Call us: +44(0)1453 844400Email us: info@mountainkingdoms.com

Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • An English speaking Bhutanese leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • All internal flights and hotel/airport transfers
  • The use of a good quality down jacket and sleeping bag (when travelling to Bhutan via Kathmandu).
  • 4* hotel in Kathmandu on a bed & breakfast, twin-share basis
  • Good standard hotel accommodation in Bhutan on a full board, twin-share basis.
  • Three nights in Bhutan Government approved farmouse homestays with all meals
  • One night camping with all camping facilities (twin share tents) and all meals on trek
  • Camp staff to carry out all camp work
  • Bhutan Visa
  • Bhutan departure tax
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset flights (flight inclusive bookings)
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre trip meets in the Cotswolds

Hidden Valleys of Bhutan

Walking & Trekking

Bhutan | Walking & Trekking

New for 2018
Hidden Valleys of Bhutan
Gentle / Moderate

Gentle: Suitable for people who enjoy easy-paced walks or exploring the countryside on foot.

Moderate: Suitable for anyone who enjoys hill walking.

Find out more...

Grade: Gentle / Moderate ? Gentle / Moderate
Duration:  15 days from the UK  
Walks on: 6 days Trek on: 2 days

Flight inclusive from £3,500,
Land only from £2,855

Book now or call 01453 844400

A unique walking holiday in Bhutan offering an ‘insiders’ view of the kingdom.

Highlights

  • Spend three nights in approved farmhouse homestays to experience the lives of the local people.
  • Trek for two days on the Bumdra Trek to reach celebrated Taktsang Monastery.
  • Enjoy varied and interesting day walks.
  • Discover the beautiful 'hidden' valleys of Phobjika and Haa.
  • Attend a Bhutanese festival.

Reviews          

This walking holiday is designed to give you a better, closer look at the people and culture of the most important surviving Tibetan Buddhist country left intact.
Steve Berry, MD, Mountain Kingdoms

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Bhutan has an incredible history and culture, and on this unique trip we see a side of the Dragon Kingdom that few visitors experience. In addition to visiting the ‘must see’ highlights in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro, we head off-the-beaten-track to explore the beautiful villages and valleys beyond.

The Bhutanese pride themselves on their hospitality, and in between comfortable hotels, we spend three nights in official homestays enjoying family meals and no doubt a glass or two of the local spirit, ara. Getting a glimpse of Bhutanese day-to-day life is fascinating; be it learning how traditional dishes are prepared, churning butter, or enjoying archery and games such as deogar.

Our holiday concludes on a high as we take the little-trodden Bumdra Monastery trek to reach Bhutan’s most iconic cliff temple, Taktsang, from above. This two-day route avoids the main tourist trail and has wonderful views across the Himalaya.

Both departures also visit one of Bhutan’s smaller, less well known festivals – the Blacked Necked Crane Festival in November, and the Rhododendron Festival in April.


At a glance

Grade: Gentle / Moderate
Gentle / Moderate

Duration:  15 days from the UK  
Walks on: 6 days Trek on: 2 days

Max. Altitude: 3,990m/13,090ft, Chele La Pass, day 10

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Kathmandu

Accommodation types: Hotels, Homestays, 1 Night Camping

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

Itinerary overview
DayActivity
1-3
Fly to Kathmandu. Fly to Paro and drive to Thimphu.
4-5
Day walk and sightseeing in Thimphu and Punakha.
6-7
Drive to the Phobjika Valley. Walks and sightseeing. Autumn departure attends the Black-necked crane Festival. Stay in farmhouse homestays.
8
Drive to Thimphu. Spring departure attends the Rhododendron Festival at the Lampelri Botanical Park.
9-11
Return to Paro. Drive to Haa. Explore Haa town and walk in the Haa Valley. Overnight in a homestay.
12-13
Bumdra Trek to Taktsang Temple. Camp by Bumdra Monastery.
14-15
Fly to Kathmandu. Fly to London.

  1. Day 1 - Fly London To Kathmandu

    Fly overnight from London to Kathmandu.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Overnight Flight To Kathmandu
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel.

