Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264ft)
Upon our arrival in the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will drop us off at our hotel. After checking in, we take a rest or visit Himalayan Glacier’s office. We may also stroll in the streets of Thamel, a tourist hub in Kathmandu for some souvenir shopping. In the evening, there will be a welcome dinner hosted by Himalayan Glacier. For dinner, you will be served excellent authentic Nepalese cuisine which will introduce you to Nepalese food culture.
Day 02: Fly to Pokhara (823m/2,700ft), drive to Nayapul and trek to Ulleri (2,050 m/6725 ft): 30 min flight and 6 hours trek
We fly to Pokhara early in the morning. We can catch amazing views of the Himalayas from the right side of our airplane. Upon our arrival in Pokhara, the beautiful lake city, we are rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas including Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhare, the five peaks of Annapurna and others. After taking a rest, we drive to Naya Pul and start the trek. We pass through sub-tropical valley forests, sometimes on the carved trail on the side of the cliff. After lunch, we cross the Modi Khola (river) via a suspension bridge to the village of Tikhedhunga. The Ulleri Hill with thousands of steps and boulders that continually go upward will really prove a test of our stamina. We reach Ulleri by late afternoon. Overnight in Ulleri.
Day 03: Ulleri to Ghorepani (2,750 m/ 9,020 ft): 4 - 5 hours trek
After breakfast, we ascend to the Ghorepani village. The name Ghorepani in Nepali means ‘horse water’ due to it being an important campsite for traders before it became a trekker's stop. Ghorepani is an interesting place with small shops and stalls for selling local products and crafts. The town has two parts: one in a saddle and the other a few hundred feet lower. We stop at the higher part of the Ghorepani village that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains including Annapurna South and Nilgiri mountains. Since Ghorepani lies quite higher than our previous stop, we begin to feel the chilly weather especially in the evenings. Overnight in Ghorepani.
Day 04: Ghorepani to Poon Hill to Tadapani (2,700m/8,860ft): 6 - 7 hours
To catch the sunrise over the Himalayas, we make an early morning climb along the steep trail to the viewpoint of Poon Hill (3,210m/10,529ft), the most popular trekking destination of the Annapurna region. It is also a great viewpoint to enjoy the amazing views of Mustang, Pokhara and more than 20 of the highest mountains including the close-up views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. The snowy peaks of the high mountains loom above and around us glowing in the morning light. After taking photographs, we return back to Gorepani. After breakfast, we head east and climb a nearby ridge. We descend through rhododendron forests, pass by spectacular waterfalls and reach Tadapani to spend the night.
Day 05: Tadapani to Ghandruk, then drive to Pokhara (1940m/6360 ft): 6 - 7 hours trek, 2 hours drive
The trek from Tadapani until Ghandruk will be through a thick forest of rhododendron trees. After trekking for a while, we enter the village of Ghandruk, a slope settlement with stone houses mostly inhabited by the Gurung people. From here, we enjoy the towering views of the Fishtail, Annapurna South, and Hiunchuli mountains. From here, we drive to Pokhara for an overnight stay.
Day 06: Early Morning Sightseeing in Pokhara, fly to Kathmandu
Early in the morning we leave for Sarangkot, a hill that overlooks the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges in the north and Pokhara city in the south. From here, we catch amazing views of the sun as it rises in the mighty Himalayas. We then head back to Pokhara and visit the city’s landmarks. Davis Falls is a unique waterfall that flows directly into a narrow and deep canal which has no end. The Shiva Cave is located near Davis Falls and houses a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, a primary Hindu God. We also do some boating in Phewa Lake, the largest lake in Pokhara and visit Bindyabasini Temple located at the center of the Lake. Next, we fly to Kathmandu in the afternoon. We can rest in our hotel room for a while or catch up on some last minute shopping.
Day 07: Fly to Paro (2,250m/7,382ft), city sightseeing
As our flight nears Bhutan we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Chomolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take us to our hotel. After lunch, we visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’. Next, visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From here we will be taken to the Drugyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day we can see Mount Chomolhari, Bhutan's second-highest mountain, at 7,314 meters. Overnight in Paro.
Day 08: Paro to Thimphu (2,320m/7,610ft): 54 km, 1 hour, hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast, we hike for 4-5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor and drive to Thimphu to spend the night.
Day 09: Hike to Wangditse Gompa followed by sightseeing in Thimphu
In the morning, we drive to BBS Tower and then hike for 1 hour to Wangditse Gompa on a leveled trail with a great view of Tashichho Dzong. From here, we also get an amazing view of the Samtenling Palace, home to the fourth King and Dorje Drak meditation retreat on the hillside above. After touring the Gompa, we return to Thimphu. On the way, we visit the mini-zoo to see the Takin, national animal of Bhutan. After lunch, we visit the King's Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the nunnery temple, the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts) and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. We may also visit the Textile Museum, the Handicraft Emporium, the traditional paper factory and the majestic Tashichho Dzong. In the evening, we enjoy strolling in the streets of Thimphu and observe the local lifestyle. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 10: Thimphu to Punakha (1,250m/4,100ft): 76 km, 2 - 3 hours drive: Hike to Lungchutse Monastery
After breakfast, we drive to Dochula pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day we can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. We will begin the 2 hours hike to Lungchutse Monastery from 108 chortens. The trail passes through rhododendron forests. Walking along the high ridges dotted with colorful Buddhist prayer flags offers us stunning views of Himalayas, plus incredible vistas into the valleys below the pass. Next, we hike back to Dochu La Pass. After lunch, we drive downhill through the rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. On the way, we stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to the Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 11: Punakha to Paro: 130 km, 4 hours drive: Hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
At dawn, we drive 12 km north of Punakha and begin our 2-hour hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. It is located on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang and contains elaborate paintings dedicated to the old sect of Buddhism. We hike further towards Punakha. On the way back, we visit the Punakha Dzong which was built in 1637. It is also the second oldest and the second largest Dzong in Bhutan. In the afternoon, we drive to Paro and spend the night there.
Day 12: Final departure
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom and her friendly people. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after breakfast, we will be taken to the airport in the morning for final departure.