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On this holiday we will make a mostthorough tour of Nepal's finestlowland habitats, therebymaximising our chances of seeing manyspecies from the country's long list of 840birds and 164 mammals. In February,numbers of wintering wetland birds are attheir peak, as are wintering passerinesfrom Siberia and the high Himalayanbreeders down for the winter. Themammals, too, descend; not only toescape the winter cold, but moreimportantly to take advantage of the newgrowth of grass, the result of the annualJanuary cut-the only time when localpeople are allowed into the parks to cutthe grass and burn the stubble. We shouldtherefore have a rewarding time as wemove from park to park across Nepal'swell-forested lowlands, enjoying a pleasantclimate as well as splendid views of thefoothills and high peaks of the Himalaya,which are often visible from the lowlands.The weather and views are better still inNovember, but the numbers of birds andmammals to see, whilst good, are perhapsnot quite at their peak.We begin our holiday at higher altitudes, inKathmandu (1,370 metres). Here we will drive as close as conditions allow to the2,740-metre summit of Phulchowki, thehighest peak in the Kathmandu Valley,where we will have magnificent views overthe Himalaya as well as seeing a largenumber of bird species, includingwoodpeckers, minivets, warblers,flycatchers, laughing-thrushes, yuhinas,sunbirds, flowerpeckers and rosefinches.Our first lowland destination, a short flightfrom Kathmandu, (past Mounts Everest,Makalu and Kanchenjunga!) is Koshi TappuWildlife Reserve, part of a vast expanse ofopen water, marshes, lagoons, sandbanks,mudflats and dry woodlands that lie to thenorth of a huge barrage. This is one ofAsia's finest wetlands and a fabulousbirdwatching area. Almost all of Nepal'slong list of wildfowl, waders, storks, ibises,herons, egrets, terns and gulls occur here,plus a great variety of landbirds thatinclude such specialities as SwampFrancolin, Red-necked Falcon and StriatedMarsh Warbler. This reserve is also the lastrefuge of the wild Water Buffalo in Nepal,and home to the rare Ganges River Dolphinamongst other mammals. We will explorethe area on foot and in inflatable boats.Our next stop is Chitwan National Park, along drive from Koshi Tappu but a chanceto look for White-rumped Needletail Swiftsand Ibisbills en route! The Chitwan NationalPark is a World Heritage Site that protects932 square kilometres of dry deciduousforest, tropical evergreen forest and riverinegrasslands. A larger number of birdspecies (over 480) has been recorded herethan in any other part of Nepal, and we canexpect to see a third of these during our4-night stay. The park holds a similar wealth of mammals, including theendangered Indian Rhinoceros, Wild Boar,Sambar, Muntjac, Spotted and Hog Deer,and Rhesus and Common LangurMonkeys. Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bearsand Gaur may also occasionally be seen,as well as Nepal's two species ofcrocodile. We will explore the park on foot,on elephant back, in canoes and by jeep.We next journey westwards, to BardiaNational Park, the largest lowlandsanctuary and seldom visited by Westernornithologists. We will stay in simple butcomfortable accommodation close to thegreat Karnali River, the largest in Nepal,and spend four days exploring the park'sSal and riverine forests and grasslands,and the Karnali River itself - which we willview from rafts, allowing close approach ofthe river's waterbirds, and occasionallySmooth Otter and Ganges River Dolphin.As well as excellent birding - enabling usto see some of the rarer and more local ofNepal's western specialities, we will alsoencounter a similarly exciting range ofmammals, with Tiger and Nilgai generallybeing easier to see here than in Chitwan.Above all this is a delightfully quiet andunspoilt part of Nepal, the beautifullydressed indigenous Tharu and Rana Tharutribespeople being amongst the mostinteresting and traditional in Nepal.Finally, we must return to Kathmandu,flying from the western town of Nepalganjback to the capital for our last night inNepal. For those wishing to extend theirholiday, the grasslands of SuklaphantaWildlife Reserve offer a different and veryspecial range of birds and mammals.Lowland NepalA comprehensive, 17-day mammal and birdwatching tour of lowland Nepal, visiting the country's three finest lowland sanctuaries, Chitwan and Bardia National Parks, and the remote Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, and the forested hills of the Kathmandu Valley.Saturday 17th November - Monday 3rd December 2012 Cost: £3,595Saturday 19th January - Monday 4th February 2013 Cost: £3,595Saturday 16th November - Monday 2nd December 2013 Cost: £3,595Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve extension available on all tours Cost: £850Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTIBETINDIANEPALSUKLAPHANTAWILDLIFE RESERVE(EXTENSION)INDIAINDIADHAULAGIRICHITWANNATIONAL PARKLANGTANGNATIONAL PARKSAGARMATHA(EVEREST)NATIONAL PARKANNAPURNACONSERVATIONAREABARDIANATIONAL PARKJUMLALAKE RARANATIONAL PARKMt EVERESTLHOTSEMAKALUBIRATNAGARKANCHENJUNGAKOSHI TAPPUWILDLIFERESERVEKOSHI CAMPNEPALGANJANNAPURNA IKATHMANDUDHANGADHIOutline itineraryDay 1 Depart London. Day 2/3Kathmandu. Day 4/7Koshi Tappu WildlifeReserve. Day 8/11Chitwan National Park. Day 12/15Bardia National Park. Day 16 Kathmandu. Day 17Fly London.Suklaphanta extension Day 16Drive SuklaphantaWildlife Reserve. Day 17/19 Suklaphanta WildlifeReserve. Day 20Fly Kathmandu.Day 21Fly London. AccommodationComfortable hotels, lodges andpermanent tented camps, most withprivate facilities.FoodIncluded in the price, except fordinners in Kathmandu. Allow £35.GradingA. Gentle-paced birdwatchingwalks only. FocusBirds and mammals. LeaderTika Ram Giri or Suchit Basnet,plus local guides. Single room supplement£325 (extension: £95). ExtensionsCan be arranged to include India,Bhutan and other areas of Nepal.Web quick search: NPL01251Indian One-horned Rhinos, Chitwan National Park TigerGiant Hornbill

