Nepal combines an incredible mix of dramatic landscapes, ancient cultures, rich wildlife, and friendly people for one of the most exciting and pleasant travel experiences in the world. A huge diversity of birds can be found within Nepal’s elevational gradient that ranges from the world’s highest peak at Mount Everest all the way to the lowlands of the terai. In fact, nearly 900 bird species have been recorded in Nepal, an astonishing number for a landlocked country that is just one-fifth the size of Texas. This tour covers the best birding and wildlife sites in the foothills of the Himalayas before continuing to the wildlife-rich lowland national parks and reserves that still support some of Asia’s rarest animals.
The tour starts in historic Kathmandu and we will enjoy a glimpse of the city before venturing forth. Nepal’s mid-elevation forest and lowland sal woodlands support a wide variety woodpeckers, barbets, bulbuls, warblers, and sunbirds, including such stunners as Greater Flameback, Great Barbet, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Himalayan Bulbul, and Crimson Sunbird. In addition, the resident birds are augmented by migrant and wintering species during our visit, including many species of flycatchers, warblers, and finches. Raptors will be much in evidence with residents like Besra, Shikra, and Himalayan Buzzard and and winter visitors like Steppe, Booted and Bonnelli’s eagles, Peregrine and Amur falcons. Nepal still supports impressive populations of Asia’s vultures, which have unfortunately disappeared over much of the remainder of the continent and we will search for Red-headed, Slender-billed, Egyptian, White-rumped, Cinereous, and Himalayan Griffon vultures.
In the lowlands we will also look for many mammals that still thrive in the well-protected Chitwan National Park and Kosi Tappu reserve. We stand excellent chances of encountering one-horned rhinoceros, sambar, hog and chital deer, wild boar, lowland langur and even sloth bear is possible. With great luck we could cross paths with a regal Bengal tiger that still call Chitwan home. Kosi Tappu offers chances to see Asian golden jackal, wild water buffalo, and nilgai. The rivers also hold the massive marsh mugger crocodile and the rare fish-eating gharial. In Koshi Tappu we will make a special effort to see Ganges River dolphins. Nepal remains one of the top destinations for birds and wildlife in the world.
Photo: Charging One-horned Rhinoceros by Stephan Lorenz