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.
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 snow-clad 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, laughing-thrushes, yuhinas, sunbirds, flowerpeckers, rosefinches, and possibly some of the mountain’s more unusual species such as Grey-sided Laughing-thrush, Nepal Parrotbill and Cutia.
Leaving Kathmandu, we will fly to Biratnagar, a bustling town situated in the Gangetic floodplains of south-eastern Nepal. Heading east, the flight provides spectacular views of such Himalayan giants as Mount Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga and Makalu. On arrival at Biratnagar, we will travel by road for a couple of hours to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve for a 3-night stay. Our base, Koshi Camp, is situated on the edge of the 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 100 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 to be seen here include Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Asiatic Jackal, Hog 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.
Next we make the long drive from Koshi to Chitwan, passing through Nepal’s lowlands. 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 3-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, by jeep, and other means.
Finally, we head back to Kathmandu from Chitwan along the scenic Narayani and Trisuli Rivers. It is here that we hope to finish our holiday on a high note by locating the Ibisbills that winter here.
For those wishing to extend their holiday, our pre-tour extension to the grasslands of Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve offers a very different and very special range of birds and mammals; alternatively, if you would like to remain longer in Nepal, we highly recommend a stay at the stunningly located Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge which offers some of the finest mountain views in the world.
We were so well treated at Tigerland Safari Lodge and Koshi Camp; they are both lovely places. Our guide was very helpful and knowledgeable.
A very enjoyable and interesting tour. Everything went well, the leaders and drivers were excellent and attentive, and we saw a great deal of wildlife.
Suchit Basnet was absolutely brilliant - enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful, friendly, humorous and well organised.
Well what can I say? Probably the best foreign trip I’ve undertaken (and I’ve done a few!). Keep up the good work!
I had never taken an 'organised' trip before and was warned that I might find the tour restrictive. But the holiday was superb. Many, many thanks to everybody involved. Hathan was very hard-working, very organised and a real gentleman. Great trip all round. Great wildlife.
We looked upon the trip to Nepal as the trip of a lifetime, and in no way did it disappoint – just hoping now that there will be more!
The local agents were first class, hospitality, attention to detail, enthusiasm and professionalism were all at a premium.
The information about the Maoists and political situation in Nepal is important but please reassure would be customers that tourists are not the target.
I would just like to thank everyone involved in making this trip to Nepal one of the best I have undertaken. We were well informed and made aware of the political problems before we set off.
Not once during the entire visit did I feel security was lacking, that in any way we were in danger or threatened by the circumstances... I would recommend to anyone who wishes to take this trip to go ahead without any hesitation.
T. & J.K.
This was an outstanding trip and Suchit is an excellent ornithologist... He was tenacious in searching out our wishlist birds, especially the elusive Ibisbill. Ground organisation was impeccable - whether it was a jeep, aircraft, dugout canoe or elephant, all arrived on time and took us where we wanted. The birds were great... but the mammals (leopard included), the culture, the company and the accommodation were bonuses.
M. & L.OS.
It seems a great shame that adverse publicity is discouraging people from visiting when everyone in Nepal wants the tourists to go and does everything possible to make us welcome. Please assure future travellers that there is no danger and a holiday there is completely recommended.
M. & B.D.
We both thought Som was quite exceptional. He clearly had a good relationship with the drivers, hotel staff and camping organisations and was patient and expert in his birding, ensuring that everyone in the group got his attention and guidance. We cant praise him highly enough.
A great trip. Suchit was a fantastic guide, wonderful warm personality.
I have nothing but praise for Suchit Basnet who not only proved to be an excellent guide but has a first class attitude to his job.