Current as of: July 23, 2024 - 04:22

Himalayan Scenery

Bhutan: Druk Path Trek Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Bhutan, Nepal
  • Programmes: Walking & Trekking
  • Activity Level:

    4 out of 7 - Moderate & Challenging

  • 13 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 12 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: TBC
  • Carbon Footprint: 30kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Hike the ancient trading route between Paro and Thimphu

The Druk Path is one of the classic treks in Bhutan and follows an ancient, high-level trade route from Paro to Thimphu in a country visited by only a lucky few. Trek through splendid rhododendron forests, past yak herder settlements, across several passes, and camp beside clear mountain lakes with spectacular views of the peaks that border Tibet. Experience the fascinating culture of Bhutan and, on specific departures, colourful festivals with masked dances and general joviality.

At a Glance

  • Seven nights in hotels and four nights of full-service camping in two-person tents
  • Five days of point-to-point walking with full porterage, plus one daywalk
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus tour leader and local staff. Minimum age: 16
  • Altitude maximum: 13,894ft (4,235m); average: 11,988ft (3,654m)
  • Travel by private minibus
  • Paro and Thimphu festival departures available (see Dates & Prices for details)

Highlights

  • Embark on a short classic trek through the beautiful Bhutanese countryside
  • Gain an insight into the local way of life
  • Visit cultural highlights including Dzong in Paro and the Memorial Chorten in Thimpu
  • Witness Bhutan's colourful, vibrant festivals (on festival departures)
  • Visit the incredible Taktsang Tiger's Nest Monastery

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 4 (Moderate & Challenging). For more information on our trip gradings please visit the Activity Level Guidelines page. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to contact us.  

There are five days with walking: maximum altitude 13,894ft (4,235m); average: 11,988ft (3,654m). The highest altitude we sleep at is 13,451ft (4,100m).

This trip is for those who would like to combine the cultural highlights of Bhutan with beautiful Himalayan walking. You will be well looked after and well fed on the trek but it can get very cold at night in the tents so be prepared with the recommended equipment on our kit list.

We follow a remote route that was once an important link between Paro and Thimpu. However, it is rarely used nowadays and the trails are quite narrow and rocky in places. It does present a great variety of walking from pleasant pine and rhododendron forests to rocky landscapes and passes and high-altitude lakes.

To get the most from your experience, we highly recommend you bring trekking poles, while our local staff will carry a first-aid kit and oxygen. It regularly rains in Bhutan, which can make the trails muddy and slippery and, in early spring, there can be snowfall at the higher altitudes.

While the distances are not considered challenging, the altitude can sometimes pose a problem as your body adjusts to the difference. The trek pace is kept slow and there are many opportunities to stop and enjoy the views and Himalayan scenery. Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. Timings given include rest and photo stops but not a longer lunch break and will vary depending on your group’s pace.

This trip visits the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro, which is at an altitude of 10,235ft (3,120m). The trek to reach the monastery is relatively steep but we take it very easy and have lots of stops to relax and enjoy the stunning surroundings. If you would prefer not to trek the whole way, there is a café where you can wait, which has spectacular views of the monastery.

Please be aware that some of the monasteries we visit in Bhutan require a good level of mobility due to steps, stairs, and occasional ladders. These monasteries are often situated on cliffs and hillsides, offering breathtaking views but also requiring careful navigation. If you experience vertigo or have concerns about heights, please let us know in advance so we can provide appropriate guidance and support during these visits. Our team is committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy these remarkable sites safely and comfortably.

Smoking

Smoking is only permitted in certain designated areas and strictly prohibited in public places. Anyone caught smoking in public or violating smoking restrictions will be fined approximately 500 Bhutanese ngultrum (US$6) for the first offence.

Travelling in Bhutan

Travelling in Bhutan is still in its infancy. All foreigners must travel through an official travel agent and be accompanied by a Bhutanese guide. We use well-trained Bhutanese guides, but please be aware the guides are sometimes restricted in what they are allowed to do and where they can take you. There is plenty of time to enjoy the different features of each centre while travelling through the magnificent countryside. There is time to study the monasteries, browse the bazaars, or relax with a tea in incredible surroundings.

