High Passes of Lunana

A real trekking challenge in the remotest corner of Bhutan

26

days

Trek

From 0 Land only

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Holiday Overview

Highlights

  • High, wild and remote trekking across 5000 metre passes
  • Sensational views of unclimbed Gangkar Puensum
  • Visit the amazing dzongs of Takstang, Punakha and Thimpu
  • All meals, Bhutan visa fees and return flights from Kathmandu to Paro included!

This long and challenging traverse of the little-known Bhutanese region of Lunana is Himalayan trekking at its absolute best, and includes crossing several high passes (up to 5300m). We start out in the Punakha Gorge, where the stunning forest scenery is our first taste of the tremendous variety of trekking conditions we'll enjoy on this unique adventure. We make a gradual ascent to the charming village of Laya (4000m), close to the Tibetan border. The people of Laya present a striking picture, with their pointed hats, hair covered in mustard oil and highly decorative jewellery. Leaving the village behind we'll head east on our high-level route into the lost world of Lunana, a part of Bhutan that is cut off from the world for most of the year. Highlights will include encounters with cheerful villagers and simply breathtaking mountain panoramas, including close-up views of remote Gangkar Puensum (7541m), the world's highest unclimbed peak. A holiday like this really is a once in a lifetime experience, so to ensure you get the most our of your time in Bhutan we've also included visits to all kingdom's most famous sights, such as the awe-inspiring Tiger's Nest (Taktstang) monastery and the dzong at Punakha, arguably the most beautiful in the whole of the country. If you are looking for the ultimate trekking adventure, in a high mountain wilderness that sees very few foreign visitors, then this could be the holiday for you!

 

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.

Is this holiday for you?

This trekking holiday to Bhutan follows generally good paths, there are no glaciers to cross and there's no scrambling involved. However, this itinerary has been paced to suit experienced trekkers who looking for a very challenging trip and the emphasis is on seeing as much of Bhutan, and on covering as much ground, as possible. This is an intentionally ambitious programme involving trekking in and out of a very remote region, cut off from the rest of the world for nearly 9 months of the year. Another factor, which has to be considered and one which contributes to the difficulty of the trip, is the altitude of the trekking route. There are several passes of over 4500 metres and 2 of these are over 5000 metres. Due to the remoteness 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 at least a week we will be camping above 4000 metres. These challenges should be judged as positive attractions to someone looking for a real 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. Drive to Thimpu.
  • Drive via Punakha Dzong to the trailhead (2300m).
  • Trek to Gasa (2850m) via the hot springs.
  • Cross the Bale La (3710m) to Chempsa.
  • Trek to Laya (3800m).
  • Acclimatisation day at Laya.
  • 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.
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.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • airport
  • peaks
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

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

    Meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Complimentary 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. Drive to Thimpu.

    We have a leisurely morning in Kathmandu, then 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 in Paro we are met by our Bhutanese hosts and we will make the 1½ scenic drive to the capital, Thimpu where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive via Punakha Dzong to the trailhead (2300m).

    The drive to Punakha follows the road to Tongsa and Eastern Bhutan, winding its way up to the Dochu La (3050m), passing through magnificent temperate forest, with an abundance of rhododendron and magnolia. The pass is marked by many prayer flags and a large chorten. A viewpoint just above the chorten offers a fine panorama of the eastern Himalaya, plus an enticing view of our route through to Lunana. Descending from the pass we turn off the main highway into a side valley which leads to Punakha, Bhutan’s old winter capital and the site of the spectacular Punakha Dzong. This is a very picturesque monastery, which lies at the junction of the Mo (Mother) and Po (Father) rivers. We will have a look around the monastery before we continue our drive, following the Mo Chu through semi-tropical forest to our camp at the trail head, a few kilometers beyond the town of Gasa. The road up the Mo Chu towards Laya is currently under construction and is also subject to landslip, so the exact position of the camp can vary.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Gasa (2850m) via the hot springs.

