HIMALAYAN KINGDOMS

A Cultural tour of Nepal, Bhutan & Sikkim, India

Valery Efimenko

This tour to the most exotic part of the world, will help discover nature’s most beautiful foothills of the Himalayas. We will also have a unique cultural interaction with fascinating writers, painters and scholars with their timeless traditions, see unique architecture with the stunning backdrop of mountainous landscapes. For centuries, the monarchy setup shaped the political and cultural traditions of these three bordering countries. Today, the monarchy remains only in Bhutan, which has never been colonized. Since 2006, Bhutan has been ruled by the current king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who is also known as the "Dragon King". Nepal on the other hand, was under various dynasties from time immemorial only to collapse in 2008. The 2015 Constitution of Nepal, declared the country as a secular parliamentary republic. Sikkim became a full fledged state (from an autonomous region) within India on May 16, 175. This multiethnic society became the second smallest amongst the 29 states and 7 Union Territories India. Each Himalayan kingdom is rich with its own traditions, history and culture making this an unforgettable tour. This tour is escorted by the renowned scholar and tour host, Dr. Valery Efimenko.

TOUR HOST
Dr. Valery Efimenko graduated from the Oriental Department of St. Petersburg State University. For over thirty years, his academic interests were focused on East Indian studies and most of his publications are related to Indian culture, philosophy, and religion. For many years Valery was teaching at the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow, and the Moscow University Touro, the first American university in Russia, He taught courses such as History of Eastern Philosophy, Indian Cultural Traditions, and Comparative Religions. He lived in India and has widely traveled the Indian subcontinent. In 1990-1991 he was an exchange professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. From 2004 to he taught for the Continuing Education Department at the University of Calgary. His most popular courses are Comparative Religions and Introduction to Indian Culture. He has conducted a number of study tours for the University of Calgary to India, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Russia, and Central Asia. Dr Valery speaks a number of languages.

Tour Information
Tour Duration : 16 days
Min. Tour Size : 10 persons
Max. Tour Size : 16 persons
Tour Price (From) : US$ 5195
Includes international air
Day 01: October 24, 2020: Arrive Kathmandu (NEPAL)
(D)
Day 02: October 25, 2020: Kathmandu
(B, D)
Day 03: October 26, 2020: Kathmandu/Patan/Kathmandu (Drive)
(B, D)
Day 04: October 27, 2020: Kathmandu/Bhaktapur/Kathmandu (Drive)
(B, D)
Day 05: October 28, 2020: Kathmandu/Paro (Flight) /Thimphu (BHUTAN)
(B, L, D)
Day 06: October 29, 2020: Thimphu
(B, L, D)
Day 07: October 30, 2020: Thimphu/Paro (Drive) 
(B, L, D)
Day 08: October 31, 2020: Paro
(B, L, D)
Day 09: November 01, 2020: Paro/Haa Valley/Paro (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 10: November 02, 2020: Paro/Darjeeling (Flight) (INDIA)
(B, L, D)
Day 11: November 03, 2020: Darjeeling
(B, D)
Day 12: November 04, 2020: Darjeeling/Gangtok
(B, D)
Day 13: November 05, 2020: Gangtok
(B, D)
Day 14: November 06, 2020: Gangtok/Tsangmo Lake/Gangtok (Drive)
(B, D)
Day 15: November 07, 2020: Gangtok/Delhi (Flight)
(B, D)
Day 16: November 08, 2020: Depart Delhi
(B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Day 01: October 24, 2020: Arrive Kathmandu (NEPAL)

Arrival at Kathmandu with a Nepal Namaste! One of the most enchanting travel destinations in the world, Nepal offers a heady mixture of unique culture proudly preserved; mind boggling adventure and remarkable natural beauty. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city in Nepal, sitting at an altitude of 1,300 meters. Upon arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel. Evening we meet our tour host Dr. Valery and other tour participants over a Nepali welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight: Akama Hotel, Kathmandu (4 nights) (D)

