Join us for an exciting new adventure in the Kingdom of Happiness trekking on local Yueta horses through the Himalayan Mountains. Following the Royal Trail through some of the most beautiful valleys in the Himalaya you will visit monasteries, ancient temples and local villages who make mountain life look easy. The easy pace allows time to spot some of the unique and hardy fauna and flora that have adapted to live on the mountain sides, and spending the night in tents will reveal incredible night skies. At the beginning and end of the trip there are also visits to some of the most spiritual and spectacular sites in Bhutan including Taktsang Goemba, Drukgyel Dzong, Punakha Dzong and Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The tour is a mix of horse riding, trekking and sight-seeing to include all the highlights of Bhutan, as well as exploring the land and people behind the ‘happiest place on earth.’
Accommodation is in hotels, local farms and monasteries and tents depending on location. Picnic lunches are taken in meadows and alongside sparkling streams, and local dishes are served each night.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from JM of on 21/10/2019
You will be met at Paro airport and transferred to the hotel for check in and lunch. Once you have settled in you can visit the National Museum and Paro Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most impressive and well-known dzongs, and perhaps the finest example of Bhutanese architecture.
Dinner and overnight at Paro in Hotel.
This morning you will walk up to the Taktsang Goemba, known as the Tiger’s Nest monastery, a quintessential Bhutan experience. This hike takes you up to 3100m so hiking boots are recommended! Lunch will be served in teahouse on your return and then you will visit the ancient ruins of Drukgyel Dzong situated at the end of the Paro valley. If time permits you can also visit 7th century Kyechu Lhakhang and Dungtse Lhakhang. Dinner and overnight at Paro in Hotel.
You will take the early morning domestic flight to Bumthang, and from there drive to Tang Valley where you will meet the horses. After lunch you will have an afternoon ride to the nearby village, where you will have a chance to meet some locals and visit their homes before returning to the guesthouse for the night. Dinner and overnight in Tang in Farm House.
After breakfast you’ll head to the stables to start your ride. Today you’ll pass through villages and open fields before riding up into the pine forests. There might be a few places where you need to dismount and lead the horses, depending on the terrain. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way before reaching the campsite near Kunzangdra. There is a temple and hermitage on the cliff (Kunzangdra Monastery), founded by Pemalingpa in 1488, which you can explore before dinner.
Tonight you will sleep in tents at 3200m and take in the night skies.
Today you will ride through the forests and hillsides as you make your way towards Padselling. You will be staying in the monastery here tonight which is set high up in the mountains, next to a village, with incredible views. You’ll have the chance to explore the local village before returning to the monastery for dinner. On occasion tonight’s accommodation may be in tents.
This morning you will have a relaxing ride as you make your way downhill. You will be mainly following village roads and trails which provide some great opportunities for a few canters. After visiting Dorjibi village, you will leave the horses behind and take a short drive to the hotel in nearby Jakar. In the evening you can wander around and explore the town of Jakar with your guide. Overnight at Bumthang in Hotel
Today you will ride through some of the local villages, giving you the chance to meet and talk to the very friendly local people as you pass by their homes. As you ride between the villages you are likely to see the farmers ploughing and tending their potato fields. As you meander through the countryside, there are more opportunities to trot and canter as well. Camping overnight, or you will stay in a local homestay with a Bhutanese family.
After breakfast you will set out on a long ride as you head out for your final day on the saddle. You follow a mountain trail up to the summit of PhaPha at 3600m, where colourful prayer flags hang from branches. You will cross a 3000m pass as you head back towards the stables. Today you will ride through more local villages, giving you the chance to practice any local words or phrases you might have picked up along the tour. Once back at the stables you’ll say goodbye to the horses before heading to a local guesthouse. You can relax in a traditional hot stone bath with a glass of local wine before dinner. Overnight in Farm House
After breakfast you drive to Punakha, the old capital city, passing through the Trongsa valley. You’ll stop in Trongsa and visit the National Museum and the magnificent Trongsa Dzong, the birthplace of Bhutan’s hereditary monarchy. You continue on, crossing Pele La pass at 3400m, before descending down to valley floor at 1200m in Punakha. Overnight at Punakha in Hotel.
This morning you will visit Punakha Dzong, ‘The Place of Great Happiness’, built in between two rivers. Afterwards you drive north to make the short hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a unique example of this traditional Asian architecture built as a magical tool but the Queen Mother. After lunch you drive to Thimphu, the capital city and visit Tashi Chodzong, the seat of government and monastic body and Memorial chorten. Overnight in Thimphu in Hotel
In the morning you can visit the sights of Thimphu such as the largest Buddha, painting school, Indigenous hospital, vegetable market, etc. before driving back to Paro in the afternoon. Overnight in Paro in Hotel.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight.
Non riders are welcome to join the tour, and will be driven to each new site during the riding portion of the tour.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses used on this ride are a sturdy local breed known as Yueta, between 12hh and 15hh. They are mild tempered and well adapted to trekking across mountainous terrain. Due to the small stature of the horses there is a strict weight limit of 90kg for this ride. The riding is mostly at a walk or trot, although there may be opportunities to canter in the flatter valleys. The terrain can be quite steep and rocky in places, riders should be prepared to dismount and walk at times. There is also riding over small hills and across meadow.
