Altavista Treks & Expedition Pvt.Ltd
 
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Splendors of Western Bhutan

 
 

Venture into a world that will touch your heart and soul – a land of myths, legends and traditions, which are as vital and alive today as when they originated.

 

Thickly forested valleys, snow-capped mountains, colorful prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, maroon robed monks and architecture from another age. This is Bhutan, a kingdom that has long maintained its independence and isolation from the outside world and so preserved a fascinating Himalayan culture and tradition.

 

Where are you going?

Days 1-2: Flying into Kathmandu is an unforgettable experience with the Himalaya spread out before you. You will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel. In the morning of day 2 a half-day city tour will introduce you to some of the highlights of Kathmandu.

Day 3: The flight from Kathmandu provides a most dramatic view of the Himalaya as you fly alongside the world's highest mountain range. The tiny town of Paro is bursting with colour and tradition overlooked by a dramatic dzong. Fields, cover most of the valley floor, while hamlets and isolated farms dot the countryside - the houses here are considered to be among the most beautiful in the country. Paro is believed to be one of the first valleys to have received the imprint of Buddhism.
In the afternoon visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong) and Paro Rinpung Dzong.

Days 4-5: Thimphu lies in a wooded valley, sprawling up a hillside on the west bank of the Thimphu River. Quiet and peaceful, with its streets lined with traditional shop fronts, this town seems almost too small to be a capital – it is often said to be the only one without traffic lights. Beautiful textiles in wool, silk and cotton, basketwork, silver jewelry, thangkas and other traditional crafts of the Kingdom are available in various Handicraft Emporiums.

Sights include the Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan), the Textile Museum, The Arts and Crafts School, the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved, Trashichho Dzong is the Secretariat building, which houses the Chief Abbot and central monastic body. It also houses the Throne Room. Thinphu’s oldest fortress, Semtokha Dzong, still houses a few monks and is also the center for Cultural and Language Study.

Day 6: The road to Punakha and Wangdue crosses the Dochula Pass (3150 m), offering a great view of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains.

Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers, completely covering the spur it commands an impressive view over both the north-south and east-west roads. The main road climbs the length of the spur and on the left, across the river, comes the first glimpse of the picturesque village of Rinchengang whose inhabitants are celebrated stonemasons.

Punakha Dzong is the winter residence of Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Head Abbot, and the Central Monastic Body. The Dzong is built between two rivers known as “Phochu” (Male River) and “Mochu” (Female River).

Day 7: Retracing the route towards Trongsa and Wangdue the road diverts to Gangtey Valley. Descending through fields of bamboo a glacial valley on the western slopes of the black mountains. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders the Black Mountains National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here, it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. In addition to the cranes, there are also muntjacks (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, Himalayan black bears, leopards & black foxes in the valley and surrounding hills.

To the Bhutanese, going to Gangtey is like going back in time, an interesting perspective given that they themselves live in a country not rushing towards modernization.

Gangtey Goemba overlooks the large green expanse of the Phobjikha Valley. The extensive complex consists of the goemba and several other buildings, which include monk, quarters, meditation centers, school and small hotel. In the front of the yellow roofed goemba is a Tibetan style chorten with a wooden roof.

Day 8: Return to Thimphu with time for further shopping and sightseeing.

Day 9: Taktsang is the most famous of all Bhutanese monasteries. It is perched on the side of a cliff 900 m above the floor of the Paro valley, where the only sounds are the murmurs of the wind, and water and the chanting of the monks. The name Taktsang means ‘Tigers Nest’; the Guru is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to the site of the monastery where he meditated in a cave for three months.
The monastery itself is closed to tourists except by special permit. However the one-hour walk to the viewpoint, where there is a small wooden teahouse provides a close-up view of the monastery. It’s also a good warm-up hike if you are going trekking.

Nearby Paro are the ruins of Drugyal Dzong, a site of great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means the victorious Bhutanese. It offers a magnificent vista of Mount Chomolhari, "Mountain of Goddess" (7329 m). A short distance south of the road is Kyichu Lhakhang. This temple is said to be one of the 12 great geomantric temples ordered built by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century. It holds down the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of central Tibet.

Day 10: The early morning flight back to Kathmandu leaves the rest of the day free for shopping and sightseeing.

Day 11: Depart

 

Note

Please note that the published itinerary is a statement of intent and to be used as a guide only. The guide in charge of your trip will alter the schedule if conditions necessitate and any/all such alterations are at the discretion of Altavista Treks & Expedition Pvt.Ltd and your guide.

