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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • A Mountain Kingdoms appointed leader
  • Flights between Kathmandu and Paro, and domestic flights in Bhutan and transfers
  • Bhutan visa, departure tax and Bhutan tourist tax
  • In Bhutan, good standard hotel accommodation in main towns and best available hotels in outlying...

Gangkar Punsum Wilderness Exploration Trek Adventure Special

Walking & Trekking

Paro, Bhutan | Walking & Trekking

Gangkar Punsum Wilderness Exploration Trek
  • Grade:
    • ?

      Suitable for fit individuals who have regular experience of mountain walking.

      Find out more...


  • Duration: 24 days from the UK
  • On trek: 15 days Walks on: 1 day

Flight inclusive from £5520, Land only from £4695

Epic trekking through the remote mountains of Bhutan.


  • Explore the incredible wild country south of Gangkar Punsum
  • Trek through the rarely visited Chamkhar Chhu valley
  • Enjoy close up views of Bhutan's highest peak
  • Walk up to the breathtaking clifftop temple of Taktsang Monastery


…So may I say now that we were very well supported by Karma Tenzin, Lotay and their team (Dorji, Phub Tshering and Dophu) and, indeed, the horsemen from Dur. Cooperation throughout the trek was exemplary and created a very happy spirit for all concerned. The meals were terrific and Lotay’s skill is remarkable, ensuring that supplies were used steadily throughout the trek and most supplies lasted...

Mr. S, Surrey


What I liked about travelling with Mountain Kingdoms was that their client wellbeing is paramount, their long standing relationship with BTCL ensured a totally trouble free trip and the quality of hotels outside the trek. Thank you all for making the Gangkar Punsum trip such a memorably fantastic one. May our next adventures be so fortunate.

Mr. F, Gloucestershire


I just wanted to say a big thank you for our Bhutan adventure. Truly a trip of a lifetime for all of us. I have really enjoyed looking at the photos and recounting all the tales to friends and family...All have been stunned by the scenery and the beauty of Bhutan.

Mrs. M, Kincardineshire


...So may I say now that we were very well supported by Karma Tenzin, Lotay and their team (Dorji, Phub Tshering and Dophu) and, indeed, the horsemen from Dur. Cooperation throughout the trek was exemplary and created a very happy spirit for all concerned. The meals were terrific and Lotay's skill is remarkable, ensuring that supplies were used steadily throughout the trek and most supplies...

Mr S


What I liked about travelling with Mountain Kingdoms was that their client wellbeing is paramount, their long standing relationship with their local agents ensured a totally trouble free trip and the quality of hotels outside the trek. Thank you all for making the Gangkar Punsum trip such a memorably fantastic one. May our next adventures be so fortunate.

Mr F


I just wanted to say a big thank you for our Bhutan adventure. Truly a trip of a lifetime for all of us. I have really enjoyed looking at the photos and recounting all the tails to friends and family...All have been stunned by the scenery and the beauty of Bhutan.

Mrs M


View All

Gangkar Punsum at 7,550m/24,770ft is the highest mountain in Bhutan and also happens to be the highest unclimbed peak in the world. It sits astride Bhutan’s northern border with Tibet and the mountain and surrounding region has received very few visitors. This exciting trek is a thrilling exploration of the largely unexplored mountains and valleys on the southern side of Gangkar Punsum.

Travelling to the Bumthang valley in central Bhutan, you trek north out of the valley, through wild country to the base of Gangkar Punsum, with time to explore the remote Zhigeyphu valley, an incredibly beautiful valley which few westerners have ever seen, let alone explored. You have two full days to investigate and enjoy this wild country and the fabulous views of Gankar Punsum, and perhaps even to hunt for the elusive ‘yeti’. You then return to Bumthang by way of an exhilarating crossing of the largely untrodden Thole La Pass at 4,766m/15,537ft. Joining this extraordinary trek you will be a real pioneer and one of the very first to set foot in this magical region!

This is a tough trek and should only be attempted by clients in an excellent state of health and fitness. Having said this, it is an extremely worthwhile objective and you will be able to truly say that you have trekked to one of the very remotest parts of the Himalaya.

At a glance



Duration: 24 days from the UK

On trek: 15 days Walks on: 1 day

Max. Altitude: 5,421m/17,785ft approximately, Zhigeyphu Valley, Day 12

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Kathmandu

Accommodation types: Hotels, Camping

Meal arrangements: Bed and breakfast in Kathmandu and all meals in Bhutan.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
Days 1-2 Fly to Kathmandu.
Days 3-4 Fly to Paro. Fly to Bumthang.
Day 5 Drive to Tangbi and begin trek.
Day 6 -7 Trek to Gophu and on to Tsawuu.
Days 8-10 Trek to Shingo and Bamurpa. Day trek from Bamurpa to Buurtsam.
Day 11-13 Trek to the Zhigeyphu Valley. Two days of exploration around the valley.
Day 14 -16 Trek to Tsho Shap with visit to Tsampa Monastery en route.
Day 17-18 Cross the Thole La pass. Trek to Tashi Sa and Chokchum.
Day 19 End trek at Dur. Drive to Jakar.
Day 20-21 Fly to Paro. Walk to Taktsang Monastery and sightseeing in Paro.
Day 22-24 Fly to Kathmandu. Time at leisure. Fly to London.
Leader: Local leader, Bhutan

You will have an English speaking Bhutanese guide. Mountain Kingdoms have been working with the same partner in Bhutan since 1986. Their guides are some of the best in the Kingdom. They speak fluent English, as this is taught in all Bhutanese schools, and are fully qualified guides. The Tourism Authority of Bhutan insists that a Bhutanese trek or tour leader must pass his/her guiding exams in Thimphu before accompanying groups of foreign visitors. Guides receive regular ‘top-up’ training and 15 of our regular leaders have completed an extended training course run by Mountain Kingdoms in Bhutan.

