Bhutan - In Search of the Black-Necked Cranes

The ultimate Bhutan holiday experience





From $3,540 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Complete the ‘Owl Trek’ a gentle 3-day trek in the beautiful Bumthang Valley
  • Visit the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery and world famous Punakha Dzong
  • View the rare Black-Necked Cranes in the Phobjikha Valley
  • Witness one of Bhutan’s extraordinary festivals or ‘Tshechu’

This truly is the ultimate Bhutan holiday experience. Combining a three day, easy paced, trek with an opportunity to view the beautiful black necked cranes at Gangtey, a chance to join the celebrations at one of Bhutan’s colourful Tshechu (festivals), with visits to Paro, Thimpu, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery and the extraordinary Punakha Dzong. Beginning in the beautiful Paro Valley we’ll visit Thimpu and the historic winter capital at Punakha (with its famous Buddhist Dzong) before arriving in the district of Bumthang in the very heart of the Kingdom. From here we embark on the 3-day 'Owl Trek', which takes us from pristine farmland and lush forested valleys to the high ridges and foothills of the Himalaya, from where we have sensational views of snow-capped Himalayan mountains; including the majestic Gangkar Puensum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain. After our enjoyable trek we head to the tranquil Phobjikha Valley and the village of Gangtey. Gangtey has been singled out by a flock of the rare and beautiful black-necked cranes who every year make a perilous journey across the Himalaya from their summer home in Tibet to overwinter here; this is a very rare chance to view this unusual bird. Another extraordinary experience is next as we join the celebrations at one of Bhutan’s fantastic festivals, where we can enjoy the colourful costumes and lively dancing. Returning to Paro, our grand finale is a visit to the incredible Takstang Monastery. Known as the 'Tigers Nest' this complex of monastic buildings is built entirely on the ledges of a sheer cliff face high above a deep gorge. The Tigers’ Nest sums up everything that is both spectacular and beautiful about this unique country, a fantastic way to end our journey.

Each of our departures will visit a different festival, departure specific itineraries can be viewed in the Map and Itinerary section.

Is this holiday for you?

This is a culture and discovery holiday, with an element of easy trekking and is suitable for anyone will some hill walking experience. The trek is fully supported and you will only be required to carry a small day pack each day. The 3-day trek traces a route between villages and monasteries to the north of the town of Jakar. Following paths used by local villagers, the conditions are nowhere difficult and the altitude attained on the trip is not extreme. This route presents a great variety of landscape type; ranging from terraced farmland, through some of the finest mixed forest in the world, to open, alpine pastureland and scenic mountain passes. We will be covering large distances during the holiday and as such there are a couple of long drives, we will break the journeys where possible to make sure we make the most of our surrounding and see as much of this extraordinary country and meet as many of its friendly people as possible.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Transfers from Kathmandu Airport are provided.
  • Fly to Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan and drive to Thimpu.
  • Drive via Punakha to Wangdi.
  • Drive via Tongsa to Jakar (2600m).
  • First day of the ‘Owl Trek’ to Shonath (3450m).
  • Trek the Drangela Pass (3600m) to the Kitiphu Ridge and on to Keth (3830m).
  • Complete trek and drive to Tongsa.
  • Drive to Gantey in the Phobjikha Valley.
  • View the Black-Necked Cranes at Gantey, visit the Black Necked Cranes Festival. Return to Paro.
  • Sightseeing in Paro, including a visit to the Takstang Monastery (Tigers' Nest).
  • Fly to Kathmandu. Halfday sightseeing tour.
  • Departure day. Transfers to Kathmandu Airport are provided.
Thu 03 Nov - Mon 14 Nov Code BNC /01/16/
Black-Necked Cranes Festival
Adult$3,540 Status Available Book now
More information
  • Bhutan - In Search of the Black-Necked Cranes - Black-Necked Cranes Festival
  • The departure reference for this tour is BNC /01/16/
  • This tour begins on Thu 03 Nov and departs on Mon 14 Nov
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $625 - Includes group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan (single tent not included)
  • Single Tent $80
Mon 07 Nov - Fri 18 Nov Code BNC /02/16/
Jambay Lhakhang Festival
Adult$3,540 Status Available Book now
More information
  • Bhutan - In Search of the Black-Necked Cranes - Jambay Lhakhang Festival
  • The departure reference for this tour is BNC /02/16/
  • This tour begins on Mon 07 Nov and departs on Fri 18 Nov
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $715 - Includes group hotel nights in Kathmandu & Bhutan (single tent not included)
  • Single Tent $65
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Kathmandu on the dates shown above. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Kathmandu Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining arrangements & transfers' section in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and this trip is showing the 'Guaranteed to Run or Limited' symbol. If your trip is still showing 'Spaces', we will contact you as soon as it has reached the guaranteed status.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee

