NEW! Birds & Mammals of West Nepal

Wildlife of Grassland, Forest & Hill

Destination
Focus
2022 Dates
  • 22 Feb - 08 Mar 2022
Duration15 Days
2022 Price
Price TBC
2024 Dates
  • 20 Feb - 05 Mar 2024
Duration15 Days
2024 Price
Price TBC
Max Group Size12
More Info

2022 price TBC

This new three-centre holiday highlights the vast wealth of wildlife to be found in the grasslands, ancient forests and foothills of the Himalayas, as we visit three distinct geographical areas within this wonderful, friendly country.

We take internal flights to limit the travel time between sites, and explore two remarkable National Parks on foot and in jeeps to maximise the wildlife watching time available. We hope to see plenty of Asian mammals and about 300 bird species, including Spiny Babbler (the only endemic in Nepal), Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, forktails, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, and many raptors.

From Kathmandu, we take a short internal flight to the remote lowlands in the far west of Nepal to spend five nights in Suklaphanta National Park. Suklaphanta is very different from any other reserve in Nepal,and is also very special, having recently expanded to cover 305 sq km, protecting some of the richest and most extensive grasslands in Asia, as well as both Sal and riverine forest. This mixed habitat supports one of the highest densities of Bengal Tiger in the world today, although this particular population is shy and not habituated to man’s presence. It also offers a high density of other mammals too, particularly Swamp Deer. Nearly 400 bird species have been recorded in the national park, including 50% of Nepal's globally threatened species, over half of which are true grassland specialists. Amongst them are Bengal Florican, Hodgson's Bushchat, Jerdon's Babbler and Finn's Weaver. All have their strongholds in Nepal within the boundaries of Suklaphanta.

We also spend three nights in the magnificent Chitwan National Park; 932 square kilometres of Sal forest, riverine forest and grassland, holding a greater variety of wildlife than any other area of Nepal. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded here, as well as many mammals and reptiles. We hope to see endangered Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Wild Boar, Sambar, Indian Muntjac, Spotted and Hog Deer, Rhesus Macaque and Terai Langur Monkeys, and possibly Marsh Mugger and the fish-eating Gharial Crocodile. Leopard, Sloth Bear, and Gaur are occasionally seen, and with more than 110 adult Tigers roaming the area, we may find one of those too! Amongst the smaller mammals that we may encounter are Hoary-bellied Squirrel, Northern (or Five-striped) Palm Squirrel, Asiatic Golden Jackal and Indian Grey Mongoose.

Finally, we enjoy two days on the forested slopes of Phulchowki hill, offering good views of the snow-clad Himalaya on a clear day, including the Annapurna range, Langtang and many other high peaks. The fine oak, temperate and subtropical forest holds abundant birdlife. A variety of laughing thrushes, babblers, bulbuls, flowerpeckers, flycatchers, sunbirds, tits and warblers are present, as well as Red-flanked Bluetail, Fire-tailed Sunbird, White-collared and Grey-winged Blackbirds, Long-tailed Minivet, White-tailed Nuthatch and Orange-bellied Leafbird. There is also a chance of encountering some of the more elusive species such as Cutia, Kalij Pheasant, Red-billed Leiothrix and Black-faced Leaf Warbler. Mammals are present on Phulchowki, including the reclusive Assamese Macaque, and exquisite Yellow-throated Marten, although wary and infrequently encountered. Himalayan Orange-bellied Squirrel is the most likely mammal to be found in the oak and rhododendron forests.

 

 

Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

DAY 1: Tue 22 February 2022 - Heathrow to Kathmandu
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we take an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Kathmandu.

DAY 2: Wed 23 February - Kathmandu
We arrive in the afternoon and transfer to our excellent hotel. We have time to relax before a welcome dinner. Overnight at the comfortable Hotel Tibet International.

