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From Forests to the snows - Click to enlarge


Please choose your Tour from the table given below.


Tours

Description

S/01: 12 days Lava, Samthar, & Mahananda birding circuit

Birding in Mahananda WLS. Drives & walks Lava, Rushet Forests,  Neora Forests,  Git Valley & Lolegaon and exploring birding spots at Samthar, Lish, Ponbu and Nezeok Max Alt: 2500 m

S/02: 14 days Mahananda-Lava & West Sikkim Birding circuit

Birding in Mahananda WLS. Drives & walks Lava, Rushet Forests,  Neora Forests,  Git Valley & Lolegaon and Birding in Sikkim at Menam & Damthang forests. Pamayangtse, Khichepheri, Yoksom, Rangit Valley, & Teesta Valley. Max Alt: 2700 m.

S/02/E: 03 days extention Vershay & Dentam Valley birding trek

Birding trek to Hilley and Vershay Forests and Dentam valley. Max Alt: 3000 m

S/03: 14 days  Mahananda, Lava and Singelila National Park Birding Circuit

Birding in Mahananda,WLS. Drives & walks Lava, Rushet Forests, Neora Forests and Birding trek through Siongelila National Park to Sandakphu. up to 3600 m followed by birding at Darjeeling

S/04: 10 Days Birding trek Lava & Neora National Park

Birding in Mahanada WLS. Short treks around the Lava forests to areas not accesable to jeeps, followed by a birding trek through Neora National Park and Rushet Reserve forests covering virgin trails up to 3000 m.

S/05: 15 days Lava & Tholung Valley Trek

Birding in Mahananda,WLS. Drives & walks Lava, Rushet Forests, Neora Forests Birding trek to Tholung Valley in North Sikkim. Included birding in Teesta Valley and Damthang Forests. Max alt:  3000 m

S/05/E: 04 days extension to Birding Trek to Kishong Cho Lake, 4228 m

Pioneering birding looking for specialties up to 4200 m altitude

S/06:   22 days Grand Birding Tour of Sikkim & North Bengal

Birding at Mahananda WLS,  Lava Forests, Damthang Forests, Menam Forests, Pamayangtse, Khichepheri, Yoksom, Rangit Valley, Darjeeling and Birding Trek ti Singelila National Park. Maximum altitude 3600 m.

NE/01  04 days Birding  extension to Kaziranga National Park

Birding at Kaziranga hot spots for 03 days

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S/01: 12 days Lava, Samthar & Mahananda birding circuit
Featuring Mahananda WLS, Lava Forests, and Samthar Plateau Maximunm altitude 2500 m

Day 01: Fly to Bagdogra. Transfer to Siliguri
Arrive by air from Delhi, Kolkotta, or Guwahati. Met by your guide and transffered to hotel at Siliguri.Time permitting take a short drive to Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary for birding. Overnight at hotel

Day 02: Siliguri-Mahananda WLS - Siliguri
Full days birding at Mahananda WLS. Overnight in hotel at Siliguri. Located just outside Siliguri astride the Mahananda river, this sanctuary is well known for its large population of Elephants. As a result it has not yet been explored by birders. T he deciduous forests and riverine belt provides habitat for a rich variety of birds in the sanctuary, A hours birding foray restricted to the fringes of the sanctuary, revealed that the forests were teeming with bird life. Some of the birds we saw: Lesser Adjutant, Red Naped Ibis, Black Baza, Besra, Greater Coucal, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Black hooded Oriole, Indian roller, Green billed Malkhoa, Red Jungle Fowl, Indian Grey Hornbill,  Himalayan Griffon, Jungle and Asian Barred owlet, various Bee eaters, Egret, Common Hill Myna. We are sure to see many more species.

Day 03: Siliguri- Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary- Kalimpong
Full days birding in a different section of the  Mahananda WLS. In the evening a 02 hrs drive to Kalimpong for overnight at Gurudongma House.

Day 04- Day 07: Kalimpong - Lava-Kalimpong
Basing ourselves at Kalimpong for 04 days, we will make daily trips to Lava Forests, Rushet Forests, and Neora Forests, visiting identified hot spots.

Lava is the prime birding destination in this region,  It is a small bazaar 0nce a halting place for caravans on the trade routes to Bhutan and Sikkim. It is now a rather ugly forest Village with a Buddhist Monastery amidst a sea of evergreen forests at an elevation of 2100 m. Surrounded by very large tracts of protected forests ranging in elevation between 1600 and 2400 m, it includes the remote and uninhabited Neora National Park, and it is a bird watcher's delight.There are several sites for bird watching and photography around Lava and the adjoining Neora National Park.The forests have rough roads and walking trails. Birding is feasible from the main roads, however for deeper entry, forest department permission and a guide is required.. Birds recorded during our first tour to Lava are:- Bar headed Goose, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Buzzard, Black Eagle, Mountain HawkEagle, Kalij Pheasant, Oriental Turtle Dove, Spotted Dove, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo, Greenbilled Malkoha,  Greater Coucal, Brown Wood Owl,  Asian Barred Owlet, Himalayan Swiftlet, Great Barbet, Golden throated Barbet, Grey capped Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Olive backed Pipit, Black winged Cuckoo Shrike, Short billed Minivet, Striated Bulbul, White cheeked Bulbul, Red vented Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Maroon backed Accentor, Chestnut bellied Rock Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Plain backed Thrush, Grey winged Blackbird, Grey sided Thrush, Dark throated Thrush, Grey bellied Tesia, Brownish flanked Bush Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Buff barred Warbler, Ashy throated Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, Golden spectacled Warbler, Grey hooded Warbler, Grey cheeked Warbler, Chestnut crowned Warbler, Black faced Warbler, Broad billed Warbler, Siberian Flycatcher, Rufous gorgeted Flycatcher, Snowy browed Flycatcher, Whitegorgeted Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Slaty blue Flycatcher, Sapphire Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Rufous bellied Niltava, Grey‑headed Canary Flycatcher, Red flanked Bluetail, Rufous breasted Bush Robin, Blue fronted Redstart, White capped Redstart, Plumbeous Redstart, Little Forktail, Spotted Forktail, Common Stonechat, Grey Bushchat, Yellow bellied Fantail, White throated Fantail, White throated Laughingthrush, Striated Laughingthrush, Grey‑sided Laughing Thrush, Scaly Laughingthrush, Blue winged Laughingthrush,  Chestnut crowned Laughingthrush, Red faced Liocichla, Spot breasted Scimitar Babbler, Rusty cheeked Scimitar Babbler, White browed Scimitar Babbler, Long billed Wren Babbler, Rufous throated Scimitar Babbler, Spotted Wren Babbler, Rufous capped Babbler, Golden Babbler, Grey throated Babbler, Silver eared Mesia, Red billed Leiothrix, Black headed Shrike Babbler, White browed Shrike Babbler, Black eared Shrike Babbler, Rusty fronted Barwing, Hoary throated Barwing, Blue winged Minla, Chestnut tailed Minla, Red tailed Minla, Yellow throated Fulvetta, Rufous winged Fulvetta, White browed Fulvetta, Nepal Fulvetta, Rufous Sibia, White naped Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, Stripe throated Yuhina, Rufous vented Yuhina, Black throated Tit, Black browed Tit, Coal Tit, Green backed Tit, Yellow cheeked Tit, Yellow browed Tit, White tailed Nuthatch, Eurasian Treecreeper, Rusty flanked Treecreeper, Brown throated Treecreeper, Green tailed Sunbird, Fire tailed Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, Bay backed Shrike, Long tailed Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Hair crested Drongo , Green Magpie, Grey Treepie, House Crow, Large billed Crow, Common Myna, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, White rumped Munia, Plain Mountain Finch, Crimson browed Finch, Dark breasted Rosefinch, Dark rumped Rosefinch, Tibetan Serin, Brown Bullfinch, Red headed Bullfinch, Gold Naped Finch, Little Bunting.

Other birds that can be seen: Hill Partridge, Rufous throated Partridge, Satyr Tragopan, Wedge tailed Green Pigeon, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Ashy Wood Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Lesser Cuckoo, Mountain Scops Owl, Fork Tailed Swift, Ward's Trogon, Great Hornbill, White browed Piculet, Crimson breasted Woodpecker, Lesser Yellownape, Long tailed Broadbill, Mountain Bulbul, Orange bellied Leafbird, Long billed Thrush, Chestnut Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, Dusky Thrush, Rusty bellied Shortwing, Gould’s Shortwing, Lesser Shortwing, White browed Shortwing, Chestnut headed Tesia, Slat bellied Tesia, Russet Bush Warbler, White spectacled Warbler, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher, Golden Bush Robin, White browed Bush Robin, Blue fronted Robin, Spotted Laughingthrush, Coral billed Scimitar Babbler, Scaly breasted Wren Babbler, Cutia, Golden breasted Fulvetta, Fire tailed Myzornis, Black Throated Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Fire breasted Flowerpecker, Maroon Oriole, Common Rosefinch, Red Crossbill.

