& Darjeeling Travel » Adventure
Birding Circuits in Sikkim
Birding Circuits in Sikkim
has not yet been fully explored by birders, due to travel restrictions. We are
continuing to explore new areas and will add these sites to our birding tours
as they are validated.
Sikkim is a restricted area but is open to Foreign tourists for 15 days at
a time. Foreign nationals can easily get a Sikkim entry permit endorsed on
their India visa, by applying for the same to the nearest Indian mission.
Bagdogra near Siliguri Town is the gateway airport. It is connected to Delhi,
Guwahati, and Kolkata
Vershay and Kalej Valley Birding circuit
Vershay is located at 3300 m, on a massive ridge covered with protected forests
of Silver Fir, hemlocks, magnolia, and Rhododendrons. It is one of the best
birding areas in Sikkim. Starting from the road head at the small village of
Hilley at 2700 m, it is an easy walk up to the ridge top. As you climb higher
it is theRhododendrons that reign supreme. Branches of trees twine together
to form a leafy canopy. Sunlight filtering through a fretwork of rich green
foliage lights up flowers in splashes of colors. Butterflies of many hues dance
from flower to flower. There is bird song in the air, and all the species of
this zone can be spotted. Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Mountain Hawk Eagle,
Amur Falcon, Kalij Pheasant, Rufus belied woodpecker, Fire-tailed Myzornis,
and Brown Parrot bills, Slaty-backed Flycatchers, Golden Robin, Long Tailed
thrushes, Grey-crested tits, Streak breasted, Rusty cheeked, and slender billed
Scimitar Babblers, various Laughing thrushes, Red-tailed Minla, and many others
have been spotted. There is also the attraction of breathtaking views of Mount
KhangchenDzonga, apart from the delightful Rhododendrons in bloom in Feb-March.
The down hill trek
Dentam in the Khalij Valley (elevation 1500 m) requires walking for 3-4 hours.
The route passes through a mixed forest of rhododendron, magnolia, and other
flora. Look out for Red breasted Tragopan, Red eared Bay Wood Pecker, Solitary
snipe, Brown Wood Owl, Himalayan Cuckoo, Kaleej, and others. There are chances
of encountering Barking Deer and some of the wildcat family. In the lower regions
as you walk through cardamom fields, wild orchids, and ethnic villages, you
can spend a day birding for 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. Hosts of other species
including those found around Darjeeling and Lava have been spotted..
Hilley is 79 Kms from Darjeeling (04 hrs). It can also be reached from Kalimpong
in 04.30 hours, and from Pamayangtse also in 04 hours. If moving directly
from Bagdogra Airport it will take 06 hours. From Dentam after the birding
trek it is a 1.30 hours drive to Pelling/Pamayangtse.
We provide fully serviced camping on this circuit, with the possibility of
staying at trekkers hut at Vershay.
Four days are required. to do this circuit. On the first day drive to Hilley
from Darjeeling or Kalimpong or Bagdogra, for overnight camping. Spend the
next day birding along the trail to Vershay, and spend the second night
there. On the third day bird along the trekking trail to Dentam, spending
the night there. Finally on the fourth day try the birding sites along the
Khalej Valley, reaching Pelling /Pamayangtse by the evening.
Pamayangtse - Yoksom birding circuit
Pamayangtse Monastery stands on a lovely site at 2085 m altitude with breathtaking
views of Mount Khangchendzonga. It is the second oldest in Sikkim, and the main
attraction of West Sikkim. Around Pamayangtse and the nearby village of Pelling
there are several excellent birding sites and hikes. Some of the birds recorded
are Besra, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Black Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, Kalij Pheasant,
Barred Cuckoo Dove, Oriental Turtle Dove, Various Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Barbets,
shrikes, Babblers, and
Thrushes, Long tailed Minivet, Orange-belied leafbird, Striated Bulbul, Cutia,
Yellow breasted Green Finch, various Robins, Warblers, tits, and Sunbirds,
along with others.
The Khechepheri Lake at an altitude of 1980 m is 28 Kms from Pamayangtse.
It is a sacred lake located in a natural crater-like basin. The lake hosts
migrant ducks and occasionally some rare species such as Black necked Grebe,
Baer's Pochard or Greater Sccaup. Other birds spotted have been Speckled wood
pigeon, Emerald Cuckoo, Blue winged and Scaly Laughing Thrushes; White napped
Yuhina and many of those at Pamayangtse.
Yoksom Village at 1780 m is as far as you can go by jeep. Around Yoksom some
of the birds recorded are Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crimson breasted Woodpecker,
Maroon Oriole, Short-billed and Grey chinned Minevets, Himalayan Bulbul, Red
-tailed Minla, White-naped Yuhina, various Thrushes, Grey winged Blackbird,
various Tits, White tailed Nuthatch, and various sunbirds.
Pamayangtse is 77 kms from Darjeeling and it takes 04 hours by jeep. It is
also connected to Kalimpong (100 kms in 04 hrs). If you want to go directly
from Bagdogra it is 148 kms and takes 05.30 hrs. From Pamayangtse Khochipheri
Lake is 28 Kms and Yoksom is 32 Kms. It is feasible to drive from Pamayangtse/Pelling
to Yoksom with a days birding at Khechepheri Lake.
Standard Tourist hotels are available at Pelling (02 kms from Pamayangtse),
Gyalshing (10 Kms from Pamayangtse), and at Yoksom. We stay at the Hotel Phamrong
at Pelling or the Tashigang Resort at Gyalshing. and at the Tashigang Hotel
04 days are suggested with 02 nights stay at Pelling for 02 days birding around
Pamayangtse, 02 nights, at Yoksom with one days birding enroute at Khechepheri
Lake, and another days birding around Yoksom.
Dzongri & Prek Chu Valley Birding trek - Elevation up to 4400 m
For those who are enthusiastic about trekking in the high Himalayas, the best
way to see higher altitude birds is to take the 08 days Dzongri trek along the
circuit Yoksom-Tshokha-Dzongri - Thanshing - Tshoka - Yoksom.
Some of the birds recorded on this trip are Blood Pheasant, Brown Parotbill,
Fire-tailed Myzorinas, Cutia, Sapphire flycatcher, White browned Bush Robin,
Grandala, Rufous - breasted Accentors, White winged and collared Grosbeaks,
Spot-winged Rosefinch, Scarlet finch, and Khalij Pheasant. For details of
this treklook under trekking
B/03: 12 days West Sikkim Birding Circuit
Arrive Bagdogra. Drive to Hilley Camp (can also drive from Darjeeling
Birding around Hilley and trek to Vershay
Birding around Vershay
Birding trek to Dentam
Birding in Khalij Valley and drive to Pamayangtse
-06 Pamayangtese birding
Drive to Khechipheri Lake and birding.
Birding around Khechepheri
Drive to Yoksom and birding.
Birding around Yoksom
Drive to Bagdogra for departure (or can go to Gangtok, Kalimpong,
Lava, or Darjeeling)
14 days West Sikkim Birding Trek
Arrive Bagdogra. Drive to Pamayangtse
-03 Pamayangtse birding
Drive to Khichepheri and birding
Drive to Yoksom & birding
Birding around Yoksom
13 Birding trek to Dzongri and Prekchu Valley. Return to Yoksom
Drive to Bagdogra for departure (or can go to Kalimpong, Lava, or