Wildlife and Nature
Bhutan is an ornithologist's paradise. Densely covered in lush forests and protected habitats, the country currently boasts an impressive 754 bird species. This includes four critically endangered, five endangered, 21 vulnerable and 12 restricted-range species. Around 50 species are winter migratory birds.
Bird lovers will be mesmerized by the beauty of these feathered creatures in their natural habitats. Here in Bhutan, they thrive in the many protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries and biological corridors. One of the 50 rarest birds in the world, Imperial Heron and the majestic Black-necked Crane can also be observed in Bhutan.
The peak season for birding activities is from March through May. Popular birdwatching tours take visitors through both well-known and offbeat birding trails. Some truly passionate birders go deep into the dense forests of eastern Bhutan whereas others brave the harsh climate in the north.
For those visiting Bhutan in the winter, a highlight of your trip will be a visit to Phobjikha valley to see the Black-necked cranes Festival. This threatened species is only found in parts of China, India and Bhutan. They breed in the Tibetan plateau and arrive in Bhutan from late October to February.
Some of the endangered birds found in Bhutan are;
Eurasian Peregrine Falcon
Palla’s Fish eagle
White -bellied Heron
Whether you are a birdwatching expert or novice, there are plenty of rare and beautiful birds found all over Bhutan. Even those who come to the country with no prior interest in birds may find their interests piqued by the calls of different birds in every shade and size.
Bhutan is well-known for its environmental conservation efforts. Not only has it been hailed as “carbon-negative” but it is also one of the only nations where more than 70% of the country is covered by forests.
This high forest coverage is possible due to the many swaths of Bhutan that are covered by protected areas like national parks, nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
In fact, almost 42% of the country is covered by five national parks, four wildlife sanctuaries and a nature reserve- all connected by a system of biological corridors.
The culture and people of Bhutan are intertwined with the environment and natural surroundings. These protected areas are a tribute to this symbiotic relationship that conserves flora and fauna in the country for future generations.
Protected wildlife areas in Bhutan include:
Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in north-western part of Bhutan, this sanctuary covers 1545 sq.km. It is home to 100 species of mammals , including globally endangered species such as Snow Leopard, Royal Bengal tiger and Red Panda. Bumdeling is also the winter residence for the Black-necked Cranes.
Jigme Dorji National Park
Covering an area of 4349 sq.km, Jigme Dorji National Park is the largest protected area in Bhutan. The park stretches from warm-broad-leaved forest to permanent ice fields and glaciers. Popular landmarks in the area are Mt. Jomolhari, Mt. Tsherimgang and Mt. Jichu Drakey. Wildlife species such as Black Bear, Blue Sheep and Takins are found here.
Jigme Singye National Park
The second largest protected area in Bhutan, this park spans over an area of 1300 sq.km. Located in the center of the country, the park is home to the Musk deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Golden Langur, Rare Clouded Bear, Red Panda and Royal Bengal Tiger.
Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary
Despite being the smallest protected area in Bhutan with an area of 273 sq.km, it has exotic wildlife like elephants, Guars, Pygmy Hogs and Hispid Hares.
Royal Manas National Park
Recently opened to the public, the park is also called “Bhutan’s Crown Jewel”. Along with other wildlife, this park has also recorded more than 365 bird species.
Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary
Spanning an area of 278 sq.km, the park has some rare and exotic animals such as elephants, tigers, Guars, Spotted Deer, Axis Deer, Hornbills and Golden Langurs.
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary
The sanctuary is in the easternmost part of Bhutan and spreads across 650 sq.km. Sakteng is also home to semi-nomadic people called “Brokpas”. The national flower of Bhutan, Blue Poppy, is found here.
Thrumshingla National Park
Located in the heart of the country, the park spans an area of 768 sq.km. The forests here range from alpine to subtropical. Thrumshingla made headlines when a survey team captured an image of a tiger at 3000m, the first photographic evidence that tigers can survive at such high altitudes.
Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve
It is the only strict reserve in Bhutan and spreads from Haa to Samtse Dzongkhag. The reserve includes broad leaved forests and alpine meadows as well as small lakes. Clouded leopard, Red panda and Himalayan Thar are found here.
Wangchuck Centennial National Park
This park encompassses an area of 4149 sq.km. High mountains such as Gangar Puensum can be found along the boundaries of the park. The park is home to animals like takins, Himalayan Black Bear and Tibetan wolf.
Nature-lovers will revel in the sheer number and size of protected areas in the country. With a variety of vegetation and wildlife, you can tour many national parks and wildlife reserves and find something new every time. See for yourself why Bhutan is considered a biodiversity hotspot.
The rugged mountains and precipitous ravines of Bhutan are even more scenic with the addition of a waterfall. These pristine waters originate at icy glaciers and fall to the valleys below. Areas surrounding the waterfall are cool, refreshing and the perfect picture spot.
You’ll see many waterfalls along road trips to different parts of the country. Waterfalls sometimes become fast flowing rivers and freshwater streams. People stop by these blessed waters in the middle of tiring journeys along Bhutan’s winding roads.
The twin waterfalls in Panbang under Zhemgang dzongkhag is a hot attraction on your way to river rafting adventures in the south. The waterfall drops into a big pool of fresh water where locals swim in the hot summers.
Another popular destination is one of Bhutan’s biggest waterfalls in Wangdiphodrang, on your way to Tsirang. The roads are not very car-friendly so we recommend hiking towards this wonder. The hike to Taktsang monastery also features a small but stunning waterfall.
Waterfalls in Bhutan are small but picturesque. They don’t fall from great heights but still act as a balm to weary travelers on a hot summer day. When traveling across Bhutan, stop and dip your feet into the refreshing pools found at the base of waterfalls.