Himalayan scenery

Bhutan: Druk Path Trek Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Bhutan, Nepal
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TBC
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Moderate / Challenging

You are moderately fit and have an interest in remote or challenging environments. Some previous experience is required for activity based trips.

13 Days Flight Inclusive
12 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

The Druk Path is one of Bhutan's classic treks and follows an ancient, high-level trade route from Paro to Thimpu 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, blue, mountain lakes with spectacular views of the peaks which border Tibet. Experience Bhutan’s fascinating culture and on specific departures, its colourful festivals with masked dances and general joviality. Note that different departures follow different itineraries - see 'is this trip for you' for more details.

At a Glance

  • 7 nights hotels and 4 nights full-service camping in two-person tents
  • 5 days point-to-point walking with full porterage, plus 1 daywalk
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus tour leader and local staff. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 4235m, average 3654m
  • Travel by private minibus 
  • Free transfers for any flight
  • Paro and Thimphu Festival departures available (see dates and prices for details)

Trip Highlights

  • A short classic trek through the beautiful Bhutanese countryside
  • An opportunity to gain an insight into the culture of the people
  • Famous cultural highlights; Paro Dzong and Thimpu's Memorial Chorten
  • Witness Bhutan's colourful, vibrant festivals (on festival departures)
  • Visit the incredible Taktsang 'Tiger's Nest' Monastery

Is This Trip for You?

Grade 4: Moderate/Challenging.

5 days walking; maximum altitude 4235m, average 3950m. 

This trip is for those who would like to combine the cultural highlights of Bhutan with beautiful Himalayan walking. The trek is a classic Himalayan trekking route. You can generally expect good service on the trek.

Travelling and Walking Conditions

We follow a route which was formerly an important link between Paro and Thimpu and which has been used for generations by pack animals. However please note that the trekking trails in Bhutan are more remote and less well-marked than in Nepal for example. The route we trek is rarely used nowadays and the trails are quite narrow and rocky in places.

We highly recommend trekking poles for this trip. It regularly rains in Bhutan which can make the trails muddy and slippery. In early spring there can be some snowfall at the higher altitudes. The highest altitude we reach on the trek is 4235m and the highest we sleep is 4100m. Our local staff carry a first-aid kit and oxygen on the trek. This route presents a great variety of walking from pleasant pine and rhododendron forests to rocky landscapes and passes and high altitude lakes.

Please be aware that whilst the distances on the five-day trek are not considered to be challenging; the altitude can sometimes pose a problem as your body adjusts to the difference. The pace of this trek is kept slow continually and there will be many opportunities to stop and enjoy the stunning 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 the pace of your group. You may find wish to refer to our Walking & Trekking Fitness Training Guide

Smoking

Please note that smoking is technically banned in Bhutan. Tourists are permitted to smoke in certain designated areas but must bring their own cigarettes (up to 200 cigarettes). They must, however, pay duty on any tobacco product they import (up to 200% tax). Smoking in a public place can result in a fine as long as you have proof of having paid the duty. If no proof of having paid the duty can be produced then there is the risk of a minimum 3 years imprisonment.

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. Exodus uses well trained Bhutanese guides, but please be aware that the guides are sometimes restricted in what they are allowed to do and where they are allowed to take you. There is plenty of time to enjoy the different features of each centre whilst travelling through the magnificent countryside. There is time to study the monasteries, browse in the bazaars, or relax with a cup of tea in incredible surroundings. This trip is varied, with walking and sightseeing, and should appeal to those who like to see something a little different.

Festival and non-festival departures

Some departures are scheduled to coincide with Paro, Thimpu or Genekha/Dechenphu Festivals. For the trips with no festival, an excursion to Punakha (the old capital of Bhutan) is included, where we visit the impressive Punakha Dzong.

The departure(s) starting in Kathmandu on:

16th March 2021 visits Paro Festival.

18th September 2020 and 8th September 2021 visit Thimpu Festival.

7th October 2021 will visit Genekha/Dechenphu Festival.

17th October 2020 is a non-festival departure and has a day trip to Punakha Dzong.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

A Bhutanese leader will accompany the group in Bhutan. We have a representative in Kathmandu who will advise you on sightseeing etc and answer any questions you may have. The trek is on a full service basis whereby the general camp chores will be performed by our local staff, including setting up and breaking camp, and all meal preparation. Your main luggage is carried for you and you will 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

Map TBC

Land Only

Start City:
Kathmandu
End City:
Kathmandu

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Kathmandu

    Land in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax.

