The Tiger's Eye Monastery Bhutan
Caption: The Tiger's Eye Monastery Bhutan
Caption: Antique wooden bridge. Punakha, Butan
Caption: View of Himalayas from Pokhara, Nepal
Caption: Punakha Dzong Monastery, Butan
Caption: Kathmandu, Nepal
Caption: Sunset time in Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Caption: Nepal
Caption: Kathmandu, Nepal
Caption: Pashupatinath Temple. Kathmandu, Nepal

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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 3 Involves a high level of physical activity over an extended period, in terrain that may often be uneven, slippery and steep. You would be expected to carry your own backpack and equipment. Not suitable if you have limited mobility.
Destination: Adventure in the Kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan
Duration: 15 days, 14 nights
Flight information: Flights depart London Heathrow on the day prior to the start of the tour arriving into Kathmandu [KTM] on Day 1 and depart from Kathamandu [KTM] on Day 15.
Pickup location: Kathmandu Airport [KTM]

Overview

Choose your own departure date for your group.

This is an adventure based in the heartlands of the Himalayas, exploring the history and culture of these nations among excellent natural beauty, massive mountains and with breathtaking short treks.

We begin in Nepal, with the chaos of sounds, smells and action that is Kathmandu. Experience the spirituality of Nepal with visits to temples and stupas and gain an understanding of the Nepalise history and culture with museum and city tours.  Nepal is a place abundant with wildlife, as you will experience for yourself at the Chitwan National Park World Heritage Site. Where better to experience the contrast of cultural Kathandu with the peace and serenity of Nepal's countryside? We walk through the lush sub-tropical jungles of Chitwan to experience for ourselves the sights and sounds of life here.

A spiritual, modern country with one foot still rooted in its past, Bhutan has embraced modernisation without losing its soul. This is no ordinary place - Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures gross national happiness as an indicator of its prosperity. The government’s ‘high quality-low volume’ tourism policy ensures a visual and spiritual feast for all visitors. We hike to view one of the most revered pilgrimage sites of the Buddhist world, the Taktshang Lhakhang, popularly known as the “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery. Perched precariously on a sheer rock face , the only sounds heard here are the murmurs of wind, water and the chanting of monks. The local cuisine is another must-try experience, but beware - Bhutan is the only country in the world where chilli is not used as a seasoning but a vegetable! Sampling the national dish “ema-datshi” is a spicy experience!

Itinerary

PRE-JOURNEY - You may need to depart the UK the day before the adventure begins to arrive into Kathmandu on Day 1.

Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Kathmandu, Nepal
DAY 2 - Kathmandu City Tour
DAY 3 - Royal Chitwan National Park
DAY 4 - Wildlife Exploration in Chitwan National Park
DAY 5 - Pokhara
DAY 6 - Lumle Trek and Tanchok Village
DAY 7 - Nepali Cultural Exchange
DAY 8 - Return to Kathmandu
DAY 9 - Welcome to Bhutan!
DAY 10 - Thimphu
DAY 11 - Pana Village Walk and Punakha
DAY 12 - Paro and The National Museum
DAY 13 - Hike to the 'Tiger's Nest' Monastery
DAY 14 - Paro to Kathmandu
DAY 15 - Farewell and Home
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Kathmandu, Nepal

A traditional welcome awaits us at Tribhuvan International Airport Kathmandu. After negotiating immigration we travel through the heart of Kathmandu to our hotel. The sights and sounds of the cities are sure to grab your attention as we travel in. If you are not to fatigued by your flight you can join us for a short walk to visit the Boudhanath Stupa in the late afternoon. This is one of the oldest and the biggest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal.

We will enjoy a welcome meal together this evening to meet the rest of the tour group and your Big Journey Company Tour Director. 

