This is the bit where you have to remove the rose tinted spectacles and confront some of the realities involved. This applies whether you are booking the highest possible luxury holiday, or trekking in isolated, remote parts of the Himalayas. Outside of your luxury accommodation that reality exists and can't be avoided.
Adventure = Something that involves risk and for which the outcome is uncertain
Any journey in Bhutan or Nepal is by default an adventure.
You should check your own government's advice on travel to Bhutan or Nepal before you book and ensure you keep yourself updated.
Whether it's Nepal or Bhutan, you're thinking of going to a country that is most definitely an adventurous destination. This means that often not everything goes according to plan, or works as it should. The countries remain some of the poorest in the world. Both have few major roads, and those are often uncomfortable and high risk. Journey times can be very unreliable.
The general standard of driving is far from that in developed countries. It can be down right atrocious. Major road accidents (often fatal) occur on a regular basis. Road travel in Nepal and Bhutan should be considered a risk. At best, it is rarely a pleasant experience.
Internal flights in Nepal are far below the global safety average.
Power cuts can be a regular occurrence (daily). Many places have generators to cope with power cuts, others don't. Even the most luxurious of accommodations may suffer from a lack of water and plumbing problems. Simply put, the entire general infrastructure of both Nepal and Bhutan is far from the standard and quality you're used to in the UK, Europe, North America and other developed nations.
Do not expect the same levels of emergency health care and services or safety standards either. Trekking in the Himalayas, or travelling around Nepal and Bhutan is always unpredictable. This unpredictability also means that the itineraries that we put forward for your trip should be seen as statements of intent, rather than as contractual obligations. Any itinerary we prepare for you will be theoretically possible only.
You must consider contingency before making a booking. See About Contingency
We would respectfully suggest that you need to take two essential things with you.
1. A sense of adventure.
2. A sense of humour.
Both go a long way if and when things don't go according to plan, and there's always a good chance that might happen. We find it essential to visit with an acceptance that you are not here to change Nepal or Bhutan, but perhaps to change yourself.
If you're expecting things to be like the UK, USA or other Western European countries in terms of standards, safety and everything to happen like clockwork all the time, it's probably a good idea to go somewhere else instead.
IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS AND DO NOT ACCEPT THIS, YOU SHOULD NOT BOOK WITH US.
How does your tailor-made service work?
Well, tailor-made means just that, a truly personal, bespoke service to create the holiday you really want. There are lots of varied itineraries throughout our website with the intention of inspiring you. Of course you can always choose an 'off the shelf' itinerary, but that isn't their real purpose. Chances are that there'll be things to do, places to visit, accommodations to stay at and a whole host of things that may appeal to you and with our expertise and knowledge we'll combine all things you want into a holiday that is designed just for you. We're not here to talk you into something you don't want, we're here to listen to your desires and turn those into reality. Generally speaking we can start with the proverbial 'blank sheet of paper' and then after chatting with you will present you with a basic outline itinerary and preliminary costing. We'll then chat through this with you and make any adjustments that are necessary until it is exactly what you want. For ideas why not start with our Inspiration section and for some interesting and downright wacky ideas visit our "unique ideas" section too.
For your own peace of mind and financial protection we recommend that you purchase travel insurance that provides you with not only comprehensive cover for cancellation, but also for end supplier financial failure too. Please see the Travel Insurance Section further below. If paying by credit card, then your card services provider may also include financial protection for you too. Please check with your card provider.
As your trip will be exclusively private and customised, you are advised to consider adding contingency. Ultimately the desions as to whether include or exclude contingency is yours. See ABOUT CONTINGENCY.
Well, we don't usually patronise you and tell you how many pairs of socks and undies and things like that you should take. Seriously, we will provide you with a suggested packing list and just as your holiday is tailor-made, so will be your recommended packing list. Naturally, we are always happy to advise on matters such as clothing, footwear, etc. Dependent upon your particular chosen holiday there may be baggage restrictions (e.g. on trek, using internal flights), but we will tell you about this where it is applicable, as well as left luggage opportunities too.