We have undertaken to guarantee that all of our Land Only prices will not change once you have booked your holiday. Unlike some of our competitors we have decided never to surcharge, whether you are booking for this year or the next.

Map & Itinerary

Current version:

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • trek
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Transfers from Kathmandu Airport are provided.

    Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Airport transfers are provided for all KE clients. KE Land only package services begin with the evening meal.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Fly to Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan and drive to Thimpu.

    Depending on flight times (which are prone to variation) we may have some free time today before transferring to the airport for the Druk Air flight to Bhutan’s only airport, at Paro. The flight from Kathmandu to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. From the left side of the plane Everest, Makalu and Kangchenjunga, three of the world’s highest mountains, are clearly visible. The total flying time is only 45 minutes and soon we are descending into the Paro Valley, enjoying the splendid views of alpine forests, small monasteries, temples and flat-roofed farmhouses. At the airport we are met by our Bhutanese guide and enjoy a spectacularly scenic drive of approximately 1 hour to the capital, Thimpu where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive via Punakha to Wangdi.

    We set off on the exciting drive to Punakha over the Dochu La (3050m). The road winds its way up to the pass, via Hongsto, an ancient village founded in 1525 by the 14th Drukpa hierarchy of Tibet. On this journey we drive through some magnificent temperate forest, with an abundance of rhododendron and magnolia. We may be lucky enough to see several species of deer and monkeys. Many prayer flags and a very impressive collection of large chortens mark the pass. If we are lucky enough to have clear weather, a viewpoint just above the road offers one of the finest panoramas in the Eastern Himalaya, stretching out over Lunana and the peaks of - Masangang, Tsendagang, Terigang and Gangkar Puensum (7497m). After 3 hours, we reach the Punakha Valley and turn north to reach another most impressive dzong at the junction of the Mo and Po (mother and father) rivers. This is the traditional winter capital of Bhutan. Punakha Dzong is the winter home for over 1000 monks. This is a fascinating and highly photogenic monastery and we will spend some time here before continuing our drive to Wangdi, which has another commanding dzong on a spur above the river. This town also has a quaint and typically Bhutanese market square, surrounded by small shops with carved wooded frontages.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

  • Drive via Tongsa to Jakar (2600m).

    After breakfast at our lodge we continue east and climb on a winding road up to the Pele La (3300m). This pass is traditionally known as the boundary between Western and Central Bhutan and the landscape which spreads out on the far side of the pass is different to that of the western side. After crossing a bridge at Nikkarchu, we enter Tongsa district and follow a dramatic section of the road, carved into the side of a cliff, high above the Mangde Chu. The scenery is beautiful - forests as far as the eye can see, and with Tongsa Dzong visible 20 kilometres away at the end of the valley. Tongsa means 'New Village' as Tongsa was founded in the 16th century, which is relatively recent for Bhutan! We will have the opportunity to visit Tongsa Dzong, which is a masterpiece of architecture with a maze of courtyards, passageways and 23 temples. Continuing our journey eastwards, we re-enter the forest and climb to cross the Yutong La (3400m). Descending to the village of Chumey, the scenery changes again as we enter the wide open Bumthang valleys. After a short climb to Kiki La, we turn a corner to begin the descent to Jakar (2600m). From some distance away, we can see Jakar Dzong, perched high above the village. We check in to a lodge which is only a five minute walk from the dzong. Drive time: 6hrs.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

  • First day of the ‘Owl Trek’ to Shonath (3450m).