    Depending on how far we have been able to travel along the road, we may have some walking to do to reach Gasa Tsachu, the famous hot springs which prior to the road was a 3 day walk for the many pilgrims who come here from Punaka. Above the hot springs, a steep climb leads up to Gasa Village - a collection of houses and a few shops built around a village square. Above the village is Gasa Dzong, an important monastery in the area. We make camp in the village or just outside (2850m). If we have been able to drive all the way to Gaza on the previous day, this can be used as a contingency day at the leader's discretion.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Cross the Bale La (3710m) to Chempsa.

    We will start the day with a visit to Gaza Dzong. This commanding fortress used to control the routes to the religious areas of Lunana and Tibet. Afterwards we set off for the long climb up to the Bale La (3710m), the highest point of the trek to Laya. As we climb higher towards the pass, the jungle is replaced by ancient pine forest. We camp in a clearing amongst the trees, at a widening of the path, an hour beyond the pass (3650m).

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 7 hrs trekking

  • Trek to Laya (3800m).

    We descend to the banks of the Mo Chu, unfortunately having to make a detour back up the hillside to avoid a steep spur. Our lunch stop is by a bridge across the river. There is a very pleasant walk in the afternoon, passing a small army camp and we end the day with a steady climb through the forest to the village of Laya (3800m), one of the highest villages in central Bhutan. The people of this fascinating village are very friendly and present a most unusual and striking picture, with their pointed hats, hair covered in mustard oil and highly decorative jewellery.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

    • Time 8 - 9 hrs trekking

  • Acclimatisation day at Laya.

    We spend a rest day at Laya, which not only helps with our acclimatisation but also gives us a chance to look around the village and an insight into the life of these mountain folk.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Rodophu (4160m).

    From Laya, we retrace our steps to the army camp and then continue down 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 8 - 9 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 11 - 12 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 2 hours 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, 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, single rooms for the 4 hotel/lodge nights in Bhutan can sometimes be arranged at an additional cost. 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 £250 (or equivalent in Euros, US dollars etc.) should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including approximately £70 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 (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.

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 approximately £70 in equivalent local currency. Your trek leader will help you to arrange appropriate tips to the local crew.

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 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

  • Socks

  • Trekking trousers

  • Waterproof and windproof overtrousers

  • Underwear

  • Thermal baselayer shirts

  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts

  • Fleece jacket

  • Waterproof and windproof jacket

  • Warm jacket (down)*

  • Sunhat

  • Warm hat

  • Scarf or buff

  • Sunglasses

  • Warm gloves or mittens

  • Daypack approx. 30 litres capacity.

  • Headtorch with spare batteries

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

  • Water bottles 1 Litre x 2

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

  • Sleeping bag (Comfort rating -10ºC)*

  • Sleeping bag liner

  • Washbag and toiletries

  • Antibacterial handwash

  • Small towel

  • Small padlock (to lock your KE trek bag)

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

The following items are optional:

  • Travel clothes

  • Trekking poles (highly recommended)

  • Gaiters (highly recommended due to muddy conditions)

  • Thermal baselayer - Leggings

  • Trainers or similar

  • Spare laces

  • Swimwear (for the hotel pool in Kathmandu)

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

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

  • Camera

Notes

 Equipment hire: 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 Kathmandu. Please remember to allow room in your trek bag for these items.

‘Thermarest’ inflatable camping mats are provided

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.

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

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 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:

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 of 'Strenuous' 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) on 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 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 December are the best months to visit Bhutan. Pre-monsoon the weather is generally very good, with bright, sunny mornings and sometimes a moderate build up of cloud in the afternoons. Post-monsoon the weather is normally bright and clear. The starting points of treks in Bhutan are generally higher by about 1000 metres than our treks in Nepal and so we do not experience the same high temperatures that are a feature of the lowest sections of some Nepalese trips. Day-time highs of around 20°C / 68°F can be expected at altitudes around 2000 metres, whilst at our highest camps the maximum daytime temperature will be 10°C / 50°F to 15°C / 59°F. At night-time, the temperature will fall below freezing at our highest camps.

  • 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 $1110 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 $135 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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