Join us for a week-long trek in Nepal to visit red pandas in the wild!
Come with us and be prepared for a unique wildlife and cultural experience as we immerse ourselves within the Nepali communities set amongst the incredible cloud forests of the Himalaya’s. You will see breathtaking views of Mount Kangchenjunga and Mount Everest and will be exploring one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, which is home to the elusive Nepalese Red Panda.
We’ll hike through some of the Eastern Himalayas most pristine red panda habitat in search of one of Asia’s most elusive mammals; the red panda. We’ll also look out for bears, rare clouded leopards, wolves, monkeys/macaques, and other threatened mammals and bird species.
You will experience the gentle hospitality of these villages family homestays and tea houses, which are far removed from mass tourism. You’ll see first hand our community-based conservation work, and how your stay benefits directly our most important conservation partners: the rural communities who need alternatives to forest exploitation.
When you participate in a Red Panda Network ecotrip you are directly supporting red panda conservation. Only local sources are hired for trips including lodging and food, porters, nature guides, local travel, and supplies. This directly supports local ecotourism and sustainable employment opportunities, which helps to foster red panda and wildlife stewardship among Himalayan communities.
You will also be supporting our community-based research, education and outreach, and sustainable development programs including our Forest Guardian program, which employs locals as professional forest stewards.
Arrive at Kathmandu airport (1332 m) and be greeted then transported to your accommodations. Guided site seeing, meeting and dinner with RPN team and trip debriefing.
45 minute flight to Bhadrapur (96 m), with spectacular views of the Himalayas. Then we travel by road to Ilam (1205 m) and begin our journey north into the mountains, passing tea gardens and Nepali communities. Overnight hotel stay in Ilam, overlooking tea gardens.
Guesthouse in Ilam district town
Leave Ilam after breakfast, bird watching and then drive higher into red panda habitat. We arrive at Dobato (perched on a mountain ridge-2655 m) in the late afternoon, the village closest to red panda habitat and our base for the next four nights. Light hike in the evening for bird and mammal watching. Overnight homestay at Dobato.
Day Four, Five & Six
The next two days we will wake up early to begin tracking red pandas in the alpine temperate forests with RPN Forest Guardians. We will also likely see other mammal and bird species throughout the day. We will stop in local homes for lunch and hot refreshments and immerse ourselves in the community with fun tasks in the evenings. 2 nights home stays in Dobato.
Red panda spotted during ecotrip. Photo credit: Christopher Robert Scharf
Leave Dobato after having breakfast and track red pandas along the way. Lunch at Kalpokhari (3026 m) on the Nepal and India border in the afternoon with beautiful elevated views of the Mai River Valley. Hike up to the highest peak in the Singhalila range (3636 m), with breathtaking sunsets over Mt Kanchenjunga and Mt Everest. Overnight stay in a hotel at Sandakpur.
Rising in the early morning we make our way to vantage points for the panoramic view of the impressive Himalayas during sunrise. After breakfast and refreshing we hike back down to Dobato for lunch, and then drive back to Ilam
Sunrise view from Sandakpur
Our last day, departing Ilam after breakfast by road for the return journey back to Kathmandu. Group farewell dinner in the evening.
Words From A Eco-Tripper
“The eco-trip experience with the Red Panda Network was a rewarding, unforgettable experience. The aim was to not only be able to get a rare sighting of the endangered Red Panda, but to also experience first-hand the surrounding landscapes and intact communities that comprise the region. Our group began our trekking tour in the tea-estate town of Ilam in Eastern Nepal and trekked along the Singhalila Ridgeline, camping amidst the rhododendron forests and in Nepali-owned teahouses. Along the way, we visited with forest guardians and communities who were involved with helping the organization work towards preserving the surrounding forests and species. In this spectacular region, we were able to view Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, and the Buddhist and Hindu temples that have stood for centuries. The eco-trip allowed us to view unique places and see rare wildlife. The team ran the tour in a responsible, conscious way, we felt we were benefiting, rather than taking away from, the social and conservation efforts Nepal is working so hard to achieve.”
Mei-Ling is a writer, travel guidebook author, advocacy journalist and international development worker. She contributed to the Bradt Madagascar Travel Guide and is currently writing the Bradt Senegal Travel Guide. Learn more about Mei-Ling and her work