The Druk Path Trek and Paro Festival
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a tiny Himalayan Nation. About the same size and shape as Switzerland it is sandwiched between its mighty neighbours, China to the north and India to the south. The main Himalaya Chain runs west to east across Bhutan and the majority of the country lies between altitudes of 1500 and 5000 metres. The highest peaks lie towards the northern edge of the territory, and these include Gangkar Puensum (7540m) and Chomolhari (7313m). The highlands are the most popular part of the nation, and Western Bhutan is made up of four valleys, namely Ha (average height 2700m), Paro (2200m), Thimpu (2300m) and Punakha/Wangdi Phodrang (1300m). Western Bhutan is separated from Central Bhutan by The Black Mountains, which rise to elevations of 5000 metres and form an effective natural boundary. A single road crosses this range by way of the Pele La (3300m). Central Bhutan is divided into several regions. Its most southerly district, Khyeng, is famous for impenetrable jungle.
The time in Bhutan is GMT +6 hours.
There are several regional languages in Bhutan, However, the national language is Dzongkha, which is derived from Tibetan. Many people in Bhutan speak English, as it widely used to teach in schools. The government have also adopted English and most road signs are in both Dzongkha and English. You will therefore find communication easy, especially in more populated regions.
In general the climate of Bhutan is colder and damper than one would expect to find in the Himalaya of India or Nepal. The monsoon usually arrives in June, and lasts until the end of September, bringing with it the heavy rainfall which is responsible for the lush vegetation which carpets much of Bhutan. March and April, as well as late September through to December are the best months to visit Bhutan. Pre-monsoon the weather is generally very good, with bright, sunny mornings and sometimes a moderate build up of cloud in the afternoons. Day-time highs of around 20°C / 68°F can be expected at altitudes around 2000 metres.
The currency of Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash not travellers cheques; Sterling, Euros and Dollars are equally acceptable. This can be changed into currency in Kathmandu (Nepalese Rupees) and in Paro Airport (Bhutan Ngultrum). You can withdraw cash from ATM's in Kathmandu. In Bhutan money can be easily exchanged but you cannot rely on withdrawing money from ATM's.
A valid passport (with at least 6 months remaining validity), together with a Bhutan Visa and a visa for multiple entry into Nepal are needed for this trip. We will make all arrangements for your Bhutan Visa and the visa fee. The easiest way to obtain your Nepal visa is on entry at Kathmandu. You will need to have ready one passport size photograph and the appropriate amount in cash (preferably US dollars). The Nepal visa is currently $US25 for 15 days multiple entry and $US40 for 30 days. Please note these fees can change and you should bring extra cash as a contingency.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general, we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis ‘A’. Malarial prophylaxis is not recommended for this trip unless you intend to visit the Terrai region of Nepal (such as during an extension to Chitwan National Park). A very good online resource is the National Health Travellers website at fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Bhutan. A Trekker's guide.
Bart Jordans. Cicerone Press.
Bhutan. (Lonely Planet Guide). Stan Armington.
Bhutan. Insight Guides
Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Owen Edmunds.
The Trekkers Handbook. Tom Gilchrist..
Bhutan Himalaya. 1:380 000. ITMB Publishing