Journey to the Himalayas

Journey Itinerary

DAY 1 Arrive Paro & Thimphu, Bhutan

Welcome to Bhutan! The Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan is the last of the Buddhist kingdoms that once occupied a vast area of the Himalayas. You are met upon arrival at the Paro airport by your driver and guide.

Travel through spectacular mountain scenery and serene countryside to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Sandwiched in the heart of the Himalayas, Thimphu is a small, charming city, with all the buildings constructed and painted in the traditional Bhutanese style. Arrive in Thimphu by late afternoon. ​(D)

Taj Tashi, Thimphu

DAY 2Thimphu

Today, wind your way through one of Bhutan’s loveliest valleys, viewing pristine landscapes, crystal clear mountain views, idyllic farmhouses, and small monasteries. The great fortresses, known as dzongs, are among the most striking examples of Bhutanese architecture. Rising proudly at strategic places—at the entrance to a valley, at the summit of a hill or at the confluence of two rivers—dzongs are built on a grand scale without the help of any drawings and are held together without a single nail. ​(B,L,D)

Taj Tashi, Thimphu

DAY 3Thimphu to Punakha

This morning, take a close look today at the Bhutanese art forms that continue to flourish in everyday life - weavings, woodcarvings and the traditional art of painting Thangkhas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). Explore the folk heritage museum and National Textile Museum before departing for the drive to Punakha. En route, traverse Dochula Pass (10,500 ft.) and see one of Bhutan's most breathtaking views – a plethora of colorful rhododendron blossoms and soft green wild herbs and forest trees dot a canvas of alpine snow. Enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, and the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).

Late afternoon arrive in Punakha, formerly established as Bhutan’s winter capital because of its more temperate valley climate. Enjoy an excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the temple of fertility, situated on a hillock in the center of the valley. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children should pray at this temple, and are usually blessed with a child very soon. ​(B,L,D)

Uma by COMO, Punakha

DAY 4Punakha to Paro

This morning, take a short morning drive through the valley, then a trek up to the majestic Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple. Enjoy the grand views of the Mo Chu River Valley, before your meandering walk down through terraced rice fields and small villages.

Next, your guide drives you to the Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 as both the religious and the administrative center of the country. From this spectacular setting you can look back to see the Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple perched on the hillside far in the distance.

Then depart Punakha for the scenic drive to Paro, arriving at your hotel in the afternoon. Later in the day, visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. ​(B,L,D)

Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Paro

DAY 5Paro & Tiger’s Nest

This morning, your guide leads you on a hike to the enchanting "Tiger's Nest,” the Taktsang Monastery viewpoint. Built around a cave where the Guru Rinpoche meditated, this monastery impossibly seems to cling to a cliff of rock 3,000 feet above the valley floor.

The Taktsang Monastery is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world, containing 13 holy places. Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Lair”, gets its name from the Bhutanese legend - In the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche came to Taktsang in a miraculous manner, flying on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong in the region of Kurteop.

The hike takes about 5 hours roundtrip, and is challenging, but unforgettably thrilling and mystical.(Transport by pony is available on the ascent, if you do not wish to hike. Walking is mandatory on the descent.)

Afternoon visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. ​(B,L,D)

Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Paro

DAY 6Paro to Kathmandu, Nepal

You are transferred to the airport this morning for the flight to Kathmandu in Nepal. It is said that there is a temple or idol for every soul living in the city. Kathmandu is a treasure house, with its ancient temples, wild looking holy men and fascinating melting pot of Indian and Tibetan cultures.

This afternoon, visit the 1500 year-old stupa of Boudhanath, one of the largest in the world. It stands on an octagonal base inset with prayer wheels and ringed by houses of lamas. It was built by King Manadeva on the advice on the goddess Mani Jogini. Next, see the temple of Pashupatinath. The cremation ground is near the temple and the ashes of the cremated are sprinkled into the waters of the Bagmati, eventually carried to the sacred Ganges. (B,D)

Dwarika’'s Hotel, Kathmandu

DAY 7Kathmandu

Early this morning, thrill to an exhilarating one hour mountain flightseeing journey to view the dramatic Himalayas and glorious Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth (weather permitting).

