A Nepal Bhutan adventure that takes you on an inspiring walk across two ancient trails. Hike through the picturesque Ghorepani-Poon Hill trail in Nepal and stay at quaint village homes that have been converted into teahouses. Embark on an old-school camping trek along the ancient Druk Path in Bhutan. Discover medieval kingdoms, Buddhist Monasteries, and hike past forests of blue pine and placid mountain lakes. This trip is for those in quest of a real Himalayan adventure….
This Nepal Bhutan Druk path and Annapurna Trek takes you to two remote Himalayan countries which were once off-limits for visitors from the western world. Walk through the foothills of some of the world’s tallest peaks and experience fascinating mountain cultures. Get close and reconnect with nature. If you have been an adventurer, but your work pressure has left you struggling with stress, then this is the ideal trip for you. The hikes along an alpine trail filled with breathtaking views of snowcapped peaks, mountain lakes and Buddhist monasteries will soothe your senses and rejuvenate your spirit.
In Nepal, visit medieval kingdoms and discover cultural landmarks that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Take the famous Annapurna trail and trek to Ghorepani-Poon Hill. Tread along an ancient trade route to Tibet, used by traders in the bygone days. Though trade with Tibet via this route has long ceased, this trail still remains the lifeline of mountain communities. Stay at quaint mountain teahouses run by enterprising local families. If you take this trip during spring, the trail will be covered with pink and red rhododendron blooms.
Devoid of pollution and covered in greenery, Bhutan and Bhutanese people with their genteel ways, will steal your heart right away. Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), Bhutan’s iconic landmark. Hanging precariously on a steep cliff, the monastery is an architectural wonder. Your trek along the celebrated Druk (dragon) Path will leave you rejuvenated. This is an old trail that connected the cities of Paro and Thimphu before roads were built. Nomadic yak herders still use this trail and you may encounter a couple of them with their herd on your trek. Enjoy some stellar views of Bhutan’s highest peaks - Mount Gangkhar Puensem and Jomolhari. An experienced local guide will accompany you throughout your trip.
If you would like a less strenuous trip, then we suggest you try our Jewels of Bhutan and Nepal Tour. Are you interested in visiting sacred Buddhist sites? Do check out our Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour. This spiritual tour may appeal to you. .
Spring, Autumn and early Winter are the best seasons to take this trip. The daytime temperatures are just right - not too hot nor too cold. There may be brief spells of rain and thundershowers during Spring and early Autumn, but the weather will remain generally pleasant. While trekking, expect the temperatures to drop below 10 degrees at night and early morning.
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If you arrive during the daytime, you will be welcomed by a wonderful sight of snow-capped peaks and rolling green hills. Kathmandu valley lies nestled in a deep bowl formed by the Shivapuri, Pulchowki, Champadevi and Chandragiri hills. Once you land, complete the immigration process and make your way to the airport terminal. Our representative will receive you and escort you to your hotel. After checking in, take some rest. Your guide will meet you in the evening and brief you about your upcoming adventure. Evening enjoy complimentary dinner with one of our representatives from our office. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Drive to the airport with your guide to catch a flight to Pokhara. Once again, enjoy mesmerizing views of snowcapped Himalayan peaks from aboard. Once you reach Pokhara, board a private vehicle and drive to Tikhedhunga via Nayapul. Spend 3 to 4 hours on the road navigating the rough and bumpy jeep track. Once you reach Tikhedhunga, take the trail to Ulleri. It’s a tough ascent as you have climb more than 3,000 steps to Ulleri. This is the toughest day of the trek, so brace yourself! The trail winds up to a lush and green mountainside. Once you reach Ulleri, head to a local teahouse where your room has been booked. Overnight in Ulleri.
It is uphill all the way. The trail is covered with lush vegetation. During March-April this trail is covered with red and pink blooms of rhododendron. Trekkers call this a ‘walk through paradise’.
After walking for around 4 or 5 hours you reach Ghorepani. Do you know you are traversing an ancient Tibetan trade route that was once used by Tibetan, Indian and Nepalese merchants to ferry goods? Ghorepani, which means ‘horse water’, was a watering hole where traders took rest and fed their horses and mules. Though trade with Tibet through this route has long stopped, locals still use this ancient trail. The village of Ghorepani lies at the base of Poon Hill. Once you reach this picturesque village, your guide will lead you to the teahouse where your rooms are booked. Overnight in Ghorepani.