Festival departures

The departure(s) starting in Kathmandu on:

  • 2 April 2025 visits Paro Festival
  • 6 September 2024 and 25 September 2025 visit Thimphu Festival
  • 4 October 2024 and 24 October 2025 visit Dechenphug Tshechu Festival

Group

A Bhutanese leader accompanies the group in Bhutan. We have a representative in Kathmandu, who will advise you on sightseeing and answer any questions you may have. The trek is on a full-service basis, where the general camp chores are performed by our local staff, including setting up and breaking camp, and all meal preparation. Your main luggage is carried for you and you only need to carry whatever you require for that day’s walk.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Bhutan: Druk Path Trek

Land Only

  • Start City: Kathmandu
  • End City: Kathmandu

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Kathmandu

The adventure begins in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The evening is free to relax. If you have time, you may wish to explore the nearby buzzy Thamel district.

Accommodation: Royal Singi Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
Fly to Paro; visit Paro Dzong and museum

We fly to Paro today. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view (from the left-hand side of the plane) of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). After completing visa formalities in Paro, we transfer to our hotel. The Paro Valley is considered one of the most beautiful in Bhutan with blue pine-covered hills and attractive farmhouses among paddy fields – all dominated by the massive dzong (fort).

This afternoon, we aim to visit Paro Dzong and the national museum above it. Paro Dzong is one of the most impressive in Bhutan, and the finest example of Bhutanese architecture you will see. The inward-sloping walls form a massive structure that towers over the town. Built in the 17th century, it was one of the strongest and most important fortresses in Bhutan and was used on several occasions to defend the Paro Valley from invasions by Tibet. Formally the meeting hall for the national assembly, the dzong now houses a monastic school and district government offices. West of the dzong is a covered wooden bridge named Nyamal Zam, a reconstruction of the original bridge, which was washed away in a flood in 1969.

At the top of the hill, above the dzong, is the old watchtower known locally as Ta Dzong. Originally built in 1656, it was renovated in 1968 by King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk to house the National Museum. Damaged by the earthquake in 2011, the museum is now in a new building above the Ta Dzong. Inside the museum, there are collections of masks and thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist paintings).

Please note, the itinerary above could change subject to flight timings, which are generally unpredictable.

Accommodation: Rema Resorts

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3
Warm-up hike to Taktsang Monastery

Today we have a warm-up hike to Taktsang Monastery. Also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, it is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then hike up for about 1hr 30min to a viewpoint for classic views of the monastic buildings that cling impossibly to the cliff wall opposite. If you’re feeling energetic, walk another 45 minutes to the actual monastery. The walk is good for acclimatisation and we recommend you wear trekking boots. Please note, there about 100 steps up and down. Returning to the hotel, we have time in the afternoon to explore Paro town.

Accommodation: Rema Resorts (or similar)

Distance covered: 7mi (12km)

Ascent: 2,165ft (660m); Descent: 2,165ft (660m); Activity hours: 6

Day 4
Trek to Jele Dzong

Today we start our trek. After breakfast, we have a short drive to about 8,595ft (2,620m), just above the ancient Ta Dzong watchtower. The first day’s trekking is not long in terms of hours but it’s uphill all the way and we gain quite a lot of height. From our start point, it is a gentle climb for about 1hr 30min on a jeep track to a prayer wall. The trail then narrows and we continue climbing on a rocky path (a little steeper now) through the forest. We have lunch in a clearing about an hour further on and then it’s about an hour’s walk in the afternoon to the Jele La (11,645ft/3,550m) and our camp just below the pass and Jele Dzong. If the weather is clear, we can see the Paro Valley below. If you’re still keen to walk, trek further up the ridge from the Jele La to a ruined shepherd hut with a small Bon shrine inside.

