of your passport to your traveler portal, or send it to clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com to allow us to process the visa for you.



Items of Note

Please expect a fair amount of walking in Bhutan, and note altitudes below. Daily activity starts at 0500 hours, with breakfast at 0700 hours, followed by birding until about 1030 hours. We break then have lunch at around 1230 hours and then birding resumes till 1600 hours. We plan evening birding on two or three different days.

Elevation of Accommodations
Gangtey — 3050 meters / 10,000 ft
Sengor — 3,000 m / 9842 ft
Ura Hwy/Bumthang — 2,800 m / 9,185 ft
Thimphu — 2,350 m / 7,710 ft
Trongsa — 2,200 m / 7,215 ft
Paro — 2,250 m / 7,382 ft
Punakha — 1,310 m / 4,300 ft

High Passes – Altitude
Chele la — 3988 metres / 13,083 ft
Thrumsing la — 3780 metres / 12,401 ft
Yotong la — 3425 metres / 11,236 ft
Dochu la — 3100 metres / 10,170 ft

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


  • Bryan Shirley

    Bryan Shirley graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Japanese/International Economics. He lived in Japan for 3 years when he was 20 and fell in love with the language and culture and has been guiding and birding there ever since. Besides guiding in Japan, he regularly leads tours for Japanese birding groups around the US and other countries. When not guiding he has been involved with various DWR and USFWS projects such as relocating Sage Grouse, breeding bird surveys, and bird-related projects for private environmental consulting firms. He also has volunteered his time to serve as president of Utah County Birders and organizes the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Counts for Provo and Payson, Utah where he currently resides. He currently is a member of the Utah Bird Records Committee.

    Other trips with Bryan Shirley

Map for Biodiverse Bhutan: Birds, Mammals & Beyond

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S. It should have blank pages for entry and exit stamps as well as your visa. Your passport should have at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer.
  • You will need Visas to visit Bhutan, and, if applicable, for India. See the “Passport & Documents” section below.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Bhutan and consult with your doctor 4-6 weeks prior to departure about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance. Please share your travel insurance information with us.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Paro International (PBH) or Indira Gandhi International (DEL)

Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of our India operator. As a backup, contact our office (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).

Plan flights into Paro International Airport (PBH) to arrive at your leisure, giving yourself time to rest up in Paro before we head out on the first day of the tour.  Alternatively, you can arrive at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi, India where you can meet our group members returning from the Manas National Park extension. Our operator can book your flight (additional cost) to fly with the group to Paro the following morning. 

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from New Delhi (PBH)

Please plan departure flights after 11 AM.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

Passports: Your passport must be in good condition AND valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S.  You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Indian embassy website for guidelines.

Guidelines and regulations can change. It is always advisable to double-check requirements 60-90 days ahead of traveling. The travel.state.gov website is an excellent resource.

Visa for India: If you are doing the pre-tour extension or plan on arriving in New Delhi for the main tour and staying overnight, you will need a visa. You should apply for the visa not more than 90 days prior to departure.

Visa for Bhutan: Visas for registered clients will be facilitated by the local team in Bhutan. Additional information will be provided in advance of the tour.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep electronic backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. 

Vaccinations: Bring a copy of your up-to-date vaccination records with you. Although there are no required vaccinations to enter Bhutan or India, the CDC recommends that all travelers be up-to-date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please consult with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpages for Bhutan and India are helpful or you may reach them by phone at (800) CDC-INFO (800-232-4636). 

Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 

Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s).  If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.

Daily Itinerary

The pace of this tour is active, with very early morning starts. A typical day is an early start at 5:00AM, with field breakfasts and lunches.

Each day you’ll walk 1-3 miles, mostly along roadsides (paved or gravel), with gentle up or down slopes. Occasionally you’ll have a bit more elevation change, but will walk downhill where possible.

You’ll regularly drive fairly long distances, with birding stops. Comfort stops on field days will often be in forests, unless a restaurant or other facility is available.