Wake up early and hike up to Poon Hill to catch the sunrise. It may be still dark, so use a headlamp or a torch to see your way up the hill. Poon Hill is one of the most popular viewpoints in the Himalayan region. Enjoy a glorious panorama of some of the highest peaks in the world - Annapurna Massif (including Annapurna I, 10th highest peak in the world), Dhaulagiri (7th highest peak in the world), Manaslu (8th highest peak in the world), Gangapurna, Machapuchhre (Fishtail Peak) etc. As the sun rears up from behind the mountains, it lights up the snow covered mountains in pink, red, golden and yellow hues. It is one of the most beautiful sights. Capture this moment in your camera. After taking selfies and group photos head down to Ghorepani and take the trail to Tadapani.
You walk past Banthanti, a magar village. Stop for a while at Deurali Danda and take in the heavenly views of mountains, terraced fields and hill-top villages. Walk for another few hours and reach Tadapani, a beautiful Gurung village which offers close up views of Mardi Himal, Hiunchuli and Annapurna South. Overnight in Tadapani.
This is the final leg of your trek. From Tadapani you head to another Gurung village Ghandruk. Compared to other days, this day’s trek is a bit easy. You follow a gentle forested trail. Cross Bhise Kharka and walk downhill and through an even trail to the Gurung heritage village of Ghandruk. From here, you hike for around 30 minutes to reach the small settlement of Kimchi. A vehicle will be waiting for you. Board the vehicle and drive towards Pokhara. Overnight in Pokhara.
Take an early flight to Kathmandu. Once you reach Kathmandu, your tour guide will be waiting for you for your sightseeing tour. Visit some of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the airport you will be driven to Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal’s largest Buddhist stupa. Boudhanath is one of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism outside Tibet. This massive white stupa, topped by a golden spire, is said to contain the bones of Kasyapa Buddha (previous incarnation of Lord Buddha). When you set eyes on this sacred stupa for the very first time, make a wish. It is believed that your wish will come true. The stupa is surrounded by Buddhist monasteries and colourful shops selling Buddhist art and souvenirs. Join the many pilgrims and walk clockwise around the stupa, spinning the prayer wheels. Light a butter lamp and pray for a god trip or whatever you wish.
Later head to Pashupatinath Temple, the holiest Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Nepal. This ancient temple was built during 400 AD and has been a pilgrimage site for Hindus for centuries. Dreadlocked and ash-smeared Hindu god men or Sadhus are seen meditating or roaming around the temple’s precincts. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. If you cannot enter the temple, you can get a close up view of the temple from the eastern bank of Bagmati River. You can also witness the cremation rituals as Arya Ghat, the Hindu cremation site, lies just opposite of the eastern bank.
Lastly drive to Patan and stroll around the celebrated Patan Durbar Square. Built by Malla Kings, the durbar square is home to some of the finest collection of buildings and sculptures created by Nepalese artisans. Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar), Patan Palace (now converted into a museum), Krishna Temple etc. are some of the few jewels adorning this palace square. Overnight in Kathmandu.
The flight to Paro is nothing short of incredible. You get to see some of the highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga. Get your cameras ready as you will be flying above the mighty Himalayan range. If the weather is clear you can view Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga. As the plane enters Bhutan, you fly above the majestic Jomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak. Your guide will be waiting for you at the airport terminal. Once you cross the immigration section, you will be greeted by your guide. After refreshments or lunch, your sightseeing tour begins.
Head to Ta Dzong, a traditional watchtower dating back to the 17th century. This ancient building is now known as the National Museum. You can find an impressive collection of traditional Buddhist paintings, ceremonial masks, bronze statues, religious relics etc.
Later head down to Rinpung Dzong (Heap of Jewels Fort). Also known as Paro Dzong, this impressive fortress was built by Zabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (founder of Bhutan). Built in the old Bhutanese style of architecture, this fortress houses government offices and a monastery. The biggest festival in Paro, Paro Tsechu, is held in the courtyard of this dzong. After your sightseeing tour, you will be driven to your hotel. Check in and have a good night’s sleep. Overnight in Paro.
After an early breakfast, drive to the outskirts of the city and reach the trailhead to Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest. Clinging onto a cliff, the Taktsang Monastery is an architectural marvel built by the Penlop of Paro in 1684. One of the most sacred places in Bhutan, the monastery is said to have been the meditation cave of Padsambhava or Guru Rinpoche. According to local legend he flew to Bhutan from Tibet riding a tigress and meditated at a cave where this monastery is built. Begin your hike. It is an uphill ascent all the way to the monastery. Ponies are available on hire (not included in the package), but they only go up to a halfway point and you will have to make the rest of the journey on foot.