    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 to be one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Its blue pine-covered hills and attractive, solidly built farmhouses among the paddy fields are dominated by the massive dzong, or fort.

    This afternoon we aim to visit the Paro Dzong and the National Museum above it. Paro Dzong is one of Bhutan's most impressive, 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 Bhutan's strongest and most important fortresses and it 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. Scenes from the 1995 film 'Little Buddha' were filmed in the dzong. West of the dzong a traditional wooden covered bridge called Nyamal Zam, a reconstruction of the original bridge, which was washed away in a flood in 1969. The most famous pictures of Paro Dzong are taken from the west bank of the river, just downstream from the bridge. 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 housed at the present time in a new building above the Ta Dzong. Inside the museum there are collections of masks and thangkas.

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

    Rema Resorts / Dewachen Hotel, or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 3

    Warm up hike to Taktsang also known as Tiger's Nest Monastery

    Today we will have a warm-up hike to Taktsang Monastery. 'Tigers Nest' Monastery, 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 1.5 hours to a viewpoint, for the classic views of the monastic buildings which cling impossibly to the cliff wall opposite. For the energetic, there is the chance to walk another 2 hours to the actual monastery. The walk is good for acclimatization and we recommend you wear trekking boots and take trekking poles and plenty of water. Please note there about 100 steps up and down. Returning to the hotel we have time in the afternoon to explore Paro town.

    Rema Resort / Dewachen Hotel, or similar

    Distance covered: 12 km / 7.5 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    660
    Total descent (m):
    660
    Activity (hours):
    6
  • Day 4

    Trek to Jele Dzong

    Today we start our trek. After breakfast, we have a short drive to about 2620m, 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 trek start point it is a gentle climb for about 1.5 hours on a jeep track to a prayer wall. The trail then narrows and we continue climbing on a rocky path up a little steeper now through the forest. We have lunch about an hour further on in a clearing and then it’s about an hour’s walk in the afternoon to the Jele La (3550m) and our camp just below the pass and Jele Dzong. If the weather is clear, we can see the Paro Valley below. The energetic can walk further up the ridge from the Jele La to a ruined shepherd hut with a small Bon shrine inside. 

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,530m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 7 km / 4.3 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    954
    Total descent (m):
    70
    Activity (hours):
    4
  • Day 5

    Trek to Jangchulaka

    After breakfast, we walk five minutes back up to the main trail and continue climbing for about half an hour to Jele Dzong. If it is open, we can go and see inside the dzong which dates back to the 14th century. 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 Chomolhari in the distance. The trail undulates through thick rhododendron forests this morning - look out for the colourful Monal and Blood Pheasants which inhabit the forests. Lunch is in a forest clearing and we have a short walk in the afternoon to our camp at Rawna at 3860m. (Please note that if there are other trekking groups around we may have to camp at Jangchu Lakha (3700m) or Tsokam (3750m). All 3 campsites are close by, each sitting in different forest clearings. 

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,860m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7.4 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    680
    Total descent (m):
    295
    Activity (hours):
    4
  • Day 6

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

    A long day today and probably the hardest walk of the trek. We climb steeply up 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 4073m 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 4080m, from where on a clear day we get spectacular mountain views including Chomolhari and Jichudrake. We have lunch on the ridge to enjoy the views and then continue a little further up the ridge to 4120m. 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. 
    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 3,885m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 9.7 km / 6 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    628
    Total descent (m):
    622
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 7

    Trek to Labana

    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 at 3956m. Climbing even higher to a col at 4150m, we then have a short descent to Simthokha Lake (4090m), the highest lake on our trek. From the lake the trail undulates all the way to our camp at Labana. 

    Full-service Camping (sleeping altitude 4,100m)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 8.6 km / 5.3 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    708
    Total descent (m):
    460
    Activity (hours):
    7
  • Day 8

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

    The trail today climbs gradually up to the Labana Pass at 4235m (the highest point of this trek). 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 we descend quite steeply to Phajoding Monastery for lunch. There are several temples here and a monastic school and the place is a 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. 

