Darjeeling Birding Tours
Darjeeling Birding Tours
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Bird Watching in Darjeeling

Birdwatching in Darjeeling is not just about the birds; it’s also about the breathtaking views and serene surroundings. Whether you are birdwatching in a tea garden or atop a mountain peak, the beauty of Darjeeling will enhance your birdwatching experience.

Encouragement for Bird Enthusiasts: Memorable Experience

Visiting Darjeeling for birdwatching is not just about ticking off bird species from your list; it’s about creating memories that will last a lifetime. The unique birding opportunities, coupled with the stunning landscapes, make Darjeeling a must-visit destination for bird enthusiasts.

Unique Birding Opportunities in Darjeeling: Varied Ecosystems

Darjeeling offers a diverse range of ecosystems, from lush forests to alpine meadows, providing habitat for a wide variety of bird species. Whether you are looking to spot rare Himalayan species or common garden birds, Darjeeling has it all.

When it comes to bird watching in Darjeeling, it’s the Singalila National Park or the Neora Valley Reserve Park in Darjeeling Hills. Even though birds are a common sight in small towns and villages in the eastern Himalayas, the Singalila National Park and the Neora Valley Reserve Park stand out for Darjeeling Bird Watching Tours because of their densely protected forest areas, which make them hot spots for a variety of birds, which can be permanent residents or migratory.

Popular bird species found in Darjeeling 

Popular varieties of birds that are of interest while on a birding tour in the Singalila National Park and the Neora Valley Reserve Park in Darjeeling are the famous Satyr Trogopan, Blood Pheasant, Golden Breasted Fulvetta, Blue-Capped Rock Thrush, Sunbirds, varieties of Magpies, Woodpeckers, Munias, Himalayan Cutias, Fly Catchers, Babblers, Robins, Orioles, Blue whistling Thrush, Red Headed Trogan, etc.

But among them all, the Satyr Tragopan, the Himalayan Monal, and the Rufous-necked Hornbill are the most sought-after by birdwatchers visiting Darjeeling.

Satyr Tragopan: The Satyr Tragopan is a rare pheasant species that can be found in the Darjeeling region. Known for its striking appearance, the Satyr Tragopan has a beautiful combination of colors on its plumage, including shades of red, black, and white. This bird is often elusive and can be difficult to spot in the dense forests of Darjeeling, making it a sought-after sighting for birdwatchers.

Himalayan Monal: The Himalayan Monal is another popular bird species in Darjeeling, known for its vibrant plumage and striking appearance. With a mix of iridescent colors such as blue, green, and red, the Himalayan Monal is a visually stunning bird to observe. This species is often found in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas, making Darjeeling an ideal location for birdwatching.

Rufous-necked Hornbill: The Rufous-necked Hornbill is a large bird species that can be found in the forests of Darjeeling. Known for its distinctive call, the Rufous-necked Hornbill is easily recognizable by its bright orange neck and casque on its bill. This bird is often seen flying through the canopy of trees in search of fruits and insects, making it a fascinating sight for birdwatching in Darjeeling. The Rufous-necked Hornbill plays an important role in the ecosystem as a seed disperser, helping to maintain the balance of the forest.

Best Birding Spots in Darjeeling

Singalila National Park is one of the best birding spots in Darjeeling, as it is home to a variety of Himalayan bird species. The park is located at an altitude of over 7,000 feet, providing a perfect habitat for many bird species. Birdwatchers can spot species like the Himalayan monal, the Satyr tragopan, and the fire-tailed myzornis. The park also offers stunning views of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, making it a popular destination for birding tours and treks in Darjeeling.

Neora Valley National Park is another top birding spot in Darjeeling, known for its rich biodiversity and bird population. The park is located in the eastern Himalayas and is home to a wide variety of bird species, including the red panda, the Himalayan black bear, and the elusive red-headed trogon. Birdwatchers can explore the park’s dense forests and pristine streams to spot species like the white-browed bush robin, chestnut-crowned warbler, and the beautiful scarlet minivet.

