Explore the three kingdoms of the Himalaya with the adventure travel pioneers since 1969
The goliath proportions of the Himalaya cannot help but cast an air of mysticism and adventure over its diverse landscape, into its remote monasteries, and in its irresistibly kind people. Seeing all three kingdoms of this magnificent range—Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet—on the same journey is a relatively unique idea. Not so long ago, you would have to be willing to sign on for a veritable odyssey to experience it, but today, air travel coupled with Mountain Travel Sobek’s four decades of expertise in the Himalaya, put a formerly arduous journey easily within reach. This exclusive itinerary showcases these unspoiled Buddhist cultures in all their glory through 16 approachable days of touring and moderate day hiking. Having led trips here since 1969 has given us a real edge, opening doors for us to the best guides, hotels, and contacts in the entire region.
We begin our Himalayan journey in the hidden mountain kingdom of Bhutan, a true bastion of tradition in a globalized world, where we find an independent people who have preserved their ancient spirituality and traditions by staying politically isolated from the Western world until only recently. The Bhutanese live in an idyllic land of winding country roads, juniper forests, whitewashed and frescoed farmhouses, and verdant valleys dominated by thriving fortress-like monasteries. We’ll take in the sites at the capital of Thimpu, explore the Cheri Goemba (Monastery), discover rich Bhutanese folk arts, and see the spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings) in the National Museum in Paro. We’ll trek to the famous pilgrimage spot at Taktsang Monastery, perched high on a cliff above the Paro Valley, before gearing up for Nepal.
We depart Bhutan on a breathtaking flight with spectacular views of the eastern Himalaya, including Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. Upon arrival in Nepal, we’ll visit Pokhara, in the magical foothills of Annapurna and Lamjung Himal. We’ll then move on to the Pokhara Valley, Nepal’s middle hills, to soak in wondrous views of the mountains. We’ll fly to Nepal’s legendary capital of Kathmandu, a true melting of Hindu and Buddhist cultures, where we’ll see colorful markets and bazaars, Tibetans in beautiful chubas (wool robes) spinning prayer wheels, Hindus offering alms at pagoda-like temples, and sacred cows roaming the streets—all with the exotic scent of incense and spices floating in the breeze. Our Himalayan odyssey ends on a high note as we fly to Tibet, where we meet the indomitable Tibetan people who maintain their spiritual identity in the face of overwhelming odds. We’ll spend five days here, visiting various sites including Samye, first monastery of Tibet; the Yarlung Valley, which sheltered the ancient kingdom of Yarlung, the cradle of Tibetan civilization; and Lhasa, Tibet’s long-closed capital city at 11,800 feet. Here we’ll tour the major monuments, including the legendary gold-roofed, thousand-room Potala Palace, and we’ll wander the age-old streets of the Barkhor bazaar, mingling with pilgrims, monks, traders and nomads.
Visiting these three kingdoms bordering the great titan of all mountain ranges brings their diversity, cultures, and traditions into a new light. And the best part of all? You don’t need several months’ vacation time, a pick-axe, crampons, or a team of porters to see them!
Moderate touring and day hikes (some at higher elevations - maximum 11,800')
- Experience the three great kingdoms of the Himalayas—Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet—and their unique cultures and traditions on this rare itinerary with the Himalayan experts!
- Discover Bhutan, one of the most tradition-rich lands in the world, and its beautiful folk art
- Explore exotic Kathmandu, home to elaborate Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas (reliquaries), and lively bazaars
- Hike in Nepal’s magical middle hills, the beautiful Pokhara Valley, and enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna Range
- Visit Tibet’s monasteries and the long-forbidden closed city of Lhasa, and meet Tibetans in their rapidly-changing homeland
Duration: 16 days Start Location: Bangkok End Location: ChengduDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand.
Day 2 : Paro (7,500') – Thimphu (7,600'), Bhutan
Fly to Paro, Bhutan. Drive to Thimphu, the capital, and tour the local sights.
Day 3 : Thimphu (7,600')
Day hikes to Cheri monastery and Wangdi Tse on the outskirts of Thimphu
Day 4 : Punakha (4,100'), Bhutan
Drive to Punakha and visit spectacularly situated Punakha Dzong (dzongs are fortress-like citadels).
Day 5 : Paro (7,500')
Drive to the Shangri-La setting of the Paro Valley and visit the National Museum and the Paro Dzong.
Day 6 : Hike to Taktsang Monastery (10,300')
Day hike on a steep switchback trail through the forest to a viewpoint of Taktsang Monastery.
Day 7 : Kathmandu (4,500') – Pokhara (2,800'), Nepal
Fly to Pokhara, Nepal. Free afternoon to explore this beautiful valley, with tremendous views of the Annapurna Range rising to the north.
Day 8 : Pokhara (2,800'), Nepal
Short hike around Pokhara, with astounding Himalayan views.