Local leader, Bhutan

Holiday Itinerary

Download a detailed itinerary
Day 1 - Depart London.

Depart London on your overnight flight to Kathmandu.

Overnight icon Overnight: In flight

Day 2 - Arrive Kathmandu. Group transfer to hotel.

You will be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. You may choose to eat here tonight or venture out into nearby Thamel with its many bars and restaurants.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Shanker Or Similar, Kathmandu

Day 3 - Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Originally built for the coronation of the Bhutan's 4th King in 1974, this attractive hotel stands on a hill overlooking Paro town. Rooms in the main building are set around a peaceful courtyard and there are also a number of cottages dotted around the spacious grounds. Decoration is typically Bhutanese with stripped wooden floors and colourfully painted walls. Rooms are well-equipped and the hotel has its own spa, international restaurant and bar.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 4 - Fly to Bumthang, 2,587m/8,487ft. Sightseeing in Bumthang.

After breakfast you will be transferred back to Paro airport for your domestic flight to Bumthang. The flights takes about 35 minutes. The Bumthang region, which lies in the centre of the kingdom east of Paro, encompasses four major valleys and Jakar town where you stay tonight is in the main valley called Chokhor. Bumthang is considered to be the cultural heart of the kingdom and is a centre for arts and handicrafts especially weaving, and many important temples are found here.

It's just a few minutes drive from the airport to your hotel where you will check in. Later you should have time for some exploration, possibly a walk in the valley to visit some of the most important temples such as Jambay Lakhang, Kurjey Lakhang and Tamshing Lakhang. The valley is overlooked by the picturesque Jakar Dzong, the 'Castle of the White Bird', so called because a white bird was supposed to have indicated the most auspicious place to build.

Overnight icon Overnight: Ugyenling Hotel Or Similar, Jakar

Day 5 - Drive beyond Toktu Zampa to Tangbi, 2,640m/8,662ft. Trek to before Khakthang army camp, 2,834m/9,297ft - 5 1/2 hours.

Today you start your trek. It is a half hour drive from Jakar to Tangbi crossing the river on the suspension bridge. On arrival at Tangbi you will meet your trek crew, horsemen and horses. Exciting stuff as the lads start loading the animals with all the equipment, supplies and your main bags. Every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step!

You begin your trek by following the left bank of the river through cultivated farmland and hamlets, following a rough jeep track. There are some beautiful examples of typical Bhutanese farmhouses, as well as one or two temples and water driven prayer wheels. In under 2 hours you come opposite Drapham Dzong. You will just make this out as ruined fortifications on top of a small hill. In recent years some archaeological work has been done here apparently. Just beyond here you cross the river on a foot bridge and then back track down the valley on the opposite bank to visit Nga Lahkthang, 2,786m/9,141ft. It is about half an hour back down from the bridge to the temple. Nga Lahkthang dates back to the 7th century when it was built by the lama Namkha Samdrup. There is a young man living here called Wangyal. Apparently his wife's family and her ancestors have looked after the temple since the 7th century. Wangyal married into the family, which like many Bhutanese families follow a tradition of passing the property down through the female line. This is a good place to have a picnic lunch.

You return to the bridge in half an hour and cross it, and carry on for another half hour to cross a small bridge to Nathe village. Just beyond here there is a large monastery quite high up on the hill. You are now beginning to leave civilization behind and entering into forest and jungle. In any case it's only another half hour to the camp situated before an interesting chorten with a tall prayer flag. This is a very short distance before the army camp.

The army camp is just a small post where people's permits are examined. At certain times of the year local people are given permits to travel further up the Chamkha Chhu valley to collect cordyceps. Collecting cordyceps is big business in the Himalaya! Basically, it is a caterpillar that is killed by a particular type of fungus and it is believed to have extremely potent medicinal properties. In Bhutan the traditional collecting grounds of cordyceps are carefully controlled, hence the small army post.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 6 - Trek to Gophu or Kuphu Camp, 3,276m/ 10,748ft - 7 hours.

If a camera trap was set last night you will probably have captured lots of pictures of horses. Hopefully you might obtain pictures of more interesting things higher up on the trek.

You are now walking through the most beautiful virgin forest alongside the noisy turbulent river constantly cascading down rapids. After 2 hours you come to a new wooden bridge at a river junction, 2,949m/9,659ft. You are basically gently ascending all day within a gorge that squeezes and squeezes. There are impressive rocky peaks and cliffs framed at the end of the valley. It is a great feeling to be out in the wild and away from human habitation. About 3 hours into the trek you come to a campsite called Tsho Zhow, further on there is a girder bridge and there are two rather smart wooden chalets behind a palisade fence. This is where the Royal Family stay before they climb up to the 'high route'.

The High Route Apparently there are some very special meditation temples at Chungge and Lungsipang. You have to have special permits to take this route, but in any case it would not be good for acclimatisation as it involves 1,500m of ascent.

Opposite the wooden chalets there are some very impressive cliffs and some short vertical cliffs on the left hand side with a swampy meadow. You will aim to camp at Gophu (sometimes called Kuphu).

