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The jewel of the Great Himalaya

Friday 1st May — Thursday 14th May 2020
(14 days)

Leader: Mark Beaman

Group Size Limit: 7

Tour Category: Moderate to fairly demanding walking and simple camping for most of the expedition

Western Tragopan is one of those ‘must see’ special birds that almost never gets to be seen, as it lives in remote places in the Western Himalayas that are never included in regular birding tours either because they are hard to reach and require trekking and camping (the wildest parts of the Western Himalayas of India), or because few would currently go there (the remoter parts of the Western Himalayas of Pakistan).

During the expedition, which is an exact repeat of our pioneering and highly successful 2014 Birdquest Expedition, we will be exploring the scenically spectacular Great Himalaya National Park, situated in the Kulu region of Himachal Pradesh in the Western Himalayas of India.

As well as the Western Tragopan, the expedition offers the opportunity to see a whole series of specialities restricted to the western and central Himalayas, and some great birds of wider distribution, including Cheer Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Snow Pigeon, Brown-fronted, Himalayan and Scaly-bellied Woodpeckers, Black-chinned Babbler, Variegated and Streaked Laughingthrushes, Rufous-naped, Spot-winged, Black-lored and White-throated Tits, White-cheeked and Kashmir Nuthatches, Black-headed Jay, Spectacled Finch, Pink-browed and Blyth’s Rosefinches, and Black-and-yellow Grosbeak.

Join us for something completely different!


Day 1 The expedition begins this morning at Delhi, from where we will take a flight to the city of Chandigarh and then drive through the Himalayan foothills to Gushaini in the state of Himachal Pradesh, close to the border of Great Himalayan National Park, where we will stay fore two nights.

Day 2  Birding around Gushaini, with the number one target being the superb Cheer Pheasant (a western Himalayan speciality).

Days 3-11 We will make our way through the truly magnificent forests, meadows and alpine scenery of Great Himalaya National Park. We plan to camp for our 9 nights in the park at several different sites and we will explore all the major habitats from around 1500m (4900ft) to around 3700m (12,100ft). The scenery is awesome at times with some magnificent views of the snow- and ice-clad High Himalayas.

Our prime target will of course be the magnificent Western Tragopan, a species that has so far been seen by very few birders, as it takes a special expedition to get into its limited range in the Western Himalayas. This is the peak time for activity, with calling males setting up their territories as spring sets in, so we have an excellent opportunity to observe this fabulous bird several times.

The stunning Himalayan Monal should also be seen and there is a good chance for Koklass Pheasant.

Other specialities restricted to the western and central Himalayas include Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Himalayan Woodpecker, Scaly-bellied Woodpecker, Black-chinned Babbler, Variegated Laughingthrush, Streaked Laughingthrush, Rufous-naped Tit, Spot-winged Tit, Black-lored Tit, the attractive White-throated Tit, White-cheeked Nuthatch, Kashmir Nuthatch, Black-headed Jay, the unusual-looking Spectacled Finch, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Blyth’s Rosefinch (split from Red-mantled) and the smart Black-and-yellow Grosbeak. There is an outside possibility of Orange Bullfinch, but the status of the latter is poorly understood and it may only be a winter visitor to the area.

There will be many other species present that have a wider distribution in the Himalayas, and we will see many of them, but naturally enough on this special expedition we will be giving priority to the most important species that are restricted to this marvellous part of the world.

Day 12 After some final birding today we will drive to the Kulu (or Kullu) area for an overnight stay.

Day 13  We will break our journey back to Chandigarh in a lower altitude area where we can add some extra specialities.

Day 14 After our final Himalayan birding we will return to Chandigarh and fly back to Delhi, where the expedition ends this evening.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good standard. The guesthouse at Gushaini is simple but adequate. During the 10-nights camping section each participant will have their own tent. Although the tents are two person tents, we do not feel they are roomy enough for two normal-sized people plus luggage. Couples may of course opt to put luggage in one tent and sleep in the other. Next to the sleeping tents, there is a dining tent and a toilet tent. Road transport is by small coach or car. Roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort is moderate to fairly demanding.

Climate: Typically it will be cool or warm, with a mixture of dry and sunny or overcast weather. Some rain is likely. At the highest altitudes it will be quite cold at night.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are fairly good.

Can be taken together with: ULTIMATE NORTHEAST INDIA


Birdquest Inclusions: our tour prices include all flight costs and all tipping, including tips for local guides and drivers. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately $640.

Price is provisional

£3590, €4110, $4850 Delhi/Delhi. Deposit: 10%.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Single Room Supplement: £136, €155, $183.

During the camping nights all participants have their own individual tent, so the supplement relates to the hotel nights only.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Many of the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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