Day 02: October 25, 2020: Kathmandu

Discover Kathmandu with a morning city tour. We start at Durbar Square, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a beautiful complex of palaces, courtyards and temples built between the 12th and 18th centuries, which used to be the seat of the ancient Malla kings of Kathmandu. It is in this complex where former kings of Nepal were crowned. We then explore Kumari Palace, home to the Kumari, a young girl worshipped as a living goddess. Next is Swayambhunath Stupa, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal and a World Heritage Site. Afternoon, we tour Bouddhanath Stupa, located 8 kilometers east of Kathmandu. This colossal structure is one of the biggest stupas in Nepal, and revered as the most important centre of Tibetan Buddhism in the country. We then experience Pashupatinath Temple, the largest Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and one of the holiest shrines for Hindus. The temple was first established in the 5th century and served as the seat of the national deity, Shiva Pshupatinath (‘the protector of all the living beings’). We culminate the day with a visit to the local market. (B, D)

Day 03: October 26, 2020: Kathmandu/Patan/Kathmandu (Drive)

An extraordinary expereince today as have an optional scenic flight over the breathtaking Himalayas to see Mount Everest and other peaks (Cost US$ 320 per person inclusive of tranfers – flight subject to weather). Special: The first four participants to sign up for this tour and before November 30, 2019, get this FREE. Later on, excursion to Patan. This ancient city, also called Lalitpur, is situated on the sacred Bagmati River is famous for its arts and crafts. Full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments, the region is also known as the city with a thousand golden roofs. We visit Patan Durbar Square and its most prominent attraction, the Krishna Mandir, which was built in the 17th century. Later, we continue to visit the Narayanhiti Palace (Durbar), the throne and residence of the former Shah Kings of Nepal. It has now been converted into the Narayanhiti Durbar Museum taking it’s name from the Narayanhiti, a famous historic waterspout situated here.  The museum is situated near the touristic hub Thamel and has been a popular visit by tourists.

Spread in an area of over 700 acres, the museum has various historical relics, artefacts, sculptures and wildlife trophies on display for the public. King Birendra, queen Aishwarya and their two children and five other relatives were killed reportedly here by the crown prince Dipendra, who at the end turned the gun on himself in the notorious royal massacre of 2001. Kathmandu is an ideal city for a walk in the evening and we get to meet Nepalese who are well known for their hospitality. (B, D)

Day 04: October 27, 2020: Kathmandu/Bhaktapur/Kathmandu (Drive)

Morning we make our way to Bhaktapur, the third largest city in the Kathmandu Valley, located on the old trade route to Tibet. Bhaktapur was the capital of Nepal from the 12th to the 15th centuries. It is famous for its traditional art and architecture, pottery and weaving industries, rich local customs and culture. The most important attractions are the Durbar Square and Nyatapol Temple. The Durbar Square reflects the city's rich culture, art and architectural design, it is also the central setting of the city for architectural monuments and arts. The Nyatapol Temple, built in 1708, is 30 meters tall, and is the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. The Bhaktapur National Art Gallery houses rare paintings and manuscripts, as well as brass, bronze, stone and wooden images of the medieval art tradition of Nepal. Later proceed to a nearby rural area to see the farming activities of the paddy fields and the agricultural techniques followed by Nepali farmers for centuries. Meet a farmer family and learn about the challenges of their life and work. (B, D)

Day 05: October 28, 2020: Kathmandu/Paro (Flight) /Thimphu (BHUTAN)

We are transferred to the airport for our flight to Paro in Bhutan. Upon arrival at the Paro International Airport, we are transferred to Thimphu, capital and the largest city of Bhutan. Having never been colonized, Bhutan presents a rich history of Buddhism, an intact culture and stunning Himalayan panoramas. We take an exciting city tour of Thimphu. Our explorations take us to the National Memorial Chorten, built as a memorial to Bhutan’s third king and now a monument of world peace, and Tashichho Dzong, seat of both the Bhutanese government and the king. Time permitting, we go for a walk around Thimpu in the evening.

