Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 670 species of birds have been recorded and many more are yet to be discovered. Around 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants. These include ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches and buntings.
The partial migrants to Bhutan include cuckoos, swifts, bee-eaters, warblers and flycatchers. The country harbors more than 16 species of vulnerable birds. They are the Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White bellied Heron, Satyr Tragopan, Gray-bellied Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Blyth’s King Fisher, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, Rufous Throated Wren Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blyth’s Trogon, Wood Snipe, Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Gray-crowned Prinia and the Beautiful Nuthatch all of which breed in Bhutan.
Bhutan is home to many species of birds that are in danger of extinction, including the Imperial Heron, which is one of the fifty rarest birds in the world and the rare Black-Necked Crane, which breeds in Tibet and then migrates over the Himalayas to Bhutan during the winter months. The Cranes can be spotted in Phobjikha Valley in Western Bhutan, Bumthang in Central Bhutan and in Bomdeling in Eastern Bhutan. They migrate to these winter roosting sites in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March.
Hot Spring Therapy
In Bhutan, hot springs are known as Tshachus and are found all over the Kingdom. The medicinal properties of these hot springs have been used by the Bhutanese people for centuries to cure various ailments ranging from arthritis to body aches and even sinuses. It is a popular tradition among Bhutanese to visit hot springs during the winter months.
Meditation and Retreat
As one of the last strongholds of Vajrayana Buddhism, meditation and mediation retreats are a common practice amongst Monks and Buddhist practitioners in Bhutan. Small retreat centers and hermitages are located all over the country, usually next to temples, monasteries and monastic schools.
These retreats and meditation centers provide places of respite from the cares and stress of everyday life. Devout Buddhists often venture into the mountains for months at a time to meditate. The retreats provide practitioners with the opportunity to draw upon their inner self and meditate upon the purpose of life.
Many tourists come to Bhutan for meditation and retreat tours. Some itineraries include serious meditation programs that last for days while others offer solitary retreats for few hours in the high hills and temples where the serenity and beauty of nature can be appreciated in undisturbed silence.
Tour Operators can include meditation programs in your itinerary if you are interested in trying this Bhutanese way of retreat. Additionally most hotels also provide yoga sessions, retreats and meditation facilities within the hotel premises.
Flora and Fauna
Nestled deep within the Himalayas, Bhutan is a treasure trove of biological diversity with an unparalleled richness of flora and fauna due to the varied altitudinal and climatic conditions present in the country. This fragile ecosystem has remained unspoiled due to the conservation efforts of the Bhutanese people and government. Today 60% of the kingdom’s total area has been designated as protected nature preserves.
Bhutan is the perfect destination for enthusiastic horticulturalists as it contains more than 60%of the common plant species found in the Eastern Himalayas. It also boasts of approximately 46 species of Rhododendrons and over 300 types of medicinal plants. Junipers, Magnolias, Orchids, Blue Poppies (the national flower), Edelweiss, Gentian, various medicinal herbs, Daphne, Giant Rhubarb, Pine and Oak trees are among the plants commonly found.
The kingdom is also home to a wide variety of animals. At higher altitudes you will come across snow leopards, blue sheep, red pandas, takin, marmots and musk deer. Leopards, gorals, gray langurs, Himalayan black bears, red pandas, sambars, wild pigs and barking deer are found in the temperate zones. The tropical forests in the south are a haven for clouded leopards, elephants, one horned Rhinoceros, water buffalos, golden langurs, gaurs, swamp deer, hog deer, horn bills and many other species. Bhutan is home to the highest altitude inhabiting Tigers in the world and they are commonly found throughout the country.
Visitors can experience the magnificent flora and fauna of Bhutan through sightseeing tours or by embarking on treks and hikes through beautiful virgin forests, pristine Himalayan Mountains and across sparkling crystal clear rivers fed by ancient mountain glaciers. Roads in Bhutan pass through the rich forests so travelers can experience the majestic natural environments of Bhutan.
Bhutan Photography Tour- the photographers eye tour
We know that serious photographers want to see the world in fresh ways. Tour Bhutan has been hosting serious photographers for a decade - we know you do not want a tour that rushes from temple to temple. You want time to see what is really there and capture it to share, or just contemplate at a later time.
Our guides give you plenty of time and space to wander around small villages and market places and will take you to private temples that allow photography inside the temple - an unusual experience for most visitors to Bhutan.
You can choose to do a private photographers tour by yourself or with just a small number of friends or you can join one of our group trips. Group trips can be lots of fun - they are very interactive and at the end of the day we often retire to a quiet cafe and sit around the computer (or digital projector if its a big group) and share our 3 or 4 "best shots of the day".