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 7 - Trek to Tsawuu, 3,849m/12,627ft, beyond Tsampa – 8 hours.

A stunning walk on the right hand side of the river with beetling cliffs and great roaring rapids. Parts of the trail are a bit boggy and slippery in a couple of places. The further up the trail you go the more impressive the facing cliffs become. After about 4 hours you come to a 'lake' where the river funnels into a very narrow slot forcing a lake to form. You might see ducks here. You are climbing up now through sloping meadows where you might encounter herds of yaks. Incidentally look out for any white yaks. They are thought to be 'lucky' and are more valuable than your common-or-garden black yaks! Finally you come to a three pronged valley junction. Off to your right is the last small army outpost and the valley leading to the Mon La Karchung La. This is the pass leading into Tibet that F.M. Bailey and Captain M.R.C. Meade crossed in 1922. It was their survey work from the top of the pass that fixed the height for Gangkar Punsum. The left prong of the valley leads further up to the source of the Chamkha Chhu River. Sitting on a shoulder of the mountain at this junction of rivers is a small and ancient temple. Two of the statues were recently donated by one of the queens of the 4th king.

Trees have all but disappeared by now and rugged mountains are a welcome sight. You might want to visit the army camp to see the rough conditions that the soldiers live in on their two month tour of duty. From there it is a short distance to cross a wooden cantilevered bridge leading to the temple. It would be good to offer prayers here before continuing for another hour to reach camp at the small hamlet of Tsawuu some way beyond the junction which is called Tsampa.

It is not always possible to camp at Tsawuu in which case you may camp next to the river below the temple at Tsampa.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 8 - Trek to Shingo, 4,209m/13,808ft – 4½ hours.

To aid acclimatisation there are now two short days. The first to Shingo only takes 4½ hours. It is getting really exciting now and if the weather is clear you will see framed at the end of the valley the huge peaks on the Tibetan border. Leaving camp you soon plunge back into the forest and shortly climb for quite a long way uphill. Eventually you come to a 'shoulder' with prayer flags and an old square chorten (30 mins from camp). Shortly after this there is a 'yak gateway'. Local people build these either from stone and timbers and/or felled trees to keep the yaks from straying too far. Trees now give way to open hillside and you traverse for some way even descending a little to meet the river again. Rounding a corner you come to a large meadow with four yak herder huts. This is Gewathang (1 hour 10 mins from camp). You should meet very friendly, shy people who will be astonished to see these strange foreigners!

From here you cross a meadow and enter an enchanted forest. Very pretty indeed. It is perhaps another half hour to a second yak gate. You are nearly out of the forest again and there is some proper boulder hopping through rhododendron and juniper. More herds of yaks for sure. After 2½ hrs you come to another group of four to five yak huts called Shewwa, 3,905m/12,812ft. Another 30 mins and you come to a third yak gate. After 4½ hrs you arrive at Shingo having traversed a long way under some seriously impressive rock cliffs on your right hand side. The river is now your close companion again on your left. At Shingo there are another four stone/wooden huts.

It is interesting that there is a strong tradition with all the local people that they take all their herds of yaks to the topmost pastures in the summer months. Each family knows its own particular yak huts and the area their yaks are allowed to graze. In the autumn they move downwards in an orderly way, each family moving down on certain dates to avoid their herd of yaks having fights with other herds of yaks.

At Shingo hot washing water can be organised for the shower tent and washing clothes or you might like to go on short walks to explore the locality.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 9 - Trek to Bamurpa, 4,490m/ 14,730ft - 4 hours.

There are now some astounding views of the peaks at the head of the valley. The biggest of these is Melunghi Gang 7,000m/22,965ft. A Japanese expedition requested permission to climb this peak but were refused. It still remains unclimbed.

Another thankfully short day all of which aids acclimatisation, just 4 hours to Bamurpa. Leaving camp there is an easy angled rise to some prayer flags on a shoulder 10 minutes from camp. You then drop down to the river and begin to turn the slight right hand corner keeping to the right of the stream. The trees have all disappeared now and there are easy grass slopes, boulder fields, wild azalea, stunted juniper and carpets of bright blue gentians. 20 minutes from the prayer flags you come to another yak gate and beyond it more prayer flags. The Chamkha Chhu valley is spread out below you and hemmed in by grey granite peaks, steep mountain sides, rock gullies and enticing side valleys. The main river is still a powerful torrent and joined here and there by side streams. Autumn colours add to the beauty. You may well see herds of Blue Sheep here.

After 25 minutes you come to another set of four or five yak herder huts with buildings on both sides of the river. You reach another yak gate after half an hour beyond this after climbing a slope. The next set of yak herder huts at Cedi is half an hours walk ahead. Beyond there again after half an hour you come to two rock boulder enclosures, probably for keeping animals safe at night.

Having turned the corner you are now heading directly up the valley towards the wall of snow and ice at the end. After a bit of boggy land you come to Bamurpa. This is a large flat area with a meadow the size of half a dozen football pitches, just away from the river with again three or four yak herder huts. The impressive rock peaks here have serrated tops with occasional leaning towers and unusual tottering pinnacles.

Another afternoon to rest and relax, or look for an interesting place for the camera trap. If it is a clear night spend a little time before turning in to do a bit of shooting star spotting.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 10 - Explore to beyond Buurtsam - possible max altitude 4,800m/15,750ft - and return to Bamurpa - 6 hours.

