• Bhutan Sampler: Cultural Tour and Trek in the Himalayas

    An exclusive tour of Bhutan with the Himalaya experts since 1980

    Tour and hike your way through off the beaten path Bhutan, exploring its Himalayan grandeur and rich ancient culture. As the first company to offer trekking tours in Bhutan, MTS has developed steadfast relationships with locals to provide an insider's perspective into "The Dragon Kingdom" that you won’t find anywhere else.

    best times to go: March - April, October - November

    departures: 6 scheduled datesview departures

    pricing: from $4,495 see detailed pricing

    The Himalaya

    Moderate to Strenuous
Also great as a private trip. Call for details

An exclusive tour of Bhutan with the Himalaya experts since 1980

The enchanting Kingdom of Bhutan hugs the eastern end of the Himalaya, and is part of a land formerly referred to as “Greater Tibet.” Rated as one of the happiest countries in the world, the Bhutanese have been careful to maintain their spiritual heritage by selectively choosing which modern ways they want to adopt. And it is no wonder why they want to be selective, as Bhutan's natural landscape offers an earthly nirvana of gorgeous sites, from lush river valleys, whitewashed homes, and terraced rice paddies, to fields covered in mustard and dwarf rhododendrons and majestic, snowcapped peaks. Designed with the short-on-time traveler in mind, this 11-day MTS-exclusive highlights the best of this beautiful country through three days of moderate-to-strenuous ridgeline trekking and camping with gorgeous Himalayan views, with the rest of the time for easy touring and day hikes. Our long history in Bhutan has given us a deeper insight and richer understanding of this country than other travel companies. In 1980, just after Bhutan opened its doors to restricted tourism, we were the first here; a few years later, we became the first company to offer treks; and since the Haa Valley opened to tourists in 2001, we've continued to walk the path less trodden without any other trekkers in sight. Over three decades of know-how have helped us cultivate reliable, long-term contacts, facilitating rich and memorable cultural experiences for our trip members.

Starting and ending in Bangkok, with some time to adjust to the time change and appreciate the city, we’ll fly into Paro, Bhutan, and explore the capital city of Thimphu. We’ll explore the Cheri Goemba (Monastery), built in 1620, the main meditation center of the country, and climb to 15th century Tango Goemba, a Buddhist institute for higher learning. We’ll discover the rich Bhutanese folk arts at a “painting school” where children can learn traditional painting, drawing, woodcarving, and sculpture, and we'll see spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings) in Paro's National Museum. We’ll spend a day trekking to the famous pilgrimage spot, Taktsang Monastery (or “Tiger’s Nest”), perched high on a cliff above the Paro Valley. We’ll drive to the western border of Bhutan, stay one night in charming Lechuna Lodge, set up camp in the fertile Haa Valley, visit the Lhakhang Kap Monastery and learn why it is called “the Temple of the White Dove.” We’ll trek and camp among blue pines, rhododendron, juniper, spruce, and birch trees, idyllic family farms, and along meandering streams. And with each day of trekking, we’ll climb higher and higher, eventually reaching 13,500’! Within view of peaks such as sacred Chomolhari (24,000’) and Kanchenjunga (28,208'), the third highest peak in the world, it will be easy to understand the incredible allure of Bhutan. As we descend, we’ll have amazing views of where we’ve come from—both the Paro and Haa Valleys! We’ll leave early the next morning for Bangkok, with the rest of the day to do as we wish before returning home. MTS is proud to bring you this one-of-a-kind adventure in one of the happiest lands we visit. The Bhutanese coined the term "gross national happiness," and it is truly infectious. This is one short visit that is sure to stay with you for a lifetime

Activities

3 days moderate to strenuous hiking at medium elevation (max. 13,700'), easy touring, day hikes

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the gems of Bhutan on this MTS-exclusive adventure designed for the short-on-time traveler
  • Immerse yourself in Bhutan's rich Buddhist traditions, visiting its most famous monasteries—Taktsang Monastery and Lhakhang Kap Monastery
  • Learn about the Bhutanese folk arts with visits to a traditional “painting school” and several museums
  • Discover the Haa Valley, only recently opened to outsiders
  • Spend three days trekking and camping along a ridge with great Himalayan mountain views

Duration: 11 days Start Location: Bangkok End Location: Bangkok

Download Detailed Itinerary
Itinerary
  • Day1_bgstk_bangkok
    Day 1 : Arrive in Bangkok

    Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand.

  • Monk_at_cheri_monastery
    Day 2 : Paro (7,500') – Thimphu (7,600'), Bhutan

    Fly to Paro, Bhutan. Transfer to Thimphu (7,725'), the capital.

  • Bhs08_fam
    Day 3 : Thimphu (7,600')

    Day hike through the forested countryside to centuries-old Cheri and Tango monasteries, lying just to the north of Thimphu.