Accommodation: Full-service camping (sleeping altitude: 11,580ft/3,530m)

Distance covered: 4mi (7km)

Ascent: 3,130ft (954m); Descent: 230ft (70m); Activity hours: 4

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Trek to Jangchulaka

After breakfast, we walk five minutes back up to the main trail and continue climbing for about 30 minutes to Jele Dzong. If it is open, we can go inside the 14th-century dzong. Continuing up the ridge for a short way, we can see the Paro Valley way below and, if the weather is clear, we may even spot the peak of Chomolhari in the distance. The trail undulates through thick rhododendron forests this morning – keep your eyes peeled for colourful monal and blood pheasants. Lunch is in a forest clearing and we have a short walk in the afternoon to our camp at Rawna.

Please note, if there are other trekking groups around, we may have to camp at Jangchu Lakha (12,140ft/3,700m) or Tsokam (12,300ft/3,750m). All three campsites are close by, each in different forest clearings.

Accommodation: Full-service camping (sleeping altitude: 12,665ft/3,860m)

Distance covered: 7mi (12km)

Ascent: 2,231ft (680m); Descent: 968ft (295m); Activity hours: 4

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Follow the ridge with spectacular views of Jichdrake to reach Jimi Lang Tsho

It’s a long day today and probably the hardest walk of the trek. We climb steeply from camp on a narrow trail for about an hour to rejoin the main trail. We continue climbing through a rocky landscape littered with small rhododendron bushes. We reach a col at 13,367ft (4,073m) marked with prayer flags and then drop down a short way to a cave. The trail then climbs again quite steeply to a ridge at 13,385ft (4,080m), where we get spectacular mountain views on a clear day, including Chomolhari and Jichudrake. We have lunch on the ridge while enjoying the views and then continue a little further up the ridge to 13,520ft (4,120m). From here, we contour round a little and then drop steeply on a rocky trail to the shores of Jimi Lang Tscho, well known for its trout.

Accommodation: Full-service camping (sleeping altitude: 12,746ft/3,885m)

Distance covered: 6mi (10km)

Ascent: 2,060ft (628m); Descent: 2,041ft (622m); Activity hours: 7

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Trek to Labana

We have another long but great day’s walk with good mountain views. The trail climbs from camp along a rocky trail up to Janye Tscho Lake. Climbing even higher to a col at 13,615ft (4,150m), we then have a short descent to Simthokha Lake (13,420ft/4,090m), the highest lake on our trek. From here, the trail undulates all the way to our camp at Labana.

Accommodation: Full-service camping (sleeping altitude: 13,450ft/4,100m)

Distance covered: 6mi (9km)

Ascent: 2,323ft (708m); Descent: 1,509ft (460m); Activity hours: 7

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Cross the Labana Pass and descend to Phajoding; transfer to Thimphu

The trail climbs gradually up to the Labana Pass, the highest point of this trek at 13,895ft (4,235m). The views get better and better and, on a clear day, we can see Gangar Punsum, Table Mountain and much of the Bhutan Himalaya. Way below is the Thimphu Valley. From the top, we traverse the hillside with great mountain views and descend towards Thimphu. There are a couple of small climbs to cols but the general direction is downhill. From the Phajoding Labsa chorten (shrine), we descend quite steeply to Phajoding Monastery for lunch. There are several temples here and a monastic school and the place is visited by many Bhutanese. We descend even further through forests of blue pine to the end of our trek at Motithang, just above Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. We should reach our hotel by mid-afternoon. The evening is free to explore Thimphu.

Accommodation: Hotel Pedling (or similar)

Distance covered: 7mi (11km)

Ascent: 771ft (235m); Descent: 5,102ft (1,555m); Activity hours: 5hr 30min to 6hr

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
Thimphu sightseeing. Festival departures: Spend the day at Thimphu/Dechenphug Tshechu Festival

We spend the day visiting the most important sites in and around Thimphu, including the Memorial Chorten (built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk) and Buddha Point (a large Buddha statue on the hillside overlooking Thimphu). There are several museums in Thimphu and an art school, while the post office and market are also interesting. Above the town is a takin preserve. Your leader aims to show you as much as possible in the time available depending on opening times. In the late afternoon, we drive to Paro (one-hour drive).

