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BIRDS OF BHUTAN

Price from
US$5,619
(per person)
Duration
14
Days
Tour Type
Tailor-made

HIGHLIGHTS

Birdwatching in Bhutan (Himalayan Monal, White bellied heron, Black necked crane, Satyr tragopan and many more), traditional Bhutanese life & architecture, Paro Dzong & National Museum, walk up to Taktshang (Tiger's Nest)
COUNTRIES : Bhutan

Birdwatching is one of Bhutan's star attractions, and if you like to indulge your birdwatching habit while exploring new and beautiful parts of the world, then Bhutan really should be high on your list of places to visit. With a unique and rich Buddhist culture, spectacular Himalayan scenery, and one of the most diverse and rich ranges of birdlife on the planet, a specialist birdwatching tour in Bhutan is a really special experience. The best birding is in the east of the country, which requires a fairly long itinerary with plenty of driving, but we make regular stops and explore various Dzongs and monasteries along the way. The tour also features an easy 3-day walking section saying in simple but comfortable camps.

Our tour starts in Paro, and we have a sightseeing tour of the Paro Dzong and National Museum. We are also introduced to our specialist bird-watching guide and will have an evening briefing to discuss particular target species over the days to come. We leave Paro and start with a pre-breakfast drive to the Che Lela Pass in search of the colourful but elusive Himalayan Monal and Satyr Tragopan, both birding highlights of Bhutan. We then drive on to the capital Thimphu where we have time for some more cultural sightseeing.

Leaving Thimphu we cross the Dochu La Pass before descending into the Punakha Valley. On all our drives through Bhutan we'll make regular stops at places your guide knows are potentially good spots for particular bird species. The roads in Bhutan are generally very windy and scenic, and the slow pace means that you get a good chance to view your surroundings as we travel.

From the Punakha Valley we head further east, passing the Phobjikha Valley, destination for the famous Black Necked Crane which migrates over the high Himalayas from Tibet. We like to time one group departure a year on this tour to coincide with the Black Necked Crane festival in Phobjikha, which celebrates their arrival in November.

After passing through the beautiful Bumthang valleys, where we do a little more sightseeing, we reach some of Bhutan's very best birding areas. The mixed forests and huge number of different tree species make this region great for a huge variety of species, and we include 3 nights camping in the Limithang Valley to allow us the best chance to see many of these without lots more long drives.

We then retrace our route back to Paro, for a final walk up to the iconic Taktshang (or Tiger's Nest) monastery, that is the picture most people have in their minds when they think of Bhutan.

You arrive in Paro today on Bhutan's national carrier, Druk Air. We will book these flights for you, and can arrange extensions at either end of the tour in Nepal, India or Thailand, as well as an overland crossing into Bhutan from Sikkim or Darjeeling in northern India. After transferring to your hotel and lunch, we visit Paro Dzong and the National Museum. Although not a birding day, you may come across the Wallcreeper, a pair or two of Ibisbill, Brown Dipper, Hodgson's, Plumbeous and White-capped Water-Redstarts around the river valley and nearby rock cliffs.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Paro - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Extra day in Paro - pre-tour, Single room supplement (BHTMBB)

