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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

Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information253This exciting holiday focuses on therich wildlife of the eastern Himalayaand, in particular, a quest to trackdown and observe the elusive Red Panda- an iconic mammal, sought after bymany but seen by very few. In an attemptto achieve our goal, we focus on the lastremaining areas of temperate oak-rhododendron forest in the far east ofNepal. Here, in the Himalayan foothills, notfar from the Indian hill-station of Darjeelingand the shadows of Kanchenjunga (theworld's third highest mountain), RedPandas are not uncommon. Until recently,however, they were rarely seen. Now,thanks to the work of the Nepalesescientists who have been tracking andresearching the species in this area withthe help of local forest guards, we at lasthave a chance of observing the RedPanda in the wild.In fact, these forests are well known toNaturetrek staff, tour leaders and someclients, as we have explored themregularly over the past 30 years or so,looking for their rare birds - in particularthose east Himalayan specialities notfound elsewhere in Nepal. Such aviangems as Bay Woodpecker, Large Niltava,Yellow-cheeked Tit, Hill Prinia, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Slender-billed ScimitarBabbler, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler,Rufous-capped Babbler, Cutia, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Rusty-fronted andHoary-throated Barwing, Golden-breastedFulvetta, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Brown andBlack-throated Parrotbill, Maroon-backedAccentor and eight species of laughing-thrush have been among our targetspecies in the past, and we will look forsuch special species again on this tour.To reach the area chosen for our RedPanda quest, we must fly first toKathmandu, and onward to Bhadrapur inthe fertile lowlands of east Nepal. Fromhere we will take a long but scenic drive,on a metalled road, up into the pleasantgreen hills around Ilam. This small town,set amongst terraced hills and teagardens, is the centre for tea production inthe country - Nepal's Darjeeling. Fromhere we complete our journey into the hillsusing the dirt road to Dobate, a tinySherpa village where we will set up atented base-camp for a 3-night stay. Enroute we will pass heavily cultivatedterraced fields which rise steeply, likesteps, for thousands of feet above theshady river valleys, watered by tumblingstreams whose deep hillside ravinesharbour remnant subtropical vegetationand towering bamboos, the home ofscimitar babblers, sibias, piculets, minlasand other exotic birds.It is in the higher temperate forestsbetween Dobate and Hange Tham,however, that we will search for RedPandas. This is a marvellous region ofdense, damp forest, where oaks,rhododendrons and magnolias, decoratedwith mosses, lichens and epiphyticorchids, support an outstanding range ofHimalayan birds and mammals. Here, wewill use the local forest trails to accessknown roosts and feeding areas in thecompany of the local forest guards whohave been monitoring the species inassociation with the Red Panda Network(RPN). We will spend two days on foot,from our tented base camp at Dobate,before trekking on for a day to HangeTham. There we will set up a second basecamp for two nights to allow us to explorethe similarly excellent forest above thissecond Sherpa village.The Red Panda (also known as the FireFox or Lesser Panda), like its relative theGiant Panda, also eats bamboo, althoughnot exclusively. It is a solitary animal and,although found in China, India, Burma(Myanmar) and Bhutan, as well as Nepal,relatively little is known about its behaviourand distribution owing to its preference forremote mountain forests lying between 2,200 and 4,800 metres (7,200 and 15,700feet) in altitude. In particular, the speciesfavours mixed deciduous and coniferforest with abundant old trees and adense understorey of bamboo. Thathabitat is found here, and it is favouredalso by such other mammals as Leopard,Leopard Cat, Serow, Large Indian Civet,Yellow-throated Marten and HimalayanOrange-bellied Squirrel, a sighting of anyone of which must be considered a bonus.We conclude our visit to the area with afinal night in Ilam, before driving toBhadrapur for a flight to Kathmandu thenLondon. However, for those wishing toextend their holiday, we offer an extensionto Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, one ofAsia's finest wetlands. Here, a remnantpopulation of wild Water Buffalo may beseen, as well as such other mammals asGanges River Dolphin, Jungle Cat, GoldenJackal, and even the endangered FishingCat, amongst others. Our base, thedelightful and tranquil Koshi Camp, is alsoa birder's paradise. Up to 160 bird speciesmay be seen in a single day; amongstthem such local specialities as Red-necked Falcon, Striated Grassbird and theendangered Swamp Francolin and BengalFlorican. Indian Courser, Small Pratincole,Pallas's Gull, Black-bellied Tern, SiberianRubythroat and Smoky Warbler will beamongst other target species, whilst theBlack, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitternsresident at Koshi Camp are always acrowd pleaser! A full day on PhulchowkiMountain (a top site for birds, flowers andmountain views), from Kathmandu, is alsoincluded in this extension.Nepal - In Search of the Red PandaA unique 10-day wildlife adventure in search of the elusive Red Panda, plus other mammals andbirds, in the temperate oak and rhododendron forests of eastern Nepal's Himalayan foothills. Sunday 25th November - Tuesday 4th December 2012 Cost: £2,695Sunday 14th April - Tuesday 23rd April 2013 Cost: £2,695Sunday 24th November - Tuesday 3rd December 2013 Cost: £2,695Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve extension available on all tours Cost: £595TIBETTIBETINDIAINDIAINDIADHAULAGIRIGHOREPANIPOKHARACHITWANNATIONAL PARKKATHMANDULANGTANGNATIONALPARKANNAPURNACONSERVATIONAREASHEOPURI WILDLIFERESERVENEPALLUKLASAGARMATHA (EVEREST)NATIONAL PARKMt EVERESTLHOTSEMAKALUKANCHENJUNGAKOSHI CAMPBIRATNAGARBHADRAPURILAMPHULCHOWKIKOSHI TAPPUWILDLIFE RESERVEANNAPURNA I(EXTENSION)Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Kathmandu.Day 3Fly Bhadrapur; driveDobate.Day 4/5Dobate.Day 6/7Hange Tham.Day 8Ilam.Day 9Drive Bhadrapur; flyKathmandu.Day 10Fly London.Koshi extensionDay 9/12Koshi Tappu WildlifeReserve.Day 13 Fly Kathmandu.Day 14Phulchowki Mountain,Kathmandu.Day 15Fly London.AccommodationSimple but comfortable hotel inKathmandu (with en suite facilities).Fully serviced camping in Dobateand Hange Tham. Basic hotel inIlam. Koshi Camp is a comfortabletented camp with shared facilities.FoodIncluded in the price, except fordinners in Kathmandu. Allow £30.Grading/TrekkingGrade B. This is a wildlifeadventure to a tourist-free regionwhere facilities are adequate butsimple. The holiday also includesfour days of gentle to moderatewalking/trekking in the foothills.FocusRed Pandas, other mammals andbirds.LeaderSuchit Basnet or Shambhu Ghimire,plus local guides.Single room/tentsupplement£295 (extension: £95).Web quick search:NPL17 DobateRed Panda