4.4 5 Reviews

Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure

  • 12 Days
  • 12 People Max

    This trip has a maximum of 12 guests, plus one experienced Active Adventures guide and a team of local porters.

  • Activity Level 2
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

  • Trip Start: Kathmandu
  • Trip End: Kathmandu
Nepal and Bhutan Explorer Trip

Our Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure is thoughtfully crafted to highlight the unique cultures and breathtaking views of the Himalayas.

Wander the Kingdoms of Kathmandu, learn about the ancient cultures of Nepal and experience the intimate spirit of Buddhism in Bhutan on our 12-day Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure. Starting in Kathmandu, you'll visit local schools, explore Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park in the foothills of Kathmandu, get to know the beautiful and generous Tamang people of rural Nepal and hike amongst terraced fields on your way to Mystic Mountain Resort. After taking one of the most scenic flights in the world, from Kathmandu to Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan, you'll immediately notice a change in scenery and culture. Your Kiwi and local guide work in parallel to bring you on an incredible journey through Bhutan's most fascinating landscapes and temples. You'll take the stunning hike to Tiger's Nest monastery, perched high on the cliffside some 900m (almost 3000ft) off the valley floor, and explore numerous other sacred sites of significance to the Buddhist religion. This trip exploring Nepal and Bhutan is comfort, culture, and incredible scenery unlike anywhere else on earth.

Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure ~ Itinerary

Trip Start: Kathmandu Trip End: Kathmandu
  • Day 1Arrive Kathmandu

  • Day 2Visit local school, explore Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

  • Day 3Journey to Patan Kingdom and onto Nagarkot

  • Day 4Hike to Nala, explore Bhaktapur

  • Day 5Fly to Paro, Bhutan, Visit Tashichho Dzong

  • Day 6Journey to Buddha Dordenma, hike to Changangkha Lhakhang Temple

  • Day 7Hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple

  • Day 8Hike the Gangte Nature Trail

  • Day 9Journey to Thimphu, visit the National Museum, onto Paro

  • Day 10Hike to Tiger's Nest

  • Day 11Fly to Kathmandu, free afternoon

  • Day 12Depart

  • Day 1

    Arrive Kathmandu

    Your trip starts in the lively and bustling city of Kathmandu. You’ll be met at Kathmandu Airport by a friendly face from Active Adventures Himalayas who will accompany you to our hotel. If you arrive early, you can head out to explore the city’s labyrinth of back street courtyards, colourful market stalls and ancient temples on your own for your first taste of Nepal’s culture and friendly people. This afternoon, your guide will meet you at our hotel and run through what to expect from the days ahead. Tonight, we’ll take you out for dinner at a local restaurant, for your first experience of Nepalese dining - a culinary crossroad between the influences of China, India and Europe which makes for some really delicious flavour combinations.
    Marriott Hotel, Kathmandu (All Meals)

    Elevation: Kathmandu - 1400 metres (4600 feet)

  • Day 2

    Visit local school, explore Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

    Today you’ll see Kathmandu from a new perspective as we wind our way up out of the valley that defines the capital city. There’s an option here to visit a local school, where children are always happy to greet us and show us their environment. After a tea break we’ll enter the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, in the foothills on the northern fringe of the Kathmandu Valley - at this altitude the vegetation transitions from subtropical to temperate and the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. After our hike, we’ll journey onto Bouldhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which sits on the ancient trade route from Tibet. For many centuries Tibetan merchants have rested here and offered prayers. Later, we’ll head back to the Marriott Hotel and out for another delicious meal nearby.
    Marriott Hotel, Kathmandu (Elevation: Kathmandu - 1400 metres (4600 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: 7 kilometres (4.3 miles), 2-3 hours
    Elevation Gain:
    115 metres (380 feet)
    Elevation Loss:
    310 metres (1020 feet)

  • Day 3

    Journey to Patan Kingdom and onto Nagarkot

    Patan (or Lalitpur, ‘city of beauty’), now a part of greater Kathmandu, was once the capital of a powerful independent kingdom. You’ll notice as we explore this area, a calmer vibe - the craftspeople here, many of whom are Buddhist, have created exquisite temples and other works of art which give the area a distinct artisan feel. After lunch we’ll ascend on a classic Nepali road northeast to Nagarkot. It’s refreshing to once again leave the bustling Kathmandu Valley behind as we begin our hike among terraced fields on our way to Mystic Mountain Resort. We’ll have plenty of time this afternoon to check in to our rooms and relax next to the pool, with views of the Himalaya.
    Mystic Mt Resort, Nagarkot (Elevation: Nagarkot - 2195 metres (7200 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: Up to 5 kilometres (3 miles) 1 hour
    Elevation Gain: 24 metres (80 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 45 metres (150 feet)