Riders need to be able to walk, trot and canter, and to be able to mount/dismount unaided. Riders should be prepared to dismount and walk alongside their horses when the terrain is particularly steep or rocky. Riders should have a good level of general fitness. The minimum age for this ride is 12 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The accommodation on this ride is a mix of hotels (all at 3* level), farm houses, monasteries and camping. Hotels are twin/double rooms with private bathroom. Single and double tents are available for the camping nights - please let us know in advance if you would like a single tent. There will be basic bathroom and shower facilities available on camping nights. When staying in farm houses and monasteries, riders may be sharing rooms with more than 1 other person depending on the space available and number in the group. There will be basic bathroom facilities available.
When staying in hotels, breakfast and dinner will be taken in the hotel or a local restaurant. During the riding trail meals will be prepared by the support team and taken 'home-style'. Picnic lunches will be carried in saddlebags, and you will stop in a scenic place each day around noon for lunch. Meals will be a variety of Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian and continental cuisine including: soup, salad, rice, butter naan, paneer, bhidi masala, mutter paneer, spring rolls, fried dal, chow mein, spaghetti, squash, noodles.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If visas are required the conditions for these can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
All visitors to Bhutan (except Indian nationals) must obtain visa clearance from an authorized tour operator in Bhutan in advance of their arrival. Visas are issued on arrival but you must apply in advance and receive visa approval before you travel. Keep a photocopy of your passport visa pages and flight ticket separate from the originals when travelling. The Bhutanese Department of Tourism sets a non-negotiable minimum daily tariff for all visitors to Bhutan. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Bhutan. Britain is represented in Bhutan by an Honorary Consul. The nearest consular office is British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata. Please note there are also restrictions on where visitors may enter or leave Bhutan.
Bhutanese Honorary Consulate in London
2 Windacres Warren Road, Guildford GU1 2HG
Phone: (+44) 1 483 538 189
Royal Bhutan's Embassy in USA
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the UN, 763 United Nations Plaza(1st Ave.) New York, N.Y.10017
Phone: (212) 682-2268/682-2312/682-2371/682-2752
Fax: (212) 661-0551
Bhutanese Honorary Consulate in Toronto
146 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON M5R 1C2
Phone: (+1) (416) 960 3552
Fax: (+1) (416) 960 9506
The climate of Bhutan cannot be generalized because of its mountainous landscape. Bhutan lies at the same latitude as New Delhi, Cairo and Miami, so one may think it may be hot, and to some its location in the Himalayas suggest Bhutan will be cold. However, it experiences very pleasant weather throughout the year. With the exception of southern regions that border the plains of India, and the northern frontier with Tibet, most people experience a pleasant temperate climate with moderate changes between winter and summer.
Altitude is one notable factor that determines the weather especially for the places of interest like Thimphu, Paro Punakha, Wandgi, and Bumthang. The weather can vary due to changes in elevation. For instance, Punakha and Wangdue (1300m) is warmer than Thimphu (2300) and Bumthang (2580 m) is colder than both, which is due to variation in altitude.
Another factor that can influence the weather in Bhutan is the seasonal cycle. As a whole the climatic conditions varies from sub-tropical in south to the Alpine in the north. Climatic conditions in Bhutan can be broadly categorise into four:
From March to June, the southern regions experience typical sub tropical weather with hot and humid conditions. Thimphu, Paro, and Bumthang Valley have warmer days with cool nights and clear blue sky. It is noticeably warmer in Punakha & Wangdi Valley. High altitude paths are at their most accessible in this time. Rhododendron and wild flower blooms surrounds the trails especially at higher elevation. This is also the best time to see wildlife as they come out from hibernation after a long cold winter.
July marks the advent of monsoon season, which lasts until the beginning of September, bringing much relief and a boon to farmers for the cultivation of their seasonal crops. The rain in the valleys is moderate, with the bulk falling in the southern belt. It carpets the valley and surrounding vegetation with greenery. There is no trekking during the monsoon as the trails get wet, slippery and muddy.
From the tail end of September until November the weather slowly stabilizes after the monsoon. The sky becomes clearer with warm autumn sun and continues offering spectacular views of far off peaks.
These months are considered to be the best time for trekking, with accessible high passes and stable temperature. It can get hot during the day so wearing sunscreen is recommended.
From December until February, it’s the time of year when nights tend to get cold with days being warm with bright sun. Temperatures can drop to -5 degrees at night so bring a suitable sleeping bag. Blue winter skies serve a striking background to the snow-capped peaks. The higher passes experience snow but the valleys receive only an occasional light dusting. The possibility of heavy snow remains only if there is a sudden and dramatic change in temperature.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
There is a reasonably well equipped hospital in the capital, Thimphu, with modern diagnostic facilities such as ultrasound, MRI and CT Scan. Outside Thimphu, Bhutanese hospitals provide only basic health care.
You may find the high mountain altitudes demanding. Familiarise yourself with the dangers of altitude sickness especially if you are trekking in remote areas.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, emergency helicopter evacuation to India and repatriation.
