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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

New! 2017 Bhutan: Hidden Kingdom of the Himalayas

India: Delhi • Bhutan: Thimphu, Gangtey, Punakha, Paro

Sold out in 2017 , Join us in 2018

Courtesy Maude Plante-Husaruk
Gatherings

Feel the pulse of India’s most hypnotic festivals and celebrations in this colorful video.

Courtesy of Nihal Anand
A Brief Intermission

Enjoy a calming interlude of rainy-day scenes from the mountain villages of Sikkim, India.

Courtesy of Anika Pilnei, Ian Sciacaluga, and Ian Cross
Planet Food: Delhi, India

Chef Bobby Chin takes you on a whirlwind tour of Delhi’s spicy cuisine from city to countryside.

Sold out in 2017 , Join us in 2018
  • 3 nights from only $595
    Single Supplement: $295
 

NEW Adventure! Explore the
Himalayas and more in
Bhutan. See details »

 

CRITICAL AIR INFORMATION
The air routing for this trip is very demanding. Learn More »

 

Combine this trip with our
Nepal & the Mystical
Himalayas adventure.
See More Options »

Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

This spiritual journey of discovery  begins in Delhi, where you’ll witness the many facets of India’s sprawling capital—from the Mughal glory of Old Delhi to the Raj-era splendor of New Delhi. Then, journey to Bhutan, a spiritual oasis nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Himalayas. Embark on a life-changing journey to Bhutan, home to serene landscapes hidden in the clouds where happiness is woven into the fabric of everyday life.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • Did you know that you have control over the way you want to fly with us? O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other ways you can personalize your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Upgrade your seat: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. 
    • Fly the way you want to: When you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • If you choose to purchase airfare through O.A.T., consider personalizing your flights to include a Stopover. Break up your lengthy flight to Delhi, India, and take time to relax, refresh, and add another stamp to your passport with a visit to Dubai before your main adventure—or before your pre-trip extension. An O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport in Dubai and assist with your transfer into the city for three nights in a centrally-located hotel—the rest is up to you!

    From soaring to the top of the world’s tallest building, to shopping in the souks of the old city, to leaving footprints in the sand of the surrounding desert, an adventure in Dubai offers surprises at every turn. However you spend your time, you’re sure to leave energized and ready to begin your journey in northern India and Bhutan. This Stopover includes three nights at the Raviz Centre Point Hotel (or similar), daily breakfasts, and roundtrip airport transfers. Single Supplement is $295.

    Suggested Activities in Dubai

    • After perusing the bright and shiny wares of the Deira Gold Souq, stroll over to the bank of Dubai Creek, where you can admire the brightly-colored dhow boats that ply the Indian Ocean—or hop aboard a smaller abra boat to see the cityscape from the water
    • Spend a day in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, where you can admire one of the world’s largest religious buildings, the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, or stroll along the beaches and gardens of the Corniche
    • Soar to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, where you’ll look out on the surrounding city and desert from a vantage point that bests the Empire State Building by 46 stories
    • Discover Islam and Emirati culture at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where you can converse with local people and all questions, no matter how controversial, are encouraged
    • See how lights, water, and music combine to form a piece of art at the Dubai Fountains, the world’s largest choreographed fountain performance, where water shoots up to 500 feet into the air
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving a few days early for a fresh start or staying overnight in a connecting city before or after your adventure to break up a lengthy flight. Our Adventure Specialists can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. One of the most common adventures combined with this adventure is Nepal & the Mystical Himalayas. And now you’ll save an additional $250-$350 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $595

    When you purchase airfare through O.A.T., you have the option to personalize your flights and add a Stopover. Break up your lengthy flight to Delhi, India, with a 3-night Stopover in Dubai before your main adventure or before your pre-trip extension. An O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your included transfer into the city for three nights in a centrally-located hotel—the rest is up to you! Take advantage of this opportunity to relax, refresh, and explore the futuristic skyline, timeless desert tableaux, and traditional customs of this ultramodern Emirati city. Breakfasts and roundtrip airport transfer are also included. Single Supplement is $295.

    Looking for ways to fill your free time in Dubai? Check out some of our suggestions.

    Learn More
  • 7 nights from only $1895

    Journey to two of Northern India’s holiest cities and sacred sites—from the fabled Golden Temple and Punjabi culture of Amritsar to the home of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the venerated Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, nestled in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.

    View Extension Itinerary
Delhi Paro Expand All
  • Depart the U.S. for your flight to Delhi, India, via Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The particulars of your arrival overseas will be detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

  • Today you’ll arrive in Dubai, where you’ll meet your connecting flight to Delhi. Depending on your flight schedule, you’ll arrive late on Day 2 or very early on Day 3. Travelers who took our pre-trip to Amritsar & Dharamsala will arrive in Delhi this afternoon.