Included meals: Dinner 

DAY 2 - Kathmandu City Tour

Today we enjoy a city tour of Kathmandu. We will walk throught the centre of old Kathmandu to experience Kathmandu's eclectic mix of cultures. We visit the Hanumandhoka palace museum, beautiful temples and the Kumari Chowk. The Kumari Chowk is a gilded cage which contains the Raj Kumari, a girl chosen through an ancient and mystical selection process to become the human incarnation of the Hindu goddess, Durga. After the tour of the Kathmandu Durbar Square, we continue towards the local bazaar and its colourful array of stalls selling daily household commodities. We will also enjoy a rickshaw ride to Thamel. 
Today we will also visit Patan Durbar Square. Patan was built in the 3rd century B.C. and later expanded and enriched by other Kings and Queens. Located about 5 km south of Kathmandu, Patan is one of three royal cities in the valley. This is a destination for connoisseurs of fine arts. Patan Durbar Square, like its counterpart in Kathmandu, is an enchanting mélange of palace buildings, artistic courtyards and graceful pagoda temples. 

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Optional extras: MOUNTAIN FLIGHT This flight takes you deep into the Himalayas, flying into valleys close to the rock face, as close as five nautical miles from the Everest itself. Now you can see the stunning beauty of nature; raw, undiluted and truly majestic. Mountain flight offers a panoramic view of the Himalaya in a just one hour. Even those visitors who like the rigors of a trek still don’t miss the opportunity to “conquer” the mountains in one fell swoop. This one hour flight takes you the Eastern Himalayan Ranges of Nepal, some of the highest peaks in the world including Mt. Everest The flight is an altogether different feeling as one comes face to face with the world’s tallest and most enigmatic of Mountains. 

DAY 3 - Royal Chitwan National Park

After breakfast at the hotel this morning, we take a short flight to Bharatpur to experience the gigantic plains of Terai. These grasslands stretch across southern part of Nepal and provide a real contrast to the more usual mountainous terrain of the country. Here we will visit the Royal Chitwan National Park.
Established in 1973, the Royal Chitwan National Park provides a great wildlife experience with its rich flora and fauna. The autumn months are gorgeous, with Himalayan views. We will be accompanied during our time here by a local naturalist.

This afternoon, let your mind wander and relax as we float on a serene trip down the Rapti River in a traditional dugout canoe. Spot for crocodiles and other reptiles sunning themselves on the riverbanks, or admire the graceful lines of Ibises and other waterfowl as we glide silently and peacefully down the river.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 4 - Wildlife Exploration in Chitwan National Park

Today is filled with more spectacular wildlife. We visit the Gharial Hatchery to learn how crocodile's eggs are collected, hatched and returned to river as part of a local conservation project. We will also take an exciting and invigorating walk through the lush sub-tropical jungles of Chitwan. A trained naturalist will take us to prime spots in the area to view deer, rhino, sloth bears and other wildlife. They will also be on hand to provide us with lots of interesting information about the various plants and animals of this environment as we walk.
There will be entertainment provided this evening, where we can enjoy watching the Tharu 'stick dance'. You are more than welcome to join in as the dancers move their hips to the local rhythm!

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 5 - Pokhara

We travel over land to Pokhara today.
Pokhara is a place of remarkable natural beauty. At a lower elevation than that of Kathmandu, it has a much more tropical feel; a fact well appreciated by the beautiful diverse flowers that prosper in this environment. The valleys surrounding Pokhara are home to thick forest, gushing rivers, emerald lakes and of course, views of the world famous Himalayas. The serenity of the lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 6 - Lumle Trek and Tanchok Village

After breakfast we head out to meet our guides and porters to begin our trek around Lumle. This walk through the beautiful countryside to our accommodation for this evening will take about 1.5 - 2 hours.
After lunch at our accommodation, we will visit the local village of Tanchok. The houses here illustrate how the local people live, how they work and give a fascinating first hand view into the day to day traditional village life of Nepal. 

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 7 - Nepali Cultural Exchange

After breakfast, this morning, we embark on a “Day in the Life” of a Nepali village, a day of discovery where we learn firsthand what it’s like to live in the shadow of the Annapurna Massif. We depart for nearby Tomejhong village, where we explore and spend time with the hospitable people who live here.
A Gorkha family will join us for lunch to share insight into their traditions and daily life. The Gorkha people arrived in western Nepal from India centuries ago. Known for their military prowess, courage, and loyalty, many Gorkhas were recruited by the British Army during their occupation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their culture is a fascinating blend of their Hindu roots and local traditions like shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as we’ll learn during this exclusive opportunity for real cultural exchange.
We will enjoy some free time in the late afternoon and evening back at the lodge.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 8 - Return to Kathmandu

After breakfast at the lodge, we trek back to Lumle and then drive to Pokhara. Here we take a connecting flight to return to Kathmandu for the next leg of this adventure.
We will visit Pashupatinath, a sacred Hindu temple complex dating back to 400 A.D. that is located on the banks of the Bagmati River and an outstanding UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 9 - Welcome to Bhutan!

