Trek the Druk Path, with stunning views of the surrounding Himalaya
The Druk Path is one of Bhutan's classic treks and follows an ancient, high-level trade route from Paro to Thimpu in a country visited by only a lucky few. Trek through splendid rhododendron forests, past yak herder settlements, across several passes and camp beside clear, blue, mountain lakes with spectacular views of the peaks which border Tibet. Experience Bhutan’s fascinating culture and on specific departures, its colourful festivals with masked dances and general joviality. Note that different departures follow different itineraries - see 'is this trip for you' for more details.
Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus 9 lunches and 9 dinners whilst in Bhutan. The hotel/restaurant meals in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. Bhutanese food can sometimes be considered a little bland - this is generally because chillies are frequently used in traditional dishes, and these are often omitted to adapt to foreigners' tastes. However, you will find an assortment of meat, vegetable, rice and potato dishes and many examples of the infamous 'Ema Datshi' (chillies and cheese) so there will be plenty of nutrients for your day ahead! Whilst camping, the staff will bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon tea and biscuits will be served. At breakfast, dinner and in the afternoons, there is a choice of hot drinks. Breakfasts typically include cereal and/or porridge plus toast and eggs. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route (except on shorter days when it is in camp). Lunch and dinner typically include soup to start, followed by a variety of hot dishes (both local and western) such as potatoes/chips, vegetables, curry, pasta, rice, dhal and vegetables. At dinner time a dessert such as fresh or tinned fruit, fritters or cake is also served. Please note that although some meals will include meat, it is not as readily available whilst camping. Please allow approximately £20-25 ($25-35) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.
Depart London **
Land in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax. *Royal Singi Hotel or similar*
We fly to Paro today. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view (from the left hand side of the plane) of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). After completing visa formalities in Paro, we transfer to our hotel. The Paro valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Its blue pine-covered hills and attractive, solidly built farmhouses among the paddy fields are dominated by the massive dzong, or fort. This afternoon we aim to visit the Paro Dzong and the National Museum above it. Paro Dzong is one of Bhutan's most impressive, and the finest example of Bhutanese architecture you will see. The inward sloping walls form a massive structure that towers over the town. Built in the 17th century it was one of Bhutan's strongest and most important fortresses and it was used on several occasions to defend the Paro Valley from invasions by Tibet. Formally the meeting hall for the National Assembly, the dzong now houses a monastic school and district government offices. Scenes from the 1995 film 'Little Buddha' were filmed in the dzong. West of the dzong a traditional wooden covered bridge called Nyamal Zam, a reconstruction of the original bridge, which was washed away in a flood in 1969. The most famous pictures of Paro Dzong are taken from the west bank of the river, just downstream from the bridge. At the top of the hill above the dzong is the old watchtower known locally as Ta Dzong. Originally built in 1656, it was renovated in 1968 by King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk to house the National Museum. Damaged by the earthquake in 2011, the museum is housed at the present time in a new building above the Ta Dzong. Inside the museum there are collections of masks and thangkas. Please note that the itinerary above could change subject to flight timings, which are generally unpredictable. *Rema Resorts / Dewachen Hotel, or similar *
Today we will have a warm-up hike to Taktsang Monastery. 'Tigers Nest' Monastery, is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then hike up for about 1.5 hours to a viewpoint, for the classic views of the monastic buildings which cling impossibly to the cliff wall opposite. For the energetic, there is the chance to walk another 2 hours to the actual monastery. The walk is good for acclimatization and we recommend you wear trekking boots and take trekking poles and plenty of water. Please note there about 100 steps up and down. Returning to the hotel we have time in the afternoon to explore Paro town. *Rema Resort / Dewachen Hotel, or similar*
Today we start our trek. After breakfast, we have a short drive to about 2620m, just above the ancient Ta Dzong watchtower. The first day's trekking is not long in terms of hours but it’s uphill all the way and we gain quite a lot of height. From our trek start point it is a gentle climb for about 1.5 hours on a jeep track to a prayer wall. The trail then narrows and we continue climbing on a rocky path up a little steeper now through the forest. We have lunch about an hour further on in a clearing and then it’s about an hour’s walk in the afternoon to the Jele La (3550m) and our camp just below the pass and Jele Dzong. If the weather is clear, we can see the Paro Valley below. The energetic can walk further up the ridge from the Jele La to a ruined shepherd hut with a small Bon shrine inside. *Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,530m)*