  • Bhs04_fam
    Day 4 : Thimphu – Paro

    Sightseeing in Thimphu, including the Folk Heritage and Textile Museums, and the School of Arts and Crafts. Drive to the sub-tropical Punakha Valley, winter seat of the highest lama in Bhutan until the 1950s.

  • Bhs_day_taktsangview
    Day 5 : Hike to Taktsang Monastery (10,300')

    Day hike to Taktsang Monastery, a cliff hermitage nestled in a granite wall above the Paro Valley. Afternoon free to explore Paro on your own.

  • Bhs10_fam
    Day 6 : Haa Valley (9,400')

    Drive to the Haa Valley along the western border of Bhutan. Afternoon visit to Lhakhang Karpo ("Temple of the White Dove").

  • Day7_bhs_bgstk_takin
    Day 7 : Begin trek – camp below Saga La (11,800')

    Begin trek, camping for the night near Saga La pass. Posssible afternoon hike up to Saga La for views of Chomolhari and other peaks.

  • Camp_first_night_on_trek_640x480_
    Day 8 : Ningula (12,300')

    Continue trek, hiking up to Saga La and then descending to camp at Ningula.

  • View_from_ridge_top_on_trek_640x480_
    Day 9 : Kung Karpo (13,500')

    Trek through rich forests of pine, dwarf rhododendron, and primulas to a ridge with high mountain views of sacred Chomolhari and other Himalayan peaks. End trek and return to Paro.

  • Day10_bhs_123_bangkok
    Day 10 : Bangkok

    Depart on your Druk Air flight to Bangkok. Explore Bangkok on your own.

  • Day 11 : Fly home

    Depart Bangkok

Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: March - April, October - November Departures: Oct 4 - 14, 2014 Nov 9 - 19, 2014 Apr 7 - 17, 2015 Apr 21, 2015 - May 1, 2015 Oct 6 - 16, 2015 Oct 20 - 30, 2015

PRICING:

2014 Prices

$4,495 (4-15 members)

$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change
$1000 single supplement

 

2015 Prices

$4,595 (4-15 members)

$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change
$1000 single supplement

  • Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
    Bangkok

    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 Hotel
    Thimphu, 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

  • Zhiwa Ling Hotel
    Paro, 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.

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.

  • Tandin Nidup

    Tandin is a graduate of Bangkok University, Thailand, majoring in Tourism and Hospitality Management. He has been leading treks and cultural tours in Bhutan since 2000. Tandin also worked for a few months as the Human Resource Manager at The Zhiwaling Hotel in Paro. Last year, he had the opportunity to work as an Interpreter for the EU Election Observers for a period of one month in Eastern Bhutan and got a very positive evaluation from them. He is very knowledgeable of the cultures, religions, and traditions of his country and enjoys sharing his experiences with you. Tandin speaks English, Nepali, Hindi and passable Thai in addition to his native Bhutanese.

  • Gyamcho Wangdi

    Gyamcho Wangdi has led treks for Mountain Travel Sobek since 1988. A Bhutanese, he grew up in the small hill town of Kalimpong in the Darjeeling District of India and received his schooling from a Scottish missionary school. He studied botany and zoology and was a naturalist at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Nepal for eight years. While working at the park, he greeted VIPs and other celebrities such as Princess Anne, the late Rajiv Gandhi (former Prime Minister of India), King Gyanendra (present King of Nepal), Bjorn Borg (former #1 tennis player), Reinhold Messner (Everest summiteer), and actors James Coburn, Robert Redford, Goldie Hawn, and Carrie Fisher. Gyamcho’s passions are seeing new places, off-road driving, interior design, and drawing cartoons (he has published a cartoon book on the Yeti called "Mysterious Mystical Yeti," which became a hit among Nepal trekkers). His gentle, courteous manner, amusing anecdotes, and overall knowledge of Bhutan and Nepal are the key to the success of your trip. He is fluent in English, Hindi, Nepali, and Bhutanese.

  • Namgay Dorji

    Namgay Dorji, the senior manager of our Bhutan office, has been leading treks and tours for the past nine years. He is very knowledge about the history, culture, and religion of Bhutan, has many relatives in the monk body, and looks forward to sharing his experience with you. Namgay speaks seven languages: English, Japanese, German, Spanish, Hindi, Nepalese, and Urdu; is a graduate of Bissau College, Meghalaya, India; and received his diploma in Tourism and Travel Management from the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Salzburg, Austria. His many personal interests include bird watching, rock climbing, trekking, and archery.

photo credits: ©MTS Photo File



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Itinerary for Bhutan Sampler: Cultural Tour and Trek in the Himalayas

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Activity Ratings

Easy

Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.

Moderate

More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.

Strenuous

Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

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Departure Dates

Oct 4 - 14, 2014 Nov 9 - 19, 2014 Apr 7 - 17, 2015 Apr 21, 2015 - May 1, 2015 Oct 6 - 16, 2015 Oct 20 - 30, 2015
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Emeryville, California 94608

Toll Free:1-888-831-7526