 

Itinerary

Day

Altitude

Time

1

Arrive Kathmandu

1300m

2

Kathmandu

3

Fly Paro

2260m

4

Thimphu

2300m

2 hrs

5

Thimphu

6

Punaka / Wangdue

1250m

3 hrs

7

Gangtey

2890m

2½ hrs

8

Thimphu

2300m

4½ hrs

9

Paro

2260m

2 hrs

10

Fly Kathmandu

1300m

11

Depart

Cost of trip per person: based on
01 pax: Euro 1150
02 pax: Euro 1042
03 pax: Euro 1021
04 pax + above: Euro 995

Flight KTM-PRO-KTM: Euro 286

 

Accommodation

Accommodation is on a twin share basis with private facilities.

 

Transport

All land transport, including transfers, is by private vehicle.

 

Food

Breakfast only is included in Kathmandu.
In Bhutan all meals are included.

 

What is Included

  • Accommodation - Twin share

  • Transport as per itinerary

  • All meals in Bhutan

  • All airport transfers

  • Sightseeing as per itinerary

  • English speaking interpreter/guide

What is not Included

  • Personal expenses such as drinks, postage, laundry

  • Meals in Kathmandu (apart from breakfast)

  • International flights and departure taxes

  • Visa and passport fees

  • Travel insurance

  • Emergency evacuation

  • Tips and gratuities

  • Costs arising from unforeseen events outside the control of KamadaTravel (eg. Landslides

Guides

You will be met at Paro airport on arrival and accompanied in Bhutan by an English-speaking guide.

 

All guides in Bhutan and licensed and controlled by the Bhutan Tourist Authority and generally have an excellent command of English and of the history, traditions and religious traditions of their country.

 

Money

It is best to bring a mixture of cash and travelers checks in major currencies - USD, CAD, EUR, AUD - and ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations.

 

Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide we suggest USD7-9 per day. Shopping is difficult to predict, but most people buy more than they intended.

 

Currency Exchange

 

Most major currencies can be changed into Nepalese Rupees (NPR) at Kathmandu Airport and at Bank and Exchange Counters throughout the city. Credit card cash advances and ATM withdrawals are in NPR only.

 

Major currencies can be exchanged for Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN) on arrival at Paro Airport, at large hotels and at banks in Thimphu. Credit cards are accepted by large hotels and major handicraft emporiums, but incur a service charge.

 

ATM withdrawals and Credit card cash advances are not available. It is possible to exchange excess BTN into USD on departure on production of the original exchange receipts. You cannot exchange BTN outside Bhutan.

 

Tipping

 

Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and tips are not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trip the best they can we suggest the following: USD2 per day for groups of 8+, USD3 per day for smaller groups - this will be shared between driver(s) and guide.

 

Insurance

 

It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation and personal liability. We also recommend that it cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

 

Health

 

There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal or Bhutan. However, you should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal and Bhutan.

 

Be aware that some drugs, including anti-malarials, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.

 

Please be aware that medical facilities are not of the same standard you might expect at home. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).

 

Altitude

 

AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. On arrival in Lhasa breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Taking it easy at first and maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.

 

Visas and Permits

 

Single entry visas for Nepal are available on arrival at Kathmandu airport and all land borders. The visa is valid for 60 days and costs USD30. One photo is required. The visa may then be extended up to 90 days.

 

It is only possible to enter Bhutan on a fully organized tour. Visa approvals are only issued to authorized travel agents when you book your tour. Once the approval has been issued it is then possible for your agent to book your flight. It is not possible to book seats prior to the visa approval being issued so it is important to confirm your trip and provide your agent with a copy of the details page of your passport as soon as possible.

 

Your actual visa will be issued on arrival at Paro Airport. Cost is USD20.

 

Flights

 

Druk Air operates between Paro and Kathmandu on Mondays and Thursdays.

 

Packing for your Trip

 

  • – Comfortable shoes

  • Socks

  • Fleece jacket or equivalent. Evenings can be cool even in summer

  • Comfortable, informal clothing (shorts & singlet tops are not appropriate)

  • Hat – a good idea as sun is very strong

  • Gloves - wool or fleece (winter only)

  • Scarf (winter only)

  • Thermal Underwear (winter only)

  • Sarong - a multitude of use

  • Sunglasses

  • Sunscreen

  • Sewing kit

  • Money belt

  • Toiletries (including lip slave and moisturizer)

  • Torch / flashlight - headlamp style is ideal

  • Swiss Army Knife

  • First Aid Kit

  • Small umbrella (June-August particularly)

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