Tiger’s Nest Trek, Bhutan & Kathmandu Valley Trek -15 Days

Arrival On : Kathmandu Nepal
Max Altitude : 3,800mm/12,467ft
Accommodation Types : Hotels, Camping
Trip Duration : 15 Days
Maximum Group Size : 12
Meal Arrangement : Bed and breakfast in Kathmandu, all meals elsewhere (except dinner on day 2 in Bhaktapur). 12 x breakfasts, 10 x lunches, 10 x dinner
Difficulty : Moderate
Land Only Joining City : Kathmandu
Departure From : Kathmandu Nepal

Trip Overview

Temples, dzongs, and mythical tiger tales are at the heart of this two week journey into the Buddhist heartlands of Nepal and Bhutan. By taking to the trail on two short treks, you’ll not only enjoy the best approach to several key cultural and religious sights, but you’ll also get to experience the superb scenery and authentic rural life of these two captivating countries.

You begin in Kathmandu, but immediately leave the hubbub of the city behind and head instead to the quieter medieval towns, terraced fields and traditional villages of the Kathmandu Valley. Here you spend a full day exploring one of the jewels of the valley, Bhaktapur. This once royal city with its red-brick streets, open squares and towering, pagoda-style temples is a showcase for some of the finest, and best preserved, architecture in all of Nepal. From Bhaktapur you drive to Dhulikel, poised on the high ridge above the valley, and the starting point for your scenic trek. Over the course of three days you will enjoy sweeping views of Himalayan mountains, discover villages little-changed by time and visit the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site of Namo Buddha Stupa. Also known as the ‘den of the tigress’ it is believed to be the place where the young Buddha prince valiantly sacrificed himself to save a clutch of starving tiger cubs.

Flying on to Bhutan, you will savour some equally impressive sights. Punakha and Paro Dzongs are two of the most magnificent in the kingdom whilst colossal Buddha statues and ancient lhakhangs (temples) reflect the deep, spirituality of the Bhutanese people. You explore on foot, taking easy-paced picturesque walks that give you time to enjoy Bhutan’s lush landscapes and to get a sense of its timeless quality. You will also attend a colourful festival for the complete Bhutanese experience.

Your holiday culminates in a two day trek to reach the kingdom’s most celebrated sight, Taktsang – the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Perched high on a cliff top its location and name stems from another epic Buddhist legend involving a flying tigress, an heroic saint and several evil demons! Your trek begins in the Paro Valley where you meet your trek crew and step out on the lesser known Bumdra Trail which climbs steeply from the valley floor to reach Bumdra Monastery. From here there are breathtaking views as far as the high Himalayan peaks in the north. You will enjoy a night under canvas in this privileged spot. The following day you trek on to the Tiger’s Nest, which is gradually revealed below you, giving a rare perspective of the most iconic sight in the Thunder Dragon Kingdom.

Leader: Local Leader, Nepal

Whether it’s a cultural tour, gentle walking holiday or strenuous trek, our holidays in Nepal are led by professionally-trained English speaking leaders. They have an intimate and expert knowledge of the history, culture and nature of Nepal and will make your trip a memorable experience.

Leader: Local leader, Bhutan

You will have an English speaking Bhutanese guide.Smart mountain Adventure,have been working with the same partner in Bhutan. Their guides are some of the best in the Smart mountain Adventure, They speak fluent English, as this is taught in all Bhutanese schools, and are fully qualified guides. The Tourism Authority of Bhutan insists that a Bhutanese trek or tour leader must pass his/her guiding exams in Thimphu before accompanying groups of foreign visitors. Guides receive regular ‘top-up’ training and 15 of our regular leaders have completed an extended training course run by Mountain Kingdoms in Bhutan.


  • A three day trek between villages and temples along the ridgeline of the Kathmandu Valley
  • Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims on the trail to the sacred temple of Namo Buddha.
  • An overnight camping trek in Bhutan to reach the Tiger’s Nest Temple of TaktsangTime to explore the heritage towns of Bhaktapur, Dhulikel and Panauti in Nepal.
  • Gentle walks in Bhutan and the cultural highlights of Paro, Punakha and Thimphu.
  •  All the colour and celebrations of a traditional Bhutanese festival.