After breakfast, we walk five minutes back up to the main trail and continue climbing for about half an hour to Jele Dzong. If it is open, we can go and see inside the dzong which dates back to the 14th century. Continuing up the ridge for a short way we can see the Paro Valley way below and if the weather is clear we may even spot Chomolhari in the distance. The trail undulates through thick rhododendron forests this morning - look out for the colourful Monal and Blood Pheasants which inhabit the forests. Lunch is in a forest clearing and we have a short walk in the afternoon to our camp at Rawna at 3860m. (Please note that if there are other trekking groups around we may have to camp at Jangchu Lakha (3700m) or Tsokam (3750m). All 3 campsites are close by, each sitting in different forest clearings. *Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,860m)*
A long day today and probably the hardest walk of the trek. We climb steeply up from camp on a narrow trail for about an hour to rejoin the main trail. We continue climbing through a rocky landscape littered with small rhododendron bushes. We reach a col at 4073m marked with prayer flags and then drop down a short way to a cave. The trail then climbs again quite steeply to a ridge at 4080m, from where on a clear day we get spectacular mountain views including Chomolhari and Jichudrake. We have lunch on the ridge to enjoy the views and then continue a little further up the ridge to 4120m. From here we contour round a little and then drop steeply on a rocky trail to the shores of Jimi Lang Tscho, well known for its trout. *Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,885m)*
Another long but great day's walk with good mountain views. The trail climbs from camp along a rocky trail up to Janye Tscho Lake at 3956m. Climbing even higher to a col at 4150m, we then have a short descent to Simthokha Lake (4090m), the highest lake on our trek. From the lake the trail undulates all the way to our camp at Labana. *Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,100m)*
The trail today climbs gradually up to the Labana Pass at 4235m (the highest point of this trek). The views get better and better and on a clear day we can see Gangar Punsum, Table Mountain and much of the Bhutan Himalaya. Way below is the Thimphu Valley. From the top we traverse the hillside with great mountain views and descend towards Thimphu. There are a couple of small climbs to cols but the general direction is downhill. From the Phajoding Labsa chorten we descend quite steeply to Phajoding Monastery for lunch. There are several temples here and a monastic school and the place is a visited by many Bhutanese. We descend even further through forests of blue pine to the end of our trek at Motithang, just above Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. We should reach our hotel by mid afternoon. The evening is free to explore Thimphu. *Hotel Pedling / Galingkha / Gakhil, or similar*
*Departure starting in Kathmandu on 16th March 2021* Today we spend the day visiting the most important sites in and around Thimpu, including the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and Buddha Point, which is a large Buddha statue built on the hillside overlooking Thimpu. There are several museums in Thimpu and an art school, the post office and the market are interesting and above the town is a takin preserve. Your leader will aim to show you as much as possible in the time available depending on opening times. In the late afternoon, we drive to Paro (1hours drive) *Departures starting in Kathmandu on 18th September 2020 and 8 September 2021 will visit Thimphu Festival, whereas the 7th October 2021 departure will visit Genekha/Dechenphu Festival * We spend the whole day experiencing one of the many vibrant festivals in Bhutan. During the festivals the Bhutanese gather to see the monks and lay dancers dressed in colourful brocade and silk costumes, wearing painted masks re-enacting the stories of the religious and lay history of Bhutan through music and dance. For several days there are masked dances and prayer meetings, and a general carnival atmosphere prevails as many villagers arrive to meet old friends. The Bhutanese all dress in their finest national dress for the festival and one of the highlights is the riot of colours of the magnificent silks on display. Paro and Thimpu are the most popular festivals in Bhutan whereas the one at Dechenphu is much smaller. *Non-festival departure: starting in Kathmandu on 17th October 2020* Today we take an excursion to the nearby town of Punakha. The road climbs steadily out of Thimpu Valley and winds its way through forests to the Dochula Pass. At 3050m (10,000ft) the views over the eastern Himalaya are magnificent although this is most definitely weather dependent! We descend to the valley floor and continue to sub-tropical Punakha. At an altitude of 1350m, the difference in temperature and flora is apparent. Punakha is the winter capital of Bhutan and the dzong was the second one to be built in Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is situated between two rivers and it has survived many fires, an earthquake and a glacial flood. Over the years it has been repaired and added to and has several interesting features to protect it against invasion. In the afternoon we'll drive back to Thimphu to spend the night. *Rema Resorts / Dewachen Hotel, or similar in Paro* *Hotel Pedling / Galingkha / Gakhil, or similar in Thimphu*
