What To Expect
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Himalayan Kingdoms Hiking is rated 3, moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks and hikes for the first part of this trip are easy to moderate day hikes, generally from 2-5 hours in length with minimal vehicle support. During the Nepal trekking portion of the trip (days 8-12), hikes are from 3-6 hours in length with no vehicle support. Elevation gains and losses vary from approximately 500'-3,000' in one day. A few days involve long drives on narrow, winding roads.
Traveling To and From
Most Convenient Airport for Arrival:
Bangkok International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Most Convenient Airport for Departure:
Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal (airport code KTM)
Meeting Time and Place:
Your Boundless Journeys guide will meet you at the Paro, Bhutan airport upon the arrival of your flight from Bangkok (other regional airports upon request). Please be sure to be at the Druk Air (national airline of Bhutan) check-in counter at the Bangkok International Airport 2-3 hours before your scheduled flight on Day 1 of our trip. The airline tickets for your flight from Bangkok to Bhutan will be purchased for you in advance by Boundless Journeys.
Departure Time and Place:
Kathmandu airport on the final morning, after breakfast. You can book your return flight anytime on this day, allowing for time to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours in advance of your flight. If you are taking the Everest scenic flight, then you will need to book your flight home after 2pm.
Our Trek in Nepal
Our trekking route is moderate and we follow a leisurely pace. The route in the foothills of the Annapurnas is carefully planned to take advantage of amazing mountain scenery and charming lodges. Each morning after breakfast we set out at about 8:30 a.m., stopping mid-morning for tea, and then continuing on until our midday stop for lunch. The trails are generally in good condition and many are made from inlaid stones, including steep steps at times. Time spent on the trail will average 3-6 hours per day, with plenty of time to stop along the way. Porters will carry our luggage, and all you need to carry is a daypack with extra layers, your camera, water, and lunch.
When to Go
Bhutan and Nepal are generally delightful for hiking in the spring and fall. The driest weather and clearest skies are typically in October and November. Beautiful flowers are in bloom, and you will encounter fewer travelers in the months of March and April.
Our trip begins in Thimphu, which is situated at 7,500 feet, in the foothills of the Himalayas. After our first two nights here we move to the Punakha Valley, which offers a relatively low elevation of approximately 4,300 feet. Our third hotel, in Paro is at approximately 7,300 feet. Our walks and hikes in Bhutan will take place at elevations from 4,300 feet to approximately 10,000 feet. There is time to move at a comfortable pace, allowing ourselves to adjust to the mountain air. Keeping well hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol, eating frequent, light meals, and getting plenty of rest will help with any effects of altitude that you may feel.
In spite of being among the highest peaks in the world, we will not be trekking at a high elevation, and the elevations you will experience on this trip are not extreme. Kathmandu is at 4,500', Pokhara about 3,080', and during the trek elevations will range from 3,000' to 6,600'.
Accommodations include standard hotels in Bhutan, deluxe hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and privately run lodges on the Annapurna trek. All with private baths. We have done our best to select well-located properties that reflect the character and culture of each region.
Accommodations in Nepal:
We stay at deluxe hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara and during the trekking portion of our trip we are in mountain lodges, which are the very best accommodations on the Annapurna circuit. The lodges are simple and rustic, but fit well with the environment. They have private bathrooms, two twin beds in each room (which can be pushed together upon request), and electricity.
Accommodations in Bhutan:
Accommodations in Bhutan are somewhat basic and this itinerary includes a cobmination of the standard and deluxe hotel options available in Bhutan. Although the hotels in Bhutan cannot be compared to international standards, they are comfortable and offer all necessary facilities. We believe that any inconveniences due to these modest accommodations are far outweighed by the unforgettable experience of visiting Bhutan.
*If you prefer to stay in luxury hotels in Bhutan, please contact us to discuss a private journey.
Confirming hotels in Bhutan: Due to the unique tourism policy in Bhutan, we are unable to confirm which hotels we will be using until four weeks prior to departure. The accommodations listed will most likely be what we can expect, but may alter due to availability.
When to Reserve
It is important to reserve your trip early, as the airlines going into Bhutan will only accept reservations with the full payment of the ticket. Therefore we are unable to hold group seats in advance of reservations. Seats can only be confirmed upon receipt of your deposit, as well as the payment of $725 for these flights. Please contact our office with any questions regarding these important policies.
Development in Bhutan
Although visiting Bhutan in many ways is like stepping back in time and has been a longtime favorite of Boundless Journeys' travelers for this reason, it is important to understand that this evolving society is also eager to keep pace in the modern world. While the government is approaching the development of their country with a sensitivity towards preserving the environment and culture, you can still expect to encounter some of the less positive signs of modernization. Some examples include: road construction projects that may hinder driving or cause noise and dust; litter in developed areas; and begging. We ask you to visit Bhutan with an open mind and leave any rigid expectations about the pristine nature of the country behind. It is
important to embrace what you see and experience without judgment and recognize that Bhutan, just as any country, is struggling to be a part of this complex and rapidly changing world. We are confident that with this attitude, the Bhutan you experience will be a fascinating and memorable place.
Bhutanese and Nepali dishes borrow elements of Indian and Chinese cuisine, however they are also unique. One of the most distinguishing features of Bhutanese cuisine is the ubiquitous chili. Ema datse, a dish made with chilis and cheese, is a spicy favorite. Some excellent non-spicy options include kewa datse (potatoes and cheese sauce), and shamu datse (mushrooms with cheese sauce). Bhutanese and Nepalese also love momos. Though a Tibetan specialty, these dumplings now occupy a permanent place in Himalayan cuisine. Chicken or pork momos are favored, but cheese momos are most common. Another important feature of this exotic cuisine is the use of rice, found in various forms in dishes ranging from breakfast to dinner.
We do our best to offer a la carte meals at unique local establishments, however, options are quite limited in the smaller towns, so many of the meals will be served buffet-style at our hotels.
While we do our best to offer our guests the best possible meals and food available in the areas we travel, it is important to know that the food there is basic and does not offer the variety and quality that we may be accustomed to at home. Please travel to Bhutan and Nepal with an open mind and do not have high expectations in this regard and you will not be disappointed. Vegetarians can easily be accommodated with advance notice.