Day 9 : Kathmandu (4,500'), Nepal
Fly to Kathmandu, Nepal. Visit the Hindu temple of Pashupati, Bodhnath and nearby Bhaktapur.
Day 10 : Kathmandu to Tsedang (10,200')
Fly to Gongkar airport, Tibet. Drive to Tsedang (11,152') in the Yarlung Valley, "the cradle of Tibetan civilization."
Day 11 : Samye Monastery (12,100')
Visit Samye Monastery, the oldest monastery in Tibet.
Days 12 - 14 : Lhasa (12,000')
Drive to Lhasa. Tour the major cultural monuments, including the amazing gold-roofed Potala Palace, Jokhang, Norbulingka, Drepung Monastery, and the Barkor bazaar, a lively congregating place for Tibetan merchants. You'll also visit Ganden Monastery (14,760'), where you'll make a short kora (sacred circuit) and enjoy stunning views of the Kyichu Valley.
Day 15 : Lhasa to Chengdu
Fly from Lhasa to Chengdu.
Day 16 : Fly home
Catch your international flight or join our extension in Beijing.
DATES: Best time to go: April, October Departures: Oct 5 - 20, 2014 Apr 5 - 20, 2015 Oct 4 - 19, 2015
$5,995 (10-15 members)
$1,830 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Kathmandu/Pokhara/Kathmandu/Lhasa/Chengdu - subject to change
$6,195 (10-15 members)
$1,800 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Kathmandu/Pokhara/Kathmandu/Lhasa/Chengdu - subject to change
Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport HotelBangkok
The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport is a 4 star hotel located 10 min walk from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Boasting 612 comfortable and contemporary rooms, the hotel also offers 2 bars and 4 restaurants. With a 24 hr airport shuttle every 10 min from Gate 4 Level 2 and parking available, there is no better place to stay.
Druk HotelThimphu, Bhutan
Experience the unique and legendary hospitality of the Bhutanese people at this fine accommodation in the midst of the Himalayas. Located in the heart of the capital city, the hotel is close to shopping, culture, and the bubbling Thimphu River.Thim
Hotel ZangthopelriPunakha, Bhutan
Named after the heaven of Guru Rimpoche and situated majestically on a hillock, this hotel features spacious, well-designed rooms in small cottages and a main building. Guests will enjoy fascinating views of the rice terraces and the Punakha river and valley below.
Zhiwa Ling HotelParo, Bhutan
The Zhiwa Ling combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of modern comforts. Guests can enjoy a traditional outdoor hot-stone bath, a Tea House, a Meditation House, and two restaurants specializing in both contemporary international and classic Bhutanese cuisine.
Kyichu HotelLhasa, Tibet
This hotel is named after the Kyichu River, which in Tibetan is known as "the river of happiness". This family-run establishment in the ancient, traditional quarter of Lhasa, prides itself on personalized service and individual attention. Like its namesake river, the Kyichu Hotel will also bring you happiness and an unforgettable stay while in Tibet.
Yak & Yeti HotelKathmandu, Nepal
A 5-star deluxe oasis in the heart of Kathmandu, the Yak & Yeti is the perfect blend of contemporary international standards and time-honored Nepali tradition. Guests will find refuge among antique fountains, gilded temples and emerald gardens, while enjoying a state-of-the-art gymnasium, spa, shopping arcade, atrium, tennis courts and swimming pools.
Located in the heart of Tsedang, this hotel serves as the ideal base for exploring Tibet's third largest city. Nestled between majestic mountains and the beautiful Yarlung River, surrounded by ancient temples and monasteries, the Tsedang Hotel offers the perfect accommodation for enjoying this stunning setting.
Hotel Shangri-La VillagePokhara, Nepal
Every room has a view, and for guests at the Shangri-La Village, the Himalayas get up close and personal. Private balconies off each guest room face the mighty Annapurna range, and spacious landscaped gardens complete the scene. Guests will enjoy every comfort in a beautiful and serene setting.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Sanjay Nepal has been working as a tour guide & trip leader since September 1999 in Nepal, India, Bhutan & Tibet & uses a lot of unusual anecdotes, humor & patience while working. He holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu & has EMBA (Executive MBA) in General Management from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia apart from Senior Diploma in French from French Cultural Center in Kathmandu. He has a sound knowledge on religion and culture of the sub-continent as he himself practiced it for 12 long years (1985-1997) during which he associated with several high profile lamas & religious personalities. He speaks Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, English and French fluently. He has traveled extensively in Europe (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic) for seminars and lecture tours on Buddhism & Hinduism as well as Palmistry & Chinese Face Reading. He has been practicing it professionally since 1991 and has given consultations to several hundreds of people since then. He has also published several articles in English journals in Nepal. His other passion is poetry which can be sampled at www.poetry.com. Beside that his other interests include music, movies, driving, books & traveling.