We begin our birding adventure properly today with a pre-breakfast drive up to the Chele La Pass in search of some of Bhutan's signature birds, the elusive and colourful Himalayan Monal and Satyr Tragopan. After breakfast at Chele La, drive to the capital, Thimphu and along the way there will be opportunities to spot Blood Pheasant, Kalij Pheasants, White-winged Grosbeak, White-browed Rose Finch, Spotted Nutcracker, Rufous Sibia, White-browed Fulvetta, Brown Parrot Bill, Stripe-throated Yuhina and various Eurasian Warblers. Before arriving at your hotel we take a short trip to downtown Thimphu where we usually see Ibisbill, River Lapwing, Ruddy Shelduck, and assorted shorebirds along the riverbanks.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Thimphu - 4-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We leave Thimphu early to reach the Dochu La pass (3,150m) in time for sunrise. On a clear day, the scenery from here is breathtaking and we can get a full view of the mightiest peaks of the Himalayas towering along the northern horizon. Today is an excellent opportunity to see pheasant species like the Satyr Tragopan and a host of mixed species that dwell in the cool broadleaf forests. En-route to Punakha, look out for the Red-flanked Bluetail and Golden Bush-Robin, Grey Bushchat and Rufous-breasted Accentor. You may also see the Blue-winged, Red-tailed and Chestnut-tailed Minlas, Rufus-winged, White-browed and Nepal Fulvetta and Whiskered, Stripe-throated, Rufus-vented, Black-chinned and White-bellied Yuhinas. It is also possible to see Barwings plus a good selection of Laughing Thrushes before Punakha. After lunch, take a short walk across the valley floor to the temple of the 'Divine Mad Man'. The temple is famous today for its miraculous powers to bestow fertility to barren women. From the temple, we walk to the banks of the Phochu River to look for the endangered Pallas' Fish-Eagle and the world-renowned White-bellied Heron.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Punakha - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we take an excursion along the river and up through a forest of cool broadleaf and evergreen trees to Pele La, the pass that divides eastern and western Bhutan. The diverse habitats along the way should present numerous prospects of seeing a great range of species such as Cutia, Great Barbet, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Long-tailed Minivet, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, White-throated Laughing Thrush, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Yellow-bellied Bush-Warbler, Ashy-throated Leaf Warbler, and Verditer. Ward's Trogon is usually sighted along this road.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Phobjikha - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today should be another day of great birding prospects but we start by looking not only for sightings of the White-collared Blackbird, the Himalayan Monal, Black-faced Laughing Thrush and White-tailed Nuthatch but also of the Himalayan Bear and Black Leopard. In the pine forests around the pass look for Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Dark Rosefinch, Himalayan Greenfinch and Rufus-vented, Grey-crested, Green-backed Tits, Common Buzzard, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Himalayan Griffon. We then travel to the town of Trongsa through cool broadleaf forests where there is a good chance you will see Red-billed Leiothrix, Yellow-billed Blue-Magpie and Gray-sided Bush-Warbler.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Trongsa - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We travel further east into Bhutan today into places visited by far fewer tourists, to an area known as the Black Mountain National Park, via the town of Zhemgang and finally to Tingtibhi, where we overnight. The path cuts through dense jungles that contain a plethora of wildlife species like the Black-Eagle, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Speckled Piculet, Lesser Yellownape,and the Golden Langur (a strikingly beautiful monkey species that is found only in Bhutan). Flowers and fruiting trees that attract sunbirds will be plentiful en-route along the descent to the lowest elevation. This entire region is very rich in wildlife and has thus been declared as a protected area by the Bhutanese government.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Tingtibhi - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, we make an early start and breakfast and lunch will be served at birding points in the forests. The bamboo groves around Tingtibhi are usually the haunts of Lesser Rufus-headed Parrotbills and Streaked Laughing Thrushes while the fruiting trees attract Golden-throated Barbets, Wedge-tailed and Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon and Scarlet Minivets. This area is also the best chance of encountering the Rufus-necked Hornbill. Chances are you will see flocks of Yellow-bellied and White-throated Fantail and other species like Yuhinas, Minlas, Fulvettas and Sibias.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Tingtibhi - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We return to Trongsa today and en-route look for birds that we may not have seen earlier. Expect to see the Mountain-Imperial Pigeon, Golden-throated Barbet, Great-pied Hornbill, White-browed Piculet, Nepal House-Martin, Fulvous-breasted, Grey-capped, Gray-headed Green Woodpeckers, Laughing Thrushes, White-throated, Greater Necklaced, Rufus-chinned, Blue-winged and Red-faced Liocichla. The rare Beautiful Nuthatch is another species found in this region.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Trongsa - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast we make the short trip to Bumthang just about 67 kilometres away and along the way keep an eye out for the Yellow-rumped Honeyguide. We then climb the Yotongla Pass and enter the forests of spruce and fir abruptly changing the avifauna. The Bumthang valley, one of the most beautiful in the country, is home to Beautiful Rosefinch, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Spotted Laughing Thrush, Ibisbill and Snow Pigeon. The Himalayan Black Bear is commonly spotted in this valley. After lunch in Bumthang, explore the valley in the afternoon visiting, among others, the textile shops, the Jakar Dzong (fortress), ancient monasteries, the local brewery, and a stupa under which, legend has it, lies the severed head of a Tibetan General who tried to invade Bhutan.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Bumthang - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we make an early start and begin our drive eastwards towards Sengor. En-route we make a visit to a village in the Ura valley. The Ura Valley is not only beautiful but has plenty of bird species. After the stopover, climb up to the Thrumsing La pass (3,780m), the highest point of the journey, and then begin a long descent to Sengor.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Sengor - 2 to 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The next three days in the Limithang Valley promise to be the highlights of the tour. The area, situated at elevations ranging from 900m to 3,780m, boasts some of the country's most pristine forests, unrivalled in the density of tree species, and thus is a natural haven for birds. The endless stretches of forests, the quaint villages and a sleepy road which winds through the valley are all frequented by many species of birds that make the entire area a delight for bird lovers. Here we have the best chance of seeing famous Bhutanese birds that may have been missed elsewhere during the trip like the Rufus-necked Hornbill, Ward's Trogon, Satyr Tragopan and endless others. There will be opportunities to spot, amongst others, the Collared Scops-Owl, Collared Owlet, Himalayan Swiftlet, Striated, Black-crested, White-cheeked, Red-vented, Ashy, Black and Mountain Bulbuls, Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Slender-billed Rusty-cheeked, Streak-breasted, and Coral-billed Scimitar-Babblers, Hill and Rufecent Prinia, Gray-headed Canary Flycatcher, Common Tailorbird, Bronzed, Lesser Racquet-tailed and Hair-crested Dorangos, and Scarlet Finch. We spend our nights in comfortable camps with camp-beds and sleeping bags provided.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Camping on trek
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today and tomorrow we'll continue along the Limithang Road trek, keep your eyed peeled and have your camera ready to capture those elusive bird species.
  • OVERNIGHT:
    Camping on trek
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today is our last full day on the Limithang Road Trek. We'll continue our bird-watching with our expert guide and hope to spot any birds we've not managed to tick off of our list so far.
  • OVERNIGHT:
    Camping on trek

