From $8,575 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview

Highlights

  • The greatest and most challenging Himalayan trek of all
  • The complete route from Shana to Trongsa
  • Journey through Laya and Lunana across 11 high passes
  • The spectacular lakes of Thpe Tsho & Om Tsho

Quite possibly the greatest trail on Earth, Bhutan's incredible Snowman Trek follows the spine of the Himalaya between Bhutan and Tibet, from Paro in the west to Trongsa in the east. During the course of this unsurpassable 25 day trek, we will cross 11 passes in excess of 4500 metres, including 5 over 5000 metres, and visit the almost separate mountain kingdom of Lunana, one of the remotest inhabited valleys on the planet Earth. Along the way we'll journey through fabled villages, such as Laya and Thanza, walk beneath peaks of six and seven thousand-metres, including Chomolhari, the astounding Jitsu Drake, and the World's highest unclimbed peak, Gangkar Puensum. We'll also have time to absorb some of the incredible culture of this unique Himalayan Kingdom with visits to the spectacular cliff-face Takstang 'Tiger's Nest' Monatery and the picturesque Punakha Dzong. Not for novices, this tough trek is the holy grail for seasoned Himalayan trekkers.

BOOK EARLY for BHUTAN! With only two airlines operating flights into Paro from Kathmandu, seats are limited and in high demand. Book early to guarantee your place on your chosen departure. We strongly advise booking a year in advance where possible.

explore international

Explore International. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these trips can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by an English-speaking guide, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!

Is this holiday for you?

The Snowman Trek is widely regarded as one of the hardest treks in the world. This is largely due to its length and altitude and the fact that 11 high passes must be crossed. The actual underfoot conditions are rarely difficult and there are no glaciers to cross and no scrambling involved. However, the itinerary has been paced to suit experienced trekkers looking for a very challenging trip.  Due to the remote nature of this trek a degree of flexibility with regard the itinerary is needed as the route may need to be adapted if conditions intervene. What's more, for a continuous period of almost 2 weeks we will be camping above 4000 metres. This itinerary is for experiences trekkers only. These challenges should be judged as positive attractions to someone looking for the ultimate trekking adventure.

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, transfer to hotel.
  • Drive to Shana (2860m) to begin our trek.
  • Trek to Soi Thangka (3575m).
  • Trek to Jangothang (4040m).
  • Rest day at Jangothang.
  • Cross the Nyele La (4850m) to Lingshi and descend to camp.
  • Trek to Chebisa (3850m) via Gang Yul.
  • Cross the Gobu La (4405m) to Somothang (3985m).
  • Cross the Jhari La (4720m) to Robluthang (4200m).
  • Cross the Shinge La (4900m) to Limithang (4050m).
  • Arrive into Laya (3800m).
  • Rest day in Laya village.
  • Trek to Rodophu (4160m)
  • Across the Tsome La (4900m) to Narethang (4900m).
  • Cross the Karakachu La (5080m) to Tarina (3980m).
  • Trek to Woche Village (3800m).
  • Cross the Keche La (4485m) to Lhedi (3650m).
  • Trek to Thanza (4000m).
  • A rest day at Thanza.
  • Trek to Danji.
  • Optional ascent of Gorphu La (5230m).
  • Across the Jaze La (5150m) to Tsochena (5050m).
  • Trek over the Loju La (5140m) to Jichu Dramo (5050m).
  • Cross the Rinchen Zoe La (5320m) to Chukarpo (4600m).
  • Trek to Tampe Tsho (4300m).
  • Cross the Tampe La (4600m) to Maurothang (3610m).
  • Last day of trekking to Sephu, transfer to Gantay.
  • Drive via Punakha Dzong to Thimpu
  • Sightseeing in the Paro Valley, including Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monatery.
  • Fly to Kathmandu.
  • Departure day. Transfers to Kathmandu Airport are provided.
2016
Mon 19 Sep - Thu 20 Oct Code BST /1A/16/ Adult$8,575 Status Limited Availability Book now
More information
  • The Snowman Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is BST /1A/16/
  • This tour begins on Mon 19 Sep and departs on Thu 20 Oct
  • This departure has limited availability. Don't delay - secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $240 - Includes group hotel nights in Kathmandu & 2 nights in Bhutan (single tent not included)
  • Single Tent $405
Mon 03 Oct - Thu 03 Nov Code BST /01/16/ Adult$8,575 Status Sold Out Call Us
More information
  • The Snowman Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is BST /01/16/
  • This tour begins on Mon 03 Oct and departs on Thu 03 Nov
  • Single Supplement $340 - Includes group hotel nights in Kathmandu & 2 nights in Bhutan (single tent not included)
  • Single Tent $405
2017
Mon 25 Sep - Thu 26 Oct Code BST /01/17/ Adult$8,575 Status 1 more to guarantee Book now
More information
  • The Snowman Trek
  • The departure reference for this tour is BST /01/17/
  • This tour begins on Mon 25 Sep and departs on Thu 26 Oct
  • This departure is available to book. Secure your place today with a deposit of $1,000
  • Single Supplement $355 - Includes group hotel nights in Kathmandu & 2 nights in Bhutan (single tent not included)
  • Single Tent $520
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', and 'Flights' sections 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.

