Part 1: Tamang Heritage Trail
The next series of posts concern a trek in the beautiful Tamang Heritage Region and Langtang National Park of Nepal. While the attractions of the Tamang region are primarily cultural and scenic (the area preserves the traditional way of life of a Tibetan ethnic group close to Nepal’s northern border with Tibet) there were also pockets of good habitat with rewarding birding. Highlights included Himalayan Monal, Golden Throated Barbet, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Whiskered Yuhina, Scaly Laughingthrush, Orange-bellied Leafbird and Chestnut-tailed Minla. Minimum ten days is recommended to do both these “Teahouse treks”, with extra days for acclimation and side trips….
Kathmandu-Gatlang 07/11/2012: We set off from Kathmandu early on November 7th, for a tortuous 7-8 hour drive by jeep (having taken advice of a friend that the journey by bus was “horrendous”). We headed first East through heavy traffic along winding roads to exit the Kathmandu valley via the Mahendra Highway, then North along narrow, winding, and precipitous stretches pocked by landslides, high above the Trisuli River, enroute to Syaphru Bensi. Our last leg was the even steeper and more winding track from Syaphru Bensi up to Gatlang, negotiable only by jeep (this was to give us a head start, as ten days was shortish for attempting both Tamang and Langtang). We arrived around 5pm, a little weary from the more white-knuckle stretches of road (and driving techniques) in beautiful, sleepy Gatlang (2057m), a Tamang ethnicity village. Birding was relatively quiet in the surrounding terraces and fields, with only species habituated to agricultural land in evidence (Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Blue Whistling Thrush, Common Kestrel).