  • After a late breakfast and briefing with our Trip Leader, we’ll set off on an orientation walk with a visit to a local market. Then, after lunch on your own, we begin our India discoveries in style along the historic streets of Old Delhi. Through the centuries, eight cities have been built on the site of India’s modern capital by Hindu, Mughal, and British rulers—with each adding their own flavor. Highlights include Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi; Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India; and a rickshaw ride through Delhi’s famous 300-year-old bazaar, Chandni Chowk.

    We return to our hotel for time to relax before gathering together this evening for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast, we’ll continue our India discoveries to experience the highlights of New Delhi, the section of the sprawling city originally laid out by the British with broad, tree-lined avenues and neat street grids. We’ll stop at Qutab Minar, a soaring tower of victory begun in the twelfth century that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the symbol of New Delhi. Later, we all gather for lunch at a local restaurant. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to pursue individual discoveries in Delhi.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • We fly to Bhutan early this morning. Upon arrival in Paro, we drive to Thimphu, capital of the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. A deeply Buddhist land, Bhutan places a higher value on its cultural heritage and the well-being of its people than economic progress and material wealth. The first country to embrace a revolutionary philosophy of “Gross National Happiness,” Bhutan also wishes to preserve its natural beauty—a law requires that at least 60% of its land remain forested for future generations.

    Upon arrival in Thimphu, we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant, and then set off on a brief walking tour of the city center. You may notice lots of crimson-robed monks, monasteries, old fortresses, and modern cafés, but what you won’t see are traffic lights, as Thimphu is the only national capital city in the world without a single one.

    After checking in at our hotel, we'll have the afternoon at leisure. This evening, we’ll have dinner at our hotel’s restaurant.

  • After breakfast, we’ll stop at the National Memorial Chorten, a shrine built to memorialize Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the monarch who opened the doors of Bhutan to the outside world. The late “third dragon king” remains greatly revered in Bhutan, and locals and pilgrims alike come here daily to pray and whirl red prayer wheels. Then, we’ll head to Kuensel Phodrang, a massive 167-foot-tall statue of Buddha Dordenma built on a hill overlooking the Thimphu Valley. A chapel inside the base of the three-story structure includes some 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. Then, we’ll drive out to the Takin Reserve, where we will see the national animal of Bhutan—an odd beast that confounds the experts, who have managed to relate it only to sheep. A Bhutanese myth suggests that the takin is a cow-goat hybrid, but its strong resemblance to the North American moose is difficult to ignore.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll return to our hotel for some time at leisure. Later, we’ll gather our group together and meet with a local Bhutanese family for a Home-Hosted Dinner.

  • After breakfast, we’ll depart Thimphu for Gangtey in the Phobjikha Valley, a vast glacial valley of scenic splendor with a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna—and winter home of globally-threatened black-necked crane. Our 5 1/2-hour drive features several discoveries, including a stop at Dochula, a mountain pass dotted with more than 100 chortens (Bhutanese temples) and prayer flags with panoramic views of the Himalayas.

    We’ll also stop for a brief visit to Rinchengang, a village noted for its stone masonry tradition, followed by an included lunch at a hotel in Wangdue. We’ll arrive in Gangtey in the late afternoon. After some time to relax, we’ll gather together for dinner at our exclusive tented camp this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll depart our hotel to spend our day in Taphu, a small agricultural village located in a southern stretch of the Phobjikha Valley. Upon arrival, we’ll meet with the young students of the village school, followed by a stroll through the village. Then, meet with a local farmer who will show us how to churn milk into butter tea and how to prepare ara, a traditional alcoholic beverage consumed in Bhutan. Afterward, we’ll learn more about everyday life in rural Bhutan during a Home-Hosted Lunch with the farmer and his family.

    Then, we’ll return to Gangtey for some time at leisure before enjoying dinner at our camp this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll head to Gangtey Goenpa, a remote 17th-century Buddhist monastery set on a forested hill overlooking Phobjikha Valley. Here, we’ll get to meet and interact with the local monks and learn about the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism. Bhutan’s famous winged winter visitors—black-necked cranes—are known to circle the monastery three times when they arrive from the Tibetan plateau and three times when they return again to Tibet in the spring.