poweredByWorldPay
VISAmastercard

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • airport
  • peaks
  • trek
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

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

    Arriving in Kathmandu we are met outside the arrivals hall by a local KE represntative who will arrange the transfer to the group hotel in the heart of the city. KE Land Only package services begin with this transfer. Depending on flight times there may be time to look around the area of Thamel before the group rendevous for a briefing on tomorrow's flight and we then sit down together for the evening meal.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Fly to Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan, transfer to hotel.

    We transfer 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. Arriving into Paro we will be met by our Bhutanese guide who will accompany us to the hotel to check in.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Shana (2860m) to begin our trek.

    From Paro we drive west for 15 minutes to the end of the surfaced road at the ruins of Drugyel Dzong (2530m). From here we continue in 4X4 vehicles following a farm road for around 1 - 1.5 hours, passing through small hamlets of houses built in traditional Bhutanese design. Arriving at the end of the farm road at Shana (2860m), we will be happy to stretch our legs. While our bags are loaded on the ponies we will set off following a path beside the river before climbing through beautiful lush forest of oak, rhododendron, bamboo and pine to our first night's camp.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Soi Thangka (3575m).

    A reasonably short day of trekking today, but it is important at this stage to gain height slowly. We continue along the river through a magnificent forest of pine and spruce, mixed with oak, birch and maple. The autumn colours of the leaves contrasts with the Pale Spanish moss (old man’s beard) festoons many of the trees. After rain the trail can be muddy in places and where we cross streams there will possibly be slippery rocks to contend with, however, our local guides will be on hand to assist anyone if necessary. There are several small ups and downs today as we follow the river north and after crossing a bridge at 3560m. we make a short steep climb to reach a junction of two valleys, marked by a large chorten. There is a bridge here from where, weather permitting, we can see Chomolhari at the head of the valley. Our trail stays on the west bank of the Paro Chu and our next camp at Soi Thangka is only a half an hour’s walk away.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Jangothang (4040m).

    We have a longer day today. Our destination is Jangothang, a beautiful grassy meadow beneath the enormous east face of Chomolhari. We pass a small army post at 3600 metres and a chorten a little higher and then, leaving the forest behind, we enter more open country and encounter our first yaks. Our way continues through lovely juniper forest, to a tiny hamlet where we take a cooked lunch. As is the case with every meal in Bhutan, chillies are also provided, and we may be able to try the local thomba (beer made from barley), tsampa (roasted flour) or even Tibetan butter tea. Our camp is a little further on, by a ruined dzong (4040m) beneath the huge east face of Chomolhari.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Rest day at Jangothang.