With a long slow ascent to altitude you should be nicely acclimatised, and today you can make an exploration right up towards Melunghi Gang. You should reach an altitude of around 4,900m/16,000ft. As far as we know our 2014 group were the first Brits to set foot in this area. There are no records but we think only the American mountaineering expedition in 1985 have been up here before us. There were rumours of a USA company, Geo Adventure, but no one is quite sure what they did.

You will get your first views of Gangkar Punsum as you just see parts of the summit ridge off to the west. You will also see a string of beautiful peaks running off to the east towards the Mon La Karchung La.

First thing in the morning you will probably hear Himalayan Pheasant not far from camp, and during the day you may well see large birds of prey cruising the thermals and even smaller falcons hovering on ridges. You should see Blue Sheep again with luck.

For this day we suggest walking up the right hand side of the river. There are only indistinct occasional paths and you just have to follow your nose. On a previous expedition, Steve Berry's group made the mistake of traversing the right hand slopes quite high above the valley floor. They found this to be slow hard work and it would probably be better to stay closer to the river and head straight for the moraine. Their high point was on the crest of part of the moraine at a height of 4,800m/15,750ft. However, if you make faster progress than they did you could certainly go on further from here if time and energy allowed.

If you do follow up beside the river you will eventually come to Buurtsum, a group of about six stone house/yak herder huts in a dilapidated state with no roofs.

Certainly you should be rewarded with very up close and personal views of Melunghi Gang and its neighbours. You look down on huge glaciers, and straight ahead at extremely steep and frighteningly difficult looking mountain sides. A magnificent day!

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 11 - Trek to Zhigeyphu Valley, 4,994m/16,384ft - 5 hours.

Zhigeyphu valley is an incredibly beautiful region that very few westerners have ever seen, let alone explored. The main valley system leads almost directly towards Gangkar Punsum and on the western side of the region is a line of mountains beyond which we know lies the Mangde Chhu valley system. In 1986 Mountain Kingdoms' M.D. Steve Berry led a British expedition to try and climb Gangkar Punsum and their approach to the mountain was up the Mangde Chuu. When Steve and companions went back in 2014 they had hoped to perhaps find a connecting pass from Zhigeyphu valley through to the Mangde Chuu side. The one pass they did reach (the closest to Gangkar Punsum) did not provide a viable route through but there are four or five other 'passes' that could be explored to see where they lead.

There is so much to do but the first thing having reached your base camp in Zhigeyphu valley is to climb one of the adjoining ridges that will give you a very fine overview of the area. In any event, today is all about getting to the base camp at a place called Zhigeyphu. It is not a long day only 4 or 5 hours, but it feels like quite a long uphill climb.

Leaving camp you first have to wade across the river. This is not too difficult but cold! You then walk the short distance back down the river to the yak huts opposite Bamurpa. From here sandy zigzags lead up the front of a ridge to prayer flags. The path then starts to traverse into the upper reaches of Zhigeyphu valley. After about 2 hours you come to some more yak herder stone houses (724m/15,500ft) and another hour on from here you come to the top of a rise (4,916m/16,130ft). Just ahead of you there are more prayer flags and a 'pass' (approximately 5,000m/16,500ft). This really is the true 'entrance' to Zhigeyphu valley. Just down from here is a very nice campsite next to three yak herder huts and three enclosures. If the weather is clear you have the most extraordinary view of Gangkar Punsum.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 12 - Explore Zhigeyphu Valley.

Ask your guide to wake you early for dawn views of Gangkar Punsum. Spectacular! To your north there are a rounded series of ridges and climbing to the top of the ones immediately north of camp will provide extremely valuable acclimatisation and give you an overview.

From your base it's about 45 mins slowly uphill to the first cairn, 5,184m/17,008ft, and is then a long slow but gradual uphill hike to the top of the ridge. This will take you a further 35 - 45 mins. Hopefully the set of prayer flags and chortens that we built in 2014 are still there. The top of the ridge forms a sort of 'corner' and has a height of 5,421m/17,785ft. The views from here are both breath-taking and humbling. Childlike excitement might be what you experience at this point at the thought of so much beautiful country to explore. From here, assuming a clear day of course, you can see the various possible 'passes' that might lead through to the Mangde Chuu valley system to the west. You will also be able to pick out at least eleven lakes scattered throughout Zhigeyphu valley and there are almost certainly more than that hidden away in corners of the region as a whole. Strangely you occasionally see two or even three lakes next to each other each one with a different colour. Strange but true!

Worth mentioning here are the incredible 'hard' mosses, lichens, strange plants, and stunted ferns that cover the hillsides here. Truly extraordinary and beautiful. Some of the large mosses are so hard you can stand on them!

Descending from your high point you can actually keep over to the western edge of the ridge you are on and drop down to the obvious huge circular turquoise lake. This must be a holy place as there are several lots of prayer flags around the edge of the lake, the main group being quite elaborate. There is a local legend that says a mermaid lives in the lake. Another legend tells how in the sixteen hundreds there was an intelligent raven living near Gangkar Punsum who, seeing a Tibetan army gathering to attack Bhutan, flew to Bumthang and warned the Bhutanese of their danger. The Raven Crown that the kings wear on ceremonial occasions is connected with this legend. From here it is less than two hours back to camp.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 13 - Further exploration in Zhigeyphu Valley.

