A geological and cultural tour through the very spiritual Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
6 to 19 November 2021
Day 1: Depart from London for Kolkata
Saturday 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 November
Today we drive north, gaining height steadily to Thimphu, to spend the night at Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan. 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.
Night stay at Thimpu.
B, L, D
Day 5: To Cheri Goemba returning to Thimphu
Wednesday 10 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 11 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 12 November
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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 November
Drive to Paro via Thimphu, where we will have a break. Night at delightful traditional hotel in Paro. 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 17 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 18 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 19 November
Flight Paro to Kolkata, tranfer to Viceroy Hotel for lunch and rest until departure for International flight in the evening. B, L
Dates & Prices
|Dates||Price per person (Double/Twin share)||Single room supplement|
|06-19 Nov 2021||£4,375.00||£590.00|
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Travel Insurance.
- Any expenses of a personal nature
- Tips and gratuities.
- 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.
- Most insurance companies are now providing cover for COVID.
- 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.
- For a competitive quotation please visit