The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia (and its islands)

RED PANDA EXPEDITION – A Quest for a Wonderful Creature of the Himalayas, with Spiny Babbler extension

Saturday 28th February – Saturday 7th March 2026

Leaders: Birdquest leader to be announced and expert local trackers

8 Days Group Size Limit 6
Spiny Babbler Extension

Thursday 26th February – Saturday 28th February 2026

3 Days Group Size Limit 6

RED PANDA EXPEDITION: OVERVIEW

Birdquest’s Red Panda Expedition is a quest for one of the most-wanted mammals in Asia, the wonderful Western Red Panda. Far smaller than the Giant Panda, the Western Red Panda is a largely arboreal species and is definitely a much more beautiful and approachable creature in our opinion.

Our Quest for the Western Red Panda will take us to the Eastern Himalayas, where we will be based at a small lodge at the remote Singalila Ridge on the border between Nepal and India. Here our expert trackers will be helping us find, approach and photograph this fascinating and beautiful critter as it climbs around in the wintry trees and tall bushes in search of bamboo shoots, berries, seeds and other food.

Many birds will be seen during our extended (6 nights) stay at Singalila. The Eastern Himalayas are the richest part of the chain and even in the late winter period (which is the best season for seeing Red Pandas), many species are still present.

Among the species that are quite likely during our stay are such highlights as Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Rufous-fronted Bushtit, White-browed and Golden Bush Robins, Brown and Black-throated Parrotbills, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Scaly, Spotted, Black-faced and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Hoary-throated Barwing and Golden-breasted Fulvetta. With good fortune, we will encounter the amazing Satyr Tragopan.

There is even a hide/blind at our accommodation where a variety of birds (laughingthrushes in particular), Yellow-throated Martens and rarely even Red Pandas come to feed!

Participants on this expedition also have the option to sign up for a short (2 extra nights) extension to look for the Nepal-endemic Spiny Babbler in the Kathmandu Valley, as well as a good number of other bird species that will not be encountered at Singalila.

This expedition can be combined with our BANGLADESH EXPEDITION

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel in Kathmandu is of good quality. The lodge at Singalila is simple but warm and comfortable and the bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms. Road transport is by cars (including 4×4 cars). Roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during our Red Panda expedition is for the most part easy to moderate grade, but please note that when Red Pandas are found they may be located by the trackers on steep slopes and to access them it may be necessary to go off trail, descending or ascending some way, and holding onto bamboos or saplings for balance. So the overall requirement is more demanding. Walking effort during the Spiny Babbler extension is easy to moderate.

Climate: At Singalila it will be quite cold to mild in the daytime, with a mixture of sunshine and overcast conditions. Some snow is possible. In the Kathmandu Valley it is cool to warm, with a mixture of sunshine and overcast conditions.

Bird & Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our main Red Panda expedition are good. They are worthwhile during the Spiny Babbler extension.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Close encounters with the wonderful Western Red Panda, one of the most charismatic Asian critters.
  • Watching the pandas climbing through the trees and eating bamboo shoots.
  • Enjoying some amazing Himalayan vistas , some stretching all the way to the ice-clad Himalayan giants from Everest to Kangchenjunga.
  • Seeing colourful birds in a wintry landscape.
  • Finding the bizarre Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, one of the strangest-looking birds of the Himalayas.
  • Watching and photographing laughingthrushes and other birds hopping around in front of the lodge's hide/blind.
  • Hoping a Yellow-throated Marten visits the hide.
  • Encountering a gorgeous male Satyr Tragopan if we are lucky.
  • Tracking down the Nepal-endemic Spiny Babbler in the Kathmandu Valley.