So many options, so little time! You could for instance attempt to hike to the top of the obvious rocky mountain south of the camp. Our 2014 party felt sure it could be done in a day with an early start. Alternatively you could explore one of the side valleys, or indeed have a look at some of the 'passes' that might possibly lead through to the Mangde Chuu valley. No doubt a democratic planning meeting on the evening of day 12 will have focused your ambitions. Remember to allow plenty of time to get back to camp before dark, but in any case pack a head torch just in case.

In 2014 Steve Berry and party reached a high col, nearest to Gangkar Punsum, and it was here that the Bhutanese Guide Karma Tenzing spotted the strange set of tracks that are pictured later in this itinerary. Do watch 'Footsteps in the Snow' on our website for a detailed explanation!

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 14 - Trek to clearing in forest beyond the Shingo Bridge, 4,072m/13,358ft - 5½ hours.

A sad farewell has to be made, and you have to turn your back on this beautiful place. Amazingly it only takes about 2 hours to drop back down to the yak herder huts next to the river. However, instead of crossing the river it is best to stay on the right hand bank going down. You may stop for lunch opposite Sedi. Incidentally just after leaving camp and at the prayer flagged 'pass' look out to the distant mountains on the horizon with binoculars to spot an amazing rock tower. Most unusual! Bigger at the top than at the bottom. Quite bizarre! About an hour on from lunch you come to the main bridge across the river and just down from that is the campsite in a clearing.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 15 - Trek to Tsampa. Visit monastery. Camp by river, 3,720m/12,205ft - 3½ hours.

A nice short, easy day down to Tsampa. 15 minutes from camp you come to a yak gate and after that three yak huts and enclosures in a large clearing next to the river. This is a further half hour from the yak gate. Just 20 mins on from here there is a place where sulphurous water bubbles up from the ground. It is marked by a prayer flag and there is a silver mug left beside the bubbling water for people to drink the efficacious waters. After this there is a short uphill to a gulley with a stream and immediately afterwards another yak gate. 40 mins on from here you come to more yak huts where the lady of the house might like to sell you some hand woven belts. Another hour and a half down through the forest and you will arrive at Tsampa, where you might like to visit the monastery again. Dropping down from here it is just a few mins to cross the river by a substantial bridge and make camp in a clearing next to the river.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 16 - Trek to Tsho Shap, 4,420m/14,501ft - 5½ hours.

Leaving camp you climb up to join the track that will eventually take you over the Thole La pass. Having joined the main trail you now have a steep set of zigzags uphill, next to some impressive cliffs. Looking out and back you can see the army post, the valley leading to the Mon La Karchung La and the temple. Carry on steeply uphill and eventually you come out above the tree line and traverse a stunningly beautiful V valley with some beautiful peaks at the end, the main one of which looks like a castle out of Mordor. This is the essence of Bhutan and you will almost certainly meet local people and their yaks. Previously, Steve's group met a pair of Tibetan lamas who had crossed illicitly from India into Bhutan and were trying to make their way into Tibet. This is a lovely walk up the right hand side of the valley with lots of autumn colours and many of the hillsides completely swathed in rhododendron. Flocks of rock pigeon have acrobatic fun and we called them 'the Red Sparrows'!

After 2½ hours you come to a col with one ruined house and two enclosures, 4,090m/13,418ft. Less than 2½ hrs further on you come to three yak herder huts and prayer flags and the valley turns left here. It is only another 40 minutes to come to the magical camp next to the edge of the lake of Tsho Shap.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 17 - Cross the Thole La pass, 4,766m/15,637ft. Trek to Tashi Sa just beyond Labrong, 4,117m /13,506ft - 6 hours.

A big day! To our certain knowledge 'foreigners' have never been this way, and it is a real thrill to have this place to yourself. Again stunning scenery and all the pleasure of achieving the crossing of a high pass. Firstly, boulder hop to cross the stream issuing from the lake (take care as early in the morning the rocks can be icy). You then follow a vague path along the side of the lake at the far end of which is a single yak herders hut. From here it is a steep climb to the Thole La, but only 2 hrs from camp and if you are lucky enough to have a clear day, the views are outstanding. From the pass if you have a map and a good compass you can pick out the peak of Kula Kangri in Tibet. This is the other huge peak that sits behind Gangkar Punsum. Turn round and you are basically looking south over Bhutan. Ahead and below you is a huge valley with a river in the bottom which disappears in the distance. This is the way you are now heading. However just look to the west and you can just pick out a zigzag path the locals say leads through to the hot springs at Dur Tsachu.

Reluctantly you now leave the pass and follow the path diving steeply down to the floor of a huge valley. It is some 427m/1,400ft of descent. At the bottom of the descent there is a deserted yak hut which makes a good picnic venue.

From lunch you follow the river on its left hand side going down past huge grey granite mountains on either side. On the first rock face on the right hand side is perched a huge balanced tower of rock and having gone past and looking back it sort of disappears into the face and can no longer be picked out. Again the path is boggy in places and there are a couple of places where it is easier to bolder hop down the shallow stream bed. Incidentally, always keep your eyes open for interesting or unusual animal prints. It was around here where we came across some bear prints, but up in Zhigeyphu valley we saw some very clear prints that must have been a snow leopard or even perhaps a tiger. Good possibilities of spotting Blue Sheep in this area. About 5½ hrs from camp you come to the bridge at Labrong. Cross this but continue to traverse down the hillside for another half hour to a place called Tashi Sa. As you traverse this path on the mountainside it doesn't seem possible that there is a campsite but it is 'hidden'.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 18 - Trek to Chokchum, 3,247m/10,652ft - 6½ hours.