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Paro, Bhutan. This flight is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Your first impression of Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. After clearing customs and visa control we head to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Thimphu has a population of about 100,000. This capital city is made up of just three lines of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights.
The Takin Reserve, Mothithang is on our itinerary for this afternoon. Here we take a quick stroll to a viewing area where you can capture sights of the takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The Takin, sometimes called the goat with attitude, is listed by international conservation agencies as a vulnerable species and it is a very rare animal found only in this region of Asia. This animal has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan for its uniqueness and it association with the country’s national religious history and mythology. If we're lucky, we may also see a few sambar and barking deer.
As evening falls we will visit the Trashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress and monastery that is Bhutan’s administrative and religious centre. This building houses most of the government's offices and also the King's throne room.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 10 - Thimphu

We begin our day today with a visit to the Memorial Chorten, with its golden spires shining in the sun, tinkling bells and an endless procession of elderly people circling around it. This beautiful monument was erected by the royal grandmother in memory of her son, the third king Jigme Dorje Wangchuck.
Later we will make a stop at the Centenary Park where the Walking Buddha resides and where we can visit the Folk Heritage Museum. This museum is dedicated to connecting visitors to the Bhutanese rural past. The principal exhibit is the museum building itself, a restored three-storey traditional rammed mud and timber house. Here you will have an opportunity to witness people preparing local dishes, giving you an insight to the Bhutanese way of cooking. We also visit Drupthop Lhakhang Nunnery, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan, Itvisit Kuensel Phodrang, where the Buddha Dordena resides and takes in the bird's eye view of Thimphu city.
This evening, you can take the opportunity to enjoy a walk up and down the high street lined with little shops of all descriptions. There is always a colourful gathering passing; ubiquitous monks to Bhutanese businessmen, and nomadic farmers here to trade supplies. You can also visit the newly opened Craft Bazaar, which is the Royal Government of Bhutan’s initiative to promote local craftsmanship. These stalls carry only Bhutanese authentic arts and crafts.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 11 - Pana Village Walk and Punakha

After an early breakfast, we depart for Punakha. First stop on the journey will be to visit the oldest fortress in Bhutan. The Simtoka Dzong was built in 1629 and began the idea of building castle-manasteries.
The drive towards Punakha, the winter capital of Bhutan, ascends gradually to the Dochula pass. At over 10,300ft, there are magnificent vistas here of the Himalayan range. We pass the vibrant and colourful Dochula Monastery with its fluttering prayer flags adding to the rich topography.
We make a stop for a walk through paddy fields to the Pana Village to see the 'Chimi Lhakhang’ temple, built to subdue local demons. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning "field" and then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
Before completing our journey to Punakha, after lunch we visit the historic fortress Punakha Dzong. Lying sprawled at the confluence of two rivers, it was built by Shabdrung Nawang in 1637 and remains one of its most majestic structures. We'll return to our hotel tonight for dinner.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 12 - Paro and The National Museum

We make an early start today to begin our drive to Paro.
First stop in Paro will be at the National Museum. Earthquakes have caused severe damage to the main building of the museum and so exhibits are now shown in the new wing. Here we will see a fine collection of old thangka paintings and textiles, ancient weapons, and Bhutanese artifacts. The museum is considered a temple due to the religious objects it houses. We also visit the Paro Dzong, the "Fortress of a Heap of Jewels" which is without doubt one of the kingdom’s finest examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture. Once great catapults here flung stones at invading the Tibetans. Today the dzong houses a monastic school and has two hundred resident monks.
The rest of the day will be spent at your leisure. You may wish to take a walk down Paro’s main street, straight and windswept with its occasional idlers leaning against the storefronts. This is another opportunity to interact with the local people at your own pace and to explore the local area.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 13 - Hike to the 'Tiger's Nest' Monastery

