Nesting Tiger, Thunder Dragon
The Grand Tour of Bhutan
What makes Bhutan special is intangible and undefinable, yet will hit you fully on your eastbound journey across this incredibly diverse, scenic and joyful country.
Temples? It has many, each with architectural detail and spiritual history more intricate than the last. We’ll visit many of them, including of course the iconic Tigers Nest monastery in its lofty eyrie in the mountains outside of Paro. The journey to it is a hike like no other, and an essential pilgrimage for travellers to Bhutan.
Scenery? In droves. Or perhaps, flocks, as this trip affords a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the rare and endangered Black-Necked Crane during its winter migration. You’ll be heralded by quirky wildlife and awe-inspiring vistas; your trek across the country will be wreathed by the snow-capped Himalayas as you travel through mountain passes, lush fields, alpine forests and sweeping valleys. And you won’t be limited to the bus either – you’ll hike, ride and even raft your way through the best landscapes the country has to offer.
Culture? And then some! The last Himalayan kingdom offers a rich tapestry of vibrant art, folklore, steeped traditions and food, glorious food. You’ll marvel at the sheer breadth of Bhutanese culture as you undertake a cooking class; take a lesson in the national sport, archery, from a local expert and spend a day at Trashigang Festival and get caught up in the spirit of celebration.
What will strike you most, however, is the true essence of Bhutanese magic – the people. This trip has been designed to immerse you in local custom and maximise the time you’ll spend with these wonderfully welcoming people, who occupy a country where Eastern tradition and Buddhist heritage meet Western innovation, and where the country’s Gross National Happiness Index is its most important measurement of success. Stay in homestays, guesthouses and farms in historic cities and tiny villages, brew beer with monks and weave tapestries with artisans who have perfected their craft over generations. Break bread with Bhutan, a country that can teach us so much about the richness of shared experience.
GRAND TOUR OF BHUTAN HIGHLIGHTS
- Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery and Dochu La Pass, and take a white-water rafting trip in Punakha
- Spend a day at the Trashigang Festival and encounter the diverse peoples of eastern Bhutan who travel from their villages to share in this special day
- Visit the smaller villages of Bhutan and encounter indigenous groups and artisans practicing traditional crafts handed down through generations
- Travel through the vast Himalayas and be awed by sweeping mountain scenery
- Take the chance to encounter Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin, and visit the nesting ground of the Black-Necked Crane during its winter migration window
- Stay in guesthouses and homestays throughout the trip, and take a cooking class and archery lesson on this grand tour of Bhutan.
Start: Paro (Bhutan)
Finish: Guwahati (India)
Trip style: Unique
Max group size: 15
Duration: 18 Days
Trip style: Unique
Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15
Trip code: NDPG
$14 560.00 AUD $11 510.00 twin share
Single supplement: $1713.00 AUD
- 17-nights accommodation in traditional hotels, guesthouses and homestays
- Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
- Return airport transfers
- Daily compulsory sustainability fee for Bhutan ($1600 USD per person over 16 days). This fee is charged by the Bhutanese government and is not negotiable when visiting Bhutan.
- Visa for Bhutan
- Sightseeing as listed in the itinerary.
- Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
Trip price does not include
- International or domestic airfares
- Visa for India
- Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
- Additional accommodation before or after the tour
- Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
- Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas
Journey Rating – Adventure
This is a tour of Bhutan, a country which has only recently re-opened to tourism and which accepts very few travellers each year. People may be curious towards you at times, but are overall very welcoming. This trip visits remote locations and villages where tourists are rare. Bhutan is a Buddhist country, and some temples and sites may require full coverage sleeves. You may be required to remove your shoes to enter certain buildings. Cuisine found in Bhutan is more often than not vegetarian, and can also be spicy. Toilets you encounter in public restrooms or in remote unscheduled stops along the way may be of the eastern ‘squat’ variety. There are some long travel days, but rest assured on arrival we will always be checking in to accommodation that is of a good standard. Bhutan does not have many Western-style chain hotels, but most of the accommodation on this trip consists of traditional guesthouses and home stays. The weather in Bhutan can change rapidly depending on the area we are traveling through; many of the places visited on this trip are at a high altitude and can be cold and windy. This trip visits the Himalayan region in winter – so pack accordingly!
Facilities such as pharmacies, banks and ATM’s can be found in large cities and towns but will be absent from smaller villages and remote places. Please note that Bhutan for the most part is a cash economy. While the Ngultrum is the main currency, this can be difficult to source outside of Bhutan and most places catering to tourists will also accept Indian Rupees. We suggest arranging cash on arrival at Bhutan airport and carrying a combination of Rupees and Ngultrum. Tipping is not compulsory in Bhutan but is welcomed.
Any dietary requirements should not be an issue while traveling on this Bhutan tour, provided they are disclosed to Inverted Atlas at the time of booking.
A note about fitness
This tour of Bhutan requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 4km at times and manage uneven surfaces during sightseeing, which will sometimes be at an incline. Altitude is a factor in some places, with this trip visiting sites up to 5000m above sea level. In addition, you should be able to climb up to 200 stairs unassisted and use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues). This trip involves some light to moderate hiking in the mountains, please consider this when making a booking.
You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach and into the accommodation. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)
In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.
Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!
Trip leader description
Accompanying you on your tour of Bhutan will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:
- If you lose your passport or other travel documents
- If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
- If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
- Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
- Questions regarding the itinerary
Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.
The itinerary for this tour of Bhutan is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. Please note that this trip does involve a border crossing on the second last day. Border crossings are subject to local Government laws, which we will adhere to strictly. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travellers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travellers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.
While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.
Minimum Age: 16 years
There is no shared accommodation on this tour of Bhutan, and in this instance we would welcome everyone above the age of 16 years. Should you wish to bring younger children, please give us a call.
There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.
Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.