Short Itinerary

Day 01-02:

(This is the itinerary for our spring departure. Detailed itineraries for all departures can be downloaded below). Fly to Kathmandu. Transfer to Bhaktapur.

Day 03:

Tour of Bhaktapur.

Day 04-05:

Drive to Dhulikel. Trek to Namo Buddha and Balthalli Village.

Day 06:

End trek at Khopasi. Drive to Bhaktapur.

Day 07-08:

Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Drive to Thimphu. Walk to Wangditse Monastery and sightseeing.

Day 09-10:

Drive to Punakha. Valley walk. Visit Punakha Dzong return to Paro. Sightseeing in Paro.

Day 11-12:

Trek to Taktsang - the Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Bumdra Trek).

Day 13-15:

Fly to Kathmandu. Sightseeing. Fly to London.


Day 01 Fly from your home to Kathmandu
Overnight: In Flight

Depart from your home on your overnight flight to Kathmandu.

Day 02 Arrive Kathmandu. Group transfer to hotel in Bhaktapur.
Overnight: Heritage Hotel, Bhaktapur

On arrival in Kathmandu you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Bhaktapur. This ancient city, located just nine kilometres from Kathmandu, is a real cultural gem. Bhaktapur is one of three major cities built in the Kathmandu Valley by the old Malla kings who ruled the valley hundreds of years ago. These cities, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, are repositories of traditional Nepalese architecture and local Newari craftsmanship where you will find ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, crumbling shrines, picturesque Rana palaces and crowded bazaars.

Day 03 Tour of Bhaktapur.
Overnight: Heritage Hotel, Bhaktapur

Today you will explore the streets and historic buildings of Bhaktapur.

 Many of the buildings in Bhaktapur have their origins in the 15th Century and the side streets, being mostly brick paved, still have a really medieval feel to them. There is still evidence of the damage caused by the devastating 2015 earthquake; restoration has been slow but this hasn’t spoiled Bhaktapur’s ancient charm. This is very much a lived in city, and, with much of it closed to traffic, walking around is a pleasure and you will get a feeling for how things must have been in medieval times. Bhaktapur is quieter than Kathmandu city and still has quite a rural feel. The local people are predominantly farmers and the town is famous for its home-made yoghurt, as well as for its pottery made from the local red clay – you can see this production going on in the so-called ‘pottery square’ and other side streets.

On your tour you will see fine palaces and temples with gilded roofs, open courtyards and elaborate windows carved in wood. The main focus for the town is the central Durbar Square where many of the finest buildings are found, including the famous Palace of 55 Windows which shows some of the best examples of elaborately carved windows and doors.

Day 04 Drive to Dhulikel - 1 hour. Start trek at 1,557m/5,108ft, trek along the ridge to Namo Buddha, 1,750m/5,830ft - 3-4 hours.
Overnight: Namo Buddha Lodge Or Similar, Namo Buddha


You will leave this morning by vehicle climbing out of the Kathmandu Valley passing through the town of Banepa before climbing up to the Newari hilltop town of Dhulikhel where you begin your trek. It is a delightful trail with superb mountain vistas, verdant terraced fields, and picturesque villages where local people live their traditional rural lives.


The path initially winds up from Dhulikhel on the 1,000 steps which pilgrims use to reach the Kali Temple viewpoint, 1,688m. This takes about an hour. A very fine giant statue of Shakyamuni Buddha sits gazing out at the panorama of Himalayan peaks towering above 7,000m including Langtang Lirung, Gauri Shankar and Melungtse. You can also see the 14th highest peak in the world, Mount Shishapangma, 8,027m, which lies inside Tibet. Continuing on, you descend through the village of Kavre to cross a road at the Kavre Bangjang Junction. You then climb again through little hamlets up another set of steps to a shrine. You may see boys playing cricket, cattle in the yards of houses, and general village life. In November 2021 we saw a wedding ceremony, watched chlidren playing on a swing, and listened to the sounds of tropical birds, barking dogs, tinkling of temple bells, and as people passed by the greeting of ‘Namaste’.

You come to the very nice stupa Pasthali, next to a football pitch. Descend from here to avoid the hotel built on the col. At a junction take the upper track to arrive at the beautiful Namobuddha Lodge. Set on a hilltop the property was built in 2006 and is a collection of individual small houses set in forests and gardens. It is very eco friendly and has a sauna, two cats and three buffaloes and serves vegetarian food. There are also grand views of the Himalya from the lodge.

