Jan 24, 2024
Bhutan & Nepal
Nepal & Bhutan Expedition 2024
No NPE trip is complete without getting to know the people there and learning about their culture. Bhutan will provide us with incredible encounters with locals while showing us the heritage of the Buddhists and its importance in this tiny nation, known for the happiness of its people and unique temples.
We are proud to offer this new expedition to these great countries. Using more than 25 years of experience crafting small group travels, we can ensure that this Nepal-Bhutan expedition is the most complete and unique in the market.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP EXTRAORDINARY
- Arrive in Kathmandu and visit their most impressive «stupas»
- Explore the medieval city of Bhaktapur, stopping by the Pottery Square to admire their unique handicrafts and visit the UNESCO Boudhanath Stupa.
- Take a sightseeing flight over the majestic Himalayas and enjoy their breathtaking views.
- Enjoy a full day of Safari in Nepal’s most important National Park, Chitwan, in search of the royal Bengal Tiger.
- Fly to Paro, drive to Thimpu and visit the fascinating Buddha statues around the city.
- Enjoy the panoramic views of the Dochu La pass on your way to the outstanding Phobjikha valley.
- Hike to the Kumbu village through bamboo forests and get in touch with locals.
- Visit Tigers Nest, built on a sheer cliff face at 2950 m (9678 ft.). Undoubtedly the most impressive and beautiful Buddhist temple in the world.
«Heaven is a myth, Nepal is real»
If you have any questions, please let us know. We are here to help you!
Itinerary in Brief
Arrive in Kathmandu
Upon arrival in Kathmandu, an NPE representative will pick you up, transfer you to your hotel, and assist you with the check-in. Lunch will be served at the hotel.
In the afternoon, head towards Kathmandu Durbar Square, the heart of Kathmandu’s old city. Explore the historic temples, royal squares, little alleys, and architectural wonders while taking in the locals’ libations and prayers to various gods and goddesses. Take a stroll around Ason’s spice market and historic commercial center.
Afterward, drive to Swayambhunath, one of the world’s most famed Buddhist stupas. The temple, commonly referred to as the monkey temple after the tribe of monkeys inhabiting the
highlands, is majestically perched on a hill overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. You can better comprehend why Kathmandu is a meeting place for old religions and cultures by looking at the all-seeing, symbolic eyes of the Buddha depicted in 17th-century murals.
Overnight at Dwarika’s Hotel. (L & D).
Drive to medieval Bhaktapur and full exploration of the town
After breakfast, drive to Bhaktapur to learn more about this gorgeous city’s vibrant culture and rich history.
Bhaktapur is an architectural marvel and the most meticulously maintained medieval town in the Kathmandu Valley. As you go past historic homes and courtyards, Hindu and Buddhist idols can be seen everywhere. Before lunch, stop by Pottery Square to see local artists at work and try your hand at making some authentic regional pottery. Stop in Boudhanath or Bhaktapur for lunch.
In the Afternoon, visit Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the spiritual center for the Tibetan people living in exile in Nepal. Located on the old trade route leading to Lhasa, this enormous, ancient Buddhist stupa is one of the largest in the world. In addition to its religious significance, the area around the stupa is colorful, distinctive, and lively, and it boasts an extensive collection of Tibetan artifacts, brocades, and jewelry.
We will visit the monasteries close to the stupa and the marvelous Pashupatinath, the holiest and oldest
Hindu temple in Nepal, the home of Shiva. On the banks of the revered Bagmati River is this beautiful Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva’s worship. The river is vital to Nepalese culture because ceremonies revolve around this sacred river that empties into the Ganges. Tourists can take in the views and sounds of the temple from the eastern bank of the river even though only Hindus are permitted inside the temple
and its courtyard.
Observe the magnificent Arati, an elaborate Hindu lighting ceremony done each evening by a Hindu priest. By holding oil lamps and rotating them in a circle while performing the Aarati, the priests honor the Divine. This ceremony fosters the unity of God and the followers by allowing everyone to participate in it.
Overnight at Dwarika’s Hotel (B, L, D)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to Pokhara (25 mins flight).
Upon arrival, start your sightseeing tour of Pokhara Valley, including 1-hour boating on Phewa Lake.
Afterward, drive (45 minutes) to Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge for lunch.
