The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia (and its islands)

WESTERN TRAGOPAN & SPINY BABBLER EXPEDITION – The jewel of the Great Himalaya and Kathmandu


Birdquest’s Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler Expedition in the northwest and central Himalayas of India and Nepal is a truly unforgettable adventure!

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 this special expedition, which is an enhanced repeat of our pioneering and highly successful Birdquest Western Tragopan 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, from Pakistan through India to western Nepal, and some great birds of wider distribution, including Cheer Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Snow Pigeon, Brown-fronted, Himalayan and Scaly-bellied Woodpeckers, Nepal (or Immaculate) Cupwing, Black-chinned Babbler, Variegated and Streaked Laughingthrushes, Rufous-naped, Spot-winged and Black-lored Tits, White-throated Bushtit, White-cheeked and Kashmir Nuthatches, Black-headed Jay, Spectacled Finch, Pink-browed and Blyth’s Rosefinches, and Black-and-yellow Grosbeak.

The Nepal-endemic Spiny Babbler is much easier to locate and see in spring, so is an ideal combination with this expedition. After our Western Tragopan trek we will return to Delhi and then fly to the wonderful city of Kathmandu. Here we will track down the Spiny Babbler and also enjoy some widespread Himalayan birds while doing so.

Join us for something completely different!

Birdquest has operated India and Nepal birding tours since 1982.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of a good standard. The guesthouse at Gushaini is simple but adequate. During the 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 during our Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler birding tour 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 during our Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler birding tour are fairly good.


  • A quest for the least-known and most-wanted endemic of the Western Himalayas
  • Watching Cheer Pheasants quietly feeding on a sunny hillside
  • Trekking into Great Himalaya National Park, along a rushing mnountain river
  • Camping in a far-away clearing with an awesome view of the icy Himalayan peaks
  • Big Black-and-yellow Grosbewaks chortling away from the fir tops
  • Secretive Slaty-blue Flycatrchers just by our tents
  • That vision of wonder, the raspberry-red Western Tragopan walking out into view!
  • Tame Golden Bush Robins hopping about on the ground, completely unafraid of us
  • Finding a group of White-throated Bushtits working its way through the forest
  • Flushing a noisy Himalayan Monal and watching it sail down a gulley
  • Getting to dance round the campfire with our ever-cheerful porters and camp crew
  • Walking out of the park and thinking about a real bed and a hot shower!
  • Kalij Pheasants by the roadside and Black-throated Jays in the foothill forests
  • Seeing Nepal's only endemic, the Spiny Babbler, the lovely valley of Kathmandu.
  • Enjoying the famous pagoda architecture of Kathmandu, albeit briefly


  • Day 1: Morning flight from Delhi to Chandigarh. Drive to Gushaini.
  • Day 2: Gushaini area. Chir Pheasant, then easy start to trek.
  • Days 3-8: Great Himalaya National Park. Trekking and camping. Western Tragopan quest.
  • Day 9: Finish trek and drive to Shoja for overnight.
  • Day 10: Drive to Himalayan foothills at Chail.
  • Day 11: Chail, then drive to Chandigarh.
  • Day 12: Morning flight to Delhi and onward flight to Kathmandu.
  • Day 13: Kathmandu Valley for Spiny Babbler etc.
  • Day 14: Kathmandu, then mid-afternoon tour end at Kathmandu airport.

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’.


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

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

We also include these flights:



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)

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

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


Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 1  Our 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 Himalaya National Park, where we will stay for two nights.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 2  Birding around Gushaini this morning, with the number one target being the superb Cheer Pheasant (a western Himalayan speciality, with much of the surviving population in India).

In the afternoon we will commence our Western Tragopan trek with an easy walk up a beautiful river valley to our first campsite.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Days 3-8  We will make our way through the truly magnificent forests, meadows and alpine scenery of India’s spectacular Great Himalaya National Park. We will camp in the park at 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 from Nepal to India and often Pakistan include Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Himalayan Woodpecker, Scaly-bellied Woodpecker, Nepal (or Immaculate) Cupwing, 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, 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.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 9  After some final birding this morning we walk out of the magical Great Himalaya National Park and then drive to Soja for an overnight stay.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 10  We will break our journey back to lowland India at Chail in the Himalayan foothills where we can add some extra species, most notably the regionally-endemic Black-headed Jay. Other likely species include Kalij Pheasant.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 11  After spending much of the day around Chail we will return to Chandigarh for an overnight stay.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 12  From Chandigarh, we take a morning flight to Delhi and an onward flight to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, for a two nights stay.

Depending on our arrival time, we may have time for some initial birding or we will have a chance to enjoy to some of the city’s architectural treasures. The pagodas of Patan are a wonder of the world.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 13  Today we will be concentrating on seeing Nepal’s only endemic, the Spiny Babbler, at the edge of the Kathmandu Valley.

There will also be a variety of typical Central Himalayan species present in the area, so if you have not been birding in the Central or Eastern Himalayas before you will certainly get quite a number of lifers.

Western Tragopan & Spiny Babbler: Day 14  After a last morning in the Kathmandu Valley we will have time to change, pack and eat a last lunch together at our hotel. Our tour ends this afternoon at Kathmandu airport.



Other India and region birding tours by Birdquest include: