Nepal safe for travel again & we unveil our new butterfly tour to the country!
In June 1982, while birding in the wonderful forests of Phulchowki, a 9,000-foot summit on the southern rim of Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, Naturetrek’s MD, David Mills, met a bearded Englishman in khaki shorts, an army surplus rucksack on his back. With one hand he pushed his bicycle, in the other he clutched a large butterfly net. It was Colin Smith.
Colin had arrived in Nepal as a missionary, back in the 1960s, to work in education. It was truly a different country then - few roads, fewer airfields, remote, medieval, mystical and just emerging into the wider world after centuries of self-imposed isolation. As well as 38 books on Nepal’s butterflies, and numerous checklists and papers, Colin's work has also included initiating collections for Nepal's natural history museums and universities, though today his focus is solely on photographic work. Now, as he approaches 80, Colin continues to live in Nepal and to study the rich butterfly diversity of this spectacular Himalayan country, and this ‘Putali Baje’ (lit. ’Butterfly Grandfather’, as Colin is known in Nepal) has been instrumental in helping us to design a brand new holiday - focusing on butterflies and moths - to Nepal, along with fellow Lepidoptera experts Dr Tom Brereton and Marcus Cotton, among others!
Since mid-2005, with infectious enthusiasm, Colin has been working with the naturalist guides of Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge to monitor the butterflies of the woodlands and grasslands around the lodge. It is to this wonderful lodge, with its spectacular views of the giant summits of the Annapurna range of high Himalaya, that Butterfly Conservation's Tom Brereton will be leading the first ever butterfly tour to Nepal from 16th April to 27th April 2016 (cost £2,995 all-inclusive). Tom will hopefully be joined along the way by Colin Smith and those guides he's inspired. As well as spending three days exploring the Himalayan foothills from the lodge, this Naturetrek group will also explore the lowland jungles of Chitwan National Park and the temperate and subtropical forests of the hills of the Kathmandu Valley.
No larger than Great Britain, Nepal holds 10 times the number of butterfly species – 643 at the latest count! On this exciting new tour we will hope to see and photograph at least a hundred of these, focusing on three of the best and most accessible areas in Nepal for butterflies. First we will spend two days exploring the habitats that lie between the botanical gardens at Godaveri (4,500 feet) and the temperate oak and rhododendron forests on the 9,000-foot summit of Phulchowki, a magnificently forested peak on the southern rim of the Kathmandu Valley. Here we will search for such rarities as Golden Emperor, Great Hockeystick Sailer, Scarce Siren and Kaiser-i-Hind amongst a wealth of 50 or more other species. We will then descend to the lowlands of Nepal, lying just above sea level, to enjoy not just the wealth of butterflies, but the birds and large mammals as well, of Chitwan National Park. Finally, we’ll drive to Pokhara for a 3-night stay at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge. This is not just Nepal’s finest lodge, with the most special views, wildlife and walking opportunities, but it is owned and managed by Marcus Cotton, a passionate conservationist and butterfly enthusiast. Here, Marcus has planted one of the most butterfly-laden buddleias on the planet, and we will hope to see such spectacular species as Paris Peacock, Great Mormon, Red Helen and Red-base Jezebel alongside numerous blues, grass yellows, tree-browns, bush-browns, pansies and tigers!
For further details of this special tour, please contact Rajan Jolly at Naturetrek on 01962 733051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details may also be found on our 'Butterflies of Nepal' tour page.