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Odysseys does everything with style, but without pretension. Beautiful meals and hotels. Excellent guides.

Barbara Schoetzau
New York, NY
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Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Opportunity to visit two Himalayan countries
  • Kathmandu touring
  • Kathmandu Valley excursion
  • Visit to Buddhist monastery
  • Lunch with a Nepalese family in their home
  • Patan’s traditional arts and handcrafts
  • Hindu shrine at Pashupatinath Temple
  • Thimphu touring
  • Dinner with a Bhutanese family
  • Raising prayer flags at Dochula Pass
  • Punakha river rafting trip
  • Beautiful Punakha Dzong
  • Historic Paro
  • Tiger’s Nest Monastery excursion
Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Kathmandu, Nepal

Day 2: Arrive Kathmandu We reach the Nepalese capital tonight and transfer to our hotel.

Day 3: Kathmandu This morning we meet our fellow travelers and Odysseys Tour Director for a briefing about the journey ahead. Then we get our first look at this landlocked Himalayan nation in Durbar Square, a jumble of ancient temples, palaces, courtyards, and streets. Next we visit hilltop Swayambhunath, the iconic Buddhist temple dating to about 500 CE. A 365-step climb brings us to the sacred UNESCO stupa, with its white dome, gilded spire, and all-seeing “eyes” of the Buddha. This afternoon we travel through Kathmandu Valley to Patan, known for its rich culture and artistic tradition. On a walking tour through the UNESCO site of Patan Durbar Square, we see some of the city’s many Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples. Late afternoon we return to our hotel, where tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner. B,D

Day 4: Kathmandu Today we see different aspects of Nepali life up close. First, we travel through the beautiful Kathmandu Valley to hilltop Kopan Monastery, home to 360 monks and lamas. With majestic views of the valley below, the monastery and associated nunnery welcome seekers and visitors to study, meditate, and learn about the Mahayana Buddhism practiced here. After our visit we enjoy a small group highlight as we share lunch with a local family in their home. Later we visit Shechen Clinic and Hospice, a humanitarian project that provides sustainable medical services to local residents; then tour Boudhanath, one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage sites. B,L,D

Day 5: Kathmandu/Nagarkot Leaving Kathmandu today, we stop at Nepal’s oldest and holiest Hindu shrine, ornate Pashupatinath Temple. Here we see sadhus and sages who, in following the lifestyle of Lord Shiva, wear loincloths and cover themselves with ashes. We also may witness cremation ceremonies along the river banks; displaying appropriate respect to the mourners is requested of all visitors. We travel on to Bhaktapur, the least developed of the valley’s three cities. Virtually a living open-air museum with its unspoiled ancient square and warrens of medieval streets, Bhaktapur is known for its fine artisans and many temples. We have time to explore then continue the scenic drive to Nagarkot, a hilltop village commanding a spectacular vista of Nepal’s major Himalayan peaks. B,L

Day 6: Nagarkot Early this morning we have an opportunity for an unforgettable experience: watching the sun rise over the fabled Himalaya from the hotel’s rooftop observatory. Later, we embark on an easy walk around the village, where we have the chance to meet local people. The remainder of the day is at leisure amid the stunning Himalayan scenery. B,D

Day 7: Nagarkot/Kathmandu/Thimphu, Bhutan We have another chance to see the sun rise over the peaks sacred in both Buddhism and Hinduism. Then we return to Kathmandu for the flight to Bhutan. Upon arrival in the Dragon Kingdom, we travel to the capital of Thimphu and our hotel, where we dine tonight. B,D

Day 8: Thimphu Today’s excursion begins at a local factory where paper is made by hand in the traditional way, followed by the Textile Museum, housing exquisite weavings from the 16th century to modern times. Later we visit Tashichho Dzong, the historic fortress and monastery that today houses temples and government offices, including those of the king; then Memorial Chorten, one of Bhutan’s best-loved religious landmarks. Tonight we attend a Bhutanese cultural performance then dine in the home of a local family. B,L,D

