Red Panda tracking tour in Nepal

Description of Red Panda tracking tour in Nepal

Join our expert Red Panda trackers and researchers and in Far Eastern Nepal and get up close and personal with the iconic, endangered and adorably cute Red Panda.

Introduction:

Introduction:
Tracking down red pandas in the Himalayan foothills is one of the most exhilarating and amazing experiences in the natural world. Up until recently it was an experience which was deemed impossible; the idea of trying to find one of the shyest, most elusive and little understood mammals in the world, that lives in a habitat which is not just alien to most people but physically very demanding, was deemed too difficult. But in recent years the Himalayan foothills of Nepal have become more habited and the increase in people has led to a destruction of habitat. This has in turn led to increases in conservation action in the foothills. This means that for the first time in history the natural secrets of this environment are being studied and showcased to the western world. This has culminated in the training of excellent guides and trackers (who have probably seen more wild red pandas than any humans ever) which is why we are here to offer you the chance to track down the red panda and have as good a chance as there is to see wild red pandas. Whilst spotting a red panda can never be guaranteed, sightings are certainly increasing as guides get better and better at knowing where and what to look for. What has really helped unlock some of the red pandas secrets is the availability of expert guides and scientists who are using their tracking skills and intimate knowledge of the red pandas to help eco-tourists to find and observe this wonderful mammal. This is excellent news for the red panda as these scientists work for the RPN and our fees contribute heavily to the continued survival and research of the red panda and their habitat. The RPN have helped to initiate sustainable practises for the local people here and have effectively stopped incidental and poaching of red pandas and now the red pandas are seen as valuable members of the ecosystem now. By employing local people as our guides and our tracking crew and by staying in local style rest house in Dobate village (in the heart of red panda territory) we contribute directly to the sustainable eco-tourism of this amazing location. We also use the latest equipment when it comes to finding red pandas and other wildlife here, from high powered HD spotting scopes, camera traps, spotlights and even night vision and thermal imaging (on request) we ensure you the best chances of spotting red pandas and wildlife on our tour. We also boast an impressive record when it comes to the number of sightings. On our most recent tour we spotted 3 different red pandas. We regularly record lots of mammal species and bird species on this tour and are convinced that any wildlife enthusiast will not be disappointed.

Price Includes:

Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day; during red panda tracking there will be drinking water provided. We have our own private air conditioned 4x4 vehicles with an excellent local driver for all transfers. Internal flights within Nepal are also included in the cost. We use at least 3 brilliant full time guides (where available); first a professional zoologist will escort you throughout the tour as well as two very knowledgeable English speaking local guides. These include Rajiv Padul (one of the leading red panda conservationists and key member of the RP Network) as well as trackers like Phinju and Tashi (local red panda tracking guides who live in the villages where we will be based and are now employed to protect the red panda habitat and have an uncanny knack of finding red pandas). When needed we can hire more guides and trackers to help us in our search but our team is usually more than enough to find the elusive red panda. Your zoologist escort is an expert in mammal biology and behaviour and will be able to help you find, track down red pandas and interpret what behaviours you see from this elusive arboreal mammal. All the excursions including sightseeing in Kathmandu and park entrance fees, permits are also included. We spend as much time as possible inside the red panda habitat as possible to give us the best possible chance of seeing them. We can also bring camera traps with us (on request) which give you the best chance of close up photos or video of red pandas and the other elusive mammals here in their natural environment. We also bring along a spotlight which enables us to look for wildlife (such as leopard cats, yellow-throated martens and civets) after dark. A comprehensive species list (which states the relative chances of seeing animals based on past tours) is included in the pre-departure pack. There is also a reference book library available for your use throughout the trip as well as some documentaries on snow leopards which are available to watch throughout the tour. All of the specialist equipment and the number of experienced guides that we bring ensure that we have an excellent success rate (over 90%) in finding red pandas on this tour.