After breakfast, we take a short drive to Ramthanka for a hike to view one of the most revered pilgrimage sites of the Buddhist world, the Taktshang Lhakhang. Taktshang Lhakhang is also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Today's trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery, perched precariously on a sheer rock face 3,000ft above the valley floor. After around 2hrs walking, the cafeteria serves as our midway point and has wonderful views of the Tiger’s Nest. From here it’s about another 1-2 hour’s trek through stunning landscape scenery to reach the monastery. The trek to the Tiger's Nest is approx 4 miles round trip in which you ascend to 10,232 feet in elevation - there are many steps up to reach the monestary. On average, it takes between four and five hours to do the round trip hike, plus one more hour to tour the monastery.
On our return, we will stop once more at the cafeteria for lunch before beginning our descent to Ramthanka base, and return to our hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 14 - Paro to Kathmandu

Today we bid a fond farewell to the majesty of Bhutan and fly back to Nepal on the first leg of our journey home.
During the afternoon spent in Kathmandu there will be time to take in one last excursion, to visit Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur, or ‘the City of Devotees’, is the smallest city in the Kathmandu valley and is located 12km east of Kathmandu. Its main square is famous for the 15th century Palace of 55 Carved Windows as well as the other temples and architectural showpieces including the Lion Gate and the stone temple of Vatsala Devi.
We return to Kathmandu this evening in time for a farewell dinner together, to round off this most spectacular of adventures in style.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

DAY 15 - Farewell and Home

Today we all say goodbye to Kathmandu with many new, cherished memories of an experience of a lifetime. We will be transferred  to the airport in time for flights home.

Included meals: Breakfast  
Accommodation: none 

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More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • Price includes international economy flights from London Heathrow [LHR] to Kathmandu Tribhuvan International airport [KTM] Nepal and returning from Kathamandu [KTM] to London Heathrow [LHR]. Flights from regional UK airports available - please ask at the time of booking. Flight supplement may apply.
  • Economy flights as detailed in the itinerary: Kathmandu to Bharatpur and Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • Return economy flights Kathmandu [KTM] Nepal Paro [PBH] Bhutan
  • Meet & Greet at the airport on arrival and transfer to the hotel.
  • Transfer from the hotel to the airport on the final day.
  • Transport in an air-conditioned deluxe vehicle.
  • Transfers as detailed in the itinerary.
  • Accommodation as detailed in the itinerary.
  • Meals as detailed in the itinerary.
  • English speaking tour guide.
  • Tour Director from The Big Journey Company as well as the local tour guide (subject to minimum group size being reached.)
  • All activities, visits and excursions as detailed in the itinerary.

What's not included

  • Drinks.
  • Gratuities to drivers, guides or rangers etc. Our local travel service providers are paid well and fairly for their work. However, it is usual for groups to tip guides and drivers and it would be reasonable for each group member to factor in a contribution of around USD10 per day.
  • Visas, travel and medical insurance.
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above.
  • Any meals not mentioned in itinerary.
  • Any optional activities offered.

Important information

  • A passport with at least six months validity remaining at the time of entry and a visa are required for entry into Nepal and Bhutan. To obtain a visa upon arrival by air in Nepal you must fill in an application form on arrival and provide a passport photograph. The Nepal visa fee and immigration assistance is included in the cost of the tour.
  • Bhutan travel visas are only issued on arrival, but must be applied for in advance so we will receive visa approval before we travel. It is very important that we have your full, up to date passport details as soon as possible to ensure your visa is issued. The visa fee and Tourism Development Fee are included in the price of the tour. You will be issued with a visa clearance letter in Nepal for the flight to Bhutan. 
  • The altitude of Kathmandu is 1,370m and some guests may be adversely affected by the high altitude - please discuss this with your doctor before departure.
  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour. 
  • Please consult your doctor for advice on vaccinations and innoculations before travel.
  • Check in is after 2 - 3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 – 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable.
  • Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking. The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. VAT number: 290797457. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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