Nepal/Bhutan private tour

By Guenther Eichhorn
This item appears on page 27 of the March 2014 issue.
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I spent 11 nights in Nepal, Oct. 22-Nov. 2, 2012, and four in Bhutan, Nov. 2-6, with a private guide and driver in each country. The trip was arranged by Himalaya Holiday Service (G.P.O. Box No. 9831, Kathmandu, Nepal; phone/fax +977 1438 9594), and I was very happy with its itinerary and organization.

The land price of $2,990 included 3-star hotels, some meals, drivers, guides, admission fees and a Bhutan visa and permit. Airfare from Bangkok, Thailand, to Nepal along with internal flights and the flight back to Bangkok totaled $1,127.

In Nepal I was driven from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park, where, walking with guides, I saw three rhinos. The next morning, on elephantback, we saw several types of deer but no rhinos or bears. The elephant grass was so tall that it was difficult to see anything.

We took a canoe on a small river into the park, then continued on foot, seeing rhinos but keeping a good distance from them.

I was then driven to Pokhara, where I saw the World Peace Pagoda and visited a waterfall and cave site, both interesting. Next morning, we made an early start (4:30) to drive and then hike 40 minutes to the summit of Sarangkot to watch the sun rise over the Annapurna mountain range. Hiking back down to Pokhara took almost three hours.

On the flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu I sat on the right-hand side of the plane and missed the views of the Himalayas. Seating was open, so you needed to rush to get a left-side seat.

In Kathmandu and for the rest of my time in Nepal, my guide was Paras Mani Amgain. He was great — very knowledgeable about the history and architecture of Nepal and about Hindu legends.

One highlight in Nepal — at Nagarkot I watched the sun set over the Himalayas and saw it rise the following morning. Spectacular!

On my last full day in Nepal, Paras and I visited several interesting sites, including Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, the Bagmati River with the cremation sites, and Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist sites.

On the flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan, I sat on the left side and had a great view of Mt. Everest.

In Paro, my guide, Yadop Kaf, and our driver picked me up at the airport and we visited the capital, Thimphu, including a mini-zoo with takins, the Bhutanese national animal.

We drove over Dochula Pass to the Chimi Lhakhang temple, and in Punakha I caught a glimpse of the King of Bhutan and his consort at the Punakha Dzong.

On the third day, I visited the Takstang (Tiger’s Lair) Monastery. Every report about Bhutan shows pictures of this monastery, which is built into a 3,000-foot-high vertical cliff. It was spectacular to visit.

You can drive to within about a kilometer of the cliff, at an altitude of about 8,600 feet, and from there continue on foot or horseback. The monastery is at about 10,300 feet.

It is a quite strenuous climb. Fortunately, they have horses for hire for $20 each — well worth it. With my guide leading the horse up the mountain, I was on horseback for about 1½ hours and then walked for another half hour to the monastery.

Heading down took two hours, including a half hour for lunch halfway down.

GUENTHER EICHHORN

Scottsdale, AZ

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I spent 11 nights in Nepal, Oct. 22-Nov. 2, 2012, and four in Bhutan, Nov. 2-6, with a private guide and driver in each country. The trip was arranged by Himalaya Holiday Service (G.P.O. Box No. 9831, Kathmandu, Nepal; phone/fax +977 1438 9594), and I was very happy with its itinerary and organization.

The land price of $2,990 included 3-star hotels, some meals, drivers, guides, admission fees and a Bhutan visa and permit. Airfare from Bangkok, Thailand, to Nepal along with internal flights and the flight back to Bangkok totaled $1,127.

In Nepal I was driven from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park, where, walking with guides, I saw three rhinos. The next morning, on elephantback, we saw several types of deer but no rhinos or bears. The elephant grass was so tall that it was difficult to see anything.

We took a canoe on a small river into the park, then continued on foot, seeing rhinos but keeping a good distance from them.

I was then driven to Pokhara, where I saw the World Peace Pagoda and visited a waterfall and cave site, both interesting. Next morning, we made an early start (4:30) to drive and then hike 40 minutes to the summit of Sarangkot to watch the sun rise over the Annapurna mountain range. Hiking back down to Pokhara took almost three hours.

On the flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu I sat on the right-hand side of the plane and missed the views of the Himalayas. Seating was open, so you needed to rush to get a left-side seat.

In Kathmandu and for the rest of my time in Nepal, my guide was Paras Mani Amgain. He was great — very knowledgeable about the history and architecture of Nepal and about Hindu legends.

One highlight in Nepal — at Nagarkot I watched the sun set over the Himalayas and saw it rise the following morning. Spectacular!

On my last full day in Nepal, Paras and I visited several interesting sites, including Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, the Bagmati River with the cremation sites, and Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist sites.

On the flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan, I sat on the left side and had a great view of Mt. Everest.

In Paro, my guide, Yadop Kaf, and our driver picked me up at the airport and we visited the capital, Thimphu, including a mini-zoo with takins, the Bhutanese national animal.

We drove over Dochula Pass to the Chimi Lhakhang temple, and in Punakha I caught a glimpse of the King of Bhutan and his consort at the Punakha Dzong.

On the third day, I visited the Takstang (Tiger’s Lair) Monastery. Every report about Bhutan shows pictures of this monastery, which is built into a 3,000-foot-high vertical cliff. It was spectacular to visit.

You can drive to within about a kilometer of the cliff, at an altitude of about 8,600 feet, and from there continue on foot or horseback. The monastery is at about 10,300 feet.

It is a quite strenuous climb. Fortunately, they have horses for hire for $20 each — well worth it. With my guide leading the horse up the mountain, I was on horseback for about 1½ hours and then walked for another half hour to the monastery.

Heading down took two hours, including a half hour for lunch halfway down.

GUENTHER EICHHORN

Scottsdale, AZ