    Then, after returning to our lodge for an included lunch, travelers may choose to join an elective hike along the Gangtey Nature Trail. We’ll enjoy the scenery and watch for birds and other creatures during a relatively easy two-hour trek through forests of blue pine trees covered in lichen (known locally as “old man’s beard”) before returning to our tented camp and time to relax before an included dinner.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    After breakfast, we’ll journey for about 3 1/2 hours to Punakha, which served as Bhutan’s capital for more than three centuries. Punakha is also a center of the huge phalluses that are sure to be seen painted throughout homes in Bhutan—which may cause giggles but are taken seriously by Bhutanese as a sign of good fortune by warding off bad spirits.

    After lunch at a local restaurant just outside Punakha, we’ll set off on a walking excursion at Chimi Lhakhang. Also called the “Fertility Temple,” Chimi Lhakhang was built in 1499 to honor Drukpa Kunley, a rogue Buddhist known as the Divine Madman who is still considered one of Bhutan’s favorite saints. Kunley, who is also credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan, spread enlightenment through an active sex life and is responsible for the phallic imagery found here and throughout the country. After a walk through the local village at the foot of Chimi Lhakhang, we’ll arrive at our hotel, where we’ll also enjoy an included dinner this evening.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    After breakfast, travelers may wish to join an elective nature hike to enjoy the mountain views and lush green meadows of the Punakha Valley. Then, we’ll all gather together for a rafting excursion along the scenic Mo Chhu (Mother) River, a gently-flowing river that links up with the Pho Chhu (Father) River at the Punakha Dzong. After our exciting rafting journey, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch by the side of the river. Then, we’ll visit Punakha Dzong, widely hailed as the most splendid example of the fortress-like monasteries that dot Bhutan’s landscapes. Impressively situated at the confluence of the Mo and Pho rivers, Punakha Dzong is filled with ornate murals and serene courtyards—and where all of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned.

    Dinner is at our hotel this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll depart Punakha and travel approximately 4 1/2 hours to Paro. Our journey takes us back through the Dochula mountain pass, and we’ll also stop to see an iron-chain hanging bridge that crosses the Paro River leading to a small hilltop temple. We’ll arrive in the charming town of Paro in time for lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we’ll then visit another of Bhutan’s revered sacred temples called Kyichu Lhakhang. This ancient shrine said to have been built by a Tibetan King in the 7th century in order to subdue a demon who was attempting to prevent the spread of Buddhism.

    After our hotel check-in, we’ll have time on our own before gathering together for an included dinner at our lodge.

  • After breakfast, we’ll journey outside Paro for a true “high” point of your Bhutan adventure—Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Perched on the face of a sheer cliff some 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley, Tiger’s Nest Monastery (also known as Taktsang) is considered the holiest site in Bhutan. It’s a rather steep climb of more than two hours to reach the world-renowned shrine recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, but we’ll be well rewarded for our efforts. When visitors hear the 1,300-year-old legend of Guru Rinpoche flying here on a tigress, listen to monks chanting from sacred texts, or simply stand in silence among the clouds on the side of a mountain deep in the Himalayas—it is not uncommon to have a deeply moving spiritual experience.

    After a picnic lunch at the base of Tiger’s Nest, we’ll return to our hotel for some leisure time. Then, we’ll visit a local farm house, where some of our travelers may wish to alleviate any aches of the day with a relaxing traditional Bhutan hot stone bath, a technique using river rocks placed in water where they crack and steam, releasing minerals and soothing pain. Then, we’ll enjoy dinner together at the farm house before returning to our hotel.

  • After breakfast, we drive outside Paro to Kila Goempa, a remote nunnery that is home to some small temples and retreat huts built into the sheer cliff-side where several dozen nuns live in self-imposed isolation. After interacting with some of the nuns and learning why they have chosen this path for their lives, we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we’ll visit Ta Dzong, an ancient hilltop watchtower that is now home to the National Museum. After viewing the eclectic collections of Bhutanese arts, artifacts, and weapons, we’ll return to our hotel for a chance to visit one of Paro’s bustling local markets for some Thangka paintings, Bhutanese stamps, or any number of last-minute keepsakes of your journey.

    Later this evening, we’ll gather together for a cultural performance at our hotel and celebrate our time in Bhutan during a Farewell Dinner.

  • After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi, India, where you’ll have the day at leisure. Or, fly to Kathmandu to begin post-trip extension to Kathmandu & Annapurna Mountain Trek

  • Very early this morning, depart on your flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where you’ll join your connecting flight back to the U.S.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Nepal: Kathmandu & Annapurna Mountain Trek

    5 nights from only $1495

    Extend your Himalayan discoveries by experiencing two sides of Nepal on a journey from the modern capital of Kathmandu to the lakeside city of Pokhara and exhilarating treks in the unspoiled foothills of the majestic Annapurna mountain range. 

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Bhutan: Hidden Kingdom of the Himalayas

Read Travel Planning Guide

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