Yes, this is absolutely essential and conditional that you have adequate travel insurance. You will be asked to produce your travel insurance documents upon arrival to our representative. If you haven't taken out travel insurance then sorry, you will not be able to partake in your holiday and will not be refunded. This apart, it's just not worth the risk not to have travel insurance. We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance before, or as soon as you have booked your holiday with us. It is essential that the travel insurance you purchase covers everyone in your party for the activities involved, as well as the maximum altitudes involved. Your travel insurance should be for travel to Nepal or Bhutan respectively (usually classed as 'rest of the world') and provide you with comprehensive cancellation cover. We strongly recommend that for your financial protection your travel insurance provides you with cover for end supplier failure.We advise you to ensure that your travel insurance also covers you for emergency helicopter evacuation and repatriation. Should your guide need to summon a helicopter (for example) for an emergency rescue as there is no such thing in Nepal & Bhutan as an official Helivac rescue service, in essence it is a private helicopter that is used. Our team will (because they have a copy of your insurance details) advise the helicopter company of your travel insurance details. Other wise (and bluntly speaking ) the helicopter will not come.
For more see - Our travel insurance requirements
The Nepalese & Bhutanese are amongst the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world. All the same travel involves risk. Check out our "Know Before You Go-Travel Advice" section.
Well, as your holiday is tailor-made it's up to you what is included. As a general rule we suggest that if you are spending time in Kathmandu or Pokhara in particular it's a good idea that lunches and dinners aren't included. There are so many choices in both cities to suit taste and budget we find most people prefer not to be restricted to eating at their hotel. In most other locations other than where you are over-nighthting there usually isn't a choice other than your accommodation. So, here we usually would recommend we include all meals. On trek it really is a good idea to include all your meals. You may find otherwise you're having to carry large amounts of Nepalese bank notes, and may struggle getting change for large notes. Or worse, run out of food money altogether. In Bhutan the minimum daily tariff package imposed on all visitors to Bhutan includes many services including meals and accommodation.
Yes for both. For Nepal you arrange your visa (easiest to do upon arrival). For Bhutan we must obtain your visa. You cannot obtain a Bhutan visa independently. Please see our Visa section.
You can only get this in Nepal or Bhutan. See our Country Facts & General Information Section.
Depends on your chosen holiday to the greater extent. If (for example) you're on trek and all your meals etc are included, then here you don't need a great deal. There won't be much to spend money on! You'd possibly budget on £5-£7 a day if you're buying mineral water, soft drinks, the odd beer etc. If you're in Kathmandu and Pokhara for several days (again for example) and eating out etc and going mad in the shops then you'll need a lot more. We can give you further advice on spending money once your tailor-made holiday has been determined.
Always an emotive topic this one. We will provide you with Tipping Guidelines in your Final Joining Instructions. Let us stress that all staff working as part of your holiday are paid properly. i.e. the going rate for the work they do. In the case of porters for example there are (thankfully) nowadays legal rates. None of the staff working for you are paid on a "basic rate and hope you get a big tip" basis. That's self-defeating in the long run. Our staff are very much the key to the enjoyment of your holiday and when you meet them you'll see they have been working happily for us for many years. So, our recommendation is by all means give a tip to our staff, but only if you have received good service. However, we're certain you will receive exceptional service. We know our staff work for you in a cheerful and exceptional manner. They also take great pride in what they do. Nothing ever seems to be too much trouble, except when it comes to saying 'no'. So, how much to tip? Well, there's a hierachical sort of thing goes on, and other factors too e.g. how many days and so on. You can after all tip too much, and in the long run that's not good for anyone, especially the people travelling next with the person you've just given the equivalent of an average Nepalese or Bhutanese house in tips.
Your holiday may include internal flights and these are booked by us.