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • SPINY BABBLER EXTENSION
  • Day 1: Evening extension start at Kathmandu.
  • Days 2-3: Exploring the Kathmandu Valley for the endemic Spiny Babbler and other birds. The main tour starts on the evening of Day 3.
  • MAIN TOUR
  • Day 1: Evening tour start at Kathmandu.
  • Day 2: Fly to Bhadrapur in southeast Nepal. Drive into the Himalayas to Singalila Ridge.
  • Days 3-7: Exploring Singalila National Park.
  • Day 8: Return to Bhadrapur airport for late afternoon flight to Kathmandu and expedition end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights:

Kathmandu-Bhadrapur

Bhadrapur-Kathmandu

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2026: provisional £2370, $3050, €2770, AUD4600. Kathmandu/Kathmandu.
Spiny Babbler Extension: £660, $850, €770, AUD1280. Kathmandu/Kathmandu.

Single Supplement: 2026: £530, $680, €610, AUD1020.
Spiny Babbler Extension: £90, $120, €100, AUD180.

Please note that there are no twin-bedded rooms at the lodge. Rooms are available for single or double occupancy by couples 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.

RED PANDA EXPEDITION: DETAILED ITINERARY

Red Panda: Day 1  Our expedition begins this evening at Kathmandu. An airport transfer to our hotel will be provided.

Red Panda: Day 2  Morning flight to Bhadrapur airport, situated at the base of the Himalayas in southeast Nepal. From there we climb into the Himalayas, enjoying some spectacular views, to Singalila Ridge for a six nights stay.  After a time we enter the reserved forest and wind our way upwards to our accommodation which is situated right on the ridge.

We will make a few stops along the way. We should encounter Rhesus Macaque monkeys and perhaps Assamese Macaques, while birds along the way may include Spotted Dove, Red-wattled Lapwing, Little and Eastern Cattle Egrets, Indian Pond Heron, Black Kite, Himalayan Buzzard, White-throated Kingfisher, Black Drongo, Brown and Long-tailed Shrikes, House Crow, Green-backed Tit, Red-vented Bulbul, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Jungle and Common Mynas, Chestnut-tailed and Asian Pied Starlings, Grey-winged Blackbird, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Plumbeous Water Redstart, White-capped Redstart and Siberian Stonechat.

Red Panda: Days 3-7  Singalila National Park protects a huge area of Himalayan forest and open meadows on the Singalia Ridge that forms the border between Nepal and West Bengal state in India. The park covers an area of 78.6 square kilometres (30.3 square miles) and its elevation ranges from around 2100m (6900ft) to around 3600m (11800ft), although we will likely not get much above 3000m (9800ft) during our visit.

At this time of year, the Himalayan vistas are often quite extraordinary and from different places on the Singalila Ridge, you can see panoramas of Himalayan ridges stretching away into the distance to the great ice-clad peaks of the Main Range. The scene is often dominated by the huge massif of Kangchenjunga (or Kanchenjunga), at 8,586m or 28,169ft this is one of the highest peaks on earth.

Each day our expert trackers will sortie out and try to locate Western Red Pandas. Not only should we see and photograph this wonderful animal, but at this time of year, we can reasonably hope for multiple encounters!

There is also a hide/blind behind our lodge where many birds and rarely even Red Pandas come to feed! Yellow-throated Martens are fairly regular at the hide.

Lots of bird species inhabit Singalila, and while cuckoos, flycatchers, warblers and some other species head for the foothills and plains in the colder months, many species remain, including some of the most spectacular birds of the Eastern Himalayas.

Among the many species that are likely during our visit to the Singalila Ridge at this season are: Hill Partridge, Grey Nightjar, Collared Owlet, Himalayan Owl, Himalayan Vulture, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Large-billed Crow, Yellow-browed, Rufous-vented, Coal and Grey-crested Tits, Hume’s Bush Warbler, Rufous-fronted Bushtit, Buff-barred and Ashy-throated Warblers, the gorgeous Golden-breasted Fulvetta, White-browed and Rufous-winged Fulvettas, Brown and Black-throated Parrotbills, Whiskered and Stripe-throated Yuhinas, the bizarre Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Scaly, Black-faced, Chestnut-crowned and Spotted Laughingthrushes, Hoary-throated Barwing, Bar-throated Minla, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, White-collared Blackbird, Black-throated Thrush, Spotted Forktail, Blue Whistling Thrush, White-browed and Golden Bush Robins, Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-fronted Redstart, White-tailed Nuthatch, Green-tailed Sunbird, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Olive-backed Pipit, Dark-breasted, Pink-browed and Himalayan White-browed Rosefinches, Plain Mountain Finch, Red (or Common) Crossbill, Red-headed Bullfinch and White-winged Grosbeak.

