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Join Boundless Journeys for Himalayan Kingdoms Hiking, an awe-inspiring adventure that combines the highlights of the Dragon Kingdomâ€”Bhutanâ€”with a five-day trek through the foothills of the Annapurna Mountains of Nepal. This is truly an epic journey through Himalayan landscapes, infused with mountain cultures, beautiful vistas, and a revitalizing trek amid the highest mountains in the world.
While in Bhutan, youâ€™ll explore the monasteries and fortresses of this ancient kingdom and discover the unique Bhutanese culture. In Nepal, jaw-dropping mountain scenery, terraced hillsides, beautiful forests, and friendly villagers greet you on our cultural trek. Thereâ€™s even an opportunity to take a flight across the Himalayan range, passing the worldâ€™s tallest peaks, including Mount Everest. With Boundless Journeysâ€™ Himalayan Kingdoms Hiking tour in Bhutan and Nepal, youâ€™ll experience the best of two complementary worlds.
Arrival in Bhutan; Transfer to Thimphu
Welcome to Bhutan! We land in Paro at Bhutan's only international airport. We are met by our local guide and transferred to Thimphu, home of the royal family. Before becoming Bhutan's official national capital in 1961, Thimphu was a simple, rural farming valley. Small and secluded, it is unlike any other world capital. The city is quiet, and may be the only capital in the world without a traffic light.
Our exploration of Thimphu depends on flight arrival times and we may visit the National Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, or the Giant Buddha above town, giving us some excellent views of the Thimphu Valley.
Hotel DrukThimpu, Bhutan
Hotel Druk is located in the center of the city’s landmarks, near the famous Thimphu clock tower and within walking distance of the main markets. Constructed in traditional Bhutanese style, this distinctive, four-star deluxe hotel is relaxed yet elegant, with all the necessary comforts and amenities. Hotel Druk offers newly refurbished, modern guestrooms with spacious accommodations; a soothing spa; and a stylish bar and restaurant.
Cheri Goemba & The Choki School of Arts
Our hike today begins at a small village near the boundary of Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the country. The area is home to several endangered species, including: the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. The trail climbs steadily to Cheri Gompa, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view of the Thimphu Valley. After touring the monastery, we descend on the same route back to our tour vehicle where we drive home of the Choki School of Arts. The Choki School provides free, skills-related education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to Bhutanese children who are unable to complete their formal education.
Before dinner, we speak with a local expert to learn more about Bhutan's unique culture and its remarkable Gross National Happiness concept.
Transfer to Punakha (approximately 4 hours*); Temple of the Divine Madman
Today we transfer to the Punakha Valley, our home for the next two nights. The road to Punakha crosses the Dochula Pass (10,230'), offering a great view of the eastern Himalayan mountains.
On the road to Punakha, we stop in a small village where a short walk brings us to Chime Lhakang, a temple dedicated to the Lama Drukpa Kunley. Drukpa Kunley is one of Bhutan's favorite saints, and is more commonly known as the "Divine Madman." He traveled throughout Bhutan and Tibet using songs, humor, and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings, believing that the formality of the clergy and social conventions were keeping people from understanding true Buddhism.
Drubchu ResortPunakha, Bhutan
Overlooking rice paddy fields and farmhouses, Drubchhu was constructed on the ruins of a former, 100-year-old granary. Today, the family-owned property boasts modest and comfortable accommodations, a fine restaurant, roadside café, and cozy bar plus its own natural spring, believed to be a Drubchhu (healing, miraculous water). Modern amenities such as goose down bedding and walk-in showers add comfort to your journey.
Khamsung Yuley Namgyel Temple to Punakha Dzong
We begin today's hike by first ascending a series of switchbacks to the Khamsung Yuley Namgyel Temple. From this modern temple, we are afforded grand views of the Mo Chu River Valley below. We then descend from the temple and follow a well-worn path down the valley through rice fields and small villages. Along the way we are rewarded with stunning views â€” the terraced rice paddies providing an exotic backdrop to the river below.
After enjoying a picnic lunch along the river, we continue our walk to the Punakha Dzong. Constructed in 1637, the Punakha Dzong was the second of Bhutan's dzongs and for many years it served as the seat of the government. Today it is the home to Bhutan's spiritual leader, the Chief Abbot Je Khempo, who resides here with 1,000 monks during the winter months.
Following our hike, we have the special opportunity to visit the Nalanda Buddhist Institute, where we meet the resident monks and learn about their lives.
