Join us for a journey-of-a-lifetime to visit red pandas in the wild! This trip will take you into the cloud forests and communities of the Himalayas. 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.
We’ll hike through some of the Eastern Himalayas most pristine forests in search of one of Asia’s most elusive mammals; the red panda. We’ll also look out for bears, clouded leopards, wolves, monkeys/macaques, and other rare mammal 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. All trip lodging and food, porters, nature guides, local travel, and supplies is provided by local sources which supports ecotourism, as well as sustainable employment opportunities for the people of these communities. Your trip payment also directly supports our community-based conservation initiatives including our Forest Guardian program, which employs local people as professional forest stewards.
In addition to our Red Panda Ecotrips, we also offer Eco Zoo Trips and Phototrips:
This is a discounted opportunity for zoo staff and volunteers from around the world to join Red Panda Network and zookeeper Sarah Jones on a spectacular 12 day adventure into the forests and mountains of Nepal to experience red pandas in the wild. Trips typically open to public if they are not full three months before trip dates.
Join Rafael Salvador, co-manager of Photofox Adventures, and Red Panda Network on a journey of a lifetime. This will be a unique opportunity to develop your photography skills and to foster your enthusiasm and respect for the natural world.
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.
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.
“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