A geological and cultural tour through the spiritual Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
5 to 18 November 2022 Special Interest


A small Group tour led by Dr Danny Clark-Lowes Geologist Special Interest

Join us for an adventure into the Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan, the heights of the Himalayas surrounding us on all sides, providing breath-taking views. Glimpse a window into a living culture, relatively untainted by external influences and still dominated by spiritual teachings. On our tour we will explore the geology, natural history and culture of this fascinating sovereign nation. We will travel through a mountainous landscape fashioned from a variety of bedrock schists, gneisses and granites which are folded and thrust into impressively-deformed exposures. We journey through a range of climatic belts from sub-tropical to Alpine and Himalayan, each with its own diverse bird life. An extensive arc of Eastern Himalayan Alpine shrub rises to the perpetually snow-capped peaks which tower impressively over the northern regions of the country, dominated by the holy and unclimbed Gangkhar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan (7,570m above sea level).

Important - Please note:

Every effort is made to follow the itinerary as detailed below to maximise your enjoyment on this Tour.  Sometimes however, local conditions and restrictions as well as unpredictable weather may cause changes to be made on the spot at the sole discretion of the Tour Leader. We will make every effort to substitute suitable alternatives.

Dr Danny Clark-Lowes

Dr Danny Clark-Lowes will lead this tour to Bhutan. He is a geologist, educated at Cambridge and London universities, who has given industry training courses on geology at locations throughout the world. As well as publishing scientific papers and books on geology, he is a mountaineer who has climbed in the Swiss Alps and in the Himalaya. He has been leading Himalayan trips for some four years now.


14 days from £4,375.00 per person
London – Kolkata – Bagdogra – Phuentsholing – Paro – Thimphu - Cheri Goemba – Punakha – Gangtey – Punakha – Gasa – Thimphu – Paro – Kolkata - London

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Itinerary View Map
Soaring above the clouds a view from the airplane window

Day 1: Depart from London for Kolkata

Saturday 5 November

Departure to Kolkata via Dubai by Emirate airlines EK

Departures from regional UK airports are available from New Castle , Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Gatwick, Dublin and London city airport. Please contact us for details.

If you are not a resident in UK and want to join this tour please contact us for prices without International flights.

Day 2: Kolkata

Sunday 6 November

Arrive Kolkata in the morning. Transfer to the Lalit Grand Eastern Hotel. Sightseeing of the historic city of Kolkata in the afternoon. A heritage walk and visit to British Cemeteries with a local historian of Kolkata.

Night stay at the Grand Eastern Hotel.

Day 3: To Bagdogra & Phuentsholing

Monday 7 November

Fly from Kolkata to Bagdogra and drive to Phuentsholing in Bhutan, close to the national border.

We travel through subtropical vegetation viewing occasional outcrops of the sedimentary Siwalik Series (sandstones and conglomerates). Notice the spectacular architecture of the buildings as we cross from India into Bhutan, the border marked by a rather charming gate. Note also the change in culture from India, with Bhutanese praying in the centre of town.

Night stay at Phuentsholing.
B, L, D

Day 4: To Thimpu

Tuesday 8 November

Today we drive north, gaining height steadily to Thimphu, to spend the night at Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan. Night stay at Thimpu. B, L, D

Day 5: To Cheri Goemba returning to Thimphu

Wednesday 9 November

Drive northwards in attractive well vegetated valley to visit the Cheri Goemba which involves a trek up a steep path. The wildlife and flora of this valley are renowned. A variety of metamorphic rocks are seen in the road cuttings and streams.

We return to Thimphu in time to visit the Dzong.

See how a local garnet migmatite gneiss is utilised as building stone for the massive Dzong.

Second night stay at Thimphu B, L, D

Day 6: To Gangtey for two night stay

Thursday 10 November

Today we travel to Gangtey by-passing Punakha. Views of the high Himalaya including the Masang Khan (7200m) to the north are stunning, seen from the Dochu La, a pass at 3140m elevation.

Further east, just short of the Pele La (3420m) we leave the main east-west route of central Bhutan and head south to our hotel in the wildlife reserve at Gangtey, famed for its migratory black-necked cranes. On our journey we see large and dramatic exposures of white leucogranites, intruded into high-grade metamorphic gneisses of the Chekha Formation. The white granites display large dark coloured tourmaline crystals.

Night stay at Gangtey Game Reserve

Day 7: At Gangtey

Friday 11 November

Witness the annual Black Neck Crane Festival in Gangtey or have a quiet day to enjoy the serenity of this game reserve and the comfort of the hotel.

A trek to the dzong of Gangtey will bring rewards in the form of varied birdlife and evidence of Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks (some fossilferous) lying above high-grade metamorphics, an indication that the South Tibetan Detachment Zone, a major thrust fault zone, cuts through the Pele La area. The marsh area that attracts the black-necked cranes was created by glacial moraines damming the valley’s river.

Night stay at Gangtey game reserve. B, L, D

Day 8: To Punakha

Saturday 12 November

Drive to Punakha, until 1955 the capital of Bhutan, and visit the beautiful Dzong, famed for its architecture and located at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers that flow around its border.

Visit the sights of Punakha which include gaily-painted house facades.

Night stay at Punakha B, L, D

Day 9: To Gasa

Sunday 13 November

Drive to Gasa north of Punakha via Tashitang continuing along the great Mo Chhu river. We will witness subtropical vegetation and a fertile valley with wild orchards and banana trees. Geologically we will see deformed granites of Cambrian age and whitish marbles.