Day 08: Kalimpong-Lava- Samthar plateau
Drive to Samthar. 80 Kms via Lava. It is lovely forested drive all the way. We will leave our vehicles for short birding walks enroute, birding in the Git Valley and at Lolegaon and Charkhola  Forests, arriving at Samthar Farm House - our eco wilderness lodge in the evening. Overnight at The Samthar Farm House.

Scenic and remote, The Samthar Plateau, at an elevation of 1500 Meters, is isolated by river valleys, forests and ill - developed communications.

The inhabitants are a blend of various ethnic groups-Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepali. The original Lepcha tribals lived in the valleys. They were woodsman, and utilized the forest resources to live off the land. Knowing no religion, they worshiped nature spirits. When the Bhutanese ruled this land, many were converted to Buddhism. Latter the British rulers brought in Christian missionaries, who converted some of them to Christianity. Hinduism arrived with the Nepalese settlers, who taught the Lepchas to farm the land. Today the ethnic groups are fused together in harmony. They have adopted Nepali as a link language, yet maintained, their diverse cultural identity. It is an ideal place to peep into lifestyles of this fascinating hill community. It also has diverse flora, well-developed mountain agriculture, forests, and river valleys, It offers breathtaking views of the Panorama of snows, and interesting birding.. The terrain around Samthar comprises interlocking ridges with forest cover on the top and terraces lower down. Water courses ( local name “Jhora” for smaller ones and “Khola” for larger ones) form deep valleys, with bio-diverse flora - a good habitat for birds. Large tracts of reserve forest also exist. The area is cris-crossed by many easy walking trails and birders are free to explore.

Most of the species occurring below 2500 meters around Lava are present around Samthar -Ponbu- Dong areas. Species recorded by us :   White browed shrike babbler, Blue throated barbet, Longtail Broadbill, Ashy bulbul, Brandt’s mountain finch, Pygmy blue flycatcher (female), Verditer flycatcher, Greater yellownaped, Common Kestrel, Orange bellied leafbird, Red billed leitohrix, Common green magpie, cGreen billed malkoha, Blue winged Minla, Chestnut tailed Minla, Red tailed Minla, Hill Myna, Velvet fronted nuthatch, Spotted owlet, Paddy field pipit, Fire tailed sunbird, Mrs Gould’s sunbird, Streaked spiderhunter, Little spiderhunter, Yellow bellied flowerpecker, Orange bellied flowerpecker, Blacklored tit, Yellow cheeked tit, Blue whistling thrush, Grey treepie, Rufous treepie, Grey capped pygmy woodpecker, Lesser yellownaped woodpecker, Grey cheeked wabbler, Tickell’s leaf wabbler, Lemon rumped wabbler, Ashy throat wabbler, Greenish wabbler, Large cuckooshrike, Small Minvet, Short-billed minvet, Long-tailed minivet, Scarlet minivet, White bellied yuhnia, Bar-winged flycatcher shrike, Bay - backed shrike, White capped water redstart, Common Stonechat, Rufous sibia. As this is virtualy a virgin birding area, many mor species await recording..

The Farmhouse is an old Lepcha house built of stone and timber, converted for comfortable living, whilst maintaining its ambience. It has a lovely nature garden with scenic views.

Day 09: Samthar-Lish- Samthar birding trek
Today we will spend the whole day trekking up and down steep slopes birding along the "Kholas" of the Upper Lish Valley and return to Samthar Farm House for overnight.

Day 10: Samthar-Ponbu birding trek
Trek along a ridgeline with mixed forests to Ponbu village. Explore the "Kholas in the reserve forest for birds. Overnight in camp.

Day 11: Ponbu- Teesta Valley birding trek
Trek to Nezeok reserve forest and down to the Teesta Valley. Explore the Teesta and Rilli River banks and cross the Teesta River on a hand pulled ropeway. In the evening drive to Kalimpong for overnight at Gurudongma House.

Day 12: Kalimpong-Bagdogra
After breakfast transfer to Bagdogra for departure. Tour Ends

NOTE: Bird sightings depend greatly on season, timing, and patience. Sightings mentioned in the itinerary are only a guide and can not be guaranteed.

 

Tour Cost: on request

The cost includes  accommodation on full board, transport and a birding guide.

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Tour options for non-birding spouse/friends: www.gurudongma.com.
 
 

Bird photographs by Yashodhan Bhatia,

Ronald Saldino,  Niels Poul Dryer, Ketil Knudsen
Kalypso Adventures & Gurudongma Team
.



 
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Gurudongma House

Hill Top, Kalimpong, 73430, India

 

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