Connected to the rest of India by a corridor just 21km wide, northeast India is a diverse region bounded by Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The eight states that make up India’s northeast are dominated by the Eastern Himalayas, which arc northwards to form the region’s western boundary before merging with the hills of Indo-Burma which then sweep southwards along the eastern border of India. In the west, superb sub-Himalayan forests at Nameri National Park host the enigmatic White-winged Duck, with Ibisbill wintering along the glacier-fed Jia Bhorelli. Owing to their altitudinal gradation, most extreme in the western corner of Arunachal Pradesh, the Eastern Himalayas exhibit an astounding diversity of species in a small area. Birding here is fast-paced and incredible, with numerous vocal laughingthrushes, skulking wren- and scimitar-babblers, dumpy parrotbills and more in dynamic foraging flocks. In the productive mid-altitudes, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary permits unrivalled access to montane forests, and sought-after specialities including the recently (2006) discovered Bugun Liocichla. Higher still, Sela Pass, one of the highest accessible parts of the Himalayas, offers the chance to see mountain gems such as Grandala and Blood Pheasant. Further north, the Mishmi Hills host the endemic Mishmi Wren-babbler in India’s extreme corner, while the little-visited state of Sikkim is home to the spectacular star-studded Satyr Tragopan. In the east, the hills of Nagaland and Meghalaya are home to a unique set of endemics and an interesting combination of species at both the eastern and western extensions of their ranges, with Nagaland’s Amur Falcon migration among the most incredible visible migrations on earth.
Between these hill ranges, the state of Assam is almost entirely occupied by the mighty Brahmaputra River and its extensive floodplains. In upper Assam, the rich grasslands of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park host grassland endemics including Black-breasted Parrotbill, while superb wetlands host sizeable congregations of waterfowl. In the valley fringes, remnant foothill forests host enigmatic birds such as Grey Peacock-Pheasant and Blue-naped Pitta, as well as India’s only ape, Western Hoolock Gibbon. Further south, Kaziranga National Park supports an obvious abundance of large mammals, including Tiger and Indian Rhinoceros, alongside birds of wetlands, grasslands and woodland. Manas National Park to the southwest is perhaps the best place to see the majestic Bengal Florican.
Birding and mammal-watching in lowland areas are productive at any time outside the Indian Monsoon, which causes dramatic changes in the Brahmaputra basin. Higher elevations offer superb spring birding, when temperatures are more comfortable, and birds become active and vociferous. The immediate post-monsoon period and late spring offer spectacular butterfly-watching in the richest butterflying area in the Oriental region.
Key species across the region: Bugun Liocichla, Himalayan Thrush, Bhutan, Black-faced, Rufous-necked, Rufous-vented, Grey-sided, Brown-capped, Yellow-throated, Striped and Spotted Laughingthrushes, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Rufous-throated, Long-billed, Tawny-breasted, Mishmi and Naga Wren-babblers, Slender-billed, Red-billed and Coral-billed Scimitar-babblers, Sikkim and Cachar Wedge-billed Babblers, Rusty-bellied and Gould’s Shortwings, Beautiful Nuthatch, Himalayan Cutia, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Manipur Fulvetta, Ward’s Trogon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Grandala, Snow Partridge, Blood Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Satyr, Blyth’s and Temminck’s Tragopans, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Bengal Florican, Swamp Francolin, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Jerdon’s and Marsh Babblers, Swamp Prinia, Himalayan and Chinese Rubythroats, Ibisbill, White-winged Duck, Black-tailed Crake, Long-billed Plover, Greater Adjutant, Pied Harrier, Amur Falcon, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Tiger, Indian Rhinoceros, Asian Elephant, Western Hoolock Gibbon, Assamese Macaque, Arunachal Macaque, Golden Langur, Red Panda, Mishmi Takin.
NORTHEAST INDIA BIRDING & WILDLIFE TOURS
Assam Plains and the Eastern Himalayas
A 16-day birding tour across the Eastern Himalayas from the Brahmaputra basin through untouched montane rainforest, emerging beyond the treeline at over 4,000m.
16 DAYS | NOVEMBER & MARCH TO MAY
Birds of the Assam Valley
A 14-day birding tour of the Brahmaputra floodplain, focusing on grassland endemics and regional specialities in these productive lowland areas, without ascending to altitude.
14 DAYS | NOVEMBER TO APRIL
BIRDING | SHORT TOUR/EXTENSION
Shillong, Cherrapunji & the Khasi Hills
A 5-day exploration of the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, looking for regional specialities around the hill station of Shillong and in the sacred forest groves of Cherrapunji.
5 DAYS | NOVEMBER TO APRIL
Mishmi Hills and the Brahmaputra
A 12-day birding tour of India's extreme northeast, from the grasslands of upper Assam to 2,655m in the Mishmi Hills, where the Himalayas meet the Indo-Burma ranges.
12 DAYS | NOVEMBER & MARCH TO MAY
BIRDS & MAMMALS
Assam: Rhino, Primates and More
A 10-day exploration of three of Assam's superb wildlife-rich sanctuaries, home to a conspicuous selection of large mammals, eight primate species, and excellent birding.
10 DAYS | NOVEMBER TO APRIL
Birds of West Bengal and Sikkim
A 17-day birding tour to some of the least-visited parts of the Eastern Himalayas, in search of spectacular specialities from rich mid-altitude forests to the Tibetan Plateau.
17 DAYS | FEBRUARY TO MARCH
EASY TO MODERATE
Nagaland's Amur Falcon Migration
A 10-day birding tour focusing on the breath-taking spectacle of Amur Falcon migration, while also exploring key birding localities in Nagaland and neighbouring Assam.
10 DAYS | OCTOBER TO NOVEMBER
EASY TO MODERATE
BIRDS & MAMMALS | SHORT TOUR
A 5-day exploration of one of India's best wildlife sanctuaries, home to iconic large mammals in clear abundance, and a diverse birdlife in wetlands, grassland and woodland.
5 DAYS | NOVEMBER TO APRIL
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ANY DURATION | YEAR-ROUND
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