    Today is a scheduled rest day, intended to aid everyone’s acclimatisation before the crossing of the Nyele La to Lingshi. There are plenty of options for a walk, and one possibility is a hike up the ridge behind the ruined dzong to a grassy summit at approximately 5000 metres, from where there is an incredible close-up view of Chomolhari. Alternatively, a 2-hour hike to a lake above camp provides a stunning location for photographs of Jitchu Drake. Green grass, grazing yaks, stunning mountain scenery - it doesn’t come much better than this. For a spectacular view of Jitchu Drake closer to camp (even better at sunrise if you can get up sufficiently early), follow the river for 20 minutes to a lone house and here the mountain is presented before you. No matter what you choose to do today, the cooks will have had all day to prepare dinner and a veritable banquet will be waiting at the end of the day.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Nyele La (4850m) to Lingshi and descend to camp.

    One of the longest days of the trek, as we climb to cross the Nyele La to reach Lingshi. We follow the river for a while, crossing on a bridge close to the house at the end of the valley where Michael Palin met with the old Bhutanese composer during the filming of his Himalaya series. Climbing steeply at first, this path offers views toward Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake which are some of the finest of the trip. We are now very near the Tibetan Border as we make our way along a broad hanging valley to the final steep slopes leading to the Nyele La (4850m), which is adorned with prayer flags. From the pass we descend, steeply at first, to follow a long ridge before finally dropping through forests of rhododendron and pine to our camp beside the river.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Chebisa (3850m) via Gang Yul.

    Today is a shorter day, yet one of the most fascinating. After a leisurely breakfast of either Indian potato curry with pouri, or the traditional sausage, bacon, egg, beans and toast, we climb up to Lingshi Dzong. If the monks allow, we will arrange a guided tour. Please remember to leave a donation on the way out, as the cost of maintaining these old buildings is high. From the dzong, a delightful path contours the hillside, passing numerous farms. There are good views across the valley to the Basingthang Peaks and we have plenty of time to sit and watch the kestrels (almost identical to the European variety) 'wind hovering' above the ridges. After a couple of hours the path turns a corner and there is a fine view of Tserim Kang, before we descend to Gang Yul (meaning 'village at the pass'). Set beneath enormous limestone cliffs and dwarfed by the enormous east face of Jitchu Drake, Gang Yul’s situation is one of the most impressive in Bhutan. Home to about 150 people, living in a dozen or so beautifully designed houses, this village offers endless photo opportunities and it is worth spending some time here - you may even be lucky enough to be invited into a house to try chang and roasted rice. Leaving the village, the path continues along the hillside for another hour to Chebisa, only a few hours from Tibet. Try climbing the hill by the side of the entrance chorten for an even better view of this fairytale setting. There are two parts to the village, with the upper section seeming to be the oldest, consisting of four houses. The architecture in this valley is particularly interesting, with traditional windows, wooden slatted roofs, an assortment of intricately carved ladders, and an ingenious system of insulation which involves packing the roof-spaces with straw and wood.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Gobu La (4405m) to Somothang (3985m).

    From Chebisa, the path gradually climbs steep slopes high above the river to the Gobu La at 4405 metres. Although climbing for most of the morning, this is a lovely walk and there are some excellent views. In this part of Bhutan, bharal (blue sheep) are very commonly sighted. Resting on the pass, watching the eagles soar by (over 20 were spotted in less than an hour on one of our previous trips) is very memorable and it is difficult to leave such a picturesque spot. A short walk down through the rhododendron forest leads to our lunch spot by a stream, which is followed by a very pleasurable afternoon’s walk through forest of silver fir and juniper. Bushes of yellow and crimson berberis make particularly vivid foregrounds for photography. Descending to the main river (Shagipasa), the scenery is reminiscent of British Columbia with forests, clear streams and stunning mountain scenery - we are entering some of the finest scenery in Bhutan. From the river, the path contours across the hillside and then climbs steeply into a side valley, where we set up camp at a site known as Somothang (3985m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Jhari La (4720m) to Robluthang (4200m).