Day 9: Thimphu/Punakha En route to Punakha today, we visit Kunselphodrang, the recently built Buddha Point where the world’s largest sitting Buddha presides over the Thimphu valley. Then we set out for Punakha via Dochula Pass (alt. 10,000 feet), which offers views of snow-topped Himalayan peaks and where we follow the sacred tradition of raising prayer flags in the name of peace and compassion. We eat lunch here then continue on our way, stopping to visit a local rice farming village. Next: an easy amble through rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple built by the “Divine Madman” in 1499, now a pilgrimage site for couples struggling with infertility. Late this afternoon we reach Punakha, which sits at the confluence of the Mo Chu (“Mother”) and Pho Chu (“Father”) rivers in a sub-tropical valley. B,L,D

Day 10: Punakha We embark this morning on an exhilarating rafting trip on the Mo Chu River. This afternoon we visit Punakha Dzong, winter home of the central monastic community and one of the country’s most attractive fortress monasteries, set on a spit of land where the rivers meet. B,L,D

Day 11: Punakha/Thimphu/Paro We set out early to see more of Thimphu, including the National Library, with an immense collection of Buddhist manuscripts; and the Painting School, where students learn traditional Bhutanese arts. Late afternoon we depart for Paro, nestled in the center of a valley dotted with rice paddies, wheat fields, and scattered settlements. B,L,D

Day 12: Paro We begin our tour of this historic town at Ta-Dzong, the national museum showcasing Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage dating from at least 2000 BCE to the present day. Built in 1648 as a watchtower, the cylindrical-shaped museum houses a fine collection of Bhutanese art and artifacts. We also visit Rinpung Dzong, a superb example of Bhutanese architecture. After lunch we call on the sacred 7th-century pilgrimage temple of Kyichu Lhakhang, and the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, a 17th-century victory fortress. B,L,D

Day 13: Paro/Tiger’s Nest Monastery Today we embark on a highlight of any trip to Bhutan: a visit to Paro Taktsang, the sacred Tiger’s Nest monastery and temple complex perched on a cliff some 3,000 feet above the upper Paro Valley – itself at an altitude of 10,200 feet. We embark on our scenic uphill hike early this morning (rental horses are available to take visitors about two-thirds of the way). Those not wishing to climb all the way up can enjoy excellent views of Tiger’s Nest from a way-station cafeteria. Late afternoon we return to our hotel, where tonight we celebrate at a farewell dinner. B,L,D

Day 14: Paro/Kathmandu, Nepal/Depart for U.S. We fly this morning to Kathmandu, where we have day rooms and opportunities for exploring on our own, before our mid-afternoon departure for the airport and our overnight flights to the U.S. B,L

Day 15: Arrive U.S. We arrive in the U.S. and connect with our flights home.

Please note: This trip involves considerable walking uphill and on uneven terrain. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest. While elevations are not severe, the relatively high altitude of Nagarkot (7,000 feet) and Thimphu and Paro (both 7,500 feet) could pose problems for travelers with certain health conditions. You should consult your physician if you have concerns.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities; all flights within itinerary
  • 12 nights’ accommodations in Deluxe, Superior First Class, and First Class hotels
  • 31 meals: 12 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described
  • Services of Odysseys Unlimited Tour Directors
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after three tours; $300 after 10 tours)
Tour Dates & Prices

2019 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

Apr 2
Apr 9
Nov 19
Nov 26
Apr 23
May 3
Sep 10
Sep 17
Nov 5, 12
Oct 1
Oct 8
Oct 15
Oct 22
Boston, New York,
Washington, DC
$5,674$5,774$5,874
Atlanta, Baltimore,
Chicago, Cleve, Detroit, Miami,
Orlando, Philadelphia, Tampa
$6,064$6,174$6,274
Charlotte, Cincinnati,
Dallas, Hou, Los Ang,
Minn, San Francisco
$6,174$6,274$6,374
Denver, Phoenix,
Port (OR), Seattle
$6,274$6,374$6,474

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $779, which are subject to change until final payment has been made.

Single travelers please add $1,195. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days before departure. All 2019 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Depending on flight schedules, certain U.S. departure cities may require an overnight stay at the gateway city airport at your expense.

Business Class upgrade (subject to availability) on roundtrip Trans-Atlantic flight: $5,595 per person

A visa is required for this tour. Odysseys Unlimited will provide information about visa requirements upon reservation.

Accommodations
    Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Kathmandu / Days 2-4, 14 (day room) / Deluxe

    Featuring traditional Nepalese architectural design, the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu stands amidst 37 acres of gardens in the shadow of the Himalayas.  The 280-room hotel offers three restaurants, bar, and lounge; gift shop; fitness center; complimentary Wi-Fi internet access; jogging track; tennis courts; spa with sauna, steam bath, whirlpool, and massage treatments; outdoor pool; beauty salon; and laundry and dry cleaning services.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, ironing facilities, TV, and phone.

