Birding Tour India: The Northeast – Spectacular Birds and Mammals
Dates and Costs:
28 February – 14 March 2022
Price (includes domestic flights): US$6,965 / £5,295 / €6,165 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants.
Single Supplement: US$865 / £657 / €765
* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.
27 February – 13 March 2023
Price (includes domestic flights): US$7,660 / £5,823 / €6,780 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants.
Single Supplement: US$950 / £722 / €841
Duration: 15 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi
Tour End: Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi
Domestic flight New Delhi to Guwahati
Domestic flight Guwahati to New Delhi
All accommodation (as described above, please note that the accommodation in the mountains of northeastern India is basic to very basic, often with shared bathroom/toilets in permanent camp sites away from the cities)
Meals (from dinner on day 1 until breakfast on day 15)
Drinking water – two bottles of mineral water per day per person from our tour vehicle, please bring a refillable water bottle (if taken from the hotel this will be at your own cost)
Expert tour leader
Local bird and wildlife guide fees
National park/birdwatching reserve entrance fees and jeep safaris
All ground transport and tolls while on tour, including airport pick-up and drop-off
Raft trip at Nameri
Protected Area Permit (required for some of the areas we will visit during the tour)
Flights to/from Indira Gandhi International Airport
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Optional tours (e.g. monument entrance fees and associated additional travel expenses)
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Camera (still/video) permits
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Birding Tour India: The Northeast – Spectacular Birds and Mammals
This small-group tour of northeast India visits some spectacular scenery in the eastern Himalayas and the floodplain of the mighty (and extremely lengthy) Brahmaputra River long before it joins the River Ganges in Bangladesh. The mountains and floodplains here are two of the most biologically diverse places in India, and our tour will focus on these areas.
Temminck’s Tragopan is one of our stunning target birds on this trip (photo Summer Wong).
After our arrival in New Delhi we will take a domestic flight (included in the tour cost) to the largest city in Assam, Guwahati, situated on the bank of the Brahmaputra River. From here we will head into the undisturbed wilderness of the Himalayan foothills of Nameri National Park. This area protects numerous species, and we will look for special birds including at least two that are classified as Endangered by IUCN, Greater Adjutant and White-winged Duck (a secretive forest duck). We will also search the area for the highly sought monotypic Ibisbill, one of three monotypic families of birds possible on this tour, the others being Wallcreeper and Spotted Elachura. Nameri also hosts many other interesting birds, such as Great Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Red-breasted Parakeet, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Great Stone-curlew, River Tern, Small Pratincole, Bengal Bush Lark, and Sand Lark.
After our stop at Nameri we will climb into the incredibly beautiful mountains and spend almost a week birding within and around the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh, one of the best-known and highly regarded mountain birding sites in the whole of Asia. This is one of our favorite birding destinations in the world. The scenery, forests, and birding here are all spectacular, and we will be looking for some amazing birds such as Temminck’s Tragopan, Blyth’s Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Monal, Spotted Elachura, Bugun Liocichla, Ward’s Trogon, Beautiful Nuthatch, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Himalayan Cutia, and Fire-tailed Myzornis, along with plenty more gorgeous laughingthrushes, parrotbills, rosefinches, barwings, and related species, with species such as Spotted Laughingthrush, White-breasted Parrotbill, and Rusty-fronted Barwing likely to be some of the highlights. The area is also great for babblers, of which we will seek out many, with Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler and Bar-winged Wren-babbler being on the opposite sides of the size spectrum. But there is so much more to this area than the brief highlight reel above!
The monotypic Ibisbill is of great interest to bird family listers and all birders wanting to see a unique and interesting species.
Finally, and gradually, we will descend back down to the Assamese plains of the Brahmaputra, where we will continue our adventure, looking for some difficult yet highly prized species in and around the wondrous Kaziranga National Park, such as Bengal Florican, Greater Adjutant, Lesser Adjutant, Blue-naped Pitta, Indian Grassbird, Swamp Francolin, Black-breasted Weaver, Finn’s Weaver, Dusky Eagle-Owl, Black-necked Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, and Pallas’s Fish Eagle. Once we’ve finished here we will head back to Guwahati for our flight to New Delhi, where the tour will conclude.
This tour will also focus on finding some of the major mammals of the region, such as Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros, Asian Elephant, Barasingha (Swamp Deer), Gaur, Wild Water Buffalo, Indian Leopard, and Western Hoolock Gibbon, along with plenty of more common and widespread species. With extreme luck we may even find Arunachal Macaque, Red Panda, or Bengal Tiger, either one sure to be yet another highlight on this wonderful wildlife-packed tour.
