This is an account of a 16 days trip to northern West Bengal & Sikkim in Northeast India from 29 March -14 April 2002. There were four of us on the trip: my long-time friends Vital van Gorp and Eric Wille and Peter Lobo (Gurudongma Tours & Treks), who was our guide for the whole period. For the three of us it was our third visit to India.
Gurudongma Birding, All India Birding Tours with Peter Lobo
Expert guiding, top rate logistics, reliable and
efficient service. References available:
Two months ago we decided to travel to this area after we had cancelled our trip to Nepal due to the civil unrest in that country.
Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal and the state of Sikkim are a part of the Eastern Himalayan region and provide some excellent birding, though few birders venture into Sikkim. This is a tiny area, with fantastic variations. The terrain rises sharply from the plains of Bengal at near sea level to the snow capped Singelila Range rising up to over 8000 meters in elevation - all in crow fly distance of under 100 km. This telescoping of terrain has created distinct altitudinal zones in respect of humidity, rainfall, climate and vegetation. This factor is responsible for the great variety and abundance of the resident bird life, making this area arguably one of the richest areas of its size anywhere in the world. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of the species of the Indian Subcontinent can be spotted in this region.
Sikkim is perched between Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east and Tibet (China) in the north.
Sikkim, an extremely mountainous region in the eastern Himalayas, is spread below the world's third highest mountain Khanchendzonga (8585m) revered by the Sikkimese as their protective deity. Though measuring just 65 km by 115 km - the size of Switzerland - it ranges from sweltering deep valleys - a mere 300m above sea level to lofty snow peaks such as Khanchendzonga. Formerly an independent kingdom, since 1975 it has been a tiny land-locked province to India.
600 species of birds, or about half of the over 1200 species to be found in
The security around airports in India was remarkable. Two x-rays and metal detectors, hand luggage & body search and baggage identification!
FOOD AND DRINK
Bottled mineral water is widely available, stick to this and bottled soft drinks or Dansberg Blue beer (630cl). The Indian food is excellent and of a high standard.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
For vaccinations consult your own doctor for up to date advice. Generally you should be immunised or "topped up" against hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio. In addition to this you are recommended to take Malaria tablets.
virtually no health problems and saw surprisingly few mosquitoes, the only real
nuisance being loads of leeches in the Tholung Valley in Sikkim. Leeches are a
real pest and you can pick them up not just in the forest but also in damp grass
(grazing cattle!), often when you least expect it. Although there is no complete
answer to the problem, as precaution wear long trousers tucked securely into
your socks and spray insect repellent liberally on your clothing and boots! If
they do get on to you, you can simply flick or pull them off. They don't leave
their head in you or cause infections.
TRANSPORT AND ROADS
NOMENCLATURE & TAXONOMY
Tour options for non-birding spouse/friends:
Ronald Saldino, Niels
Poul Dryer, Ketil Knudsen
Hill Top, Kalimpong, 73430, India
Phone & Fax: +91-3552-255204
Mobile: +91 94340- 47372