The trail is lined with pine trees and colourful prayer flags. From the top you can enjoy incredible views of the mountains and Paro Valley. Visit the monastery, take pictures and return by the same route. Please note cameras are not allowed inside the monastery. Depending on your speed it will take around 4 to 5 hours to complete the hike. Later visit one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan, Kichu Lakhang. Built by Tibetan emperor Songsten Gampo in 659 AD, the temple was constructed to subdue an evil demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Locals believe the temple was built in a day. Overnight in Paro.
Wake up early and drive to Ta Dzong. The trekking crew and ponies (to carry the supplies) will be waiting for you at the trailhead. Take an uphill trail and walk past traditional farms, apple orchards and forests of blue pine. Enjoy mesmerizing views of the valley below as you make your way up. After an uphill climb you reach Jele Dzong, a 16th century fortress. You camp on the grassy meadow located right below the ancient fortress.
Unlike your trek in Nepal, you will not find any teahouses on the trail. This is purely a camping trek and you will be sleeping and dining in tents. A toilet tent will also be pitched up. Do not worry you can take care of your business in privacy. At each stop, the crew will pitch tents and prepare the food. Camp at Jele Dzong.
There will be a wake-up call and you will be served bed-tea by one of the crew. Warm water is provided for washing up. After a hearty breakfast, continue your trek. After going a steep ascent, you along a ridge. If it’s a clear day you will get to view Jomolhari (3rd highest peak in Bhutan). The mountain is known as the ‘Bride of Kanchenjunga’ and the abode of the five goddesses who protect Bhutan and Tibet. Find yourself captivated by the delightful sights of snowcapped mountains and rolling green hills. After walking for around 4 or 5 hours you reach your campsite. There may be a few yak herders with their yaks sharing the campsite. Camp at Jangchulakha.
Take a short ascent through a trail filled with junipers. You reach a grassy meadow and walk on level ground for some time. Walk past green meadows and forests of pine and rhododendron. Follow an up and down trail till you reach Jangchu La (4180m) a high mountain pass. En route enjoy inspiring views of Mount Jitchu Drake, the protective deity of Paro, and other giants. Savor views of the green valley spread below. After a series of ups and downs you finally reach your campsite. You set up camp close to Jimilangtsho, a sacred mountain lake and a meditation site. Jimilangtsho in Bhutanese means ‘Sand Ox Lake’. According to local legend the lake was named after a bull that emerged from its waters. The bull joined the cattle of the family who used that spot as a summer grazing ground. The lake is home to giant trouts. Fishing is allowed if you have a permit. Camp at Jimilangtsho.
Walk towards the southern end of the lake and take an upward trail. The route goes through another mountain lake Jahnye Tsho. Continue onwards enjoying the alpine scenery. You walk past sacred monasteries which are pilgrimage sites for Bhutanese. You will find a meditation centre hanging precariously on a rock face. It is a wonder what faith and devotion can do. The path becomes wider as you climb higher. Your campsite is located near Simkotra Tsho, another high-altitude lake. From here you can see the trail that you have covered. Surrounded by rhododendron shrubs, the campsite looks lovely in spring when the rhododendrons bloom. This is an old yak herders’ camp and you will find a couple of nomadic yak herders camping with their yaks. Camp at Simkotra Tsho.
Walk on a rocky trail till you reach an even path. Continue on level ground and take a short descent before ascending Phume La (4210m), the highest point of your trek. If the weather is not cloudy you can enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Gangkhar Puensem (7570m), Bhutan’s highest peak and the highest unscaled peak in the world. Thimphu valley spreads below. Walk on the edge of the ridge past the chorten and fluttering prayer flags. You make your way down to Phajoding Monastery, an ancient Buddhist monastery founded in the 13th century by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. Walk down a trail shaded by blue pine. Your trek ends once you reach the highway, above the Takin Sanctuary.
Our vehicle will be waiting for you to take you to your hotel. Bid goodbye to the crew and ponies and board the vehicle. Drive to your hotel in Thimphu and enjoy a warm shower or a relaxing soak in a bathtub. If you don’t feel too tired, you can explore Thimphu on your own. Visit a local market and shop for souvenirs. Bhutanese handicraft pieces made of bamboo, wood and paper and traditional textiles are awesome gift items. Ask your guide where you can get good bargains. Overnight in Thimphu.
You will be driven from Thimphu to Paro Airport well on time to catch your flight. If you want to travel onward to Nepal, Tibet or India do let us know. We have some exciting tours and trips in all these destinations.
Nepal: Stay for 2 nights in Kathmandu at the luxurious 4 star hotel, Hotel Shanker. Spend I night in Pokhara at Atithi Resort & Spa,. Both these establishments lie close to business centres and sightseeing spots. Both hotels feature tastefully decorated rooms, restaurants, bars, café, swimming pool, travel desk etc.
