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Nepal & Bhutan Journey

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Nepal & Bhutan Journey

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Description

Journey into the heart of Nepal and experience the colourful sights of this enchanting region. Mingle with local villagers and craftspeople, visit temples and sacred Buddhist sites, travel the cobbled streets of tiny mountain towns and search for unique wildlife. From the whirlwind of Kathmandu to the lush jungle of Chitwan National Park, and with plenty of delightful hidden gems in between, you’ll take an unforgettable tour of Nepal then turn your sights to Bhutan, known for its breathtaking natural scenery, quiet towns and few tourist numbers. This 18-day trip offers scenic delights, an insight into the local culture and plenty of adventure.

Trip Name
Nepal & Bhutan Journey
Last Updated
2024-05-25
Days
18
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Take a jeep safari with a local guide in Chitwan National Park – a beauty brimming with exotic wildlife – and you may be lucky enough to spot rhinos or elusive leopards and tigers.
  • Visit a Tibetan refugee camp and get to know the community before taking on a cooking demonstration to learn how to create traditional momos (steamed dumplings).
  • Hike to Taktsang, commonly known as the Tiger's Nest, the small monastery clinging to a rocky cliff 900 metres above the valley floor, and soak in its magnificence.
  • Discover the 15th-century fertility temple of Chimi Lhakhang, and visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong, an ancient fortress and religious centre that sits at the confluence of two rivers.
  • Experience Bhutanese hospitality in the Paro Valley when you enjoy a homecooked meal at a rustic farmhouse and opt to take a soak in a traditional hot stone bath.
  • By travelling on this trip, you'll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Forget Me Not. Donations help them provide job training, work experience and employment opportunities for young people who've grown up in institutionalised Nepalese orphanages.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance fees only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your group leader or local representative know you are interested at the Welcome Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and group leader or local representative are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Arrive in Kathmandu and take your complimentary airport transfer to the hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your trip leader and fellow travellers. The evening is free to explore the streets of Kathmandu, whose mixture of ancient architecture and modern development, and rich artistic and cultural heritage means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life, and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats, and sacred cows. You may like to join your leader and group for an optional dinner at one of Kathmandu's fine Nepali restaurants.
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Weather permitting, you'll have the option to take a Mount Everest scenic flight this morning. This experience will take you over Sagamartha National Park through a crescendo of the highest peaks in the world, getting up close to Mount Everest. After breakfast, you'll explore Kathmandu, visiting Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here you'll see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats. You'll also visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the most significant Buddhist shrines in the world, where you can observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa. After lunch, it's time to explore Swayambhunath Temple (the Monkey Temple). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the city's most famous temples and fascinatingly reflects Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. From here, you'll head to Durbar Square, which sits at the front of the old royal palace. You'll get a chance to admire the beautiful temples and browse the stalls of merchant's wares. The evening is yours to explore the city as you wish.
Day 3 - Pokhara
Today you'll leave your hotel early and hit the road to Pokhara in a private vehicle. Time to relax after you arrive. If you wish, you can stroll around and take in the views of the lake (Phewa Tal), which is the second largest in Nepal.
Day 4 - Pokhara
If you're an early riser, you'll have the option to wake up early and enjoy the sunrise over Sarangkot Hill this morning. Then, after breakfast, you'll visit the Peace Pagoda, where spectacular views of the mountains await. Take in vistas that span the Annapurnas to the famous fishtail peak, Machhapuchhare, and back to Pokhara. From here, you'll visit the fascinating International Mountain Museum to learn the amazing tales of past climbing expeditions – some ending in triumph, some ending in tragedy. After a morning of exploring, you'll head to a local Tibetan Refugee Camp for lunch. You'll hear stories of their journey from Tibet to Nepal, learn about local life and take part in a traditional cooking demonstration to find out how to make delicious momos (steamed dumplings). Of course, you'll sit down for a group lunch and tuck into the fruits of your labour. In the afternoon, you'll take a scenic boat ride across the lake (Phewa Tal). You can stretch your legs and check out Taal Barahi temple in the middle of the lake or simply admire the views from the boat.
