A Window to Bhutan
The land locked Kingdom of Bhutan comprises mountains, forests and rivers and offers all that the Himalayas has to offer. For centuries the Bhutanese have traveled through their country on foot and the trails they used then have today been developed as trekking trails.
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeMultisport
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Medium Group
However, modern development and the building of roads to access the remote regions has led to the disappearance of numerous old routes, leaving only a few intact as they eons ago. Bhutan had been closed to the outside world (with a very few exceptions), until the first paying tourist group visited this hidden paradise in 1974. Adventure travelers make up for only 10 to 15% of the total number of tourist arrivals a year (17000+ in 2006). Therefore travelling in Bhutan is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Bhutan boasts a forest cover of approx 70% and provides an enormously rich flora and fauna.
Bagdogra to Phuntsholing
Fly to Bagdogra and transfer to Phuntsholing by road (4 hrs) where we complete immigration formalities. Overnight hotel.
Bhutan to Paro
Early next day drive through scenic Bhutan to Paro, approx 4 hour drive plus photo / lunch stop. We drive to our hotel overlooking the beautiful Paro Valley. We’ll have a late afternoon visit to the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above Paro Dzong (a dzong is a fortress-monastery). The museum’s collections include displays of spectacular thankas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, Bhutan’s beautiful stamps, and the Tshogshing Lhakhang (Temple of the Tree of Wisdom), with its carvings depicting the history of Buddhism. Night at hotel (Namsey Chholing Resort/Tenzinling Resort/Gangtey Palace Resort) in Paro
Paro to Taktsang Monastery
Drive above 9 miles north of Paro town to the trailhead where you start a 1 ½ hr hike to the viewpoint of Taktsang Monastery (aka “Tiger’s Nest) perched on a cliff 2700 feet above the valley floor. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche arrived here on the back of one of is consorts who was in the guise of a flying Tigress sometime in the 7th century. Hence the name “Taktsang” (Tiger’s Nest). After a short tea break, the options are to sit back and read a book for a while or if you feel energetic enough, to continue another 45 minutes up to the monastery. After the day trip up to Taktsang drive on to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
Overnight at Hotel (Dragon Roots, Wangchuk Hotel, Hotel Pedling, Chomolhari/ Hotel Riverview) in Thimpu.
Thimpu to Punakha
Morning Thimpu sightseeing, visit Memorial Chorten, Painting School, National Library, Bhutanese Hand Made Paper factory. After lunch drive 3-4 hrs to Punakha across the Dochula Pass (Alt. 3050 m) where one can see the beautiful views of Eastern Himalayan Ranges. The Punakha valley till today serves as the winter
seat for central monastic body of Bhutan headed by HH the Je Khenpo. Weather permitting, one get a picturesque view of the eastern Himalayan range from the top of the Dochu La pas (10000 ft). Enroute visit the Chhimi Lhakang :The Temple consecrated in honor of Lam Drukpa Kuenley aka “The Divine Madman.. by Keith Dowman” It is here that couples wishing to have children go to for blessings…. And believe it or not… it works.. the blessings are given by the caretaker with a wooden phallus. The short 25 minute hike to Chhimi Lhakang goes through a serene village and paddy fields.
Overnight at Hotel (Meri Phuensum/ Zangtopelri/Damchen Resort) in Punakha.
Visit to Punakha Dzong
In the morning visit the Punakha Dzong. Hike 2.5 hrs up the Po Chhu with sweeping views of the Punakha valley. Reach the bridge at the start point, in time for lunch. Raft the lower section of the Po Chhu with Class 2/3 rapids (2 hrs). End the trip at Punakha Dzong. Transfer to Punakha Camp.
First day of Rafting
After an early breakfast, drive to the put in of the upper section of the Pho Chhu.
Raft the upper section of the Pho Chhu Class III and some class IV. Optional trip change on the Mo Chhu depending on river levels (Class 2/3). Overnight Punakha Camp.
Rafting and Drive back to Thimpu
Raft the lower section (class II/III) section of the Pho Chhu and take out past the Punakha Dzong. After lunch drive back over the Dochula Pass to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu/ Night out in Thimphu
Relaxed Day at Thimpu
Day of leisure at Thimphu. Or Optional day trip to Tango Monastery. A day trip/hike to the temple of Tango Cheri which is about a half hour drive up valley and then about an hour hike to the monastery. The monastery was built in the 12th century by Gyalwa Lhanampa and it serves as the monastic school for the study of Buddhist philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, poets and other Buddhism related studies. Late afternoon drive back to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro
Transfer to Paro Airport
Transfer to Paro Airport for flight out.