    Hotel Pedling / Galingkha / Gakhil, or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 11.3 km / 7 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    235
    Total descent (m):
    1555
    Activity (hours):
    5.5-6
  • Day 9

    Thimpu sightseeing, or Thimpu/Genekha/Dechenphu Festival, or day trip to Punakha

    Departure starting in Kathmandu on 16th March 2021

    Today we spend the day visiting the most important sites in and around Thimpu, including the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and Buddha Point, which is a large Buddha statue built on the hillside overlooking Thimpu. There are several museums in Thimpu and an art school, the post office and the market are interesting and above the town is a takin preserve. Your leader will aim to show you as much as possible in the time available depending on opening times.  In the late afternoon, we drive to Paro (1hours drive)

    Departures starting in Kathmandu on 18th September 2020 and 8 September 2021 will visit Thimphu Festival, whereas the 7th October 2021 departure will visit Genekha/Dechenphu Festival

    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 and prayer meetings, and a general carnival atmosphere prevails as many villagers arrive to meet old friends. The Bhutanese all dress in their finest national dress for the festival and one of the highlights is the riot of colours of the magnificent silks on display. Paro and Thimpu are the most popular festivals in Bhutan whereas the one at Dechenphu is much smaller.

    Non-festival departure: starting in Kathmandu on 17th October 2020

    Today we take an excursion to the nearby town of Punakha. The road climbs steadily out of Thimpu Valley and winds its way through forests to the Dochula Pass. At 3050m (10,000ft) the views over the eastern Himalaya are magnificent although this is most definitely weather dependent! We descend to the valley floor and continue to sub-tropical Punakha. At an altitude of 1350m, the difference in temperature and flora is apparent. Punakha is the winter capital of Bhutan and the dzong was the second one to be built in Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is situated between two rivers and it has survived many fires, an earthquake and a glacial flood. Over the years it has been repaired and added to and has several interesting features to protect it against invasion. In the afternoon we'll drive back to Thimphu to spend the night.

    Rema Resorts / Dewachen Hotel, or similar in Paro

    Hotel Pedling / Galingkha / Gakhil, or similar in Thimphu

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 10

    Paro Festival, or sightseeing in Thimpu; overnight in Paro

    Departures 18th September 2020, 17th October 2020, 8th September 2021 and 7th October 2021: Thimphu sightseeing; drive to Paro

    We spend most of today visiting the main sights of the town including the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and Buddha Point, which is a large Buddha statue built on the hillside overlooking Thimpu. There are several museums in Thimpu and an arts school, the post office and the market are interesting and above the town is a takin preserve. Your leader will aim to show you as much as possible in the time available depending on opening times. In the late afternoon, we drive to Paro (1 hour).

    Departure starting on 16th March 2021 - Paro Festival

    We spend the day at the Paro Festival.

    Rema Resorts / Dewachen Hotel, or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 11

    Fly to Kathmandu

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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 12

    End Kathmandu

    Our trip ends in Kathmandu after breakfast.

    Please note that sometimes due to opening times, holidays or festivals we have to change the timings of the sightseeing around. We will 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

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

Tents on TBC

You will spend 7 nights in hotels with en suite rooms and 4 nights in full service camps. The hotels we use in Bhutan are simple but comfortable and all rooms have attached bathrooms.

The camping will be in spacious 2-person tents. We will also provide dining and toilet tents, chairs, tables, cooking and kitchen gear and there will be a team of support staff. All groups will be accompanied by a local leader, who will be supported by a cook, assistant guides and yakmen. Whilst on the trek you will be woken up with a cup of hot tea, and we will also provide a small bowl of warm washing water in the mornings.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £535.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus 9 lunches and 9 dinners whilst in Bhutan.

The hotel/restaurant meals in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. Bhutanese food can sometimes be considered a little bland - this is generally because chillies are frequently used in traditional dishes, and these are often omitted to adapt to foreigners' tastes. However, you will find an assortment of meat, vegetable, rice and potato dishes and many examples of the infamous 'Ema Datshi' (chillies and cheese) so there will be plenty of nutrients for your day ahead!

Whilst camping, the staff will bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon tea and biscuits will be 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 time a dessert such as fresh or tinned fruit, fritters or cake is also served. Please note that although some meals will include meat, it is not as readily available whilst camping.

Please allow approximately £20-25 ($25-35) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.

