An excellent tour with a fine mix of culture and activity. Varied, well organised - we enjoyed it very much.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Inspirational? an extreme word ... but very enjoyable or interesting?
Flying into Paro and finding even the control tower was in local Bhutanese architecture! People wandering around the tarmac taking pictures instead of rushing into the arrivals hall.
Finding that on trek we were actually provided with seats with backs! (I may be 'sad' but, as you get older, it can be pretty uncomfortable camping without.)
Rising early to enjoy the pink rising sun on the snowy mountains and frost at 4,000 metres. (Not a requirement of the trip!)
The fantastic perfume from some of the small rhododendrons as you walk past. This was not from flowers but the bushes themselves. Apparently they are used for incense.
And, of course, the Thimpu festival, especially all the happy children, many lining up for photos. The combination of proud, colourful traditional dress with modernity - the mobile phones and the man taking a picture of his grandchild on his iPad.
- What did you think of your group leader?
We had two - in our view both excellent but in different ways, with different approaches and different personalities.
We were on the same trip as the previous review so it just shows how much your view of a leader can depend on your experience of him/her.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Yet another warning about fitness. At normal UK altitudes I would not have found the trek any problem at all. Add 3000-4000 metres, deduct the relevant amount of oxygen and it becomes a bit more of a challenge - even if you don't get real 'altitude sickness'. So make sure you are fitter than you think you need to be. That said, it was only 2-3 days at that altitude.
Plenty of water was provided for drinking so don't bother with supplementary filtering etc. equipment.
Don't worry about changing money beforehand. Just take a good number of smallish GB notes to change when there (or dollars or Euros but they seemed to prefer pounds.) Much can be paid for in sterling anyway.
Pay attention to the dress code advice for temples and festivals. Unfortunately, requirements can change but on our trip it was important to have long sleeves and a collar - including on the first day in Paro, as you visit the Dzong in the afternoon.
Don't underestimate the potential cold at night on trek. A 4-season sleeping bag is absolutely fine but it depends on your 'internal central heating' - and the weather - as to whether 3-season will suffice. In October, it could be quite hot during the day - especially up hill(!) - say 20 degrees - but below freezing at night. It rained lightly one day and we had a short hail storm on another.
There was the usual problem with tipping. There is a need to pay small amounts into a kitty for water and, unless you object, small offerings in temples. There are large numbers of people who are due tips - if you consider the support staff on the trek and the drivers, too. So you can have arguments to your heart's content in the group as to the best way to organise group tips but be aware that it can add up....
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
All the staff were excellent.
I learned with approval the extent Exodus go to to train their leaders.
The staff on trek were extremely helpful and efficient and friendly - and the food was fantastic up there - possibly better than in the hotels...
Definitely a worth-while trip.