The Langtang circuit is particularlyspecial. We do not approach thehighest of the Himalayan peaks, wedo not encounter the diversity of sceneryand ethnic groups that is found in the KaliGandaki Valley; however, we do findNepal's finest forests, and a peace andtranquillity that is sometimes lacking onmore popular trails. Though just north ofKathmandu, this route takes us to some ofNepal's least populated regions, andremains relatively free of trekkers. May canbe very hot at low altitudes but is awonderful time for birds and flowers, just asin Europe, andonthis trekwedo remain athigh altitudes for most of our journey. Onno other trek will you see so many ofNepal's upland breeding birds and alpineflowers. High altitude rhododendron forestsare covered in pink blooms, and underfootlie carpets of primulas, anemones anddwarf irises.We begin our walk from Dhunche, highabove the banks of the Trisuli River. White-capped River Chats and Blue WhistlingThrushes decorate riverbed rocks, IndianRollers and mynas call from the riversideSal forest. Slowly we climb above the riveron its eastern flank, following it northwardsthrough pretty Tamang villages, steepterraced fields and watery ravines filled withdense subtropical vegetation and tallstands of alder. Here we will encounter thecolourful warblers, babblers, tits andflycatchers of the Himalayan foothills, andwill keep a look out for the beautiful PiedGround Thrush and Wedge-tailed GreenPigeon. The views to the Trisuli River farbelow, of Ganesh Himal to the west, and ofthe stout, snowbound Tibetan peaks at thehead of the valley are quite magnificent.Leaving the Trisuli Valley behind, we turneast into the deep Langtang Valley, theheart of a large national park. Here wespend several days. The uninhabited oakand rhododendron forest of the lower valleyis outstanding. Black Bears, Leopards andRed Pandas all occur but realistically wemust satisfy ourselves with the smallermammals -langurs, macaques, CommonGoral and Himalayan Tahr-and theexceptionally rich birdlife of this forest. Inthe upper reaches of the valley, high alpinepastures lie enveloped by the high snowypeaks of the Langtang range and Tibetanborder. We visit the hanging valleys andgreat glaciers where rosefinches,snowcocks and Snow Partridges arecommon and confiding. In a gnarled birchand rhododendron forest, sitting on the treeline, Musk Deer, and Blood Pheasants andHimalayan Monals find refuge.We must climb high to leave the LangtangValley but the mixed forest, home of theelusive Satyr Tragopan, and theflower-filled meadows beneath the holylake of Gosainkund are magnificent.Leaving Gosainkund we follow a series ofsmaller lakes to the Laurabini Pass (4,570 metres), then drop into a wild landof remote forests and steep damp ravineswhere birds and flowers abound, buthumans do not.Our final days take us along a spectacularforested ridge and through little Tamangvillages, from which the views of theHimalayan chain, from Annapurna toMount Everest, are outstanding ...providing that the weather is clear! Beforeand after the trek we have plenty of time toexplore the temples and shrines, the riversand forests of the Kathmandu Valley, andthose that wishforafurtheraspectofNepal, and a new range of birds andmammals, may take advantage of ourextension to the lowland riverine and Sal jungles of Chitwan National Park. There wewill spend four nights at a jungle lodge,exploring the park on foot, elephant backand by canoe. Chitwan is a most excitingplace, offering a unique and very differentNepalese experience ... as well as anadditional 200 new bird, and 15 newmammal species for our trip!The Langtang Valley of NepalA 24-day holiday incorporating a 19-day trek through the finest forests and alpine meadows of Nepal, with birdwatching and sightseeing in the Kathmandu Valley.Saturday 13th April - Monday 6th May Cost: £3,395 Chitwan pre-tour extension: from Monday 8th April Cost: £895Other extensions in Nepal and India available on request.Outline itinerary Day 1Depart London. Day 2/3Kathmandu. Day 4/21Trekking. Day 22/23Kathmandu. Day 24Fly London.Pre-tour extension Day 1 Depart London. Day 2 Arrive Kathmandu. Day 3/6Chitwan National Park. Day 7 Kathmandu. Join group. AccommodationFully serviced camping on trek;comfortable hotel, Kathmandu, andjungle lodge, Chitwan, both withprivate facilities. FoodIncluded in the price, except forlunches and dinners in Kathmandu.Allow £45.TrekkingGrade B/C. Moderate. Between 1,520 and 4,570 metres. FocusBirds, plants and mammals. LeaderTika Ram Giri, Shambhu Ghimire orHathan Choudhary. Single room supplement£195 (extension: £95). Single tent supplement£195. Web quick search: NPL09252Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryTIBETTIBETINDIAINDIAINDIADHAULAGIRIANNAPURNA IGHOREPANIPOKHARACHITWANNATIONAL PARKKATHMANDULANGTANGNATIONALPARKANNAPURNACONSERVATIONAREASHEOPURI WILDLIFERESERVENEPALSAGARMATHA (EVEREST)NATIONAL PARKMt EVERESTLHOTSEMAKALUKANCHENJUNGAKOSHI CAMPBIRATNAGARKOSHI TAPPUWILDLIFERESERVE(EXTENSION)LUKLACentral NepalRhododendron arboreumSatyrTragopan