The road continues through gorges, meadows and rice terraces, during which we pass some picturesque villages and houses. At Gasa (2860m elevation) visit Dzong and look around the picturesque town, visiting the archery ground, teashop and small bazaar, and enjoy the views of the mountains surrounding the town.

Night in well-appointed camp. B, L, D

Day 10: To Punakha

Monday 14 November

After breakfast we walk down an ancient mule track to the thermal springs that rise to the surface here. The area is famed for these hot springs which are warm and carbonated and reputed to have strong healing properties. Deep faulting in the region allows waters heated at depth to rise to the surface. There will be time for those who wish to bathe and take advantage of the reputed properties of these waters. Drive back to Punakha where we spend the night.

Night stay at Punakha. B, L, D

Day 11: To Paro for three night stay

Tuesday 15 November

Drive to Paro via Thimphu, where we will have a break. Night at delightful traditional hotel in Paro.

On the way to Paro, we see geological evidence of the seismic activity that is so prominent in the Himalayas, movements on the big thrust faults being responsible for the recent Himalayan earthquakes. Firstly we cross the Main Frontier Thrust into low grade metamorphic rocks. Then we cross the Main Central Thrust (MCT), exposed in a c.10km section, after which we are into exposures of high-grade metamorphic schists and gneisses of the Greater Himalayan Crystalline Series. Movement of tens of kilometres on this thrust zone has brought to the surface rocks that were previously buried to great depths and subjected to high temperatures and pressures beneath the mountain chain to the north. Through the range of minerals present in these schists and gneisses we gain an insight into the processes involved in building the Himalayas.

Our interest is not only geological on the road to Paro, the many monasteries that we will see dotted across the valley offer breath-taking views of the pastoral valley which is famous for its red rice. One of these monasteries is the greatly-revered Kyichu Lhakhang.

We will stay in Paro for 3 nights as there is much to see here and in the surrounding area. B, L, D

Day 12: At Paro, visit Haa

Wednesday 16 November

Today we take the road over the Chele La pass to Haa. The Chele La pass (3810m and our highest point on the trip) is home to the Bhutanese blue poppy. We will take a short hike around this area and view the Kila Goemba monastery which is perched in the mountain side overlooking the valley. At Haa we visit the Wangchulo Dzong and Drakshang and take a walk up to the Shek Drak. On our journey to and from Haa we see biotite-rich quartzites (forming cliffs) interbedded with softer mica-garnet schists, In addition there are two marble marker beds. Night stay at Paro. B, L, D

Day 13: At Paro, visit Tigers nest monastery

Thursday 17 November

Today we visit Taktshang Goemba (Tigers nest monastery), Bhutan’s most venerated religious site and certainly the monastery with the most spectacular setting.

A steep walk through pine forests and past exposures of high-grade metamorphics, mainly gneisses, brings us to this cliff-top monastery – an outstanding example of Bhutanese architecture, much rebuilt after various fires. For our final night we will have a bonfire and celebratory dinner with a cultural troupe performing masked and ethnic dances. Night stay at Paro B, L, D

Day 14: To London

Friday 18 November

Flight Paro to Kolkata, tranfer to Viceroy Hotel for lunch and rest until departure for International flight in the evening. B, L

Itinerary map

Dates & Prices

Dates Price per person (Double/Twin share) Single room supplement
05-18 Nov 2022 £4,375.00 £590.00
Cost includes:
  • International flights in economy class on scheduled Emirate airlines flight.
  • Internal flights from Kolkata to Bagdogra in economy class.
  • International flights between Paro-Kolkata in economy class on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines (Tashi Air.)
  • Accommodation with private facilities as mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Meal Plan: Full board arrangements in Bhutan. Breakfast only in Kolkata.
  • All transfers and sightseeing arrangements by a private small coach.
  • Entry fee for monuments and places of interest.
  • Bhutan visa fee and Tourism Development fee
  • Services of a local English speaking guide.
  • Services of Dr Danny Clark-Lowes –Himalayan Geologist as Trip Leader
  • Full ATOL & ABTA bonding.
Cost does not include:
  • Visa fee for India. On booking we will send you a step by step guide to apply online for an E-tourist visa for India.
  • Any expenses of a personal nature
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Travel Insurance*

Sightseeing arrangements, visits to geological sites may vary according to local circumstances at each place on a day to day basis. Trip scholars may decide to alter the programme where they feel it is necessary.

We aim to be as flexible as possible for new bookings  and have reduced holiday deposits to £250 per person until further notice, and made it possible to request a refund or postpone travel plans at no extra cost, in the event that a trip can’t go ahead due to Foreign Office advice or overseas government restrictions. All tour payments to Indus Experiences are 100% protected by our ATOL and ABTA Licences.

*Travel Insurance

It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.

• Make sure it includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
• Make sure it provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
• Make sure it covers you for all activities.
• Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
• Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.

If you have any doubts about your cover, check with your insurer. Please note Covid-19 cover is now available.
For a competitive quotation please visit https://www.indusexperiences.co.uk/insurance/

020 8901 7320

What our clients say

Our Whole experiences from initial contact to the conclusion of our holiday has been brilliant. I can’t speak highly enough of Asiya, all the reps, drivers & guides. Everything went with out a hitch. We will definitely book with you again! Many thanks!

L Buchanan - India Holiday