    The day begins with a drive of approximately 1 hour to Dhur, the largest village in Bumthang. The settlement consists of around 75 households with a population of around 800. The inhabitants make their livelihood mainly from farming, cattle rearing. Part of the population are the Brokpas, semi nomadic Yak herders who speak their own language. After a walk above the village for the view, we set off on our 3-day trek first dropping to the river where we can visit an old flour mill. We then trek steadily uphill through blue pine forest to reach our first night’s camp at Shonath (3450m) amongst hemlock and juniper. This is the abode of owls who give this trek its name and we will most likely hear them hunting.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs trekking

  • Trek the Drangela Pass (3600m) to the Kitiphu Ridge and on to Keth (3830m).

    We continue our journey trekking through virgin forest of spruce, hemlock, fir, birch bamboo, and the quintessential Bhutanese rhododendron. After around 2 hours of gradual ascent we reach Drangela Pass (3600m) and from here climb the Kitiphu ridge enjoying sensational views of the valley below and of the snow-capped Himalya. We reach our camp on the ridge at a place called Keth (3830m). From the peak of Kitiphu (4000m) above the camp we can see Gangar Puensum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 hrs trekking

  • Complete trek and drive to Tongsa.

    After a magnificent sunrise and an alfresco breakfast in the refreshing mountain air, we begin our descent. During this morning’s walk we will stop to visit the fascinating monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. In the afternoon we walk along the ridge of Kiila to reach the traditional trail between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail). From here we get a superb view of Jakar Dzong before a final descent to Lamigonpa where we meet our tour vehicle for the drive back across the Yutong La to Tongsa. We check into the hotel in Tongsa.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs trekking

  • Drive to Gantey in the Phobjikha Valley.

    We continue our return drive west towards Thimpu but after returning across the Pele La we turn south off the main road and soon enter the beautiful and tranquil Phobjikha Valley. We descend into the valley, with its well-tended fields and have our first view of the pretty settlement of Gantey and its yellow-roofed monastery. This is one of a handful of monasteries in Bhutan of the Nyingmapa Buddhist sect. We stay overnight in a lodge in the village.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

  • View the Black-Necked Cranes at Gantey, visit the Black Necked Cranes Festival. Return to Paro.

    The Phobjikha Valley is one of just a couple of places in the Himalayas where the black-necked crane overwinters, having spent the summer on the high plateau of Tibet. There are probably fewer than 1000 of these birds in the world and this valley is the winter home for approximately 200 of them. The Bhutanese Government has recognised the importance of the birds and has made special provision for their protection at Phobjikha. This has involved compensation for the local people who are constrained in what they can do with their cropland over the winter period. We will have an early morning call to go out to watch the birds as they feed on the fields and will also have the chance to see the work of the volunteer group which has set up an observation and education centre in the valley. Afterwards we head to the Gangteng Monastery to watch the dancing and joining in the celebrations at the extraordinary Black-Necked Crane Festival or 'Tsechu'. During Tsechus a number of ritual dances are performed by monks and laymen with each dance having significance either as instruction or recounting historic events. Although the Tsechu is a religious festival and by attending it one gains merits, it is also a yearly occasion for social gathering where local people come together to have fun dressed in their best khos and khias. It is a great spectacle to witness and a fantastic opportunity to see a truly rural festival in a remote village. Unlike at the more well know Tsechus of Thimpu and Paro, here we are likely to be among only a few foreign visitors. In the afternoon we drive back to Paro where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Sightseeing in Paro, including a visit to the Takstang Monastery (Tigers' Nest).

