Glen & Rainer worked well together. Both were most attentive to client needs, no matter how trivial. Their sense of humour was keen and attention to birding very much appreciated. This was probably one of THE BEST tours I have been on. Wonderful combination of scenery, cultures and over-the-top birds.
Our short extension to Assam is a birding and wildlife tour that showcases Kaziranga National Park, arguably India’s most famous reserve, and Nameri National Park, one of the last areas where the highly endangered White-winged Duck can be observed. The vast swathe of swamps, grasslands and forests in Kaziranga support masses of large mammals, unrivaled anywhere else in Eurasia. The prehistoric Indian Rhinoceros is abundant and large numbers of wild Water Buffalo, Asian Elephant and numerous deer including the rare Swamp Deer can be seen. Predators include Tiger, Leopard and Dhole. The birding is equally superb and targets will include the striking Bengal Florican, endangered Greater Adjutant and a variety of other exciting Asian specialties.
Bengal Florican, White-winged Duck, Greater Adjutant, Swamp Francolin, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Rosy Minivet, Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Greater & Indian Spotted Eagle, Pied Harrier, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Brown Fish Owl, Great & Wreathed Hornbill, Small Pratincole, Great Stone-curlew, Sand Lark
Indian Rhinoceros, Hoolock Gibbon, Swamp & Hog Deer, Asian Elephant, an outside chance for Bengal Tiger
mixed broad-leaved woodland, pastures, wetlands, rivers
hot and tropical, some rain could be expected
moderate pace, undemanding walks, some long drives
Day 1: Guwahati to Kaziranga National Park
From the town of Guwahati, we will begin our journey to the world-renowned Kaziranga National Park. En route we will make a stop at the local refuse dump that attracts hundreds of the regal Greater Adjutant, a rare and extremely localised bird throughout most of its limited range. Guwahati remains the best place on earth to see this regal stork, while smaller numbers of the more widespread Lesser Adjutant are also attracted to this site. Citrine and White Wagtails are usually around in good numbers and Striated Grassbird and Plain and Yellow-bellied Prinias will be looked for in areas of rank grass. After soaking in the adjutant storks we will continue our journey to Kaziranga where we will arrive in time for lunch. The entire afternoon will be spent exploring the park in open gypsies, a perfect way to enjoy Kaziranga’s abundant wildlife.
Day 2: Kaziranga National Park
This exciting wilderness of marshes, open grassland, woodlands and forest, which is situated on the floodplain of the Brahmaputra River, will be the focus of our attention for today. A total of one-third of the entire world population of Indian Rhinoceros is located in Kaziranga and we will likely enjoy incredible sightings of these highly threatened beasts. The area is also home to many eye-catching and very special birds including the rare Bengal Florican, which will be searched for in the long grass that covers huge areas of the reserve. Our best chance of viewing the endangered Florican will be from elephant back, though we will have to be lucky to see this extremely rare species! This rather odd form of transport will also give us our best shots at other high priority species such as the near-endemic Swamp Francolin, Baya, Streaked, Black-breasted and the rare Finn’s Weavers, as well as Chestnut-capped and Striated Babblers, Bengal Bush Lark, Rosy Pipit and Siberian Rubythroat. The critically endangered Greater Adjutant occurs alongside the Lesser Adjutant in wet areas, and we will keep our eyes peeled skywards for Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fish Eagles. Western Marsh and Pied Harriers can be found quartering over the grassland areas, and the stately Black-necked Stork is still fairly numerous throughout the region.
Kaziranga’s network of extensive wetlands is home to huge numbers of resident and migrant waterbirds, most notably the handsome Bar-headed Goose, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas and the splendid Stork-billed Kingfisher, among many other species. Woodland areas are the best place to search for a number of specials, including the huge Blue-bearded and stunning Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Green Imperial Pigeon, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Large Woodshrike, Lineated, Blue-throated and Coppersmith Barbets, extravagant Green-billed Malkoha, four species of gorgeous parakeets (Rose-ringed, Alexandrine, Red-breasted and the scarce Blossom-headed) and a host of woodpeckers, which includes Streak-throated, Fulvous-breasted and Grey-capped Pygmy, as well as Greater and Black-rumped Flamebacks. We will also explore small patches of evergreen forest in the area where we hope to find numerous interesting species. These include the striking Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-crested Bulbul and Great and Oriental Pied Hornbills. More secretive species include Puff-throated and Abbott’s Babblers and White-rumped Shama. Other notable birds that we hope to see here are Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Common Emerald Dove, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Streaked Spiderhunter and Crimson Sunbird.
Game viewing in the reserve is excellent and besides the Indian Rhinoceros, there are also plenty of wild Water Buffalo and Indian Elephant. Furthermore, Kaziranga is one of the reserves where Bengal Tiger still occurs in reasonable numbers; here they tend to favour areas where the grass is long and dense, which aids them in ambushing their main prey, Swamp and Hog Deer. We will, however, be lucky to encounter one of these regal beasts during our Bhutan birding tour. While in the forests we will also keep our eyes and ears open for Hoolock Gibbon and Capped Langur. Other mammal species we may find include Sambar and Wild Boar, all of which frequent the grassy, watery meadows in the reserve.
