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Nepal - In Search of the Red Panda

Tour Code: NPL17

A unique 10-day wildlife adventure in search of the elusive Red Panda, plus other mammals and birds, in the temperate oak and rhododendron forests of eastern Nepal's Himalayan foothills.

10 days from £3195(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2595 SRS: £395 + an optional 5-day extension

This holiday focuses on the wildlife of the eastern Himalaya in the far east of Nepal. Thanks to the work of Nepalese scientists who have been tracking and researching Red Pandas in the high temperate oak and rhododendron forests between Dobate and Hange Tham we’ll search for these elusive mammals as well as other Himalayan birds and mammals. Among the many special birds here are Fire-tailed Myzornis, Maroon-backed Accentor, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Rufous-capped Babbler and eight species of laughing-thrush, to name a few! Our Red Panda quest begins with a flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur, before driving through Nepal’s tea gardens and from there we head to Dobate, a tiny Sherpa village in the eastern foothills of the Himalaya. From our base here we’ll explore the higher altitude forests (2,200-4,800m) looking for Red Pandas and other wildlife, with the help of local guides.

  • Naturetrek has 30 years’ experience exploring Nepal’s remote eastern forests
  • Join local guides searching for Red Pandas in known higher temperate forest hot-spots
  • Includes a stay in the Sherpa village of Dobate
  • Tented base camp among subtropical vegetation, home to sibias, piculets & minlas
  • Fire-tailed Myzornis, Maroon-backed Accentor & Cutia among many special birds
  • Yellow-bellied Warbler & Golden-breasted Fulvetta among avian highlights
  • Explore remote forests, home to Leopard, Large Indian Civet & other elusive mammals
  • Extension to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve for those who wish to stay longer
  • Led by expert local naturalist guides



Included in the price, except for dinners in Kathmandu. Allow £30.


Simple but comfortable hotel in Kathmandu (with en suite facilities). Fully serviced camping in Dobate and Hange Tham. Basic hotel in Ilam. Koshi Camp is a comfortable tented camp with private facilities.

Red Panda

Red Panda

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2 Kathmandu

Day 3 Fly Bhadrapur; drive Dobate

Day 4/5 Dobate

Day 6/7 Hange Tham

Day 8 Ilam

Day 9 Drive Bhadrapur; fly Kathmandu

Day 10 Fly London

This exciting new holiday focuses on the rich wildlife of the eastern Himalaya and, in particular, a quest to track down and observe the elusive Red Panda — an iconic mammal, sought after by many but seen by very few. In an attempt to achieve our goal, we focus on the last remaining areas of temperate oakrhododendron forest in the far east of Nepal. Here, in the Himalayan foothills, not far from the Indian hill-station of Darjeeling and the shadows of Kanchenjunga (the world’s third highest mountain), Red Pandas are not uncommon. Until recently, however, they were rarely seen. Now, thanks to the work of the Nepalese scientists who have been tracking and researching the species in this area with the help of local forest guards, we at last have a chance of observing the Red Panda in the wild.

In fact, these forests are well known to Naturetrek staff, tour leaders and some clients, as we have explored them regularly over the past 30 years or so, looking for their rare birds — in particular those east Himalayan specialities not found elsewhere in Nepal. Such avian gems as Bay Woodpecker, Large Niltava, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Hill Prinia, Yellowbellied Warbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Cutia, Blackheaded Shrike Babbler, Rusty-fronted and Hoary-throated Barwing, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Brown and Black-throated Parrotbill, Maroon-backed Accentor and eight species of laughingthrush have been among our target species in the past, and we will look for such special species again on this tour.

To reach the area chosen for our Red Panda quest, we must fly first to Kathmandu, and onward to Bhadrapur in the fertile lowlands of east Nepal. From here we will take a long but scenic drive, on a metalled road, up into the pleasant green hills around Ilam. This small town, set amongst terraced hills and tea gardens, is the centre for tea production in the country — Nepal’s Darjeeling. From here we complete our journey into the hills using the dirt road to Dobate, a tiny Sherpa village where we will set up a tented base-camp for a 3-night stay. En route we will pass heavily cultivated terraced fields which rise steeply, like steps, for thousands of feet above the shady river valleys, watered by tumbling streams whose deep hillside ravines harbour remnant subtropical vegetation and towering bamboos, the home of scimitar babblers, sibias, piculets, minlas and other exotic birds.