Alternative itinerary for festival departures: Thimphu/Dechenphug Tshechu Festival – September & October 2024 and October & November 2025.

We spend the whole day experiencing one of the many vibrant festivals in Bhutan. During the festivals, the Bhutanese gather to see the monks and lay dancers dressed in colourful brocade and silk costumes, wearing painted masks re-enacting the stories of the religious and lay history of Bhutan through music and dance. For several days, there are masked dances, prayer meetings, and a carnival atmosphere as many villagers arrive to meet old friends. The Bhutanese all wear their finest national dress for the festival and one of the highlights is the magnificently colourful silks on display. Paro and Thimphu are the most popular festivals in Bhutan whereas Dechenphug Tshechu is much smaller.

Accommodation: Rema Resorts (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
Paro Sightseeing. Festival departures: Spend the day at Paro Festival

We start today but visiting Kyichu Lhakhang. Built in the seventh century, it is said to be the oldest temple in Bhutan and therefore holds great spiritual significance to the country. Legend says it was built on the foot of ogre by a king in one night.

After this, we continue to explore the city and surrounding area.

Alternative itinerary for festival departures: Paro Festival – 14 March 2024 & 02 April 2025

See day 9 for description. 

Accommodation: Rema Resorts

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11
Fly to Kathmandu

We fly back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free to explore the temples and markets of the Nepalese capital or go shopping. There are several sightseeing tours available (ask the Exodus representative in Kathmandu) or you may want to explore on your own. You could visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, the largest Hindu temple in Nepal at Pashupatinath, or one of the largest Buddhist stupas in Asia at Boudhanath. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, the colourful markets of Thamel are great for souvenir hunting.

Accommodation: Royal Singi Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
End Kathmandu

Our trip ends in Kathmandu after breakfast. If you’d like more time to explore, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

Sometimes, due to opening times, holidays or festivals, we have to change the timings of the sightseeing around. We endeavour to show you all the sights in the time available. In case it is not possible to visit any of the sights described in the notes above an alternative will be provided.

Meals included: Breakfast

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 11,480ft (3,500m) above sea level, where there is a genuine risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS). If left untreated, AMS can be life-threatening. We expect most clients to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, shortness of breath while walking or sleeplessness. Our leaders are trained to identify symptoms of severe AMS and if a client requires extra care, arrangements such as rapid descent, will be made immediately.

On some days, this trip climbs faster than commonly published ascent-rate recommendations. Based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors and our risk-assessment process, we consider the ascent rate acceptable due to the additional safety measures in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude-safety standards, which minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring while travelling at altitude.

Several medical conditions or medications can reduce your body’s ability to acclimatise. This may affect your performance and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing conditions, such as heart conditions, or your overall physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. The drug Diamox (also known as acetazolamide and normally only available on prescription) has been shown to aid acclimatisation in some individuals, and therefore may reduce the risk of AMS. Clients considering using Diamox should speak to their doctor about the drug, its side-effects and a prescription. While we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition or the onset of AMS.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).

Accommodation

Hotels and camping

Tents on TBC

We spend seven nights in hotels and four nights in full-service camps. The hotels we use in Bhutan are simple but comfortable.

The camping is in spacious two-person tents. We also provide dining and toilet tents, chairs, tables, cooking and kitchen gear and there is a team of support staff. All groups are accompanied by a local leader, who is supported by a cook, assistant guides and yakmen. On trek, you are woken with a cup of hot tea, and we also provide a small bowl of warm washing water in the mornings.

Single supplement from £ 600

Food & Drink

Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus nine lunches and nine dinners in Bhutan.

