Himalayan scenery

Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon

12 days
from
6,025 CAD
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Traveller ratings
4.5 / 5 from 17 reviews >
Trip code: 
TBC
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Walking & Trekking Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Hike the most popular trekking path in Bhutan

This trip takes us on a journey along an ancient, high-level, trade route in a country visited by only a lucky few. We trek through splendid rhododendron forests, past yak herder settlements, across several passes and camp beside clear, blue, mountain lakes with spectacular views of the peaks which border Tibet. We also experience Bhutan’s fascinating culture and on specific departures, its colourful festivals with masked dances and general joviality. Note that different departures follow different itineraries - see 'is this trip for you' for more details.

Highlights

  • A short classic trek through the beautiful Bhutanese countryside
  • An opportunity to gain an insight into the culture of the people
  • Two most famous and colourful cultural highlights; the Paro Dzong and Thimpu's Memorial Chorten
  • Witness Bhutan's colourful, vibrant festivals (on festival departures)
  • Visit the incredible Taktsang 'Tiger's Nest' Monastery
  • Free transfers for any flight

Key information

  • 7 nights hotels and 4 nights full-service camping in two-person tents
  • 5 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus tour leader and local staff. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 4235m, average 3654m
  • Travel by private minibus 
  • Paro and Thimphu Festival departures available (see dates and prices for details)

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Bhutanese visa

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request - limited availability)
  • Nepalese visa or vaccinations
Call us on
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

5

Pace:

Moderate: 5-6km/3-4miles an hour

Terrain:

High altitude; good paths with some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 39.0km/6.0miles
Day 410.0km/6.0miles
Day 58.0km/4.0miles
Day 69.0km/5.0miles
Day 710.0km/6.0miles
Day 810.0km/6.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kathmandu
to
Kathmandu
  • Day 1

    Arrive Kathmandu

    Land in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax.

    Royal Singi Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Fly to Paro; visit Paro Dzong and museum

    We fly to Paro today. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view (from the left hand side of the plane) of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest,Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). After completing visa formalities in Paro, we transfer to our hotel. The Paro valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Its blue pine-covered hills and attractive, solidly built farmhouses among the paddy fields are dominated by the massive dzong, or fort.

    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. Formally the meeting hall for the National Assembly, the dzong now houses a monastic school and district government offices. Scenes from the 1995 film 'Little Buddha' were filmed in the dzong. West of the dzong a traditional wooden covered bridge called Nyamal Zam, a reconstruction of the original bridge, which was washed away in a flood in 1969. 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. Originally built in 1656, it was renovated in 1968 by King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk to house the National Museum. Damaged by the earthquake in 2011, the museum is housed at the present time in a new building above the Ta Dzong. Inside the museum there are collections of masks and thangkas.

    Please note that the itinerary above could change subject to flight timings, which are generally unpredictable.

    Rema Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Warm up hike to Taktsang also known as Tiger's Nest Monastery

    Today we will have a warm up hike to Taktsang Monastery. '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 up for about 1.5 hours to a viewpoint, for the classic views of the monastic buildings which cling impossibly to the cliff wall opposite. For the energetic there is the chance to walk another 2 hours to the actual monastery. The walk is good for acclimatization and we recommend you wear trekking boots and take trekking poles and plenty of water. Please note there about 100 steps up and down. Returning to the hotel we have time in the afternoon to explore Paro town.

