Chopta in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary provides some excellent winter and spring birding, and fantastic landscapes. A mix of pine and deodar forest with rhododendrons, amidst lush ‘bugyals’ or grassy meadows, it is probably the best and most easily accessible place in India to see the stunning ‘nine-coloured’ state bird of Uttarakhand, the Himalayan Monal. That alone would be worth the long drive, but the area has much more to offer.
This week-long tour is offered as an extension to the Classic North India birding tour. It is a little more arduous, with a couple of long drives and basic accommodation, but the birds and the luxurious stay at the end, make it all worthwhile!
Day 1: Sattal to Mandal
Today it’s time to say goodbye to those who have been with us for the past two weeks and who are heading back to Delhi, whilst the intrepid ones amongst us head further north into the Himalayas for some more spectacular birding. We have a long drive ahead, interrupted by a few bird stops no doubt, to reach our basic lodge at Mandal, just outside the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary.
Anyone joining directly for this tour will start from Dehra Dun, and be driven to Mandal where we will all meet to discuss the exciting few days ahead!
Day 2: Mandal
Our birding in this area will be somewhat weather dependent. If it has been snowing heavily in the higher Himalayas, then many birds may have been forced to the lower levels around the village of Mandal. One option is for us to undertake a long, but relatively easy, trek to a rock bee colony that is often frequented by Yellow-rumped Honeyguide.
Day 3: Mandal to Chopta
Birdlife changes considerable with altitude in the Himalayas, and we will soon find a very different mix of species as we head to the higher altitude region of Chopta, our base for the next two nights.
Day 4: Chopta
The highlight of birding at Chopta will be ascending to the Tungnath temple at about 3,700 m. Although not difficult, this is a steep trek, and we may decide to cheat and take advantage of a pony ride to the top before walking down! This would help us get to the higher reaches earlier, where we may be lucky to find a covey of Snow Partridges before they are disturbed by other trekkers.
Day 5: Chopta to Makku Math
Continuing westward we spend some time birding another area at around 2,000 m, which tends to have the greatest diversity of birds.
Day 6: Makku Math to Walterre, Dehra Dun
It’s long drive time again today and we will especially welcome the luxurious surroundings of Walterre, our accommodation for our last night. We will again stop for some birding en-route, and have an outside chance of encountering the magical Spectacled Finch, an occasional winterer in this area. Should we find any, your leader promises that he will be buying drinks for everyone tonight!
Day 7: Dehra Dun to Delhi
Some leisurely birding in the grounds of Walterre will be the morning’s plan before we start the final leg back to Delhi of what will have been an amazing tour. What better end could there be than sitting drinking a cup of tea on the veranda whilst watching a Nepal Wren-babbler hopping amongst the flowerpots of Walterre’s beautiful gardens?
View species bar chart on eBird.
As with all Bubo Birding tours, your booking is handled by Asian Adventures.
This tour is guided by Mike Prince, plus local birding guides.
- Prices quoted are per person, assuming an exclusive 2 person tour. Larger group sizes attract a discounted per person price, which we will confirm to you on enquiry.
- International flights are excluded.
- We may change the itinerary described due to various reasons such as latest birding information, availability of accommodation, state of the roads, and other unexpected factors that, this being India, do pop up from time to time!
- The final price and itinerary will be confirmed before booking and depending on your expected arrival and departure plans.
See Asian Adventures for full tour details, including accommodation, what's included, other exclusions, prices for larger groups, single room supplements, and booking details.