Back on the ground, spend the rest of the day touring the valley and the royal city Patan, built in 3rd century by Emperor Ashoka, and enclosed within four stupas. Explore this city filled with wood and stone carvings, metal statues, over 1200 monuments, and ornate architecture, including dozens of Buddhist and Hindu temples. This ‘City of Fine Arts’ is also known for its rich tradition of arts and handicrafts - watch hand carpet-weaving at the Handicraft Center. ​(B,L)

Dwarika’'s Hotel, Kathmandu

DAY 8Kathmandu to Pokhara

Today take a scenic 30 minute flight to Pokhara City, in the picturesque Pokhara Valley. Upon arrival you are met, and escorted to your hotel.

After a chance to rest, spend the afternoon exploring Pokhara. Enjoy a boat excursion on deep-blue Phewa Lake, the second largest lake in Nepal. Visit Barahi Temple. The most important monument in Pokhara, this two-story pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima. See Davis Falls, and Gupteshwar Cave, almost 2 miles long, the cave has large rooms and is home to a valued Hindu symbol of Lord Shiva. Next, visit a Tibetan Refugee camp before returning to your hotel. ​(B,L)

Fishtail Lodge, Pokhara

DAY 9Pokhara

Arise early this morning to experience sunrise from Sarangkot Hill (5220 ft.), and the magnificent Himalayan panorama view. On a clear day, you can see spectacular views of the snowcapped mountains that include Mount Annapurna, Mount Fishtail, and Mount Dhaulagiri.

On the way back to the city, stop at Bindhebasini Temple, the center of religious activities in Pokhara. Then wander the old market for the feel of a true Nepalese bazaar. ​(B)

Fishtail Lodge, Pokhara

DAY 10Pokhara to Bardia National Park

Today, fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj airport, and then drive through fascinating Tharu villages to the edge of Bardia National Park, the largest and most undisturbed wilderness area in Nepal.

Arrive at your “Tiger Tops” lodge in Bardia this afternoon. ​(B,L,D)

Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge, Bardia

DAY 11Bardia National Park

This morning explore Bardia National Park on a Jeep Safari. Experience the beauty of this region full of wildlife, including deer, chital, sambar, wild boar, monkeys, elephant, tigers, leopards, crocodiles and 300 species of birds. Visit the Tharu museum to learn more about the local people, and the crocodile breeding center to observe the Gharial and Marsh Mugger Crocodiles being bred for eventual release into the park.

Return to the lodge for lunch, before heading out on an evening expert-guided elephant safari. Visit the Elephant Stable to learn about the Asian elephant, before beginning your memorable guided trek to a local village. (B,L,D)

Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge, Bardia

DAY 12Bardia National Park to Kathmandu

This morning you are driven back to Nepalgunj airport for your flight to Kathmandu.

Upon arrival enjoy an excursion east of the city to the simple farming village of Nagarkot. Located at 7,000 feet, the village is renowned for its sunrise and sunset views of the Himalaya including Mount Everest, as well as a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. After admiring the glorious sunset, drive back to your Kathmandu hotel. ​(B)

Dwarika’'s Hotel, Kathmandu

DAY 13Kathmandu to Lhasa, Tibet

Board a morning flight to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Lhasa was built around the sacred Jokhang Temple, where yak-butter lamps, lama chants, horns, bells and devout pilgrims provide a dramatic setting to observe close up the resurgence of the ancient Tibetan Buddhist religion in modern day Tibet. ​

Arrive at your hotel by late afternoon. (B,L)

Direct flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa change from time to time and may require an extra day in Kathmandu or one less day in Lhasa. At the time of confirmation we will adjust the routing accordingly.

Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa

DAY 14 & 15Lhasa

Spend these two days exploring the rich cultural history of Lhasa and Tibet.

The Old City of Lhass was built around the Jokhang, which is the most sacred temple in Tibet. It was established in the 7th century, when Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet and, since its founding, has been considerably enlarged, particularly during the reign of the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Within the Jokhang, there are a series of temples situated on the ground and the upper floors. After the Cultural Revolution, these temples were left in various states of repair. Visit this area full of temples, pilgrims praying and traditional markets. At the main entrance see pilgrims prostrating themselves as they conduct their prayers before continuing on their ritual circuit around the temple. Explore the Barkor Bazaar, with its multitude of stalls selling anything from ceremonial scarves to Chinese thermos flasks.