Tiger Hill is a popular spot in Darjeeling for birdwatching, as it is ideal for spotting rare and migratory bird species. The hill is located at an altitude of over 8,000 feet and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Birdwatchers can spot species like the Himalayan bulbul, rufous sibia, and the large Niltava. Tiger Hill is also famous for its stunning sunrise views, making it a must-visit destination for birdwatching in Darjeeling.

Bird Waching in Latpanchar: Spotting the Rufous-necked Hornbill

Latpanchar, a small hamlet thirty-five kilometers out of Darjeeling, is particularly famous for the Rufous-necked Hornbill. Besides the numerous species of birds found here, birding in Latpanchar has been made famous by the nesting of the beautiful Rufous-necked Hornbill. Every year during the breeding season, these magnificent birds flock to this small village for breeding. Birding in Latpanchar also covers the small hamlets of Sittong and Selpu, along with Latpanchar, a small village in the district of Darjeeling.

Out of the 815 species of birds sighted in the state of West Bengal, 286 species are sighted here in Latpanchar. Besides the Hornbill, other birds that are commonly sighted are the Drongos, Sunbirds, Blue Whistling Thrush, Minivets, BulBuls, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Scaly-Laughing Thrush, Broad Bill, and a host of other birds. But the main attraction during spring is the nesting of the hornbills, which has made Latpanchar famous as a destination for bird watching in Darjeeling.

The season for bird watching in Latpanchar starts in the month of October and continues up until May.

Best Route for Birding Tours in Darjeeling

The Singalila Trek Route is often taken when embarking on the Darjeeling Bird Watching Tour, as the route goes through the Singalila National Park, and the Singalila Ridge, which forms the backbone of the Singalila National Park, is home to a variety of birds. The other route taken while bird-watching in Darjeeling is the famous Rachela Pass Trek in the Neora Valley Reserve Park in Kalimpong. Therefore, the Darjeeling Bird Watching Tour combines trekking and bird watching in Darjeeling altogether. 

If you are not keen on trekking for a long period of time for bird watching, Tiger Hill, just on the outskirts of Darjeeling, is also a haven for bird watching in Darjeeling. One can get a glimpse of the Hill Partridge, Khalij Pheasant, Large Hawk Cuckoos, Oriental and Lesser Cuckoos, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Collard Owlet, Himalayan Swiftlet, Fork-tailed Drongo, House Swifts, White-throated Needletail, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Streak-breasted Scimitar, and a host of other varieties of birds.

The neighboring state of Sikkim, with it’s few national parks scattered around the state, is also home to a lot of birds, and bird watching in Sikkim can also be organized. One-day bird-watching tours in Sikkim can be organized in Fambyongla National Park on the outskirts of the capital, Gangtok. Like wise, a day tour of bird watching in Sikkim is possible in the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary on the outskirts of Ravangla, a small town in West Sikkim.

For the adventurous, one can embark on the Yuksom Dzongri Ridge Trek, a short trek in Sikkim Himalayas in Kanchenjunga National Park. The area between Yuksom and Dzongri Ridge, with it’s large, densely protected forests in Kanchenjunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a bird-watchers paradise. Therefore, in Sikkim too, one can combine short trekking and bird watching in Kanchenjunga National Park. 

The best time of the year for birdwatching in Darjeeling

The best time for birdwatching in Darjeeling is during the spring and summer months, from March to June. This is when the birds are most active, and you are likely to see a wide variety of species. The monsoon season, from July to September, can make birdwatching more challenging due to heavy rainfall. The winter months, from October to February, are also a good time for birdwatching, as many migratory birds visit the region during this time.

Recommended birding equipment and gear

When birding in Darjeeling, it is essential to have a good pair of binoculars to spot birds from afar. A field guide specific to the birds of the region can also be helpful in identifying different species. Comfortable walking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing are important, as you may be walking long distances and the weather can change quickly in the mountains. A notebook and pen can be useful for jotting down notes or sketches of the birds you see.