Day 05 Trek to Balthalli Village, 1,562m/5,125ft - 5 hours.
Overnight: Balthalli Resort Or Similar, Balthalli Village

Dropping down a short way you come to a forrested ridge with big drops on either side until you descend to a rough road. from here you get your first views of Namo Buddha Monastery.

For centuries Namo Buddha has been a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site where, it is said, the reincarnated Buddha selflessly offered his body to a hungry tigress so that she could feed her cubs. Hence the name, the Tigress’ Den. The stupa is believed to house the bones of the young Buddha. The stupa is accessible by road and pilgrims visit Namo Buddha from all over the world to accumulate merit by making offerings and circumambulating the site. Sitting above the stupa, is the Thruangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery complex, founded in 1978 and now home to over 250 monks. Here you will find a stone depiction of the legend of the Buddha.

After visiting the impressive stupa you descend on a trail decked out with masses of prayer flags. Continue losing height through forest to reach a road high above a large river below. Turn left down the road to reach a bridge and then climb into a beautiful valley of terraced fields, scattered houses and hamlets.

Entering Lower Balthali Village you come to a village temple with an enormous metal head of a trident spear propped against its wall. Cross fields on narrow paths and don’t be surprised if friendly local dogs attach themselves to your party – they may stay with you today and tomorrow! Climb again easily now for quite a long way to Upper Balthali Village. The lodge sits astride a ridge and hilltop with fabulous views. There is an open fire to sit around in the evening to swap stories.

Day 06 Trek to Panauti, 1,400m/4,593ft and Khopasi, 1,447m/4,747ft - 3-4 hours. Drive to Bhaktapur - 1 hour.
Overnight: Heritage Hotel, Bhaktapur

Your last day on trek in Nepal is a really nice one. Saying farewell to your hilltop stay, you begin with a ‘short cut’ down to the dirt road below. Across the other side of the valley are lovely terraced fields and hamlets. Carry on down to a village with a temple then continue down to cross a suspension bridge high above a deep gorge. Up a mostly forested hill on the other side and down to a second suspension bridge. Beyond here signs of ‘civilisation’ appear and before too long you enter a typical ‘out-in-the-sticks’, scruffy Nepalese town called Khopasi. Such a change in culture! As you leave town visit the paper factory and silk factory.
Carry on crossing fields to gain houses and Panauti town. As you reach the town proper you come to a 12th century temple with its own small museum. Here you meet your vehicle and drive to your hotel in Bhaktapur.

Day 07 Transfer to Kathmandu Airport and fly to Paro in Bhutan. Drive to Thimphu and visit the giant statue of Buddha.
Overnight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel or Similar, Thimphu

This morning you will transfer to the airport for the short flight across to Bhutan. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, and include Everest and Kangchenjunga, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills into Paro which includes a few steep turns. Although you are at the mercy of the airline seating allocation, if possible try to sit on the left hand side of the plane for the mosspectacular views.

In Paro you will be met by your Bhutanese guide and will drive to Thimphu. On the way you can stop to visit the 14th century Tachogang Lakhang, a beautiful spot.

Thimphu has an attractive valley location and is relatively small for a capital city but has grown greatly in recent years. There are many places of interest to visit but a good starting point is the giant Buddha figure perched high above the town which offers splendid, orientation views of Thimphu and beyond.

Day 08 Morning walk to Wangditse Monastery. Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu.
Overnight: Phuntso Pelri Hotel or Similar, Thimphu

