Himalayas: Nepal, India, Bhutan and Tibet
Nepal - picturesque, soaring paradise
Situated between China and Tibet to the north and India to the south, Nepal
is home to an uncommonly diverse geography from Mount Everest, the world´s
tallest mountain, to tropical jungles with abundant wildlife in the valleys
Dominated by the towering Himalayas, Nepal is truly a hiker´s
paradise with awe-inspiring scenery and hundreds of trails leading to
picturesque ruins and villages, little changed over the centuries. Trek the
Annapurna trails or stop in the village of Ghandruk where you are refreshed
with a solar-heated shower after your climb.
River rafting too is excellent and you can sightsee from the air by taking a
scenic flight, hang-gliding or ballooning. Culturally, Nepal has a long and rich
artistic and architectural history. Visit the ancient cities of Bhaktapur and Patan,
only a short distance from the captivating capitol, Kathmandu. Watch the sun
rise or set from your perch at Nagarkot and you just may catch a glimpse of paradise.
India will dazzle all your senses
Unforgettable India will stimulate your senses like no other country in the
world. Old and new mix in a colorful cacophony, offering something for the history buff, the foodie, the spiritual seeker and the adventurer.
From the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, to the megalopolis of Mumbai and the beaches of Goa and Kerala, there is an incredible number of amazing forts, palaces, temples and monuments worthy of visit. The latest option is to view the iconic Taj Mahal from your luxurious perch in the new Maharaja Express train, which will take you cross-country in a style reminiscent of India´s resplendent past.
Golf is increasingly popular, and mountaineering or trekking options are plentiful
as are national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. You must also visit a bazaar,
and listen to sitar music, but truly just sitting in traffic in any Indian town with
its eclectic mix of animal and motorized transport will be an experience not
Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon
Peaceful Bhutan has taken a cautious and sustainable approach to tourism,
but if you do take on the expense of traveling there, you will encounter
perhaps the last Shangri-la, a Himalayan kingdom where cultural heritage is
protected by a decree called the Gross National Happiness indicator.
Breathtaking scenery includes a dizzying trek to Taktshang Goemba, the
"tiger´s nest" monastery, which clings on a sheer rock precipice with an
almost 3000 foot drop to the valley below. Other sacred temples and sites
abound, and royal artifacts are on view in the many fine museums and at the
ancestral home of the Royal Family in Trongsa Dzong.
Stroll through the market in Thimphu the world´s only capital with no traffic
lights to view handicrafts and wondrous fresh foods. Visit during one of the
many religious festivals to watch mask, sword and fire dances that date back
to the Middle Ages. Straddling the past and the present, Bhutan is as surprising
as it is charming.
Tibet - the roof of the world
A visitor to Tibet will encounter one of the most unique places in Asia, if
not the world. Start in the capital Lhasa, a cultural hybrid that now offers
many luxury hotels. Drivers, guides and pedicabs abound to facilitate
exploring on your own. Required stops include the Potola Palace, the
ancestral set of the Dalai Lamas and the Jokhang, the oldest Buddhist
temple still in use for daily prayer. Simply seeing its golden Buddha is
said to bring benefit.
Of course Tibet is full of treasured and sprawling monasteries offering
amazing sights whether you are on pilgrimage or simply awed by their age,
beauty and spiritual heritage. Smaller monuments include the many stupas
perched high in the mountain passes where you can hang colorful prayer flags
for one's ancestors, family and friends.
Your journey should also include some of the hidden cave retreats where
Tibet´s monks have meditated for centuries. From vast mountain ranges
to wild yak herding in the valley grasslands, and desert sand dunes as tall as
mountains, Tibet remains breathtaking.