Day 5 - Bandipur
Today you'll travel to Bandipur by private vehicle. This traditional Nepalese town is a natural treasure and one of the country's hidden gems. Bandipur was once an essential stop for traders travelling to Tibet, and the town's single main street is still lined with buildings that once housed a wide variety of merchants. Many of the buildings have been converted now, but their architecture remains. Enjoy a peaceful stay in this charming, rural location.
Day 6 - Bandipur
Enjoy a day of free time to explore Bandipur further. The surrounding hills are ideal for hiking along trails that will take you through tribal villages and hilltop shrines that once doubled as fortresses. Bandipur is saddled on a high ridge above Dumre, making for an exceptional view of the Himalayan panorama. You may prefer to visit the town's temples or relax with a coffee and a spectacular view.
Day 7 - Chitwan National Park
After breakfast, you'll drive to Chitwan National Park. After arriving and settling in, you'll be introduced to the camp staff and resident naturalists, who'll discuss the activities for the upcoming days. A late-afternoon safari will take you through forests and across grasslands to spot wildlife and explore the park. In the early evening, the local Tharu dance troupe may perform a cultural program. You'll enjoy dinner as a group and then the evening will be all yours – maybe relax in the bar and discuss the day's animal sightings or listen to the stirrings of the jungle at night.
Day 8 - Chitwan National Park
Embark on an early-morning excursion. This could include another safari to different parts of the park (in search of the great Indian rhino, deer and exotic birdlife) or joining one of the other activities available in the park. After breakfast, you’ll leave the lodge and go on a dugout canoe adventure on the Rapti River. This is an exciting trip with chances to catch a glimpse of marsh mugger crocodiles and various birds that inhabit the riverbanks. A program will be organised for the rest of the day and may include further excursions by jeep or a visit to one of the nearby villages.
Day 9 - Bhaktapur
If you’re an avid wildlife lover, an optional early-morning birdwatching safari is available today – a worthwhile addition to your trip. After breakfast, drive along the Trisuli River to Bhaktapur and enjoy a stop along the riverbank for lunch. Bhaktapur was once the capital of Nepal and the Great Malla Kingdom during the 15th century. Its rich heritage, inspiring temples and artisanal history played a big part in Bhaktapur being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy an evening of exploration on your own, soak up the lovely atmosphere in one of the local cafes, or simply relax in your hotel.
Day 10 - Kathmandu
Spend the morning exploring Bhaktapur's famous temples, starting at Durbar Square, which is said to be the most beautiful piece of art in Nepal. Durbar Square is home to the majestic Lion Gate and Golden Gate. You’ll also visit the Pashupati Temple – a replica of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. In the afternoon, drive to Kathmandu. The evening is yours to spend as you wish – your group may like to head out for an optional final dinner as your Nepal portion of the trip soon comes to an end.
Day 11 - Kathmandu
Enjoy the last day in Kathmandu before the Bhutan portion of the trip starts. Your leader can help with recommendations on things to do and see and nice places where to grab a bite and watch people go by.
Day 12 - Paro - Thimphu
Time has come to say goodbye to Nepal and board your flight from Kathmandu to Paro. After arriving at Paro Airport and making your way through immigration and customs formalities, you will be greeted by your guide and driver and warmly welcomed to the enchanting Land of the Thunder Dragon. Drive alongside mountains, rivers, and fields of red rice to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city. If you arrive in the morning, you'll have lunch and then head out for some sightseeing. Stop in at the Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory, Bhutan’s most famous traditional incense maker, as well as the colourful Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre. If you arrive in the afternoon, you'll meet the rest of your group in the evening for a welcome meeting before heading out together for dinner. Take an evening wander through the fascinating streets of Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without a traffic light!
Day 13 - Thimphu