Having reached the east-most part of the tour, we start to retrace our journey back to back to western Bhutan, the airport and eventually the flight home. It doesn't however mean that no new birds will be added to the sighting list!

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Bumthang - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We continue driving west today out of the Bumthang Valleys, through Trongsa and Gangtey where we may stop to visit Dzongs and monasteries, and on to Wangduephodrang at the southern end of the Punakha Valley.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Punakha - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We visit Wangduephodrang Dzong this morning, whose unrestored condition really gives a feeling for how long these unique buildings have governed Bhutan through their combined monastic and civic function. We then cross back over the Dochu La Pass, hoping for good views again, before descending to Paro.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Paro - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A visit to Bhutan would not be complete without seeing the iconic Taktshang, or Tiger's' Nest monastery. Perched on a vertical cliff-face, this spectacular and beautiful monastery is reached by a walk of around 4-5 hours each way. There are good opportunities for birdwatching along the way. In the afternoon we visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong, and have a final opportunity to walk through Paro's two main streets before retiring to our hotel to look back at the last couple of week's adventures.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Paro - 3-star hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we bid farewell to the Land of the Thunder Dragon and transfer you to the airport in time to catch your outbound flight with Druk Air. We will book this flight for you, and can arrange extensions to your tour in Nepal, India or Thailand, and also your onward international flight home.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    N/A
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast
  • EXTRAS:
    Extra day in Paro - post-tour
Included:
  • All accommodation as per itinerary in 3-star level hotels
  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • 24/7 airport transfer service
  • All transport in private vehicles
  • Bhutan visa fee, tourism development fee and government royalty
  • Local tour guide/tour leader
  • All national park entry and activity fees
  • All entrance fees to sites visited

Excluded:
  • International flights (available on request)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. Laundry)
  • Tips for tour leader and driver
  • Any other items not mentioned above
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
janka-resort-paro.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Janka Resort
Paro, Bhutan

The resort has 17 spacious superior rooms, 4 deluxe rooms, 1 junior suite with mini bar and a small attached kitchen with breathtaking view of rice fields, old houses and monasteries with mountains in the background from the rooms.


