& Darjeeling Travel » Adventure
Birding Site in Darjeeling
& Kalimpong Himalayas
Birding Site in Darjeeling & Kalimpong Himalayas
at an altitude of 2130 m, Darjeeling is a good starting point to discover the
avifauna of the Eastern Himalayas. The Zoological Park, the botanical gardens
and Tiger hill are good birding sites. Yellow-billed Blue Magpai, Red tailed
Minla, Maroon backed Accentor. Red headed Bullfinch, Satyr Tragopan, and the
rare Broad Billed Warbler, Hill partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Large Hawk, Oriental
and Lesser Cuckoos, Spot bellied eagle owl, Himalayan swift let, Darjeeling
Woodpecker, various Babblers, and other colorful species are to be seen. The
gateway airport is at Bagdogra, close to the town of Siliguri. It takes 3.30
hrs to reach Darjeeling by car. The alternative is eight hours journey by the
World heritage Himalayan Railway "toy train" - but these means an
overnight halt at Siliguri as the train does not connect with incoming flights.
There are several good hotels in Darjeeling. At the top end, our choice is New
Elgin, and Cedar Inn. In the mid range the Attic floor of the Dike ling Hotel
has comfortable rooms and friendly management. Darjeeling weather allows limited
birding hours in the mornings. You will need a minimum of three mornings.
Singe Lila (Sandakphu) Range Birding Trek
The Sandakphu Ridge of the Singelila Range at an elevation of 3600 m provides
good birding in Bamboo,Oak and Rhododendron forests between 2000 and 3000 m
elevation. Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Fire-tailed Myzornis, and Brown Parrot
bills, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Amur Falcon, Kalij Pheasant, Rufus belied Woodpecker,
Streak breasted, Rusty cheeked, and slender billed Scimitar Babblers, various
Laughing thrushes, Red-tailed Minla, Staty backed Flycatchers, Golden Robin,
Long Tailed thrushes, Grey-crested tits and many others have been spotted. There
is also the attraction of breathtaking views of KhangchenDzonga, and glimpses
on Mount Everest, apart from the delightful forests. Maneybhanjan, 30
kms from Darjeeling (02 hours by jeep) is the starting point for a 5-8 days
trek. It is also possible to avoid the steep climb by driving up to the top
of the ridge in a jeep along a very bumpy track and then walking. We will arrange
fully serviced trek or drive cum trek to the several birding sites on this circuit.
On our tours we use a combination of Family lodges, trekker's huts, and fully
serviced camping close to birding sites. The full trek takes 08 days. Shorter
versions of four, five, and six days are also available. Drive cum trek requires
a minimum of 04 days for productive birding.
Lava and Kalimpong Birding Circuit
is the prime birding destination in this region, located 85 Kms from Darjeeling
via Kalimpong. It is a small bazaar 0nce a halting place for caravans on the
trade routes to Bhutan and Sikkim. It is now a forest Village with a Buddhist
Monastery amidst a sea of evergreen forests at an elevation of 2100 m. Surrounded
by very large tracts of protected forests ranging in elevation between 1600
and 2400 m, it includes the remote and uninhabited Neora National Park, and
it is a bird watcher's delight. Some of the most sought after and least known
birds of India can be spotted here. Satyr Tragopan, Ashy Wood Pigeon, Rufous
throated and Spotted Wren Babblers, Yellow throated Fulvetta, Red - faced Liocichla,
Cutia, Rust belied shortwing, Blue fronted Robin and long -billed Thrush, are
some of the rare birds A host of other species including those found around
Darjeeling have been spotted around Lava, with many being more common here.
Bird lists are available on request. There are several sites for bird watching
and photography around Lava and the adjoining Neora National Park. Kalimpong
is another hill station of the colonial period, which was once the trade center
for natural wool from Tibet. The town is located at an elevation of 1200-1400
m, 52 kms from Darjeeling. It retains a lot of evergreen trees, and there are
protected forests close by. There are several sites for birding close to the
town, where most of the birds of this region can be spotted. From Darjeeling,
Kalimpong is 52 Kms (02.30 hours by jeep) and Lava another 35 kms (01.15 hours
by jeep). It is also possible to reach Kalimpong and Lava directly from Bagdogra
Airport in 2.30 hours and 04 hours respectively. Most sites are approachable
by jeep, but be prepared for some walking. Lava will need at the least four
days. Do remember that densities are not high, and birding is slower.
Samthar-Ponbu Birding Circuit
Lava The Samthar area is connected to Lava by a 52 Kms forest road, which is
partly a wilderness trail. This forested drive via Lolegaon, offers good birding.
Two short two hours each, treks are in cooperated to make it a full days excursion.
The route traverses evergreen forests, terraced fields, and small hamlets making
it a nature & culture experience apart from the birding enroute. From the
village of Samthar, which is the trail end, a two hours trek through farmland
and more forests to the remote village of Ponbu offers more birding in the close
by protected forests. Most of the species occurring below 2500 meters around
Lava are present around Ponbu. 60 species were recorded in Nov 2001 Driving
time from Lava is 2.30 hrs and from Kalimpong 3.30 hrs. Our Drive cum trek takes
a full day of eight hours with four hours of trekking to reach The Samthar Farm
House. On the next day trek to Ponbu in 02-03 hours to reach our birding camp.
On the return we trek for four hours by a different route to the highway spending
time birding in the Teesta Valley. Starting from Lava it is a four days circuit,
with 02 nights at the Samthar Farm House and one night at Ponbu camping. This
circuit is essentially for walkers.
B/01: 08 Samthar-Lava Birding Circuit
Arrive at Bagdogra Airport or NJP railway Station. Transfer by jeep to
Samthar Farm House 4.30 hrs. Overnight at Farm House.
Samthar-Lish Valley birding walk. Overnight at Lish camp.
Lish-Ponbu birding walk. Overnight at Ponbu camp.
Ponbu birding walk and Ponbu-Samthar birding walk Overnight
at Farm House
Transfer by to Lava. Enroute birding at JhandiDara. Therafter
Gitdabling- Nok Dara/Gompa Dara birding walk.Overnight at Camp Rachet ( 15
kms from Lava ). Alternative stay arrangements at Forest bungalow/guest house
Rachet birding walk. Overnight in camp
Rachet birding walk. Overnight in camp
Transfer by jeep to Bagdogra/NJP for departure ( 3 hrs)
B/ 02: 14 days Darjeeling, Singelila Range birding
trek and Lava
Arrive Bagdogra. Drive to Darjeeling
Day 04 - 08:
Singelila Range birding trek
Drive to Lava birding camp.
Birding around camp
Drive to Bagdogra for departure (or can go to Sikkim)