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VIETNAM

Birdquest's Vietnam birding tour explores the entire length of the most endemic-rich country for birdwatching in Southeast Asia. Our Vietnam tour is the most comprehensive itinerary available in this fascinating and beautiful country and turns up a fantastic array of specialities. Vietnam has 12 currently-recognized endemics and of these our tour targets Orange-breasted, Collared and Chestnut-eared Laughingthrushes, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Vietnamese Cutia, Grey-crowned Crocias, Dalat Shrike-babbler and Vietnamese Greenfinch. The list of regional endemics or near-endemics is also very impressive and on this amazing tour  we have a chance to such sought-after birds as Germain’s Peacock Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Red-vented and Indochinese Barbets, Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Blue-rumped and Bar-bellied Pittas, White-winged and Indochinese Green Magpies, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Grey-crowned Tit, Masked, Grey, Rufous-cheeked, White-cheeked and Black-hooded Laughingthrushes, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, Sooty Babbler, Grey-faced Tit Babbler, the newly-described Black-crowned Barwing and with a modicum of luck even the shy Orange-necked Partridge or the hyper elusive Red-collared Woodpecker. Apart from the very rich avifauna, Vietnam also offers an amazing scenery, fantastic culture and an overall great travel experience!

Wednesday 7th March — Wednesday 28th March 2018
(22 days)


Leaders: Craig Robson and a local bird guide

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

The near-endemic Bar-bellied Pitta is one of those fabulous Vietnamese specialities that every birder wants to see  (Craig Robson)

The near-endemic Bar-bellied Pitta is one of those fabulous Vietnamese specialities that every birder wants to see (Craig Robson)

Indochina, where the avifaunas of China, Malaysia and the Himalayas all meet, remains in ornithological terms amongst the least known and unexplored of all the regions of South-East Asia.

During the days when it was under French colonial administration, Vietnam was considered to be very much a land of remote forested mountains inhabited by wild tribespeople. Ravaged by thirty years of struggle, first in the independence war against the French and later during the civil war, Vietnam and its fantastic birdlife remained firmly off limits. Now the country has once more opened its doors to outsiders and for birdwatchers the old images of a war-torn country that came to exert such a powerful fascination for westerners are gradually being replaced by thoughts of the brilliant green paddyfields, forested hills with jutting limestone peaks and cool pine forests that had remained inaccessible for so long.

Vietnam has the most diverse avifauna in Indochina and amongst its birds are many of the most sought-after species of the Oriental region, including 13 endemic and near-endemic species (significantly more than any other country in South-East Asia), 11 additional species endemic to Indochina as a whole and a long series of endemic subspecies, some of which surely merit elevation to species status. Vietnam is still a rarely visited birding destination in spite of its very rich avifauna (rivalling Thailand in what it can produce in three weeks).

This tour, which will explore some of the finest areas for birds in the country, is unusually comprehensive and is specifically designed to concentrate on Vietnamese endemics and other regional specialities.

We will begin our journey at Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City as it is nowadays officially known), but only pause here briefly on our way to visit Cat Tien National Park in northern Cochinchina, which protects one of the largest remaining areas of lowland forest and wetlands in the country. Here we will be hoping to see the near-endemic Orange-necked Partridge, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Red-vented Barbet, Bar-bellied and Blue-rumped Pittas, and Grey-faced Tit-Babbler, as well as a long list of more widespread species including specialities such as Scaly-breasted Partridge, Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl, Pale-headed, Black-and-buff and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Vinous-breasted Starling and Golden-crested Myna.

Next we head northwards to the unique Da Lat (or Lang Bian) plateau in south-central Vietnam where forested peaks rise to over 2000 metres. The forests here harbour such Vietnamese or Indochinese endemics as Black-crowned Parrotbill, Black-hooded, White-cheeked, Orange-breasted and Collared Laughingthrushes, Vietnamese Cutia, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Grey-crowned Tit, Indochinese Green Magpie, Vietnamese Greenfinch and the strange Grey-crowned Crocias. Other specialities include Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Blue Pitta, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Green Cochoa, White-spectacled and Grey-cheeked Warblers, and Black-headed Sibia.

