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VIETNAM

30 March–21 April 2022

Vietnam has developed into a thriving country with a good infrastructure and a highly-desirable list of birds including 13 endemics. Join us as we explore several of the country’s stunning national parks in search of such mouth-watering species as Bar-bellied and Blue Pittas and endemics such as Collared, Orange-breasted and Chestnut-eared Laughingthrushes, Vietnamese Cutia, Grey-crowned Crocias and Vietnamese Greenfinch.

Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 2 On arrival at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport we will transfer by road to Cat Tien National Park, 150 km to the north. Cat Tien National Park contains the largest remaining area of lowland tropical forest in southern Vietnam and an incredible diversity of birds and mammals. Endangered birds found at Cat Tien include Germain’s Peacock-pheasant, Green Peafowl and the elusive Orange-necked Partridge while the mammal list includes Leopard Cat, Lesser Mousedeer, Gaur and three beautiful primates: Black-shanked Douc Langur, Silvered Langur and Buff-cheeked Gibbon. Four nights at Cat Tien National Park.

Days 3–5 We have three full days of birding at Cat Tien National Park, one of south-east Asia’s premier birding sites. There are excellent trails starting right at the park headquarters and for areas further afield, such as Crocodile Lake, jeeps are used. Cat Tien is well known among birders as the place to see two spectacular jewels of the forest floor: Bar-bellied and Blue-rumped Pittas. The beautiful Siamese Fireback can also often be seen on an early morning drive. The park has an impressive bird list and among our other target species here will be Chinese Francolin, Scaly-breasted Partridge, Red Junglefowl, Woolly-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Black-crowned Night-heron, Oriental Darter, Collared Falconet, Black Baza, Black-shouldered Kite, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Crested Serpent-eagle, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple (Black-backed) Swamphen, Red-wattled Lapwing, Bronze-winged Jacana, Oriental Pratincole, Emerald Dove, Ashy-headed Green-pigeon, Orange-breasted, Pink-necked and Thick-billed Pigeons, Green Imperial-pigeon, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Red-breasted Parakeet, Asian Emerald and Violet Cuckoos, Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo, Asian Koel, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater and Lesser Coucals, Collared Scops-owl, Asian Barred Owlet, Brown Boobook, Blyth’s Frogmouth, Great Eared- and Large-tailed Nightjars, Germain’s Swiftlet, Orange-breasted Trogon, Indian Roller, Dollarbird, Banded, Stork-billed, White- throated and Pied Kingfishers, Blue-bearded and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Oriental Pied-hornbill, Great and Wreathed Hornbills, Red-vented, Green-eared and Blue-eared Barbets, White-bellied, Pale-headed, Black-and-buff, Heart-spotted and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Dusky, Black-and-red and Banded Broadbills, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Brown-rumped and Scarlet Minivets, Black-hooded Oriole, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Racket-tailed Treepie, Van Hasselt’s and Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Blue-winged and Golden-fronted Leafbirds, Asian Golden Weaver, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Golden-crested Myna, Pied Bushchat, Tickell’s Blue-flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and Grey-faced Tit-babbler.

Day 6 There will be time for some final early morning birding at Cat Tien National Park before we head up Highway 20 through tea and coffee plantations to the cooler climes of Di Linh. A short drive from Di Linh town, a forested mountain pass known as Deo Suoi Lanh is an excellent site to look for several Dalat Plateau specialities including Black-hooded, White-cheeked and Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes and the near-endemic Black-headed Parrotbill. After an afternoon’s birding at Deo Suoi Lanh we will return to Di Linh for the night.

Day 7 We will make an early morning visit to Deo Suoi Lanh to look for other exciting possibilities, which could include Bar-backed Partridge, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Blue Pitta, Indochinese Green-magpie, Spotted Forktail, Green Cochoa, Black-chinned Yuhina and Spot-throated and Collared Babblers, before continuing along Highway 20 to the former French hill station of Dalat. In the afternoon we will make the first of several visits to the Ta Nung Valley, a small but bird-filled area of remnant evergreen forest 10 km from Dalat. This is the most accessible site for the rare, restricted-range Vietnamese endemic, Grey-crowned Crocias. In addition to the much-sought-after crocias, this site is a great place to see the very distinct local subspecies of Blue-winged Minla, Black-headed Sibia and Black-throated Sunbird. Four nights at Dalat.

Days 8–10 There are several other excellent birding sites around Dalat. At Mount Lang Bian, a 2,169m-high peak 20 minutes’ drive from Dalat, the long list of target species includes Silver Pheasant, Black Eagle, Large Cuckooshrike, Long-tailed Minivet, Eurasian Jay, Gould’s Sunbird, Hume’s Treecreeper, Lesser Shortwing, Large Niltava, Little Pied and Mugimaki Flycatchers, Yellow-cheeked and Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Tits, Kloss’s and Blyth’s Leaf Warblers, Vietnamese Cutia and Black-crowned Fulvetta. The biggest attraction at Mount Lang Bian, however, is the beautiful and skulking endemic Collared Laughingthrush. Ho Tuyen Lam, a man-made lake on the outskirts of the town, is a great place to look for some of the local pine specialists including Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Slender-billed Oriole, Burmese Shrike, Red Crossbill and the endemic Vietnamese Greenfinch.