On the trail, you will be spending 3 nights at teahouses run by local families. Do bear in mind, compared to city hotels, teahouses on the mountains are extensions of family homes and have basic facilities.
Bhutan: You spend 2 nights at Tashi Namgyal Resort in Paro, and 1 night at Namgay Heritage Hotel in Thimphu. Located in picturesque settings, amenities at these hotels include multi-cuisine restaurant, bar, free wif-fi, wellness centre etc.
While trekking, camps will be set up and you will be sleeping and dining in tents.
Accommodation at hotels is on twin-sharing basis. If you are a solo traveller, you will share the room with a group member of the same sex. If you need a single room, it will be made available at an extra cost. Simply click on the ‘single supplement’ tab at the time of booking.
Nepal: In Kathmandu enjoy breakfast, welcome and farewell dinners. Only breakfast is provided in Pokhara.
All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be provided on the trail. Have breakfast and dinner at the teahouse where you stay overnight. Lunch will be at a teahouse en route. Food on the trail will include dal-bhat (rice, lentils and curry), momos (vegetable or meat dumplings), chapatis (flat bread), noodles, pancakes, pizza, mac & cheese etc.
Bhutan:All meals are included in the package price. Local Bhutanese restaurants and eateries serve continental, Indian and Bhutanese dishes. Bhutanese dishes are usually made with chilies, cheese, meat, mushrooms, red rice and buck wheat.
On the trail the cook will prepare your meals. Enjoy some healthy meals made with cheese and organic produce (vegetables, rice, eggs, meat etc).
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In Nepal, you get your Tourist Visa on arrival at the airport or at any of the exit points. You need to have a passport with at least 6 months validity and 2 passport photos. You need to fill up the visa application form and submit it along with the visa fee. But do remember if you are a citizen Nigeria, Ghana, Swaziland, Cameroon, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq or Ethiopia you won’t be granted visa on arrival. You will have to apply for your visa at the Nepalese Embassy or Diplomatic Mission in your country.
On the Annapurna Trail it’s possible to charge your gadgets as you will be staying at a local teahouse. The teahouse owner may charge you an extra fee for using the charging points. While trekking in Bhutan you will be in the wilderness, far away from civilization. So you won’t get the chance to charge your mobile phones or electronic gadgets. It will be helpful if you bring extra batteries for your camera or a power bank to charge your gadgets.
We did this trip in spring and boy, did we love it! My wife and I are ardent hikers and we tend to take off to the mountains whenever we get a chance from our busy schedule. We had trekked through the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp, Grand Canyon and the Chadar (River Zanskar) Trail. Bhutan had been in our bucket list for a long, long time. Initially we wanted to do the ‘Snowman’s Trek’ but when our Travel Consultant from Third Rock Adventures suggested this trek, we couldn’t say no. This trip combined a trek in the Annapurna Mountains with a trek in Bhutan. Since we could visit two countries in one go, we finally decided to book this trip. We rarely get to take long vacations and the option of combining two destinations in one trip appealed to us greatly. Moreover the Ghorepani Trek was also one of the treks that we wanted to do. Taking this trip was like killing two birds with one stone.
It was raining when we arrived in Kathmandu. But thankfully the weather cleared when we began trekking. The first day’s walk to Ulleri was kinda tough. Those were never-ending killer steps! This was the only tough portion; the rest of the trek was easy. The rains cleared up the sky and we were presented with some outstanding Himalayan views. It was humbling to stand so close to these great mountains! At Banthanti, a villager whom we befriended on the way invited us to his home to taste a dish made of local frog. Amy declined, but I gladly tried it. It tasted like chicken. Kathmandu was chaotic and we were glad to leave it behind. The flight to Paro was almost surreal. The Himalayan range towered above white wispy clouds and I went crazy clicking on my camera. I felt as if nature was giving us a big hug when we arrived in Bhutan. There is so much of greenery around that you automatically feel soothed and restful. Though tougher than the Annapurna Ghorepani Trek, the Druk Path Trek left us with a feeling of achievement. Some portions were challenging and we struggled especially when the weather turned inclement. It was a good thing that we had packed our rainproof gear. Through those brief spells off spring showers, we were able to keep ourselves dry. The kitchen crew and our guide kept us entertained and well-fed. Their humor and good cheer kept us in good spirits and helped us ignore the harsh weather.
All in all we had a great trip. Thank you so much to the team at Third Rock Adventures for planning our trip and introducing us to Bhutan. We have completely fallen in love with this country and we sure will be back for more adventures! This trip as well as this agency is highly recommended!
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