Important Note: If Paro flights are unavailable due to the time of your booking, we drive to Phuntsholing on Day 09 (4-5 hrs), to Bagdogra on Day 10 (4 hrs) and board flight Bagdogra-Delhi. Note extra costs below for this option.
We believe that along with the privilege of adventure in the Himalaya comes a serious responsibility, the responsibility to protect and contribute to its ecology, cultures and its tremendous beauty. The “Leave No Trace” philosophy is followed to the letter and we work to minimize the environmental impact of our trips. We are scrupulous in our camping, cooking and sanitation practices; we limit the number of trekkers we allow to join us on our trips and the number of trips we lead in a given area.
In wilderness, commercial agreements between service provider and client require a depth of understanding that is more than what is routinely attached to similar agreements elsewhere. In the outdoors, we have to balance pursuit of stated objective and risk. We try to overcome risk and deliver the objective promised in the agreement between client and service provider. But that does not mean that we ignore risk altogether to chase an objective. We wish you to be informed on what makes a trip safe for you and everyone else.
Please take a few minutes to read the following:
The nature of wilderness
By definition wilderness implies remoteness. It means that response to any accident or mishap takes time. Timely intervention is a life saver. Working back from this, it becomes imperative that any commercial adventure in wilderness be conservative in terms of the risk it courts. Yet adventure means there will be risk. The way out is to manage the risk involved in such a fashion that a safe experience is provided. There are a few things that the client can do.
Prepare in advance
Commercial expeditions entail strain even if others are carrying your load and doing the team’s work. Prior physical conditioning – particularly of the cardiovascular sort contributing to improved endurance – helps. Please invest time and effort for that before embarking on the trip. It will help you in the field.
Be honest, speak up
We encourage clients to be honest about how they are feeling on expedition days; voice any personal difficulties they may be experiencing. This helps the team make relevant decisions for clients’ well being, something crucial when venturing into altitude. Not all of us are meant for altitude. If your physiology rebels, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. Speak up. Make sure that your disclosures about self are not biased by an objective you are feverishly trying to achieve like getting to the summit of a peak or crossing a high pass at any cost. Don’t let summit fever and similar instances of extreme personal ambition, consume you. It puts you and your support team at risk. Stay with the team’s assessment of risk. Go with the resultant decisions. If you think you have a point to make by all means do so. We will hear you out. But risk assessment and decisions, will be by the team leaders as the onus of a safe expedition primarily rests with them.
Let the leaders work
You may be familiar with rivers, mountains and altitude. We don’t wish to question that. But there are reasons why many of us choose to go as clients. One of them is that our primary vocation is something else, while those working in the mountains as guides have chosen to make that their primary vocation or at the very least, dedicate time to it. More than us, they are in the mountains. They are alive to it. That’s why we entrust our passage to them. So, please let them work free of interference. Please don’t influence their judgement. Your expedition needs their best work and best judgement. In any expedition, leadership style will vary with the risk being tackled in a given situation. There will be times when we can travel easy in a very consultative fashion. There will be times when that is not advisable and a more directive style may be adopted by your guides. Please comply.
Be open to alternatives
We can set up the best safety systems possible, checking and double checking to make sure that nothing is left to chance. But we don’t control or totally overcome variables like weather and terrain / river conditions. They impact expedition’s progress. If team leaders review / alter plan citing concerns on any front, we request that it be respected and not viewed as money’s worth denied even if it dims prospects for achieving an expedition’s original goal. Such challenges are frequent in the outdoors. Seasoned trekkers and climbers, when they realize that a particular objective does not seem achievable on a given trip, learn to be happy with other pursuits to compensate – like staying camped and enjoying the mountain environment or attempting more doable hikes from wherever they are. We request you to stay aware of these possibilities. Be open to them. Decades ago when exploration and first ascents were happening in the Himalaya, the explorers / mountaineers / hikers devoted months to their work. Committed outdoorsmen still do. They wait out unfavourable circumstances by having a lot of time and patience. Time is what the modern world does not have even as the mountains remain the same, posing the same challenges; the same risk, the same unpredictable circumstances. An exceptionally lucky circumstance may deliver success. But luck isn’t commonplace. We should be mentally prepared for the above mentioned alternatives.
If you don’t achieve your objective it isn’t the end of the world. Be patient, another chance will emerge. There is a simple reminder, climbers often tell their colleagues leaving for a summit: “ the mountain will always be there; make sure you are there.’’