  • Day 4

    Hike to Nala, explore Bhaktapur

    By now you’ll be nicely adjusted to Nepal time, making an early wake up for an epic mountain sunrise all the more appealing. Add coffee and an excellent breakfast and it doesn’t get any better! Full of energy, we’ll hike a stunning ridgeline and jungle path to Nala. Mostly descending, we’ll pass typical Tamang villages learning about subsistence living and the challenges these people face - you wouldn’t know it though, as we’re greeted with beaming smiles around every corner. We’ll stop at a local home to share some masala tea and show you what a typical Tamang home interior looks like. It’s a short drive onwards to Bhaktapur for lunch, and a chance to explore another of the medieval city-states of the Kathmandu Valley. You’ll see here in the ‘City of Culture’ some of the devastating damage caused by the 2015 earthquake. But there’s plenty still standing including many pagodas, shrines, carved wood columns and temples. After dinner your trip leader will brief you on the Bhutan adventure to come.
    Marriott Hotel, Kathmandu (Elevation: Kathmandu - 1400 metres (4600 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: 7 kilometres (4.3 miles), 2-3 hours
    Elevation Gain: 115 metres (380 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 310 metres (1020 feet)

     

  • Day 5

    Fly to Paro, Bhutan, Visit Tashichho Dzong

    Prepare to shift gears as we leave the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and fly east to the Kingdom of Bhutan. This is a country, situated on the silk road, that has endured independence for centuries and never been colonized! Bhutan is the least populous nation in South Asia, ranking first in economic freedom, ease of doing business and peace. After driving from Paro to Thimphu, we’ll visit Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city. Next it’s onto the Tarkin wildlife reserve, the Weaving Centre and the School of Thirteen Arts and Crafts. Over dinner this evening at a local Bhutanese restaurant you’ll have a chance to soak in your first culturally-immersive day in Bhutan.
    Tashi Yoedling Hotel, Thimphu (Elevation: Thimphu - 2334 metres (7657 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: Up to 2 kilometres (1.2 miles)

  • Day 6

    Journey to Buddha Dordenma, hike to Changangkha Lhakhang Temple

    Making the most of our day, we’ll take an early breakfast before departing for Buddha Dordenma, overlooking Thimphu valley. Dating back to the 8th century A.D, this statue is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world! Afterwards we’ll hike a forest trail down to Changangkha Lhakhang, a temple perched like a fortress above central Thimphu. Give the resident astrologer your birth date and he’ll consult divination charts to decide which kind of protective prayer flags will benefit you. After lunch we’ll journey down to the lush district of Punakha, known for the Punakha Dzong, a 17th century fortress. We’ll take some time to explore this majestic fortress, which is the administrative centre of Punakha District.
    Vara Hotel, Punakha (Elevation: Punakha - 1242 metres (4075 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: Up to 5 kilometres (3 miles), 2 hours

  • Day 7

    Hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple

    We’ll stretch our legs after breakfast with a short hike through picturesque terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang, the Fertility Temple. This Buddhist temple is renowned throughout Bhutan as a fertility inducing magnet - thousands make the pilgrimage each year in the hopes of having a child, as well as receiving a blessing from the saint with the ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’. After some divine intervention, we’ll take a short drive to another trail leading up to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a stupa built to protect Bhutan from evil forces and help bring peace to the world. Your ascent will be rewarded with incredible views overlooking the Punakha Valley. There’ll be time this evening to relax and enjoy the campfire and stargaze.
    Vara Hotel, Punakha (Elevation: Punakha - 1242 metres (4075 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance To Chimi Lhakhang: 1.5 kilometres (1 miles), 1 hour
    Elevation Gain: 30 metres (100 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 120 metres (400 feet)

    Hiking Distance To Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten: 3.4 kilometres (2.1 miles), 1-2 hours
    Elevation Gain: 200 metres (656 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 200 metres (656 feet)

  • Day 8

    Hike the Gangte Nature Trail

    This morning we’ll journey east to Phobjikha. The walk we’ll take here, along the Gangte Nature Trail, is spectacular! We’ll pass through flowering meadows, lush forest and a small village. At the end of our hike we’ll arrive at Khewang Lhakhang, a 15th century Buddhist Temple with statues of the past, present and future Buddhas. This area has some wonderful valley viewpoints, where there are opportunities to see Black-necked cranes, or ‘Thrung Thrung Karmo’, the subject of many Bhutanese songs and folklore. Our hotel tonight offers another fine example of the local hospitality you’ll experience on this trip, with outstanding service and exotic food... And did we mention the views!?
    Odiyana Hotel, Phobjikha (Elevation: Phobjikha - 3000 metres (9842 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: 7.5 kilometres (4.6 miles), 2-3 hours
    Elevation Gain: 115 metres (380 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 310 metres (1020 feet)

