Western Tragopan in the Great Himalayan National Park

Western Tragopan

This is a specialist birding trip in the spectacular Great Himalayan National Park, focussed on the stunning, enigmatic and very seldom seen Western Tragopan. It is timed to be at the peak of Tragopan activity so we should definitely hear them calling, and have the best possible chance of seeing this amazing bird.

Find yourself in the midst of this pristine landscape of the mighty Himalayas, enjoying some fantastic birding and hopefully one of the least observed birds in India! As well as the tragopan we hope to see Cheer and Koklass Pheasants, Himalayan Monal, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, White-cheeked Nuthatch, Spotted Nutcracker, Long-billed Thrush, White-throated Tit, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Red-headed Bullfinch and Collared and Spot-winged Grosbeaks.

The Jujurana’s Kingdom

This tour is specially arranged so that you can take just one week off work or school – Summer half-term in May is the perfect time of year for Tragopans – and be back in the office (or school) on Monday morning to regale your colleagues (or school friends, if they’re interested!) with stories of an unforgettable week! But if you have longer, why not join us for more high-altitude birding in Kashmir and Ladakh?

We are pleased to be undertaking this tour in partnership with the local Sunshine Himalayan Adventures, who have more experience of the Great Himalayan National Park (and Western Tragopans!) than anyone else, and will be providing all trek logistics. SHA is dedicated to responsible ecotourism that is environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial to the local communities, and we will be able to see more of their work at first-hand on this tour.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

After your international flight, the night will be spent in a comfortable airport hotel ready for the flight to Kullu tomorrow.

One good flight option currently, assuming you are coming from the UK, is to fly Air India from London Heathrow at 09:45, arriving 22:50.

Day 2: Delhi to Kullu, and Sai Ropa, Tirthan Valley

We fly from Delhi to Kullu in Himachal Pradesh and continue by car to the Tirthan Valley, where we stay at Sunshine Himalayan Cottage, and have time for some local birding in the afternoon.

Day 3: Sai Ropa to Goshaini to Rolla, Great Himalayan National Park

After a small drive to Goshaini we trek into the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). We spent the day doing a beautiful and fairly easy birding trek through remote Himalayan villages to our campsite at Rolla, a distance of about 11 km, which should take about 6 hours or so at birding pace! We will have a packed lunch with hot tea beside the Tirthan River, and dinner with a bonfire at the camp, at an altitude of 2,100 m.

Day 4: Rolla to Shilt Meadow

The trek to our next campsite in a meadow at Shilt is about 6 km, and generally steep as we climb to 3,300 m. We walk through thick oak and conifer forests, full of Himalayan Monals. We have a good chance of seeing Himalayan Tahr and even Himalayan Black Bear. On arrival we will do our first proper search for Western Tragopan within the Shilt Thatch.

Days 5 – 6: Shilt Thatch

Shilt is a grassy meadow surrounded by trees and rhododendron with a beautiful view across the valley towards the snow-covered Himalayan mountains, reaching highs of 4,000 m. This is the prime area for Western Tragopan in India – the least encountered of all the tragopans. It is only in the last few years that any photos of the bird in the wild have been taken. It spends much of its time in inaccessible areas of dwarf bamboo in steep ravines, and is far more often heard than seen, particularly at dawn. There is a local legend that ‘Jujurana’, literally ‘king of the birds’, was created by God and all the birds in the universe donated a feather each to give it colour and unparalleled beauty.

We have two full days in the Shilt Thatch area dedicated to finding the Tragopan! On the first day we will take the trail leading up to the peak of Rakhundi as far as the Chordwari Falls. We will return to camp at Shilt in the evening. Even without the tragopan, birding is excellent. We should see many Himalayan Monals, and other birds could include Himalayan and Bearded Vultures, Golden Eagle, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Grey Crested Tit, Western Crowned Warbler, White-throated Tit, Collared and Spot-winged Grosbeaks, Plain Mountain-Finch, Chestnut-eared Bunting and several species of rosefinches. Both Spectacled Finch and Orange Bullfinch have been recorded here at this time of year.

Day 7: Shilt to Rolla

After early morning birding at Shilt, our final day involves a long downhill trek of about 18 km (7-8 hours) back to Goshaini.

Day 8: Goshaini to Kullu, and on to Delhi

We leave early morning for Kullu, and our onward flight to Delhi. Depending on your international flight, there may be some time for some local birding at Okhla Bird Sanctuary which, at this time of year, can be excellent for Yellow, Cinnamon and Black Bitterns, Watercock, and the usual resident Striated Grassbird, Striated Babbler and possibly White-tailed Stonechat.

Day 9: Depart Delhi

Depart Delhi for your onward journey.

For example, Air India currently fly direct to the UK with departures at 02:30 and 14:45. The former arrives in London at 06:35, meaning you have plenty of recovery time before work the next day! If you take the 14:45 departure we can arrange a short morning birding session, most likely at Sultanpur National Park.

Checklist

View species bar chart on eBird.

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Important information

Asian Adventures logo

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.

Interested in this tour?

Are you interested in doing this tour, or something similar? Maybe the scheduled dates don't suit you, but different dates would? Let us know by sending a message below and we will reply soon to discuss further.





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