Nepal birding tour is a classic combination of the mid-Himalayas around the Kathmandu Valley, the foothills and grasslands at Chitwan, and the Terai Plains in southeastern Nepal. Our Nepal tour produces a splendid variety of birds, as well as featuring some impressive mammals (including Indian Rhinoceros), great scenery and Kathmandu’s fascinating cultural heritage.
The kingdom of Nepal is still one of Asia’s most fascinating countries. This is a land of serene temples (it is the birthplace of the pagoda), wiry Sherpas, formidable Gurkhas and, most of all, mountains. Nepal straddles the central part of the mighty Himalayan range and most of the country is completely dominated by mountains. Indeed eight of the ten highest summits in the world are in Nepal.For centuries it was one of the remotest countries on Earth, geographically cut off from the rest of the world and deliberately refusing entry to outsiders. Fortunately times have changed and since 1951 travellers have been able to experience the sheer delight of exploring this unique land, climbers can tackle some of the greatest mountaineering challenges on earth and birdwatchers can enjoy some of the most exciting birding in the world amidst wonderful scenery.
Nepal is a land of startling cultural contrasts with a tangled web of ethnic relationships encompassing many different Indo-Aryan tribal groupings from the plains and Mongoloid peoples who originated beyond the Himalayas, and its politics have been equally complex in recent times, with some of the last Maoists on earth joining forces with democratically elected politicians to curb the power of an autocratic monarchy. Nepal is also a deeply religious country: Hinduism and Buddhism are the prevailing religions (Buddha himself was born in lowland Nepal) but in fact many people are a bit of both, for in Nepal the two are closely linked.
Not only is Nepal a veritable feast of spectacular scenery and cultural contrasts but it is also a paradise for the birdwatcher. Due to the remarkable diversity of habitats found in this small country over 850 species of birds have been recorded in Nepal, more than in any other region of comparable size in Asia. Not only is the resident avifauna extremely rich but during the winter months it is further enhanced by a large number of visitors from northern Asia.
On this classic itinerary we will explore the three best localities for birds in Nepal. We begin our journey in the beautiful Kathmandu Valley in the mid-Himalayas where we can absorb some of the magic and splendour of Kathmandu’s rich historical past as we pass by towering Buddhist stupas and elaborately decorated Hindu pagoda temples. Here, on the forested slopes which partly clothe the hills surrounding Kathmandu, we will search for a host of montane specialities ranging from tiny wren-babblers to gangs of noisy laughingthrushes against a backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the main Himalayan chain. Of prime interest amongst these is the Spiny Babbler, Nepal’s sole endemic bird species, which we will devote some time to, while other species of particular interest include Himalayan Bulbul, White-collared Blackbird, Whistler’s Warbler, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Black-chinned Babbler, Streaked Laughingthrush, Hoary Barwing, Nepal Fulvetta, Rufous Sibia, White-tailed Nuthatch and the uncommon Tibetan Siskin and Pink-browed Rosefinch.
From Kathmandu we travel to the lowlands of the eastern Terai and the marvellous wetlands along the Kosi River, the finest in all Nepal. Here the terrain is flat and the snowy peaks usually lost in the distance but we are likely to see more birds in a day than anywhere else on the tour, while specialities include the localized Swamp Francolin, White-tailed Stonechat, Striated Babbler, Black-throated Weaver and the poorly-known Smoky Warbler.Leaving the Terai behind we head westwards to the stony rivers where Ibisbills winter and the tiger-haunted grasslands and forests of Chitwan Dun at the edge of the Himalayan foothills, enjoying the unique atmosphere of its comfortable jungle lodges and camps whilst exploring this remarkable reserve with its exceptionally rich assemblage of birds and mammals, including a selection of grassland and woodland specialities, some of which are now highly localized, such as Bengal Florican, Himalayan Flameback, Grey-crowned Prinia, Rufous-rumped Grassbird and Slender-billed Babbler.
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