  • Day 9

    Journey to Thimphu, visit the National Museum, onto Paro

    After breakfast we’ll depart for the journey back to Paro, taking lunch at Dochula pass. When the weather is nice, this pass (3,100 m / 10,300 ft) offers tremendous views of the eastern Himalaya ranges. Along the pass there are an astonishing 108 memorial chortens and nearby is the country’s very first Royal Botanical Park. Before we reach Paro, we’ll stop once more in Thimphu to visit the National Museum, a fascinating place not to miss. In Paro you’ll have the option to take a guided tour of Rinpung Dzong, though if you’d prefer to relax, you’ll also have views of this Buddhist monastery from your hotel, as it’s lit up in the evening.
    Khangku Hotel, Paro (Elevation: Paro - 2200 metres (7218 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: Up to 2 kilometres (1.2 miles)

  • Day 10

    Hike to Tiger's Nest

    A trip to Bhutan is not complete until you’ve visited Paro Taktsang, Tiger’s Nest. We’ll take an early breakfast so that we can begin hiking whilst the trail is quiet - the trek is challenging - and thankfully this is what protects this extraordinary attraction from overcrowding. Once you’ve cleared the trees you’ll get your first glimpse of the Tiger’s Nest, somehow perched on the cliff high above the valley floor. Once at the monastery you’ll take a fascinating tour of the buildings, with plenty of time to find a quiet spot and soak it all in. You’ll be in awe, wondering how the buddhists established this area, first as a meditation cave in the 8th century and later as a monastery in the 17th century. Amazing!  Because of our early start, beating the crowds, we’ll be back in Paro in time for lunch. This afternoon we’ll savour our time in Bhutan with a visit to the Jowo Temple of Kyichu and then to the ‘Farmhouse’ for a Bhutanese Cultural performance and wait for it... Some hot stone baths! 
    Khangku Hotel, Paro (Elevation: Paro - 2200 metres (7218 feet)) (All Meals)

    Hiking Distance: Up to 6.5 kilometres (4 miles), 5 hours
    Elevation Gain: 518 metres (1700 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 518 metres (1700 feet)

     

  • Day 11

    Fly to Kathmandu, free afternoon

    We’ll take a morning flight back to Nepal, so with any luck we’ll be treated to more spectacular Himalaya views out of the right-hand side of the plane. For those who are keen after lunch, we’ll walk to Durbar Square, the place where Nepal’s kings were crowned in past times. The square is in the centre of old town Kathmandu, and is the city’s greatest example of traditional architecture, so much so that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Tonight we’ll meet at a local restaurant for our final dinner together to celebrate our achievements and adventures in the Himalayas.
    Marriott Hotel, Kathmandu (All Meals)

    Elevation: Kathmandu - 1400 metres (4600 feet)

  • Day 12

    Depart

    Today is the final day of your Nepal and Bhutan cultural exploration. If you have extra time after your trip, we’re happy to give suggestions on how to make the most of it. On the other hand, if you’re on your way home today, we’ll send you back refreshed and invigorated from the great hiking and adventures you’ve had with us!
    (Breakfast)

Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure Departure Dates

  • Upcoming
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 1 year
USD $7299/pp
15 Mar 2023
2023
15 Mar26 Mar
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/15/2023-3/26/2023
Departure Almost Full Almost Full
29 Mar 2023
2023
29 Mar9 Apr
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/29/2023-4/9/2023
Departure Open Open
21 Oct 2023
2023
21 Oct1 Nov
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 10/21/2023-11/1/2023
Departure Open Open
28 Oct 2023
2023
28 Oct8 Nov
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 10/28/2023-11/8/2023
Departure Filling Up Filling Up
4 Nov 2023
2023
4 Nov15 Nov
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 11/4/2023-11/15/2023
Departure Open Open
18 Nov 2023
2023
18 Nov29 Nov
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 11/18/2023-11/29/2023
Departure Open Open
28 Feb 2024
2024
28 Feb10 Mar
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 2/28/2024-3/10/2024
Departure Open Open
13 Mar 2024
2024
13 Mar24 Mar
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/13/2024-3/24/2024
Departure Open Open
27 Mar 2024
2024
27 Mar7 Apr
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/27/2024-4/7/2024
Departure Open Open
19 Oct 2024
2024
19 Oct30 Oct
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 10/19/2024-10/30/2024
Departure Open Open
2 Nov 2024
2024
2 Nov13 Nov
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 11/2/2024-11/13/2024
Departure Open Open
16 Nov 2024
2024
16 Nov27 Nov
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 11/16/2024-11/27/2024
Departure Open Open
1 Mar 2025
2025
1 Mar12 Mar
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/1/2025-3/12/2025
Departure Open Open
15 Mar 2025
2025
15 Mar26 Mar
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/15/2025-3/26/2025
Departure Open Open
29 Mar 2025
2025
29 Mar9 Apr
Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure 3/29/2025-4/9/2025
Departure Open Open

