Nepal is not to be missed. It is one of the most spectacular countries on earth, inhabited by the most friendly and endearing people, and boasts an incredible 840 species of birds within a land-locked area only the size of England and Wales! This holiday is designed to introduce you to the finest birdwatching areas of this Himalayan kingdom, at a sensible cost. We should see in the region of 300 bird species, together with a good selection of larger mammals, birdwatching at altitudes up to 2,740 metres in the Kathmandu Valley, and down to nearly sea level in Chitwan and Koshi Tappu. We will begin our holiday in Kathmandu, Nepal’s fascinating capital that combines medieval and modern in unique fashion. Our three nights here will allow us to enjoy some of the valley’s cultural and architectural highlights. Beautiful pagoda-style Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas (shrines), and elaborate royal palaces punctuate Kathmandu, and provide homes for the Barn Owls that may be seen floating over the city at dusk, together with Night Herons and scores of ghostly Indian Flying Foxes. We may also have time to look for the many wetland birds that crowd the rivers and paddyfields that surround the city, whilst overhead it is hard to miss the Black Kites and Steppe Eagles that wheel above the valley. It is Phulchowki mountain, however, that will be the focus of our attention during our time in Kathmandu. Driving as close to its summit as conditions allow, we will enjoy our first views of the magnificent snowclad Himalaya. From here we will spend a full day descending from Phulchowki’s 2,740-metre crown, where frost and snow cling to a temperate forest of spruce, fir, oak and rhododendron, to the subtropical forest around the mountain’s base at 1,520 metres. The birdlife on this forested mountain is the richest in the valley, no one visit producing the same long list of bird species. Here we will undoubtedly enjoy our first Himalayan woodpeckers, minivets, warblers, flycatchers, laughingthrushes, yuhinas, sunbirds, flowerpeckers, rosefinches, and possibly some of the mountain’s more unusual species such as Grey-sided Laughingthrush, Nepal Parrotbill and Cutia. The long drive from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park, along the Trisuli and Narayani Rivers, is not only very scenic, but may allow us to catch roadside views of Brown Dipper and Himalayan Pied Kingfisher. The Royal Chitwan National Park is a World Heritage Site that protects 932 square kilometres of dry deciduous forest, tropical evergreen forest and riverine grasslands. A larger number of bird species (over 480) has been recorded here than in any other part of Nepal due to Chitwan’s diverse habitats and tropical lowland situation. We can expect to see a third of these during our two-night stay. The park holds a similar wealth of mammals, including the endangered Indian Rhinoceros, Wild Boar, Sambar, Muntjac, Spotted and Hog Deer, and Rhesus and Common Langur Monkeys. Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bears, and Gaur (the Asiatic bison) may also occasionally be seen, as well as the Marsh Mugger and fish-eating Gharial Crocodiles. We will explore the park on foot, on elephant back, in canoes and by jeep. The long drive eastwards, across Nepal’s terai (lowlands), that precedes our threenight stay at Koshi Tappu will give us a further taste of the birds of Nepal’s extensive dry deciduous forests. Red Jungle Fowl, Black-headed Orioles, and perhaps even the rare White-rumped Needletail Swift are likely to be seen; whilst, on the Rapti River, we have a chance of locating Ibisbills and Long-billed Plovers. Koshi Camp, our comfortable tented camp, is situated in an otherwise isolated area on the edge of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, part of a vast expanse of open water, marshes, lagoons, sandbanks, mudflats and dry woodlands that lie to the north of the great Koshi barrage. This is one of Asia’s finest wetlands and a fabulous birdwatching area. Almost all of Nepal’s long list of wildfowl, waders, storks, ibises, herons, egrets, terns and gulls occur here, plus a great variety of landbirds, especially warblers and birds of prey. Well in excess of a hundred species of birds may be seen daily in this wonderful area, including such local specialities as Swamp Francolin, Red-necked Falcon, and Striated Marsh Warbler. This region is also the last refuge of the Wild Water Buffalo in Nepal, and other mammals occurring here include Leopard, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Asiatic Jackal, Spotted Deer, Nilgai (or ?Blue Bull?— the subcontinent’s largest antelope), and the rare Ganges River Dolphin. We will explore the area on foot and in inflatable boats. With our introduction to Nepal’s birds behind us, we will now leave Koshi Tappu and drive to Biratnagar, a town on the Indian border in the far south-east of the country. Here we must reluctantly board a flight back to Kathmandu, carrying with us lasting memories of this bird-rich mountain kingdom, as we fly past the Himalayan giants — Mounts Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga and Makalu.
Once again a very good Naturetrek holiday. The agents in Kathmandu were excellent and extremely helpful... Our guide, Som GC, was really good and so knowledgeable. He is also very helpful and a really nice young man.
Our guide for the main tour, Hathan, was exceptionally good and very much helped the main tour go so well. His passion for the animals of his country is very infectious.
This was a fabulous, excellent value holiday... Som, our guide was superb... his knowledge of the country was superb and added greatly to the interest of the holiday. The local agent also deserves a mention. He organised our stay in Kathmandu superbly...
The trip was outstanding. The thing that made our holiday was our guide Som. He was outstanding. I will be using Naturetrek in the future and have and will recommend it to all my friends. I am a very satisfied customer!
Som, our Nepalese guide, is excellent. He really knows his stuff and he helped to give a friendly and informal atmosphere to our group.
Naturetrek staff were extremely helpful. The tented camps were excellent and we were looked after extremely well, and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. Som’s natural history knowledge is outstanding and the way he used this to ensure that each member of the group got the most out of the trip was much appreciated. His commitment to the job, combined with his friendliness and helpfulness were what made the holiday so enjoyable and memorable.