Ancient Lands of the Himalayas - A Journey to Nepal + Bhutan
9 days with Alexander+Roberts Rating:
Day 1 – Our VIP Welcome Service to Kathmandu, Nepal
You’ll be greeted on arrival with our VIP Welcome Services, which include assistance through immigration procedures and baggage claim. Then we’ll take you to the enchanting Dwarika’s Hotel. Built by the finest Nepalese craftsmen, our unique heritage hotel features fine organic linens and traditional handmade furnishings. The rest of this day is yours to relax and enjoy as you wish.
Day 2 – History + Traditions of Nepal
This morning, we’ll take you off-the-beaten-path to explore two villages where the rhythms of life seem untouched by the 21st century. In Bungamati, founded in the 6th century, you’ll discover ancient landmarks including an important temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity. A bit farther south of Kathmandu city, you’ll visit Khokana where generations-old farming traditions still endure, including their unique technique for harvesting mustard oil.
In Patan, an ancient royal city that traces its origins to the 3rd century BC, you’ll discover a fine collection of impressive palace buildings, courtyards and graceful pagodas. Back in Kathmandu, you’ll stroll with your guide through the lively Asan district - a wonderful place to encounter the daily rhythms of Kathmandu and its residents. Then explore Durbar Square c and Hanuman Dhoka, the ancient royal quarter of the city, where you’ll find a complex of centuries-old palaces, temples and courtyards. End your sightseeing with a rickshaw ride to Thamel, a lively district filled with inviting shops and colorful merchant stalls. This evening, one of the few adventurers who have ascended Mt. Everest will share experiences and stories with A+R guests. (B)
Day 3 – Into the Timeless Kathmandu Valley
After breakfast, you’ll journey into the Kathmandu Valley to explore ancient Bhaktapur c, one of three ancient kingdoms of medieval Nepal. In the town’s main square, you’ll see architectural treasures like the Lion Gate and the Palace of 55 Windows. With its 5-tiered roof and carved statues of Goddesses, animals and mythical beasts, Nyatapola Temple is the tallest in all of Nepal. Bhaktapur is also famed for its pottery artisans and we’ve arranged for a hands-on lesson with a master potter.
Return to Kathmandu where we’ve made special arrangements for our guests to meet a High Lama for a private audience and blessing. Then visit Boudhanath c. Built some time around the 14th century and still one of the largest stupas in the world, it is venerated by both Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhists. Next up, see Pashupatinath Temple c, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and then descend to the Bagmati River for Aarti, an ancient Hindu ceremony of light and devotion. Tonight, you’ll enjoy the organic farm-to-table cuisine of Krishnarpan. (B+D)
Day 4 – Fly to Bhutan
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included international flight to Bhutan. Soar high above the towering Himalayan peaks to Paro and continue overland through picturesque valley landscapes to the deluxe Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu. Begin your touring of the Bhutanese capital at the King’s Memorial Chorten, a revered landmark with golden spires and tinkling bells; built in 1974, it is continuously circumambulated by devout Buddhist pilgrims chanting mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. You’ll also visit the 17th-century Tashichho Dzong Fortress; with its impressive 3-story towers and triple-tiered red and gold roofs, this imposing landmark has been the seat of government since 1952. (B+L+D)
Day 5 - Art, Culture + Life in Bhutan
Your immersion in the fascinating culture of Bhutan begins this morning at the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, you’ll see young students who are learning and preserving Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts including painting, calligraphy, embroidery, and woodcarving. Continue your foray into Bhutan’s enduring traditions at Dechen Phodrang, a monastic school that hums with the Buddhist recitations of its young students. After lunch, we’ll take you to a lively local market; mingling with residents out to do their weekly or daily shopping offers a genuine experience of Bhutanese life. End today’s touring at Kuensel Phodrang to see the immense seated-Buddha statue. Towering more than 160 feet, this bonze monument is filled with 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. (B+L+D)
Day 6 - Onward to Punakha
After breakfast and check out, you’ll visit the impressive Simtokha Dzong. Built in 1629, this is one of Bhutan’s oldest fortresses and features beautiful murals and an elaborately carved and painted ceiling. Then continue over the 10,300-foot Dochula Pass; on a clear day, you’ll have breathtaking 360° views over the Himalayas. The lone monastery situated near the mountain pass is distinguished by its 108 Buddhist shrines; stopping here to take in the views, you can also light a traditional butter lamp – a Buddhist act of wisdom. Then descend into the Punakha Valley through captivating landscapes of farming terraces, pristine rivers and fluttering prayer flags to visit the historic Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 along the banks of a rushing river, this imposing fortress is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the country. Enjoy a tranquil overnight at the Uma by COMO - Punakha, our enchanting luxury lodge set on a forested hillside overlooking the Mo Chu River. (B+L+D)
Day 7 – A Scenic Journey to Paro
Delight in the mountain scenery and commanding views as you travel to Paro Dzong. Founded in the 15th century and revered as one of the country’s finest examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture, this landmark also houses a monastic school with nearly 200 resident monks. After crossing the Paro River via Nyamai Zam, a lovely wooden bridge, you’ll spend time with a local archery team. Thrill to their expertise and learn the history and traditions of this celebrated national sport. After a bit of expert instruction, you’ll have a chance to pick up the traditionally-made bow and arrows - and try to hit the target yourself!
Continue to the Uma by Como - Paro, our delightful resort here in the beautiful Paro Valley. The rest of this day is yours to enjoy and explore as you wish. This is a wonderful opportunity to stroll in the town of Paro - visiting the small shops, engaging with local residents, and immersing in the tranquil and timeless pace of life. (B+L+D)
Day 8 – The Magnificent Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Today’s adventure begins with a scenic drive to Ramthanka, the base for one of the world’s most unforgettable adventures. As you make your way up the forested trail on horseback and by foot, you’ll have breathtaking glimpses of Taktsang Lhakhang, popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched on the side of a granite cliff some 3,000 feet above the valley. About 90 minutes into your privately guided ascent, you’ll reach an inviting café – the perfect place to recharge and take in the fresh mountain air. As you continue up the path, you can stop to hoist your own prayer flag – a traditional ceremony to bring happiness, health and good luck. About an hour later, you’ll reach the sacred monastery. On your way back down stop for lunch at the café and then continue your descent to Ramthanka.
Before returning to your hotel, you’ll also enjoy a guided tour of Kyichu Lhakhang. Dating back to the 7th century, it was expanded in the early 1800’s with additional buildings and a spectacular golden roof. Today it is considered to be one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in the Himalayas. Your evening at leisure offers a final opportunity to stroll in town and maybe shop for gifts and mementos. (B+L+D)
Day 9 - Depart Paro
After breakfast and check out, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your homeward journey. (B)
All This Included
Against a breathtaking mountain backdrop, our unique Himalaya itinerary and expert, native-born tour guides bring to life all the history, stories and cultural traditions of these exotic, magnificent, and timeless lands.
Kathmandu: Dwarikas Hotel
Thimphu: Taj Tashi
Punakha: Como Umu Punakha
Paro: Como Uma Paro
Pre and Post Add-ons
Discover Delhi & the Taj Mahal after!
4-Day Post-Tour Extension from $999
4-Day Private Tour
Explore the ancient Buddhist traditions of this thoroughly modern city on a private tour featuring its most significant temples including the Temple of the Golden Buddha and the Marble Temple.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.