    We start early for the climb up to the Jhari La (4720 m). The views from the pass are stunning, especially the view of Kang Che Da (7000m). Our next objective, the Shinge La, is the lowest point of the horizon opposite, which presents a daunting prospect, high above the valley. As we descend through more glorious pine forest into Tsharithang, we keep a look out for takin (small deer) which are quite common in this part of Bhutan. The scenery on this day’s walk is absolutely breathtaking - it inspired Victor Saunders, one of Britain’s most travelled Himalayan climbers, to comment that this was the best walking he’d ever done! We cross a river and camp in a very scenic position just half an hour’s walk up the hillside, at a place known as Robluthang (4200m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Shinge La (4900m) to Limithang (4050m).

    An obvious yak trail, scarring the hillside, can be seen directly above the camp. This is followed to a beautiful hanging valley with a lone yak herders hut, two hours above the camp. The path takes the left side of the valley and soon the Shinge La (4900m) is visible. The final climb is quite strenuous, but save some energy to place a small stone on one of the four cairns that mark the end of the climbing. Prayer flags and dried leaves enhance the fascination of this pass which marks the boundary of the Laya District. Our descent follows an obvious path into the centre of the valley, to a clearing by a huge rock. We continue descending until we see a bank of moraine, which is holding back a very picturesque lake. The backdrop to this beautiful valley is Kang Che Da, the Great Tiger Mountain. We camp a short way down the valley at Limithang (4050m), in a meadow by the river.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Arrive into Laya (3800m).

    A beautiful morning's walk today through a bird spotter's paradise. Although shorter than some of the days so far, there is quite a lot of up and down. We cross a bridge and follow the left bank of the river on an undulating trail through more forest of spruce and juniper. As we descend we start to see Spanish moss once again hanging from the trees. The path then gradually climbs above the river and soon we see the first houses on the outskirts of Laya (3750m). The people of this fascinating village are very friendly and they present a most unusual and striking picture, with their pointed hats, hair covered in mustard oil and highly decorative jewellery. We aim to arriuve in Laya in time for lunch and have the afternoon free to look around the village and to visit the hillside monastery. We set up camp on one of the village fields. In the autumn season the fields have been harvested and finding a camping place is easy.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 -5 hrs trekking

  • Rest day in Laya village.

    A well earned rest day and an opportunity to observe the daily lives of the people who live in this remote village. This is also a good time to catch up on laundry, diary writing etc. There are opportunities for walks around the village for those who simply have to exercise!

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Rodophu (4160m)

    From Laya, the main path from the village descends to the lowest house, passes through a large entrance chorten and drops down to the river. During the monsoon, from June to September, this valley receives a great deal of rainfall and as a result the forest and jungle is particularly lush and impressive. We pass by an army camp looking quite incongruous in this setting, and continue on a trail alongside the Mo Chu to a small indistinct turn off to Rodophu. From here, the ascent is gentle, through mixed shrub and coniferous forest by the side of a tributary of the Mo Chu. There are many alpine flowers on the walk, including scabious, miniature michaelmas daisy, celandine and wild roses, to name but a few. We continue to the traditional camping place at Rodophu (4160m), a single yak herder’s hut just above the tree line.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 - 8 hrs trekking

  • Across the Tsome La (4900m) to Narethang (4900m).

    We make a steady climb to the Tsome La (4900m.) where we enjoy superb views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake, and also over Lunana and the peaks of the Tibetan border. Our route now crosses a high barren plateau to a campsite at Narethang (4900m) situated between the Tsome La and Karakachu La. This is quite a high camp at this stage of our trek but it is the only site available before crossing the Karakachu La and we will be descending again tomorrow.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs trekking

  • Cross the Karakachu La (5080m) to Tarina (3980m).

    Setting off once more across the high plateau we walk below the spectacular peak of Gangla Karchung (6395m.) before making a final short, steep climb to the summit of the Karakachu La (5080m.), where we find simply stunning views to the north. A whole group of unclimbed 7000 metre mountains, including Masakang, the Tshendayang Group and Teri Gang, provides one of the finest mountain panoramas in Bhutan. What makes it even more special is the fact that only a relative handful of foreigners have seen it! There is still a long descent into the Tarina Valley, but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, as we enter a huge lost valley, totally devoid of population. Our camp-site is by the river at a place known as Tarina (3900m). After last night’s high camp the air at 3980m will feel positively oxygen rich!