In the afternoon, take an optional short walk to a village next to the lodge or stay in leisure for the rest of
Overnight at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge (B, L, D).
Through Pokhara communities
On this day, you will walk through communities of varied groups and castes. This walk is known as the Bhimirepani Walk. It takes you to a remote and rustic Sundar Gaun (above Khaste Tal), then through thick local forests to Naraspur and through Bhimirepani before returning to the lodge.
Overnight at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge. (B, L, D)
On this day, you will be transferred to the airport for a domestic flight to the wild and beautiful Chitwan (20-minute flight).
Upon arrival, transfer for approximately an hour to your lodge. Once we arrive at the lodge, we will have a briefing about the activities in Chitwan, followed by lunch.
In the afternoon, participate in the Jungle activities in the lodge’s surroundings.
Overnight at Barahi Jungle Lodge. (B, L, D)
Wildlife Viewing & Tharu show
After breakfast, enjoy a full day of Safari in the renowned Chitwan National Park. Safari activities at the park include wildlife viewing with Jeep Safari, Jungle walks, bird watching, river safaris, wildlife viewing, and photographing with highly experienced naturalists. A journey into the habitat of the greater one-horned Rhinoceros spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Sambar deer, and barking deer and an abundance of flora and fauna. Get prepared for the rare sightings of a leopard, sloth bear, or even the Royal Bengal Tiger.
In the evening, enjoy 1 hour of Tharu Local Dance.
(All activities may vary as per season and local conditions).
Overnight at Barahi Jungle Lodge. (B, L, D)
Back to Kathmandu
Transfer to the domestic airport for your flight back to Kathmandu after breakfast. Transfer to your hotel after arrival.
Drive to Patan in the evening and explore the square’s nooks and crannies, as well as the beautiful Patan museum, which is housed in one of the Malla era’s rebuilt royal palaces. Enjoy Patan’s exquisite array of carved temples, palace courtyards, water spouts, public baths, traditional neighborhoods, and complex wood, stone, and metal carvings.
Afterward, we will have all evening free to rest and recharge or to explore the city if wanted.
Overnight at Dwarika’s Hotel. (B).
To Paro and transfer to majestic Thimpu
After breakfast, we will be transferred to Kathmandu’s airport for our scheduled flight to Paro.
The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering dazzling scenic views of some of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you approach the Paro valley, you will pass forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) glistening below and the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower) on a hill above the town.
Upon arrival in Paro, your local guide will meet you and transport you to your hotel in Thimphu (1-hour drive).
Visit the Tamchog Lhakhang en route. It was built by Thangtong Gyalpo, a trailblazing engineer who popularized the building of suspension bridges in Tibet and Bhutan. Only two of the more than 58 bridges erected nationwide are still standing. At the foot of the Tamchog Lhakhang, one of these bridges is still in good condition.
Continue your drive to your hotel in Thimphu to check in and relax.
Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan’s Himalayan kingdom, is a center for traditional Bhutanese art, architecture, and culture. Over 100,000 people live there, including the nation’s royal family, at 2,320 meters (7656 feet). Here you can observe contemporary Bhutan blended with more traditional life features—a crucible for urbanization. Fun fact: The only national capital city in the world without traffic
signals is Thimphu!
You will go to the National Memorial Chorten later in the day. This well-known monument in Thimphu was constructed in 1974 in honor of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third King and sometimes referred to as the “Father of Modern Bhutan.” This four-storey structure was built to be seen as the most visible religious landmark in the Dragon Kingdom. Both citizens of Thimphu and followers from other parts of the nation use it as a significant venue of worship. Mandalas, statues, and religious teachings are all carved inside.
After that, continue driving to Buddha Dordenma. Over 100,000 tiny Buddha sculptures, each like the Buddha Dordenma itself, each fashioned of bronze and coated in gold, fill this enormous Shakyamuni Buddha statue. It is one of the highest Buddha statues in the world, with a height of 51.5 m (169 ft). The figure fulfills a prophecy that dates back to the eighth century and was found by Terton Pema Lingpa, who was known as the Discoverer of Religious Treasures at the time.