During your adventure in Bhutan, prepare to savor a delightful array of flavors that blend Bhutanese and Western cuisines. While Bhutanese dishes are traditionally seasoned with chilies, often tempered for foreign palates, the local cuisine boasts rich and varied tastes. Enjoy a diverse selection of meat, vegetable, rice, and potato dishes, alongside iconic specialties like ema datshi—featuring chilies and cheese. If you desire a more authentic or spicier culinary experience, don’t hesitate to share your preferences with your trip leader, who will endeavor to tailor meals to your liking.

While camping, the staff bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon, tea and biscuits are served. At breakfast, dinner and in the afternoons, there is a choice of hot drinks.

Breakfasts typically include cereal and/or porridge plus toast and eggs. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route (except on shorter days when it is in camp). Lunch and dinner typically include soup to start, followed by a variety of hot dishes (both local and Western) such as potatoes/chips, vegetables, curry, pasta, rice, dhal and vegetables. At dinner, a dessert such as fresh or tinned fruit, fritters or cake is also served. Please note, although some meals include meat, it is not as readily available while camping.

Please allow the equivalent of approximately US$30-US$40 per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.

Drinking water

Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity but particularly so at altitude where it is generally recommended to drink at least 100floz to 135floz (three litres to four litres) per person per day.

However, we strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water on trek as this contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution in the trekking areas of Bhutan.

On trek, the cooks collect and boil drinking water from the mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification treatment as well. Purification tablets can be an economical way to treat your water, most taking between 30 minutes to one hour to purify one litre of water and are easy to used in water bladders/hydration packs. Purification tablets which contain chlorine dioxide are reported not to leave an obvious taste as other tablets may.

You may like to bring a reusable bottle with a wide opening and use a Steripen to treat any non-boiled water. A Steripen is a handheld UV water purifier – small, lightweight and battery powered, so easy to pack. It’s quick to use, far more effective than purification tablets, and the water is ready immediately. It’s fine to use a Steripen on non-boiled water so long as it isn’t cloudy or full of sediment (which is uncommon in these regions).

Steripens are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Models that take lithium batteries are best as they last longer, especially in cold conditions.

Exodus has also partnered with Water-to-Go, a filtration system that eliminates more than 99.99 percent of all microbiological contaminants from any non-saltwater source – visit Water-to-Go for more information. Exodus customers can claim 15 percent off their first order and, better still, 15 percent of the purchase value will be donated to the Exodus Travels Foundation. Please note, if the water freezes it will clog up the filter. In this event, defrost before use by sitting the filter in lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes.

Transport

For all transfers and road journeys we use a private bus.

For the flights between Paro and Kathmandu we use either Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines. All bookings on regional flights are made in economy class.

Paro-Kathmandu flights: The Druk Air schedule for flights between Nepal and Bhutan are notoriously unpredictable and the final timetable is often published very late. The itinerary is based on the latest schedules but these are subject to change. Should there be a change of schedule, we will amend the itinerary, update the Trip Notes and advise any clients booked as soon as possible.

Please be aware that due to a countrywide initiative to improve the roads connecting major towns, road conditions can be incredibly varied in Bhutan. Wet weather can have a detrimental effect and there may be occasions in which the van is held in a traffic jam/roadblock. If your leader is made aware of bad conditions, they make every effort to inform you of any potential delays, and will arrange alternative activities if necessary (ie a short walk) while we are waiting.

Weather & Seasonality

Himalayan views tend to be best between October to December, as the weather is generally clear with sunny skies. From March to May, the valleys are awash with colour when the rhododendrons bloom (particularly in May). You will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. During the day, temperatures are approximately 10C-20C (50F-68F). At night, temperatures drop in autumn to about 3C-4C (37F-39F). Although these departures do not fall inside the normal monsoon season, there is always a chance of rain in Bhutan and you should be prepared for this. The trails become very muddy if it rains on trek. There can sometimes be snowfall at the higher altitudes especially in spring.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Royal Singi Hotel, Lal Durbar, Kamaladi, Kathmandu
Phone: +977 144 24190
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Kathmandu Airport (KTM)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 10 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Kathmandu Airport (KTM) from the end hotel.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Kathmandu
Location end: Kathmandu

