THE GOLDEN LAND OF MYANMAR (BURMA) - April 2-25, 2018

  • Category:Long birding tours
  • Tour name:THE GOLDEN LAND OF MYANMAR (BURMA) - April 2-25, 2018
  • Destinations:The ultimate Burma experience to seek out its special birds, scenery and culture
  • Duration:24 days
  • Hotel:comfortable hotels of good standard
  • Price:Main-tour 4,800 $US; Pre-tour extension TBA

The ultimate Burma experience seeking out its special birds, scenery and culture

Burma (now formally re-named Myanmar) has a turbulent history and remains firmly in the minds of westerners for many of the wrong reasons. This tour  will however focus on the extraordinary wealth of bird and animal life in this country now open for discovery. Stretching from high Himalayan peaks in the north some 2000 kilometres to tropical rain forest in the south this ancient land also encompasses the foothills of the north and  east and the dry plains alongside the mighty Irrawaddy River.
 
We first fly from the capital Yangon (Rangoon) north to historic Mandalay to make an extended visit to the World Heritage site and breathtaking ruins of Bagan (Pagan) where in the dry, bush dotted plains along the banks of Irrawaddy River we will seek the endemic trio of Burmese Bush-Lark, Jerdon’s (White-bellied)  Minivet and White-throated Babbler along with a huge supporting cast. The road to Mt Victoria in the Chin Hills is next and we will search for  the endemic Hooded Treepie en route. Amongst these forested slopes, are the be found the endemic White-browed Nuthatch as well as other endemics or range restricted species including a large collection of rarely encountered Babblers. We then fly east to Heho and Kalaw and a mosaic of valleys, lakes and forest including legendary Lake Inle, to look for birds such as Jerdon’s Bushchat, Burmese Yuhina, Collared Myna and Spot-winged Stare. Finally we  embark on a special expedition to remote Kachin state where the recent opening of Mt Emawbon allows us 4 wheel drive access to the realms of  such legendary birds as Sclater’s Monal, Blyth’s Tragopan, Chevron-breasted (formerly Wedge-billed Wren) Babbler and Fire-Tailed Myzornis

Glorious though the birding opportunities are, this tour also provides a superb cultural extravaganza from the golden Shwedagon Temple in Yangon, the palaces and temples of Mandalay, the almost unbelievable 4000 pagodas of Bagan and the unique leg rowers of Lake Inle. And this is not all for the Buddhist culture of Burma ensures that the land remains dotted with numerous other temples and relicts that the resolute and astonishingly friendly Burmese people still lovingly maintain

On the pre tour extension, we will fly from Yangon to Mergui on the Tenessarim Peninsula where we will seek the threatened Gurney’s Pitta in its principal breeding area. The avifauna here is largely Malay in character and we will also seek out the ultra elusive and crepuscular Long-billed Partridge and flocks of the range restricted Plain-pouched Hornbill

Pre-tour extension

Day 1

Arrival in Yangon (Rangoon). City tour and visit to the famous gold domed Shwedagon Temple

Overnight Yangon

Day 2

Fly Yangon – Mergui in Tenessarim. Afternoon drive to the Gurney’s Pitta site and overnight (2 nights)

Day 3

All day search for Plain-pouched Hornbill and Gurney’s Pitta. Other birds abound here and are mostly forms found on the Malay Peninsula. They include the elusive Long-billed Partridge, a crepuscular species much easier to hear then see

Day 4

Morning birding then drive back to Mergui and overnight

Day 5

Fly Mergui – Yangon and join main tour for overnight Yangon

Main Tour

Day 6

Arrival in Yangon (Rangoon). City tour and visit to the famous gold  domed Shwedagon Pagoda

Overnight Yangon

Day 7

Early morning flight to Bagan (Pagan)

Bagan, on the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwaddy) River is a World Heritage Site and its 4000+ pagodas are considered by many as one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the world

Birding the river bank, grassland and nearby hills of Bagan. This is an extraordinarily rich birding area and specials to find include the endemic quartet of Burmese Bushlark, Jerdon’s (White-bellied) Minivet, White-throated Babbler and perhaps Hooded Treepie. A huge variety of others are here including Chinese Francolin, Rain Quail, Spotted Owlet, three species of Prinia,  Burmese Shrike and Plain-backed Sparrow. The Irrawaddy River is home to Indian Spot-billed Duck, River Lapwing, Small Pratincole, Brown-headed Gull, River Tern,  Sand Lark, Grey-throated (split by some from Brown-throated) Martin, White-tailed Stonechat and Jungle Myna. We have even seen the rare Indian Skimmer here in the past although human disturbance may now have caused them to abandon this site. We will take a boat trip on the river to maximise our chances for these riverside specialities