Immediately before this trip we have a short (four-day) Birding Tour India: The West – Forest Owlet Extension for the Endangered (IUCN) Forest Owlet, a species considered extinct for over 100 years before it was rediscovered in the mid-1990s, and just prior to that we also have our Birding Tour India: The Northwest – Lions and Desert Birding in Gujarat where we find some pretty special wildlife too. We can also easily offer you extensions at each location if you would like to prolong your stay in this exciting country and we offer a wide range of other Indian tours, shown here.
There are so many highlights when birding at Eaglenest; however, we are sure you will be impressed by the rather large and very pretty Ward’s Trogon.
Itinerary (15 days/14 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in New Delhi
After your arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi you will be transferred to our hotel, where the rest of the day will be at your leisure, followed by a group welcome meal.
Overnight: New Delhi
Day 2. New Delhi to Guwahati, transfer to Nameri National Park
Leaving New Delhi in the morning we will fly to Guwahati, the capital of the state of Assam, arriving there around noon. After leaving the airport we will most likely head straight to the local waste facility, where we should find the humongous (and exceedingly ugly) Greater Adjutant and Lesser Adjutant foraging/scavenging among the rubbish. After stopping here we will start our journey in earnest to Nameri, where we will likely arrive late in the afternoon, hopefully for some time birding in our accommodation grounds before dark, where we may find Great Hornbill, Red-breasted Parakeet, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, and Oriental Scops Owl.
Overnight: Nameri National Park
Day 3. Nameri National Park
We will have a morning and afternoon birding session in Nameri National Park (also known as Nameri Tiger Reserve). Nameri is a gorgeous, undulating wilderness area in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. A large proportion of the national park area consists of swamp forest interspersed with areas of open grassland split up by many river tributaries. Nameri is one of the best places in the world to find the rare, highly elusive, and Endangered (IUCN) White-winged Duck, and this will be one of our major objectives during our time here. There is also a small chance of seeing Bengal Tiger here, but there will be better chances for that later in the tour.
There are, however, numerous other great species possible, such as Greater Adjutant, Great and Wreathed Hornbills, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Pied Falconet, Pied Harrier, Oriental Hobby, White-browed Piculet, Pale-chinned Blue Flycatcher, and Black-backed Forktail. A boat ride along the river here might produce some highly sought species such as Small Pratincole, Ibisbill, River Tern, River Lapwing, Great Stone-curlew, Sand Lark, Striated Grassbird, and the huge Crested Kingfisher. We will make sure to try to find as many of these as possible during the day and during the following morning before leaving the area.
Overnight: Nameri National Park
The shy, secretive, and rare White-winged Duck can be found in swampy forest areas in Nameri National Park.
Day 4. Nameri National Park to Dirang
After a morning birding session in the Nameri National Park we will head toward Dirang. This part of India is one of the most diverse in the country due to the huge gain in elevation of the Eastern Himalayas in a relatively small area, e.g. sea-level to 7,000 meters (22,650 feet) in about 150 kilometers (93 miles). We will pass through some gorgeous scenery and a wide range of habitats (stopping along the way to look for the monotypic Ibisbill) as we make our way up to the 1,500 meters (5,259 feet) elevation zone. Over the course of our journey and the rest of the afternoon we may find Rufous-bellied Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Pied Falconet, Hill Partridge, Golden-throated Barbet, Grey-chinned Minivet, Blue-fronted Robin, Little Forktail, Golden Bush Robin, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Green Cochoa, Purple Cochoa, Long-tailed Broadbill, Scaly Laughingthrush, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Himalayan Cutia, Black-headed Shrike-babbler, Green Shrike-babbler, White-naped Yuhina, White-breasted Parrotbill, Pale-billed Parrotbill, and Sultan Tit.
Day 5. Birding the Sela Pass and Sangti Valley
A very exciting and sure to be a memorable day will have us visiting a wide-range of habitats and elevations. After an early start we will head up to around 4,200 meters (14,108 feet) on the famous Sela Pass – one of the highest drivable mountain passes in all of the Himalayas. Here in the alpine meadows we will focus on some very special, highly sought, and seriously stunning montane species such as Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Vulture, Snow Pigeon, Grandala, Hodgson’s Redstart, Alpine Accentor, Tibetan Serin, Plain Mountain Finch, Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch, Spotted Laughingthrush, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, and White-browed Tit-warbler.
Grandala is a rather striking bird of the high-elevation zone (photo Summer Wong).