The resort has 17 spacious superior rooms, 4 deluxe rooms, 1 junior suite with mini bar and a small attached kitchen with breathtaking view of rice fields, old houses and monasteries with mountains in the background from the rooms. The large Windows allow sufficient light and fresh air in the room. All rooms have attached bath and toilet with running hot and cold water and are furnished with many amenities for the guest comfort.

hotel-migmar-thimphu.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Hotel Migmar
Thimphu, Bhutan

Hotel Migmar is ideally situated amidst scenic landscape of Thimphu, on the expressway and about one km from city centre. It is built on contemporary theme and yet has a unique blend of Bhutanese architecture and modern amenities.


Hotel Migmar is ideally situated amidst scenic landscape of Thimphu, on the expressway and about one km from city centre. It is built on contemporary theme and yet has a unique blend of Bhutanese architecture and modern amenities.

The hotel offers 17 standard rooms, each having an approximate area of 156 sq. feet and equipped with 2 single sized bed with 8" to 10" mattress, LCD Screen with DVD attached, Mini Bar, Tea Coffee Maker, Table lap between two beds and a broad back light at the back of the bed, all walls with wallpaper cloth (silk) in different patterns, well furnished bath room with auto heating system and Chandelier at the center of the room. The hotel also has 8 Deluxe rooms each having an approximate area of 400 sq ft with similar amenities. Hotel's Executive Suites of 625 sq ft is elegantly designed and offer required modern facilities.

Lavish buffets are laid daily in the multi-cuisine restaurant serving Bhutanese, European Oriental and Indian delicacies. The all day MIGMAR Restaurant is the perfect option for a quick snack, beverages or main courses with an experience of the great outdoors.
The bar by the restaurant offers vast choice of international and local beverages.

The Hotel also has a steam bath and a dip pool of international standard, housed just outside the main building.

hotel-pema-karpo-punakha.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Hotel Pema Karpo
Punakha, Bhutan

Hotel Pema Karpo is located in the heart of enviable distance from some of the most historic landmarks in our Bhutanese history - such as the Punakha Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong and Chime Lhakhang.


Hotel Pema Karpo-or can be translated as the white lotus, is located on the bank of punatsangchu river. It is a 1.5 km drive from the new Bajo town.

Each room overlooks the breath taking view of the silver sands of Punatsangchu river or the beautiful dusky terraced paddy fields . Hotel Pema Karpo is located in the heart of enviable distance from some of the most historic landmarks in our Bhutanese history - such as the Punakha dzong, Wangdue phodrang dzong and Chime lhakhang.

Rooms are furnished with our Bhutanese hospitality essence and keeping the comfort of our valued guests as our priority.

camping-bhutan.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Bhutan Trekking Camp
Bhutan treks, Bhutan

Basic camping with all equipment provided. Experienced local guides & crew, with ponies to carry luggage, tents, camping & kitchen equipment.


Basic camping with all equipment provided. Experienced local guides & crew, with ponies to carry luggage, tents, camping & kitchen equipment.

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (BHTMBB)
Price from
US$839
per person



Single room supplement (BHTMBB)
Min numbers: 1 person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Paro - pre-tour
Price from
US$209
per person



Extra day in Paro - pre-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour in Bhutan. Accommodation, meals, sightseeing tours, your guide and transport are all included.


