In Bhutan, festivals celebrate family and community in a happy expression of ancient Buddhist culture. People come from distant villages dressed in their finest clothes and jewelry, while monks prepare masks and costumes. Many believe that watching the mystical dances is essential to gaining enlightenment, but until recently, few had the opportunity.
We’re privileged to offer small groups the chance to enter the Kingdom of Bhutan and share in three highlights of its festival calendar: Thimphu Tsechu, Jambay Lakhang Drup and Punakha Drubchen. We also visit majestic fortresses and monasteries and discover why this Himalayan Kingdom is one of the world’s 10 biodiversity hotspots.
Best of all we add the treasures of India in one unique trip. For three decades, Adventure Associates has introduced travellers to India, from the colour and cacophony of its capital New Delhi, to the romance of the Taj Mahal. We do so once again, photographing tigers in Ranthambore National Park, exploring Rajasthani forts and palaces and relaxing in highland tea plantations and on houseboats near the Arabian Sea. We enjoy comfortable (even luxurious) 4-5 star accommodation, with meals to match.
Our guides are experts like Judy Tenzing, whose charm equals her knowledge and passion for Bhutan and India. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and focus on your travel needs. In a world where travel has become a commodity, we believe in personal service only possible with a small company.
Join us on a three-week expedition that has every chance of changing how you view the world.
21 days Ex: Kochi, India
Group size 8 to 16 people
Drift along lush southern India backwaters, embrace Rajasthani history in red forts and pink cities, discover romance in the Taj Mahal and all-pervasive humanity in Delhi.
Escape to peace and tranquility in the Bhutan Himalaya, visiting fortresses and Buddhist temples evolved over centuries and enjoy a national culture based on happiness, rather than productivity. Attend the dramatic Punakha Drubchen Festival, a recreation of the 17th Century battle between local Bhutanese militia and the Tibetan army.
Arrive in Kochi, explore southern India including Munnar tea plantations, Alleppey houseboat, Kochi highlights including Mattanchery Palace and Kathakali dancing, then fly to Udaipur via Mumbai.
Experience exotic Rajasthan, from Udaipur, the City of Lakes, to the Pink City of Jaipur with its Amber Fort, then tiger and wildlife in the wilds of Ranthambore National Park before travelling to Agra via Fatephur Sikri.
Uttar Pradesh delivers the sprawling Agra Fort, exquisite Taj Mahal and the buzz of Delhi, both old and new, before our flight to Paro, Bhutan.
Surrounded by the Himalaya, we visit Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, majestic Punakha Dzong and experience the spectacle of Punakha Drubchen Festival before a tour of Thimphu and our flight home.
23 Sept to 13 Oct
21 days Ex: Paro, Bhutan
Group size 8 to 16 people
Himalaya grandeur, festival spectacle and Bhutanese tranquility meets the chaotic, romantic, full-throttle spice of India. Starting with the Thimphu Festival, Bhutan’s most significant religious and cultural event, we travel through breathtaking river valleys, visiting amazing fortresses and monasteries and experiencing the social and political experiment that calibrates happiness to measure success.
Descending to the maelstrom of new Delhi, we enter a world that values historical treasures as much as technical evolution. From exquisite Taj Mahal to Agra’s Red Fort, tiger viewing in Rathambore national Park to Rajasthani palaces, highland tea plantations to sub-tropical houseboats, India promises sensory overload.
Spectacular Himalayan-view flight from Kathmandu to Paro, then short drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. We spend a full day at the Thimphu Festival, the country’s largest religious event that includes sacred Cham dances and a lively market. A full day tour takes in the National Library and museums celebrating ancient and modern Bhutan. We visit chortens (stupas), Buddha Point and Trashichhoedzong. We drive across Dochu La, with panoramic views, finishing in Punakha.
Explore Punakha Dzong on the confluence of the Po and Mo Rivers, one of Bhutan’s most majestic and fully- restored fortresses. We visit a chorine built to promote peace, stability and harmony and perhaps the Temple of Fertility. Drive back to Paro via dramatic river valleys, and visit historical Simtokha Dzong (tantric teaching), Ta Dzong (National Museum) and Rinpung Dzong (Buddhist paintings).
Next day a five-hour hike takes us to sensational Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, perched on a 900 m cliff above the Paro River. Return via ruined fortresses and ancient temples.
As flight to New Delhi arrives early afternoon, we step boldly into the buzz of India’s capital. A full day tour reveals manicured parks, the stunning Parliament Building, India Gate and Humanyun’s tomb, forerunner of the Taj Mahal.
We dive into the energy and colour of Old Delhi, exploring its narrow lanes and thronged bazaars, brimming with sights, sounds and aromas of the sub-continent.
Morning train to Agra, where we wander through the Red Fort, a walled city that took nearly 1.5 million workers eight years to build and houses splendid palaces. Late afternoon and sunset we visit the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s overwhelming monument to love – the Taj Mahal.
Next day, a short drive to the royal city, Fatehpur Sikri. Built mostly in red sandstone, it combines Hindu and Muslim architecture. We board a train to Ranthambore National Park.
Once the hunting ground of Maharajas, Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places in the world to see tigers in the wild.
Against a backdrop of soaring mesas and sparkling lakes, this Rajasthani park is also home to marsh crocodile, spotted deer and langur monkeys. We spend a day and half on wildlife safaris before driving to the famed Pink City, Jaipur.
A jeep carries us to the Amber Fort, a sprawling complex whose forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise of art and Rajput/Mughal architecture featuring carving, precious stones and mirror settings.
