Sacred Mountains, Secret Valleys The Dalgala Mountains lie just to the south of Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. In 1988, we were the first UK company to take people exploring there. We have been back to the mountains of a ‘thousand lakes’ many times since then. Having trekked into our base camp next to one of the largest lakes, we can choose to go trout fishing, botanising and for the energetic there are many scrambly peaks to be climbed, including the highest in the range, Um Jomo, 5,050m/16,568ft. In 1988 our first party made half a dozen first ascents of these easy peaks. Perhaps the most memorable part of the trek will be an early morning climb to a nearby ridge top to watch the sun rise over the eastern Himalaya. On a clear day we can see all the major peaks of Bhutan’s northern border, and to the west looms the world’s third highest mountain Kangchenjunga, some one hundred miles distant. From Labatama Lake we trek through valleys and along ridges dropping down into Thimphu itself. Once again the views are magnificent as we descend gradually towards the capital city nestling in the valley below. 20 Download detailed itineraries from www.himalayankingdoms.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org Lake Dungtshorom, Ha Valley Photo: Steve Berry The Old Smugglers’ Route – Ha Valley £2,850 £2,315 Dates: Sat 19 Apr – Tue 06 May*, Sat 04 Oct – Tue 21 Oct † land only Grade: Moderate/Vigorous On Trek: 8 days Day Walks: 3 days European Leader: Barry Bond*, Bob Gibbons † Nights’ Accommodation: Hotels: 7 Camping: 7 Lodges: 2 Optional: Single Room £145 Single Tent £50 Insurance: £149 (Insurance Plus) Days Itinerary Duration: 18 days 1–2 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure 3–5 Fly to Bhutan, acclimatisation in the Ha Valley 6–13 Trekking the Old Smuggler’s Route, drive to Thimphu 14–15 Day walks and sightseeing, Thimphu 16–18 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure, fly to London Guaranteed to run for a minimum of4clients £2,395 £1,775 Dates: Sat 05 Apr – Sun 20 Apr, Sat 04 Oct – Sun 19 Oct land only Grade: Moderate/Vigorous On Trek: 8 days In-country Leader Nights’ Accommodation: Hotels: 7 Camping: 7 Optional: Single Room £130 Single Tent £50 Insurance: £95 (Standard Policy) Days Itinerary Duration: 16 days 1–2 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure –3 Fly to Paro –4 Sightseeing 5–12 Trek to Dagala mountains, end near Thimphu –13 In Thimphu 14–16 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure, fly to London Guaranteed to run for a minimum of3clients Hand-woven kira (traditional skirts) Photo: Jude Limburn Turner Even today there are still parts of Bhutan that remain closed, and this was the case for the Ha Valley until 2001. Himalayan Kingdoms was proud to take the first British group that year to visit the main township and fortress. Our MD, Steve Berry, has now made a reconnaissance trek through the mountains that border Sikkim and Tibet and is wildly enthusiastic about the region. Up against the border is a huge valley, known as Lolithang, that is a traditional summer grazing ground for yaks. At the head of the valley stands the strangely impressive peak of Chundugang, believed by locals to be the guardian deity of the Ha region. The trek twists and winds its way through the mountains, ridges and lakes that look down into Lolithang. One of the lakes we visit has a curious supernatural legend attached to it, and it is believed that magic cymbals flew from the lake to Paro Dzong. Even today people attend the festival at Paro to hear the unique sound of the cymbals. Taking this trek, we shall be among the first of a tiny handful of westerners to explore this beautiful, remote, unspoilt, uninhabited wilderness.
21 tel: 0845 330 8579 (local call rate, UK only) international tel: +44 1453 844 400 www.himalayankingdoms.com Left: End of the Nabji Trail Photo: Seraphina Berry Right: Typical Bhutanese village Photo: Steve Berry We are delighted to offer this newly opened trek in the little visited central area of Bhutan. To our knowledge we are the first British company to offer this route. After a fascinating drive to the interior, the trek visits remote villages in the Black Mountains. We trek through terraced farmland and broadleaf forests, with an impressive array of flora and fauna, to arrive at Nabji, site of the temple containing the sacred relics of the treasure discoverer, Terton Pemalingpa. The present Bhutanese royal family claim direct descent from Pemalingpa. This is the perfect trek for those who want a low altitude trek in a remote, unspoilt area, with plenty of chance to interact (via your guide) with the friendly and hospitable local villagers. The Bhutanese have carefully designed this trek to benefit the villages we pass through. Each village provides a guide to take us on to the next, provides our food, provides our porters, sells its own handicrafts, and manages its own campsite. Each village, in agreement with government, charges Himalayan Kingdoms for these services, and lastly the numbers of groups allowed is strictly controlled. In this way money goes back into the community and we are lucky enough to see an untouched, unspoilt part of the kingdom. The Treasure Discoverer’s Trek – The Nabji Trail £2,695 £2,170 Dates: Thu 07 Feb – Tue 26 Feb, Tue 11 Nov – Sat 29 Nov land only Grade: Moderate On Trek: 6 days In-country Leader Nights’ Accommodation: Hotels: 9/10 Camping: 5 Lodges/Guest houses: 2/3 Optional: Single Room £195 Single Tent £50 Insurance: £99 (Standard Policy) Days Itinerary Duration: 19/20 days 1–2 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure 3–7 Fly to Paro, drive to Shemgang via Thimphu and attend Punakha Festival (February) 8–13 On trek 14–17 Return drive to Paro, King’s Birthday celebrations (February), Visit Taksang 18–20 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure, fly to London Note: The autumn departure is similar, but also visits the Ha Valley. Guaranteed to run for a minimum of clients Bhutanese ‘Eco’ trek 3 Perhaps, like many Himalayan travellers, you have always wanted to visit the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon. Why not make 2008 the year you fulfil your ambition? After flying to Bhutan via Kathmandu, we will trek between the presentday capital, Thimphu, and the winter capital, Punakha. This four-day walk crosses a pass, visits villages and the grand scenery has a ‘chocolate box’ quality. Arriving in Punakha we will find that the head of the Bhutanese monastic order, the Jey Khenpo, and thousands of his monks, will already have moved from Thimphu to their traditional winter quarters, inside the monastery/fortress there. This year we will continue to Gangtey where the Black-Necked Cranes overwinter. We then trek for three days to Wangdiphodrang, before returning to Thimphu for a New Year’s Eve party. On the return flight to Kathmandu we pass Everest, Kangchenjunga and Makalu. Christmas in Bhutan & the Black-Necked Cranes £2,685 £1,940 Dates: Tue 16 Dec ’08 – Fri 02 Jan ’09 land only Grade: Moderate On Trek: 7 days In-country Leader Nights’ Accommodation: Hotels: 9 Camping: 5 Lodges/Guest houses: 2 Optional: Single Room £185 Single Tent £50 Insurance: £99 (Standard Policy) Days Itinerary Duration: 18 days 1–2 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure 3–5 Fly to Bhutan, sightseeing Paro valley 6–9 Trek Thimphu to Punakha, drive to Gangtey –10 Black-Necked Cranes 11–13 Trek Gangtey to Wangdiphodrang 14–15 Drive to Thimphu, day walks 16–18 Fly to Kathmandu, at leisure, fly to London Guaranteed to run for a minimum of3clients Other Christmas treks – see pages 23, 28, 29, 32, 34, 53, 55, 56, 58 & Festival clown Photo: Ann Sainsbury