    Rema Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Trek to Jele Dzong

    Today we start our trek. After breakfast we have a short drive to the ancient Ta Dzong watchtower (2400m). The first day's trekking is not long in terms of hours but it’s all the way uphill and we do gain quite a lot of height. From Ta Dzong it is a gentle climb for about 3 hours on a jeep track to a prayer wall. The trail then narrows and we continue climbing up a little steeper now through the forest. We have lunch about an hour further on in a clearing and then it’s about an hours walk in the afternoon to the Jele La (3550m) and our camp just below Jele Dzong (3530m). If the weather is clear we can see the Paro Valley below. The energetic can walk up and visit the Dzong. 
    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Trek to Jangchulaka

    After breakfast we have time to explore the ancient 14th century Jele Dzong and if lucky we may be allowed inside. Our days walk begins with a short climb up the ridge before a descent into through thick rhododendron forest. Climbing back up again we emerge on the ridge and at times we can see the Paro Valley way below us and if the weather is clear we may even spot Chomolhari in the distance. Look out for the colourful Blood Pheasants which inhabit the forests. The trail climbs the ridge most of the day, through forests of rhododendrons. Today is a short day and we camp tonight at the yak herder’s settlement called Tsokam, just beyond Jangchu Lakha (3780m). 

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Follow the ridge with spectacular views of Jichdrake to reach Jimi Lang Tsho

    A long day today and probably the hardest walk of the trek. We climb steeply up from camp on a narrow trail for about an hour to rejoin the main trail. We continue climbing through a rocky landscape littered with small rhododendron bushes. We reach a col at 4073m marked with prayer flags and then drop down a short way to a cave. The trail then climbs again quite steeply to a ridge at 4080m, from where on a clear day we get spectacular mountain views including Chomolhari and Jichudrake. We have lunch on the ridge to enjoy the views and then continue a little further up the ridge to 4120m. From here we contour round a little and then drop steeply on a rocky trail to the shores of Jimi Lang Tscho (3885m), well known for its trout. 

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Trek to Labana

    Another long but great day's walk with good mountain views. The trail climbs from camp along a rocky trail up to Janye Tscho Lake at 3956m. Climbing even higher and steeply there are two more lakes above us Dungtscho Tscho and Dungtscho Sama before we finally reach a cairn at 4150m. Below is Simthoka Lake (4090m) the highest lake on our trek. From the lake the trail undulates all the way to our camp at Labana (4100m). 

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    End Trek, drive to Thimphu

    The trail today climbs gradually up to the Labana Pass at 4235m (the highest point of this trek). The views get better and better and on a clear day we can see Gangar Punsum, Table Mountain and much of the Bhutan Himalaya. Way below is the Thimphu Valley. From the top we traverse the hillside with great mountain views and descend towards Thimphu. There are a couple of small climbs to cols but the general direction is downhill. From the Phajoding Labsa chorten we descend quite steeply to Phajoding Monastery for lunch. There are several temples here and a monastic school and the place is a visited by many Bhutanese. We descend even further through forests of blue pine to the end of our trek at Motithang, just above Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. We should reach our hotel by mid afternoon. The evening is free to explore Thimphu. 

    Hotel Gakyil or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Excursion to Punakha

    Today we take an excursion to the nearby town of Punakha. The route climbs steeply in places to the Dochula Pass. At 3050m (10,000ft) the views over the eastern Himalaya are magnificent although this is most definitely weather dependent! We descend to the valley floor and continue to sub-tropical Punakha. At an altitude of 1350m the difference in temperature and flora is apparent. Punakha was the old capital of Bhutan and the dzong was the second one to be built in Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is situated between two rivers and it has survived many fires, an earthquake and a glacial flood. Over the years it has been repaired and added to and has several interesting features to protect it against invasion. In the afternoon we'll drive back to Thimphu to spend the night.

    Please note that for festival departures this day's itinerary does not apply, see the 'is this trip for you' section for more details.

    Hotel Gakyil or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Thimphu sightseeing; drive to Paro

    We spend most of today visiting the main sights of the town including the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honour 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

    Dewachen Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Fly to Kathmandu

    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 colourful markets of Thamel are great for souvenir hunting. Please note that due to the recent earthquake some of these places may be closed; your guide will be able to give you more information on this.

    Royal Singi Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    End Kathmandu

    Our trip ends in Kathmandu after breakfast.