From camp it is about 45 mins back down into the jungle to reach the junction. If you were to turn right here it would take you to Tsochenchen, then over the Dhule La, down to the hot springs at Dur Satchu, and from there on to Gangkar Punsum Base Camp on the Mangde Chuu side. However you are now on your way out back down to Bumthang and 20 minutes from the junction you come to a bridge. From here it is about 2½ hours to Kurzang's rather muddy campsite which you will pass by. There is a wooden shelter there. Further on down there is a riverside cliff path and 5 hours from camp you reach the main bridge that takes you to the other side. It is then about an hours steep slog up through the forest to get to the camp at Chokchum. This is a clearing high up on the right hand side of the river. Tonight is your last night camping.

Overnight icon Overnight: Camp

Day 19 - Trek to Dur, 2,700m/8,858ft - 4 hours. Drive to Jakar.

The last of your fifteen days on trek and your tired legs will be looking forward to a rest and the thought of a bath and a comfortable bed to sleep in is somewhat attractive. Be aware there are some famous mud sections on the trail today though it is always possible to bypass the worst of it. Don't let us put you off. This is still a good and interesting walk through prime untouched forest with one or two fantastic sections next to the river. Eventually 'civilization' begins to appear. You see fields, meet people and encounter proper paths and houses. At Dur there is a suspension bridge and on the other side a large chorten. We recommend you do at least three Koras to thank the gods for your safe return. Then congratulations all round are in order and if you are lucky the boys with the bus have brought some beer and sandwiches. It is now time to make some speeches and hand out tips to your cool, hardworking gang of Bhutanese staff and horsemen. Then all that remains is a half hour drive to the lodge in Jakar.

Overnight icon Overnight: Ugyenling Hotel Or Similar, Jakar

Day 20 - Fly to Paro.

Today you take the internal flight from Bumthang to Paro. On arrival at Paro airport you will be met and taken to your hotel. You may have time to visit the Ta Dzong. Sitting above Paro Dzong, this 17th century circular watchtower is home to Bhutan's National Museum. Having undergone a major renovation, the museum showcases a wealth of Bhutan's most significant cultural and artistic treasures. If for any reason the flight is cancelled we have allowed enough time to drive back to Paro in time to catch the flight back to Kathmandu.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 21 - Morning walk to view Taktsang Monastery. Afternoon at leisure.

A short drive beyond Paro town takes you to the trailhead for the walk up to the famous 'Tiger's Nest', Taktsang Monastery. The monastery is perched some 600m/2,000ft up on a cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. It is a steep uphill walk through woods, of about 1½-2hrs, to reach a tea house (an ascent of 340m/1,115ft.) Apart from offering welcome refreshment this tea house is one of the principle viewpoints of Taktsang, and those that prefer not to climb any further can relax here whilst others continue on. If there is a particular religious gathering or VIP visit in progress, you will not be able to enter the monastery but the further half an hour's ascent is well worth it in any case, as it brings you to another viewpoint directly across from Taktsang. If you are able to make a visit, the final section of the walk takes you from here steeply down 100m/330ft into the gorge that separates you from the monastery and then climbs back up again to reach the monastery gate.

You descend back to the valley floor by your outward route. The full walk to Taktsang and back involves approximately 740m/2,428ft of ascent and takes about 4 hours.

In the afternoon you have time to relax and reflect on your adventures or for further sightseeing.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

Day 22 - Fly to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel.

You will be transferred to the airport where you will bid farewell to your guide and driver. Then once again you will enjoy the sensational take-off and scenic Himalayan flight past Chomolhari, Bhutan's second highest peak, past Kangchenjunga and Everest back to Kathmandu, where you transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight icon Overnight: Hotel Shanker Or Similar, Kathmandu

Day 23 - At leisure in Kathmandu. Depart for London

You will have time at leisure in Kathmandu today when you may do some sightseeing or shopping or simply relax at your hotel. Later there will be a group transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the UK.

Overnight icon Overnight: In flight

Day 24 - Arrive London.


Map Key

  • Airport Airport
  • Point of interest Point of interest
  • Mountain Peak Mountain Peak
  • Day walk in this area Day walk in this area
  • Flights Flights
  • Internal Transfers Internal Transfers
  • Trek Trek


Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sun 25 Sep - Tue 18 Oct 2022 Available £4695 Book £5520 Book


Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Sun 24 Sep - Tue 17 Oct 2023 Available £4735 Book Contact Us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on +44 (0) 1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

Optional supplements
  • Single Room
    From £335
  • Single Tent
    From £375
  • Cover starts from £159
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

Booking your holiday
  • Deposit
    From £300

For the majority of our holidays, a deposit payment of £300.00 per person is required to secure your place(s), however a small number of holidays require a higher deposit - please refer to the holiday itinerary for more details. If the holiday departs within 60 days, a deposit of £750.00 per person is required.

Book now!
  1. Book your small group holiday securely online – click the ‘Book’ button next to your chosen departure or visit our How to Book page
  2. Complete and return a Booking Form available to download here.
  3. Call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 and one of our travel specialists will talk you through the booking process.