Transportation

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 Please note that the schedules for flights between Nepal and Bhutan are notoriously unpredictable and the final timetables 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 and update the Trip Notes, and advise any clients booked as soon as possible. Please be aware that due to a country-wide 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/road block. If your leaders is made aware of bad conditions then they will make every effort to inform you of any potential delays.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

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 famous rhododendrons bloom (particularly in May); the country has over 45 wild species. You will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. During the day temperatures will be approx 10ºC-20ºC. At night temperatures will drop in autumn to about 3ºC-4ºC. 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. If it rains on trek the trails become very muddy. There can sometimes be snowfall at the higher altitudes on trek especially in spring.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 13 days 

We normally use the scheduled services of Turkish Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please visit www.exodus.co.uk/regionaldepartures for a useful overview
of the options available, and contact our sales team for expert advice.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1½ hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Travelling land only: 12 days starting in Kathmandu and ending in Kathmandu

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.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

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.

Transfers Details

The cost of a taxi is likely to be about £6/US$10 should you decide to make your way independently.

Exodus is a well-known established tour operator in Nepal and there have been some cases in the past where locals have pretended to be Exodus employees and have offered to carry our clients luggage and take them to the Exodus vehicle. Please do not allow anyone to do this, unless they are carrying an Exodus sign, t-shirt or badge. If you suspect that someone does not work for Exodus and are offering to help you and you cannot locate our Exodus representative outside the arrivals hall, please call our local emergency number +977 98511 34139 or +977 97510 60705.

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 that many Bhutanese are still traditional in the way they dress. Out of respect for the country, we ask you to dress conservatively. T-shirts are preferable to sleeveless tops. Although shorts are acceptable for trekking they should reach to just above the knee and for women a long skirt or trousers are preferable.

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

You will be restricted to 12 kgs of luggage whilst on the trek. You can leave luggage that you do not require for the trek in the hotel in Kathmandu to collect on your return. You can also leave luggage in Paro. Any luggage left in Paro will be transferred to the hotel in Thimpu for you. There are safe deposit boxes in the hotel in Kathmandu.

4-season sleeping bag
3/4-season jacket
Waterproof walking boots (worn in)
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Gaiters
Trekking pole(s)Trainers/sandals for the evening
Warm hat and gloves
Several pairs of walking socks
Tracksuit/thermal underwear
Warm mid-layer (fleece)
Lightweight trousers
Base layers/T-shirts/shirts
Long shorts or skirt for women
Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve with sun protection
Daypack
Head torch
Water bottle (minimum 1 litre)
Towel
Dry bags to line daypack and for packing clothing in the kitbag
Toilet paper
Small personal first aid kit

Optional Equipment

Hand washing gel
Water purification (you will be provided with boiled water for drinking on the trek but you may wish to take additional purification although this is not necessary)
Biodegradable soap/shampoo
Umbrella
Sit mat for the festivals
Earplugs - In Buddhism, it’s believed that neutering or spaying cats and dogs will 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.
Yaktrax/microspikes or spikeys - there can be unseasonal snowfall on any departure, especially in the spring season. If you have a pair of Yaktrax/microspikes or spikeys you may want to bring them along. If our local agent in Nepal hears of unseasonal snowfall they will advise you in Kathmandu, where you can easily buy Yaktrax relatively cheaply.

 

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, 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 in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

Exodus Kitbag

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in whilst on trek. Once you have booked you will be sent instructions on how to claim your free bag (they will not be sent out automatically). There are also details on how to claim for another item from the Exodus shop should you already have one of these. If you book via an agent, it is at the agent’s discretion and you should speak directly to them to arrange delivery. Please note that if you book less than three weeks before the departure date we cannot guarantee that your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts, so if this is the case please contact us on [email protected] to let us know. For full T&Cs see www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags.

Practical Information

Passport

Bhutan

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Nepal

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Bhutan

You will need a visa for Bhutan, which we will organise for you. The cost of the visa is included in the price of the trip (USD40). You will need to send us a clear copy of your passport on booking. We need this in order to organise your Bhutan visa in advance of your arrival. Please make sure that we have a copy no later than 8 weeks before departure. The passport copy can either be sent by post or scanned, in which case it has to 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 VERY important that the information you give us is 100% correct, and that the copy of the passport 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

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal, which can be obtained in advance or on entry (at present, the Immigration Department of Nepal have suspended  'visas on arrival' for certain nationalities - please check if this applies to you). All Nepal tourist visas are multiple entry. We recommend that you apply in advance as queues on arrival can be very long – applications can be made directly through the Nepal Embassy (by post or in person) or through our recommended visa agency, Travcour. The current cost for a visa in advance is GB£20 for a 15-day visa and GB£35 for a 30-day visa for UK passport holders (plus processing and postage fees if applying through Travcour).

