Six-day White-bellied Heron Tour

ARKive image GES056143 - White-bellied heronIf you only have a short time or limited wherewithal, we recommend this tour, which is shorter, but equally fulfilling. The white-bellied heron is an endangered bird found along the river banks of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu (rivers) in Punakha. Among the rare species, there are number of native and migratory birds found along these rivers. The highlight of this tour is the white-bellied heron but it is not limited to this bird.
Day 1
Arrive in Paro
Our company guide will receive you at the Paro International Airport and transfer you to the hotel. If you arrive early, you will be taken to a local sightseeing tour. We will visit the National Museum – locally known as Taa Dzong or the Watch Tower – Rinpung Dzong and some other places of historical importance. Towards late afternoon you may like to walk along Paro town, which has a number of handicraft items for sale.
Day 2
Chelela Pass
Today, we leave early in the morning to Chelela Pass. We have our picnic breakfast at the pass. This pass between Paro and Haa valleys, at an elevation of 3,988 metres above the sea level, provides a spectacular view of the valleys below. If the sky is clear, Mt. Jomolhari and Jichudrake can be seen from here. The pass is colourfully forested with prayer flags. Our guide will explain to you the significance of prayer flags. Here we may spot colourful Himalayan monal, blood pheasants, kalij pheasants, grosbeaks, bullfinches, and cutia.
We then descend back to Paro town and take a rest for a while. After lunch, we will take you for a cultural and religious tour. Just a short trip north of Paro is Kyichu Monastery built in the 7th century. This historic temple was built as part of construction of 108 temples by a Tibetan dharma king to subdue a demoness. Two such temples were constructed in Bhutan. The other one is Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Our guide will explain to you the significance of these monasteries in Bhutan.
After a visit to the temple, we drive to Thimphu. The capital of Bhutan is 56 km from Paro. The road to Thimphu runs along Pa Chhu and Thim Chhu [rivers]. If time permits we will explore Thimphu town in the evening. Dinner and overnight stay will be arranged in Thimphu.
Day 3
Halt in Thimphu
After breakfast we drive to Cheri towards north, which is 15 km from Thimphu. At Cheri, from where Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park starts, we may spot spotted laughing thrush, fire-capped tit, golden-breasted fulvetta, yellow-backed flower packer, and maroon-backed accentor. We will have picnic lunch at Cheri. We will make several stopovers en route.
After lunch, we will have a sightseeing tour of Thimphu. We will visit the popular Memorial Choeten, the traditional weaving centre, the heritage museum, the Bhutanese paper factory, and the post office. The post office sells stamps with birds pictured on them.
Dinner and overnight stay are arranged in Thimphu.
Day 4
Thimphu to Punakha
Today, we start early in the morning. The road to Punakha passes across Dochula Pass which is 3,150 m above sea level. We will stopover here for a while and enjoy the spectacular views of Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain ranges. There are 108 stupas built at this pass which adds beauty to the already magnificent mountain pass.
On the way to Punakha we may spot: Gold-naped finch, rufous-breasted bush robin, satyr tragopan, slender-billed scimitar babbler, and tree creeper. From Dochula, we descend to Lobesa where we will have our lunch. After lunch, we visit Chimi Lhakhang, which is 25 minutes hike from the road point. Also known as fertility monastery, this lhakhang built by Tibetan Lama Ngawang Chogyal, is today associated with his cousin Lama Drukpa Kinley, popularly known as Divine Madman. This temple is believed to bless childless couples with fertility.
After the temple visit, we drive to Punakha. In Punakha, we visit the magnificent dzong. This dzong was built by the founder of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, in 1637. Built in the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, this dzong was the winter capital of Bhutan in the past.
Dinner and overnight stay are arranged in a hotel in Punakha.
Day 5
Halt in Punakha
Today, we go bird watching along Mo Chhu side. We may spot the white-bellied heron, white-gorgeted flycatcher, and yellow-vented warbler, among others. These are mostly migratory birds.
Day 6
Punakha to Paro
After breakfast, we drive to Paro via Thimphu. We halt for lunch in Thimphu. In Thimphu, we take some time off for shopping. After lunch, we drive to Paro. After check-in at the hotel, we go around Paro town and do some last minute shopping.