This morning you will drive up to Sangaygang next to the Bhutan Broadcasting Service tower, located in the northwest of Thimphu. The drive up to the tower isn’t a long one so if you feel like you would like to burn a bit more energy you can always walk up instead. From the tower you will have great views over Thimphu Dzong and the Thimphu Valley as you start your walk contouring the beautiful hills to visit Wangditse Gompa. This walk should take around 1½ hours. You will have time to visit the gompa before the 30 minute descent to Dechen Phodrang Monastery. This monastery houses around 450 student monks enrolled on an eight year course. The monastery is also home to some fantastic UNESCO monitored 12th century paintings. You will then meet your vehicle and be driven back to Thimphu.
You return to Thimphu and in the afternoon there will be time to enjoy some sightseeing. There are many places of interest to visit in Thimphu, including the Tashichhodzong (the main government buildings), the Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, the late King’s Memorial Chorten, the National Library, the School of Painting and the silversmiths and pottery workshops. The Government Handicrafts Emporium is possibly the best place to look for local handicraft. It is interesting to visit the handmade paper workshop to see paper being made and there are some nice items made from handmade paper for sale there.
ou could also visit the Post Office to buy some of Bhutan’s very attractive stamps. They will even print a valid stamp with your face on it while you wait! They also have good t-shirts on sale.

Day 09 Drive to Punakha over the Dochu La. Visit Chimi Lakhang. Walk in the Punakha Valley and visit Punakha Dzong.
Overnight: Zhingkham Resort Or Similar, Punakha

After breakfast you will drive east to Punakha. Leaving Thimphu you climb to cross the Dochu La Pass, 3,048m/10,000ft, a spot marked by 108 chortens. Here, weather permitting you may take in a magnificent mountain vista. On clear days there are fabulous views of the eastern Himalaya from here including Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gankgar Punsum, 7,550m – the highest unclimbed peak in the world. But even on misty days this is a beautiful spot.

You descend from the pass into the lush Punakha valley. Before reaching Punakha you will visit Chimi Lakhang a temple built by Drukpa Kunley. Known as the The Divine Madman’, Drukpa Kunley was a 15th century Bhutanese lama. He is Bhutan’s most popular saint and one of the most important figures in Bhutanese folklore. Despite the apparent conservatism of the Bhutanese people, Drukpa Kunley with his unconventional views on sex is a great favourite throughout the country – the phallus symbols painted on the outside walls of houses date back to his teachings. Chimi Lakhang is especially popular with women who come here to pray for children. The temple is characterised by its many phallic symbols. The lakhang is reached by a short walk across the paddy fields and this short excursion takes about 45 minutes each way.

In the afternoon you will do a walk in the lovely Punakha Valley. You drive further up the valley and start your walk at a pedestrian suspension bridge that crosses the Mo Chu River and follow up through paddy fields to the base of the hill where Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten is sited. The climb to the top is then quite steep, but takes only 45 minutes or so. This Chorten was consecrated in December 1999 and contains sacred relics donated from Punakha Dzong. Leaving the grounds of the Chorten via a different gate you descend to join a contouring path which ultimately leads you to the small village of Yabesa and you then follow the Mo Chu downstream past Sonagasha, the King’s Palace and on to Punakha Dzong.

The fabulous Punakha Dzong, one of the most spectacular and important in the Kingdom, is situated at the confluence of two rivers – an extremely photogenic spot, particularly in the springtime when the jacaranda trees are in full bloom. Originally built in the 17th century, it was beautifully restored after a major flood in 1994, and is a real showcase for Bhutanese craftsmanship and painting. All of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned at the dzong and it remains the offical residence of the Dratshang – the body that oversees monastic affairs in Bhutan. There are a number of beautiful and unusual features to discover in the dzong including three courtyards, the ‘hundred pillar assembly hall’, and its cantilevered bridge. If there are VIPs visiting the dzong, access may be restricted.

Day 10 Drive to Paro. Visit Paro Tsechu and sightseeing.
Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

After breakfast you will drive up out of the Punakha Valley and back over the Dochu La. You return to Paro where you will attend the festivities at the Paro Tsechu. The Tsechu is one of the most important cultural events in the kingdom, a colourful festival of music and ceremonial dance held in the great Paro Dzong. The festival is staged in honour of the great lama, Guru Rinpoche, to commemorate his great deeds. These are all believed to have taken place on the tenth day of the month – the meaning of the word tsechu. Such festivals as well as being religious are also an important opportunity for people to dress up in all their finery and get together to socialise, celebrate and have fun. They believe that they will achieve merit by the act of attending the festival and watching the masked dances, and that any bad kharma in the area will be dispelled. People flock to the tsechu from even the most remote villages of the surrounding district.