Transfer to Paro (approximately 4 hours*); Visit Kichyu Lakhang, the Paro Dzong and Bhutanâ€™s National Museum
Today we return to Paro, catching another glimpse of the mighty Himalayas over the Dochula Pass. Upon our arrival in Paro, we visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Kyichu Lhakhang, meaning "twin temples," is believed to have been built in 659 AD by King Songtsen of Tibet, and reflects the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan. The temple is one of 108 that were built throughout the Himalayas in one day in an effort to subdue a mighty ogress; it is still believed to hold her left foot in place.
We then make our way to the National Museum. The museum's collection includes ancient artifacts, weapons, antique thangkha (painted or embroidered religious pictures), textiles, and stamps.
Finally, we head to the valley's magnificent Rinpung Dzong. If we are fortunate, we may have the opportunity to explore within the dzong's mighty walls. However, if the Administrative Body is in session, we must admire from the outside.
Raven's NestParo, Bhutan
Raven’s Nest Resort is situated in the upper Paro Valley, set amidst farmhouses and rice fields, and very near to the trailhead for Tiger’s Nest Monastery and the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. Featuring 21 spacious rooms with ensuite baths and balconies, the hotel also has a library, meditation room, spa with a sauna, steam bath and massage services, and a restaurant serving Bhutanese, Indian and western style dishes. Your stay here is the perfect place to unwind and will be a welcome respite in a tranquil, rural setting.
Taktsang (Tigerâ€™s Nest) Monastery Hike
This morning, we hike to the famous cliff-side hermitage called Taktsang â€” "Tiger's Nest" â€” a monastic retreat built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro Valley. Our hike begins on the valley floor and is a steady uphill climb on a wide hiking trail that switchbacks through pine forests, with glimpses of Tiger's Nest along the way. We pass water-powered prayer wheels and mani stones, as well as a shrine where a high lama was supposedly born â€” all reminders that for many, this is not just a hike, but a spiritual pilgrimage. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint, Padmasambhava, flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan.
We return to the valley floor, where we enjoy a trail side picnic lunch before heading back to our hotel. We have some time this afternoon to unwind and relax after our hike, or perhaps stroll the Paro market before dinner.
Fly from Paro, Bhutan to Pokhara, Nepal (via Kathmandu)
An early morning departure from Paro brings us to Kathmandu, where we begin the second half of our epic journey. Upon landing in Kathmandu, we are met by our guide and then transfer to the domestic airport for our flight to Pokhara (2,712 ft), the rural capital of western Nepal. Pokhara is one of the most popular destinations in the country due to being the starting point for many trekking expeditions into the mountains.
Temple Tree ResortPokhara, Nepal
A deluxe hotel located within walking distance from Pokharas bustling lakeside, this boutique property combines distinctive architecture of the region with western standards and amenities. The hotel has a pool, beautiful gardens, and rooms tastefully decorated with Nepali and Tibetan art. Enjoy intimate dining and contemporary cuisine at the Bay Leaf restaurant, or a cocktail at the casual Island Bar. Temple Tree is a great place to pamper yourself either before or after a trek in the mountains.
Trek Pokhara to Lamkhet
In the morning we drive about one hour to the starting point of our trek. Today's hike follows a ridgeline in the lower foothills of the Annapurnas, with surrornding views of the Pokhara Valley.
The trail eventually descends into the Modi River valley, our home for the night (3,470'). The lodge here has magnificent views of the sacred and still unclimbed Fishtail Mountain, or Machhapuchhre, as it is locally known. We enjoy lunch at the lodge, followed by an optional walk to the nearby village of Birethanti. Those who prefer can independently explore the river valley surrounding the lodge.
Sanctuary LodgeLamkhet, Nepal
The Sanctuary lodge is situated near the tranquil village of Birethanti along the Modi River, offering stunning views of the sacred Fishtail Mountain, Machupuchure, in the distance. The property features 18 simple rooms with ensuite baths and touches of local style. You may unwind on the open grounds over a cup of Nepali tea, or explore the nearby village on foot.
Trek Lamkhet to Ghandruk
After breakfast we leave the lodge, walking through outlying farms following the Modi River valley. Soon we begin to ascend out of the valley and up toward the mountains. We take a relaxing pace, stopping for refreshments en route with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. Our trail passes through small hamlets, terraced rice fields and sub-tropical forests, offering glimpses of life in the mountains. We arrive at Himalaya Lodge in Ghandruk (6,600') in time for a late lunch, and have time this afternoon to enjoy the magnificent close-up views of the surrounding mountains.
Himalaya LodgeGhandruk, Nepal
Located at the highest point of the tour at approximately 6,600, this former mountain home is perched over the ancient village of Ghandruk. The Annapurna Range is in full view from each of the 11 rooms, which have ensuite baths and are decorated with local cultural motifs. You may explor Ghandruk by foot or ascend the hills above the lodge to see the impressive terraced fields and towering Himalayan peaks above.