In other words – be safe.
Our expedition trips are designed for energetic and flexible people who have the spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Previous experience in the outdoors and camping helps, though is not a must. These trips are participatory in nature, and everyone is expected to pitch in, set up and break down their own tent, clean their own dishes. Look up our trip grading before you sign up.
Grading of Trips
We have graded our trips in four different categories and you should choose one that suits you the most. Grading of each trip has been done keeping in mind a lot of factors like the trip duration, the altitude, the terrain, the no. of hours of activity everyday, temperatures and conditions encountered, and the level of fitness needed. Any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more.
- Easy : Most of our camp based trips, with easy activities, that are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding whitewater trips with easy support and myriad options.
- Moderate : Active trips involving hiking over reasonable terrain, within vehicular access, upto elevations less than 4000 meters, or trips with long walking days, multiple rafting days, wilderness camping. Includes more demanding whitewater trips with Class III rapids.
- Demanding : Hiking and trekking to elevations exceeding 4000-5000 meters, away from vehicular access, over multiple days. Encompasses demanding whitewater with Class IV rapids.
- Challenging : Our most demanding trips include climbing at high elevations in excess of 5000 meters, in remote and extreme conditions with no access to roads; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips, and demanding whitewater trips with Class IV-V rapids.
The Next Step
Ready to go? Email us at [email protected] to book your place and we will guide you through the booking process. Please sign and scan/email us your booking form and inform us about the status of your payments at the time of confirming the trip (Booking form and Payment details below).
Why travel with Aquaterra Adventures?
We are a pioneer in active adventure travel, and run the most number of rivers in India, having opened them up over the past several years. We set the standard and have a strong reputation for excellence. We have a lot to live up to and we ensure we provide the safest, quality trips for our guests.
Should you wish to contact any of our past guests for a trip reference, write to us.
In remote regions, we often use local suppliers who provide services that may include vehicles for transportation, equipment, logistical support, hotels, guest houses etc. We do not own or operate these independent services or suppliers. We work with them as they share our commitment to service and quality.
All travel and transfers in Bhutan as per above plan as applicable (by non ac car / jeep / coach), all arrangements for staying and camping while on the trip, accommodation on twin share basis in tents / rest houses / hotels, all government royalties/visa charges for Bhutan, permits for cultural sites/river permits, all meals while on river, all meals, professional guide fee, all rafting, kayaking and safety equipment, camp staff, cook etc.
Whats not: airport transfers in Delhi, any stay and meals in Delhi, bottled water / alcoholic beverages, sleeping bag, items of personal clothing, expenses of a personal nature like laundry, phone calls, alcohol, cigarettes, basic medical and evacuation insurance; any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, landslides, road conditions and any other circumstances beyond our control.
Extra costs for extra day, hotel.
Extra costs for extra day, hotel and transfers in case return is by road via Phuentsholing and Bagdogra (10 days)
Booking conditions: All bookings are subject to availability of space at Camp. We book space on a 100% advance. All payments by wire transfer, cash or cheque/draft in favor of “Aquaterra Adventures (I) Pvt. Ltd.”
Indian nationals can get visa on arrival – carry 3 passport photos each.
Foreign nationals need to send passport scans as well as passport photo scans (3.5cmX4.5 cm), and the form for Visa is available at http://www.mfa.gov.bt/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/bhutan-visa-application-form.pdf
Also carry 3 passport photos each.
Please ensure you have a multi-entry India visa incase a road exit has to be taken should Paro flights get affected due to weather.
Total Costs : Rs. 85,000/person + Flight Delhi-Bagdogra & Paro – Delhi
Non-Indian Nationals : US$ 3510 + Flight Delhi-Bagdogra & Paro – Delhi
5% GST extra
If it becomes necessary to cancel your tour, you must notify Aquaterra Adventures India Pvt. Ltd. immediately in writing. Once we receive your notice, cancellation will take effect. Please note that the following charges will apply on cancellation:
- if cancellation takes place more than 45 days prior to departure, your full deposit
- will be returned except a processing charge of Rs. 5000 or US$ 77 ; (60 days for Brahmaputra trip)
- if cancellation takes place between 45 and 30 days prior to departure, 50% of the
- tour price will be forfeited (between 60 and 30 days for Brahmaputra trip); and
- if cancellation takes place less than 30 days prior to departure, 100% of the tour price will be forfeited.
Some trips attract a minimum processing charge – please check.
The tour price is quoted as a package. No partial refunds or credit will be given for services not used. We recommend that you obtain travel insurance upon booking.