    We have a full day of sightseeing in the Paro Valley. This includes the option to hike up to the iconic Takstang Monastery. Known as the 'Tigers Nest' this incredible complex of buidings is built on ledges on a sheer cliff face. The monks here live poised over a deep wooded canyon. The round trip to the monastery is around 4 hours with some steep paths. A good option for those who do not want to climb all the way to the monastery is to visit the classic viewpoint (about half way) where you can look across the gorge to the monastic buildings above. Conveniently there is a cafe here and it is a pleasant place to sit and relax while waiting for those who are going all the way up. Another option for our sightseeing tour is the Paro museum. Housed in a prominent circular building which once was a watchtower for the valley, this museum has some interesting artefacts and a surprisingly fascinating stamp collection! Following our day of sightseeing, we return to our hotel for dinner and our final evening in Bhutan.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Fly to Kathmandu. Halfday sightseeing tour.

    We have an early transfer to Paro Airport to catch the morning flight to Kathmandu. The flight takes only 45 minutes and on arrival we transfer to our comfortable hotel. As part of the holiday package we have arranged an optional sightseeing tour which will visit two or three major sites of interest in Kathmandu such as the great stupa at Bodhnath and the temple to Shiva on the ghats of the Bagmati River at Pashupatinath. In the evening, we will have a celebratory meal in one of the city's finest restaurants.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. Transfers to Kathmandu Airport are provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Complimentary airport transfers are provided.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • Experienced English-speaking local leader
  • Flights between Kathmandu and Paro
  • All transfers and land transport involved in the itinerary
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Once on trek a full service including food and all equipment (excluding personal equipment)
  • A guided sightseeing tour of Kathmandu
  • Travel insurance
  • Nepalese visa costs
  • Tips for drivers and trek staff
  • Departure taxes on leaving Kathmandu and Bhutan (if applicable)
  • Miscellaneous expenses - beer and souvenirs etc.
Typically the food in Bhutan is not very spicy though the Bhutanese do themselves eat a lot of chillies both raw and cooked. Hotels in Thimpu and Paro generally offer a range of dishes including those designed for the Western palate. During the trek breakfasts will consist of cereal or muesli, eggs, toast, beans, sausage or bacon with tea and coffee. Lunch is usually a hot meal which is cooked at breakfast time and carried in insulated pots. Dinner is a 3 course meal starting with soup and finishing with a sweet. The main dish is a mixture of local and Western cuisine, with the ingredients mostly purchased in Bhutan and cooked for us by highly trained trek cooks. In Kathmandu we take our meals in some of the finest restaurants the city has to offer. All meals during this holiday, both on trek and while staying in hotels, are included in the holiday price.
All meals are included from diner on day 1 to breakfast on day 12
All clients will be met at Kathmandu Airport on arrival and transfered to the group hotel. Complimentary return transfers are also provided for all clients. Land Only clients must provide full details of their flights and should let us know if transfers are NOT required. Hotel contact details and an emergency phone number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
During this trip the group will spend 2 nights in Kathmandu at a centrally located and comfortable hotel. In Bhutan, we use comfortable 'tourist' standard hotel or lodge accommodation. Whilst on trek there will be a total of 3 nights camping. All accommodation is allocated on a twin sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent while on trek for an additional cost. (Please note single tent hire does not include single rooms in hotels). It is also normally possible to book a single room for the hotel nights in Kathmandu, or extra nights if you plan to arrive early or depart later than the group trip dates (subject to availability). In Bhutan, single rooms are much more difficult to pre-book. However, if there is availability, we can arrange a single room for the 4 group nights in Bhutan at an additional cost. Please note that it will not be possible to book single rooms in Bhutan for festival trips. Please refer to our website for single tent prices, single supplements and additional hotel night prices (note that hotel prices can change).