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 - 8 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Woche Village (3800m).

    We wake up in one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan - maybe one of the best kept secrets in the entire Himalaya. Snowy mountains, virgin forest, clear mountain streams - it doesn’t come much better. We follow the river down-valley and have lunch just before the turn off to Woche Village (3800m). A climb of around 300 metres leads to this small settlement, which consists of only 3 or 4 dwellings. This part of Bhutan is very rarely visited by foreigners and an enthusiastic reception by the villagers is almost guaranteed.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6 hrs trekking

  • Cross the Keche La (4485m) to Lhedi (3650m).

    Our first objective is the Keche La (4485m.). The trek to the pass is through forest at first and then fine open country with more superb views north to the unclimbed mountains of Kangphu Gang and Jeje Kangphu (7300m). It is 3 hours from Woche to the Keche La and a further hour to our lunch spot at Tega. Now the scenery is on a vast scale - a wide forested valley, quite unlike anything encountered so far, heads north-east to Thanza and the enormous 'Table Mountain' Zongophu Gang (7094m). We descend through numerous settlements to the Po Chu, and walk along the river-bed for an hour to our camping place at Lhedi (3650m), a string of houses on high ground above the river, with a small temple.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Thanza (4000m).

    We continue on a new trail along the river-bed, which is too difficult for our yaks. Consequently, we have to hire porters for a short section of today’s walk to Thanza. En route we pass Chotse Dzong, one of the oldest Dzongs in Bhutan and we have a chance to look inside this fascinating place whilst the trek crew organises fresh yaks for the last leg to Thanza and on to Bumthang. We are now in the very heart of Lunana and we are so cut off from the rest of Bhutan that very few people speak Dzongkha, the country’s main language. The people who live in this valley are very friendly and curious, as well as being noticeably taller and more strongly built than the average Bhutanese. They have a long history of trading with Tibet. We continue along this wide valley, arriving at an indistinct pass, to see Thanza (4000m) below us, split into two parts, the upper and lower village.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 6 hrs trekking

  • A rest day at Thanza.

    If everything has gone to schedule, we plan to have a rest day at Thanza, as there is plenty of scope for photography and exploration. A walk up to the lakes above Thanza, which are stunningly situated below the enormous bulk of Table Mountain, is recommended.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Danji.

    From Thoencha, the trail climbs up to a large boulder from where we gain excellent views back over Thanza and a good part of our route to date. After a few hours of relatively flat and easy walking, we reach a yak meadow with some yak herders’ huts. This is an excellent campsite and we have a great chance to spot some blue sheep on the hills above. Just above the camp, the Snowman trail splits into two options one heading south to Sephu in the Nikka Chu Valley and the other continuing east to Tsorim before turning south to Dur and Bumthang.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 - 4 hrs trekking

  • Optional ascent of Gorphu La (5230m).

    There is an opportunity to make an optional ascent to the Gophu La (5230m), climbing up past a series of turquoise lakes to the boulder strewn summit. From a little way beyond the top there are sensational views of Gangkar Puensum (7570m.), the world's highest unclimbed peak. This will be a long day for anyone taking this option but given clear weather is well worth the effort. Alternatively, this can be a day of rest and recuperation if needed prior to tackling the passes on our walk out to Nikachu. We spend a second night at Danji.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 9 - 10 hrs trekking

  • Across the Jaze La (5150m) to Tsochena (5050m).

    Beginning our walk out from Lunana we climb to the Jaze La (5150m.) for more panoramic mountain views. The trail descends past two small azure blue lakes and continues to the larger Tsochena Lake (5050m) where we make camp close to the shore.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Trek over the Loju La (5140m) to Jichu Dramo (5050m).

    We follow the shoreline of the blue-green lake of Tsochena before making a gentle ascent to a ridge at 5100m where there is yet another spectacular 360 panorama to feast upon. After going up and down over several small hills we reach a glacial lake and the route now descends briefly before climbing again up to the next pass, the Loju La (5140m.). Finally after crossing a small saddle (5100m.) we enter a wide glacial valley from where the trail descends gradually to the campsite at Jichu Dramo (5050m.).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Cross the Rinchen Zoe La (5320m) to Chukarpo (4600m).