Trek Ghandruk to Landruk
En route along our trek to Landruk, we explore the mountain village of Ghandruk, once a major recruitment center for the famous Gurkha soldiers. The women of Ghandruk maintain a local industry of weaving traditional Nepalese rugs.
Departing from Ghandruk, the trail descends steeply to the banks of the Modi River. Here, you'll be at the base of the cliffs where the famed honey hunters of Nepal climb on ropes to collect the honey from the wild honey bees. You'll then cross a suspension bridge to the opposite banks of the Modi, from where it will take us about an hour to trek up a switchback trail (with steps) to reach the village of Landruk. Landruk affords more glorious views of the Annapurna range.
Following lunch, you may choose to explore Landruk before settling into to La Bee Lodge and enjoying a well-deserved rest.
La Bee LodgeLandruk, Nepal
La Bee lodge is the newest lodge in the region, located in Landruk, a typical village of the Gurung community who are known as the famous Gurkha soldiers. La Bee has 12 rooms featuring local designs and affords glorious views of the Annapurna range. Explore the nearby cliffs dramatically rising from the Modi River, also known for the famed honey hunters of Nepal.
Trek Landruk to Dhampus
This morning our trail enters a sub-tropical forest full of magnificent flora, including tree orchids, rhododendrons and magnolias. After approximately an hour, we arrive at the village of Tolka. We then ascend to a ridge, passing through the village of Pothana, where Tibetan traders live and sell their souvenirs. We arrive at Basanta Lodge, our home for the night, in time for lunch.
Later this afternoon, we have the option to hike to the old village of Dhampus (4,920'), or to remain at the lodge, where sweeping views of the entire Annapurna Range are ours to enjoy.
Basanta LodgeDhampus, Nepal
This simple lodge is perched on a ridge overlooking the beautiful Phedi and Mardi Valleys and the span of the Annapurna range to the north. The property features 8 rooms with ensuite baths, providing a comfortable respite after trekking. From the lodge you may explore the old village of Dhampus, or simply relax and soak in the tranquility of its location.
Dhampus to Pokhara; Fly to Kathmandu
The trekking portion of our journey ends this morning, as we depart along the ridge, descending through wooded hillsides and terraced farmland to the valley floor. It is here that we meet our vehicle for the drive to the Pokhara airport to catch our flight to Kathmandu.
Upon arriving in Kathmandu, we are transferred to the five-star Dwarika's Heritage Hotel. This afternoon we have the option to venture to Patan Durbar Square, Boundanath Stuppa or Pashupatinath temple, each significant sites for Buddhists and Hindus residing in the city.Â We will conclude our day enjoying a celebratory dinner, bidding a final farewell to Nepal.
Dwarika's Heritage HotelKathmandu, Nepal
Dwarikas is a five-star heritage hotel, espousing Newari-style architecture and Nepalese charm and hospitality. It is well-located near the famous Pashupatinath and Boudanath Temples, as well as the international airport. Unwind over live music at the fusion bar or dine at the famous Krishnapan restaurant, featuring the best in contemporary Nepali cuisine. Choose to relax at the swimming pool or treat yourself to a traditional ayurvedic treatment at the Pancha Kosha Himalayan spa.
Departure from Kathmandu
After an early morning breakfast, we have the opportunity to experience one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world. An optional flight (not included in cost) departs Kathmandu and flies east along the Himalayas, giving us eye-level views of the highest peaks on earth, including Mt. Everest. After the flight, we return to the hotel where we say good-bye before continuing to the airport for our homeward journey.
PLEASE NOTE: Druk Air, the National Airline of Bhutan does not typically release their flight schedules until a few months prior to departures. Our dates have been set to coincide with the historical schedule for the flights from Bhutan to Nepal. While we do not anticipate any change to this schedule from year to year, it does occasionally occur. In the event that the schedule changes in such a way to affect our itinerary, we will adjust our trip accordingly. The first and last days of the trip will remain the same; however, it will most likely mean that we will be required to stay either one more or less day in Bhutan.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Oct 11-23, 2021
Nov 3-15, 2021
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $6,195 Per Person
$795 Per Person
Bangkok-Paro-Kathmandu; subject to change
First single reserved:$395
See single supplement policy below.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $6,195 per person
4 to 8 Guests: $6,395 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
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.
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 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.
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.
Bhutan 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.
NepalIn 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.
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.
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 isimportant 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.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
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Easy to moderate day hikes, 3-5 hours per day; moderate trekking, 3-6 hours per day; average trekking elevation is 5,000-6,000 feet.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
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