Interactive Trip Map: Click on the map icons to read details for each day

Active Adventure Assurance

Our Active Adventures Assurance

If your plans change or you decide to travel to another destination, you can change your trip to any of our departures in any destination or request a refund (less deposit) up to 90 days out from your original trip start date.

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Useful Info

What's the maximum group size on this trip?

This trip has a maximum of 12 guests, plus one experienced Active Adventures guide and a local guide.

Where does the trip start?

If you arrive on the first day of the trip, we’ll meet you at Kathmandu airport (KTM), whenever you fly in, and take you to our hotel. If you’re already in Kathmandu, you’ll meet your trip leader and the rest of your group in the lobby of Marriott Hotel at 5pm.

Where does the trip end?

Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Kathmandu Airport in time for flights departing any time or anywhere in the Central Kathmandu downtown area after breakfast.

What flights would you recommend?

Arrival: If you’re flying into Kathmandu on the first day or your trip then we recommend arriving in Kathmandu before 4pm.

Note: If you have booked your accommodation through your Travel details to stay at the Marriott Hotel prior to your trip starting, a friendly face from the Marriott Hotel will meet you at the airport and take you to your accommodation in the city.

Departure: On the last day of the trip, you can fly out at any time that suits. If you want to arrive earlier or leave later, we’re happy to help out booking extra hotel accommodation.

What do I need to bring to the first night trip briefing?

Please meet us in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel at 5pm for a pre-trip briefing and our first dinner together! The Marriott Hotel is a 15 minute drive from the Tribhuvan International Airport, and is located at Manakamana Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal, ph +977 1-4443040.
Please bring along your passport, a photo copy of your passport and a copy of your travel insurance document.

How fit do I need to be for this trip?

As an Activity Level 1-2 trip, you’ll need a good level of fitness for this trip. While you don’t have to be extremely fit, you should be in the habit of doing regular aerobic exercise, ideally involving some up hills, down hills and steps. Advance preparation means you’ll enjoy the active and outdoor nature of your trip all the more.

Please head to our Fitness Guide for great tips on how to prepare along with a workout plan!

This trip begins at an altitude of 1,400 metres (4,600 feet) in Kathmandu and will take you up to 3,120 metres (10,240 feet) at Tiger’s Nest. Unless you’ve travelled to and slept around this altitude in the past there is no reliable way to predict how well you’re going to cope. While most people experience some mild symptoms, these are usually limited to a few days while your body adjusts and acclimatises.

What accommodations do we stay at on this trip?

We’ve selected the accommodation for the unique character and adventuresome feel – this trip isn’t designed as a tour of the fanciest hotels in Nepal & Bhutan. We prefer to stay in quaint, comfortable B&B’s and lodges, all with private, ensuite bathrooms.

The best time to do laundry will be during our two night stay in Punakha or in Paro on your free afternoon. While there may be other opportunities to do laundry elsewhere if need be they won’t be as convenient. Self-service laundries are rare, so you’ll probably need to use on-site hotel laundry services or off-site lavanderias, though we recommend hand-washing technical fabrics yourself.

How much luggage can I bring on this trip?

You'll need one piece of luggage plus a daypack. Your main piece of luggage can be anything from a backpack, to a sports bag with wheels or a suitcase and a good quality trekking daypack 25-30 litres (2000 cubic inches) is required for the days on the trail.

Included in your itinerary are return flights from Kathmandu to Paro. The weight requirements on these flights are maximum 30 kilograms (60 pounds) for your check in bag, and maximum 5 kilograms (11 pounds) for your daypack/ carry on.

Is tipping expected in Nepal?

Tipping is accepted in Nepal (and appreciated!). Your loose change (or 5%) is fine in cheaper places; around 10% in more expensive restaurants. Round up the fare for taxi drivers. Most people do choose to tip their Active Adventures guides at the end of an awesome trip. Up to US$100 each for your Active Adventures trip leader and Nepali leader and up to US$100 (10,000 Nepali rupees) to be shared amongst your Nepali porter team seems to be the norm, however less, more or not at all is also fine too. Tips are gratefully accepted in either their local currency or US dollars.

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Himalayas

Kathmandu Valley & Bhutan Adventure