    Right after leaving the camp we climb through ancient morraine to the crest of the Rinchen Zoe La (5320m), the highest pass of our trekking route. We are once more rewarded by spectacular mountain scenery with an impressive array of Himalayan peaks. Closer to hand, Rinchen Zoe Peak (5650m.) towers above the pass to the west. Descending from the pass, our route now leads into a wide valley with several lakes and goes steeply down along a moraine to the Tampe Chu. Here the vegetation begins to thicken again and we see our first real trees since Lhedi! After a couple more hours of descending we reach our overnight camp at Chukarpo (4600m.).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 - 8 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Tampe Tsho (4300m).

    We continue our descent, following the Tampe Chu river to a meadow and yak herder huts at Gala Pang Chhu (4010m.). From here we climb steeply to Tampe Tsho, a beautiful clear turquoise lake where we make camp (4300m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 - 8 hrs trekking

  • Cross the Tampe La (4600m) to Maurothang (3610m).

    From the lake we climb directly up to the final pass of the trek, the Thampe La (4600m). This is an area inhabited by blue sheep and we may well spot some of this rare breed of mountain goat as we climb steadily to the summit of the pass. After taking in the splendid views much softened now as we look south across the foothills, we descend to the sacred lake known as Om Thso. It is forbidden to throw stones (or anything else) into the lake and we pass it quietly and reverently. Beyond the lake we walk beside a waterfall and stream which feeds a second smaller lake. We end the day with a descent of steep ground through mixed forest to a camp known as Maurothang (3610m) on the banks of the Nikka Chu.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs trekking

  • Last day of trekking to Sephu, transfer to Gantay.

    During our final day of trekking we will need to transfer our baggage from Yaks to horses as we will now be dropping down below 3000m and Yaks do not at all appreciate being taken this low. The trail follows the river to reach a large grassy area overlooking the road and the village of Sephu. We finally reach the road at the Nikka Chu Bridge at Sephu where there are several stores and small restaurants. This is where our vehicle will be waiting for us and after saying goodbye to our crew we climb aboard for a drive for approximately one hour across the Pele La to the Phobjikha valley. Here we check into our hotel and enjoy the luxury of a shower and a real bed!

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs trekking

  • Drive via Punakha Dzong to Thimpu

    Returning to the main east-west highway, we continue our journey, passing through the picturesque town of Wangdi situated below another imposing dzong. There is the opportunity to revisit Punakha in case we did not have sufficient time here on our first day of trekking. It is well worth spending some time looking around the magnificent dzong, which was built in 1637. Lying at the junction of the Mo (mother) Chu and the Po (father) Chu, the Dzong is the winter home of over 1000 monks. Every year the Punakha festival celebrates the famous victory over the Tibetans, who were repulsed whilst trying to recapture the sacred statue of Avalokiteshvara, brought to Bhutan by Shabdrung in 1637. Back on the main road, we cross the final pass in this spectacular cross Bhutan road journey, the Dochu La and then its downhill all the way to Thimpu. We check into our hotel and there will be time for some souvenir buying before a celebratory evening meal.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Sightseeing in the Paro Valley, including Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monatery.

    After breakfast we make the short and scenic drive to Paro. There is much to see in this lovely valley and we will probably be ready for the hike up to the Taktsang Monastery. This spectacular monastery has a most stunning location, perched on a ledge of a cliff high above the valley. It was partly destroyed by a fire in 1998 but, thanks in part to international aid, is now completely restored to its former magnificence. To reach the monastery involves a return trek of around 4 hours. High up, there is a classic viewpoint for Takstang, looking across the gorge to the monastic buildings which cling, seemingly impossibly, to the cliff wall opposite. There is a small café located at this viewpoint and this makes a great lunch spot. Another sightseeing option today is a visit to the National Museum housed in an ancient watch tower set high above the Paro Valley overlooking the Paro Dzong.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Fly to Kathmandu.

