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The north-eastern corner of India is home to some of the rarest, endemic and sought-after specialities of the Indian Subcontinent and this tour takes us on an exciting bird-filled ride from Manipur, into the relatively unknown (until recently) Nagaland, moving across Arunachel Pradesh into the mystical Mishmi Hills before the excitememt of jeep safaris into Kaziranga. And if that's not enough there's a little pre-tour extension into Mizoram..
There are a wealth of Eastern Himalayan birds to be found on this unique tour and we will begin in the little-known Indian state of Manipur. As throughout the tour we will be targetting the very special, endemic, localised, range-restricted and downright rare specialities which in Manipur include Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Yellow-throated, Spot-breasted, Blue-winged, Striped & Moustached Laughingthrushes, Rusty-capped Fulvetta and a few other surprises too!
In Nagaland we will search for Mountain Bamboo-Partridge, Hodgson's Frogmouth, Dark-rumped Swift, Spot-breasted, Yellow-throated & Brown-capped Laughingthrushes, Naga Wren-Babbler and Grey Sibia,
.Leaving here we will head into Arunachel Pradesh and the pristine forests of the Mishmi Hills and visit the rather isolated remnant forest patched at Digboi where White-winged Duck, Chestnut-backed Laughingthrush and Collared Treepie reside. The forest-cloaked Mishmi Hills will soon be calling us and what a place this is. Along the way grasslands can sometimes hold Bengal Florican, Black-breasted Parrotbill and Marsh Babbler but the lure of those special Mishmi birds will pull us away quickly! Our main target will be the Mishmi Wren-babbler which was rediscovered in 2004 after an absence of some 60 years. Other possibilities range from Blyth's Tragopan and Cachar Wedge-billed Wren-babbler to Beautiful Nuthatch and Ward's Trogon, amongst a fine assortment of barbets, minlas, fulvettas, parrotbills and rosefinches. We will finish with a stay and jeep safaris at the world famous Kaziranga National Park which is home to a 1,000-strong population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, it also supports a healthy population of Indian Elephant, Water Buffalo, Swamp Deer and even Tiger. All excursions here will be by open-topped jeep allowing us unrivalled views of the multitude of water-loving, grassland and forest species present including Swamp Francolin, Bengal Florican, Greater Adjutant, Slender-billed Babbler and Himalayan Rubythroat amongst many others.
If you fancy a little something extra, then why not join us in Mizoram to search out the special target species that include Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Mount Victoria Babax, Chinese Vivid Niltava, Chin Hills Wren-Babbler, Buff-breasted Babbler, Brown-crowned Scimitar-Babbler, Spot-breasted Laughingthrush, Spot-winged Grosbeak & more!
This tour promises to be an exciting, bird-filled adventure seeking some of the rarest birds of the Indian Subcontinent.
Dates tba - Jan 2024 (14 days + extension)
Leaders: Nick Bray & Peter Lobo
Ground Price Main Tour: £3450.00 - Imphal (Manipur)/Guwahati (Assam)
Ground Price Mizoram Ext: £tba
Airfare: £600 - £790 (approx) - UK/UK
Single supplement Main Tour: £350.00
Single supplement Mizoram Ext: £tba
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum 8 with 2 leaders.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite from Day 1 to Day 20 (except when camping at Namdapha), all meals including picnic lunches where necessary from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 21, full service of a ground crew of 8 persons for Namdapha, all entrance fees to National Parks, Restricted Area Permit for Arunachel Pradesh, Mishmi Community Fees, 5% Government Service Tax, transport throughout in air-conditioned vehicles, and services of leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, any departure taxes, visa fees, drinks, tips, camera fees at National Parks, entrance fees to all reserves and national parks, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: Ranges from basic to standard. Many of the places we will be staying at on this tour are at a lower standard to a regular Zoothera tour.
In Roing we will be staying in a simple lodge near this small town located at the base of the Mishmi Hills. Each room has running hot water, electricity, fans, en-suite bathrooms and a great restaurant.
In the Mishmi Hills we will be staying in an old, concrete former government building where there are large rooms, beds, en-suite bathrooms and bedding provided. It is the highest site we sleep at on the tour at around 2500m and so is cold and the accommodation can only be considered basic. There is hot water provided for showering using a bucket in the evenings and hot food is available for meals. Electricity is provided by a generator. This is the only place to stay here and this is where all other birding groups stay.
In Tinsukia we will be staying at a good hotel with hot water, electricity and Internet with an excellent restaurant.
In Nagaland we will use basic resthouses & homestays but the locations are superb and the best available in the birding areas. At Khonoma village where we stay in a homestay, some rooms may not be en-suite.
This is a true birding adventure where the results are potentially outstanding.
Tour Code: This is a relatively adventurous tour where many early starts and several late finishes when owling can be expected and a fair amount of walking is required. Sometimes there is time off during the middle of the day to relax. Most of our birding walks will be of a usual birding pace, but please be aware we will be walking all day at most sites. The philosophy of getting the best out of the Mishmi Hills is to cover as much ground by foot and if things are quiet we will drive to a different elevation and then begin walking again. The road has very little traffic here and the habitat is exceptional. Nagaland is seldom visited by birders but the potential species list here is phenomenal. Expect a typically tropical climate with most days being relatively warm, with the montane areas being much cooler and we can expect some rain & mist on several days. Nights can be cold and at Mayodia Pass in Mishmi Hills snow is possible at this time of year, so you will need to bring thermal night and day wear. Sunrise is approximately 6am and sunset around 5pm, so the days are not overly long, but we may well begin each day with tea & coffe at 5.00am and have a picnic breakfast in the field. Altitude ranges from 40m at Kaziranga to 2655m at Mayodia Pass.
All photos copyright Nick Bray/Zoothera Birding unless otherwise stated.
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