Birding Tour of North Bengal & Sikkim Tour
Duration : 19 nights 20 days
Destination : Mahananda, Lava, Rangit Valley,Vershay, Pamayangtse, Khichepheri, Yuksom, Ravbangla, Darjeeling and Sandakphu
Entry to Sikkim is restricted. Tourists are permitted 15 days stay in Sikkim, and must apply for permission at the time of application for an India visa.
The permit is issued by imprinting a stamp on the India visa. Sikkim, and the adjoining mountains of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, together forms a homogenous mountain mass astride the valleys of the Teesta and Rangit Rivers. Wedged between the Himalayan Kingdoms of Nepal, Bhutan, and the Tibetan uplands, this region has the most magnificent range of snow clad mountains in the world, comprising of two enormous spurs of the Great Himalayas – the Singalila and Chola Ranges, which rise to a maximum elevation of 8859 Meters.
The Himalayan barriers of this arc enclose three sides of a gigantic amphitheater; hewn as it were out of the Himalayas, and sloping down on its Southern side towards the plains of North Bengal.This region was first surveyed by Dr J. Hooker, during the middle of the last century. His “Himalayan Journal”, is still the best reference manual. In this small area of less than 10000 sq. kms, there is an unbelievable richness of flora, fauna,and cultural heritage. With rainfall averaging 348 cms, it is the most humid region of the Himalayas. Dry season is from November to Apri. Because of altitude variation from near sea level to over 8000 Meters, the flora varies from subtropical to arctic. This region, boasts of an awe- inspiring botanical richness, found nowhere else in the world, in such a compact region. There are 4000 species of plants. Orchids and Rhododendrons, are the pride of Sikkim. There are 600 species of orchids in the lower regions, whilst. Rhododendrons, of 30 species are found in this region. They grow in profusion above 3000 Meters elevation. In the higher regions above 3500 Meters, flowers bloom out of the earth, as if by magic, during the brief summer months (May-Aug). Wild daisies, Primulas, Impatience, and many more. Even the rocks and stones are covered by lichen and moss, presenting many hues.
The Altitudinal variation 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. Dr. Salim Ali – one of India’s foremost ornithologists has recorded 527 species of resident birds. In addition there are vagrants, and transients on migration. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of the species of the Indian Sub continent can be spotted in this region.
This birding tour is designed to present with an opportunity to visit the various altitudinal zones from 100m to 3050 m to experience the amazing bio-diversity, and maximize birding opportunities. We will be visiting chosen “hot spots” These include Mahananda WLS (100-300 m), Lava Reserved Forests and fringes of Neora National Park (2000- 2700 m), The Rangit River Valley (300 –1200 m), Hilley forests and Vershay Rhododendron Sanctuary (2300-3050 m), Pamayangtse Ridge (2200 m), Khichephery Lake (1700 m), Sandakphu Ridge of 3600 mtrs.There will be time for some sightseeing at Pamayangtse,Yuksom,Rabangla and Darjeeling, and a chance to explore the exotic bazaars of Kalimpong, and Darjeeling if you want.
Day 01: Arrive in Calcutta or Delhi.
You will be met and transferred to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 02: Bagdogra-Siliguri
Transfer to the airport and fly to Bagdogra airport in North Bengal around mid day, you will be met by your birding guide / escort. From the airport we will transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, day light permitting, drive to Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary for birding. Overnight at the hotel. Located just outside Siliguri astride the Mahananda river, the Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary is well known for its large population of wild Asiatic elephants. As a result it has yet to be fully explored by birders. The deciduous forests and riverine belt provides habitat for a rich variety of birds in the sanctuary. The bird list comprises 326 species.
Day 03: Mahananda WLS
Full days birding at Mahananda WLS core area. Overnight at Siliguri.
Day 04: Siliguri-Kalimpong
Birding drive through Mahananda WLS. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Lava
Bird along an isolated forest trail for 05-06 hrs. Return back to Kalimpong for overnight. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 06: Lava-Neora-Kalimpong
Driving past Lava we will bird in the remote Rushet Reserve Forest. Later a birding drive up to 2400m along the forest road to the fringes of the Neora National Park. Back to Kalimpong for overnight stay.
Day 07: Lava-Hilley (2700 m) Sikkim
From Lava we will descend for 50 km to the Teesta Valley through forests and homesteads. After a short journey of just 04 km, cross the river to register at the Sikkim entry check post at Malli at an elevation of 228 m. Here we have to carry out entry formalities. Thereafter drive along the Rangit River Valley birding in the mixed broad-leaved forests for a stretch of 24 km to the market town of Jorthang. Continue the drive to Hilley (2700 m) through the Ramnam River Valley. This is a scenic drive of 29 km to the tiny township of Sombaria. Enjoy the flora, picture post card villages and views of the river. Now the road climbs rapidly through a series of switch-backs through pristine forests to Hilley – a tiny village. We will spend the afternoon birding in this forest at an elevation of 2300 to 2700m. Overnight at camp at Hilley.
Day 08: Vershay (Also called Barsey) (3050 m)
Early morning birding trek for 04 km to the Forest Hut at Vershay Rhododendron Sanctuary at 3060m. Even though we will be climbing about 300m, the track is well laid with a gentle gradient. As you look for birds, enjoy the lovely walk through forests of Silver Fir, hemlocks, magnolia, and Rhododendrons. As you climb higher it is the Rhododendrons, which reign supreme. Continue birding on foot using the net work of forest trails. Return to our camp at Hilley for overnight.
Day 09: Hillay-Pelling
Early morning birding around Hilley. In the late morning drive to Pelling in 04 hrs. Check in at the hotel. Evening visit the famous Pamayangtse Monastery. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Pamayangtse -Sangacholing , 2200m
Today we will visit hot spots around Pamayangtse Monastery, and on Sangacholing Ridge. Overnight at Hotel Tashi Gang
Day 11: Pelling-Khichepheri 1700m,-Yuksom (West Sikkim)
Drive 24 km for birding walk in areas around the holy Khicherheri Lake. Return to Yuksom for overnight at Hotel Tashigang.
Birding around Yuksom Forest.
Day 13: Yuksom to Ravbangla (South Sikkim)
Morning birding around Yuksom. After lunch birding drive 03 hrs to Ravbangla. Overnight at Ravbangla.
Wildlife Sanctuary-RavbanglaFull days birding at Maenam wildlife Sanctuary (especially for Satyr Tragopan)
Day 15: Ravbangla -Darjeeling, 2143 m (West Bengal)
Drive 05 hrs to Darjeeling. The route is along the scenic Rangit Valley till Teesta Bazar. Thereafter we climb through scenic tea gardens to the Darjeeling Ridge. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 16: Darjeeling to Garibbas 1800m. Overnight stay.
Day 17: Garibas to Sandakphu. Overnight at Sandakphu 3600m.
Day 18: Sandakphu to Garibas. Overnight stay.
Day 19: Garibas to Darjeeling. Overnight stay.
Day 20: Darjeeling-Bagdogra-Delhi/Kolkata
Drive to Bagdogra in 03 hrs to board your flight to the return destination. TOUR ENDS.
Extensions available for Andaman Islands, Eagle’ Nest, Assam & Namdapha National Park
Please let us know the number of people travelling on this tour and we will send you the total cost. We also specialize in customizing the tour. Should you need any changes we would be happy to modify the itinerary.
The tour may include arrangements such as accommodation, travel, meals, permit, guides, activities etc. or services as required by the client.