Nepal & BhutanOctober 29, 2015 - November 18, 2015
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Oct 29 - Oct 30 Depart USA / En Route
Board your independent flight to Nepal, cross the International Date Line en route.
October 31 Kathmandu, Nepal
Upon arrival, check in to the Dwarika Hotel.After settling in, join an afternoon tour of the city. Visit Durbar Square, a concentrated collection of temples and the magnificent Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex. This area offers one of the most visually stunning displays of Newari architecture in Nepal. Enjoy a welcome dinner and overnight at the Dwarika Hotel.
November 1 Kathmandu / Patan
Early this morning, transfer to the airport for an exhilarating flightseeing tour (weather permitting) over Mt. Everest and the mighty Himalayas. After your flight, continue to Swayambhunath, an ancient religious complex perched on a hilltop in the Kathmandu Valley. Its lofty white dome and glittering golden spires are visible for miles from all sides of the valley. In the afternoon, tour Patan; just across the river from Kathmandu, it also boasts a Durbar Square full of temples, palaces, statues, and other works of art. Dinner and overnight at the Dwarika Hotel.
November 2 Kathmandu / Bharatpur / Chitwan
After breakfast, board your flight to Bharatpur. Upon arrival, transfer to Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park encompasses hundreds of square miles of subtropical forest, grasslands, and floodplains and is home to 43 mammal species and over 500 bird species. Check in to the Temple Tiger Lodge, your base for three nights. Set out to explore by elephant-back on an afternoon jungle safari.
Nov 3 - Nov 4 Chitwan
During your time at Chitwan, enjoy morning and afternoon safaris by elephant-back, jeep, boat, or on foot. Search for the park’s notable species including one-horned rhinos, leopards, and mugger crocodiles.
November 5 Chitwan / Bharatpur / Kathmandu
Transfer to the Bharatpur airport this morning for your flight to Kathmandu. Check in to the Hyatt Regency in time for lunch. Enjoy free time this afternoon to relax or explore on your own.
November 6 Kathmandu / Paro, Bhutan
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Paro. Keep your camera ready for spectacular mountain views from the plane. Time permitting, visit the Ta Dzong; originally built as a watchtower, and the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects, and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Check in to Zhiwa Ling Hotel for dinner and overnight.
November 7 Paro / Bumthang
Rise early this morning for your flight to Bumthang, a deeply spiritual region, shrouded in religious legend. Check in to Hotel Wangdicholing, your base for two nights. After lunch, visit Wangdicholing Palace, the former home of the second king of Bhutan. Continue up the valley to visit Kurjey Lhakhang and Jambay Lhakhang, then cross the lovely Bumthang River to visit the Tamshing Mona-stery, founded in 1501. Make a stop at the Red Panda Brewery, Bumthang Cheese/Dairy Facility, and the Bumthang Distillery.
November 8 Bumthang
Today venture into the Ura Valley, a lovely area of open countryside dotted with forests and tiny villages surrounded by lush pastures. At Ura-la Pass enjoy splendid views of Bhutan’s highest peak, Mt. Gangkhar Puensum, over 24,800 feet high. Visit Ura Village and a temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, to view a huge statue of the master and paintings of his life and teachings.
November 9 Bumthang / Trongsa
After breakfast, drive to Trongsa and cross the 11,000-foot-high Yutong-la Pass to the Chumey Valley, famous for Yathra (woolen fabric) weaving. Continue to Trongsa and check in to the Yangkhil Resort in time for lunch. An afternoon birding tour may reveal emerald doves, large niltava, and russet bush warblers.
November 10 Trongsa / Phobjikha
This morning visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong, the largest fortress in Bhutan. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power for centuries, and today is an important administrative building. Then depart for the glacial-carved Phobjika Valley, a stunning wide-open grassland, and the winter home of the endangered black-necked crane. Visit the Black-necked Crane Information Center for wonderful views of the cranes through high-powered telescopes and spotting scopes. Check in to the Dewachan Hotel for the next two nights.
November 11 Phobjikha
Today attend the annual Black-necked Crane Festival in the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa, a lovely Buddhist monastery overlooking the verdant valley below. Mingle with monks and villagers to enjoy folk songs and dances honoring this sacred bird.
November 12 Phobjikha / Punakha
After a scenic drive into the Punakha Valley, check in to the Densa Boutique Resort in time for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness,” one of Bhutan’s most majestic structures. Overnight at the Densa Boutique Resort for the next two nights.
November 13 Punakha
Rise early this morning for a full day of hiking and bird watching in the beautiful broad-leaf forest of the Tashithang Valley. A stroll along the thundering Mo-chu River may reveal plumbeous redstarts, blue whistling thrushes, river lapwings, crested kingfishers, slaty-back forktails, ibisbills, white-bellied herons, and scarlet finches. Return to Punakha for dinner and overnight.
November 14 Punakha / Thimphu
This morning, visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to fertility and built by Lama Drupka Kunley—one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, he’s nicknamed “The Divine Madman,” for his eccentric behavior. Then set out for a spectacular drive through the mountains with a stop at Dochu-la Pass, one of the most scenic spots in Bhutan. Arrive in Bhutan’s lively capital this evening and check in to the Termalinca Hotel for the next two nights.
November 15 Thimphu
Spend a full day exploring Thimphu, the main residence of the king, and its environs. Cultural attractions include the National Library, Folk Heritage Museum, and the Painting School. If time permits, visit the handicraft emporium to shop for masks, jewelry, hand-woven textiles, and carpets.
November 16 Thimphu / Paro
Today set out for a full-day trek to Tiger’s Nest. Perched on a cliff above the Paro Valley, it is the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries. This wonderful hike, coupled with dramatic scenery and the melodic murmur of chanting monks, is an expedition highlight. Dinner and overnight at Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a stunning guesthouse that combines authentic Bhutanese architecture with 21st-century amenities.
November 17 Paro / Bangkok, Thailand
After a morning at leisure, board your afternoon flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival transfer to Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel for dinner and overnight.
November 18 Bangkok / USA
Board your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.