Next, visit the Royal Takin Preserve, located ten minutes from Thimphu. The Takin is Bhutan’s emblematic animal. According to legend, Drupa Kunley, also known as “the Divine Madman,” was a great Buddhist yogi who created the animal. Only Bhutan and the western section of Arunachal Pradesh are home to this particular takin species. The fourth monarch chose to dissolve the former zoo since it went against Bhutan’s religious and environmental values to keep animals in cages. The animals were released into the wild, but the takins were too domesticated to make it and roamed the streets of Thimphu. As a result, The Royal Takin Preserve was created. The creatures are now housed in a sizable enclosure where guests can watch them.
Overnight at Zhiwaling Ascent, Thimphu. (B, L, D)
To Phobjikha (Gangtey)
After an early breakfast this morning, we will be chauffeured to Phobjikha (approx. 4–5 hour drive). The road climbs steeply through a scenic pine forest and cedar trees to Dochu La pass (10,334 feet/3,150 meters). The pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges.
Stop en route at Dochu La to see the 108 stupas erected in memory of the slain Bhutanese soldiers during military operations for the kingdom.
After passing through Wangdue, the road gradually ascends to Lawa La pass, from which you can see Mount Jhomolhari (24,035 feet/7,326 meters) and Mount Jichu Drake (21,856 feet/6,662 meters) in all their glory. As we travel, the landscape abruptly changes, going from mountain forest to high-altitude dwarf bamboo forest.
Check into the hotel when you get to Phobjikha. Relax while taking in the stunning views of the Gangtey valley.
The Phobjikha valley is a glacial valley with a U-shape. A group of critically endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau each winter use it as their winter home. This crucible of beauty is on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Some people refer to the entire region as Gangtey, well-known for its magnificent nature trails.
Later in the afternoon, we will be escorted to the Gangtey Goemba (monastery), perched on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the whole Phobjikha valley. In 1613, the grandson and reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, Pema Thinley, founded the Nyingma temple here, which has grown into today’s Gangtey Goemba. It serves as the seat of the ninth reincarnation of the body of the Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa.
Following that, you’ll stroll along the Gangtey Nature Trail, one of the best hiking trails in Bhutan. Emerging from trees, the path opens up to a fabulous view of the valley and marshy conservation area below. The trail will end in the village of Khewang as you cross the Nake Chu.
Altitude descent: 224 m (734 ft). Distance: 4.6 km (2.9 mi). Hiking time: 2 hours.
Overnight at RKPO, Phobjikha. (B, L, D)
Hike to Kumbu Village
The morning begins with a 30-minute drive from Gangtey to your hike’s starting point near Longteng village on the east-west highway. Start by walking downwards, following the path to the right of the road.
The path leads through bush bamboo towards a small cluster of village houses. The last part of the trail through the forest is steeper until you reach the pass at 3,586 meters (11,766 ft) with impressive views of the Gangtey Goemba, the Shedra, and the valley below. After passing the pass, you continue down towards the idyllic Kumbu village.
It is possible to get picked up from here, or you may continue down to the Shedra. The whole hike will take about four hours, and you will be back at your hotel by lunchtime.
Altitude gain: 431 meters (1414 ft). Distance: 7 km (4.4 mi). Hiking time: 4 hours.
Return to the hotel for lunch. The afternoon is at leisure.
Optional – Visit the Black-necked Crane Education Centre. A visit to this center is a great way to learn about the endangered black-necked crane and the folklore surrounding them. These splendid birds occupy an exceptional place in Bhutanese culture. The center is equipped with spotting scopes installed to improve your experience and watch the cranes as they fly around. They are only seen from November to February, but an enclosure is where rescued cranes are rehabilitated.
After breakfast, we will be transferred to Punakha (3 hours drive).
Before reaching Punakha, stop en route and hike to Chimi Lhakhang (a 30-minute hike) Perched on a hill in the valley’s center, Chimi Lhakhang is a temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He was also known as the “Divine Madman.” He used humor, song, and dramatic reenactment to disperse his teachings in the 15th century. Chimi Lhakhang is widely known as the temple of fertility; locals come here to receive blessings from the lama to be blessed with a child. Locals also bring their newborns to be named there.
Afterward, we will be driven to your hotel for check-in and rest.
Later in the afternoon, drive to visit the Punakha Dzong.