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour in Bhutan. Due to the way the Bhutanese government arranges pricing and charging for visits to Bhutan, the price covers your accommodation and also a full day of sightseeing tours with a guide and driver, and all your meals. It is not possible to just add accommodation and not pay for the tours and guiding as well. Please contact us for more information about the extra touring and activities we could arrange for this day.

Extra day in Paro - post-tour
Price from
US$209
per person



Extra day in Paro - post-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour in Bhutan. Accommodation, meals, sightseeing tours, your guide and transport are all included.


This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour in Bhutan. Due to the way the Bhutanese government arranges pricing and charging for visits to Bhutan, the price covers your accommodation and also a full day of sightseeing tours with a guide and driver, and all your meals. It is not possible to just add accommodation and not pay for the tours and guiding as well. Please contact us for more information about the extra touring and activities we could arrange for this day.

Druk Air flights from Kathmandu
Price from
US$329
per person



Druk Air flights from Kathmandu
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Kathmandu in Nepal and Paro in Bhutan.


This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Kathmandu in Nepal and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates. Please contact us if you would also like us to add airport transfers, accommodation and any tours or activities in Kathmandu or further afield in Nepal as well.

Druk Air flights from Delhi
Price from
US$644
per person



Druk Air flights from Delhi
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Delhi in India and Paro in Bhutan.


This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Delhi in India and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates. Please contact us if you would also like us to add airport transfers, accommodation and any tours or activities in Delhi or further afield in India as well.

Druk Air flights from Bangkok
Price from
US$679
per person



Druk Air flights from Bangkok
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Bangkok in Thailand and Paro in Bhutan.


This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Bangkok in Thailand and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates. Please contact us if you would also like us to add airport transfers, accommodation and any tours or activities in Bangkok or further afield in Thailand as well.

Druk Air flights from Singapore
Price from
US$1039
per person



Druk Air flights from Singapore
Min numbers: 1 person

This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Singapore and Paro in Bhutan.


This option provides a return Economy class flight ticket with Bhutan's national airline Druk Air between Singapore and Paro in Bhutan. Final prices will be confirmed at the time of booking based on current availability and exchange rates.

birds-bhutan-map.jpg
Birds of Bhutan tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

We use modern people-carriers or minibuses for this tour, based on the final number of people in the group or in your party.

Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don't include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to book your flights for you, and our ATOL (UK flight sales license) covers all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.

There are two considerations when it comes to flights to connect with this tour.

Flights into Bhutan
Druk Air is the Bhutanese national airline and the main airline for flying in and out of Bhutan. The airline flies daily to Bangkok, with flights slightly less frequently to other destinations including Kathmandu, Delhi, Kolkata and Singapore. Fares are cheapest to Kathmandu, followed by Delhi, Kolkata, Bangkok and Singapore being most expensive. Bhutan's first private airline, Bhutan Airlines, provides extra capacity with flights from Bangkok, Kolkata, Delhi and Kathmandu.

Unfortunately at the moment, neither Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines code-share with any other airline or connect with the international flight system. This means that you can't buy a flight ticket from your home country all the way to Bhutan. You need to buy two tickets, one with Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines, and one with an international airline to connect with the flight into Bhutan. You'll need to collect your luggage and re-check in between the two flights. You therefore need to allow plenty of time between the two flights in case of any delays - if you miss the Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines flight on the way out, or your international flight on the way home, then the airlines will not be obliged to arrange a new flight for you and you may need to pay for a new ticket (if available).

Nearly everyone travelling to Bhutan therefore adds a short stay of at least one night in Nepal, India, Thailand or Singapore at either end of their tour. We are happy to make all these arrangements for you.

Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from. Your airport arrival & departure transfers in Bhutan are included whether you book your flights independently or through us.

We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There's no point in us providing great guides if you’ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won't ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our Bhutan group departures to have a maximum of 12 travellers.

Tailor-made tours are available for any number of travellers from one upwards.

Fully trained English-speaking Bhutanese guides are provided to escort you throughout this tour and many of our travellers consider them a highlight of their tour.

At Encounters Travel we only use local Bhutanese guides and drivers. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.