    On arrival in Kathmandu you will be transferred to the Shangri-La Hotel. This is a very comfortable hotel situated to the north of Thamel, the tourist district of Kathmandu. It has a lovely garden with a swimming pool and several excellent restaurants. The bustle of Thamel, with all its restaurants, shops and bars, is a
    20 minute walk or 10 minute taxi ride away.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shangri La Hotel, Kathmandu or Similar
  3. Day 3 - Fly to Paro. Drive to Thimphu, 65 kms - 1 hour.

    Transfer to the airport for the short flight up to Bhutan. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest and Kangchenjunga, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. Although you are at the mercy of the airline computer, if possible try to sit on the left hand side of the plane for the most spectacular views.

    In Paro you will be met by your Bhutanese guide and will drive to Thimphu (65 km). En route you can stop to visit Tamchog Lakhang, a temple built in the 14th century. To reach it you have to walk across one of the ancient bridges built by the famous 'Iron Bridge' builder Thangthong Gyalpo. Thangtong Gyalpo was a great Buddhist master and also a pioneering civil engineer of the 15th century who is said to have built 58 iron chain suspension bridges around Tibet. He is often portrayed holding a section of iron chain in his right hand. This is just a short walk of about 15 minutes and the temple has a wonderful atmosphere of old Bhutan and is a lovely place to visit.

    There should be time for some sightseeing in Thimphu depending on the flight schedule. Thimphu has an attractive valley location and is relatively small for a capital city but has grown greatly in recent years. There are many places of interest to visit there. Initially you might like to drive up to see the giant Buddha figure and enjoy the views over the town.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel or Similar, Thimphu
  4. Day 4 - In and around Thimphu

    This morning you will drive up to Sangaygang next to the Bhutan First Broadcasting Service tower, located in the North West of Thimphu. It is only about a mile drive up to the tower so if you feel like you would like to burn a bit more energy you can always walk up instead. From the tower you will have great views over Thimphu Dzong and the Thimphu valley as you start your walk contouring the beautiful hills to visit Wangditse Gompa. This walk should take around 1½ hours. You will have time to visit the gompa before you walk down for another 30 minutes to reach Dechen Phodrang Monastery. This Monastery houses around 450 student monks enrolled in an 8 year course. The monastery is also home to some fantastic UNESCO monitored 12th century paintings. You will then meet your vehicle and be driven back to Thimphu.

    In the afternoon there will be time to enjoy some sightseeing. There are many places of interest to visit in Thimphu, including the Tashichhodzong (the main government buildings), the Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, the late King's Memorial Chorten, the National Library, the School of Painting and the silversmiths and pottery workshops. The Government Handicrafts Emporium is possibly the best place to look for local handicraft. It is interesting to visit the handmade paper workshop to see the paper being made and there are some nice items made from handmade paper for sale there. You could also visit the Post Office to buy some of Bhutan's very attractive stamps, they will even print a valid stamp with your face on it while you wait! They also have good t-shirts on sale. While in Thimphu you might also like to visit the 'zoo'. This is in fact a very large enclosure (several acres) just above the town, containing only Takin, the very rare animal found exclusively in Bhutan and parts of China and possibly one of the most quirky and strangest looking animals you will ever see.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel or Similar, Thimphu
  5. Day 5 - Drive over the Dochu La to Punakha, 77 kms - 3 hours. Visit Chimi Lakhang. Punakha Valley walk. Visit Punakha Dzong.

    After breakfast you will drive east to Punakha. Leaving Thimphu you climb to cross the Dochu La Pass, 3,109m/10,200ft, a spot marked by 108 chortens. Here, weather permitting, you may take in a magnificent mountain vista. On clear days there are fabulous views of the eastern Himalaya but this is a beautiful spot even on misty days. You descend from the pass into the lush Punakha valley. Before driving on to your hotel in Punakha you may visit Chimi Lakhang a temple built by Drukpa Kunley. Known as the The Divine Madman', Drukpa Kunley was a 15th century Bhutanese lama and is Bhutan's most popular saint and one of the most important figures in Bhutanese folklore. Despite the apparent conservatism of the Bhutanese people, Drukpa Kunley with his unconventional views on sex is a great favourite throughout the country - the phallus symbols painted on the outside walls of houses date back to his teachings. Chimi Lakhang is especially popular with women who come here to pray for children. The temple is characterised by its many phallic symbols. The lakhang is reached by a short walk across the paddy fields and this short excursion takes about 45 minutes each way.