    Please note that sometimes due to opening times, holidays or festivals we have to change the timings of the sightseeing around. We will endeavour to show you all the sights in the time available. In case it is not possible to visit any of the sights described in the notes above an alternative will be provided.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Bhutan

You will need a visa for Bhutan, which we will organise for you. The cost of the visa is included in the price of the trip (USD20). You will need to send us a clear copy of your passport on booking. We need this in order to organise your Bhutan visa in advance of your arrival. Please make sure that we have a copy no later than 6 weeks before departure. The passport copy can either be sent by post or scanned, in which case it has to be very clear and in colour.
If you need to get a new passport for the journey, please apply for this immediately, and send us the copy/scan as soon as you receive your new passport. It is VERY important that the information you give us is 100% correct, and that the copy of the passport you send us is the one on which you will be travelling to Bhutan.
Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Nepal

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal, which can be obtained in advance or on entry. If you wish to apply before departure the current visa cost is £20 for a 15 day visa and £35 for a 30 day visa for UK passport holders. The current cost of a visa on arrival is US$25 for 15 days, US$40 for 30 days or if extending your stay $100 for 90 days. All are multiple entry. The visa on arrival fee can be paid for in cash in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros. You will also need a passport photo. Application forms are available in the immigration hall (or for electronic passports there are visa registration machines which, after inserting your passport, automatically fill out a form for you). You must firstly join the queue to pay the visa fee, and then go to the relevant immigration desk to obtain your 15, 30 or 90 day visa stamp. There can be long queues for visas on arrival.

Non UK nationals should check requirements with their nearest embassy (a few nationalities are not permitted visas on arrival).

Vaccinations

Bhutan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Nepal

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

There is low to no risk of malaria throughout Nepal and antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain higher risk groups; you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. The risk is highest in the low lying southern ‘terai’ districts bordering India.

A yellow fever certificate is only required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of transmission.

Dengue fever is a known risk in Nepal. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Most of our trips to Nepal go to high altitudes where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for further advice on AMS.

Eating and Drinking

Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus 9 lunches and 9 dinners whilst in Bhutan.

The hotel/restaurant meals in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. Bhutanese food can sometimes be considered a little bland - this is generally because chillies are frequently used in traditional dishes, and these are often omitted to adapt to foreigners' tastes. However you will find an assortment of meat, vegetable, rice and potato dishes and many examples of the infamous 'Ema Datshi' (chillies and cheese) so there will be plenty of nutrients for your day ahead! Whilst on the trek the meals are cooked by our local team which will take into account passenger preferences and offer an assortment of delicious dishes to prepare us for our treks.

Breakfasts are an assortment of hot food and fruit, and lunches will either be a hot picnic or taken at a nearby restaurant.

Please allow approximately £20-25 ($30-40) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.

Weather

Himalayan views tend to be best between October to December, as the weather is generally clear with sunny skies. From March to May the valleys are awash with colour when the famous rhododendrons bloom; the country has over 45 wild species. You will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. During the day temperatures will be approx 10ºC-20ºC. At night temperatures will drop in autumn to about 3ºC-4ºC. 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 snowfall at the higher altitudes on trek especially in spring.

Is this trip for you?

Grade 4: Moderate/Challenging.

5 days walking; maximum altitude 4235m, average 3950m. 

This trip is for those who would like to combine the cultural highlights of Bhutan with beautiful Himalayan walking. The trek is a classic Himalayan trekking route. You can generally expect good service on the trek.

Travelling and Walking Conditions

We follow a route which was formerly an important link between Paro and Thimphu and which has been used for generations by pack animals. However please note that the trekking trails in Bhutan are more remote and less well marked than in Nepal. The route we trek is rarely used nowadays and the trails are quite narrow and rocky in places.

