Royal Manas Wildlife Tour (11 Nights / 12 Days)
Bhutan’s Crown Jewel, the Manas National Park represents the largest example of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in Bhutan.
This park has only recently been opened to the public and offers thousands of animal and plant species, many of which are globally endangered, it is not only the most diverse protected area in the Kingdom but also noted as one of the world’s biologically outstanding parks.
Lying in south central Bhutan, Manas is connected at the southern border with India’s Manas Tiger Reserve, a World Heritage Site. To the north it borders the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Royal Manas was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1966 making it Bhutan’s oldest protected area. The area was upgraded to a National Park in 1993.
There are wide climate variations in Royal Manas. The May-September monsoons bring up to 5,000mm of rain. Rainfall is negligible in winter and the climate is extremely pleasant from November till March.
Manas is also extremely rich in wildlife species, including the highly endangered Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, gangetic dolphin and pangolin. Found virtually nowhere else in the world is the especially rare golden langur, a primate of extraordinary grace and beauty with its long, silky blond fur.
More than 365 species of birds have been officially recorded in Royal Manas National Park with an additional 200 believed to be in residence. Species found here include the globally threatened rufous-necked hornbill, Pallas fishing eagle, great white-bellied heron, spotted wren-babbler, blue-headed rock thrush and emerald cuckoo. Many of the park’s more than 900 types of plants have commercial, medicinal, traditional and religious significance.
WWF and Bhutan’s Nature Conservation Division jointly developed a five-year conservation management plan which includes training and equipping park staff, improving park infrastructure, and supporting biological and socio-economic surveys and park monitoring programs.
In addition to the numerous lhakhangs there are also a number of small villages where you can stop and rest. The only segment of the trek that may prove challenging is a 500m ascent to Pephe La pass. The best time to embark on this trek is in spring or autumn.
*** Detailed Itinerary (Royal Manas Wildlife Tour) ***
Upon arrival at Guwahati airport you will be met by our local tour representative from Indian. After short introduction you will be led for your wildlife destination – Manas National Park in the state of Assam. The park is located within the foothills of Himalaya in the northern bank of the Brahmaputra River. The park also shares its border with Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. The park is one of the few national parks in India which has been given the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites. It is definitely one of the best sites for viewing wildlife in India.
This morning at your early start you will be led to the Elephant boarding point for your first jungle ride through the Manas National Park. Elephant riding is possible only in the morning and in the late afternoon for an hour. The ride takes you to explore the wildlife sanctuary and view incredible wildlife from a very close site. Return back to your lodge for fresh-up and breakfast. After the breakfast you will be led on jeep safari for two and half hours through the park to explore the most stunning and pristine wildlife habitat. After a quick lunch you will again led to move on our wildlife jungle safari to explore the sites of Bharmaputra valley with its semi-evergreen forest.
Today at your early hotel check-out drive to Gelephu. Gelephu in the south-central Bhutan is the only easiest entry point to Royal Manas National Park. It is only 120km from your hotel in Manas National Park.
Today you will travel from Gelephu to Tingtibe under Zhemgang district. Climatic condition in the region varies with warm and humid conditions in the south and cold and moderate temperature in the north. About 86% of the total area of Zhemgang is under forest cover, because of which the district is blessed with a rich biodiversity. Birding en-route you will find bird species like Hill Partridge, Red Junglefowl, Kalij Pheasant, White-browed Piculet, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, Golden-throated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Great Barbet, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Common Hoopoe, Ward’s Trogon, Blue-brearded Bee-eater, Crested Kingfisher and White-throated Kingfisher etc.
This morning you will descent through broadleaf forest and thick undergrowths. The drive takes you through Pangtang located on the right bank of Manas River with views of Manas River and glimpses of settlements which is typical of lower Kheng. Continue your drive to Pangbang your final destination for wildlife viewing. En-route you will encounter several bird species including thrushes, drongos, hornbills, partridges, pheasants, bulbuls, tree pies, barbets, eagles and many more.