Overnight Bagan

Day 8

Birding Bagan

Overnight Bagan

Day 9

Drive from Bagan, across the Irrawaddy River to Kanpetlet on the slopes of legendary Mt Victoria for a four night stay in a specially built lodge high on the bird rich slopes. There are some special birds to look for en route including the rare White-rumped Falcon, up to five species of Parakeet including Grey-headed and further chances for the endemic Hooded Treepie  

Overnight Kanpetlet

Day 10 - 12

Birding Mt Victoria. This rich area is accessible to its peak by a jeep track and is the home to an array of much desired species including the endemic White-browed Nuthatch, lost to science until we re-discovered it in 1995. The bird list here is long and includes such as Common Hill Partridge, Blyth’s Tragopan (seen by one member of our party in 1995 but badly over hunted), Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Broad-billed and a host of other Warblers, Grey-sided Thrush,  3 species of Yuhina, 4 of Wren-Babblers (including Spotted and Chin Hills), Green Shrike-Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Grey Sibia, Red-tailed Minla, Mount Victoria (Chinese) Babax, Rusty-fronted and Streak-throated Barwings, Crimson-faced (Red-faced) Liocichla, Assam, Blue-winged, Brown-capped and Striped Laughing-Thrushes, Spot-breasted Parrotbill and the superb Fire-tailed Sunbird. To name but a few!

Overnights at Kanpetlet

Day 13

Drive from Mt Victoria to Bagan and overnight.  

Day 14

Fly from Bagan to Heho and drive to Kalaw. We will keep a lookout for such as Rufous-winged Buzzard, Brown-breasted Bulbul, Siberian Stonechat and Black-headed Greenfinch en route. After dark we will attempt to entice in a Hodgson’s Frogmouth

Overnight Kalaw

Day 15
Birding the upland forests around Kalaw and Yay-aye-kan Resevoir. Species to find here include Himalayan (Common) Buzzard, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, the rare near endemic Burmese Yuhina, Silver-eared (Chestnut-crowned) Laughing-Thrush, Dark-backed (Black-headed) Sibia, Bianchi’s Warbler and Grey-headed Parrotbill
Drive to Lake Inle and overnight

Day 16
Boat trip on Lake Inle for waterfowl (we will keep an eye out for the rare and declining Baer’s Pochard), Jerdon’s Bushchat, White-tailed stonechat and the famous “leg rowers)
Afternoon drive from Lake Inle to Heho where birds en route may include Collared Myna and Spot-winged Stare then evening flight Heho – Mandalay 
Overnight Mandalay

Day 17

Mandalay – Myitkyina and if time permits birding around Myitkyina

Overnight Myitkyina

Day 18

Drive Myitkina – Chibwe (7-8 hours) birding along the way for such as  Collared Treepie, Collared Myna and other north Myanmar lowland birds

Overnight Chibwe

Day 19

Drive Chibwe to Mt Emawbon in Kachin State birding along the way in search of such possible exciting species as Blyth’s Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, White-collared Yuhina and Black-faced Warbler

Overnight camping on Mt Emawbon

Day 20

All day on Mt Emawbon in search of legendary birds such as Sclater’s Monal, Blyth’s Tragopan, Chevron-breasted Babbler, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Collared Treepie and others in this almost unknown area

Overnight camping on Mt Emawbon

Day 21

Morning on Mt Emawbon and drive back to Pha-Ye for overnight

Day 22

Drive Pha-Ye to Myitkyina and overnight

Day 23

Fly Myitkyina to Yangon (note the timings on this flight are notoriously unreliable so we have to reserve a full day for this)

Overnight Yangon

Day 24

We finish with a relaxing day visiting Hlawga Park for, hopefully, amongst a range of lowland birds typical of southern Myanmar, the rare Pale-capped Pigeon. An interesting range of native animals have been re-introduced to this park and roam freely

Tour ends with evening departures from Yangon