The Eastern Himalaya region teems with biodiversity, including some very special birds and mammals. Manas National Park, named after the Manas River, is a tiger reserve on the Bhutan border, and part of an important elephant corridor. It has a fantastic selection of mammals including the gorgeous Golden Langur. For birds it is a prime site for the critically endangered Bengal Florican, and may also produce Black-tailed Crake, Pied Harrier, Wreathed Hornbill, Red-headed Trogon, Indian Grassbird, Hodgson’s Bushchat and Rufous-vented Laughingthrush.
Cherrapunjee is famous for being one of the wettest places in the world. For birders though it is the Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler that is a key reason to visit: a poorly known endemic species that is almost entirely restricted to Meghalaya.
In late autumn, this short tour can be combined with the spectacular Amur Falcon migration in Nagaland.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi and on to Guwahati
Depending on flight arrival time in Delhi, today will either include a flight on to Guwahati and overnight there, or a stay overnight in Delhi, with a late morning flight the following day.
Day 2: Guwahati to Manas National Park
For those of us who spent the night in Guwahati rather than Delhi, we will start the day with birding in the Guwahati area, e.g. at Deepor Beel or Garbhanga Reserve Forest, and the delightful Guwahati Garbage Dump: the best site in the world for the endangered Greater Adjutant! We then all drive to Manas National Park and check in to our lodge in time for an afternoon jeep safari. The Manas River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, passes through the middle of the Park and gives it its name. In the foothills of the Himalaya, its varied landscape of grassland and forest is one of the most pristine and stunning in India. The National Park extends into Bhutan as the Royal Manas National Park, and is a sanctuary for various endangered species, including Golden Langur, Hispid Hare, Pygmy Hog and Clouded Leopard. Other mammals here include Indian Elephant, Indian Rhinoceros, some of the few remaining wild Asian Water Buffaloes, Asian Golden Cat, Capped Langur and Hoolock Gibbon.
Days 3 – 4: Manas National Park
We have two full days to explore the park, with a combination of jeep safaris and birding walks on the outskirts. As well as the mammals, birds are extremely plentiful, and we will particularly look for the critically endangered Bengal Florican. Unlike its Lesser counterpart, found further west in India, the Bengal Florican is known not to migrate far at all outside of the monsoon breeding season so we have a good chance of finding one even in the winter. However, it rarely strays out of the deep grass and in to the open so we will require some luck to get good views, probably from one of the park’s viewing towers.
Other grassland birds to look out for include Pied Harrier, White-eyed Buzzard, Collared Falconet, Swamp Francolin, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Finn’s Weaver, Bengal Bush Lark, Hodgson’s Bush Chat, Black-breasted Parrotbill, and Indian (Rufous-rumped) Grassbird.
The surrounding forest has equally good birding, with Wreathed, Oriental Pied and Great Hornbills, Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle, Orange-breasted, Pin-tailed and Ashy-headed Green Pigeons, Barred Cuckoo-dove, Green-billed Malkoha, Red-headed Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Lineated Barbet, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Crested Kingfisher, Assam, Greater Necklaced and Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes, Scaly Thrush, Sultan Tit, Slaty-backed Forktail, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker and Chestnut-eared Bunting all possibilities.
Day 5: Manas National Park to Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya
From Manas we drive back to cross the Brahmaputra at Guwahati and continue south to the state of Meghalaya, to reach Cherrapunjee for a two-night stay.
Day 6: Cherrapunjee
Famous for being one of the wettest places in the world, it is the lure of one of the most restricted endemics in India that brings us to Cherrapunjee: Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler. As well as this we should find the similarly local Dark-rumped Swift, at the impressive Nohkallikai Falls, and will also hope to see Crested Finchbill, Assam Laughingthrush, Brown Bush Warbler, Grey Sibia, Lesser Shortwing, White-tailed Robin and Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker.
Day 7: Cherrapunjee to Guwahati
We leave Cherrapunjee for the drive back to Guwahati. We will have some time for more birding en route, such as at the Mawphlang Sacred Grove and Shillong Peak, where additional species could include Striated Yuhina, Red-faced Liocichla, Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler and Grey-winged Blackbird. The night will be spent in Guwahati.
If this tour is being combined with the Amur Falcon migration in Nagaland, then the following day will be a long driving day eastward into Nagaland, and Khonoma, the starting point for that tour. Otherwise you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Delhi.
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.