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

During the 3-day trek your day begins shortly after first light when one of the cook crew will wake you with a cup of tea or coffee brought to your tent. You will have plenty of time to get up and pack your kitbag before sitting down to a hot breakfast, during which camp will be struck and the yaks will be loaded. Setting off in the cool of the morning, we will generally reach our lunch stop by mid day. A hot lunch transported in insulated pots, is served on route, or at the camp-site if the day is sufficiently short. The horses or usually catch up with the group during lunch and are well on their way to camp which we hope to establish well before dusk. It is usual for the afternoon’s walk to be shorter than the morning session. On arrival at camp, the trek staff will quickly put the tents up and a hot drink will soon follow. Dinner is a 3-course meal served in the mess tent. This is a great time of day for socialising and reliving the events of the trek so far. After dark, the temperature quickly falls and everyone is soon tucked up in their sleeping bags.

Flights to Bhutan

It is possible to fly to Bhutan from Kathmandu, Delhi, Bangkok and Singapore, as well as from Dhaka and several regional airports in India. Kathmandu has daily flights to Paro and a good tourism infrastructure. In addition, Nepal visas are easily obtained on arrival and are relatively inexpensive. Druk Air is the only airline operating flights to Bhutan and seats can be limited, particularly around the time of the major festivals. It is not always possible to confirm seats immediately and it is uncommon for passengers to be ‘waitlisted’ for several weeks until their booking clears. In rare circumstances, it may be necessary to route our groups or individual clients through an alternative airport if waiting lists are not cleared in good time.

The group will be met and escorted in Kathmandu by a local KE representative. Once in Bhutan the group will accompanied throughout by an experienced English-speaking Bhutanese tour leader. During the trek the tour leader will be assisted by local guides and a full trek crew including cooks, baggage animals and their handlers.
Approximately £200 (or equivalent dollars, Euros etc.) changed to local currency, should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including approximately £40 - 50 for tips to local staff. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on arrival. On arrival in Kathmandu you will only need a small amount of Nepalese rupees for drinks in the evening and we suggest that you change £10 or £20 at your hotel. When you arrive in Paro you will be able to change money at the airport into Bhutanese Ngultrum. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are all equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal and in Bhutan. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). Also, if you expect to buy considerable quantities of soft drinks or beer, you should make an allowance for this. 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.
Tips are the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to your local staff. They do not form part of their wages. KE always pays local crews the best rates of pay, no matter what country they are in and any tips they receive are seen as a personal thank you from group members. For our part, we advise local teams that tips are not a duty or a prerequisite but are a bonus and entirely dependent on the service that was given. For your trek crews we recommend that you give a tip if you feel that their services have met your satisfaction. We recommend that you decide the level of tipping and present these from the group as a whole rather than individually. As a rough guide we suggest each group member contributes around £40 - 50 (in equivalent local currency) to a pool for tipping.
Your baggage on trek will be carried by pack animals. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 15 kg / 33lbs. It is possible to leave travel clothes or other items not required on the trek in the support vehicle and travel clothes can be left at the group hotel in Kathmandu.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to moderately high altitude.  During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 2500 metres.  Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at high altitude.  You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

The packed weight of your trek bag while trekking should be no more than 15 kgs.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots

  • Smart shoes (if your trip includes visiting a festival)

  • Socks

  • Trekking trousers

  • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers

  • Underwear

  • Baselayer shirts

  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts

  • Smart clothes (if your trip includes visiting a festival)

  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Warm jacket (down)*

  • Sunhat

  • Warm hat

  • Sunglasses

  • Gloves or mittens

  • Daypack 25 - 30 litres

  • Headtorch with spare batteries

  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)

  • Water bottles 1 Litre x2

  • Washbag and toiletries

  • Antibacterial handwash

  • Small towel

  • Selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contents dry)

  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)

  • Sleeping Bag (Confort rating -15°C)*

  • Thermarest or similar sleeping mat*

  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium) painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

The following items are optional:

  • Trainers or similar

  • Gaiters

  • Spare laces

  • Thermal baselayer leggings

  • Scarf or neck buff

  • Sleeping bag liner

  • Swimwear (for the hotel pool in Kathmandu)

  • Travel clothes

  • Trekking poles

  • Pen-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)

  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)

  • Camera


* denotes items available for hire through KE Adventure Travel


Please make all requests at least 6 weeks prior to the trip departure date. Please note all hire equipment is issued in Bhutan. Please remember to allow room in your trek bag for these items


Bhutan Festivals


If your holiday involves visiting any of the ‘tsechu’ or festivals in Bhutan, we would like to advise you that there is a dress code that you need to be aware of when attending any festival. The Bhutanese always come dressed in their finest for a festival and it is important that you to bring a smart set of clothes if you plan to attend. You will need to wear long sleeves, long trousers (no jeans) and no trainers, boots or open toed sandals. Hats should not be worn and umbrellas are not acceptable.


Festivals are religious events. The ground where they are held is purified and consecrated by lamas, so when you are watching a festival you are, in essence, on the perimeter of an outdoor religious ground. The conduct of the onlooker should be governed with this in mind. The dancers, whether monks or laymen, are in a state of meditation. They transform themselves into the deities which they represent on the dance ground. They generate a spiritual power, which cleanses, purifies, enlightens and blesses the spectators.


Any behaviour which may be deemed obtrusive, disrespectful or discourteous is out of place at such an event. The dance ground is not a place to eat, drink, smoke, talk or laugh loudly at inappropriate times. You should not use flash photography or intrude on the dance space. Common courtesy should rule one’s action when photographing dances or onlookers.


Festivals are not pageants or entertainment events. They are not held as tourist attractions. They are genuine manifestations of religious traditions thousands of years old which outsiders are given the privilege of witnessing. We would like to see that privilege retained. In the past, the actions of a few unthinking visitors have caused shock and dismay to the local people. Any recurrence of such unfortunate events may lead to future restrictions on attendance at festivals. We hope that KE groups will always display courtesy, sensitivity and respect to the people of Bhutan who have welcomed them to attend these beautiful and sacred events, and will visibly demonstrate their respect by dressing as well as their circumstances permit on such occasions.


For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Transit via India

If you are travelling via India (Delhi or Calcutta) to your destination you may also require a visa for India. This may apply even if you are not leaving the airport unless your baggage has been checked all the way through to your destination. Generally, if you use the same carrier for both legs of your journey, you will not need an India Visa. Please download the detailed information document: Visa PDF India.

Visa Nepal

All nationalities require a visa. The visa fee is $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days, $100 for 90 days and is obtainable on arrival. Payment must be made in cash and USD, GBP or Euros are accepted. You will require 2 passport photos.

For all the regions of Nepal that we visit an additional permit is required. This is included in the holiday price and KE will apply for it, with your full passport details and 1 passport photo (sent by post or emailed). You must supply this to us at least 4 weeks prior to departure.

For the following holidays, in addition to the above, we will also require you to supply a copy of the information page of your passport (sent by post or emailed).

These trips are: Kanchenjunga (KAN), Mustang (MUS), Dolpo (DOL), Manaslu (MAN), Hidden Valleys of Naar and Phu (NAP), Naar to Mustang (NTM), Humla and Limi Circuit Trek (HUM), Naya Kanga and the Ganja La (NKG), Yala Peak and the Ganja La (YPGL), Tent Peak (TPK), Ramdung and Parchemo (RAM), Mera Peak, Island Peak and the Amphu Labsta (MIP), Island Peak Climber (IPC), Peaks and Passes on Nepal (MTR); Mera Peak Climb (MER); and Chulu Far East & the Tilicho La (CTL); Tabsar Peak and the Tsum Valley (TVC), Mukot Peak (MKP).

Visa Bhutan

All nationalities require a visa. KE will apply for the visa for you. The visa fee is $40 and this will appear on your final invoice. We require copy of the information page of your passport. A colour scan can be emailed or posted to us no later than 6 weeks prior to departure. You should bring 4 passport photos with you.

