Lee Frost Photography
BHUTAN - THE LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON
UPDATE JUNE 22ND 2021: I HAVE RESERVED ALL THE PLACES ON THIS TRIP SO CURRENTLY THERE ARE NONE AVAILABLE. THAT SITUATION MAY CHANGE, SO IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOININ THE TRIP, PLEASE CLICK ON JOIN THE WAITING LIST AND I WILL NOTIFY YOU IF ANY PLACES COME AVAILABLE.
IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS TRIP IS BEING RUN IN CONJUNCTION WITH INTREPID TRAVEL, SO ALL BOOKINGS MUST BE MADE DIRECT WITH INTREPID. PLEASE DO NOT BOOK VIA THIS WEBSITE OR PAY A DEPOSIT TO ME!
The tiny Kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalaya, or the 'Thunder Dragon Kingdom', has successfully remained isolated from the outside world for many centuries. Only at the time of the previous King's coronation (1974) was the first trickle of foreigners allowed in. Prior to the building of the road from India to Thimphu, even visiting Indian presidents took 6 days on horseback to visit the King. It still remains a secretive Kingdom and the present king is keen to preserve its unique customs and traditions by limiting the number of tourists who are allowed to visit.
Buddhism is central to the lives of pretty much everyone and religion is practised to a level unseen in Europe for centuries, which encourages spiritual wellbeing and promises a decent afterlife! Everyone wears national costume (it’s the law), and Gross National Happiness (GNH) is considered more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Bhutan is officially one of the happiest countries in the world!
Its history is a capsule of all that is mystical about the Himalaya; re-incarnate rulers, who used black magic to defeat Tibetan aggressors, lama-saints, who foretold the future and who fought demons opposed to the spread of Buddhism, and civil wars between powerful district governors, or penlops, who laid plot and counter-plot in an endless cycle of strife and assassinations.
This tour is designed to take you 'under the skin' of Bhutanese society. Not only does the itinerary take you right into the interior of the kingdom, but our Bhutanese guide will also organise visits to weaving centres, villages, monasteries and any special events and festivals that may be taking place. There is no hard walking involved, other than a trek to the legendary Tiger's Nest Monastery, but there is gentle exercise on strolls around the townships, plus visits to villages. There are also exciting road journeys following twisting mountain roads and crossing high passes in a comfortable mini-coach.
One of the main reasons tourists visit Bhutan is to attend its ancient festivals, or Tsechus. These take place pretty much every month of the year in different parts of the country and consist of a series of elaborate masked dances put on by the monks to honour Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. When there’s a tsechu in town it’s like a national holiday - schools close, everyone dons their finery and local people travel from all over the district to attend. Photographically, these festivals are fantastic, offering amazing photo opportunities to capture not only the masked dances, but the local watching intently. We'll also aim to get 'back stage' to photograph the monks as they prepare for the enxt dance, or take a breather. You'll feel like you're on assignment for National Geographic!
During the trip we will also visit and photograph numerous Buddhist monasteries, known in Bhutan as Dzongs. These ancient fortified buildings occupy amazing positions in the landscape and are also the venue for the Tsechus. We will also attend an archery match (archery and a national sport in Bhutan), tour the country's beautiful and unspoiled mountainous landscape (over 70% of Bhutan is covered in trees and it's the only carbon-negative country in the world), and explore local towns and villages to witness local Bhutanese people going about their daily lives. For many, the highlight of any trip to Bhutan is the walk to the Taktshang Goemba, or Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched on the edge of a sheer cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro Valley. The location is spectacular!
Once our stay in Bhutan is over, we'll fly from Paro back to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and spend 2 nights in this amazing Himalayan city. With a local guide we will explore numerous locations in and around the city including Durbar Square, Pashupatinath on the banks of the Bagmati River, Boudhnath Stupa, Ason Market, Bhaktapur, the 'City of Devotees' where life has changed little since Medieval times, and Nagarkot where we'll capture Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks at sunset!
This promises to be an unforgettable trip to one of the world's last 'Hidden Kingdoms'. A full and detailed itinerary will be sent out on request.
Check out my Bhutan portfolio - https://www.leefrost.co.uk/portfolio/show/category/bhutan - for more inspiration!
At A Glance...
Deposit / Price
£200.00 / £4,795.00
Sharing Discount - £545.00
02nd - 17th April, 2022
3 nights’ accommodation in Kathmandu, 11 nights in Bhutan; all meals (breakfast and dinner in respective hotels and lunch at local tourist restaurants in Bhutan); welcome dinner and farewell dinner in Kathmandu, Nepal; all transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary in Kathmandu and Bhutan; English speaking accompanying guide in Bhutan and in Kathmandu and guidance/tuition from Lee Frost; Governmental royalty and tax; entrances in Nepal and Bhutan; Bhutan visa fee
Flights to/from Bhutan (flights will be recommended), Nepal visa, any meals in Kathmandu except breakfast and 2 dinners (welcome and farewell), Insurance of any kind / medical expenses, expenses of personal nature (tipping, laundry, beverages etc)
Max Group Size