Two Bhutanese dancers at a traditional tsechu festivaql

Masked dance festival

Bhutan carefully guards its traditonal Buddhist heritage. Mask dances, performed in the open courtyards of ancient monasteries, are a wonderful spectacle to behold in this unique country.

Photo by Dan Heller

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Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms

Tibet’s Sacred Spaces, Kathmandu’s Exotic Bazaars, Bhutan’s Spectacular festivals

Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7195  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Lhasa, Tibet
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 7 nights in deluxe hotels, 7 nights in best-available hotels or rustic lodges
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 3 dinners
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Optional walks, altitudes between 4,000-13,000 feet
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Highlights

  • Tibet’s Potala Palace and remote Samye Monastery
  • Kathmandu’s Buddhist center at Bodha
  • Bhutan’s delightful festivals and famed cliff-perched Tiger’s Nest monastery


An outstanding trip. One not to miss in this lifetime!Demetra H.—Narberth, PA

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

There is mystery and magic in the Himalaya, in the eerie chanting of maroon-robed monks in brightly painted monasteries, in snow plumes trailing from high peaks, and in the smiles of Buddhist pilgrims at their ancient temples. Our journey weaves together three Himalayan realms: Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan, bringing you inside these lands to feel the immense power of places like Tibet’s 8th century mandala-shaped Samye Monastery, where few travelers go, to explore the temple-filled lanes of Kathmandu and meet its renowned artisans, and to savor the flourishing kingdom of Bhutan, where the Buddhist faith plays a fundamental role in the lives of the people and brings with it a reverence for nature that has protected the land. Each of our departures is timed to witness a lively festival in Bhutan, complete with masked dances, for a unique and memorable experience of an ancient Himalayan culture.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-5
Lhasa, Tibet / Yarlung Valley / Samye (Wangdue and Thimphu Festival Departure)

From Tibet’s holy city, with its iconic Potala Palace, we head across the soaring Tibetan Plateau into the remote Yarlung Valley, the cradle of Tibetan civilization, where Samye, both a monastery and a village, was built in a mandala shape to symbolize the structure of the Buddhist universe.

Days 6-8
Kathmandu, Nepal

In this ancient city where Hindu and Buddhist worlds intertwine and the scent of exotic spices fills the air, we explore fascinating sites including the riverside Hindu bathing ghats at Pashupatinath and the thriving Buddhist center at Bodha, where new monasteries have risen to serve Tibetans in exile.

Days 9-15
Paro, Bhutan / Punakha / Wangdue Festival / Thimphu Festival

Amid Bhutan’s gold-roofed monasteries and emerald valleys, we explore the Paro Valley, hike up to the ancient hermitage called Taktsang, visit the peaceful Punakha Valley, Bhutan’s winter capital for 300 years, and attend the Wangdue Festival in the small town of Wangdue and the Thimphu Festival in the capital. Depart via Paro on Day 15.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 2+, Easy to Moderate. It features vehicle-based sightseeing with day walks and hotel/lodge accommodations throughout. Our optional day hikes take place at altitudes of 4,000-13,000 feet. All hiking is with a daypack only, and you always have the option to skip any hike you don’t want to undertake. This trip is appropriate for anyone in good health living an active outdoor lifestyle. Although you carry only a daypack on the walks, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. Daily brisk walking and/or regular hiking (or using a stair-climbing machine at your gym) are excellent preparatory exercises.

Even though this is not a strenuous trip, the shape you’re in will be an important factor in your enjoyment of it. Make special efforts to get in good physical condition for the trip by hiking, running, bicycling, swimming or participating in other forms of exercise beyond your normal routine.

Accommodations in these Himalayan countries range from rustic to deluxe. The Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro, the Taj Tashi in Thimphu, and Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu offer a great deal of comfort, while the lodge in Punakha and the hotels in Lhasa and Tsetang are well situated and cozy but somewhat rustic. Please be aware that most guesthouses in Bhutan and Tibet provide simple buffets for all meals. The cuisine in these countries is generally based on basic rice with stir-fry and stew options.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Sep 22-Oct 6, 2014  Wangdue & Thimphu Festivals

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$7195 (13-15 members)
$7495 (10-12 members)
$7795 (7-9 members)
Single supplement: $2025
Forced single supplement: $1825
Internal airfare: $1625 (subject to change)
Bhutan Visa Fee (WT acquires visa for you): $40
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Laos: Luang Prabang Extension
   from: $720
Burma Extension
   from: $2395
Bangkok Extension
   from: $595
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $425
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $775
Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension
   from: $1295
Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension
   from: $2495
South India Extension: The Malabar Coast
   from: $2195
Kanha National Park Extension
   from: $2095