You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

The unit of currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee.

The unit of currency in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on an active holiday getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. This is principally a touring trip but you need to be aerobically fit and also comfortable with walking up to 5 hours each day over three days. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime. Regular hiking in mountain or hill country is the best preparation but jogging, squash and swimming are also good for developing better stamina. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

In general the climate of Bhutan is 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. The months either side of the monsoon offer the best conditions for a visit to Bhutan. Post-monsoon (October / November) generally brings the most stable weather with predominantly sunny days. It should be remembered however that this is the Himalaya and rainfall, snow and even short-lived storms can occur at any time of the year. At the time of year of this departure we can expect day-time highs of around 20°C at altitudes around 2000 metres.
  • Bhutan. A Trekker's guide. Bart Jordans. Cicerone Press.
  • Bhutan. (Lonely Planet Guide). Stan Armington.
  • Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Owen Edmunds.
Bhutan Himalaya. 1:380 000. ITMB Publishing

ITMB publish a general road map which also shows the general relief and has an index of towns and major villages. There are also sections for Thimpu and Paro with detailed street plans.

Extend Your Holiday

Chitwan Jungle Extension

The jungles of southern Nepal are an interesting counterpoint to trekking in the foothills or the high Himalaya. Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge provides a relaxing and comfortable base for a wildlife safari and cultural village experience. On two full days of wildlife viewing in the National Park 'buffer zone' - the interface area between visitors and the animals that live at Chitwan – you will be accompanied by expert guides on safaris by jeep, boat, on foot and by elephant back.

Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

From $980 per person

More info

Kathmandu Tour - Nagarkot and Bhaktapur

The Kathmandu Valley contains the cities of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu itself, all of which were once independent kingdoms. An exploration of the valley’s historic and cultural sights is an excellent way to begin or end your adventure in Nepal. Highlights of the day's tour include the ancient city of Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for it’s temples and traditional buildings, and Nagarkot on the Kathmandu Valley rim, the perfect place to watch a Himalayan sunrise.

Nagarkot and Bhaktaphur Tour

From $125 per person

More info

Malla Hotel

From $100 per room per night

Gokarna Forest Resort Kathmandu

From $138 per room per night

Shanker Hotel

From $100 per room per night

Situated next to the grounds of the former Royal Palace and only a 10-minute walk from the popular Thamel district, this former Rana residence was converted into a hotel in 1964. The original architecture was based on a French palace and the hotel has a grand appearance. Set in a large and beautifully tended garden, it provides a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and is an ideal base from which to explore Kathmandu. All its rooms which are en-suite have been recently refurbished and the hotel facilities include 2 restaurants, 2 bars and a swimming pool where you can also order drinks.

Shangri La

From $119 per room per night Another of Kathmandu’s original ‘luxury’ hotels. While the sophistication of its amenities may be upstaged by Kathmandu’s more modern concrete and glass hotels, the Shangri La maintains an old world charm that cannot be beaten. Located in the diplomatic enclave of Lazimpat, away from the hustle and bustle yet just 10 minutes walk from tourist centre of Thamel, the hotel is set in a pleasant garden and facilities include a pool, tennis court and massage therapist. The hotel has a speciality Indian restaurant and a garden café serving international cuisine as well as a bar.

Dwarikas Hotel

From $279 per room per night Dwarika’s is a heritage hotel modelled on the grandeur of the palaces of the Newar Kings. Consisting of several buildings arranged around a quiet courtyard, the hotel incorporates many original 15th – 17th century features in its architecture from the lifetime collection of its founder. The rooms are in the same Newari style and lavishly luxurious in their appointments. Its location close to Pashupathinath and Bouddhanath is perfect for exploring this side of Kathmandu. There are 3 restaurants serving Nepali, Japanese and international cuisine, a bar, spa and fitness centre, and a swimming pool.

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