It is in the higher temperate forests between Dobate and Hange Tham, however, that we will search for Red Pandas. This is a marvellous region of dense, damp forest, where oaks, rhododendrons and magnolias, decorated with mosses, lichens and epiphytic orchids, support an outstanding range of Himalayan birds and mammals. Here, we will use the local forest trails to access known roosts and feeding areas in the company of the local forest guards who have been monitoring the species in association with the Red Panda Network (RPN). We will spend two days on foot, from our tented base camp at Dobate, before trekking on for a day to Hange Tham. There we will set up a second base camp for two nights to allow us to explore the similarly excellent forest above this second Sherpa village.

The Red Panda (also known as the Fire Fox or Lesser Panda), like its relative the Giant Panda, also eats bamboo, although not exclusively. It is a solitary animal and, although found in China, India, Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan, as well as Nepal, relatively little is known about its behaviour and distribution owing to its preference for remote mountain forests lying between 2,200 and 4,800 metres (7,200 and 15,700 feet) in altitude. In particular, the species favours mixed deciduous and conifer forest with abundant old trees and a dense understorey of bamboo. That habitat is found here, and it is favoured also by such other mammals as Leopard, Leopard Cat, Serow, Large Indian Civet, Yellow-throated Marten and Himalayan Orange-bellied Squirrel, a sighting of any one of which must be considered a bonus.

We conclude our visit to the area with a final night in Ilam, before driving to Bhadrapur for a flight to Kathmandu then London. However, for those wishing to extend their holiday, we offer an extension to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, one of Asia’s finest wetlands. Here, a remnant population of wild Water Buffalo may be seen, as well as such other mammals as Ganges River Dolphin, Jungle Cat, Golden Jackal, and even the endangered Fishing Cat, amongst others. Our base, the delightful and tranquil Koshi Camp, is also a birder’s paradise. Up to 160 bird species may be seen in a single day; amongst them such local specialities as Rednecked Falcon, Striated Grassbird and the endangered Swamp Francolin and Bengal Florican. Indian Courser, Small Pratincole, Pallas’s Gull, Black-bellied Tern, Siberian Rubythroat and Smoky Warbler will be amongst other target species, whilst the Black, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns resident at Koshi Camp are always a crowd pleaser! A full day on Phulchowki Mountain (a top site for birds, flowers and mountain views), from Kathmandu, is also included in this extension.

The Himalaya from the flight to Bhadrapur (Cliff Garratt)Dobate (Suchit Basnet)Dobate village (Suchit Basnet)Red Panda habitat (Hem Sagar Baral)In Red Panda territory! (Hem Sagar Baral)Black-throated Parrotbill (Sujan Chatterjee)Golden-breasted Fulvetta (Sujan Chatterjee)Red Panda (Robert South)Red Panda (Robert South)Chestnut-crowned Warbler (Sujan Chatterjee)Red Panda habitat (Suchit Basnet)Black-throated Sunbird (Sujan Chatterjee)Fire-tailed Myzornis (Sujan Chatterjee)Grey Langur (Cliff Garratt)Grey Langur (Cliff Garratt)Religous parade in Nepal (Paul Stanbury)Rafting on the Koshi River (Paul Stanbury)Wild Water Buffalo, Koshi extensionBar-headed Geese, Koshi extensionRuddy Shelducks, Koshi extensionGanges River Dolphin, Koshi extensionGanges River Dolphin, Koshi extensionJungle Cat, Koshi extension (Allan Hale)Large NiltavaRed Panda

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Fri 17th November 2017 - Sun 26th November 2017



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2595 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Koshi ExtensionMore info

Fri 16th November 2018 - Sun 25th November 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2595 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Koshi ExtensionMore info

Visiting: Nepal

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Tour Extensions

If you wish to prolong your holiday we offer the following extensions.

Koshi Extension

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Rajan Jolly
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01962 733051

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