|Highlights:||Calcutta, Thimphu, Gangtey, Bumthang, Punakha, Paro|
|Departure:||Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec|
For many Bhutan has an allure like no other nation on this planet. Wedged away between India and Tibet, this tiny kingdom was until very recently, off limits to visitors, creating a veil of mystery that has been retained to the present day. It is a land of unspoiled alpine valleys, dotted with ancient monasteries and fluttering prayer flags. This inclusive itinerary covers the highlights of this awe-inspiring country.
Begin your holiday with the vibrant capital of Thimpu where locals wander the streets in traditional dress that contrast against modern building and shops. Carry on winding through ancient cloud forest and rustic villages to the spectacular hillside town of Trongsa where we stop for a look at the cliff-hugging Dzong. The wetland valley of Gangety, winter home of the rare black-necked crane, follows as the scenery becomes ever more thinly inhabited. The most Eastern point of the trip is the small township of Bumthang, which is situated in a tranquil U-shaped valley with streams passing through it and pine-forested slopes on both sides. Punakha, which claims on having the most beautiful Dzong is visited as we retrace our steps westwards and end in the picturesque alpine valley of Paro, famed for the Tiger’s Nest monastery.
All throughout your journey experience impeccable hospitality and rural living, and gain a memorable insight into this magical kingdom. The final night is spent in a little luxury at the lovely Imperial Hotel, Delhi. For those who take delight in light trekking, this can easily be included in the itinerary. As ever this holiday is purely a recommended itinerary. It can be booked as is or optionally used as a starting point for creating your own ideal custom made trip to Bhutan and India.
Location: Between China and India
Area : 46,620 sq km
Population: 700,000 (approx. 1 million)
Languages: Dzongkha, English
Currency: Ngultrum (NU)
Religion: 70% Buddhist, 25% Hindu, 5% others
National Sport: Dha(archery)
National Animal: Takin (Burdorcas taxicolor),
National Bird: Raven (Corvus corax)
National Flower: Blue poppy (Meconopsis grandis)
Immigration requirements: Tourist visas are mandatory to visit the country. The processing of visa applications will be arranged by Nepaltours and requires approximately 14 days for handling. A visa fee of US 40 will be charged at time of booking.
LANGUAGE & PEOPLE
Predominantly Buddhist people whose dialect is Dzongkha ( similarities to Tibetan ), the Bhutanese still clothe themselves in their traditional “Kira” and “Gho” ( for men ) – a one-piece garment in the likeness of a Scottish kilt. The government encourages national attire for the preservation of their culture. Despite such a conservative atmosphere, Bhutanese people are now highly dynamic, vibrant and modern and are fluent in various languages with English being one of them.
THE CLIMATE / IDEAL SEASON(S) TO VISIT
Because of the diversity of its landscape ranging from the lowlands to the highlands, Bhutan has a varying climate; you may have perpetual snow in the high mountain regions and at the same time experience tropical climate in the low-lying southern border areas.
The temperatures in the southern areas may be 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 30 degrees Celsius in summer whereas in the high Himalayan regions, you may experience snow with 0 degrees Celsius in winter and 10 degrees Celsius in summer with 350 m of rainfall. Paro – where you may find yourself if you fly in by Druk Air, the national carrier – temperatures can be minus 5 degrees Celsius in winter and 30 degrees Celsius in summer with an annual rainfall of 800 mm.
The ideal time to visit would be in Spring and Autumn, but Summer and Winter also have their own draws and appeal especially under such varying climates and regions. The time of visit also depends on the type of activity/activities you may choose to embark upon; treks, rafting, sightseeing, etc. for which a particular season may be preferable to another.
WHAT CAN YOU DO & SEE?
As a visitor, you have various options and these may include any of the following depending on your tastes, preferences, time schedule and so forth:
CULTURAL & HERITAGE SITES
Visiting sites of historical, religious or archaeological prominence. These may include paying visits to Dzongs ( former fortress-like palaces ), monasteries and museums that dot the country. The magnificence of these places not only give an insight into Bhutanese architecture and history but also offer an opportunity to visit some of the most spectacular and scenic countrysides that you will see in your lifetime. Many of these dzongs have been restored to their former glory and some have been converted to national museums that hold rich heritage relics. These restorations have been done on similar lines to those done at Patan and Bhaktapur in Nepal.
TREKS / ADVENTURE TOURISM
Almost all travel agents and their partners offer a range of treks through rugged and yet picturesque virgin trails of Bhutan with stunning landscape and typical Bhutanese settlements. There is no mad rush of trekkers and travelers and hitting the trails of Bhutan is a solitary experience and almost like having the Himalayan paradise to yourself. Mountain Biking and River rafting also provide similar experiences but from a different perspective. You could combine some of these adventures and tailor your own itinerary with advice and suggestions from experts. More than a dozen varying trekking packages are tailored for different levels and tastes. Vertical rock climbing has also recently gained much popularity.
Like most regions in the Himalayan belt, Bhutan is home to some of the most exotic, diverse and on most occasions endangered species of birds, animals, and plants. Depending on the topography, species vary from mammals like the red panda and snow leopards to the Bengal tiger and wild elephants; fowls like the Trapogan Pheasant also skirt in the undergrowth of Bhutan’s eco-friendly rich forests – from the alpine in the higher Himalayas to the more tropical belts in the southern borders with India.
As a consequence, the Bhutanese government has also established various wildlife reserves to protect these rare jewels of the Himalayan foothills and for the avid wildlife enthusiast to experience these wonders first hand.