Day 3: Thur 24 February - Phulchowki  
Today we will spend walking on the forested slopes of Phulchowki Hill, which rises to over 2700 metres, and is the highest peak in the Kathmandu valley.  We will drive up Phulchowki in the morning and should get good views of the snow-clad Himalaya on a clear day, including the Annapurna range, Langtang and many of Nepal's other high peaks. We will then spend the rest of the day walking down the mountain through its fine oak, temperate and subtropical forest.  Amongst the abundant birdlife, we hope to find a variety of laughing-thrushes, babblers, bulbuls, flowerpeckers, flycatchers, sunbirds, tits and warblers. Red-flanked Bluetail, Fire-tailed Sunbird, White-collared and Grey-winged Blackbirds, Long-tailed Minivet, White-tailed Nuthatch and Orange-bellied Leafbird may all be seen. There is also a chance also of encountering some of the more sought-after and elusive species such as Himalayan Cutia, Kalij Pheasant, Red-billed Leiothrix and Black-faced Leaf Warbler. 

As well as birds, we may find our first Nepalese mammals, with the Himalayan Orange-bellied Squirrel being the most likely mammal to be found, preferring the oak and rhododendron forests.  Yellow-throated Marten is also worth looking for, being regularly seen along the road. The reclusive Assamese Macaque is present on the hill, but can be highly elusive! Overnight, Hotel Tibet International, Kathmandu.

Days 4 – 8: Fri 25 February - Tue 1 March - Suklaphanta                  
We take the short flight to Dhangadi airport in the far western part of Nepal, and drive deeper into the remote far west of Nepal, into the lowlands close to the Indian border. Suklaphanta National Park is not only very different from any other reserve in the country but also very special. Recently expanded, it now covers 305 square kilometres and protects some of the richest and most extensive grasslands in Asia, as well as both Sal and riverine forest. This mixed habitat supports an estimated 22 Tigers, one of the highest densities in the world today, although this particular population is shy and not habituated to man’s presence. The reserve also offers a density of other mammals that is hard to match elsewhere in the subcontinent, especially various deer species. The world’s largest population of the nominate race of Swamp Deer occurs here. However, birds remain the primary highlight at Suklaphanta. Nearly 400 species have been recorded in the National Park, including 50% of Nepal's globally threatened species, over half of which are true grassland specialists. Amongst them are Bengal Florican, Hodgson's Bushchat, Jerdon's Babbler and Finn's Weaver, which all have their Nepalese strongholds in Suklaphanta.

We have five nights to thoroughly explore the very rich wildlife of the National Park, giving us our best chance of seeing as many of its specialities as possible. We will stay in a comfortable tented camp, situated on the very edge of the reserve close to the park headquarters. Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp has eight twin-bedded walk-in safari tents with toilets and showers a few steps from the door. Similar camps exist in superb, rural wildlife areas across Nepal, and are a true highlight of the tour – just bring that extra layer for the evenings! Freshly cooked breakfast consists of local food, with the occasional touch of western style cuisine, and nobody leaves hungry!

Most of our exploring will be carried out in a jeep, and to maximise our wildlife watching time available, we are likely to leave camp after breakfast, take a packed lunch with us, and return to camp in the evening. Wherever it is safe to do so, we will explore the park on foot (one of the many attractions of Nepal’s National Parks!). Within the Park, there are many tall watchtowers from which to enjoy the scenery, overlooking grasslands, forest lakes and swamps, where we will spend time simply observing what passes by or comes to drink. Overnight (five nights), Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp

Days 9 – 12:  Wed 2 - Sat 5 March - Chitwan
We fly from Suklaphanta to Chitwan via Kathmandu in order to save ourselves an arduous ten-hour drive, and arrive in Nepal’s most famous National Park during the early afternoon. Chitwan National Park comprises of 932 square kilometres (360 sq.miles) of Sal and riverine forest and grassland, a magnificent environment with a greater variety of wildlife than any other area of Nepal. 

Over 500 species of birds have been recorded here and we can expect to see nearly one third of these, as well as, most importantly, many mammals and reptiles.  These are likely to include the endangered Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Wild Boar, Sambar, Indian Muntjac, Spotted and Hog Deers, Rhesus Macaque and Terai Langur Monkeys, and possibly Marsh Mugger and the fish-eating Gharial Crocodiles.  Leopard, Sloth Bear and Gaur are occasionally seen by some lucky guests, and we have been lucky in the past! More than 110 adult Tiger roam the area but despite being easier to see than at Suklaphanta, are still very elusive and difficult to see, although we will try our best to find one! 