    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. Ovrernight at our Kathmandu hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. Transfers to Kathmandu Airport are provided.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. Transfers to Kathmandu airport are provided. There are lots of extensions that can easily be added to your holiday. Why not pre-book a simple full day-tour in the Kathmandu Valley, or a multi-day excursion to wildlife reserve at Chitwan. Contact the KE office for more details.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • An experienced English-speaking local guide plus support crew
  • Kathmandu Airport transfers
  • Bhutan flights and transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Once on trek a full service including food and all equipment (excluding personal equipment)
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • A guided sightseeing tour of Kathmandu
  • Travel insurance
  • Nepalese visa costs
  • Tips for drivers and trek staff
  • Departure taxes on leaving Bhutan
  • 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 palette. On trek the emphasis is on providing a high-carbohydrate and largely vegetarian diet, which we have found to be easily digestible at high altitude. 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 the hotel or local restaurants which are excellent.

All meals are included in the holiday price from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the final day of the Land Only itinerary.
All clients will be met at Kathmandu Airport by a KE representative and escorted to the group hotel. At the end of the trip all clients will be provided with a complimentary transfer from the group hotel to Kathmandu Airport. Land Only clients must inform KE of their flight details and should let us know if transfers are NOT required. Hotel contact details together with an emergency number will be provided with your booking comfirmation.
This trip has 2 nights in Kathmandu, one en route to Bhutan and one on the return journey. In Kathmandu we use a comfortable, centrally located hotel. In Bhutan, we use the best available standard of hotel accommodation at Thimpu, Gantey and Paro. Whilst on trek there are 19 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 2 hotel nights in Kathmandu plus the nights spent in hotels in Bhutan, other than the nights in Thimpu during the festival - rooms are very limited during festivals and single rooms in Thimpu are therefore not included in the single supplement. Also extra nights in Kathmandu can be arranged if you plan to arrive early or depart later than the group trip dates (subject to availability). For Single tent hire costs, Single room Supplements and additional hotel night costs please refer to the Dates & Prices page on our website.

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

Shortly after first light 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 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 reliving the events of the trek so far and for general socialising. After dark, the temperature quickly falls and everyone will soon be 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. Our preferred port of transit for this holiday is Kathmandu, which 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 and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines operating flights to Bhutan and seats can be limited, particularly around the time of the major festivals. Early booking is essential. It is not always possible to confirm seats immediately and it is not 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.

A professional English-speaking local leader will accompany the group in Bhutan. The leader will be assisted by a full trek support crew including camp assistants, cooks and baggage animals and their handlers.

Approximately £300 (or equivalent in Euros, US dollars etc.) changed into local currency should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including approximately £100 for tips to local staff in Bhutan. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on arrival (into Nepalese rupees in Kathmandu, and into Bhutanese Ngultrum at Paro Airport). Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal and in Bhutan. 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.

Tipping is the accepted way of saying thank you to your trek crew. Although tipping is voluntary and does not form any part of the wages of the staff, most groups will want to give a tip at the end of their trek. We recommended that you tip your local guide and trek crew if you are happy with their services. It is usually best to arrange this as a group tip, with each person contributing to a pool. You will have two different trek crews on this trip, one as far as Laya and another for the trek into Lunana. As a rough guide, we recommend that each group member contributes around £50 to a pool for each crew (£100 in total). This can then be divided among the crew as the group sees fit. Normally your guide will get the biggest amount followed by the cook and then assistants but this is really up to you.

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 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 very high altitude. During the course of your trip you will be spending at least one night above 4000 metres and/or trekking to 5000 metres or above. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude. Unless you have previous experience of trekking above 4000 metres you should consult one of our trekking experts before embarking on this holiday. On this trip we carry a portable altitude chamber (PAC-bag) and/or bottled oxygen for use in emergencies.

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 maximum of 15 kgs.