This morning you will start your day a little early and move to Elephant boarding point for your first jungle ride through Royal Manas National Park. The park is one of the most environmentally conscious parks in the country. This protection has allowed birds and wildlife to continue to flourish and it is renowned amongst many birdwatchers and wildlife photographers worldwide. With easy trails, comfortable climate and easy access to great birding and wildlife habitats makes Royal Manas National Park a very special place to explore the wildlife in abundance. The park provides a safe heaven for about 59 species of mammals. If you are lucky you can sight goral, capped langur etc. Chances of spotting the royal Bengal Tiger, Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare and Pygmy Hog are rare.
Today you will retrace your drive back following same road to Zhemgang and then to Trongsa. Birding along the road, you will come across Yellow-browed Tit, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Striated Prinia, Striated Laughingthrush, White-throated Laughingthrush, White-crested Laughingthrush, Beautiful Nuthatch, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler, Verditer Flycatcher, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Hume’s Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Crested Bunting, House Swift, Common Kestrel and Spotted Dove etc. At your early arrival in Trongsa, visit the Trongsa Dzong. It is the largest dzong in Bhutan and was built in 1647 and houses the local administration and the monastic body.
Drive to Punakha through warm and cold broad-leaved forest. You will be crossing the Black Mountain range and the high pass Pelela. From this lofty pass its downhill to Punakha and the descent is mainly through virgin forest and scattered settlements. Spotting wildlife is very rare, however you will be looking out for birds like Scarlet Finch, White-throated Laughingthrush, Eurasian Jay, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Slaty-backed Forktail, Black Drongo, Wedge Tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon and Verditer Flycatcher etc. Along the way, if you are early, take an excursion to Phobjikha valley famed for the migratory black-necked cranes that make it their winter home. The endangered species arrives towards the end of October and return back to Tibet towards early March.
In the morning drive further north of Punakha to visit Khamsum Yueley Namgyel Temple. This fascinating temple was consecrated in 1999 after a mammoth eight year construction period. The best of the spiritual art was painted on the inner walls and is the best temple to study the symbolic meaning from frescoes and sculptures. Trace your way back and visit historical Punakha Dzong that cuts a striking picture with its imposing walls rising up from the tumbling clear water of the river and framed against startling blue skies. After lunch drive to Thimphu en-route make a short 30-40 minutes hike to the popular Chemi Lhakhang. After the temple drive straight to Thimphu crossing Dochula Pass (10150ft/3100m).
Today before you depart to Paro explore the sights and sounds of the bustling capital city. In the morning drive further north of Thimphu and hike to the historical Tango and Cheri Goemba. Inside Thimphu your sightseeing includes the most visited National Memorial Chorten built in 1974 followed by Kuenselphodrang to view the giant golden Buddha statue. The top also provide an impressive view of the capital city. Visit the National Institute of Painting School which offers a six years course on Bhutan’s traditional crafts for those who are artistically inclined. Along the way, of you have time make a short visit to Simtokha Dzong. This was the first of many dzongs constructed by Zhabdrung in 1629. After the dzong drive straight to Paro.
We suggest you making an early start since the hike to Taktsang Monastery is quite an uphill task and takes around 3-4 hours walk at an average speed. Perched cliff side, this is the meditation site of Guru Padmasambhava. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the entire Himalayas, with its stunning vistas and spectacular architecture against a backdrop of sheer granite cliff faces. According to the legend Guru Padmasambhava visited the site flying from the east of the country on the back of the tigress (a form that one of his consorts is believed to have taken). He meditated in the cave for three months and then donning his terrifying form of Dorji Droloe subjugating the evil spirit.
Departure (Altitude 2280 m): Early morning, drive to the Airport and Farewell.
Note: The Bhutan tour package includes:
a. All Meals [Breakfast /Lunch/Dinner]
b. Accommodation [Twin Sharing] Single Room Supplement Extra.
c. All transportation within the country including airport transfers.
d. Royalty & Govt. Taxes.
e. Entrance fees for Museums and Monuments.
f. Visa Fee.
g. English speaking Local guide.
i. Bottled water.