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 20 February 2024 - Heathrow to Kathmandu
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we take an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Kathmandu.
Day 2: Wed 21 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 22 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 23 -Tue 27 February - 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 28 February - Sat 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 March - Farewell
After breakfast we will be transferred back to the airport in time to take the flight back to UK.