     

    Club Himalaya Nagarkot, Nagarkot / Days 5-6 / Superior First Class

    Club Himalaya Nagarkot sits at 7,200 feet and commands spectacular panoramic views of the valley and of the snowcapped Himalayans, particularly at sunrise or sunset. The hotel offers several restaurants and bar, rooftop observatory, indoor swimming pool, fitness center, spa with sauna and massage treatments, and library. Each of the 52 air-conditioned guest rooms features private bath with hair dryer, private balcony, TV, and phone.

    Druk Hotel, Thimphu / Days 7-8 / Superior First Class

    Centrally located in the heart of Thimphu, Druk Hotel is a close walk to many cafés and restaurants.  The hotel offers a modern and elegant atmosphere; and its design is influenced by nature with each floor subtly representing water, air, earth, fire, and sky.  Amenities include a restaurant, bar, spa, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and laundry and dry-cleaning services.  Each of the air-conditioned guest rooms has a private bath, tea- and coffee-making facilities, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

    Khuru Resort, Punakha / Days 9-10 / First Class

    Opened in 2016, the Khuru Resort is nestled among the hills of Punakha and sits on the banks of the Punakha river. This simple but comfortable hotel offers a restaurant, bar, spa, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and laundry facilities. Each of the 48 guest rooms has a private bath, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.

    Zhiwa Ling, Paro / Days 11-13 / Superior First Class

    Opened in 2005, Zhiwa Ling was constructed, carved, and painted by Bhutanese artists, and took more than five years to complete. The hotel is nestled in the hills outside Paro and combines Bhutanese design with modern amenities including two restaurants, a bar, library, game room, spa, fitness center, Tea House, Meditation House, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services. Each of the 45 guest rooms has a private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, in-room safe, and phone.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Tour Directors for this Journey
Dorji Gyeltshen

“Dorji is a superb expert on Buddhism, has good humor, is a good problem solver, and runs an effective show –and good leadership!”
Rainer Hantschel
Denver, CO

Krishna Kunwar

“Krishna actually took us walking among the locals, meeting unplanned citizens.  What a wonderful, interesting experience!”
Mary Underwood
Steubenville, OH

Binaya Rana

“Binaya was an awesome guide. Most professional, most friendly and most knowledgeable. He made the trip absolutely perfect! If I were to go to Nepal again, I would search him out as a guide and definitely recommend him to others.”
Jim Booth
Seattle, Washington

Sangay Rinzin

“[He was] outstanding. Couldn’t have asked for a tour director to be any or do any more!”
Paula Race
Sunbury, OH

Rinzin Dorji

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

 

Rinchen Dorji

“I cannot say enough good things about Rinchen. He was everything you could expect in a guide! And then time and again he went over and above expectations. Rinchen has an amazing openness that is so wonderful. He makes you feel really special, and as if Bhutan really, really welcomes you.”
Jim Booth
Seattle, WA

Suresh Shrestha

“Suresh was outstanding in his knowledge of the country and making sure we understood about the people, religions and beauty of the country.”
Greg & Susan Rambo
Portland, OR

Anup Shrestha

“Anup Shrestha was also very kind and knowledgeable. I was the only guest on the Nepal Extension tour, so he offered to customize my experience to include more hiking (as I had hoped). I appreciated that.”
Valerie Wagner
New York, NY

Anup Tuladhar

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Niraj Maharjan

“Niraj was a good organizer and a warm guide. Good job.”
Rainer Hantschel
Denver, CO

Ramesh Acharya

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Sanjay Nepal

“Very personable – enjoyed his humor & describing customs of Nepal – excellent guide.”
Nancy Whitfield
Hobart, WI

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading

Peter Matthiessen
The Snow Leopard
The most perceptive, acutely observed and personal of all his books, Matthiessen’s account of a five-week journey through Nepal with naturalist George Schaller combines their quest for the elusive cat with a moving introduction to Buddhism and the people and culture of the Himalayas.

Barbara Crossette
So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas
Asia correspondent for the New York Times Crossette portrays Bhutan and neighboring Ladakh and Sikkim as strongholds of Tantric Buddhism in an increasingly homogenized world.