Today begins with a pleasant walk that meanders gently up the valley through paddy fields, pristine woodlands, and a Tibetan village, a trail that continues uphill (1 hour) to the Cheri Dorji Dhen monastery – built in 1620 by Shabdrung, the first ruler of Bhutan. Back in Thimphu, stop to enjoy the incredible views from the Buddha Dordenma before visiting Simply Bhutan, a living museum where you can explore the traditional homes and lifestyles of the Bhutanese. You may like to try your hand at archery, Bhutan's national sport. Stop by the National Memorial Chorten – many Thimphu residents consider this to be the heart and soul of the city and gather here every day to pray and walk clockwise around the chorten. Afterward, visit a local institute where students become masters of Bhutan's 13 national arts and crafts - from carpentry and masonry to paper making and embroidery. The incredible National Textile Museum is a great way to learn more about the history of craft in Bhutan and if you’re in the mood for a spot of shopping, the National Handicrafts Emporium offers high-quality traditional goods and a small family-run enterprise that manufactures paper and paper products using traditional methods.
Day 14 - Punakha
This morning, drive to Punakha – the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. Stop at Dochula Pass for a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, the majestic Gangkhar Puensum. Continue the journey before taking another break. Enjoy a short walk to visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in 1499 by lama Ngawang Chogyel. Arrive in Punakha for a good night’s rest before another day of exploration tomorrow.
Day 15 - Punakha
After breakfast we head out on a short hike (1.5 hours) to Khamsum Yulley Monastery – an elaborately decorated chorten, built to ward off evil spirits and bring peace and harmony to all living things. As with many monasteries in Bhutan, your leader may need to hunt around for the caretaker with the keys to have a look inside! Afterwards, head down to the convergence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers, two of the main rivers of Bhutan, and admire breathtaking views of the majestic Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in the country, as well as the cantilever bridge that spans across the river. Drive up to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery and take in the serenity and the views of this mountaintop site. Return to Punakha for the evening.
Day 16 - Paro
This morning head back over the Dochula Pass and continue to Thimphu. The roads in Bhutan are narrow, and while the distances don’t appear to be very far, due to the nature of the roads and the many valleys they pass through, travelling can take some time – so this is a good chance to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. After lunch continue into the Paro Valley, stretching your legs with an optional wander around town on arrival. Get a good night's sleep tonight as tomorrow will be an active and exciting day!
Day 17 - Paro / Tiger's Nest Monastery
After an early breakfast followed by a short drive, prepare for your hike to see the legendary Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) – a magnificent monastery, clinging on a rock cliff 900 metres above the valley floor. After approximately 1 hour ascending the mountainside, reach a small teahouse that has a wonderful panoramic view of the temple and the ideal place to enjoy lunch. For those interested, it’s possible to get a closer view by hiking another 45 minutes to 1 hour (each direction) to reach the small chorten directly across from the temple. Anyone not interested in hiking any further can relax at the teahouse and enjoy the view. In the evening, after returning to Paro, experience Bhutanese hospitality and a taste of tradition with a home-cooked meal at a local farmhouse. Soak up the friendly atmosphere and consider taking an optional hot stone bath. A great way to relax after your hiking, this bath is a form of traditional Bhutanese medicine where fresh river water is mixed with local herbs and heated with fire-roasted river stones. A soak in these soothing waters is bound to revive and relax you.
Day 18 - Paro
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before a departure transfer to Paro airport for your flight out of Bhutan.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
03-09-202420-09-2024AUD $ 8,204-
06-09-202423-09-2024AUD $ 7,538-
16-09-202403-10-2024AUD $ 7,538-
23-09-202410-10-2024AUD $ 7,758-
07-10-202424-10-2024AUD $ 8,532-
10-10-202427-10-2024AUD $ 7,461-
14-10-202431-10-2024AUD $ 8,860-
18-10-202404-11-2024AUD $ 8,217-
21-10-202407-11-2024AUD $ 8,460-
28-10-202414-11-2024AUD $ 8,460-
04-11-202421-11-2024AUD $ 8,217-
08-11-202425-11-2024AUD $ 7,839-
03-03-202520-03-2025AUD $ 7,834-
21-03-202507-04-2025AUD $ 7,834-
07-04-202524-04-2025AUD $ 9,050-
18-04-202505-05-2025AUD $ 9,050-
01-09-202518-09-2025AUD $ 8,705-
12-09-202529-09-2025AUD $ 8,705-
19-09-202506-10-2025AUD $ 9,050-
03-10-202520-10-2025AUD $ 9,050-
10-10-202527-10-2025AUD $ 9,400-
17-10-202503-11-2025AUD $ 9,400-
24-10-202510-11-2025AUD $ 9,400-
31-10-202517-11-2025AUD $ 9,400-
10-11-202527-11-2025AUD $ 9,400-
17-11-202504-12-2025AUD $ 9,050-

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights),Guesthouse (3 nights),Lodge (2 nights)

Transport

Private vehicle,Plane

Map