Day 3: Kaziranga National Park to Nameri National Park
We have a final opportunity for some birding in Kaziranga before lunch, after which we depart for Nameri National Park where we will arrive in the late afternoon. Upon arrival we will search an area for Oriental Hobby and if we are fortunate, Brown Hawk-Owl after dark.
Day 4: Nameri National Park
We will have a full day of our Bhutan birding tour to explore the forested areas of this park for our main target – the highly endangered White-winged Duck. This large forest duck inhabits forested pools and slow-flowing river channels and our chances of finding it are very good. Whilst searching for this rare species, we will also be on the lookout for other forest denizens, including the rare Pale-capped Pigeon, Pin-tailed and Wedge-tailed Green Pigeons, seldom-seen Pied Falconet, spectacular Sultan Tit, Common Green Magpie, Greater Necklaced and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Green-billed Malkoha, Pale-chinned Blue Flycatcher, Chestnut-bellied and Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, gigantic Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Vernal Hanging Parrot, the attractive and scarce Black-breasted Thrush, Maroon Oriole, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Wreathed and magnificent Great Hornbills and Oriental Dollarbird. In the afternoon there will be an option to either return to the forest in search of any species we may have missed in the morning or to take a boat cruise on the Jia-Bhoroli River. The river here attracts such species as Small Pratincole, Great and Indian Stone-curlews, River Lapwing, River Tern, Crested Kingfisher, Sand Lark and in winter and early spring, the incomparable Ibisbill.
Day 5: Nameri National Park to Guwahati
In the morning, after breakfast, we depart this wonderful region and make our way to the Bhutanese border, where we begin the main tour to the Himalayan birding paradise of Bhutan. Those not doing the main tour will take a transfer back to Guwahati.
What our clients say about tours to Bhutan
- LM, Bhutan
Both Wayne and Rich worked very hard to make this tour the success that it was. Rich was helpful in so many ways, and the two made an excellent team. Rich’s sense of humour was especially valuable.JB, Bhutan
Thank you both for a magnificent trip to Assam and Bhutan. We still comment to each other daily on the many exciting experiences that we had. Thank you, Glen, for the very detailed report that we received , it will allow me to check our records of the trip, and bring back memories. So much were we enthused that we’ve booked to go with Rainer on his Namibia trip.PB, Bhutan
This was a fantastic trip. David did an excellent job as our guide. He was thoughtful, attentive, hard-working and an expert in the field. There wasn’t much that we didn’t find. We very much enjoyed his company and hope he leads us again in the future.CL & RL, Bhutan and Assam
This was my third tour with Rainer and I was again impressed with his enthusiasm for birding. I know that sometimes when a leader does two back to back tours, they can be somewhat less enthusiastic than on the first tour. This was not the case with Rainer (or Glen either). Rainer was excited to show us each of the new birds and made certain that everyone got an excellent view. I had a special circumstance as I was recovering from a broken foot. Rainer made sure I was able to do everything on the tour without compromising the experience for the other participants. Without his help I would not have had such a superb experience. He is a very special young man.Bhutan
Rich and David are very different personalities and from a client’s perspective, they were a dream team. Rich has unusual leadership ability (he was the main guide), he was unselfish, always put clients first and had patience even with the slowest – a good communicator and very good at getting people on the birds.AN, Bhutan
David is one of the best guides I have ever toured with. He was a wonderful spotter, calm, good-natured and was always willing to do his utmost to ensure everyone saw as many of the birds as possible. I cannot thank him enough for making this such a wonderful and memorable tour.AM, Bhutan
Rich and David are very different personalities and from a client’s perspective, they were a dream team. David is an extraordinarily good birder, with huge amounts of bird knowledge. He is probably the nicest bird guide I have ever met and was always good-humoured. He might be the fastest draw in the West to put a bird in the scope.AN, Bhutan
Markus’s ability to find, ID, and scope birds for us (apparently simultaneously, sometimes along with photographing it) was absolutely amazing, and we ended up with some very remarkable sightings of what I gather are generally quite difficult birds. His knowledge of the birds of the region and their natural history is comprehensive, and his enthusiasm added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the trip. He was always on alert, calling out birds as we drove or walked, somehow kept track of what everyone had or had not seen well so far, and was very patient about repeating ID tips. He did a great job of keeping us informed of the daily plans – both logistics and, birdwise, the rationale for choices of where we would stop and what our current targets were. Though we were a small group, we did represent a range on the spectrum of watchers and listers, and Markus did a fine job of catering to different interests. Markus seemed to have an endless store of energy, and along with his guiding and organizing skills, he was a fun travel companion. He even provided us with copies of some of his fantastic photos from the trip at the end, so after each long day of guiding, he must also have been spending his evening time working on his photos.KH, Budget Bhutan 2015
We wanted to drop you a line to let you know how absolutely thrilled we are with our very recent experience in Bhutan! We were blown away by the scenery and the birds. All the iconic species showed well plus Glen’s expertise enabled us to discover many other lesser known (to us) but no less interesting species. His knowledge, enthusiasm, and sense of humour were spot on for us! Though Bhutan is not a mammal destination, many unexpectedly fascinating species came to life for us as well, especially on an impromptu night drive at Zhemgang.S & J, Bhutan