You must bring the following items:

  • Hiking boots

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

  • Socks

  • Underwear

  • Waterproof and windproof jacket

  • Waterproof and windproof overtrousers

  • Trekking trousers

  • Thermal baselayer leggings

  • Thermal baselayer shirts

  • Fleece jacket

  • Warm jacket (down)*

  • Sunhat

  • Fleece hat

  • Scarf or buff

  • Sunglasses

  • Thermal gloves

  • Warm and waterproof gloves or mittens

  • Daypack 30 litres.

  • Headtorch with spare batteries

  • Washbag and toiletries

  • Antibacterial handwash

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

  • Water bottles (2 x 1 Litre). (Note that the tube on camelback / platypus type systems can be prone to freezing in cold conditions)

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

  • Sleeping Bag (comfort rating -15C)*

  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), altitude (Diamox), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea.

The following items are optional:

  • Sleeping bag liner

  • Thermos flask

  • Swimwear (for the hotel pool in Kathmandu)

  • Travel clothes

  • Trainers or similar

  • Spare laces

  • Trekking poles

  • Gaiters (highly recommended due to muddy conditions)
  • Insect repellant – (DEET)

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

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

  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)

  • Camera

  • Small travel towel

  • A selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contacts dry)

Notes

Equipment hire / rental

Items marked * can be hired / rented through KE Adventure Travel. Please make all requests at least 6 weeks prior to the trip departure date. Please note all hire / rental equipment is issued in Bhutan. Please remember to allow room in your trek bag for these items.

‘Thermarest’ inflatable camping mats are provided

Bhutan Festivals

  • FESTIVAL DRESS CODE

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.

  • FESTIVAL ETIQUETTE

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 for each country that you visit.

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 must be emailed or posted to us at the earliest opportunity.

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).

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.

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 Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum.

The unit of currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee.

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

http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking trip getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. This holiday falls within our highest grade and you need to be aerobically fit and also comfortable with walking up to 7 or 8 hours each day with ascents and/or descents of up to 1000 metres (3300 feet) over several days. The high altitude and dry conditions will also have an effect on physical performance and you should be prepared for this. You should adopt a weekly exercise regime in the lead up to your trip. Regular hiking in hill country is the best training but jogging, squash and swimming are also good for developing cardio vascular fitness and stamina. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long weekend 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: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov 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 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 middle of September, bringing with it the heavy rainfall that is responsible for the lush vegetation which carpets much of Bhutan. March and April, as well as late September through to November 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. Post-monsoon the weather is normally bright and clear. The starting points of treks in Bhutan are generally higher by about 1000 metres than many treks in Nepal and so we do not experience the same high temperatures and humidity that are a feature of the lowest sections of some Nepalese trips. Day-time highs of around 20°C can be expected at altitudes around 2000 metres, whilst at our highest camps the maximum daytime temperature will be 10°C to 15°C. At night-time, the temperature will fall below freezing at our highest camps. Although prolonged periods of bad weather are not common outside of the monsoon season, mountains do create their own weather and short lived periods of rain or snow can never be completely ruled out.

  • 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. Nepa Maps

Indexed general map of Bhutan, providing a general overview at 1:390,000 of the main trekking routes. Bold hill-shading indicates the general relief, and light green shading highlights the national park areas. Highways, main roads and selected minor routes are marked, and highlighted in different colours are the trekking routes. Selected peaks passes and altitudes are marked, and symbols denote campsites, monasteries, monuments, and places of interest.

Extend Your Holiday

Extensions

When booking your holiday, you will be able to 'add an extension option'.

Once we have received your booking we will contact you to discuss additional services required for the extension and to take any additional deposit.

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. During two days of wildlife viewing in the Chitwan 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 by boat and on foot. 



Chitwan Jungle Extension

From $1100 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 this tour includes a very early drive up to Nagarkot on the Kathmandu Valley rim, the perfect place to watch a Himalayan sunrise. This is followed by a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur, renowned for its temples and traditional buildings. 

 

Kathmandu Tour - Nagarkot and Bhaktapur

From $145 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.

Recent Reviews & Blog Posts

Good or bad we publish ALL reviews so you can make an inspired and informed choice.