What To Take

Essential Equipment

Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful on this trip. Please note, many Bhutanese are still traditional in the way they dress. You should dress conservatively so as not to offend local sensibilities; short shorts, vests, leggings and other tight-fitting clothing is not appropriate. When visiting dzongs, you must cover your legs and arms and men must have a long-sleeved shirt or T-shirt with a collar. Please note shawls are not acceptable for men or women. You can carry a set of dzong clothes on the bus and change before you enter a dzong. T-shirts are preferable to sleeveless tops. Although shorts are acceptable for trekking, they should reach to just above the knee. For women, a long skirt or trousers are preferable.

Bhutanese dress in their finest clothes for the festivals. If you are travelling on a festival departure, we request you bring a set of smart clothes. For men, trousers and a shirt with a collar and long sleeves are appropriate; for women, a long skirt and long-sleeved top. Shoes or smart trainers (sneakers) or sandals are fine for footwear.

You are restricted to 26lb (12kg) of luggage on trek. You can leave luggage you do not require for the trek in the hotel in Paro to collect on your return. Any luggage left in Paro is transferred to the hotel in Thimpu for you (where applicable).

  • Four-season sleeping bag
  • Three/four-season jacket
  • Waterproof walking boots (worn in)
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (pants)
  • Gaiters
  • Trekking pole(s)
  • Comfortable shoes for the evening
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Several pairs of walking socks
  • Tracksuit/thermal underwear
  • Warm mid-layer (fleece)
  • Lightweight trousers (pants)
  • Base layers/T-shirts/shirts
  • Long shorts or skirt for women
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve with sun protection
  • Mosquito repellent (please refer to advice on avoiding Dengue fever in vaccination section)
  • Backpack for the day
  • Headtorch (head lamp)
  • Refillable water bottle/Water bladder (Camelbak)
  • Towel
  • Dry bags to line backpack and for packing clothing in the kitbag
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand-washing gel
  • Biodegradable soap/shampoo
  • Small personal first-aid kit

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Exodus kitbag: If you book this trip, we provide a free Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in while on trek. Once you have booked, you will be sent instructions on how to claim your bag (they are not sent automatically). Please note, if you book less than three weeks before the departure date, we cannot guarantee your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts. If this is the case, please contact us on customerops@exodus.co.uk (or customeroperations@exodustravels.com if you’re based in the US or Canada). See www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags for full T&Cs.

Optional Equipment

  • Umbrella
  • Sit mat for the festivals
  • Earplugs – in Buddhism, it’s believed that neutering or spaying cats and dogs stop the reincarnation cycle for the animals, therefore you will notice a higher-than-average street dog population – we recommend packing earplugs in case of dogs barking at night
  • Thick socks recommended for temple visits (where shoes are not allowed)
  • Yaktrax/microspikes or spikeys – there can be unseasonal snowfall on any departure, especially in spring. If you have a pair of Yaktrax/microspikes or spikeys you may want to bring them. These can also be purchased in Kathmandu and our local representative can advise you where to purchase them when you arrive.

Practical Information

Visa

Bhutan

You will need a visa for Bhutan, which we will organise for you. The cost of the visa (US$40) is included in the price of the trip.

We need it to organise your Bhutan visa in advance to do this, you will need to send us a clear colour copy of your passport at point of booking. You also need to provide a good coloured passport photo, with white background (and ensure you are not wearing any glasses).

Please make sure we have the passport copy and separate passport photo no later than eight weeks before departure. It can either be sent by post or scanned; both should be very clear and in colour. If you need to get a new passport for the journey, please apply for this immediately, and send us the copy/scan as soon as you receive your new passport. It is vital the information you give us is 100 percent correct, and that the passport copy you send us is the one on which you will be travelling to Bhutan.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Nepal

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally need a visa to enter Nepal. Visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

You can obtain your visa in advance or on arrival. If possible, apply in advance as queues on arrival can be very long and the Immigration Department of Nepal has suspended visas on arrival for certain nationalities – please check if this applies to you with your nearest embassy or consulate.

