The trip to this birding paradise Latpanchor, the highest point of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary was a sudden overnight plan and just a weekend visit plan. The trip starts with reaching New Jalpaiguri station early morning on day 1, where we had our car (apna desi tata sumo) waiting for pick up. On the way we stopped to have our breakfast comprising of yummy steamed momos and off we went towards our destination, Latpanchor. With the road conditions deteriorating as we started our ascend towards Latpanchor after taking a turn from the highway. After around 2 hours of jumping and rocking we reached our haven for the night, Hornbillnest Homestay run by Padam Gurung and family. The day wasnt one of the best days for birding (with heavy cloud cover and drizzling rains), we settled in our rooms and relishing the cloudy mountains as visible from the balcony. After lunch as we made up our minds to rest indoors for the day and enjoy our view with tea and pakodas, that is when our assigned birding guide came to call us for going on a short birding trip to the nearby forest area, in the upper Mahananda WLS as the rains had stopped. As me and my friend wanted to just stay indoors and enjoy the calm and cold, our better halves (the birding enthusiasts) geared up for their first birding session. Although the session wasn't completely a waste but not a great success as well. After enjoying the home cooked dinner we all went to bed with the hope of waking up to a sunny morning the next day.
Day 2 started as we happened to accidentally wake up in the wee hours of the morning (to answer natures call), we were dumbfounded by the sheer beauty that nature behold outside our window. Even in the freezing cold we couldn't resist from grabbing our phones and cameras and rushing outside to capture the beauty of nature's canvas as the sun started to rise and the horizon burst into a canvas of colors. After enjoying the full sunrise along with a hot cup of tea served at the right time, it was time to get ready for the next birding session. Thanking our good lords for the bright sunny morning we all started our hike with good hopes in our minds in search of the rare birds. A long lazy morning hike and a good amount of great captures and some good finds like grey treepie, Blue throated barbet, maroon oriole, asian barred owlet, the much rare red headed trogon and many more made the day a successful one but it was also the day to bid goodbye. After a hearty outdoor breakfast we were informed by our guide about the next plan, which was to get ready and leave by noon and go to Ahal Dara the viewpoint for Kanchenjunga and then continue with birding while on the way down to New Jalpaiguri. We all stuck to the timeline and managed to reach Ahal Dara well in time, that is before the clouds could catch us. The view from Ahal Dara was magnificent in one word. A view of the Himalayas has proved time and again to be the best medicine to calm me down to the inner core. After spending some good amount of time we moved on for the 3rd session of birding in the lower Mahananda wildlife sanctuary as we descend to Siliguri. But the rain gods didnt seem to have a good day and the weather again started becoming foggy and cloudy, although I was the one who was enjoying this weather as much I enjoyed the morning sun. After passing though some quiet villages, tea gardens and hilly streams(kholas in local language) we had our lunch stop quite late in the afternoon. The lunch comprised of wai wai instant noodles with egg and a cup of hot darjeeling tea for all. Finally we moved on and reached Siliguri by the evening and bid adieu to our guide and driver, who were among the best I am sure.