For many centuries, Bhutan was a secretive country whose natural and cultural treasures were hidden from the outside world. Now opened to visitors, this mountain paradise offers some of the most pristine landscapes and intact wildlife habitat left on the planet. On this excursion you will observe and track wildlife across several national parks, journeying from the grassy flood plains of the low country up to the rugged high peaks of the Himalayas. The animals you will be searching for include tigers, leopards, snow leopards, elephants, the Indian rhino, sloth bears, and many other fascinating species! You will also learn how to decipher bird alarms that give clues as to predators who are nearby.
Shangri-La Wildlife Adventure
Shangri-La Wildlife Adventure
November – December, February – April
Experience & Activity Level:
Previous tracking experience helpful but not required.
Participants should be in good physical condition and
able to cope with high altitude and inclement weather.
3 star hotels and tent camps
Starting at $11,590 per person ($1,825 single supplement)
- Hozing Valley
- Agra (Taj Mahal and Fort)
The ancient kingdom of Bhutan is renowned for its Buddhist temples and simple lifestyle, and being devoid of most modern influences, it is akin to going back in time by several centuries. Because of this, it is also one of the few remaining wildlife expanses in the Asian sub-continent that remains mostly intact. On this amazing three-week adventure you will be able to see and experience all that Bhutan has to offer, from regal large mammals to stupendous alpine views to jaw dropping temples balanced perfectly on narrow precipices.
You will start out this fantastic trip by flying into Delhi and catching a short hop flight to Barpeta, India (directly opposite the Bhutan border), where you will spend three days on jeep safari in Manas National Park to get acquainted up close with the megafauna of southern Asia, including elephants, tigers, leopards, the Indian rhino, buffalos, clouded leopards, sloth bears, and many other rare or endangered creatures. Manas National Park is a diversity hotspot and contains several different habitat types including grasslands, riparian areas, and dense deciduous and evergreen woodlands. It is also filled with birdlife and hence, is a great way to introduce you to the behaviors of the animals you will be following throughout your trip.
Next you will cross the border into Bhutan and venture into Royal Manas National Park, which is the sister park adjacent to its Indian namesake. Here we will go on foot for three days in different areas of the park tracking many of the same animals you observed on the Indian side. Your expert western and local guides will show you how to recognize the various footprints and sign of each species, how to interpret their gaits and behavior, and how to trail the path of the animal to its intended destination. You will also undertake bird language exercises to begin to understand what bird alarms are telling you about animal whereabouts and their movements, including when predators are actively hunting, where they may have recently killed prey, and many other fascinating details about what is occurring on the landscape.
Moving farther north into Bhutan, we will stop for a day at Punakha to look for wild dogs, wild pigs, and several species of unusual squirrels. Then we will enter Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park, a Bhutanese Himalayan treasure that begins at just below 5,000 feet and rises to almost 23,000 feet! This is the home to alpine meadows, snow capped mountains, and an amazing array of large animals including takin, blue sheep, clouded leopards, Himalayan black bears, red pandas, and the elusive snow leopard as well as breeding pairs of Bengal tigers that reside at an incredible 13,000 feet (as documented in the BBC series, Lost Land of the Tiger)!
You will spend fours days exploring the park on foot looking for sightings of the above animals as well as their tracks and other spoor. We will use bird language clues to guide us to their whereabouts as we hike through areas of lower and higher elevation to examine varying habitats and the different creatures that occupy each region. Upon existing Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park, we will go over Dochula Pass (10,500 feet) and down into Royal Botanical Park to view the magnificent pristine mixed conifer forest of fir, hemlock, oak, giant magnolias and rhododendrons along with numerous exotic bird species. You will continue on to the Buddhist town of Thimphu where the following day you will visit the beautiful Cheri monastery and experience other fascinating aspects of this traditional Bhutanese village.
After leaving Thimphu, your final destination on this trip will take you to Paro Valley, where you will hike up to the picturesque Taksang Monastery that defies gravity by hanging on the knife edge of a Himalayan cliff. Before your final departure, you will also pay a visit to the National Museum and the famous Kyichu Lhakhang temple as well as other stunning monasteries and temples that line the valley above the terraced mountainsides above the Paro River. As you fly out of the Paro airport on your way back home, you will know that for three weeks of your life you actually experienced Shangri La!