Overnight: Namseling Boutique Hotel, Thimphu (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 06: October 29, 2020: Thimphu

Our day in Thimphu is dedicated to an exploration of the local museums. The Folk Heritage Museum provides a glimpse into traditional Bhutanese life. The National Textile Museum houses a substantial collection of antique textile artefacts, exclusive to Bhutan. At the National Library, ancient manuscripts are preserved. We will also see the National Post Office Headquarters, where we can make stamps with our own pictures. Then, we will visit Changangkha Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Thimphu, built in the 12th century and famous for the impressive eleven-headed, thousand-armed statue of Buddha Avolokitesavara. Later, drive to Buddha Point (Kuenselphodrang). Here, we can pay our obeisance and offer prayers to the largest Buddha statue in the country, then walk around and savour the valley view. Enjoy a traditional mask dance and cultural show in the evening. (B, L, D)

Day 07: October 30, 2020: Thimphu/Paro (Drive) 

Today, we will visit the fascinating School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, where young Bhutanese students are taught the traditional art of painting Thankhas. We also see the Handicraft Emporium, where traditional textiles, arts and crafts are on display. Later, drive to Paro. En route, we visit Simtokha Dzong, a small, scenic monastery built in 1629. After lunch, take time to explore Ta Dzong and the National Museum of Bhutan, covering more than 1,500 years of Bhutan’s cultural heritage showcasing masterpieces of bronze statues and paintings. We will enjoy an exciting visit of the Rinpung Dzong (‘Fortress of the Heap of Jewels’). We culminate the touring with a visit to a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse.

Overnight: Hotel Olathang/Tashi Namgay Resort, Paro (3 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 08: October 31, 2020: Paro

After breakfast, we take part in an exciting excursion to discover one of the most famous Bhutanese monasteries, Taktshang. Also known as the “Tiger’s Nest”, Taktshang is perched on the side of a cliff 900 meters above the Paro valley floor. The site is one of the most sacred places in the country and all Bhutanese strive to visit it at least once in their life. We also stop at Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. At Kyichu Lhakhang we visit one of the oldest monasteries in the country dating from the 7th century. In the evening, we stroll through the narrow lanes of Paro, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere and having a good opportunity to meet the local folks. (B, L, D)

Day 09: November 01, 2020: Paro/Haa Valley/Paro (Drive)

Day excursion to the Haa Valley, also known as the “Hidden Land Rice Valley”. Opened for tourism in 2002, the breathtaking Haa Valley is one of the more remote valleys in the kingdom of Bhutan. We will see the Chellela Pass, which provides an incredible view of Himalayan snowclad peaks, before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant. We will explore Lhakhang Karpo, the “white temple”, and Lhakhang Nagpo, the “black temple”.  Evening, a walk through the town and time to do shopping of traditional Bhutanese crafts. (B, L, D)

Day 10: November 02, 2020: Paro/Darjeeling (Flight) (INDIA)

Morning is free. After an early lunch, we are transferred to Paro airport for our flight to Bagdogra located in the Indian state of West Bengal. Our destination is the enchanting Darjeeling (Dorje Ling or the Palace of Thunderbolt) over an interesting and scenic 120Kms drive. Time permitting, we take a walking tour of Darjeeling and visit the local bazaar. This bustling town, the queen of hill stations of India, spells the nostalgia of the British Raj (rule) with its historical sites and legendary heritage. It is also well know for the warmth of the local folks.

Overnight: Sinclair Hotel, Darjeeling (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 11: November 03, 2020: Darjeeling

Darjeeling is noted for its sprawling and scenic tea plantations, as well as its views of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain. Until the early 19th century, the hilly area around Darjeeling, was controlled by the Kingdom of Sikkim. Early morning, we enjoy an excursion to Tiger Hill for a picturesque view over the Himalayas. On the way back, we stop at Ghoom Monastery. After breakfast, we explore the Japanese Peace Pagoda, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Zoological Park and Tea Garden.