Constructed in 1637, this was the second dzong built in Bhutan and served as its seat of government for many years. Widely referred to as the most beautiful dzong in the country, the towering white walls form a lovely contrast to the surrounding greens and blues. It is the central monastic body’s winter residence and holds a very important relic over which many wars were fought with the Tibetans. Bhutan’s kings are crowned here before taking their throne in Thimphu.
Overnight at Dhensa, Punakha. (B, L, D)
Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten Hike and full exploration of Punaka
You will be driven to the suspension bridge and hike for about 45 minutes. This three-storey Lhakhang is a recent addition to Bhutan’s string of architecturally splendid buildings. Built by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon, it houses representations of the tantric forms of Buddhist deities that subjugate enemies and ward off harmful influences on the people of Bhutan. Built to protect the country and the King, Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten also offers impressive views of the valley below.
Post the hike, drive back to your hotel, and rest of the morning.
Later in the afternoon, you will drive to visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery.
Perched on a ridge amongst the pine trees gleams the magnificent structure of the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang. This temple houses a 14 ft (4.2 m) bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara, made by local Bhutanese artisans. Other statutes include The Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, and the 21 Taras. The temple complex also houses a permanent school of higher learning and a meditation center for nuns. Apart from religious training, it provides vocational training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making, and thangka painting.
Overnight at Dhensa, Punakha. (B, L, D)
Back to Paro
Discovering historic Paro
bringing Buddhist teachings and meditation here on this cliff. Taktsang is one of the most revered and sacred of all Buddhist sights around the world.
Fly back home:
Born out of Mr. Dwarika Das Shrestha’s quest to preserve the Kathmandu Valley’s heritage, Dwarika’s Hotel is a sanctuary for the architectural grandeur of the Newari civilization. The intricately carved wooden treasures, with each artifact being an original, are the soul of the Dwarika’s. Titled as an oasis in the middle of a bustling city, the peaceful courtyards display the grand architectural wooden masterpieces while being overlooked by the meticulously decorated spacious rooms, offering a sumptuous lifestyle deep-rooted in Nepalese culture.
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge
Perched 1,000 feet above the Pokhara Valley with a spectacular Himalayan backdrop, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge provides a perfect haven, the essence of tranquillity. Ideal for guests pre- and post-trek, or for those wishing to take day walks exploring local communities, bird-watching, gentle exercise, or just to relax in a typical Nepalese rural setting.
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is a member of Secret Retreats, Rare, Earthchangers, and Kiwano, select groups of some of the world’s most special regenerative tourism experiences.
Barahi Jungle Lodge
Barahi Jungle Lodge with its selective location on the banks of Rapti is set in the small village of Tharus. The lodge adjoining the forest from two sides offers a breathtaking view of the National Park from its river-facing stand-alone cottages. The ambiance and the style of the interior of our wildlife resort in Chitwan give a stunning insight into the aboriginal Tharu culture of Nepal interlaced with the wilderness of Chitwan.
While specific elements of Bhutanese dzong and farmhouse architecture have been incorporated into the design, Zhiwa Ling Ascent consciously exemplifies the goals of minimalism.
The result is a contemporary style with simple, minimal overtones.
The hotel is modest in size with an emphasis on a personal connection, created by the many open spaces throughout the building. These spaces provide both spiritual sanctuary and respite for weary travelers.
Nestled in the heart of the Punakha Valley, RKPO is the perfect starting point to explore this fantastic valley. This cozy hotel is just a few minutes away from Punakha Dzong, the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery, the Chimi Lhakhang Temple, and the Tachog Lhakhang (Iron Chain) Bridge. It has everything you need to relax, plus a great view of the valley, making it the perfect spot for photographers. This excellent hotel will be perfect for a good night’s rest after a long day exploring the wonders of Bhutan.
Dhensa sits in the heart of the tranquil and lush Punakha Valley. Flanked by thick pine forests, it overlooks the Punakha river and hundreds of paddy fields that stair-step down to the valley floor. We invite you to relax, revive your senses, and experience the simple beauty of our surroundings.
Located just 10 minutes from Paro’s airport, this small 29-room resort offers Bhutan’s most exclusive private villas. COMO Uma Paro enjoys an outstanding location in the Paro Valley while providing exceptional views of the fantastic Paro Valley. This is, undoubtedly, the best hotel option in Bhutan.
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