We visit low, middle and higher elevations on our field time. This tour requires you to be able to walk at about 10000 – 12000 feet on a couple of the days. You will be above 8000 feet on several days on this tour. High altitude nights are in Phobjika Valley (3000m) where we have one night after leaving Tingtibi, April 20.

On the night of April 19, you will be staying in a tented camp. This is outfitted camping, with sleeping and bathroom tents and all linens provided. You have private sleeping tents but shared bath. Please note that all birding companies must camp in this location (Tingtibi) because the hotel there is no longer recognized or allowed by the government for foreigners and thus tourists may no longer sleep there.

Please do note that Bhutan is working on road expansions and this means some areas may have some difficult or congested roads. We may need to adapt and are a primary reason for some soft changes in the itinerary. We suspect post road widening the changes will be permanent due to habitat loss.

We will do our best to stick to the plans but we like to be flexible and make advantage of the areas where the birding is best rather than stick to the program and miss out on good birding. The Government of Bhutan announces the areas where the road expansion will happen (normally a month in advance) and if any of the areas that we are traveling is affected by that we will immediately make an alternate plan to ensure that we have a smooth hassle-free tour.

Weather & Climate

Weather in India and at low elevation can be very hot and humid, with rain possible. Bhutan is an all-season destination with a climate that varies widely from region to region. April temperatures can vary from 40-80 degrees F, and showers are possible. There is a possibility of snow in high passes. Good sun block is a must in Bhutan due to the altitude.

Annoyances & Hazards, Cultural Notes

Mosquitos can occur, so bring DEET for your clothes. Leech socks are recommended and can be purchased ahead online, also some extras will provided. You may not have to use them but it is good to have them with you as it will save you from other insect bites too. There are only a few areas where we expect leeches - so we will not be required to wear them throughout the tour. Although insecticides could be used against leeches, that could kill amphibians so leech socks are preferred.

Begging in India. Beggars are usually seen at the traffic signals, and on the streets in certain areas, especially in urban India. We would advise against handing out money, pens, gifts, sweets etc. to them as this encourages the practice and does not alleviate the problem in any way. If you would like to contribute, your local guide can give advice on organizations to support. At the tour end if you have items you wish to leave, clothing, medicines etc., our operator can distribute them to needy people.

Food & Drinks

Indian food is varied and the spices and cooking are dictated by regional traditions. The variety available is huge. In the larger cities, restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines are available, and we will be happy to provide you with a restaurant guide.  In the smaller cities, stand-alone restaurants usually focus on local cuisine. However, nearly all hotels have menus offering a choice of international cuisines. The food in most hotels are prepared in a sanitary environment. Outside of hotels, safe eating should be guided by the rule - “if you can peel it, eat it” and always eat food which is freshly cooked.

Bhutan in April will have a variety of fresh fruits. The ones that are eaten without peeling are best given a good washing before consumption.

Bhutanese food is similar to Indian food except that at each meal you will get to see a preparation of chili and cheese - called 'Ema datse'. There will be traditional Indo-tibetan cuisine as well - with thick vegetarian soups called Thukpa and steamed dimsums. Generally, your guides will ensure that the food is as varied as possible. While in Paro/Punakha - you will get a chance to stop by a cafe/restaurant with a wider choice of food including continental options. Your guide/team will carry some nuts/dry fruits that will be added to your breakfast menu.

Tap water is not safe to drink.  Bottled water will be available.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day.

When visiting dzongs, monasteries and lhakhangs, appropriate attire is required, with nothing shorter than knee level. Shoulders should be covered, ideally to mid-upper arm. Sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are recommended for higher elevations. See the Clothing and Gear guide for more information.

Please, pack light! Do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down! 