Afternoon, we add one more and probably the most very unusual UNESCO World Heritage Sites - The Darjeeling Toy Train to our collection. The Toy Train has been in operations since the 1880’s (that is over 140 years) and takes mini coaches across steep breathtaking hills overcoming almost impossible curves and gradients using engineering ingenuity and creative skills. This will be one of your most interesting train rides. (B, D)

Day 12: November 04, 2020: Darjeeling/Gangtok

Following breakfast, we journey from Darjeeling through semi-tropical forests, cardamom plantations and small villages to Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim. Visit Tashi Viewpoint for an incredible panoramic and Hanuman Tok, a stunning Hindu temple complex.

Overnight: The Royal Plaza Hotel, Gangtok (3 nights) (B, D)

Day 13: November 05, 2020: Gangtok

After breakfast, we explore Rumtek Monastery, Dodrul Chorten and the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. We also visit Enchey Monastery, a handicraft centre and a flower exhibition. This evening is free for shopping. (B, D)

Day 14: November 06, 2020: Gangtok/Tsangmo Lake/Gangtok (Drive)

Enjoy a full day excursion to beautiful Tsangmo Lake. This stunning glacial lake, set against a mountain backdrop, sits at an altitude of 3,800 meters. The lake is the centre of many myths and legends and is revered by the Sikkimese as sacred. (B, D)

Day 15: November 07, 2020: Gangtok/Delhi (Flight)

Morning drive to Bagdogra airport. We take a short flight to New Delhi. Upon arrival, we are transferred to our hotel. Balance of the day is free.

Overnight: Vivanta By Taj Dwarka, New Delhi (1 night) (B, D)

Day 16: November 08, 2020: Depart Delhi

After our incredible journey through the three Himalayan kingdoms, we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight. Or, take an optional extension to see the incredible Taj Mahal in Agra. Please ask for details.

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Departure Dates & Prices

We accept payments in US$, CA$ as well as in other convertible currencies like EUR, AUD and GBP. Tour prices have been costed in US$. CA$ price shown below is an indicative amount reached at by using the conversion rate at the time of web posting and will be applicable if there is no change in the conversion rate. Should the currency conversion rate change, the US$ pricing will prevail. Bestway Tours & Safaris offers a conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here

2020 Per Person on
Twin Sharing
Single Room
Supplement
Estimated Airfare (FROM)+
Departure(s) East Coast West Coast
October 24 US$ 5195 US$ 835 US$ 900 US$ 1000
2020 Per Person on
Twin Sharing
Single Room
Supplement
Estimated Airfare (FROM)+
Departure(s) East Coast West Coast
October 24 CA$ 6995 CA$ 1130 CA$ 1300 CA$ 1300


Notes

◆ Visas required: Nepal (upon arrival) US$ 30; Bhutan (included in tour cost); India E Visas (CA$ 82/US$ 100)
◆ 1st Deposit is US$ 1000 per person
◆ 2nd deposit of within tour airfare (included in the tour cost) of US$ 550 per person due Dec 10, 2019
◆ Balance of tour cost due Aug 03, 2020



Inclusions


Tour Price Includes
  • Domestic airfares - Within tour airfare Kathmandu/Paro & Bagdogra/Delhi (currently at US$ 550)
  • Toy Train ride at Darjeeling
  • Accommodation as mentioned or similar, including hotel taxes
  • 36 Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All sightseeing and transfers by private air-conditioned transportation
  • Services of English-speaking escort throughout the tour for sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • Entrances fees to museums & sites included in the itinerary
  • Bhutan visa fee
  • Traditional farmhouse visit at Paro
Not Included
  • International airfare
  • Insurance/visas (except for Bhutan visa)
  • Tips/gratuities, including gifts for farmers during farm visit

Participants

This tour operates on a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 16 participants

Customised Itinerary

If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.

Contact Info
You may e-mail us at bestway@bestway.com or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.

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