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Trip Summary – Treks and Festivals Bhutan
Bhutan has only recently opened its doors to tourists and the response has been incredible. It’s definitely a country to fall in love with.
This treks and festivals Bhutan adventure takes you on a journey over an ancient and high altitude trade route – a route taken by very few outsiders. Due to its long history of isolation, the prevailing Buddhist culture here is quite unique and traditionally preserved. Definitely worth experiencing in the cities and on the trail.
You’ll trek through marvelous rhododendron forests, cross several mountain passes, and go through many yak herder settlements. Each night you will camp beside clear blue mountain lakes with the most spectacular vistas of Bhutan’s mountainous border with Tibet (a country with whom the Bhutanese have many religious and cultural similarities). The trek will take you as high as Labana Pass at 4235m – from here the views are breathtaking.
You’ll also experience Buddhist culture and a colorful festival complete with masked dancing and lots of laughs and celebration. The Paro Festival is the most famous in all of Bhutan and is marked by three days of carnival atmosphere while 1,000’s gather to watch the monks re-enact the history of their gompa’s through ritual dance. You’ll discover the music and dance, prayers, and history during this exciting festival.
Would you like to:
- Visit the famed Tiger’s Nest Monastery perched on an outcropping overlooking a shear drop to the sea?
- Hike along an ancient and classic traders route?
- Spend four nights camping in tents under beautiful Bhutan skies?
- Experience the colorful festivals for yourself?
- Visit museums, fortresses, and monasteries to learn the history of these amazing people?
- Discover unique wildlife like the Monal Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Blue Sheep, and much more?
- Spend time getting to know the people in the yak herders settlements and learn about their rural way of life?
- View the giant trout in the lake of Jimi Lang Tscho (3880m)?
- See Gangar Punsum, the highest peak in Bhutan?
- Explore the capital city of Thimpu?
This twelve day adventure begins and ends in Kathmandu and you’ll have challenging days of hiking as well as restful and relaxing ones. Moderate fitness is needed but more than this, a sense of adventure and curiosity to see a land little experienced by Westerners will take you far.
Enquire today to learn more about this adventure into mysterious Bhutan.
Start in Kathmandu and transfer to hotel. The evening is free to relax
On our first day of this Treks and Festivals Bhutan trip, we fly to Paro. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view of much of the eastern half of the Himalayas, including Everest, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). After completing visa formalities in Paro, we transfer to our hotel. This afternoon we aim to visit the Paro Dzong and the National Museum above it. Paro Dzong is one of Bhutan’s most impressive, and the finest example of Bhutanese architecture you will see. The inward sloping walls form a massive structure that towers over the town. Built in the 17th century it was one of Bhutan’s strongest and most important fortresses and it was used on several occasions to defend the Paro Valley from invasions by Tibet. The most famous pictures of Paro Dzong are taken from the west bank of the river, just downstream from the bridge. At the top of the hill above the dzong is the old watchtower known locally as Ta Dzong. Inside the museum there is a spectacular collection of thangkas, an extensive philatelic collection, a temple, which depicts the history of Buddhism, ancient bronze and stone objects and displays of weapons captured during the Tibetan invasions. (Please note that if there are flight delays we have time tomorrow to visit the dzong and museum).
Today we will have a warm up hike to Takstang Monastery. Takstang, or ‘Tigers Nest’ Monastery, is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then hike to a viewpoint where there is a small cafe for the classic views of the monastic buildings which cling almost impossibly to the cliff wall opposite. For the energetic there is the chance to walk even higher to the actual monastery. Returning to the hotel we have time in the afternoon to explore Paro town.
After breakfast we have a short drive to the ancient Ta Dzong watchtower (2510m). The first day’s trekking is quite hard as we gain quite a lot of height and it’s uphill all the way. From Ta Dzong it is a gentle one hour climb to a fork in the trail. The trail then climbs steeply up to our camp just below Jele Dzong (3450m). If the weather is clear we can see the whole of the Paro Valley below and in the distance is Chomolhari.
After breakfast we have time to explore the Jele Dzong and we may be lucky to be allowed inside. Our walk begins with a climb through thick rhododendron forest to the Jele La (3490m) and onto a saddle at 3590m. We may even see yak herders here and there are great views of Chomolhari. Look out for the colorful Monal Pheasants which inhabit the forests. The trail climbs the ridge most of the day, through forests of rhododendrons. We camp tonight at the yak herder’s settlement called Jangchu Lakha (3780m).
Today we follow the ridge and on a clear day we have spectacular mountain views particularly of the magnificent Jichudrake. Look out today for Blood pheasants and Blue Sheep. We camp close to the lake of Jimi Lang Tscho (3880m), well known for its giant trout.