You may find the high mountain altitudes demanding. Familiarise yourself with the dangers of altitude sickness especially if you are trekking in remote areas. Ensure you have medication for altitude sickness in your first aid kit before travelling. You will not be going to extreme altitudes on this ride, however all guests should be aware of the symptoms especially if you are new to the environment. For more information please visit https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/26/altitude-illness#undefined
In Bhutan the power sockets are of type D, F and G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
When on the horse riding portion of the tour there will be limited or no electricity, phone signal or WiFi. Take spare batteries or a powerpack to recharge your camera. Spare memory cards are also a good idea!
Riding helmet (compulsory)
Hiking boots that are suitable for riding in
Waterproof and windproof jacket
Long sleeved t-shirts
Casual clothes for evenings
Warm sleeping clothes
Short sleeved t-shirts for wearing during the day
Head torch for camping nights
Light-weight, loose fitting trousers for visiting temples/dzongs
Day pack for sight-seeing trips
Sleeping bag (temperature can drop to -5 degrees in the winter months)
Camera with spare batteries/memory cards
Passport and photocopy of identification page
Copy of visa
Druk Asia flight ticket (or alternative Bhutanese airline)
Generally, clothing should correspond with the average weather conditions. However, it is difficult to recommend one specific set of clothing, the key to dressing is layering so that you can adapt to changing weather condition. As the day progresses and gets warmer, you can take layers off and put them in your day pack. The clothes you bring should wash well in cold water and dry quickly. Bring loose, comfortable clothes and comfortable walking shoes. We recommend bringing well broken trekking boots with ankle support if your trip includes walking.
Shorts that are very short are not always appropriate in Asian countries for men or women. Try wearing light-weight, loose fitting travel trousers. Formal clothing is not necessary for travels in this region but you will need to wear long pants and long sleeves/coloured T-shirts when you visit Temples or Dzongs.
Baggage allowance on Druk Air is 30 Kilograms (2 piece max) per passenger to check-in and one hand-carry (cabin bag) that fits into overhead luggage compartment. Usually Laptops and cameras may be allowed to carry on in addition to cabin baggage. Business class passengers are permitted additional 10 Kilograms to check-in. Excess baggage is charged on a basis of kilograms and so the rates vary by sector and times.
This is a 12 day/11 night programme with 6 days riding available on request throughout the year.
2020: May 10 - confirmed departure
Other dates available on request for 2+ riders
Single rooms only available in hotels (single supplement applies), single tents available with no extra charge. Please enquire.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||double pp group 7-10 pax||2,495|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 3-6 pax||259|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 2 pax||365|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement 1 pax||575|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||single supplement (hotels only)||119|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||double pp group 7-10 pax||2,959|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 3-6 pax||309|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 2 pax||435|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement 1 pax||679|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||single supplement (hotels only)||139|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||double pp group 7-10 pax||3,395|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 3-6 pax||355|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 2 pax||495|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement 1 pax||779|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||single supplement (hotels only)||155|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||double pp group 7-10 pax||31,099|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 3-6 pax||3,239|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement group 2 pax||4,535|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||supplement 1 pax||7,125|
|2020 High Season||12d/11n||6||single supplement (hotels only)||1,475|
• LONELY PLANET – BHUTAN (COUNTRY GUIDE) BY LINDSAY BROWN.
• BHUTAN: HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN KINGDOM, FIFTH EDITION (ODYSSEY ILLUSTRATED GUIDE) BY FRANCOISE POMMARET.
• BEYOND THE SKY AND THE EARTH BY JAMIE ZEPPA
• BHUTAN: A TREKKER’S GUIDE (CICERONE GUIDE)
• DREAM OF PEACEFUL DRAGON: A JOURNEY THROUGH BHUTAN BY KATIE HICKMAN
• BUTTER TEA AT SUNRISE: A YEAR IN THE BHUTAN HIMALAYAS BY BRITTA DAS
• BIRDS OF BHUTAN BY CAROL INSKIPP
• FOOTPRINT – BHUTAN (FOOTPRINT BHUTAN HANDBOOK) BY GYURME DORJEE
Trekking, bird watching, mountain biking, festivals, wildlife sanctuaries, rock climbing, rafting.
The great geographical and climatic diversity of Bhutan results in an outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.
The tiger, one-horned rhino, golden langur, clouded leopard, hispid hare and the sloth bear live in the lush tropical lowland and hardwood forests in the south. In the temperate zone, grey langur, tiger, common leopard, goral and serow are found in mixed conifer, broadleaf and pine forests. Fruit bearing trees and bamboo provide habitat for the Himalayan black bear, red panda, squirrel, sambar, wild pig and barking deer. The alpine habitats of the great Himalayan range in the north are home to the snow leopard, blue sheep, marmot, Tibetan wolf, antelope and Himalayan musk deer.
Flora and birds abound with more than 770 species of bird and 5,400 species of plants known to occur throughout the kingdom. Many of these species are endangered or elusive, and sightings are extremely rare. Conservation projects are attempting to protect and improve populations which are threatened, please help by not leaving any kind of litter, and avoid disturbing or damaging the environment as you pass through.