Visa in advance: Apply for this through your local consulate or embassy. The Nepalese government has an online application system, but it is currently only accepting payments through Nepalese payment channels.

Visa on arrival: When you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, there will be three lines. If you have already secured your visa, go straight to the Immigration line. If not:

  1. Fill in a tourist visa form at the electronic kiosks. After inserting your passport, the machine will automatically fill out an application form, take an electronic photograph of you and print a paper slip. If the machine won’t read your passport, complete the details manually using the touchscreen. We recommend taking a passport photo with you just in case.
    • This process can be completed through the online immigration portal (click ‘Visa On-Arrival’) within 14-days prior to arrival in Kathmandu, helping you to avoid lengthy queues at the kiosks when you come through immigration – ensure you print and bring the confirmation with you. If you have completed your visa on arrival form in advance, go directly to the visa fees counters with your printed confirmation and skip the kiosk queues.
  2. Proceed to the visa fees collection counter and pay the visa fee (in cash, if possible). Make sure to keep the receipt. Card payments are not always possible, so paying in cash is easiest, most currencies are accepted but US dollars are preferred.
  3. Go to the relevant immigration desk and present your tourist visa form, payment receipt and passport to obtain your 15-, 30- or 90-day visa stamp. Please check you have been given the correct visa duration.

Vaccinations and Health

Bhutan

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and tuberculosis. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

Nepal

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and tuberculosis. You will also need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you’re arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or transiting for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Some travellers may also need proof of a polio vaccination. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

There is little to no risk of malaria in Nepal; therefore, antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain high-risk groups. You may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice.

Additionally, dengue fever, a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes, is a known risk in Nepal with an outbreak in September 2022. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis, so take extra precautions (such as wearing full-length trousers, long sleeves and applying insect repellent during the day, dawn and dusk) to prevent being bitten.

Most of our trips to Nepal go to high altitudes where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for further advice on AMS.

When trekking at altitude, and particularly in cold weather, there is a higher chance of developing a cough (sometimes referred to here as the Khumbu cough) or cold symptoms. These symptoms could be a result of inhaling cold mountain air or dust (in the Everest region). You can mitigate against picking up coughs and colds by washing your hands with soap and water at available opportunities and using hand sanitiser. Also wear a buff over your neck and mouth when walking at altitude, particularly in colder weather, which will help limit cold, dry air entering your airways and keep your neck and chest warm.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

Bhutan's time zone: Asia/Thimphu (UTC +06:00)

Nepal's time zone: Asia/Kathmandu (UTC +05:45)

Electricity

Bhutan's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins), D (three round pins) and G (three rectangular pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Nepal's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins, European standard), D (three round pins) and M (three round pins) – 230V, 50Hz Mains electric 'load shedding' (planned temporary power cuts) occur regularly throughout towns and cities in Nepal. On teahouse treks, the majority of lodges now have electricity and charging facilities in the communal areas for batteries, for a fee. Battery life can be affected by cold; lithium batteries are best.

Bhutan: Druk Path Trek

Money

Bhutan's currency: Bhutan ngultrum (BTN)

Nepal's currency: Nepalese rupee (NPR) It is illegal to import or export rupees, but foreign currency is not limited, provided it is declared on arrival. Keep your change receipts, as you will need them if you want to change rupees back into hard currency at Kathmandu airport.

ATM Availability

There are ATMs in Kathmandu. However, we do not advise you rely entirely on these as they are often broken or have run out of money. There is also a limit on the amount you can take out per day. Credit cards (Visa or Mastercard) can be used for more expensive purchases in the better souvenir shops.

There are ATMs in Bhutan, mainly of the Bank of Bhutan, in Thimphu and Paro. The maximum daily withdrawal is 30,000 ngultrum (approximately US$500). Credit cards (Visa or Mastercard) can be used for more expensive purchases in the better souvenir shops.