*Departures 18th September 2020, 17th October 2020, 8th September 2021 and 7th October 2021: Thimphu sightseeing; drive to Paro* We spend most of today visiting the main sights of the town including the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and Buddha Point, which is a large Buddha statue built on the hillside overlooking Thimpu. There are several museums in Thimpu and an arts school, the post office and the market are interesting and above the town is a takin preserve. Your leader will aim to show you as much as possible in the time available depending on opening times. In the late afternoon, we drive to Paro (1 hour). *Departure starting on 16th March 2021 - Paro Festival* We spend the day at the Paro Festival. *Rema Resorts / Dewachen Hotel, or similar*
Today we fly back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free to explore the temples and markets of Kathmandu or go shopping. There are several sightseeing tours on offer (ask the Exodus representative in Kathmandu), or you may want to explore Kathmandu on your own. You may want to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath or the largest Hindu temple in Nepal at Pashupatinath or the one of the largest Buddhist stupas in Asia at Boudhanath. Once you have had your fill of culture the colourful markets of Thamel are great for souvenir hunting. *Royal Singi Hotel or similar*
The trip ends after breakfast.Depart from Kathmandu in the morning, you will arrive in the UK the same day. Please note that sometimes due to opening times, holidays or festivals we have to change the timings of the sightseeing around. We will endeavour to show you all the sights in the time available. In case it is not possible to visit any of the sights described in the notes above an alternative will be provided. **
* All breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners * All accommodation * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) * Bhutanese visa
Against a background of knowing nothing of Bhutan, I found the trip so educational and broadening of my horizons with regard to the country's culture, customs, history, religion, etc. The trip fulfilled my desire to be immersed in the country's culture. I found it so interesting to listen to the two leaders in an effort to learn as much as possible of the country both of whom went to a great deal of time and effort to impart their knowledge and experience. I also enjoyed being amongst like minded people within the group and enjoyed listening to their stories, especially of their travels already made and those planned in the future.
What an amazing trip which exceeded my expectations. Bhutan has been on my bucket list for many years and I particularly wanted to go on a trip which combined the experience of seeing the Paro festival firsthand, a visit to the Tiger’s Nest monastery and some trekking and this trip does just that. The festival was fantastic and such a wonderful and joyous occasion with the locals in their national dress watching in their hundreds the amazing storytelling through dance. The final day we were treated to a view of the Thangka which was beautiful. It was a real privilege to be able to witness this festival and be part of it. The trek had stunning scenery and was challenging enough I just wish it had been a little warmer at night!. Waking up to snow was a little chilly but the hot water bottles in our sleeping bags at night helped to take the chill off!
Loved it, loved it, loved it! I had wanted to visit Bhutan after seeing a film about scientists looking for the Yeti decades ago. Didn't see a yeti but found a country that is so special, with a landscape that is so special and with people that are so special. After the dirty madness of landing in Kathmandu the feeling of peace on landing at Paro airport for the start of the Bhutan trip was very special. Bhutan is a clean, welcoming country at peace with itself. The trek, although not demanding, was lovely and gives a snapshot of a wonderful countryside. The visits to various dzongs and stupas was interesting and the final visit to a monastery where the monks where involved in some of their rituals for a village festival the next day was fascinating. As a vegetarian and an animal lover this country was the nearest to perfect for me. Loved the food and the fact that although there were dogs everywhere (they are mostly cared for by the community or the monks) I never saw any in distress or starving (as I did in Kathmandu).