From Da Lat we head northwards into central Vietnam where we will visit several rarely explored reserves in search of some of Vietnam’s least known endemics and near-endemics, including Annam Partridge, Limestone Warbler, Indochinese Wren-Babbler (formerly Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler), Sooty Babbler, Chestnut-eared and Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Black-crowned Barwing, White-winged Magpie and Ratchet-tailed Treepie.

Continuing northwards into the northern part of Vietnam, we will first explore Cuc Phuong, the oldest of Vietnam’s national parks. Here in the moist evergreen forest we will look for a series of exciting birds, including Pied Falconet, White-bellied Green Pigeon, Eared Pitta, Japanese, Grey-backed and Black-breasted Thrushes, Limestone Wren-Babbler and Fork-tailed Sunbird.

Next we will explore the old French hill station at Tam Dao, haunt of Chestnut Bulbul, Fujian Niltava, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Spot-necked Babbler, Grey Laughingthrush, Chestnut-collared Yuhina (split from Striated), Greater Rufous-headed and Short-tailed Parrotbills, and Collared Treepie.

Our final port of call will be Ba Be National Park where we should be able to observe the superb and very rare and endangered White-eared Night Heron at a recently discovered breeding site.

When the time comes to take our leave of this fascinating country we will surely agree with the comment made by Jean Delacour, a pioneer of South-East Asian ornithology, that “no other part of Asia is of greater interest to the ornithologist”.

Birdquest pioneered birding tours to Vietnam as far back as 1991.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/guesthouses are comfortable and of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are now generally good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are some longer walks.

Climate: Most days at lower altitudes in the south will be warm or hot, dry and sunny. In the north and at higher altitudes in the south conditions range from warm to rather cool. Overcast weather is not infrequent and it may well rain.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

These are provisional prices

Tour Price: £5080, €5990, $6650 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)/Hanoi.

Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £483, €570, $633.

Deposit: £650, €780, $850.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

Hodgson's Frogmouth is a rarely-seen nightbird across its range  (János Oláh)

Hodgson's Frogmouth is a rarely-seen nightbird across its range (János Oláh)

78 photos View Gallery Photos From VIETNAM
The Black-crowned Barwing was only recently described as a new bird to science, endemic to the remote mountains of central Vietnam  (János Oláh)

The Black-crowned Barwing was only recently described as a new bird to science, endemic to the remote mountains of central Vietnam (János Oláh)

Siamese Firebacks are relatively common and unwary at Cat Tien National Park  (János Oláh)

Siamese Firebacks are relatively common and unwary at Cat Tien National Park (János Oláh)

Eared Pitta is another of those dream birds which you may see in Vietnam  (János Oláh)

Eared Pitta is another of those dream birds which you may see in Vietnam (János Oláh)

The enigmatic endemic Grey-crowned Crocias was only recently rediscovered in southern Vietnam  (Craig Robson)

The enigmatic endemic Grey-crowned Crocias was only recently rediscovered in southern Vietnam (Craig Robson)

It is thought that the poorly-known, near-endemic Short-tailed Scimitar-Babbler may be a missing link' between scimitar-babblers and wren-babblers  (János Oláh)

It is thought that the poorly-known, near-endemic Short-tailed Scimitar-Babbler may be a missing link' between scimitar-babblers and wren-babblers (János Oláh)

Green Cochoa is one of those ultra-sought-after birds that eludes most birders  (János Oláh)

Green Cochoa is one of those ultra-sought-after birds that eludes most birders (János Oláh)

The unique gayeti form of the Sultan Tit with its black crest is a strong candidate for a split.

The unique gayeti form of the Sultan Tit with its black crest is a strong candidate for a split.

Many of the flights and 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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