Erin Levi
Bradt Bhutan
A compact guide to Bhutan, its history, wildlife, culture and attractions. With maps, town plans and lots of practical travel information.

Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet Nepal
A comprehensive, practical guide to Nepal.

Nelles
Himalaya Map
A colorful regional map of the Himalayas at a scale of 1:1,500,000, including Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Sikkim.

Mary-Jo O’Rourke (Editor)
Lonely Planet Nepali Phrasebook
A palm-sized guide to pronunciation, grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

Michael Aris
The Raven Crown
Aris chronicles the rise of the Wangchuk dynasty in this beautifully illustrated history of the kingdom and its 20th-century monarchy, featuring 106 rare photographs.

Michael Buckley
Shangri-la: A Practical Guide to the Himalayan Dream
With marvelous chapters on the many meanings and myths surrounding Shangri-La, Buckley’s practical guide covers the contenders for this mythical Himalayan paradise in Southwest China, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. With many maps and color photographs.

Matthieu Ricard
Bhutan, The Land of Serenity
A Buddhist monk, photographer and French interpreter for the Dalai Lama, Ricard draws on his time in Bhutan over the last 25 years for this intimate portrait. With illuminating chapters on the remarkable Khyentse Rinpoche, sacred art, architecture, dancing monks and ceremonies.

Broughton Coburn (Editor), Richard C. Blum (Editor), Erica Stone (Editor)
Himalaya, Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge, and Hope on the Roof of the World
A beautifully photographed overview of the geology, history and people of the Himalayas.

Karma Phuntsho
The History of Bhutan
This is the first book to offer a comprehensive history of Bhutan, a very young nation and the happiest country in Asia.

Russ and Blyth Carpenter
The Blessings of Bhutan
Head-over-heels in love with Bhutan, the Carpenters introduce their adopted home, its people, customs, religion and history.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
What Makes You Not a Buddhist
Born in Bhutan in 1961, a Tibetan lama and filmmaker (Travellers and Magicians), Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche gives a decidedly modern take on dharma, happiness, suffering and enlightenment in this engaging primer.

Maurice Herzog
Annapurna, The Epic Account of a Himalayan Conquest and its Harrowing Aftermath
Conrad Anker provides a new foreword for this 60th-anniversary edition of Maurice Herzog’s classic, dictated from his hospital bed in Paris. French Minister of Youth and Sport in the 1960s and former mayor of Chamonix, Herzog recovered nicely.

Linda Leaming
Married to Bhutan
Enraptured by the customs, land and people of Bhutan, where she has lived and worked for ten years, Leaming writes with humor and candor about her often-bumpy cultural immersion, her romance with a Buddhist artist and her unexpected path to happiness.

Jamie Zeppa
Beyond the Sky and the Earth
Zeppa’s memoir of her time as a teacher in a remote Bhutanese village shows her growing love and commitment to the people and culture.

Lisa Napoli
Radio Shangri-La
Napoli’s memoir of her time working on a fledgling Bhutanese radio station. She writes with frankness and clarity about the contradictions, poverty and reality of much mythologized Bhutan.

Jeff Greenwald
Snake Lake
A touching memoir by journalist Greenwald who returns to his old haunts in Kathmandu during the Maoist uprising. He struggles to balance his journeying with obligations to his depressed brother back home in the United States

Kim Stanley Robinson
Escape from Kathmandu
The four interconnected stories in this laugh-out-loud novel include the (mis)adventures of two young Americans with a Yeti, international espionage, mountain climbing of the highest sort and a quest for Shangri-La.

Daphne Beal
In the Land of No Right Angles
Beal evokes the grit of Kathmandu and the emotional intricacies of trying to do good in the world in this tale of a young American student abroad, an older expat and a young village woman whose life they change forever.

Khyentse Norbu (Director)
Travellers and Magicians
The first feature shot on location in Bhutan, this film, directed by a respected lama, follows a young official on his odyssey across the country. Along the way he is joined by a mischievous monk, an elderly peddler and an old man with his daughter.

Guy Mountefort, Gerald Cubitt (Photographer)
Wild India, The Wildlife of India and Nepal
An informative introduction to the natural history of the region in a handsome oversize volume. With hundreds of extraordinary photographs of the wildlife and landscapes of the Himalayas, the Indo-Ganges Plain and the Deccan.

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