Drive on a breathtaking ascent to the iconic and lofty Potala Palace, formerly the winter residence of the Dalai Lama. This majestic palace seems to grow out of the rocks into the crisp dry air above. Built in the 17th century, it contains hundreds of rooms, labyrinthine corridors, and lavish decorations provide insight into the glory that was the Tibetan kingdom. Visit the White and Red Palaces, containing the Dalai Lama’s former living quarters, the Great West Hall, and the splendid West Chapel. See the eight gold stupas, which were the tombs of the Dalai Lamas.

Your tour of Lhasa also includes Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Built on the banks of the Kyichu River in 1755, the palace grounds cover more than 100 acres of jewel-like parks, immaculate gardens, wild forests, and stately pavilions. The massive palace has 374 rooms. ​(2B,2L)

Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa

DAY 16Yamdrok Tsho Lake Excursion

Embark on the drive of a lifetime along the Lhasa-Kathmandu Southern Highway that runs parallel to the Himalayas. After you cross the Yarlungdzangbo River, the road gradually climbs to Kamba La (15,820 ft.), where you have your first view of brilliant turquoise blue Yamdrok Tso Lake. This is one of the four holiest lakes of Tibet and the home of wrathful deities. Along with the lake, the view in the distance massif of Mt. Nojin Kangtsang (23,586 ft.) can be seen.

Explore this beautiful lake and learn about its nature and history before you return to Lhasa by the late afternoon. ​(B)

Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa

DAY 17Depart Lhasa

Today you are transferred to the Lhasa airport for your flight home or onto your next destination. ​(B)

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Tour Details

MEETING POINT
Paro, Bhutan
DEPARTURE POINT
Lhasa, Tibet


TOUR INCLUDES

Accommodations as indicated in the itinerary
Meals as indicated in the itinerary
All transfers and sightseeing provided in a private deluxe vehicle when possible
Local English-speaking guide for sightseeing
Entrance fees per final scheduled itinerary
Airport porterage, where available (2 bags per person)
Local taxes
Travel Guard Medical Emergency and Assistance Plan
Bhutan Visa fee only



Package price is per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement applies. Land, air, and governmental/park taxes are subject to change based on date of departure. International airfare is additional. Other restrictions may apply. Contact us for complete journey details.

Journey Overview

Far, far away from the ordinary, perched at what seems like the top of the world, lie these distant kingdoms waiting for you to discover them. Here, in the land of temples and tigers, you’ll find earth’s most spectacular vistas . . . and its most secret places. You will see cultures often found mysterious and contemplate serenity in the exotic area of the Himalayas with expert, private guides showcasing the beauty of these three distinct areas.

​Nesting amid the world’s highest mountains sit the legendary lands of Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. The ancient cultures and lifestyles of these lands are still as they have been for centuries—adorned with traditional woven garments, daily prayers and prevalent religious folk dances. Travel through serene, forested valleys dotted with temples, and traverse majestic mountains crowned with castle-like monasteries. Witness novice monks reciting mantras, and craftsmen creating beauty from simple wares. And meet the gracious people who impart a deep insight into the Buddhist philosophy and the essence of life in the majestic Himalayas.

  • Explore ancient temples and sacred monuments to gain spiritual insight into Bhutan’s deep-set Buddhist philosophy
  • Visit the mystical Tiger’s Nest Monastery, set into a cliff 3,000 feet above Paro
  • Enjoy a helicopter ride in the Himalayas with views of imposing Mt. Everest
  • Enjoy a safari from atop an elephant in Bardia National Park


  • See the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama in Tibet
  • Marvel at the dzongs(great fortresses) of Bhutan with their striking and unique architecture
  • Traverse the Dochula Pass to see one of Bhutan's most breathtaking views
  • Embark on the drive of a lifetime along the Lhasa-Kathmandu Southern Highway

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