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels and lodges
  • All meals included except 2 lunches and 3 dinners
  • Land transportation, airport transfers, and sightseeing as noted in the Full Trip Brochure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, hotels in Chengdu or Bangkok, airport transfers for individual arrival or departure, airport departure taxes, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Kyichu Hotel

Kyichu Hotel

Days 1 to 3 (3 nights), Lhasa, Tibet

Conveniently located just a few minutes walk from the Jokhang Temple, Barkhor, and Potala Palace, the Kyichu, run by a Tibetan family, is ideally ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Tse Dang Hotel

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Tsetang, Tibet

In the heart of Tsetang and close to the historical sites, this large, modern, four-story hotel is an ideal base for exploring Tibet’s third largest city. Guest rooms with attached bath feature telephone, cable TV, and air-conditioning. Several restaurants are on the premises, and there is a tranquil garden where we can relax after a day of exploring.

Dwarika's Hotel

Dwarika's Hotel

Days 6 to 8 (3 nights), Kathmandu, Nepal

A heritage hotel that takes its inspiration from the Kathmandu Valley’s ancient culture, Dwarika’s is modeled upon the architectural ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Taj Tashi Hotel

Taj Tashi Hotel

Days 9 to 10 (2 nights), Thimphu, Bhutan

Part of the venerable Taj group of hotels in India, this 66-room hotel has all the conveniences of a luxury hotel, while at the same time reflects ...
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Hotels in the Punakha Valley

Days 11 to 12 (2 nights), Punakha Valley, Bhutan

In Punakha we stay at one of the following properties:

Hotels in Paro

Days 13 to 14 (2 nights), Paro, Bhutan

In Paro we stay at one of the following properties:

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Steve Webster

Steve Webster was born in the Jersey Channel Islands of the United Kingdom and traveled to Nepal in the early 1980s to work with the famous Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge. He spent five years in the jungles of Nepal, managing several lodges and camps and studying wildlife, and he trekked extensively in Nepal while working as Director of Sales for our Nepal outfitter. In Kathmandu, Steve overseas the running of the Himalayan Children's Foundation, which educates underprivileged and orphaned children from remote mountain districts. In Bhutan, he is involved with a project that supports a family-run traditional art school outside of the capital, Thimphu. Steve has also guided journeys in Tibet, including the ethereal setting of Rongbuk Monastery below the North Face of Everest. "I originally came to Nepal on a holiday 20 years ago. That holiday has turned into a non-stop adventure of a lifetime and I continue to be in awe of this very special part of the world. I consider myself very fortunate to have spent much of my adult life in the jungles and mountains of the Himalayas and in the company of people that have such wonderful spirituality. It is a joy to share those experiences with my fellow travelers." Steve lives in Kathmandu with his Nepalese wife and their two children. He speaks fluent Nepali.

Upcoming Trips:

Magical Tibet, June 11-26, 2014
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms, September 22-October 6, 2014
Annapurna Adventure, November 9-22, 2014

Client Testimonials:


Steve is over the top in humor, helpfulness, and unflappability. He is also knowledgeable about medical problems, even when minor. He is excellent! Robin and Leo R., Everest Adventure Can't say enough about Steve. By far the best guide I've ever had. His attention to every detail and need is outstanding. Debbie W., Arlington VA
Annapurna Adventure
Steve was always there for us at any time. Extremely conscientious, well organized, and efficient, along with a warm and generous personality. Barbie W., San Jose CA
Annapurna Adventure
Steve was excellent in making certain everyone's wants and desires were met. He just intuitively knew what to do to make us all happy! Mimi D., Chicago IL
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Burma

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2

India

Kanha National Park Extension

Gameviewing in one of India’s Great Wildlife Reserves

Wildlife & Natural History
5 days  -  Level 2

South India Extension: The Malabar Coast

Cochin and a Cruise Along the Backwaters of Kerala

Cultural Adventures, Walking
4 days  -  Level 1+

taj mahal agra india cultural tour

Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension

Romantic Rajasthan, Land of Princes

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension

Holy City Along the Ganges, Magnificent World-Famous Temples

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Laos

Laos: Luang Prabang Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2

Myanmar

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Thailand

wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

An outstanding trip. One not to miss in this lifetime! Demetra H., Narberth, PA The trip leader was very enthusiastic about the areas we visited and had a good rapport with the people in all areas we visited. Laura B., Pacific Grove, CA Wonderful trip. I loved the festivals in Nepal and Bhutan. Nancy W., Prescott, AZ One of the best trips of my life. Jesseca S., Watkinsville, GA
I had a fabulous time. Everything we saw was so interesting! Linda Y., Melbourne, FL This was truly a trip of a lifetime with much thanks to our leader, Devendra, and Wilderness Travel. Cathy S., Truckee, CA It was wonderful to see the three countries with very different cultures. Molly H., Annapolis, MD