Hiring a local guide for a more enriching birding experience

Hiring a local guide can greatly enhance your birdwatching experience in Darjeeling. A knowledgeable guide will be able to take you to the best birding spots, identify different bird species, and provide interesting information about the local flora and fauna. Local guides also have insider knowledge of the area and can help you navigate the terrain safely. Additionally, hiring a guide supports the local economy and helps to conserve the natural environment by promoting sustainable tourism practices.

Importance of sustainable tourism practices in birdwatching activities

Sustainable tourism practices are essential for birdwatching activities in Darjeeling. By promoting responsible tourism practices, such as minimizing disturbance to bird habitats, following designated trails, and supporting local conservation efforts, tourists can help protect the diverse bird species in the region. Sustainable tourism also benefits local communities by providing economic opportunities and raising awareness about the importance of conserving bird habitats. Overall, conservation efforts in Darjeeling rely on the collaboration of local communities, conservation organizations, and tourists to protect the region’s diverse bird species and habitats.

TRIP FACTS

  • Type of Tour: Moderate Trek.
  • Minimum Number of Participants: 2 Pax.
  • Total number of days: 7 days.
  • Style of Trek: Camping/Lodge
  • Starting and Ending Point: Bagdogra Airport/NJP Rail Station/Nepal Border.
  • Best Season: April–June and September–December.
  • Availability: Only private tours can be arranged for a minimum of two people on request on a date of your choice.

Itinerary for Darjeeling Bird-Watching

Day 1: Arrive at Bagdogra Airport. Drive to Dhottrey (90 km/3 hours). Overnight Homestay (All Meals).

Day 2: Trek to Tongloo (6 km/10.130 ft) and onwards to Tumling through dense forest in Singalila National Park. Take your time for bird watching. A Night Halt in Tongloo or Tumling.

Day 3: Wake up in the morning for views of the mountain range as well as the birds to be witnessed in the early morning sunlight. After breakfast, a short trek to Gairibas (2162 m, 9 km, or 2 hours) through the Singalila National Park. Venture out in the dense forest for bird watching; these areas are also famous for red pandas. Overnight Trekkers Lodge.

Day 4: Trek to Kayyakhatta (3 km) and stop awhile to watch the birds while we trek. The entire day we spend watching the birds in the forest. This is a small village on the Nepal side of the border with a couple of houses and a lodge run by a local family. Red Pandas can be seen around this area. Overnight Lodge.

Day 5: Trek to Sandakphu (3636 m/11 km/5 hours). Overnight Trekkers Hut/Lodge.

Day 6: Trek from Sandakphu to Timburey (1800 m/12 km/4 hours). Overnight Homestay.

Day 7: Early morning, after breakfast, start the trek to Rimbik (15 km) through the dense forest locally known as black forest. Sightings of various varieties of birds can be seen as we trek through this forest until we reach Rimbik, where we will have our lunch and drive back to Darjeeling. Overnight Hotel/Home Stay in Darjeeling. 

Day 8: Drive to Bagdogra Airport for Final Departure. End of bird watching in Darjeeling. 

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Note: The above itinerary is a sample, intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors, such as weather, road conditions, the physical abilities of the participants, etc., may dictate itinerary changes either before departure or while on the trail. We reserve the right to change this schedule in the interest of the trip participant’s safety, comfort and general well-being.

(All Relevant Terms and Conditions apply.)

  • COST:  US$ 640 per  Person
  • Domestic Participants enquire for quotes in Indian Rupees

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 TOUR COST INCLUDES :

  • Hotel accommodation: twin share, including breakfasts.
  • Twin-share rooms in the lodge during trekking.
  • Fully organized trek services with guides and porters.
  • All fixed three meals every day during trekking.
  • All road transport as per itinerary by car or Jeep.
  • Service of an English-speaking guide.
  • Entrance fees to monuments visited.
  • All Permits for Darjeeling.

DOES NOT INCLUDE:

    • Sleeping bag; personal clothing or equipment.
    • Lunches and dinners during hotel stays.
    • Bottled or alcoholic drinks.
    • Tips, client insurance, and evacuation costs.
    • Any expenses of a personal nature.
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