Spirit of the Himalayas
March - April 2018
Join our leader, Hishey Tshering, on an amazing trip over the scenic passes of Bhutan, along roads laden with prayer flags and vivid rhododendrons blooming in the springtime. This shining Buddhist gem is a birder’s paradise during the courting season of their many birds. Bhutan’s altitudinal variations, from tropical lowlands to mountain peaks, will keep you constantly guessing about the next surprise around the corner! This trip is timed when flowering plants are constantly changing and the birds are courting. Encounter over 200 species of birds and over a dozen intriguing mammals, including the Golden Langur. Arrive in the city of Paro in time to enjoy the colorful Paro Festival, then continue eastward past Mongar before returning west as the blooming season progresses. Travel in a modern bus and enjoy excellent lodges, plus seven nights of mobile camping off the beaten track. Your efficient and fully equipped camp staff will travel by truck to set up your comfortable camp before you arrive at each site. Bhutan has 20 peaks over 23,000 feet, a wonderful place to enjoy stunning Himalayan mountain scenery on a clear day, looking down on forests and picturesque valleys with terraced rice fields, while also seeing spectacular birds and charming mammals. The Buddhist culture in Bhutan is more than a religion, it is integrated into all aspects of daily life in this “land of the peaceful dragon.”
We are working on details for this safari. Please contact us if you would like more information.
Itinerary Updated: January 2017
Our Trip Leaders
Hishey spent his lifetime promoting and preserving nature in Bhutan through many guiding and conservation efforts. He worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and the International Crane Foundation on bird issues. His belief in "Gross National Happiness" and extensive knowledge of culture, birds, and wildlife make him one of the most sought-after guides in Bhutan for over 15 years. Hishey will be helped by an assistant guide.
Travel over scenic Himalayan passes surrounded by springtime flowers and courting birds, and experience a colorful Buddhist festival.
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Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip cost, double occupancy||$7,990|
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||May 1, 2017||$1,000|
|Final||October 2, 2017||Remaining balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
Temperatures vary at this season from cold at high elevations to very comfortable, depending on the time of day. It will be very cool in the early morning and in the evening. It’s the “dry” season, but rain will likely be encountered. Bring a warm jacket that is rain and wind resistant. Insects are not normally a problem in Bhutan, but we recommend that you bring insect repellant.
You will visit high elevations; our overnights are at elevations ranging from about 4,500 feet at Punakha and Yongkhola to about 9,500 feet at Phobjikha (1,400 to 2,900 meters). Most walks are short or medium distance (usually under a mile with some 1-2 miles) and at a slow pace. The most strenuous activity is the optional hike up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery (at 10,240 feet, 3,240 meters). Most of the trail is steep, but you can stop halfway at a viewpoint and decide if you want to continue or just enjoy the view from there. The hike up and back can take about 3-4 hours depending on your pace and how much time you spend at the monastery.
Airfare is not included in trip costs (except flight listed as included). Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Where is Bhutan?
The Kingdom of Bhutan is the size of Switzerland, nestled between Tibet and India, and is truly one of Earth’s most remote countries. Over 60% of the country is still forested with farms dotting the countryside. Bhutan has 20 peaks over 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), a wonderful place to photograph stunning mountain scenery, while also seeing spectacular birds and charming mammals. The Buddhist philosophy of respect for all living things alongside a progressive governmental approach to environmental preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s unique culture and traditions have maintained an environment where wildlife flourishes.
What wildlife can you expect to see?
Bhutan lies in an area designated as one of the world’s top ten biodiversity hotspots. Over 600 species of birds live in Bhutan, including some of the most exotic and rare species in the eastern Himalayas. Bhutan is also home to at least 165 species of mammals, including langurs, macaques, Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear, Alpine Musk Deer, and in the alpine meadows, Takin (endangered) and Yaks, grazing on grasses along mountainsides. Tiger tracks might be found along the bases of the foothills to above the tree line, although this predator is seldom seen.
What is a dzong?
A dzong is a fortress, which continues to serve as Bhutan’s administrative and religious center. You’ll also see monasteries, including the famous Tiger’s Nest, and smaller chortens (stupas), all of which are important features of Bhutan’s religion and culture. You will have opportunities to examine traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts, which represent a vital aspect of Bhutan’s living heritage as well as its spiritual and intellectual life.
Why is visiting Bhutan so special?
Until recently, Bhutan’s remoteness, steep terrain, and tightly controlled tourism ensured that its incredible beauty and fascinating people remained known only to a few. Bhutan was closed to outsiders until 1960; its first roads were built in 1961 and no tourists were officially permitted until 1974. Bhutan is a developing country, yet its unique agrarian Buddhist culture is still intact. You will encounter red-robed monks and herders with their cows or yaks on the road along with vehicles.
You will drive across Bhutan in Hishey’s “Crane Mobile,” a roomy, 20-seat bus with windows that open. Expect winding mountain roads and sometimes slow, bumpy drives, depending on road conditions. Road work is wide-spread in developing Bhutan.
- Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
- Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
- Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, wildlife sightings, or road conditions.
- Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
- Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
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"The trip met every expectation - a great blend of birds, culture, hiking, friendly people. Kudos to Hishey and his fine organization."
Therese Faller, 2013
"One of the best trips ever!!! We travel lots and all our trips are exceptional so this is very high praise. Hishey lived up to his reputation."