We recommended you take most of your money in cash as it is easier to change cash in Nepal and Bhutan on arrival at the airports (British pounds, US dollars or euros can all be changed easily). We do not recommend travellers cheques as they can no longer be changed.

Please note, you can change Nepalese rupees back into US dollars at Kathmandu Airport on departure from Nepal. If you wish to do this, you should keep the original currency exchange receipts. The Bhutanese ngultrum is tied to the Indian rupee, which can be used throughout Bhutan (please note, only Indian notes up to 100 rupees denomination can be taken or used in Nepal and Bhutan – do not carry Indian rupee notes of 500 or 2,000 denominations). Money can be changed at Paro Airport on arrival. If you are bringing cash to change, make sure the notes are fairly new and not written on or torn as these will not be accepted in Bhutan. Ngultrums are impossible to change back, so if you are left with any at the end of the trek, make sure you exchange them for Indian notes, which can be used in Nepal. It is illegal to import or export rupees or ngultrums, but foreign currency is not limited, provided it is declared on arrival.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You need approximately 8,700 rupees (US$65) in Nepal for lunches, dinners and drinks, plus extra for any optional sightseeing tours or shopping. You also need money for drinks in the hotels in Bhutan. In Kathmandu, Paro and Thimphu, there are souvenirs to purchase. Entrance fees are included for sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary. If you want to leave a small donation in the temples, we recommend 25 ngultrums per temple. Please also remember to take some money with you on the trek as the trekking crew are tipped on the final morning of the trek.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely at your discretion but is customary in Bhutan and the following is to act as a guide only.

We suggest you allow about 10,400 ngultrums (US$125) per person for this.

From this, allocate around 1,670 ngultrums (US$20) per person to form a kitty for hotel porters and waiters (you can give this to your Bhutanese guide at the start of the trip to divide between the hotels/restaurants).

We suggest you then collect the remaining amount among yourselves towards the end of the trip. This can be divided between the Bhutanese guide, assistant guide and drivers at the end of the trip. For a group of more than 12, you have one guide, one assistant guide and two drivers.

Divide the tipping money as such:

  • 50 percent for the guide
  • 25 percent for the assistant guide
  • 25 percent between the drivers driver

For a group of 11 or fewer, you may have only one guide and one driver. If so, divide the money 70 percent and 30 percent.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • Local guides keep you well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels, restaurants, and other enterprises, and by championing locally produced food wherever possible.
  • In Paro, we visit families in their farmhouses and in Thimphu we visit the local market.
  • Read more about our other initiatives

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively reduce waste; this includes eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles by providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • Waste on this trip is carried to Thimphu and repacked for recycling.
  • The payment of entrance fees to natural reserves generates income which is used to upkeep and develop these important sites. We trek through Paro and Thimphu national parks.
  • With our partners, Rewilding Apennines, we rewild 100 square meters (1,075 sqft) of land per passenger who travels with us.
  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels with us.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Walking trips like this have very little detrimental impact on the environment and the locals, as it is a quiet, low-impact activity requiring comparatively few resources to support.
  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring a reusable water bottle on this trip, also consider avoiding single-use hotel toiletries, which generate a large amount of plastic waste.

Important Information

Optional activities and excursions

If you would like to join an optional activity or excursion outside those listed in the itinerary, your leader may be able to assist with selecting a provider. However, Exodus has not assessed the safety standards of activities or excursions that are not listed in the Trip Notes. All optional activities or excursions are undertaken at your own risk.

Non-refundable items in the event of customer cancellation

If you choose to cancel your trip, the standard cancellation fees are shown in our Booking Conditions. However, there are additional fees for extra non-refundable items for this trip, and these are detailed below. For more information, see Section 4 of the Exodus Booking Conditions. If you are booking your flight through us, your sales representative may also confirm separate cancellation terms related to your international flights at the time of booking.

Cancellations within 70 days prior to travel (when flight are confirmed):
• Region Flights Kathmandu – Paro – Kathmandu: £440 per person

Costs are accurate at the time of writing in February 2024 but may be subject to change.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.