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India: North-East Highlights

Explore the most diverse avifauna in Asia, with more bird species in this single part of the Himalaya than anywhere else on the continent! Includes the mighty Eaglenest, Dirang area, Kaziranga NP and Mishmi. From the rare Bugun Liocichla and dainty Gould's Shortwing to colourful Himalayan Monals, Blyth's and Temminck's Tragopans, Beautiful Nuthatch, both Purple and Green Cochoas, Ward's Trogon, Grandala, and Fire-tailed Myzornis, this is some of the most enjoyable and easy birding to be had in the entire world! Our version of this tour is slightly shorter than those offered by other companies, with all the best endemics jam-packed into an itinerary designed to maximise possible species at the best birding sites!

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

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Deposit: $

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Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

The permanent safari-style camps at Eaglenest feature large walk-in tents with beds, but with shared facilities and hot water provided in buckets for showers. The rest of the hotels will be comfortable.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly easy roadside birding, with some slow uphill walking as we cover ground.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: The tour starts this evening in New Delhi with arrivals into Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). Night in New Delhi.


Day 2: After catching a short early morning flight to Guwahati, we will head straight into the Himalaya, arriving this late afternoon in Dirang (situated at 1500 m elevation) for a four-night stay. Night in Dirang.


Day 3-4-5: During our three days birding around Dirang, we will visit two main sites, including the spectacularly scenic Sela pass. At 4200 m above sea level, it is one of the few areas at this elevation accessible by road. We will spend the day here searching for some classic Himalayan species: the incredible Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge, Snow Pigeon, White-browed, Golden and Rufous-breasted Bush Robins, Alpine Thrush, Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch, the stunning Grandala and, if lucky, Solitary Snipe. Another day will be spent birding along Mandala road: a long, winding road going through forest, bamboo, and eventually, patches of rhododendron. A huge range of species is possible here, but our main targets include the stunning Temminck’s Tragopan, Black-tailed Crake, Bar-winged Wren-Babbler, Black-throated and Brown Parrotbills, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, White-collared Blackbird, the sought-after Fire-tailed Myzornis, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, a variety of laughingthrushes, Crimson-browed and Gold-naped Finches, Hume’s Bush-warbler and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, amongst many others. On the third day, we will pay another visit to one of the two previously birded areas, depending on what we might have missed. Nights in Dirang.


Day 6-7-8-9-10: Leaving Dirang early on Day 6, we will arrive at the fabulous Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary after sunrise, where, first of all, we will begin our search for the Critically Endangered Bugun Liocichla - first described in 2006 and currently known only from this tiny area. During the next five days we will spend our time along several different sections of a jeep track that cuts through this pristine and endless forest from the pass at 2900 m, descending all the way down to the productive foothills at 800 m. Our nights here will be spent at two comfortable permanent tented camps, Lama, which very recently has constructed a building with proper rooms we should be able to use, and Bompu, set at different altitudes in the middle of the forest. Pure bliss!


Starting from high altitudes and working our way down the track to the lowlands, we pass through a wide range of avifaunal zones, and the birdlife will vary noticeably during our descent. The birding here is some of the best on Earth, the list of species is huge and includes many that were once thought to occur primarily in Bhutan to the west, but are in fact common here too. Among the list of targets are such mouth-watering possibilities as Blyth’s and Temminck’s Tragopans, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Hill Partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Ward’s Trogon, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Spotted Elachura, Collared Grosbeak, Blue-fronted Robin, plus both Green Cochoa and Purple Cochoa.


There is also a whole host of laughingthrushes, with Grey-sided, Blue-winged, Chestnut-crowned, Scaly, Striated, Bhutan, and Spotted all possible. The amazing Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler, Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, Himalayan Cutia, Black-headed, Black-eared, Green and White-browed Shrike Babblers, several species of parrotbill and a whole host of sibias, tits, flycatchers, warblers, yuhinas, niltavas, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, accentors and finches are possible here. There is also a small chance we will come across Red Panda, but we will count ourselves extremely lucky if this occurs.


Day 11: We will spend most of the day birding the lowest elevations inside Eaglenest, searching for Large Blue Flycatcher and Blyth’s Kingfisher, amongst others, before we head back down into Assam. If we receive word that the resident White-winged Ducks are currently visible at Nameri National Park, we will endeavour to make a quick stop there before crossing the mighty Brahmaputra and venturing east until we hit Kaziranga in the evening. Night outside Kaziranga National Park.


Day 12: At eight, the national park gates will open (three full hours after sunrise!), and our safari will begin. The day will certainly include sightings of the fabulous Greater One-horned Rhino and Asian Elephant, but we will also search for Dusky Eagle Owl,  Spot-billed Pelican, both Greater and Lesser Adjutants, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Swamp Francolin and Slender-billed Babbler, amongst others. We will probably chance across some delightful Smooth-coated Otters too. Tigers are present here, but only rarely seen, although sightings have increased notably in the last couple of years. Night outside Kaziranga National Park.


Day 13: We will spend the early morning in a forest near our hotel searching for Blue-naped Pitta, the localized Pale-chinned Blue Flycatcher, Blue-bearded Bee-eater and Rosy Minivet. Afterwards we will commence the long drive east towards Roing and arrive at our comfortable hotel at the base of the Mishmi Hills this evening.


Day 14-15: Birding along lovely forest-clad roadside, the birds will be of a subtly different flavour to those at Eaglenest! In particular, we will be searching for the endemic Mishmi Wren-Babbler, Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler, the incredible star-spangled Gould’s Shortwing, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Blyth’s Tragopan, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Black-headed Shrike-babbler, and Manipur Fulvetta amongst many more widespread species of the Himalaya. Several of the region's most exciting birds are more reliable here than at Ealgenest, so Mishmi is an excellent backup for those (specifically Ward’s Trogon, Purple Cochoa, Green Cochoa, and Beautiful Nuthatch). Nights in a comfortable hotel back in Roing. 


Day 16: This morning we pay a visit to some grasslands on the outskirts of Roing, which should produce Black-breasted Parrotbill, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Marsh Babbler, and Jerdon's Babbler. By mid-morning we will start driving towards Digboi Oilfields, where after lunch we will search for the rare and extremely shy Chestnut-backed Laughingthrush, as well as hopefully Collared Treepie. We have a small chance for White-winged Duck in a couple of forest ponds where this declining species is sometimes found, although (as with many of the specialties in Digboi) they are usually not easy to see at this time of year. Afterwards we will drive to Tinsukia for an overnight stay.


Day 17: This morning a short boat trip to a river island should allow us to find the Endangered and patchily-distributed Swamp Grass Babbler. After birding in the area for Swamp Francolin, Spotted Bush Warbler, and maybe Bristled Grassbird (only present some years), we'll continue to Dibrugarh Airport for an afternoon flight back to New Delhi, where the tour ends this evening back at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL).

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