All your entry fees and permits to any sites, dzongs or monasteries visited on the tour are included in the tour price. Some sites not mentioned in the itinerary that you may like to visit during free time or if you are customising this tour may require special permits - please ask in advance or check with your guide for details.

While an accepted part of the tourist industry in Bhutan (i.e. guides, drivers and hotel staff), tipping elsewhere is generally discouraged and unnecessary. Any amounts you do tip should always reflect the level of service provided.

It is normal and accepted for people to tip differently, and you should not feel under any pressure to tip any particular amount.

We are often asked for advice on common amounts however, and can give the following guidelines...

1-2 persons travelling:
US$5-10 pp per day for your guide & US$4-7 pp per day for your driver.

3-8 persons travelling:
US$5-8 pp per day for your guide & US$3-5 pp per day for your driver.

9-12 persons travelling:
US$4-6 pp per day for your guide & US$3-5 pp per day for your driver.

Our small-group tours in Bhutan have a range of departures through the year, concentrating on the best seasons to travel weather-wise (late September through to April/May. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates & prices sheet available on request.

Tailor-made tours can be booked to start on any date or day of the week throughout the year. We like to try to time all our tours in Bhutan so that you can be in Thimphu at some stage over the weekend so that you can visit the huge weekend market there. This runs from Friday afternoon until around lunchtime on Sunday.

The local currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum (Ng), which is pegged to the Indian Rupee. Indian rupees are accepted widely (except 500 or 1000 rupee notes which are not accepted) so if you are entering Bhutan from India you don't need to dispose of your Indian currency before leaving the country.

All your meals, plus mineral water & tea/coffee during mealtimes are included in the price of your travel through Bhutan. You will only need to carry spending money to cover souvenirs, small offerings at temples & monasteries, alcoholic or soft drinks in your hotel or other bottled drinks during the day. There are only a few ATMs in the country (including Paro & Thimphu) where you can withdraw local currency (Visa, Mastercard) so we recommend bringing some cash in US Dollars, Euros, GB Pounds, or Indian Rupees with you that you can exchange into local currency on arrival. You can tip your guide & driver with any currency.

We will arrange your Bhutan for you in advance of your arrival. You will need to provide us a scanned copy of your passport identity page (with your photo and personal details) as soon as possible after booking. The visa will normally be issued by the Bhutanese authorities around 10 days before your arrival and we will then email it to you. You will need to print the visa out and show it to the Druk Air staff when you check in. No payment is required at this stage or when you arrive in Bhutan - all costs are included in your tour price. .

If you are connecting the tour with Nepal, then Nepal visas are available for most nationalities on arrival in Kathmandu airport for a fee of US$25 (higher fees apply if your total time in Nepal will be over two weeks (from first arrival to last departure).

If you are connecting the tour with India, then you will need to obtain an Indian visa in advance - these are not available on arrival in Indian airports. We recommend you allow a minimum of 4 weeks to apply for this visa.

If you are connecting the tour with Thailand, then many nationalities can arrange a free tourist visa on arrival in Bangkok airport.

Please contact us if you have any questions about visa requirements for your travel plans and nationality.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You can pay your deposit or full balance online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial protection is also provided through International Passenger Protection for passengers not booking flights.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don’t prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don’t expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don’t worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don’t waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don’t litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It’s important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

The time in India is GMT plus 5 1/2 hours.

The time in Nepal is GMT plus 5 3/4 hours.

The time in Bhutan is GMT plus 6 hours.

The time in Tibet is GMT plus 8 hours.

Daylight saving adjustments are not applied.