The current cost for a visa on arrival is US$30 for 15 days, US$50 for 30 days, or US$125 for 90 days for UK passport holders. The fee can be paid for in any major currency at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. On arrival in the immigration hall there are 3 queues (if you have obtained a visa in advance go straight to (3) - immigration):

(Step 1) Fill in a 'Tourist Visa' form: either online before travel (recommended) via the Department of Immigration website - print the submission receipt with barcode (valid for 15 days) and bring it with you, or use the electronic kiosk machines on arrival at the airport. If using the 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 you can complete the details manually using the touch screen. We recommend taking 1 passport photo with you just in case. (Step 2) Proceed to the visa fees collection counter and pay the visa fee (we advise to take some cash) – make sure to keep the receipt. (Step 3) Lastly, 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.

Non-UK nationals should check requirements with their nearest embassy (a few nationalities are not permitted visas on arrival).

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

Vaccination

Bhutan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Nepal

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

There is low to no risk of malaria throughout Nepal and antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain higher risk groups; you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. The risk is highest in the low lying southern ‘terai’ districts bordering India.

A yellow fever certificate is only required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of transmission.

Dengue fever is a known risk in Nepal. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. As of August 2019, there has been a recent outbreak of Dengue fever in southeast Nepal and we therefore recommend you take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites (such as wearing full length trousers, long sleeves and applying insect repellent during the day as well as at dawn and dusk).

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.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

We are advised that there is no risk of malaria on this trip.

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.

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 3500m 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 and 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 is acceptable due to the additional safety measures that are in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude safety standards that minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring whilst travelling at altitude.

A number of 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. Please note that 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 that 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).

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Bhutan's Timezone:
Asia/Thimphu +06 (GMT +06:00)
Nepal's Timezone:
Asia/Kathmandu +0545 (GMT +05:45)

Electricity

Bhutan's Electricity:

Electrical sockets (outlets) in the Kingdom of Bhutan usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.

Nepal's Electricity:

230V, 50Hz. Three different plug socket types are used in Nepal (types C, D and M) so it is advisable to bring a universal plug adaptor with you. On teahouse treks, almost all lodges now have electricity and charging facilities (usually for a fee) but power cuts are not uncommon. Battery life can be affected by cold - lithium batteries are best. 

Money

Bhutan's Currency

The national currency of Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 88 to the UK£ and 70 to the US$. Indian rupees can also be used in Bhutan (but only Rs100 notes or less, not the new Rs500 or Rs2000 notes). The exchange rate is the same as the BTN.

Nepal's Currency

The national currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 141 to the UK£ and 113 to the US$.

It is a closed currency, meaning it is illegal to import or export Nepalese Rupees so you won’t be able to get local currency outside of Nepal 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 any leftover Rupees back into hard currency at Kathmandu airport before you depart. They may not always have all international currencies in stock but will generally have either GBP or EUR or USD.

ATM Availability

There are ATM machines in Kathmandu. However, we do not advise that 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 ATM machines in Bhutan, mainly of the Bank of Bhutan in Thimphu and Paro. The maximum withdrawal in a day is Nu 30,000 (approx. $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 (Pounds Sterling, US Dollars or Euros can all be changed easily). We do not recommend travellers cheques as they can no longer be changed.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Please note that 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. Please note that travellers cheques, £50 notes or any Scottish or Irish currency cannot be changed in Nepal or Bhutan. The Bhutanese Ngultrum is tied to the Indian Rupee, which can be used throughout Bhutan (please note that only Indian notes up to Rs100 denomination can be taken or used in Nepal and Bhutan - do not carry Indian Rupee notes of 500 or 2000 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.

You will need approximately £50 (US$65) in Nepal for lunches, dinners and drinks, plus extra for any optional sightseeing tours or shopping. You will also need money for drinks in the hotels in Bhutan. In Kathmandu, Paro and Thimpu 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 Nu/IC20 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 of course entirely at your discretion but is customary in Bhutan. We suggest you allow about £80 (US$110) per person for this for groups of 12 clients or more. For smaller groups allow about £100 (US$130) per person. From this allow £5 (US$7) per person as 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).

Tips for your trekking crew (assistant guides, cooks, ponymen and drivers) are distributed on the last night/day of the trek so you will need to take enough cash with you for this. Your leader will suggest an amount for each staff member and will provide envelopes and help to divide this fairly between the trek staff.

A tip for your main Bhutanese tour leader is not included in the above and we therefore suggest that as a group you collect a separate amount to give at the end of the holiday.  

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.