Season:

Spring and Autumn (Fall) March – May and then October & November. It is possible to go at other times of year (but avoid the monsoon (June – August) please contact us for our scheduled departure dates.
The best (and perhaps only) seasons when red pandas are relatively easy to see in the wild are the shoulder seasons of the monsoon and summer seasons of the far eastern Himalayan foothills. The spring is from mid March to mid May and then the autumn (fall) is from October through to November. The red panda is very intolerant of heat and they do not cope very well in heat over 25C. This means that during the hot summer they are very hard to see as they remain hidden for long parts of the day in tree hollows and on the ground in the shade of tall bamboo growths. During the monsoon the torrential rainfall makes moving around the forested hills dangerous for us and the sightings are also at the lowest as the red pandas spend more time in dense vegetation. This is why we travel in the spring and autumn when the daytime temperatures are cool enough for the red panda to come out onto large branches to sunbathe in the morning and they are more active throughout the day.

Why Choose this Tour:

• We are able to spend all day every day tracking red pandas as we stay in heart of the red panda’s habitat and we have an incredible record of nearly 95% success in spotting red pandas when we travel here during the autumn (fall).
• We offer nocturnal spotlighting, this is the first tour in the Himalayan foothills of eastern Nepal which offers the chance to try and spot mammals such as clouded leopards, leopard cats, Himalayan palm civets at night, when they are most active –although still incredibly hard to find. We can also bring thermal imaging and night vision equipment on request to help increase our chances of spotting these species at night as they hunt.
• We have the expert help from members of the RPN and their conservation areas around here (Rajiv Padul leading red panda researcher and one of the important members of the RPN), as well as expert local guides and trackers such as Phinju and Tashi who are employed to protect the forests here and the animals found in the forests. This team have probably seen more wild red pandas than anyone alive and they actually get very disappointed when we do not see at least one every day! They regularly work with researchers, scientists, conservationists, documentary film makers and zoo captive breeding programmes and are pioneering our increase in knowledge of red pandas.
• We also use the local tracking guides, as mentioned above; they live here and work in these forests all year around and their knowledge of the forest and red pandas is incredible.
• We not only use local expert guides with years of experience in tracking, observing and understanding red pandas but also a professional zoologist (where available) who has tracked and studied endangered and elusive mammals all over the world.
• If requested we can arrange for 2 camera traps (provided by the zoologist) to be used each night in an aim to get close up images and videos of mammals such as leopard cats and maybe clouded leopards – if successful in capturing any elusive species on film you will have given a copy of the images or videos.
• All the above reasons give this tour a great success rate (>90%) of seeing wild red pandas(when we travel in the autumn (fall). Our last tour found 3 different red pandas.
• We have an unrivalled network of experts and guides all over Nepal that are able to find and observe animals like tigers, Asiatic elephants, leopards, water buffalo, king cobras, great hornbills, Gangetic river dolphins, snow leopards, sloth bears, gharial, Indian one-horned rhinos, jungle cats and hundreds other endangered, rare or endemic species throughout this magical land. Whether it is Chitwan, Bardia, Koshi Tappu, Sagamartha, the eastern Himalayan foothills and many other wildlife watching locations you want to visit we can arrange it. Please inform us if you wish to add any Nepalese extensions to the red panda watching itinerary below and we can provide an excellent wildlife watching itinerary and quote for you.
• As our Indian Subcontinent zoologist escort is also our big cat expert zoologist we can arrange specialist cat watching tours throughout the Indian subcontinent, we have 100% in spotting tigers, lions, leopards, desert cats and jungle cats in India as well as 90% success in spotting fishing cats and rusty-spotted cats in Sri Lanka and 70% success in finding wild snow leopards. We also have good locations for clouded leopards, marbled cats, Asiatic golden cats and leopard cats so if cats are your thing we can arrange a specialist cat marathon and hope for over 10 different species of cats.
• Unlike many tour operators we are willing to run this tour for a single person (on request).

Location:

We travel to the foothills of Kanchenjunga, this is the third highest mountain in the world and is located in the north east ‘corner’ or Nepal. We base ourselves in the village of Dobate and can also travel to a nearby village of Hangetam as well. But before we travel to here and into the heart of red panda territory we arrive in the capital of Kathmandu, this is the entry and exit point of the tour. We explore some of the Kathmandu valley at the start at the tour, this is one of the most culturally and historically significant parts of Nepal and we visit some sites before heading to Ilam and onto Dobate.

Fitness Level:

As the tour is predominantly located at altitude (3,000-3,900m) a good level of fitness is required or at least experience at hill walking. However we must stress that all trekking is done at your own pace, the longest treks (in one continuous walk) are around 1 hour and most are usually less than 1 hour.

Equipment:

When you book onto the tour we will send you a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will include a full packing list of recommended equipment. But here is a brief outline of the basics: Your own binoculars or spotting scope is necessary as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes (such as khaki shirts and khaki trousers as well as very warm winter clothes, such as water-proof jackets & trousers, hiking socks, gloves, hats, scarves, fleeces, thermals underwear, long-sleeve polypropylene vests etc. These are not essential but it can get cold during the evenings and night at this altitude and rain is common throughout the year. Broken in and comfortable (waterproof) walking boots with ankle support are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. As there is some power in the park please bring spare batteries for any electrical equipment. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day. Snacks and sugary foods are a good idea, especially if you have any favourites from home that may be difficult to source in Nepal.

Minimum Age: 16 Years Old.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Red Panda tracking tour in Nepal

Environment

It is important to be aware of the fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem, by travelling with a zoologist as well as local guides, the impact on the environment is a minimum. As many things are recycled as possible and we make sure that all signs of our camp are taken back with us to the town and disposed of responsibly.
All our fees go either directly to the forest guardians, red panda trackers or the RPN and therefore to their on going work to protect and conserve the ecosystem here.
Every person booking on this tour will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will outline the do’s and don’ts when on the tour, these guidelines help to increase your chances of seeing wildlife as well as protecting the environment and conserving the area for future generations. All these points are common sense and by following them will increase the enjoyment of the entire tour.
As mentioned about the educational side of the work being carried out here (and supported by joining this tour) is very important both for the local community in providing an alternative source of employment as well as helping to protect the environment by explaining about their importance and the need to conserve them for future generations.
At the end of each we offset our carbon footprint (based on the number of tours we have completed and the number of passengers we have taken with us), with the Carbon Trust.

Wildlife:

The wildlife is of course of the upmost importance to us on this tour and all other tours run by us. All pictures and videos which we take of wild red pandas are handed over to the RPN for their ongoing studies. This helps to keep tabs on the individuals in the area and further understand the behaviour of the species; as the red panda is still far from understood completely, every sighting is invaluable to conservation and research efforts. We also actively campaign against poaching and the illegal fur trade worldwide; we are also keen to report any abuse of the environment or wildlife that we see to the local authorities. The tour also supports efforts to stop poaching and deforestation by employing forest guardians and by donating to their work. We also help support programmes that increase the sustainable use of bamboo (living large tracts of the red pandas food intact) and we also help support their work to make sure that the red pandas ecosystem is better understood and that the local people use the environment in a sustainable way.

Community

The local community benefits directly from this tour in many ways. The most obvious being that the guides, trackers and accommodation owners are all local to the Dobate village and surrounding rural areas. The work that the RPN are doing here in conserving the forest is incredible, they are employing full time guides to become eco-guides as well as forest guardians in control of protecting the forests here. This as made guiding a genuine career prospect which has helped to keep the current generation of men in the villages (as opposed to the migration out of the mountains and into the towns and cities). As well as contributing directly to employing the guides and staying at the local rest houses and tea houses we contribute to the RPN and their forest guardian scheme and their continued educational work conducted for all age groups in rural Nepal. The education side of the work conducted here (and supported by joining this tour) is to raise the level of awareness in local villages surrounding red panda habitat, as well as to raise awareness in the general public worldwide. Communities surrounding red panda habitat are usually marginalized and have inadequate elementary education. This work complements this education through its “forest guardian” program. ‘Forest guardian” workshops are also run that provide educational training about the importance of red panda and the fragility of the Eastern Himalayan ecosystem. At a “forest guardian” workshop community members are trained to perform monthly monitoring of sample plots in each community forest area, documenting presence/absence of red pandas, other wildlife, and take note of changes in vegetation.
All our guests are encouraged to embrace and understand Buddhism and the daily lives of the local people, we find that this is the best way for the local ethos and culture to embed itself into foreigners and as a result the awareness of the area and its people becomes more ingrained in the mindset of tourists.

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