Luggage: Whatever you’re doing in Nepal, Tibet or Bhutan, you’ll find that large rigid wheeled suitcases are cumbersome - you may be able to wheel them inside the airport and your hotel, but due to the condition of roads and pavements that’s often about it. As many of our tours involve a degree of adventurous activity, we strongly advise you to bring a more practical bag for these i.e. a rucksack or holdall. These are easier for both your porters, and yourself to carry around. Suitcases are OK for our cultural tours in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan though, but please aim to bring small or medium sized ones rather than very large. If you are trekking or rafting, or doing a lot of travel throughout the country, then as little as possible is the basic message. A rucksack or holdall (50-70 liter approx.) for your main luggage, and a daypack for you to use during the day should be plenty. While rafting we only take essential kit on board the rafts, and your main luggage will travel by bus to the take-out point. While trekking your porters (Nepal) or ponies (Bhutan) will carry your main luggage, leaving you with just a daypack with things you'll need during the day. You can also leave some luggage locked safely in the pre-trek hotel if you wish. We recommend that couples plan to leave one main bag behind, and pool their remaining luggage in their other bag for the porter to carry.

Luggage limits: Most international airlines allow 20-23kg per person of hold luggage. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.

If you are trekking with us, we ask that you keep the weight of your main bag that the porter will carry to a maximum of 12.5kg. This then allows the porter to carry up to 2 bags, and a maximum of 25kg (the International Porter Protection group's advised limit for Nepal is 30kg, which then leaves a little more weight for their own kit). This weight allowance includes your sleeping bag if you are hiring it from us and not carrying it with you to Nepal
If you are doing an Everest trek and flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, then flight luggage limits are 10kg for your main bag and 5kg for hand luggage – total 15kg. You can re-arrange that after you arrive in Lukla. Please keep to these limits as while you can pay for extra weight, it may be held back until the next flight which may then be delayed or cancelled.
Treks in Bhutan follow the same weight limits for your ponies.
You may leave other luggage securely locked in your hotel during the trek. If you are travelling as a couple then we suggest you leave one main bag in Kathmandu and share the other main bag that the porter will then carry.

Clothing & Climate: Nepal and Bhutan have a climate that ranges widely depending on when you visit, and where you are visiting.
- Autumn – late Sep-Nov: The weather is good and very warm, with lots of sunshine, getting quite hot during the day in lowland regions. It will still be cold at night at higher altitudes if you are trekking. Shorts & T-shirts are fine while you are walking, but you should still bring warmer clothes for the evenings. There is a good chance of rain in September and early October, so bring a waterproof.
- Winter – Dec-Feb: It will be pleasant in lowland regions with very little rain, but will be cooler at night. Long trousers and shirts are advised during the day, and you will need warm clothes in the evenings. If you are trekking, then it will be cold during the day, and extremely cold at night, particularly at higher altitudes. Several warm layers are recommended so you can regulate your comfort as you walk, including a waterproof, even if only to protect from cold winds. We include thick down jackets in our optional trekking packs for comfort in the evenings at higher altitudes.
- Spring – Mar-May: The weather is very pleasant during the spring, and again shorts & t-shirts are fine while you are walking. There is a higher chance of rain as the season progresses, so a thin waterproof is recommended in case. It gets very hot and humid in the lowlands from May onwards.
- Monsoon – Jun-mid Sep: It will be hot and sticky during these months, with lots of rain, so come prepared accordingly if you are visiting during these months - gaiters are highly recommended if you are trekking to keep out leeches.

A huge variety of cheap trekking gear is available in Kathmandu (fleeces, waterproofs etc.) and buying some here can save you carrying it with you, and support the local economy. However, you should definitely bring your own walking boots.

Modesty rates highly in Nepal and Bhutan especially for women, so please ensure all clothes are loose fitting and not too revealing. You'll find the Bhutanese dress fairly smartly or in national dress, so you will stand out even more if you look scruffy.

Whilst rafting:

On the raft: Shorts, Tevas (sandals) or trainers, baseball style cap to keep the sun off your face, sunglasses with a strap to keep them on your head, swimwear, sarong for women, sun-cream, lip balm, water bottle, several t-shirts.
Note: All footwear on a raft should be rubber soled, and of the type that will not come off easily.
Off the raft:
Long trousers, warm sleeping bag (provided, but you may want to bring a sheet sleeping bag as well), petzel type head torch, warm jacket/fleece, dry shoes, boots, warm socks, towel, warm long sleeved shirt, toiletries.
Cameras: You can take cameras on the raft, and we endeavour to keep that sort of kit dry in waterproof bags. But there is always an element of risk of getting the camera wet.
What you shouldn’t take on the raft: All the rest of your kit and you’re your valuables. We will make arrangements for their transport to your take-out point.