We highly recommend trekking poles for this trip. It regularly rains in Bhutan which can make the trails slippery. In early spring there can be some snowfall at the higher altitudes. The highest altitude we reach on the trek is 4235m and the highest we sleep is 4100m. This route presents a great variety of walking from pleasant pine and rhododendron forests to rocky landscapes and passes and high altitude lakes.

Trekking is still relatively new in Bhutan and you are unlikely to meet many other trekkers. Please be aware that whilst the distances on the five-day trek are not considered to be challenging; the altitude can sometimes pose a problem as your body adjusts to the difference. The pace of this trek is kept slow continually and there will be many opportunities to stop and enjoy the stunning views and Himalayan scenery. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group. You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf 

Smoking

Please note that smoking is technically banned in Bhutan. Tourists are permitted to smoke in certain designated areas but must bring their own cigarettes (up to 200 cigarettes). They must, however, pay duty on any tobacco product they import (up to 200% tax). Smoking in a public place can result in a fine as long you have proof of having paid the duty. If no proof of having paid the duty can be produced then there is the risk of a minimum 3 years imprisonment.

Travelling in Bhutan
Travelling in Bhutan is still in its infancy. All foreigners must travel through an official travel agent and be accompanied by a Bhutanese guide. Exodus uses well trained Bhutanese guides, but please be aware that the guides are sometimes restricted in what they are allowed to do and where they are allowed to take you.
There is plenty of time to enjoy the differing features of each centre whilst travelling through the magnificent countryside. There is time to study the monasteries, browse in the bazaars, or relax with a cup of tea in incredible surroundings. This trip is varied, although not demanding, and should appeal to those who like to see something a little different.

Alternative itineraries

Three of our 2018 departures, 26th March and 9th September, have been scheduled to coincide with festivals. The itineraries are ordered slightly differently to coincide with these.

The daily itinerary for the departure Ex London 26/03/2018 visits the Paro festival so the itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 (Day 2 Ex London) Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Fly to Paro.
Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) We spend the morning 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 colourful 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.
Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Hike to Takstang Tiger's Nest Monastery; explore Paro old town
Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Trek to Jele Dzong
Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London) Trek to Jangchulaka
Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) Trek to Jimi Langtsho
Day 8 (Day 9 Ex London) Trek to Labana.
Day 9 (Day 10 Ex London) Trek to Phajoding via Labana Pass; to Thimphu
Day 10 (Day 11 Ex London) Sightseeing Thimphu; drive to Paro
Day 11 (Day 12 Ex London) Fly to Kathmandu
Day 12 (Day 13 Ex London) End Kathmandu

 

The daily itinerary for the departure Ex London 09/09/2018 visits the Thimphu festival so the itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 (Day 2 Ex London) Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Fly to Paro.
Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) Hike to Takstang Tiger's Nest Monastery; explore Paro old town
Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Trek to Jele Dzong
Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Trek to Jangchulaka
Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London) Trek to Jimi Langtsho
Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) Trek to Labana. 
Day 8 (Day 9 Ex London) Trek to Phajoding via Labana Pass; to Thimphu
Day 9 (Day 10 Ex London) Sightseeing Thimphu; afternoon archery display
Day 10 (Day 11 Ex London) Thimphu festival; drive to Paro
Day 11 (Day 12 Ex London) Fly to Kathmandu
Day 12 (Day 13 Ex London) End Kathmandu

The daily itinerary for the departure Ex London 08/10/2018 visits the smaller Genekha Village festival so the itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 (Day 2 Ex London) Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 (Day 3 Ex London) Fly to Paro.
Day 3 (Day 4 Ex London) Hike to Takstang Tiger's Nest Monastery; explore Paro old town
Day 4 (Day 5 Ex London) Trek to Jele Dzong
Day 5 (Day 6 Ex London) Trek to Jangchulaka
Day 6 (Day 7 Ex London)Trek to Jimi Langtsho
Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) Trek to Labana. 
Day 8 (Day 9 Ex London) Trek to Phajoding via Labana Pass; to Thimphu
Day 9 (Day 10 Ex London) Sightseeing Thimphu; afternoon archery display
Day 10 (Day 11 Ex London) Genekha Village festival; drive to Paro
Day 11 (Day 12 Ex London) Fly to Kathmandu
Day 12 (Day 13 Ex London) End Kathmandu

 

Call us on
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

You will spend 7 nights in hotels with en suite rooms and 4 nights in full service camps. Your rooms in Bhutan will be simple, as tourism in the country is still in its infancy. All food is included and is usually a simple mix of Bhutanese, continental and Chinese buffet served buffet style.