What’s included

  • A Mountain Kingdoms appointed leader
  • Flights between Kathmandu and Paro, and domestic flights in Bhutan and transfers
  • Bhutan visa, departure tax and Bhutan tourist tax
  • In Bhutan, good standard hotel accommodation in main towns and best available hotels in outlying towns, on a twin share, full board basis
  • The use of a good quality down jacket and sleeping bag (when travelling to Bhutan via Kathmandu)
  • All camping facilities (twin share tents)
  • Bed and breakfast in Kathmandu, all meals in Bhutan
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offsetting with the Ecoan Tree Planting Project (for clients taking our flight inclusive option)
  • A free high quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Nepal visa fee
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional trips
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu
  • Tips

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 3 reviews)

Splendid trip          

...So may I say now that we were very well supported by Karma Tenzin, Lotay and their team (Dorji, Phub Tshering and Dophu) and, indeed, the horsemen from Dur. Cooperation throughout the trek was exemplary and created a very happy spirit for all concerned. The meals were terrific and Lotay's skill is remarkable, ensuring that supplies were used steadily throughout the trek and most supplies lasted to the final day... The whole experience seems to be 'thought through'; timings, logistics, acclimatisation, supplies, staffing all fit; most comforting. Best wishes and thanks for a splendid trip.


What I liked about travelling with Mountain Kingdoms was that their client wellbeing is paramount, their long standing relationship with their local agents ensured a totally trouble free trip and the quality of hotels outside the trek. Thank you all for making the Gangkar Punsum trip such a memorably fantastic one. May our next adventures be so fortunate.

Trip of a lifetime          

I just wanted to say a big thank you for our Bhutan adventure. Truly a trip of a lifetime for all of us. I have really enjoyed looking at the photos and recounting all the tails to friends and family...All have been stunned by the scenery and the beauty of Bhutan.

Extend your holiday

Bardia National Park extension

Bardia National Park extension
  • Jungle activities including an elephant experience, bird watching, rafting and nature walks
  • See wild elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, wild boar and if you are lucky, the famous Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Stay at the delightful Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge situated on the edge of the park
More Details

After your adventurous time in the Himalaya why not add a relaxing Jungle Safari to your trip? The Royal Bardia National Park is situated in the west of Nepal. We use Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge, which is acknowledged to be the best lodge in the area. Bardia’s remote geographic location and the fact that the lodge has only 12 rooms, lends a degree of exclusivity to the experience, in comparison to other more popular parks. From the lodge you will be able to participate in safaris and have the chance of seeing some of the country’s wonderful wildlife, for instance, wild elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, wild boar and if you are lucky, the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. There is also the possibility of visiting the villages of the Tharu tribal people that surround the lodge. With its abundant wildlife, relaxing lodge and first class service, our Bardia extension is an experience you will savour!

Chitwan National Park extension

Chitwan National Park extension
  • Activities include; bird watching, elephant washing, canoe ride, elephant experience, landrover safari and jungle walks
  • Choice of accommodation from budget to luxury
  • Suitable to add to any holiday flying in/out of Kathmandu
More Details

Why not extend your adventure in Nepal by visiting Nepal’s jungle region for a complete contrast to the high mountains and the Kathmandu Valley. Chitwan is home to a rich and varied wildlife. Here are found wild elephant, rhinos, leopard, sambar, chital (spotted) deer, wild boar and arguably the most magnificent of cats, the Royal Bengal Tiger. You may even see sloth bear, gaur (wild cattle) and crocodiles. Chitwan is also wonderful for birdlife especially in the spring, when the jungle rings day and night to the calls of several kinds of Asian cuckoo.

Shivapuri Heights Cottage extension

Shivapuri Heights Cottage extension
  • Escape the crowds and hustle and bustle of Kathmandu
  • Walks available from the cottage - explore the nearby countryside
  • Single and double rooms available, or exclusive hire of the entire cottage
  • Breakfast and dinner included, plus unlimited tea and coffee
More Details

While in Kathmandu, why not experience an exclusive, private, home away from home? Shivapuri Heights Cottage is a “home-stay-style” property that offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the City. It is located in 2 acres of land at an altitude of 6,000ft /1,830m on the edge of the protected Shivapuri Reserve, with beautiful views looking down into the Kathmandu Valley.

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge - Extension

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge - Extension
  • Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara in the Annapurna range of Nepal
  • The lodge is an ideal base for you to relax in a rural mountain setting
  • Beautiful outdoor swimming pool reflecting view of the Annapurna range
  • Delicious Nepali dishes & continental specialities made from local fresh ingredients, home-grown herbs & garden salads
More Details

Why not extend your adventure in Nepal by visiting the beautiful Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge. Tiger Mountain Pokhara lodge is a lovely place, situated on a ridge half an hour outside Pokhara and enjoying the most stunning mountain views over the Annapurna range of mountains.

The lodge is an ideal base for you to relax in a rural mountain setting, away from the bustle of town. With a central lodge, bar and dining room, the comfortable rooms are arranged in clusters of cottages resembling a Nepali village. All have attached bathrooms, private verandas and Himalayan views. Daily menus feature a range of Nepali dishes as well as continental specialities made from local fresh ingredients and home-grown herbs and garden salads. You may enjoy lovely walks through the forests and villages of the lovely countryside surrounding the lodge, escorted by trained local guides. The beautiful swimming pool reflects the distant white peaks of the Annapurna range. The lodge also offers a range of Ayurvedic and shiatsu therapy and yoga and meditation sessions are also available (at additional cost). You may also venture further afield to visit Pokhara, Nepal’s second city located on a lovely lake and also enjoying spectacular views.