    In the afternoon you will drive to do a lovely walk in the Punakha Valley. From your hotel you drive further up the valley and start your walk at a pedestrian suspension bridge crossing the Mo Chu River. You then follow up through paddy fields to the base of the hill where Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten is sited. The climb to the top is then quite steep, but takes only 45 minutes or so. This chorten was consecrated in December 1999 and contains sacred relics donated from Punakha Dzong. Leaving the grounds of the chorten via a different gate you descend past farmhouses and back over the suspension bridge to reach your bus for the short drive to Punakha Dzong.

    The fabulous Punakha Dzong, one of the most spectacular and important in the Kingdom, is situated at the confluence of two rivers. In 1994 there was a major flood in the town which caused a lot of damage to the dzong, but it has now been beautifully renovated and is a real showcase for Bhutanese craftsmanship and painting. You are normally allowed into the dzong unless there are VIPs visiting.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Zhingkham Resort or Similar, Punakha
  6. Day 6 - Drive to Gangtey, 78 kms - 3 hours. Visit the Black-necked crane information centre and Gangtey Dzong. Walk in the Gangtey Valley.

    After breakfast you will drive to Gangtey, 78kms away, which takes around 3-4 hours. From Punakha you drive down the valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang whose massive and important dzong unfortunately burnt down in 2012. It is now being reconstructed. You drive through the few houses which mark the former township of Wangdi and on up the beautiful wooded valley of the Dang Chu River and turn off to arrive at the Gangtey Valley.

    Gangtey, also properly known as the Phobjikha valley, is a beautiful glacial valley, wide, wooded and unspoilt. It is particularly famous as a major wintering ground for Black Necked Cranes, which arrive here late October and stay until early spring before heading back to their breeding grounds in Tibet and Siberia. These birds are particularly respected in local culture and feature in local tradition as 'heavenly birds'.

    You should have time to visit the fine 17th century Gangtey Gompa and then on to the Black-necked crane information centre. You then may have the chance for a pleasant walk in the Gangtey Valley.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Farmhouse Homestay, Gangtey Valley
  7. Day 7 - Walk in the Phobjika Valley (spring departure), or attend the Black-necked crane festival (autumn departure).

    Spring departure
    The valley has glorious scenery and some lovely small villages and temples which you may visit. There is a network of footpaths through woods and meadows of the valley and a number of different walks are possible here your guide will suggest a suitable one for your group. He will also no doubt regale you with some of the tales and legends of the valley including stories about two different types of Yeti, a large one and a small one, which are rumoured to be found here.

    Autumn departure
    For those travelling in the autumn you will attend the Black-necked crane festival today. This festival is relatively new and is not one of the more famous ancient religious set-piece tsechus such as the Thimphu Tsechu. Instead it is a more recent and local affair organised by conservation bodies along with the local people to celebrate the return of the Black-necked Cranes from their summer sojourn in Siberia and to increase awareness of the importance of this majestic but globally endangered bird. The festival features a cultural program with folk songs, masked dances (many with crane themes) along with dramas and songs performed by local people and school children. It is all very jolly and friendly.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Farmhouse Homestay, Gangtey Valley
  8. Day 8 - Drive to Thimphu, 135 kms - 5-6 hours. En route attend the Rhododendron Festival (spring departure).

    From your homestay you drive up over the pass leading out of the 'hidden' valley of Phobjikha and down and down to Wangdiphodrang. Passing through the town you cross the river and proceed along the valley before the long climb through dense forest which leads towards the Dochu La Pass, 3,109m/10,200ft.

    If travelling on our spring departure, you will enter the Lampelri Botanical Park, located before the pass, to attend the annual Rhododendron Festival. Besides a traditional cultural programme there is an exhibition, arts and crafts, traditional games and a garden walk. Bhutan is known to have 52 species of rhododendron and the park itself boasts 29 of them. Lampelhi Park is 47 sq kms in area and has 14.5 kms of 'eco trails'. The forest has plentiful wildlife which includes Red Panda, Musk Deer, Monal and Blood pheasants and it is said the Royal Bengal Tiger exits here too.

    If you are on the autumn departure, the botanical garden is an interesting and worthwhile stop in its own right.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel or Similar, Thimphu
  9. Day 9 - Return drive to Paro, 65kms - 1 hour. Day spent exploring Paro valley.