It is certain to be a memorable morning’s birding, and the afternoon is sure to be just as good as we will visit the Sangti Valley at an altitude of around 1,500-1,600 meters (4,920-5,413 feet), where we will look for several equally exciting species as those possible during our morning birdwatching session, such as the unique and monotypic Ibisbill, the secretive Black-tailed Crake, and the uncommon Long-billed Plover. Other interesting species in the valley at this time of year include Rosy Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Brown Dipper, the stunning White-capped Redstart, Little Forktail, and the second possible monotypic family, Wallcreeper. There is a good chance that the ‘bird of the trip’ may be found today, because the quality of birds on offer is so high! We will end the day in Dirang.
Wallcreeper doing what it does best
Day 6. Mandala birding
We will spend the full day birding around Mandala. Target species are plentiful and may include one of the world’s best-looking birds, Temminck’s Tragopan. It is scarce here, but we will certainly be putting a great deal of effort into trying to find it. There will be plenty of other species in the forests here, such as Blanford’s Rosefinch, Bhutan, Black-faced, and Spotted Laughingthrushes, Gould’s Shortwing, Fire-tailed Myzornis, White-collared and Grey-winged Blackbirds, Grey-headed Bullfinch, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Rufous-breasted and Maroon-backed Accentors, Hodgson’s and White-throated Redstarts, Golden-naped Finch, Rufous-fronted Bushtit, Grey Crested Tit, and Spotted Nutcracker. Ward’s Trogon is also a scarce possibility here. We are sure to have another memorable day.
Day 7. Dirang to Lama Camp
After breakfast we will bird our way between Mandala and Lama Camp, where we will spend the night at a fully serviced camp. Lama Camp is on the periphery of the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, a phenomenal area and one of the best birding locations in India and in fact in all of Asia. We will have a total of five days in and around this exciting sanctuary, which will allow us to fully explore the wide altitudinal range and resultant habitats and birdlife on offer here.
There is a wide range of species possible during the day. There is some overlap with the previous and following days, but there are plenty of new and exciting birds too. Some of the most thrilling birds may include Blyth’s Tragopan and Temminck’s Tragopan (two very impressive, but scarce and often shy birds) along with Himalayan Bluetail, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Brown-throated and Golden-breasted Fulvettas, Himalayan Cutia, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Rusty-fronted and Streak-throated Barwings, Himalayan Thrush, Rufous-chinned and Grey-sided Laughingthrushes, Fulvous and Black-throated Parrotbills, Slender-billed and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, and Green-tailed Sunbird.
Overnight: Lama Camp
The male Himalayan Bluetail is an incredible hit of color.
Days 8 – 10. Lama Camp to Bompu Birding Camp
We will leave Lama Camp and bird our way to Bompu Birding Camp at 1,940 meters (6,364 feet), where we will spend the next three nights at a fully serviced camp inside the wonderful Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. Due to the good access here we will be able to enjoy three full days’ birding across a wide elevational range to maximize our chances for the most exciting species and mixed-flocks/bird-waves on offer here. Barwings, yuhinas, laughingthrushes, and related species are likely to be evident, such as the recently discovered Bugun Liocichla, the more well-known Red-faced Liocichla, Himalayan Cutia, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Blue-winged Minla, Red-billed Leiothrix, Silver-eared Mesia, Rusty-fronted and Streak-throated Barwings, Long-tailed and Beautiful Sibias, White-naped, Whiskered, and Rufous-vented Yuhinas, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, and Blue-winged, Bhutan, and Black-faced Laughingthrushes. Beautiful Nuthatch and Rusty-flanked Treecreeper along with Yellow-cheeked and Sultan Tits are likely to be in the bird-waves. A range of parrotbills too could be on offer, with Black-headed, Pale-billed and Brown Parrotbills all possible. Some color and further quality might be provided by Ward’s Trogon, Red-headed Trogon, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Rufous-necked Hornbill, and Scarlet Finch.
Found only in the Eaglenest area, Bugun Liocichla is Critically Endangered (IUCN), was only discovered in 1995, and was first described in 2006.
By spending a few days here we will be able to concentrate our efforts on some of the more secretive and skulking but highly rewarding species such as Spotted Elachura (a recent elevation to monotypic family status), Gould’s Shortwing, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Brown Wood Owl, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Black-faced Warbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia, White-browed Bush Robin, Golden Bush Robin, Long-tailed and Himalayan Thrushes, and another possible ‘bird of the trip’, the shy and difficult but totally worth-the-effort Blyth’s Tragopan. Two mammals we will be looking for here are the very rare and both Endangered (IUCN) Red Panda and Arunachal Macaque; with luck we may find one or even both of these in the forests.
