HM7 KINGDOMS OF THE HIMALAYANEW SEARCH
Cultivated slopes, thick forests, tea plantations; Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok; Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital; Himalayan peaks, high plateaux; Punakha: deep in the heart of Bhutan; Spectacular 'Teschus' - annual festivals
Breakfast and dinner are included daily; all meals included in Bhutan. Evening meals on tour will be taken mostly at hotels. In some locales we endeavour to break up the buffet dinners with a meal at a local restaurant but, overall, the imperatives of hygiene and quality dictate hotel meals. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees are included for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.
Tour Leader gratuities, lunches in India & Thailand, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic and international (if applicable) air taxes, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals, visas.
Seasonality and Weather
SIKKIM/DARJEELING: Temperatures may fall as low as 0 C (32 F) at night (particularly in Darjeeling) and reach as high as 25 C (76 F) during the day. You can expect it to be on average 15-20 C during the day in the hills. We travel between Sept and March to avoid the Indian Monsoon though rain is possible at any time.
BHUTAN: The Monsoon occurs between Jun & Aug. Outside that time days are usually very pleasant (10C/50F) with clear skies and sunshine. Nights are cold. Oct/Nov, Mar-mid Jun are the best times to visit - rainfall is at a minimum and temperatures are conducive to active days of sightseeing.
SPRING DEPARTURE: The Paro Festival provides the local populace with a wonderful occasion to renew their faith and receive blessings by watching the sacred dances or receiving 'empowerment' from a lama or Buddhist monk. The dances are performed by trained monks wearing ornate costumes and impressive masks.
Our FALL trip coincides with the Thimphu Tsechu. The Tsechu reflects the deeply rooted religious sentiments of the people. For three days various types of masked dances are performed. Many depict the story of good triumphing over evil, the day of judgment, matrimonial fidelity etc.
Transport and Travel Conditions
Land transportation is via private bus or Land Cruiser type vehicle depending on group size and / or conditions. Air conditioning / heat in vehicles is generally not available in this part of the world. Road conditions are generally quite poor and can be bumpy, and as with all mountain roads the occasional delay can occur due to landslides or adverse weather conditions. The roads are also quite twisty on the mountain sections; if you suffer from travel sickness you should bring your usual remedy.
The tour is not physically strenuous though it is busy; you must be prepared for some early starts, be steady on your feet, and be able to endure some heat and long days at high altitudes. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces.
Internal flights via scheduled carriers. Porters are generally available at hotels but you must be able to manage with your baggage at airports.
ALL PASSENGERS will require a medical questionnaire to be signed by his/her physician indicating that the traveller is fit to travel on such a journey. Those with pre-existing conditions that could be exacerbated by travel at high altitude or on poor roads, or persons with compromised immune systems and mobility problems, should carefully consider their participation.
We will be staying in hotels with private bathrooms, and there will be hot water, though in more remote areas this may only be available in the morning and evening. Few of the hotels are centrally heated, although coal fires can sometimes be provided in the bedrooms at a small extra cost. Generally hotels are comfortable and often spectacularly located, though simple with quirks that can range from charming to frustrating. Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins. Porters are generally available (see 'Inclusions').
Staff and Support
Tour Leader throughout, local drivers, local guides at various locations.
10-21 (plus Tour Leader)
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