Please be aware that baggage restrictions apply on all internal flights in Nepal and Bhutan. For internal flights in Bhutan as well as International flights to/from Paro -7KG Hand Baggage and 30KG Hold Baggage
For non-mountainous flights e.g.Biratnagar, Bharatpur (Chitwan), Pokhara, Nepalgunj
5kg Hand Baggage and 25KG Hold Baggage
For flights into mountainous regions e.g. Lukla, Jomsom, Juphal, Taplejung
5kg Hand Baggage and 10kg Hold Baggage
Any excess baggage charges must be paid for by yourself. Internal flights in Nepal are well below the global safety average.
No. You would book your own flights enabling you to take advantage of the best online fares. We do recommend that we book your Paro flights for Bhutan. See International Flights
You should not book or make any arrangments in respect of international travel until we have confirmed your booking.
That largely depends on what you're hoping to do. See our "When to Go-Climate Information" section.
The basic principle being the higher you go, the colder it gets. Nepal and Bhutan experience the monsoon rains during the summer months, but it can and does rain outwith this period also. The Himalayas create their own, often localised weather, so you must always be prepared for (what we call) bad weather, including thunderstorms, tempertaures below freezing and snow fall at higher elevations. See our "When to Go-Climate Information" section.
Legally speaking only a qualified medical professional can advise on this. So, we recommend you consult with your doctor as to the latest recommended vaccinations and other medical precautions. One common question that pops up is with regard to malaria, as it's not unreasonable to expect your doctor to not be wholly familiar with the geography. There is a malarial risk in the Terai region (this includes Chitwan for example).
The Himalayas, Kathmandu, Pokhara etc are malaria free. So, if your holiday is (say) mostly in the mountains, but then incorporates a jungle safari in Chitwan, then you should really take malaria precautions to be on the safe side. See our "Travel Health" section. Trips to Bhutan are not considered to have a malarial risk.
That depends on what activities you wish for. We can't tell you whether you're fit enough. But, we can tell you what is involved in a particular activity, and this is a tailor-made holiday service so if we are aware of your physical fitness and abilities we can design for this accordingly. You must let us know at the outset if you have a pre-existing medical condition, and you must also consult with your doctor as to whether the holiday is suitable for you from a medical perspective if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also recommend that before you depart on your holiday you have a check up both with your GP and dentist. See our Getting Fit for a Trek information
Literally thousands and thousands of people each year go trekking, or engage in other physical actvities at high altitudes in the Himalayas. The human body is quite capable of adjusting to altitude if allowed to acclimatise properly. See our About Altitude information for more. As we only operate private, custom treks you should consider adding MORE ACCLIMATISATION DAYS (not less)
Vegetarians will have no difficulties. Nepal is mostly a Hindu country, so being vegetarian is the norm for the the locals. The Nepalese staple 'Dal Bhat' is entirely vegetarian (and very tasty too). No two Dal Bhats are the same! Carnivores won't be disappointed either. No beef usually. Instead there's buffalo and yak and chicken of course. In fact for both, you'll find the Nepalese are great cooks and as a general rule you will be able to enjoy a wide variety of meals, from local to international. In Kathmandu and Pokhara there's almost every type of eatery imaginable. In Bhutan meat is more commonly featured in meals, as well as chillies....lots of chillies! But, spice is toned way down for foreigners unless you want it local strength! However, if you're travelling to more remote areas it can be very difficult if you have other special dietary requirements. Talk to us if you have special dietary requirements and we'll do our best to advise, but we must stress that we cannot guarantee that your requirements will be met.
Only when you're completely happy with the holiday itinerary we've prepared for you. Then we would ask you to pay a deposit of 10% of the total holiday cost and complete a booking form (which we'll send you). The deposit is non-refundable so do make sure you have travel insurance in place for this. Your final balance is then payable no later than 36 days before departure. We do need you to complete and sign a booking form too before we can confirm your holiday. See our "How to Book" information and also our "Booking Terms and Conditions".
We'd recommend (and you probably were going to anyway) buy a guide book about Nepal or Bhutan. That's the best way to learn about many aspects of either country. Lonely Planet & Rough Guides produce excellent guide books on both Nepal and Bhutan, available as both a hard copy and ebook.