Later you might have an opportunity for some sightseeing in the Paro Valley, perhaps visiting the Bhutan Museum in the watchtower on the ridge above the dzong, or drive out to visit the ancient temple of Kyichu Lakhang, one of the 108 temples believed to have been built by Songtsen Gampo, an important early Tibetan king, to pin down the demon who was though to hover over the whole of Tibet.

Day 11 Start the Bumdra Trek. Camp beneath Bumdra Monastery, 3,800m/12,467ft.
Overnight: Camp

After breakfast you will take a short drive to the starting point of the two day trek to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, known as the Bumdra trek. You meet your trek crew and ponies, and then begin following a little trodden trail up from Paro Valley. Your initial ascent takes you up through forest to reach a ridge then to a clearing from where you will be able to see back down the Paro Valley. Continuing up, you next reach Chhoe Tse Lhakhang temple, nestled in the side of the mountain, where you can rest and enjoy fine views of Paro beneath, and the snow-capped Himalaya in the distance. Today’s final stage is now ahead of you as you ascend through ruins and thick forest to a high, open yak pasture bedecked with chortens and colourful prayer flags. This will be your campsite for the night at around 3,800m/12,467ft.

Above the pasture sits the 17th century Bumdra Monastery, hugging the cliff face. After a chance to rest and enjoy the spectacular views from the campsite you can walk up to the monastery and explore its many caves where legend has it that a thousand angels, or dakinis, once covened. If you have the energy, you could also make the 45 minute climb of Namgo La just behind the monastery. The 4,100m peak provides a natural viewing ‘platform’ to enjoy the commanding vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Day 12 Trek to Taktsang Monastery. Return to Paro.
Overnight: Hotel Olathang Or Similar, Paro

After a tough day of ascent yesterday, today is all downhill. Once breakfast is finished at the camp, you will begin your descent. Following the monks’ winding path down through larch and silver pine you can take your first welcome breather on the conveniently located deck chairs at the small hermitage of Yoselang at 3,300m. Continuing down the trail you will shortly reach Zangto Pelhri Monastery, from where you can peer over the side for your first fantastic views down to the golden roofs of Taktsang Monastery. From here it’s a steep half hour down a rock hewn staircase to Taktsang – an approach that very few people experience to reach the famed Tiger’s Nest.

The monastery is perched some 600m/2,000ft up on a cliff overlooking Paro Valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan.

If open, you will be able to visit the monastery before continuing down to reach the car park where your vehicle will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in Paro, and your last night in Bhutan.

Day 13 Fly to Kathmandu. Transfer to hotel. Time at leisure.
Overnight: Hotel Shanker Or Similar, Kathmandu

You will transfer to the airport where you will say goodbye to your Bhutanese guide and driver. You will then fly to Kathmandu with a further opportunity to see the peaks of the high Himalaya including Everest and Kangchenjunga (if conditions are clear). On arrival you will be driven to your hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 14 Morning tour of Pashupatinath and Boudhanath Stupa. Transfer to airport. Depart Nepal.
Overnight: In flight

After breakfast you drive the short distance from your hotel to the important Hindu temple complex of Pashupatinath. Here there is a large temple to the god Shiva and nearby, on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, are burning ghats where Hindus bring their dead to be cremated.

You will drive on to Boudhanath where you will visit its important and ancient Buddhist stupa. Pilgrims from all over the Indian subcontinent come to visit Boudhanath where they circle the stupa in a clockwise direction, turning prayer wheels as they pass, or visit one of the many Buddhist temples which have been built around the stupa.

In the late afternoon or early evening there will be a group transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the your home.

Day 15 Arrive at your home.


  • Arrival & Departure Transport By private Car/Van/Bus.
  • Three meals a day during the Trekking (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
  • Accommodation in Tea House during the Trekking.
  • Three nights' Accommodation in Kathmandu with bed- and- breakfast basis, (If you like to have standard Hotel accommodation please do let us know).
  • Kathmandu city and trekking maps.
  • Day sightseeing around Kathmandu Valley, car/van/bus and tour guide. All needed Government fees.
  • International Airfare.
  • Food in Kathmandu(City) lunch and dinner.
  • Extra night accommodation in Kathmandu (late departure or early arrival from the mountains.
  • Donation Items of personal expenses like hot shower, battery charge, telephone etc.




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