Uncommon possibilities include Blood Pheasant, the magnificent Satyr Tragopan (which is quiet and unobtrusive during the best Red Panda season), Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Green Shrike-babbler, Spotted Nutcracker, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Streaked Laughingthrush, Red-tailed Minla, Goldcrest, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Alpine Thrush, White-throated Redstart, Altai Accentor, Dark-rumped Rosefinch and Golden-naped Finch.

Apart from the Western Red Pandas and Yellow-throated Martens, there are also fair chances for such mammals as Maned Serow and Brown (or Himalayan) Ghoral.

Note: It is important to appreciate that this is a Red Panda Expedition and that priority will be given to gaining sightings and good photographs of this endearing critter. There will be lots of birds to see and photograph but seeing as many bird species as possible is not the goal of this special expedition.

Red Panda: Day 8  Today we will descend to Bhadrapur airport and take a late afternoon flight to Kathmandu. Our expedition ends upon arrival at Kathmandu.

 

SPINY BABBLER EXTENSION

Spiny Babbler: Day 1  The extension begins this evening at Kathmandu, where we will spend two nights during the extension (and a third night as part of the main tour). An airport transfer to our hotel will be provided.

Spiny Babbler: Days 2-3  The uncommon and localized Spiny Babbler is endemic to central Nepal and is the only strictly Nepalese endemic bird. It is not uncommon in the bushy areas of the Kathmandu Valley but tends to be shy and can sometimes take some coaxing before it shows itself well.

The babbler will of course be our prime target during the extension. This is a bird that has been seen by relatively few birders as Nepal is no longer a frequently-bird country and indeed in the ‘old days’ few birding visitors specifically targeted it.

We will surely see a lot of other birds while seeking out the Spiny Babbler and could well have a full day available to explore at higher altitudes on the Valley rim, from around 2000m up to 2800m (approximately 6600-9200 ft).  Around the Valley edge and on the adjacent slopes, we are sure to find a lot of species that are difficult or impossible at Singalila, at least at this season.

At lower altitudes, we may well encounter Kalij Pheasant, House Swift, Oriental Turtle Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Little and Eastern Cattle Egrets, Indian Pond Heron, Crested Serpent Eagle,  Steppe Eagle, Black Kite, Himalayan Buzzard, Great and Blue-throated Barbets, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Alexandrine and Rose-ringed Parakeets, the gorgeous Long-tailed Broadbill, White-browed Shrike-babbler, Bronzed, Hair-crested, Ashy and Black Drongos, White-throated and Yellow-bellied Fantails, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Rufous Treepie, House and Large-billed Crows, Green-backed and Himalayan Black-lored Tits, Black, Red-vented and Himalayan Bulbuls, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Black-throated Bushtit, Buff-barred, Hume’s Leaf, Yellow-browed, Lemon-rumped, Dusky and Grey-hooded Warblers, Common Tailorbird, Indian White-eye, Black-chinned Babbler, Red-billed Leiothrix, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Grey-winged Blackbird, Tickell’s Thrush, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Rufous-bellied and Small Niltavas, White-tailed Robin, Blue Whistling Thrush, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Pied Bushchat, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Crimson and Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Eurasian Tree and House Sparrows and Olive-backed Pipit.

Higher up, we may well come across the magnificent Black Eagle, Eurasian Jay, Grey Treepie, Yellow-browed Tit, Mountain Bulbul, Black-faced and Ashy-throated Warblers, White-browed and Rufous-winged Fulvettas, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Striated, Chestnut-crowned and White-throated Laughingthrushes, Rufous Sibia, Hoary-throated Barwing, Blue-winged Minla, White-tailed Nuthatch, Black-throated Thrush, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Blue-fronted Redstart and Green-tailed Sunbird.

On the evening of Day 3, we will meet up with those arriving in Kathmandu for the main expedition.