There is mystery and magic in the Himalaya, in the eerie chanting of
maroon-robed monks in brightly painted monasteries, in the snow plumes
trailing from high peaks, and in the shy smiles of Buddhist pilgrims at their
ancient temples. We enter this world by exploring three exotic Himalayan lands,
experiencing Tibet through the immense power of places like mandala-shaped
Samye Monastery, founded 1,200 years ago, the flourishing Tibetan Buddhist
kingdom of Bhutan, where we hike up to the hermitage of Taktsang, the “Tiger’s
Nest, ” and witness a traditional festival with masked dances, and Nepal, where
the ancient past lingers on in the temple-filled streets and vibrant bazaars of
Kathmandu. Throughout, we encounter an array of peoples from nomads to
lamas and relish some of the most majestic mountain scenery on earth.
The Tsechu Festivals: It is extraordinary to witness Bhutan’s traditional Tsechu
and Dromche Festivals, held in Paro in the spring and in Thimphu in the fall.
The Tsechu celebrates events in the life of Padmasambhava, the 8th century
master who brought Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan, while the Dromche reenacts
events during the historic war against the Tibetans in the 17th century. Festivals
last several days and are attended by Bhutanese from all around the countryside,
who leave their farms and dress in their finery to gather and celebrate with
friends. The festival’s sacred masked dances are wonderfully photogenic,
performed both by costumed monks and laymen in monastery courtyards under
the brilliant cobalt sky.
This trip is rated: Level 2+, easy to moderate. It features vehicle-based sightseeing with day walks and hotel/lodge accommodations throughout. Our optional day hikes take place at altitudes of 4,000-13,000 feet. All hiking is with a daypack only, and you always have the option to skip any hike you don’t want to undertake. This trip is appropriate for anyone in good health living an active outdoor lifestyle. Although you carry only a daypack on the walks, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. Daily brisk walking and/or regular hiking (or using a stair-climbing machine at your gym) are excellent preparatory exercises. You should wear sturdy, well-broken-in footwear. Accommodations in Tibet and Bhutan range from rustic to deluxe. The Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro, the Taj Tashi in Thimphu, and the Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu are deluxe and offer a great deal of comfort, while the lodge in Punakha and the hotels in Lhasa and Tsetang are well situated and cozy but somewhat rustic.
You must arrange your travel plans to arrive in Chendu, China, at least one day before Day 1
of the trip. Extra overnight(s) in Chengdu can be arranged on your own or by Wilderness Travel (an on
your own expense).