The camping will be in spacious 2 person tents. We will also provide dining and toilet tents, stools, tables, cooking and kitchen gear and there will be a team of support staff. All groups will be accompanied by a local leader, who will be supported by a cook, assistant guides and yakmen. Whilst on the trek you will be woken up with a cup of hot tea, and we will also provide a small bowl of warm washing water in the mornings.

Call us on
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2017
    Pam Peers

    Interesting trip to a fascinating country

    A good combination of an interesting, short trek and cultural visits, including the Thimpu festival.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hanging lots of prayer flags at various of the summits. The momos at the end of the trek were very welcome.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu and Ganga were excellent guides! Great fun to be with and very informative about the country they are so passionate about. The team as a whole was excellent and looked after us really well

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take gaiters ... we didn't and regretted the omission. The descent on the final day was very muddy. Definitely take walking poles ...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Karaoke bars in Thimpu are well worth visiting , a real insight into modern day Bhutan.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Simon Cuming

    Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon (18Mar16-30Mar16)

    Excellent trip packing in the cultural highlights, a festival, and trekking which is kind of necessary given the daily rate charged by the Bhutanese authorities! So probably the best and most affordable! way of experiencing Bhutan

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    a toss up between the Paro festival and the 5 days trekking

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu was an excellent leader; extremely knowledgeable and helpful in explaining his countries culture and showing us the sights, including an impromptu archery lesson!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For the 5 day trek I would suggest that people prepare for lower night time temperatures, possibly down to -10 degrees C
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Marian Watson

    Trekking with Culture in Bhutan

    Although we had disappointing weather - it rained mostly while trekking - this trip takes you to one of those beautiful places which the majority of people still haven't heard of. And that's the beauty of it. There are few tourists and the Bhutanese themselves are delightful and unspoilt. The Buddhist culture and local traditions are fascinating There is no hard sell and there are no hawkers. They are happy for you just to have a look at their crafts without buying when you go into the shops. This is after all The Land of Gross National Happiness.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    More like highlights, of which there were many. The walk up to the Tiger's Nest Monastery. An out of programme trip organised by our leaders to visit the beautiful dzong in Punakha together with an impromptu visit to a local festival in Wangdue Phodrang. Stories of the Divine Madman and seeing phalluses painted all over the houses which are a sign of good luck here. Watching boy monks dancing in costume inside their dzong. Assisting in a ceremony inside one of the temples. Watching the festival in Thimpu and observing the locals dressed in their best ceremonial clothes, and more mundane things - but not least important! - like hot water bottles at night on trek, solar lamps, delicious pizza and cake made by the camp chef.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu and Karma were excellent leaders. Both were well organised and took great care of the group. Karma took care of the monastic/temples side of the trip explaining everything about the Buddhist religion, whilst Norbu told us more about the politics, royal family and social/environmental structure of the country and how they are striving to get it all right. Both were complimentary to each other. Karma fell over backwards to try and keep us happy......during the rain! He even washed our muddy boots in the river at the end of the trek!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is NOT a trek for BEGINNERS. The altitude is something to be taken seriously (over 4000mts asl) and also physical fitness is an absolute must. Trekking, albeit the foothills, in the Himalayas is hard on the body. However, if you are used to hill walking , you will love it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just that if you do go, try to go over one of the festival periods as it's well worth it. Oh, and if you think you will lose weight with all the walking......you won't! The food on trek is wonderful and loads of it!
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon

    Such an amazing country! The scenery, the people - I've never been to such a peaceful place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trek from Paro to Thimpu. Through forests and across mountains. The camping was great.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was very knowledgable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go!
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Bhutan

    They measure their wealth in terms of Gross Domestic Happiness and I would think they top the league. The most beautiful country where tradition is encouraged, set in the foothills of the Himalayas, beneath the snow capped mountains of the high Himalayas. The trekking was not too difficult in itself, but 16,000 feet of altitude certainly adds an extra degree of exertion. But what views, what Majesty and what a feeling of achievement when you have completed it. I walked in the Himalayas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    From start to finish everything was different, but the most outstanding feature was the friendliness and happiness of the people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader and assistant leader were excellent. I treated them as friends, well they are.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The altitude does make a big difference. What would have been easy trekking in the UK becomes more difficult at altitude. You can get tablets for altitude sickness. One of our group did suffer but within half an hour of taking the tablets, was well recovering.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bhutan is remote and you fly in through Kathmandu, You get a half day in Kathmandu on the return and it is advisable to make the most of this opportunity. Bhaktapur and the stupa at Boudhanath a well worth a visit. We got Taxis from the airport upon arrival from Bhutan, they stayed with us for the afternoon and did not cost the earth.
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    BHUTAN

    Fascinating country, very lovely people, amazing scenery and a very humbling experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking up in the morning to the most incredible sunny, white frosty views over a mountain lake.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    very helpful and willing to make our trip as enjoyable as he could.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Always take enough layers - was warm and wet during the day but very cold at night.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great detox as there is no alcohol while camping!
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    BHUTAN: LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON

    This is a great trip to get an introductory into Bhutan; culture, trekking and amazing scenery, what more could you want?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The warm up hike day was amazing, to be walking up to Tigers nest monastry and hearing the monks chanting with it echoing through the valley..just great way to start the trip!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was great, very helpful and friendly. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy! Also ask your guide about hot stone baths in Paro, they were great! 
  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    BHUTAN: LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON

    Just the most incredible experience.  The serenity of the country and its people is remarkable, and the scenery outstanding.  The holiday of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the reincarnation of Desi Tenzin Rabgye Rimpoche at Tango monastery.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    What are you waiting for?  Go!
  • Reviewed November 2012
    Anonymous

    BHUTAN: LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON

    A great experience, wonderfull scenery and excellent tour guides (Pasang and Dorgi).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No particular moment but throughout we experienced friendly and relaxed people who gave expression to the  Bhutan culture of "Gross National Happiness".  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader (Pasang) was excellent, friendly, helpfull and always happy. The assistant ( Dorgi) was also very good, he took the leader in explaining the Bhutan culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ensure you have a 3/4 season sleeping bag and warm cloths for the evenings.
  • Reviewed October 2012
    Anonymous

    BHUTAN: LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON

    I absolutely loved this trip!! Bhutan is a very fascinating country with beautiful people and amazing scenery. The combination of trekking in the Himalaya and experiencing the culture is absolutely mindblowing and I can highly recommend this trip to everyone!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trekking through the Himalaya was mindblowing for me. You don't get to meet any people and can walk in your own pace in a breathtaking environment and that to me was sooo amazing. Also being able to learn about the culture and attend the Thimphu festival was a definate highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pasang and Dorji were absolutely fantastic tourguides who took care of everyone at all times. They were very knowledgeable and easy-going. If I ever come back to Bhutan I would make sure that either one of them would lead the tour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Trekking in altitude is definately something different then doing the same amount of kilometres in 'normal' conditions so make sure to be fit... Also make sure to take a shirt with a collar cause otherwise you cannot attend the Thimphu festival. This was not mentioned as clearly in our tripnotes so a couple of people ended up borrowing shirts from the guys...

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