The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia (and its islands)

RED PANDA EXPEDITION – A Quest for a Wonderful Creature of the Himalayas

Tuesday 20th February – Monday 26th February 2024

Leaders: Mark Beaman and expert local trackers

7 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 Red Panda. Far smaller than its close relative the Giant Panda, the Red Panda is a largely arboreal species and is definitely a much more beautiful and approachable creature in our opinion.

Our Quest for the Red Panda will take us to the Eastern Himalayas in India, where we will be based at a comfortable lodge at Singalila Ridge on the border between West Bengal and Nepal. 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 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 winter months (which is the best season for seeing Red Pandas), many species are still present.

Among a large number of species likely during our stay are such highlights as Fire-tailed Myzornis (often common here!), the amazing Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Golden Bush Robin, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Scaly, Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Hoary-throated Barwing, Golden-breasted Fulvetta and Red-headed Bullfinch.

There is even a hide/blind at our accommodation where many birds and sometimes Red Pandas come to feed!

Note: This expedition can be combined with our Bangladesh Expedition in 2024.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The lodge is 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 expedition is easy to moderate grade.

Climate: It will be quite cold in the daytime, with a mixture of sunshine and overcast conditions. Some snow is likely

Bird & Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our expedition are good.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Encounters with the wonderful Red Panda, one of the most charismatic Asian critters.
  • Watching a male Satyr Tragopan in all its fiery glory.
  • Sneaking up on beautiful Blood Pheasants.
  • Finding the bizarre Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, one of the strangest-looking birds of the Himalayas.
  • Watching Golden Bush Robins and laughingthrushes hopping around in front of the hide/blind.
  • Enjoying some amazing Himalayan vistas , some stretching all the way to the ice-clad Himalayan giants.

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Morning expedition start at Bagdogra airport in northern West Begal. Drive into the Himalayas to Singalila National Park.
  • Days 2-6: Exploring Singalila National Park.
  • Day 7: Return to Bagdogra airport for afternoon 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.

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)


2024: provisional £1950, $2390, €2340, AUD3410. Bagdogra/Bagdogra.

Single Supplement: 2024: £490, $600, €580, AUD850.

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 morning at Bagdogra airport, situated at the base of the Himalayas in The Indian state of West Bengal. 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 after that there are wonderful Himalayan forests rich in birdlife as we wind our way upwards to our accommodation.

[There are regular flight connections to Bagdogra from both Delhi and Kolkata. We can easily arrange just the internal flights for you if you are not having us handle your intercontinental air travel.]

Red Panda: Days 2-6  Singalila National Park protects a huge area of Himalayan forest and open meadows on the Singalia Ridge in the state of West Bengal, with adjacent reserved forest on the Nepal side of the border. 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. We will be crossing the India-Nepal border a number of times during our visit, but up here in this remote area that presents no issues!

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 approachable 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 we can visit where many birds and sometimes even Red Pandas come to feed!

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

Among the best birds at Singalila are the magnificent Satyr Tragopan (those males glow like fireballs, especially at this time of year!) and the beautiful Blood Pheasant. The beautiful Fire-tailed Myzornis, often a tricky bird to find, can be positively common here.

Among the many other likely species are Kalij Pheasant, Collared Owlet, Darjeeling and Crimson-breasted Woodpeckers, Long-tailed Minivet, Yellow-bellied and White-throated Fantails, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Grey Treepie, Spotted Nutcracker, Large-billed Crow, Goldcrest, White-collared Blackbird, Black-throated Thrush (and perhaps Red-throated also), Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Golden and White-browed Bush Robins, Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-fronted Redstart, Grey Bush Chat, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, the bizarre Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Streaked, Striated, Chestnut-crowned, Scaly, Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Rufous-capped Babbler, Hoary-throated and Rusty-fronted Barwings, Rufous Sibia, Stripe-throated and Rufous-vented Yuhinas, Red-tailed and Bar-throated Minlas, the gorgeous Golden-breasted Fulvetta, White-browed and Rufous-winged Fulvettas, Great, Brown, Fulvous and Black-throated Parrotbills, Hodgson’s and Rusty-flanked Treecreepers, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rufous-fronted and Black-throated Bushtits, Yellow-browed, Red-vented, Grey Crested, Coal and Green-backed Tits, Mrs Gould’s, Green-tailed and Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Himalayan Beautiful, Pink-browed, Dark-breasted and Himalayan White-browed Rosefinches, Plain Mountain Finch, Red Crossbill, Red-headed and Brown Bullfinches, White-winged Grosbeak, Grey Wagtail and Olive-backed Pipit.

Apart from the Red Pandas, there are also chances for such mammals as Yellow-throated Martin, Himalayan Serow, Ghoral and Musk Deer.

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

Red Panda: Day 7  Today we will descend to Bagdogra airport where our expedition ends this afternoon.