Whilst trekking:

Suggested Clothing and equipment: Strong hiking boots or walking shoes that you have broken in; Good sized rucksack or holdall; 3 to 4-season sleeping bag (only if you want to use your own rather than the one provided in our optional trekking pack); silk or cotton sleeping bag liner; lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket; (waterproof gaiters, waterproof over trousers – these are only necessary on some treks in some seasons – contact us for further info if required); 3 or 4 t-shirts; small day pack; several pairs of light socks; 2 pairs of heavier woollen socks; underwear including thermals; warm hat and gloves; swimwear; pair of lightweight trousers; pair of shorts; 1 fleece or warm jumper and 1 sweatshirt. Also, sunglasses, torch and batteries, toiletries (include a lighter to burn toilet paper), bring biodegradable shampoo & soap, towel, blister kit, money belt and any personal medication you might require. Remember, Lots of layers are the key to staying warm and comfortable. Also, keeping your feet comfortable and healthy makes a huge difference to how you enjoy your trek. So, bring waterproof boots/walking shoes and plenty of pairs of socks so you can change them regularly.
Day Packs and Main luggage: You will want a sturdy and comfortable daypack to carry your day-to-day items with you while you are walking (clothes you may change in and out of regularly, drinks, snacks, camera). You will also need a sturdy holdall or backpack for your main luggage. Your porters or ponies will carry this for you, so suitcases are not appropriate. They may leave earlier than you, and may not walk with you throughout the entire day, so bear in mind that you won’t have access to this luggage all the time - you need to ensure you are carrying everything you require during the days walk in your daypack. You can leave luggage behind in storage at your hotel so you don't need to take everything with you on the trek.

Whilst in the game parks:

You should bring long trousers and long-sleeved shirts for jungle walks and travel within the park. Please ensure these are of drab colours to avoid drawing attention. Sunglasses and sun-hats are advisable for hot and bright days. Mosquito repellent is highly recommended. Binoculars are extremely useful at any of Nepal’s National Parks, and are not generally available for hire locally. Don’t forget fast film for those jungle shots and moving animals/birds. A good cleaning kit is essential as these items are unavailable once at the park. It is also better to take quality film, either from home or Kathmandu into the parks, and to ensure you have a spare fully charged battery and memory card.

All tours: We recommend that you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

Nepal: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Bhutan: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the lowland regions Bhutan are considered malarial zones, while higher altitudes including central Bhutan including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang are not. Nepal is considered mainly low risk with prophylactics not normally required.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary. Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.

A range of different sockets can be found in Bhutan, including two and three round pronged and three flat pronged (Type D,F,G). The supply is 230 volts. Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one already. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers may be available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already but cannot be guaranteed.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Know Before you Go' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Know Before you Go' campaign

Birds of Bhutan dates & prices

Seasonal prices for this tour are given below. We can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices
Season Start Date Season End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
12 Dec, 2016 15 Feb, 2017 US$5619 - - Book now
16 Feb, 2017 31 May, 2017 US$6609 - - Book now
01 Jun, 2017 15 Aug, 2017 US$5619 - - Book now
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BHUTAN Reviews
Service

Posted Jun 20, 2016
Very friendly and personal service.
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Service

Posted Jun 09, 2016
Service rating : They were fast in contacting me and very kind.

Product : I chose their trip to Bhutan because I think it has a very interesting itinerary for a reasonable price.
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Service

Product

Posted Feb 04, 2016
Service rating : Very helpful. Quick and easy communications despite being on the other side of the world!

Product : Loved in. The guide made it what it was-so many thanks to HK for Sangay and Jigme's efforts. For a first trip, the tour covered the best things to see to be introduced to Bhutan.
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