We visit the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Breeze), where royal women spied on street life, the astronomical observatory Jantar Mantar, and the Central Museum. Next day we drive to Deogarh Mahal and luxurious relaxation.
We drive to Udaipur, Jewel of Mewar, set amongst three glistening lakes and dusky mountains. We visit the City Palace, largest in Rajasthan; the Jagdish Temple with its folk art museum and relax with a boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Next morning we fly to Mumbai, then on to the southwest seaport of Kochi (Cochin) and a leisure afternoon.
Kochi, Queen of the Arabian Sea, is built on a string of small islands. We visit Fort Cochin, India’s oldest European settlement, the church where Vasco de Gama was once buried, art-rich Mattancherry Palace and the iconic cantilevered Chinese Fishing Nets. We finish with a lively Kathakali dance – Hindu legends expressed through performance art. Next day we drive to Munnar, a refreshing hill station in the Western Ghat mountains.
A lovely escape from the humid Indian plains, this resort town is surrounded by sprawling tea plantations, an industry showcased in the Tata Tea Museum.
We descend to Alleppey, a coastal town of Kerala, and cruise the lush green backwaters in traditional wooden kettuvallam. These vessels, once used to transport rice, are now delightful houseboats where we spend the night. Next day we drive to Kochi for our flight home.
23 Oct to 4 Nov
13 days Ex: Paro Bhutan
Group size 4 to 16 people
Cross over spectacular mountain ranges that separate central and western Bhutan, explore the grandest dzongs (fortresses) and temples, await the arrival of the rare black-necked crane and celebrate one of the most dramatic festivals in the spiritual heartland of the country.
We travel from Thimphu to Punakha Dzong, through the marshlands of Phobjikha Valley, cross Pele la in the Black Mountains to arrive in the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang. Here we discover the rich pageantry and festive atmosphere of Jambay lhakhang Festival, with unique masked perfor- mances, fire ceremony and ritualistic naked man dance.
Spectacular Himalayan-view flight to Paro, then a short drive to Thimphu. A full day tour takes in the National Library and museums celebrating ancient and modern Bhutan.
We explore the quaint Phobjikha valley, including searching marshlands for black-necked cranes.
We drive to Bhutan’s spiritual heartland, Bumthang, to celebrate Jambay Lhakhang Festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to the country.
Crossing the Black Mountains at Pele La, we stopover in fascinating Trongsa, visit the majestic Punakha Dzong and continue to Wangdue Phodrang.
Return to Paro for sightseeing, an optional walk to Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, flight home.
Bhutan Punakha Drubchen Festival & Indian Treasures
|20 nights||21 days|
Ex: Kochi, India February
|Twin Share||AU$ 9,540|
|Single Supplement||AU$ 2,550|
Bhutan Thimphu Festival & India Treasures
|20 nights||21 days|
Ex: Paro, Bhutan 23 Sept to 13 Oct
|Twin Share||AU$ 9,540|
|Single Supplement||AU$ 2,550|
Bhutan’s Jambay Lhakhang Festival
|12 nights||13 days|
Ex: Paro, Bhutan 23 Oct to 4 Nov
|Twin Share||AU$ 5,790|
|Single Supplement||AU$ 1,950|
To initiate your reservations, please contact us as soon as possible to check availability and place an option. A Booking Form is to be signed, completed and returned to Adventure Associates along with your deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit and booking form.
|Deposit required per person:||AU$1000 per person|
|balance due:||75 days prior to departure|
|If booking within 74 days of departure:||full payment must be made.|
For these and other reasons mentioned below, you are strongly encouraged to obtain trip cancellation & travel insurance.
We can book your air travel and any tour extensions. Please contact us for details.
Spaces are limited so please book early, and ask us about our other cultural and adventure trip.
Born and bred in Sydney Judy reluctantly agreed to undertake an overland trip from Nepal to Europe when she was 20 years old. It was a journey which was to dictate the direction of her life, although at the time of setting out the India section of the trip was something to be tolerated en route to the familiar cultures and histories of Europe and Britain.
However on stepping out from the plane at Kathmandu airport on a crisp and golden winter afternoon in 1976 everything changed. “I can still clearly recall that moment – the smells, the musty mountain atmosphere, the images of the early evening in that medieval city. My life changed from that point onwards”.
After months on the road through Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey Europe was reached and dutifully visited. However Judy’s one focus now was getting back to India and Nepal. A year later she returned to Sydney, changed her university major to South Asian history and completed her degree. She then began work as a tour guide in Nepal and India, a role which enabled her regular periods between treks and tours to indulge her passion for the people, places and rich tapestry of cultures of the sub-continent.
After a decade spent living and working there Judy returned to Australia with her new husband Tashi Tenzing, grandson of Everest’s first summiter Tenzing Norgay. She and Tashi established a small travel agency in Sydney specialising in India and the Himalaya, which Judy runs to this day in addition to her work as co-ordinator of the International Baccalaureate at a Sydney girls’ school.
Judy has also lectured at the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Sydney – historical and cultural courses on various aspects of India, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. She also runs highly successful academic tours for the Art Gallery of NSW and other organisations.
In 2001 she published a best-selling book on the contribution of the Sherpas to the conquest of Mount Everest. The book Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest has been translated into 7 languages and is published worldwide.
She has run corporate training courses for personnel of Australian industries moving into India and has offered cultural orientation programs for AUSAID for government personnel about to embark on assignment to the sub-continent.
Judy has combined her life as a dedicated Indophile with her role as mother to 24 year old son Pasang and 19 year old daughter Dechen.
To be able to interweave one’s passion into one’s life is a blessing and Judy works hard at sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for this extraordinary part of the world with those who travel with her or attend her courses.