    The Paro Valley has had a great strategic importance in the history of Bhutan and was in the past an important staging post on the trade routes with Tibet. Paro Dzong, situated on a rocky outcrop above the Paro Chu and with views down both sides of the valley was historically one of Bhutan's strongest and most strategic fortresses and before the rebuilding of the Tashidodzong in Thimphu it was also the seat of Bhutan's National Assembly. Well worth the visit and leaving here stop and also go into Dungtse Lhakhang. This is an unusual ancient temple built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo.

    Today you will have a full day to explore the Paro Valley. In the morning after visiting the main dzong, you will drive up the valley to visit the ancient temple of Kyichu Lakhang. This is one of Bhutan's oldest and most beautiful temples and was one of 108 temples built in the 7th century by Songtsen Gampo an important early Tibetan king, to pin down the Bon demon which was thought to hover over the whole of Tibet.

    Later, you can explore the Paro valley further. You may drive to the end of the valley to visit the ruined monastery/fortress of Drugyel Dzong. This burnt down at the beginning of the last century when a monk overturned a butter lamp by mistake - however, it may not be coincidence that the destruction of the fortress occurred around the time when the Governor of Paro was opposing the Tongsa Penlop, who eventually became installed as the first hereditary ruler. From here, if the weather is clear you may see Mount Chomolhari to the north.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Olathang Hotel, Paro or Similar
  10. Day 10 - Drive over the Chele La Pass to Haa, 2,950m/9,700ft, 65 kms - 2 hours.

    Today you leave the Paro Valley to drive over the Chele La Pass to Haa. On the way to the pass you will pay a visit to the temple of Dzong Drakha, a beautiful cliff temple spectacularly located on a broad ledge with vertical limestone cliffs above and below. There are lovely views from here.

    Continuing up to the Chele La, a pass at 3,990m/13,090ft, in clear weather you will have wonderful views of the snow capped mountains to the west which mark the border with Tibet. You then descend on a long, long zig-zag road down into the Haa Valley. As you approach you will notice three almost identical conical hills in a line on the other side of the valley. These are believed by the locals to be the physical manifestations of three very important Buddhist saints. The left one is Manjushri (the god who holds the flaming sword which cuts the knot of ignorance), the middle one is Chenrizig (the Buddha of compassion of which the Dalai Lama is the human incarnation) and the right hand hill is Chana Dorji (this being the protector god of Bhutan). Collectively they are known as Rigsum (three hills). As you descend further you look down on the square yellow roof of the main monastery/fortress, Namgay Dzong. Spread around the dzong are the buildings of the Indian Army dating from the visit of President Nehru - the Indian army has a presence in Bhutan ostensibly to protect the kingdom from possible invasion from China. Although part of the dzong is used by the Indian Army the central tower of the Dzong is still used by the local people. The old town itself is just to the north-west and is really quite attractive with traditional two storey shops and a post office. There is a large school in Haa. In the afternoon you should have time for a little exploration in the Haa Valley.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Farmhouse Homestay, Haa Valley
  11. Day 11 - Day walk in the Haa valley. Drive back to Paro, 65 kms - 2 hours drive.

    Today you have much of the day in the Haa Valley. Initially it is worth driving up to the very top of the valley for an overview. This takes about 40 minutes (11 kms) and is a very pretty drive. From here you will get really good views of Haa Valley itself as well as over to the west to some of the mountains near the Tibetan border.

    Coming back down towards the town you take a spur road to Talung village which is 20 minutes on a rough road. This village is situated in a small side valley and it's a good idea to take the vehicles to the top of the village and then walk down through the houses for a look at a typical Haa village. You may well receive 'invites' into one or two of the farmhouses.

    You can rejoin your vehicle at the bottom of the village and then drive the short distance to the bottom of a track for a nice walk up to Yongto Gompa, an ascent of 100 metres which takes about 30 minutes. Yongto Gompa is perched on a ridge overlooking the main valley and is one of the oldest monasteries in Haa, thought to have been built in the 15th century. From here you walk steeply down the hill, 30 minutes and 200m descent, through pine trees, to Yangtha village. This is a large village on the floor of the main valley. In 2001 they suffered a huge fire which destroyed 12 houses. Amazingly, the fire left the temple of the village perfectly intact. After the fire the King visited the people of the village and paid for the reconstruction. The new houses are built in exactly the same traditional style and blend in remarkably well.