Day 11 This morning we will leave Dalat after an early breakfast for the scenic drive north to Yok Don National Park in Daklak Province. We will arrive in time for lunch at the park canteen before setting out to explore the banks of the Srepok River and the dry, deciduous forests of Yok Don. Specialities here that are not easily seen elsewhere in Vietnam include Rufous-winged Buzzard, White-rumped Falcon, Yellow-footed Pigeon, Alexandrine and Blossom-headed Parakeets, Fulvous-breasted, Rufous-bellied and Black-headed Woodpeckers, Small Minivet, Purple Sunbird, Red-billed Blue-magpie and Rufous Treepie. Yok Don is also the only known site in Vietnam for the recently described near-endemic Mekong Wagtail. Overnight at Yok Don National Park.

Day 12 There will be time for some early morning birding at Yok Don before we set off on the scenic drive north to Mang Den in Kontum Province with a lunch stop en route. We will arrive at Mang Den in time for some late afternoon birding in the bird-filled patches of remnant evergreen forest around the town. Two nights at Mang Den.

Day 13 We will have a full day of birding in the extensive broadleaved evergreen forest around Mang Den where the recently discovered and seldom-seen endemic, Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, is the star bird and our number one target. Other specialties of the Mang Den area include the scarce and nomadic Pale-capped Pigeon, White-winged Magpie, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Indochinese Wren-babbler and Green-tailed Sunbird.

Day 14 Sadly, we have to leave Mang Den mid-morning, but before our departure we will spend a final few hours birding around the area, looking for some of the other species that are uncommon elsewhere in Vietnam; these may include Pale Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Parrotbill and Rufous-faced Warbler. Overnight at Tu Mo.

Day 15 A full day exploring the forest around Mt Ngoc Linh. The main target here is the Vietnamese endemic Golden-winged Laughingthrush, a bird seen by very few birders since its discovery in the 1990s. Other exciting possibilities at Ngoc Linh include Ashy Wood-pigeon, Green (Eye-ringed) Shrike-babbler, Black-crowned Barwing (an Indochinese endemic discovered only in 1996), Black-eared Parrotbill, Indochinese and Rufous-winged Fulvettas, White-winged Magpie and Red-tailed Laughingthrush. In the late afternoon drive to Dak To for the night to allow an earlier arrival at Bach Ma the following morning. Overnight at Dak To.

Day 16 After an early breakfast, we will depart Dak To to Bach Ma National Park where we will spend the whole day birding. Targets here will include the endemic Vietnamese sub-species of Green-legged Partridge known as Annam Partridge, Rufous-throated Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Indochinese Green-magpie, Long-tailed Broadbill, Sultan Tit, Blue-throated and White-gorgeted Flycatchers, Grey-cheeked Warbler, Golden Babbler, the near-endemic Short-tailed Scimitar-babbler and Indochinese Wren-babbler and Black-throated Laughingthrush. At dusk we will try for Mountain Scops-owl before driving the short distance to Phu Loc for the night.

Day 17 After breakfast we will leave Phu Loc to make the long drive north to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, arriving around lunchtime. After lunch we will begin to explore the limestone forest within the Park. The main targets here are the Indochinese endemic Sooty Babbler, which lives on the limestone outcrops, the rare and restricted-range Red-collared Woodpecker and the recently split Limestone Leaf Warbler. Phong Nha-Ke Bang is also home to two of Vietnam’s endangered primates: Ha Tinh Langur and the beautiful Red-shanked Douc Langur. Two nights in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

Day 18 We will spend another whole day within the National Park, looking for any species we may have missed or seen poorly yesterday.

Day 19 We will leave Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park after breakfast for the eight-hour drive north up Highway One to Cuc Phuong National Park, taking rest stops and lunch en route. The first national park to be established in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong is an area of limestone hills covered in primary rainforest. The best birding is in the centre of the park where there are several excellent trails including the Loop Trail and the Valley Trail. The main road through the park can also be very productive. Three nights at Cuc Phuong National Park.

Days 20–21 We have two full days to explore Cuc Phuong where specialities include Pied Falconet, Red-headed Trogon, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Eared Pitta, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-tailed Robin, White-tailed Flycatcher, Fujian Niltava and Limestone Wren-babbler.

Day 22 We will spend a final morning birding in the Cuc Phuong area before departing for Hanoi. En route we will make a stop at Van Long Nature Reserve, where we will take a sampan through flooded rice fields to the dramatic limestone cliffs that are home to the largest population of one of Vietnam’s critically endangered primates, Delacour’s Langur. From here we will continue to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport to catch our evening flight back to the UK, arriving on Day 23.

General Information The climate can vary from hot and humid in the lowlands to cool in the mountains and the northern regions. Rain is possible in the central and northern regions. The tour pace is moderate with generally easy walks, mostly on level ground. There are health requirements and you must consult your GP. Accommodation is in twin-bedded rooms in medium-standard hotels.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 10 with 2 leaders.

Grey-crowned Crocias

Grey-crowned Crocias

Recommended books available from NHBS