Amongst the smaller mammals that we may encounter are Hoary-bellied Squirrel, Northern (or Five-striped) Palm Squirrel, Asiatic Golden Jackal and Indian Grey Mongoose. There is also an optional exploration of the surrounding riverine forest and grassland on Elephant back which often produces views of birds that may otherwise not be possible.  Most mammals, including the Rhino, ignore this unique, and surprisingly quiet, mode of travel and it is certainly the most productive and enjoyable way to search for the more elusive mammal species.  We will explore the rivers in wooden boats, and use jeeps to reach different habitats and altitudes in order to search for the widest variety of mammal and bird life within the Park.

Amongst the birds we hope to see are Great Hornbill, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Bengal Florican, Lesser Adjutant, Grey-crowned Prinia, Swamp Francolin, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Pallas’s Fish-eagle, as well as kingfishers, flycatchers, parrots, warblers, bulbuls, barbets and babblers – an extravaganza of Asian species! Overnight (four nights), Chitwan

Day 13: Sun 6 March - Chitwan to Kathmandu             
We head back to Kathmandu, enjoying the scenic road back to the capital through the Mahabharat Range and the Trisuli River Valley, passing through rustic towns and villages, and seeing lush mountainsides, and wide, open expansive river beds, with the potential for new birds to appear at any time.

We will make a few birding stops on the way to look for species like the Spiny Babbler (the only endemic bird in Nepal), the enigmatic Ibisbill, the showy Wallcreeper, delightful forktails and dippers in and around various fast-flowing rivers, and various raptors overhead in the clear, blue sky.

The last part of the drive through the extensive suburbs and traffic of Kathmandu, gives a great insight into everyday city life and should pass several tourist sites and famous temples. Overnight, Kathmandu

Day 14: Mon 7 March - Phulchowki     
Our last day in Nepal will be spent on the middle and lower slopes of Phulchowki Hill. We will look for species we have missed earlier in the holiday, and try and find new ones, which may consist of laughing-thrushes, pigeons, babblers, woodpeckers, warblers, minivets, fulvettas, minlas and yuhinas. There is always a surprise or two on Phulchowki.  Overnight, Kathmandu

Day 15: Tue 8 March - Farewell           
After breakfast we will be transferred back to the airport in time to take the flight back to UK.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

  • return scheduled flight from London Heathrow– Kathmandu - London, airport taxes, baggage up to 20kg, hand luggage to 7kg, in-flight meal, internal flights and ground transportation
  • airport transfers, ground transportation, accommodation and meals as specified.
  • the services of your Heatherlea leader and professional local guide
  • the Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more....

Free Field Guide! - ‘Birds of Nepal’ by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp and Hem Sagar Baral, published by Helm is included in your holiday price.

What's not included in your holiday price:

travel to and from departure airport before and after holiday, baggage above airline included limit

incidental tips, expenses of a personal nature including drinks and personal insurance.

Your Leaders

Suchit Basnet: One of Nepal’s very best naturalists and most experienced birding and wildlife guides, Suchit is known for his great enthusiasm, cheerful and friendly disposition, and exceptional knowledge. Suchit has been organising and leading Nepalese tours for Heatherlea for many years.

Mike Coleman: Mike originally joined Heatherlea in 2002, although he began leading wildlife tours and undertaking invertebrate, mammal and bird surveys as a teenager before forging a career in language and education which enabled him to broaden his travels in search of wildlife experiences. As well as living and working above the Arctic Circle and in Japan, Mike has led ornithological trips across Europe, Asia, North America and the Caribbean, and has also edited ornithological publications, most recently ‘Birds of Estonia’, published in 2018.

Mike & Suchit

Other birding and wildlife holidays in Nepal

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

Trip Reports

Coming Soon

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: 01479 821248

E: