Flora and Fauna
Home to some of the world’s most endangered species like the Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, wild buffalo, wild dog, common leopard, Black Panther, marveled cat, golden cat and others, Royal manas Park is one of the biological hotspots of the world. It is also home to the Leopard and Chinese pangolin and species endemic to the Eastern Himalayan foothills, such as golden langur, capped langur, pygmy hog and hispid hare.
Five different vegetation types which consist of tropical monsoon forest, subtropical broadleaved forest, warm broadleaved forest, cool broadleaved forest and evergreen oak forest augments the park’s biodiversity. The largely pristine forest, covers approximately 92% of the area.
The park’s richness in avifauna and others are embodied in the 530 species of birds that have been recorded so far, highest among all protected areas. Globally endangered species such as the Rufous-necked hornbill and Pallas fish eagle, and 14 other species have been recorded in the park.
The chestnut-breasted partridge is another endangered bird found here. In addition, more than 900 species of vascular plants have been recorded in the park. Several of these species have economic, medicinal, traditional, and religious significances.
Day 1: Gomphu – Pangtang
Located at an altitude of 1,457 meters above sea level, Gomphu is the first eco-camp, which can be accessed from Zhemgang or Gelephu. It is a 3 hours journey from Zhemgang and 5 hours from Gelephu. Located just above Gomphu Park Range Office, the eco-camp has all facilities, including two eco-lodges, two bathroom and toilets, dinning, kitchen, water supply and camping facilities.
Hikers can choose whether to use the traditional route while hiking from Gomphu to Panbang. It takes approximately four and half hours. Hiking along the motorable road takes about an hour. The eco-trail passes through mixed broad leaf forests and thick under-growths with numerous birds such as barbets, hornbills, bulbuls, doves, wood pecker and cuckoos.
The traditional route commences with a descent for about an hour and half, followed by an ascents for another hour before gently descenting again. Comoparatively, the road has a well maintained slope and is much easier than the traditional route. One can even ride a bike from Gomphu to Pangtang.
The lunch spot is at Mamung, approximately half way to Pangtang. Mamung has a sparse polulation and mandarin is grown in winter. The trekking trail actually descents further until Pangtang which is at the level of Mangdi chhu.
Day 2: Pangtang – Shilingtoe
Pangtang lies at an altitude of 239 meters above sea level. The trail starts with a gentle descent and occasional short climbs. The entire trek takes about four hours and the last leg before reaching Shilingtoe ecocamp is a climb for over half an hour. The trail is a bird watcher’s paradise, where birds such as thrushes, drongos, hornbills, partridges, pheasants, bulbuls, tree pies, barbets, eagles, fowls and other species dwell.
Day 3: Shilingtoe to Pangbang
Shilingtoe is located at an altitude of 420 meters above sea level. Birds such as bulbuls, barbets, thrushes, hornbills, kingfisher, cormorant, wagtails, trogons and many other species can be seen along the trail between Shilingtoe to Pangbang. The hike from Shilingtoe to Changazam suspension bridge takes about 3 hours and en-route one can see religious caves, and a twin waterfall (Lelang). From Changazam, there is a motorable road to Panbang which connects to the Indian Manas Tiger Reserve.
Shilingtoe eco-camp, Shilingtoe village
After reaching Panbang, one could also exit via the Indian region of Manas to Phuntsholing, Gelephu or Samdrupjongkhar.
Day 4: Pangbang to Norbugang
The camp site at Pangbang is located at a place called Anilademba at the junction of Mangdi Chhu and Dangme Chhu at an altitude of 160 meters above sea level. It is now connected with motorable road to Panbang which connects to the Indian Manas Tiger Reserve.
The same road is also one of the entry and exit points to the Royal Manas National Park from the Indian Territory. Panbang communities celebrate their annual tsechu from the 8th to 10th day of the 11th Bhutanese month. Various mask dances are performed at the Sonam Choeling Dratsang.
The other attractions at Panbang and Manas in Bhutan include boating, river rafting, elephant rides and wildlife watching. The Park Range Office at Manas coordinates these services. While boating and river rafting along the Manas River, one can see goral, capped langurs, cormorants and many other bird species besides the beautiful landscape.
Norbugang can be reached either from Manas in Bhutan or from Nanglam under Pemagatsel Dzongkhag. The trek between Pangbang- Norbugang takes approximately six hours and is the longest trek of all. Most of the birds sighted along the Shilingtoe-Pangbang eco-trail are also found along Pangbang-Norbugang eco-trail. The eco-camp at Norbugang is located at a place called Dorji Jadram. The road from Nanglam to Pangbang has reached till Tsheshengzor, with another two and half hours walk to the camp.
This road is also one of the entry and exit points to reach Royal Manas National Park.
After Norbugang, one can also exit via Nanglam and Samdrupjongkhar