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field, have one day’s clothing change, including a change of underwear. And please, do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

Spending Money

The national currency in Bhutan is the ngultrum (Nu) and cash is the most widely accepted payment throughout the Kingdom. Prices are usually quoted in ngultrum although US dollars are widely accepted and changed. Guests are strongly advised to carry some cash as ATMs don’t always functions. Some shops (mainly handicraft shops) accept credit cards. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. Bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

India’s currency is 'Rupee', abbreviated as ‘Rs’. One Rupee is equal to 100 paise. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 10 rupees. Notes are usually in the denomination of 10, 20, 50, 200, 500 and 2000. You are not allowed to bring Indian currency of more than Rs 5000 into the country. The best place to change money is on arrival at the International airport. ATM’s are largely available across the country (see Useful Links to find nearby ATMs). You should retain the receipt you receive from the money changer/ATM machine so you are able to change any left-over rupees at the airport before departures. You cannot purchase Indian Rupees outside of India.


Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. No gratuity is expected for your Naturalist Journeys leader. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. We try to keep tipping contained, and will handle smaller tips for local guides that we have for an outing or a day or two, you can focus on the main guides with you the full time.

Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:

  • Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest (if two guides, they will share).
    Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
  • Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
  • Lodge staff: US $5-$6.00 per day per guest
  • Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
  • Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase

The Lodges that we use in this tour prefer that a consolidated amount is left at the front desk at check-out rather than paying individual tips for the staff except the naturalists in the accompanying jeeps who can be tipped individually.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

You can make international calls from New Delhi. The country code for the USA is 1.

International calls to the United States: Dial 00 + (1) + country code + area code + number.

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one). Please note that cell coverage will be spotty in Bhutan.

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.

Hotels and restaurants in Bhutan will likely not have Wi-Fi, or the service can be very spotty. Please do not expect to be in constant contact during this journey.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.


In India voltage is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles, though some areas also have DC supplies. Visitors are advised to check the voltage before using electrical appliances. Socket sizes vary, so it is as well to take a set of plug adapters, available from most electrical stores. Most luxury hotels have converters already installed in the bedrooms or are available at reception. The plug point in India are mostly like those found in southern Europe (two-prong) but please note that there are older forms of the electrical plug points also in use in older hotels in India so converters may still be required. We suggest that you consider a universal plug adapter, which will ensure you are covered.

In Bhutan the voltage is 230 volts AC. It is good to be careful while charging expensive devices when staying in remote areas as there may be high fluctuations that may result in the damage of the battery or the electrical circuits of the items being connected to power.

Helpful information is available at power-plugs-sockets.com for Bhutan and India.


Bhutan is plus six hours GMT, ½ hour ahead of India and one hour behind Thailand. There is only one time zone in Bhutan. For more information, see www.timeanddate.com.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 40 pounds – we move a lot and thus load and unload luggage a lot. You should be able to handle your own bags – with steps we can surely help as needed. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your CARRY-ON. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. 

Weather in India and at low elevation can be very hot and humid, with rain possible. Bhutan is an all-season destination with a climate that varies widely from region to region. April temperatures can vary from 40-80 degrees F, and showers are possible. There is a possibility of snow in high passes. Good sun block is a must in Bhutan due to the altitude.

Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. Quick-dry fabrics are ideal. A light jacket should be enough in the evenings. Casual clothing is appropriate onboard. You will want a pair of shoes or light boots with good tread, and sandals are fine onboard and for travel days.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors; though camouflage clothing is not recommended. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2-3 pair
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts, 2-3 (Loose fitting keeps you cool.)
  • Shorts, optional, we do have some hot weather in the lowlands
  • T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts or equivalent (2-3)
  • Casual clothing for travel days and evenings
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry (Long enough to tuck your pants into, to help protect from biting insects)
  • Leech socks
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes such as tennis shoes, and lightweight hiking boots – 2 pairs. Please note that forest trails will be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – good tread and support are essential!
  • Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days (slip on shoes work well)
  • Shower thongs (optional)
  • Lightweight to medium weight fleece jacket or sweater for early morning walks and highlands
  • Good quality raincoat/pants that doubles as a windbreaker with your fleece to layer
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup - For passport, copy the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack for field gear while hiking and as carry-on bag (water-resistant recommended)
  • Money pouch, or someplace to carry your money and passport with you at all times
  • Walking stick – (optional but recommended if you have one).
  • Umbrella – not brightly colored (optional)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock (if you use your phone, be sure to turn off data roaming)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent (something containing DEET, and sulphur powder for chiggers)
  • Tissue packs
  • Toiletry articles
  • Binoculars (a shower cap is great to cover these when raining)
  • Camera and extra battery, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual
  • Adapter for three to two prong plugs and converter for 110 to 220 volts
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook and pen or journal (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Earplugs, neck rest and eyeshade (optional)
  • Wash cloth (towels are provided)
  • Gallon-size zip-lock-type or small dry bag to keep things dry on excursions off the ship
  • Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)


WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Heath insurance and vaccination records (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including eye glasses
  • Altitude sickness and motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed
  • Personal first aid kit, and medications for general ailments, colds and stomach ailments
  • Foot powder, lotions, general “comfort” items
  • Hydrocortisone cream to ease itching from insect bites
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Epi-pen if needed for allergic reactions
  • Antibacterial hand soap, small vial, and cleansing wipes
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts (with plenty of wetting and cleaning solution)


Suggested Reading List +

  There are many titles of interest for Bhutan; the following are a few that we Read more


There are many titles of interest for Bhutan; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

General Reading

Bhutan Travelog

Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan

Field Guides

A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh

Birds of Bhutan and the Eastern Himalayas

Birds of the Indian Subcontinent

Birds of South-East Asia

Indian Mammals, A Field Guide

APP: https://apps.apple.com/au/app/eguide-to-birds-of-the-indian-subcontinent/id530104501

History & Culture

Bhutan - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Himalaya: A Human History

Of Rainbows and Clouds: The Life of Yab Ugyen Dorji

Married to Bhutan: How One Woman Got Lost, Said I Do, and Found Bliss

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan

The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan

Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan

Joanne Lumley In the Kingdom of Thunder Dragon

Bhutan: Himalayan Mountain Kingdom


Colliding Continents: A geological exploration of the Himalaya, Karakoram, and Tibet

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more


About New Delhi

Bhutan – The Mountain Kingdom (video)

Bhutan Country Profile

Buddhist Monasteries in Bhutan

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Overview of Birding in the Kingdom of Bhutan

Birds of Bhutan

Birding Hot Spots – Punakha, Bhutan

Natural History of Bhutan

Mammals of Bhutan

Reptiles of Bhutan

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Conservation and Environmental Protection Efforts in Bhutan

Jigme Dorji National Park

Geology & Geography

Geology of Bhutan & Himalayas

Bhutan Earthquake Opens Doors to Geophysical Studies

Geography of Bhutan

History & Culture

Bhutan – History and Culture

Anthony Bourdain - Parts Unknown S11:E8 Bhutan (45-min episode)

Tour Extension – Manas National Park

About Guwahati

Manas National Park – India

Helpful Travel Websites

New Delhi/Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)

National Passport Information Center

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Bhutan

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Bhutan

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Bhutan

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Bhutan

Electricity and Plugs - Bhutan

Date, Time, and Holidays - Bhutan

Photo credits: Banners: Thimphu, Bhutan, Dr Vikramjit Kakati via Creative Commons; Golden Langur, M. Swarnali via Creative Commons; Rufous-necked Hornbill by Rohit Naniwadekar via Creative Commons; Great Buddha Dordenma, Christopher J. Fynn via Creative Commons; Female Great Hornbill Debrup Chakraborty via Creative Commons; Golden Eagle Photo Credit/ Avijit Sarkhel; Black-throated Sunbird by JJ Harrison via Creative Commons. Thumbnails: Golden Langur (NJ Stock), Black-necked Crane (NJ Stock), Asian Elephant (NJ Stock), Rufous-necked Hornbill (NJ Stock), Fire-tailed Myzornis (NJ Stock), Asian Emerald Cuckoo (NJ Stock), Indian Rhino (NJ Stock), Blood Pheasant (NJ Stock)


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