No. 3 Nepal and Bhutan
Ktm-Paro 13 days, 12 nights
A wonderful introduction to the splendour of the range of classic Himalayan culture, people and landscape. You see the lushness of the foothills as well as the wonderful subtropical-alpine meeting. There are temples and palace squares with art rich and varied beyond all imagination, and monasteries where the air, redolent with the odours of butter lamps and juniper incense, carries through the wind centuries of tradition. The fluttering prayer flags everywhere are the most obvious expression of the spirituality and faith that permeates every aspect of the lives of Bhutanese Buddhists. In Nepal, the cosmopolitan history of the Newars of Kathmandu Valley comes alive in the sophisticated palace squares, while in Bhutan's Thimpu you see one of the last remaining capitals of the world that truly have not changed much. Also fascinating in Bhutan is how old, indeed some very old and distinctive, fortresses used in the past to help defend the sovereignty of the country, are used in government to this day, as administrative centres. The more time you spend in Bhutan, the more you get lulled into the absolute serenity of its landscape, all emerald green, bright flowers, and looming icy peaks, as well as see the intersection of religious, social, political, and economic reasons that make it such a throwback - modernising but on its own, often very ceremonial or tradition-bound, terms. You see this in everything from the absolute prevelance of the national dress, to the continued use of buildings with dense previous political histories.
Day 1: Arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport and transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Free day in kathmandu,night at hotel.
Day 3: Free day in kathmandu,night at hotel.
Day 4: The flight out to Paro (2,400 m), Bhutan, is on a clear day one of the msot spectacular mountain flights you can do, with great views of Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Ganesh Himal, Kanchenjunga, and many other 6-7,000 m peaks in Nepal, as well as Chomolhari (7,300 m), the highest peak in Bhutan. A drive through the lovely, verdant Paro valley from the airport brings you to your hotel.
Day 5: The main manmade sights in Bhutan are forts - impressive white painted keep-at-bay walls guard palaces large and small. What monasteries are to a Tibet trip, forts, or dzong are to Bhutan. Some of the country's finest forts are in and around Paro, including the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (2,580m). On a clear day Chomolhari looms large over you from this vantage point, which is also notable for having been in the 17th century at the vanguard of repelling Tibetan invaders. Also on the cards os a visit to the Ta Dzong, a four century-old watchtower that now houses the National Museum. It has a fine collection of ancient Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and artifacts. Finally, a visit to the Paro Bazaar is always entertaining, as you walk through the stalls wondering what on earth half of those items are.
Day 6: Drive along the pretty way to Sartsham Chhorten. From there, tractable, well broken-in horses take you up in two hours to the Taktsang Lhakhang, also known as the Tiger's Nest monastery. An incredible sight - the monastery is some 3,300 m off the valley floor, seemingly attached to the cliffside by no more than magnets - gains in power amd mystery when you know why this is such an important sacred spot for Bhutanese Buddhists. The monastery, which was badly damaged in a fire recently, is said to be where Padmasambhava, the Indian monk and teacher who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet, rode astride a tiger to convert the pagan demons of the valley. A leisurely, easy trek down rounds off a perfect day. A short, pleasant drive brings you to Mendeygang, where you spend the night.
Day 7: While Thimpu is the capital used by the current ruling dynasty, there have been other capitals before. Paro was one, but the more interesting is at Punakha, which lies over a high-ish pass at the intersection of two rivers called the Male River and the Female River. The Punakha Dzong, while remaining one of the most important administrative centres of Bhutan, is also the winter residence of one of the major players in the ruling of Bhutan, the Monk Body and its Chief Abbot. A few kilometres away is another important dzong, the Wangdiphudrong, which was built just a year after the one at Punakha, in 1638. Today this is the district administrative headquarters as well as that for the district Monk Body.
Day 8: Another short drive through lovely subalpine country to meander through a classic Bhutanese valley, Phubjikha. There are flowers and forests galore here, as well as a well-preserved traditional way of life complete with dress, houses, and everyday habits. Also
visit the Gangtey Dzong, now a gomba, which is the only Nyingma school monastery in this part of the country. Spend the night at Mendeygang.
Day 9: It's a scenic 65-km drive to the capital, Thimpu, where you'll have time to take on the large three stoey memorial chhorten. The main manmade sights in Bhutan are forts - impressive white painted keep-at-bay walls guard palaces large and small. What monasteries are to a Tibet trip, forts, or dzong are to Bhutan. Visit the Tashicho Dzong, the Fortress of Auspicious Religion, which currently houses the government secretariat (the Bhutanese equivalent of an appointed parliament). If we're lucky with the permit process, you can go inside, otherwise it will be just the grounds and up-close views of the traditional building. In the evening you'll be treated to a special cultural performance over dinner, with music, dance, traditional costume etc.
Day 10: The palace in the Dechencholing valley remains in use and is considered the most fitting invitation to extemd to a high-ranking respect. This palace/ dzong has been maintained in excellent condition, and this a good sample of what the king's vision for Bhutan - keep the old and add the new. After attending a dance performance in the afternoon, there's time to roam the easy, sans traffic light streets and bazaar of Thimpu. Later, drive back to Paro through the lush landscape, absorbing the positively anachronistic feel of the country, its capital and countryside.
Day 11: Fly back to Kathmandu. There is time built in today for you to explore on your own, look around, and go shopping. night at hotel.
Day 12 Free day in kathmandu,night at hotel.
Day 13: Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Cost on your request
The above cost includes:
· Airport-hotel transfer at arrival and departure
· Accommodation in Nepal with breakfast as described in itinerary
· Full board in Bhutan as per program, including lunch and dinner
· Land transport as described in itinerary, with private transportation where applicable
· All sightseeing with an English-speaking guide
· All city/ monument /monastery entrance fees
· The services of our support staff
· All trekking and camping equipment including Gamow bags (to alleviate severe altitude sickness), tents, sleeping bags, and oxygen cylinders
The above cost does not include:
· Air fare KTM/PARO/KTM at US$390 per person
· Bhutan visa fee US$30 to be paid on arrival
· Nepal visa fee US$30 to be paid on arrival
· Airport taxes
· Your international flight into and out of Nepal
· Travel insurance
· Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu (US$4-8 per day)
· Tips, souvenirs or other shopping
· Photography and/ or videography charges in the monasteries and other tourist attractions.
· Personal expenses incurred for drinks, snacks, tips, etc
· Any extra cost involved on the road should there be an unavoidable delay due to, for example, a landslide or similar unforeseeable events.
· Rescue/ evacuation and any additions costs associated with being split from the main group or from a serious health condition
Please note : The airfare,visa fee are subject to change without prior notice.
Risk & Liability:
We , Tin - Tin Trekking do our best to ensure that you have a smooth and pleasant journey. When travelling to Bhutan, you should, however, be aware that all tours/trekking there are run strictly as per conditions set by the Bhutan Tourism Authority. Therefore neither Tin -Tin Trekking or its agents shall not be responsible for any change or cancellation of program due to unavoidable circumstances such as a road blockade, a flood, snow, unrest, cancellation of flight, delay in arrival of clients, sickness or accidents, and breakdown of vehicles. Any extra cost incurred as a result of any such occurrence will be borne by the clients on the spot. It is most important that clients have full medical and personal accident risk insurance.