If seeing Bhutan and hiking in the Himalayan region is on your bucket list, then the Land of the Thunder Dragon tour is for you! This trip was such a good mix, that it made me really feel like I got to see a good variety and experience Bhutan to the fullest. We got to trek for five days, seeing beautiful scenery, visit two festivals (including a really fun, smaller local one, and a more famous and larger one in the city), and visited many cultural sites. Exodus Travels has an amazing local staff in Bhutan, and the guides were all great. Everything was organized down to the last detail, and the trip was executed flawlessly. I can't recommend this trip enough!
Although the price is high, this is a great holiday and worth the cost. The only thing that could have been better was the weather, as we had two days of rain during the trek, but that made us appreciate all the other days of good weather more. The scenery was fantastic, the itinerary was perfect, and we were very well taken care of. We certainly left with a positive view of Bhutan.
We did this trip with some fear and trepidation as we would be trekking at altitude for the first time. We were very keen to visit Bhutan before it modernises and we also hoped to see the rhododendron in bloom in the Himalaya. We had done quite a bit of training for the trek and this paid off as we were fit enough for the grade of walk. We loved the country, the people, the Buddhist culture and the government philosophy of 'improving gross national happiness'. This is evident everywhere and seems very genuine. From the minute you land in Paro you know you are somewhere very special. It is quite wonderful to be immersed in their culture for the whole time you are there. The trek was not what we expected as we had snow every night and had to walk on icy surfaces some days and were perhaps colder than we had anticipated. The excellent trip notes had suggested we bring adequate sleeping bags and down jackets, so we were always cosy at night. We did perhaps miss some of the spectacular views because of the weather and the rhododendrons were only just in bud..so if you want to see them you should plan your trek in May rather than April. However, we were able to be a part of the Paro festival and this was fascinating. Exodus puts together a very good and varied itinerary, in comfortable accommodation, with great guides, good transportation and excellent food throughout. You are well acclimatised to altitude and the trekking is not too hard. We were disappointed to have to share campsites with other groups. There are a lot of trekkers on the Druk path and if you want solitude on trek you should go on one of the longer treks. This is a great introduction to trekking in the mountains and we felt extremely well looked after. My gluten free meals were always varied and plentiful. The main food is rice and veggies and many differing ways of cooking them. Breakfast was always wonderful too. We thoroughly recommend this trip and Exodus as a company. Go...you won't be disappointed.
Bhutan is a country whose culture and environment are still free from the negative influences of the modern world. It's a quiet even serene place, free from pollution and benefitting from a low population (just some 700,000 people live in this small kingdom). The five day point-to-point trek was well run and enjoyable. It included visits to a couple of fascinating monasteries. The highlights have to be attending the spring festival in Paro and the half-day trek to the world-famous Tiger's Nest monastery.
Although we had disappointing weather - it rained mostly while trekking - this trip takes you to one of those beautiful places which the majority of people still haven't heard of. And that's the beauty of it. There are few tourists and the Bhutanese themselves are delightful and unspoilt. The Buddhist culture and local traditions are fascinating There is no hard sell and there are no hawkers. They are happy for you just to have a look at their crafts without buying when you go into the shops. This is after all The Land of Gross National Happiness.
Such an amazing country! The scenery, the people - I've never been to such a peaceful place.
They measure their wealth in terms of Gross Domestic Happiness and I would think they top the league. The most beautiful country where tradition is encouraged, set in the foothills of the Himalayas, beneath the snow capped mountains of the high Himalayas. The trekking was not too difficult in itself, but 16,000 feet of altitude certainly adds an extra degree of exertion. But what views, what Majesty and what a feeling of achievement when you have completed it. I walked in the Himalayas.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
|07-Sep-2021 for 12 Nights||Flight Included||
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|08-Sep-2021 for 11 Nights||Land only||
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|06-Oct-2021 for 12 Nights||Flight Included||
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|07-Oct-2021 for 11 Nights||Land only||
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