Wilderness of Nepal, Serenity of Bhutan
Route : Kathmandu Pokhara Chitwan National Park Kathmandu Paro Thimphu Punakha Paro
This morning, arrive Kathmandu, the beautiful capital city of Kingdom of Nepal. Upon clearing airport formalities, transfer to your hotel, take some rest and freshen up.
This afternoon, visit Boudhanath Stupa, meaning the ‘Lord of Wisdom’. This Tibetan Buddhist monument is the largest stupa in Nepal and one of the largest in the world.
Also visit Pashupatinath Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world, on the banks of Bagmati River. Although only Hindus are allowed inside the temple, visitors can clearly see the temple and the activities performed inside, from the eastern bank of Bagmati River.
Later this evening visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, the historic seat of Nepalese royalty built between the 12 - 18 centuries. The Durbar square is famous for its exquisite architecture, museums, temples and artistic embellishments. You also get an opportunity to buy some interesting souvenirs here.
Discover Kathmandu (with early morning excursion to Nagarkot – 35 Kms/1 Hr one way)
Early this morning, embark on a short drive north east of Kathmandu, to Nagarkot (approx 2200 meters). Nagarkot is famous for its panoramic views of the snowy Himalayan peaks including a distant pyramid of Mount Everest (subject to weather conditions). Enjoy fascinating sunrise views from here.
After breakfast at Nagarkot, proceed on your return drive to Kathmandu. En-route visit Bhaktapur which was the former capital of the valley, and was once a flourishing city on the trade route to Tibet. Today, Bhaktapur is like an open air museum with large areas open to pedestrian access - it is a store house of mediaeval art and architecture. Interesting places to explore include the renowned Durbar square, Golden Gate at the Palace of 55 Windows, Potters square which houses the elephant headed Lord Ganesha temple who is believed to be the patron of potters in Nepal. Bhaktapur houses a variety of Hindu and Buddhist temples including Nepal’s largest Shiva Linga. You may also see artisans engaged in Bhaktapur’s traditional crafts of pottery and weaving.
On your way back to Kathmandu, visit the Patan Durbar Square. Patan is known for its museum, temples and superb craftsmanship of its artisans. Patan Durbar Square has been acclaimed as one of the finest urban streetscapes in the world.
Drive Kathmandu – Pokhara [210 Kms/6 Hrs]
After breakfast, visit Swayambhunath Stupa, one of the world’s oldest Buddhist chaityas, acclaimed to be more than 2500 years old. Situated on a hillock, 3 kms west of Kathmandu this is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal.
Later, embark on a scenic drive to Pokhara.
Continue drive to Pokhara. Surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains, with a magnificent lake of crystal-clear Himalayan water, Pokhara is a serene hill town in the foothills of Himalayas. Pokhara offers fascinating view of Annapurna range including the fish tail peak of Machapuchare. The locals, called Pokhralis, will greet you with warm smiles and unforgettable hospitality. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel for 2 nights stay.
Day in Pokhara
Rise early this morning, for a short drive to Sarangkot, to view a spectacular sunrise over the Annapurna ranges. Later, drive back to Pokhara.
Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful town of Pokhara, visiting the Devis Fall and the nearby Gupteshwor Cave popular for the natural artwork forms made of limestone deposits. Later in the afternoon, enjoy a boat ride in Phewa Lake, the second largest lake of Nepal, offering splendid views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges.
Pokhara to Chitwan National Park [160 Kms/6 Hrs]
After breakfast, embark on a scenic drive to Chitwan National Park, in the foothills of Himalayas.
Upon arrival, check in at your hotel and freshen up. This afternoon, enjoy an Elephant Back Safari to explore the jungle and its wildlife. Popular wildlife at Chitwan National Park includes the one-horned rhinoceros, several types of deer, monkey, wild boar, bison, sloth bear, and leopard and tigers. Perched high on the back of your elephant, you'll be safely out of reach of anything lurking in the tall grass. Each elephant seats 4 people.
Day in Chitwan National Park
Enjoy an early morning Nature Walk identifying birds, plants and other wildlife in the open grasslands, and jungles of Sal forests. Chitwan is most beautiful at dawn with the sun rising above the jungles and the glistening river.
After breakfast, join an Elephant Briefing Program, where you get an opportunity to visit elephant stables and learn more about these gigantic animals. For the more adventurous, you may also try your hand at giving these mammals a good scrub and wash!
After lunch, a traditional Dug-Out Wooden Canoe Cruise takes you on a silent trip down the Rapti River to view aquatic birds and crocodiles of the banks of the river.
This evening, enjoy Dinner around Camp Fire with the indigenous Tharu Stick Dance Show, whereby farmers from nearby villages showcase their traditional skills and dances.
Drive Chitwan National Park to Kathmandu [185 Kms/5 Hrs]
This morning, embark on your return drive to Kathmandu. On arrival in Kathmandu, check in at your hotel.
Fly Kathmandu – Paro ; Drive Paro – Thimphu (65 Kms/2 Hrs)
After breakfast, transfer to Kathmandu airport to catch your flight to Paro.
Upon arrival in Paro, drive to Thimpu and check-in at your hotel for 02 nights stay.
[Thimphu altitude: 2400M]
Day in Thimphu
Today, enjoy discovering the serene and beautiful city of Thimphu, world’s only capital city without traffic lights. Visit Tashichho Dzong, the beautiful medieval fortress which houses most of the Government offices and the King’s throne room.
Then visit the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museum and Bhutanese traditional handmade paper factory. Also visit the National Library, which houses a wonderful collection of Buddhist text and manuscripts.
After lunch visit Handicrafts Emporium which offer a wide assortment of beautifully handcrafted products, including the splendid Thangkas paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous. Also visit Arts & Crafts School, famous for traditional thangkha paintings. Here you will see, students at work producing intricate design on cloth.
Thimphu - Punakha (75 kms/3 Hrs)
This morning embark on a short drive to Punakha, the erstwhile winter capital of Bhutan.
Enjoy the scenic drive through Dochu-la pass (3140m) that heralds the most enchanting views of Bhutan.
Upon arrival check in at your hotel for a night stay.
This afternoon visit Punakha Dzong dating back to the 17th Century and the newly built Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten.
[Punakha altitude: 1350M]
Punakha - Wangdue - Paro (145 Kms/5 hrs)
This morning, we visit the magnificent structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (Temple), perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangdue. The temple houses large statues crafted by local Bhutanese artisans and a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, skills training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making, thangka painting is also provided.
En-route, stop for a short visit to beautiful town of Wangdue (Wangdiphodrang), where we get the opportunity to visit local markets.
Later, continue drive to Paro, en-route viewing Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.
Upon arrival check in at your hotel for 02 nights stay.
[Paro altitude: 2250M]
Day in Paro
Early this morning, hike to Taktshang Monastery, popularly known as Tigers Nest, perched on a cliff, overlooking Paro valley. Return trip hike takes approx 5 hours; alternatively, if you don’t wish to hike, you may ride a pony. This is one of the most sacred sites of Bhutan, visited by all Buddhist at least once in their lifetime. The climb is steep, so en-route you may stop for refreshments at a local cafeteria, located halfway up the trail overlooking ‘Tigers Nest’. Once we reach the Tigers Nest, enjoy the beautiful views and waterfall along with a visit to the monastery.
Then, we visit the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, built in the 17th century to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over Tibetans. Nearby visit a traditional Bhutanese farm house which offers an insight into the everyday lifestyle of local people.
Drive on to visit the temple of Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan, built in the 7th century.
This morning, transfer to Paro airport, to catch your flight to onward destination.