Overnight: Bompu Birding Camp
Spotted Elachura is sought-after, as it is in its own family, but it is also a serious skulker!
Day 11. Bompu Birding Camp to Lama Camp
We will spend the day birding our way back from Bompu Birding Camp to Lama Camp, looking for the birds already listed above.
Overnight: Lama Camp
Day 12. Lama Camp to Kaziranga National Park
Today we will start our descent from the mountains to the Assamese plains. Leaving Lama Camp we will drop down to the famous and huge Kaziranga National Park in central Assam, eventually crossing the mighty and equally famous Brahmaputra River. Indeed, the national park is the largest undisturbed area of the river’s floodplain and a spectacular sight in its own right, stacked full of jaw-dropping wildlife. This is one area of India that is a ‘must-visit’ for any birder and wildlife lover. After our arrival we will spend the afternoon on safari (as game drives are called in India) in the national park, where we will try to get a head start on finding some of the many incredible birds and wildlife listed for day 13, such as the magnificent, pre-historic-looking Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros (this is the only place in the world where you can see this huge and incredibly impressive species reliably).
Overnight: Kaziranga National Park
Day 13. Kaziranga National Park
Some very special birds are possible today, and we will primarily look for Bengal Florican, Greater Adjutant, Blue-naped Pitta, Indian Grassbird, Swamp Francolin, Spot-billed Pelican, and Pallas’s Fish Eagle. However, while looking for the above species (and the mammals referenced below) there are plenty of other birds for which we will keep an eye out as we make our way through various open grasslands and wetlands of the area, such as Black-necked Stork, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Black Stork, Asian Openbill, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Bar-headed Goose, Grey-headed Lapwing, Alexandrine and Red-breasted Parakeets, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Zitting Cisticola, Chestnut Munia, Red Avadavat, Bengal Bush Lark, Finn’s Weaver, Baya Weaver, Streaked Weaver, Black-breasted Weaver, and Spot-winged Starling.
The more scrubby and wooded areas in and around the national park hold Siberian Rubythroat, Common Green Magpie, Kalij Pheasant, Red Junglefowl, Common Emerald Dove, White-rumped Shama, Rufous Woodpecker, Grey-headed (Black-naped) Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Speckled Piculet, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Greater Necklaced, Lesser Necklaced, and Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes, Maroon Oriole, Blue-eared Barbet, Great Barbet, Verditer Flycatcher, and Smoky Warbler.
A fantastic portrait of a male Kalij Pheasant
A fine suite of mammals also occurs in Kaziranga National Park, and we will look for Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros, Asian Elephant, Gaur, Wild Water Buffalo, Barasingha (Swamp Deer), Sloth Bear, and Western Hoolock Gibbon. With some luck we may even come across the rare and secretive Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, or Leopard Cat while here. Our visit in and around this national park is sure to be a very interesting, bird-and-wildlife-packed time.
Overnight: Kaziranga National Park
The Greater One-horned (Indian) Rhinoceros is an incredible sight.
Day 14. Kaziranga National Park to Guwahati and New Delhi
Depending on our flight time from Guwahati to New Delhi there may be some time for a bit of early-morning, pre-breakfast birding and wildlife watching in the Kaziranga area. We will transfer to Guwahati in the morning and fly back to New Delhi, arriving there late in the afternoon or early in the evening.
Overnight: New Delhi
Day 15. International departure
This is a non-birding day with departure from New Delhi.
If you would rather not fly back home on this day we can organize additional nights in New Delhi, or we can arrange a birding or cultural tour around New Delhi or another part of India. Just let us know what you would like to do, maybe an extension to visit the Taj Mahal, or Ranthambhore National Park to look for the majestic Bengal Tiger and a whole load of different birds to those seen on this tour, like Painted Spurfowl and Indian Courser. Just let us know!
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.Download Itinerary
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
The 2016 Northern India Birding Ecotours trip was everything I had hoped for and more. As a novice both when it came to Asian birds and Indian travel, the trip couldn’t have been better. Andy Walker, our guide, was brilliant at finding the expected birds and some amazing rarities and getting us good looks. I managed close to 400 lifers combined with Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal, some fascinating glimpses of rural India and a spectacular time in the Himalayan foothills. Our driver, van, train travel and hotels were all comfortable and worked like clockwork. Thanks for the trip of a lifetime.
Hume Martin — Toronto, Canada