    Return drive to Paro in the late afternoon.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Olathang Hotel, Paro or Similar
  12. Day 12 - Start the trek to Bumdra. Camp beneath Bumdra Monastery, 3,800m/12,467ft.

    After breakfast you will take a short drive to the starting point of the two day Bumdra trek. Here you wil meet your trek crew and ponies, and then begin following a little trodden trail up from Paro Valley. Your initial ascent takes you up through forest to reach a ridge then to a clearing from where you will be able to see back down the Paro Valley. Continuing up, you next reach Chhoe Tse Lhakhang temple, nestled in the side of the mountain, where you can rest and enjoy fine views of Paro beneath and the snow-capped Himalaya in the distance. The final stage is now ahead of you as you ascend through ruins and thick forest to a high, open yak pasture bedecked with chortens and colourful prayer flags. This will be your campsite for the night at around 3,800m/12,467ft. The altitude should not be a problem having been in Bhutan now for 10 days..

    Above the pasture sits the seventeenth century Bumdra Monastery, hugging the cliff face. After a chance to rest and enjoy the spectacular views from the campsite you can walk up to the monastery and explore its many caves where legend has it that a thousand angels, or dakinis, once covened. If you have the energy, you could also make the 45 minute climb of Namgo La just behind the monastery. Its 4,100m peak provides a natural viewing 'platform' to enjoy the commanding vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  13. Day 13 - Trek to Taktsang Monastery.

    After a tough day of ascent yesterday, today is all downhill. After breakfast at the camp, you will begin your descent. Following the 'monk's' winding path down through larch and silver pine you can take your first welcome breather on the conveniently located deck chairs at the small hermitage of Yoselang at 3,300m. Continuing down the path you will shortly reach Zangto Pelhri Monastery, from where you can peer over the side for your first fantastic views down to the golden roofs of Taktsang Monastery. From here it's a steep half hour down a rock hewn staircase to Taktsang - an approach that very few people experience to reach the famed Tiger's Nest.

    The monastery is perched some 600m/2,000ft up on a cliff overlooking Paro 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.

    If open, you will be able to visit the monastery before continuing down to reach the car park where your vehicle will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in Paro.


    Overnight iconOvernight: Olathang Hotel, Paro or Similar
  14. Day 14 - Fly to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel. Time at leisure.

    On your flight back to Kathmandu there are fabulous views of the Himalaya in every direction. Try to sit on the right side of the plane for the best views. On arrival, you will be transferred to the Shangri La Hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shangri La Hotel, Kathmandu
  15. Day 15 - Fly to London.

    After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the UK.


2018

DatesAvailabilityLand OnlyFlight Inclusive from
Sat 14 Apr - Sat 28 Apr 2018Available£2925 Book£3500 Book
Mon 5 Nov - Mon 19 Nov 2018Available£2855 BookContact us

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Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

 
Optional supplements
  • Single Supplement
    From £30
  • Single Room Supplement
    From £395
Insurance
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.

What’s included

  • An English speaking Bhutanese leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • All internal flights and hotel/airport transfers
  • The use of a good quality down jacket and sleeping bag (when travelling to Bhutan via Kathmandu).
  • 4* hotel in Kathmandu on a bed & breakfast, twin-share basis
  • Good standard hotel accommodation in Bhutan on a full board, twin-share basis.
  • Three nights in Bhutan Government approved farmouse homestays with all meals
  • One night camping with all camping facilities (twin share tents) and all meals on trek
  • Camp staff to carry out all camp work
  • Bhutan Visa
  • Bhutan departure tax
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset flights (flight inclusive bookings)
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece
  • The opportunity to attend one of our pre trip meets in the Cotswolds

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees for Nepal
  • Lunch and evening meals in Kathmandu
  • Optional trips
  • Tips


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 1 reviews)

Hidden valleys and authentic cultural experiences          

I have stayed in Bhutanese homestays and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There were some that I would have chosen in preference to a 5 star hotel. I do however understand that this is a question of personal preference. Personally, I think having close contact with the local people is immensely more valuable than staying in a resort where you cut yourself off from the authentic experience of being in Bhutan.


Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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