Tibet Extension

Tibet Extension
  • Visit some of Tibet's most important historical and cultural sites and monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Offers a scenery completely different to that of Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Suitable to add to any holiday flying in/out of Kathmandu.
More Details

​A visit to Tibet offers an exciting extension to a visit to Nepal or Bhutan. Regular flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu make it possible to visit most of the major sights in and around Lhasa on an 8 day itinerary and a visit to Tibet will provide an exhilarating contrast to your trek or tour in Nepal or Bhutan. Tibet’s high plateau offers totally different and starker scenery to that of the other Himalayan countries. Here you will see some of the most important historical and cultural sites and monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism – the Potala Palace and Samye, Ganden and Drepung Monasteries.

If taking this extension you will need to spend an extra day beforehand in Kathmandu while our agents there process your Tibet visa. They will need your passport for the day for this purpose. You need to let us know in good time if you wish to take this extension as we need to put this process in hand and send your details to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu well before your departure date.

Koshi Tappu, Nepal

Koshi Tappu, Nepal
  • Koshi Tappu is home to over 500 species of birds
  • Look out for exciting wildlife like jungle cats, crocodiles and rare water buffalo
  • Explore the park by foot, raft and jeep
  • Stay in the pleasantly located Koshi Camp
More Details

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is one of the finest birdwatching and wildlife areas in all Asia. Located in south-east Nepal, the reserve covers 175 square kilometres with large expanses of open water created by the Koshi barrage, with marshes, lagoons, sandbanks and mudflats offering an outstanding wetland habitat. The reserve is home to over 500 species of birds, with the resident inhabitants being joined by large numbers of migratory species from Siberia and Tibet, which take up residence from November to February. The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve provides one of the best places in Nepal to view migratory water fowl, waders and shore birds with many species seen here which are not recorded elsewhere in the region.

There is also much wildlife to be seen in Koshi Tappu including blue bull, golden jackal, Bengal fox, fishing cat, jungle cat, mongoose, civet cat, porcupine, Indian flying foxes and rare Gangetic dolphins as well as rare Marsh Mugger crocodiles. In addition, Koshi Tappu is the last habitat of the endangered Arna, a type of wild water buffalo.

During your visit you will explore the park with bird and animal spotting from a raft trip on the Koshi River, birdwatching walks, jungle walks and jeep trips. You will also have the opportunity to visit a family in one of the very interesting nearby local villages for a taste of rural Nepalese life. The Koshi Camp offers simple but comfortable accommodation and an expert staff of naturalists and birdwatchers to give you a comprehensive introduction to this wonderful area.

Kathmandu Valley sightseeing, Nepal

Kathmandu Valley sightseeing, Nepal
  • Observe traditional crafts such as pottery, woodcarving and thangka painting
  • Choose from a selection of full and half day guided tours
  • Travel in a private car with a driver and an English-speaking guide
More Details

The Kathmandu Valley has a long and rich history and a vibrant culture and there is much that is worthwhile to see there - crowded bazaars, ancient temples, Buddhist stupas, crumbling shrines and picturesque palaces. The Malla kings who ruled in the valley created three major cities in the valley, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan and each of these cities has buildings that are showpieces for the art and architecture of local Newari craftsmen. We offer a selection of half day trips and full day trips to these sites the valley.

The Pavilions Himalayas, Nepal

The Pavilions Himalayas, Nepal
  • Spend two or more tranquil nights in rural Pokhara
  • Sample the organic and locally sourced Nepali cuisine
  • Idyllic setting with mountain views
  • The resorts offers a swimming pool, spa and gym
  • Eco-friendly
More Details

We are delighted to offer this new luxury stay in a rural location just outside Pokhara. We are sure this is set to become a favourite with our clients.

The Pavilions Himalayas is a luxury resort set in beautiful farmland amid paddy fields in a tranquil rural location approximately 5km outside Pokhara. There are dramatic mountain views from the resort as well as Pokhara’s famous Peace Pagoda seen on top of a nearby ridge.

The beautiful rooms are set in individual villas and are large and comfortable, all having whirlpool baths, separate rain shower cubicles, enormous beds and offering wonderful hand made soaps and shampoos made with herbs from their garden.

All facilities at the resort are top of the range and include a lovely swimming pool and spa. From the resort it is just a short drive to explore Pokhara or there are pleasant walks from the hotel or you can just chill at the resort, have a massage and enjoy the facilities.

Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan

Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan
  • Three full days at Royal Manas National Park - a birder's paradise
  • Accommodation in a comfortable hotel close to the park, plus hotel nights en route
  • Accompanied by an expert wildlife guide throughout
  • Private transport, driver and all meals included
More Details

Extend your stay in Bhutan with time at the Royal Manas National park, a wonderful birder’s paradise close to the Indian border. Our extension package gives you three full days to explore the park and surrounding area, with all meals, private transport and comfortable accommodation included. You will be accompanied throughout by an expert guide to maximise your bird and wildlife viewing.

Bhutan Hotel Upgrades

Bhutan Hotel Upgrades
  • Upgrade your accommodation for your trip in Bhutan.
  • Choose from boutique and spa hotels in various destinations.
  • Stay in luxurious properties with first rate service and facilities
  • Enjoy fine dining and indulgent rooms
More Details

For our brochure trips to Bhutan we offer good standard tourist hotels and lodges, however, Bhutan also offers some lovely boutique and spa hotels which we are pleased to offer as upgrades on your trip. We offer a range of properties in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and other towns all of which provide excellent facilities and service as well as attractive locations.

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