Today’s Treks and Festivals Bhutan day is a long but great day’s walk with good mountain views. The trail undulates all day through the dwarf rhododendron forest and past Janye Tscho Lake. Passing Simtoka Lake we arrive at our camp at Labana (4130m). Far below us is the Thimpu Valley.
The trail today climbs gradually up to the Labana Pass at 4235m (the highest point of this trek) from here we traverse the hillside with great mountain views. On a clear day we should see Gangar Punsum, the highest mountain in Bhutan and Kanchenjunga. A long descent through forests of blue pine brings us past Phajoding monastery to the end of our trek at Motithang, just above Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. We should reach our hotel by mid afternoon. The evening is free to explore Thimpu.
We spend most of today visiting the main sights of the town including the Tashichho Dzong, which is the center of the Bhutanese Governement, the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honor the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Simtokha dzong and a painting school. In the late afternoon we have a short (1hour) drive back to Paro.
We spend all of today at the spectacular Paro festival. This is the most famous festival in Bhutan and thousands of people gather to see the monks dressed in colorful brocade, silk costumes and wearing painted masks re-enact the story of the gompa’s particular divinity though music and dance. For several days there are masked dances, prayer meetings and a general carnival atmosphere prevails as many villagers arrive to meet old friends.
Today we fly back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free to explore the temples and markets of Kathmandu or go shopping. We have several sightseeing tours on offer (see the notice board in the hotel in Kathmandu), or you may want to explore Kathmandu on your own. The Kathmandu Durbar Square is full of ancient temples and palaces. You may want to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath or the largest Hindu temple in Nepal at Pashupatinath or the one of the largest Buddhist stupas in Asia at Bodnath. Once you have had your fill of culture the colorful markets of Thamel are great for souvenir hunting.
Trip ends after breakfast
Additional Trip Notes:
Start point: Paro
Finish point: Kathmandu
Your rooms for Treks and Festivals Bhutan will be simple, as tourism in the country is still in its infancy.
Breakfast – AllLunch – 9
Dinner – 9
The meals in the hotels on this Treks and Festivals Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. The food in Bhutan can sometimes be a bit bland. The meals on trek are a mixture of Bhutanese, western and Chinese. Please allow approx. GBP20-25 (USD35-45) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.
For this Treks and Festivals Bhutan trip the groups are mad up of adults. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
For this Treks and Festivals Bhutan trip, you are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.
Vaccinations and Visa:
British passport holders need a visa for Nepal: this can be arranged before departure or on arrival. All nationalities require a visa for Bhutan: The Trip Operator will arrange this visa for you, and this is included in the price of the trip.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for this trip. Recommended vaccinations for this trip are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. We are advised that there is no risk of malaria on this trip. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited on this trip. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes.
This Treks and Festivals Bhutan trip covers the best Bhutan has to offer. First we visit the idyllic Paro valley, with its impressive dzong, unique Bhutanese architecture and sleepy town centre. We also visit Thimpu the capital, having time to see the imposing government buildings and the curio shops in the town centre. The trek is a classic Himalayan trekking route. You can generally expect good service on the trek. This trip is for those would like to combine the cultural highlights of Bhutan with beautiful Himalayan walking.
Weather & seasonality:
You will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. During the day temperatures will be approx. 10degC-20degC. At night in autumn it may reach freezing but the temperature will normally be around 3degC-4degC. Although these departures do not fall inside the normal monsoon season there is always a chance of rain in Bhutan and you should be prepared for this. If it rains on trek the trails become very muddy. There can sometimes be unseasonable snowfall at the higher altitudes on trek. The temperatures are warmer in spring than in autumn.
Dates & Rates
- Fri 22 Sep 17 – Tue 03 Oct 17 FULLY BOOKED
- Tue 17 Oct 17 – Sat 28 Oct 17
GBP £3,099 ex flights / GBP £3,899 with UK Rtn Flights
- All breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners
- All accommodation
- London flights (if booking incl. flights)
- Airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Single accommodation – GBP410
“If you’re looking for a company with experience you can’t beat these guys. This operator started life in February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.
For the company, and people who work for them “it’s all about adventure” which is what they were founded on and what they are still about today. Their trips take place all around the world where they help travelers to delve into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to a country’ unique identity.
We love that their groups and guides travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise the impact, to ensure that every holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.”
Treks and Festivals Bhutan
- Trip Code: AWA152
- Dates: Sept, Oct
- Price: From £3,099
- Depart: Paro
- Arrive: Kathmandu
- Length: 12 Days
- Adventure: experience Bhutan’s fascinating culture and its colourful festivals on this small group activity holiday adventure
“This is a great trip to get an introductory into Bhutan; culture, trekking and amazing scenery, what more could you want?”