Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Sandakhphu Trek (Darjeeling)

 

 

Wind-1

Trekking in Darjeeling

Darjeeling internationally acclaimed as one of the best hill resorts is also a veritable paradise for trekkers and adventure seekers. Trekking in Darjeeling is an experience which no lover of nature should miss. It takes one to places where nature is yet in her primeval majesty. It brings one face to face with the sublime grandeur of the Himalayas.

The region abounds in rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas, orchids and ferns of numerous varieties. About six hundred different species of birds inhabit the emerald green forests on the slopes of the mountains.

Typical trekking day in Darjeeling

On a typical trek in Darjeeling, you are provided a bed tea/ Coffee (Nescafe). Then you are provided with a bowl of warm water to wash and brush. Breakfast is served in your dinning tent. After breakfast, crews take down the tents, clean the campsite, pack the bags/boxes and begin loading the animals, at which time you and your guide set-off on the trail. During the day, for most part of the time, you walk at your own pace and stop to take pictures or admire landscapes. All you carry is a personal backpack with only a water bottle, camera and jacket and accessories you need during the day. Around noon, hot lunch or packed picnic lunch with tea, coffee and juice is served.

Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Sandapkhphu Trek (Darjeeling) 

“Travel light” is the phrase which we often hear in our trade. This expression hold water as it’s the bare essence of travelling. However, there are many aspects to consider when we prepare for trekking. One singular most important consideration that dictates our welfare is how to be suitably equipped to combat with elements of nature that we may come across like inclement weather and rugged and unforgiving terrains whilst on trek.

Though our intent is to provide check list with appropriate information however we ask you to examine and exercise discretion in most resilience manner based on your own outdoor experience and preference. 
As mentioned, the art lies in maintaining finer balance between taking not too much or too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for all extremes of climate

                                                                              Basic, Necessary & Light 

HEAD Gears (Trekking Hat)

Trekking hatOn a clear, sunny day, the sun burnt will be an issue, at altitude, the sun rays are particularly strong. Bring  a hat that shade your head, face and neck from the sun and also consider using Arab type scrap for further protection.You should bring a plentiful supply of sunscreen cream – a couple of large tubes of factor 6-10 (depending on your skin sensitivity).

Warm Hat

Warm CapTo combat with cold particular during early morning. A comfortable, warm hat such as  one made from Polar Fleece or wool that covers your ears is recommended 

Sun Glasses
sunglasses for trekAt altitude, the sun’s rays are particularly strong, and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtration are recommended, . These glasses are available with detachable leather or plastic side pieces, which give increased protection. Make sure they are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable on the brightest day.

Headlamp

Head Lamp for trekBring a good headlamp for this trek.  It should be bright enough to use on the trail if we have a day that is longer than usual, an early start for a pass or climb,  or for reading in your tent.L.E.D. headlamps are sufficient. Make sure you bring at least 2 extra bulbs and extra batteries. 

 

Hand Gears

warm glovesWarm Glove Liner with waterproof outer shell

At times it can get cold and windy. You should bring 2 pair of properly-fitted Wind Shields fleece glove liners and a pair of warm gloves with a waterproof outer shell to protect you from wind,

 

Feet Gears

Liner SLiner socksocks (2 Pairs)-

If you prefer to wear two pair of socks your inner liner socks Liner  ( – A thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon. NO COTTON. 

Hiking Socks 1Hiking Socks ( 3 pairs)You should bring a thick woolen sock to use as an extra layer over the liner sock or some may prefer to wear just the hiking sock, in such case ensure it’s thick mainly natural fibers and of loop stitch construction for maximum warmth and comfort.  

Hiking BootHiking Boot -This is one of the most important considerations, as blisters and sore feet will spoil your trek. We recommend that you take a pair of light to mid weight trekking boots, well broken -in, provide good ankle support and suitable for walking over rough terrain and comfortable over long distances. Good quality fabric boots are recommended. 

GaiterGaiters: Gaiters are an important piece of equipment, which will help to keep your feet warm and dry in wet condition. The simple “alpine” style of gaiter which hooks onto the bootlaces and is held under the instep by a strap or lace is fine for most trekking applications. 

Upper Body Gear

mid weight top for trekMid – Weight Top-

A mid to heavier weight thermal layer. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. As we recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” this light to mid weight top can be used as base layer.

warm fleece jacketWarm Jacket -

As it can get cold during morning and night specifically at camp. You should incorporate  a Polar guard or fleece jacket. This can be a very warm fleece or Polar guard jacket. Full zip is recommended.

Shell JacketsShell Jacket -

As its highly unlikely for the rain during the trek or over the period of time but unpredictability of weather in Himalayas are renowned. To be equipped for any rain whilst on trek the shell jacket is advised. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

Leg Gear

Shorts for TrekShorts -When the weather permits, it is okay to trek in shorts. A versatile item are the long pants that convert into shorts. These are lightweight, durable and usually made from a quick drying material. NO COTTON.

 

light or mid weight trekking pantLight or mid-weight (2 pair) 

A light or mid weight thermal bottom base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

warm pants for trekWarm pants –

A pair of comfortable fleece or similar material warm pants are great for colder places and  camping at night.

 

shell pantShell Pant- As its highly unlikely for the rain during the trek or over the period of time but unpredictability of weather in Himalayas are renowned. To be equipped for any rain whilst on trek and also from the cold wind the shell jacket is advised. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

 

Gears

day pack for trekDay packs A 2500 cubic inch pack should be large enough to carry the following items on trek. a) shell jacket and pants. b) fleece jacket, pants, extra pair of socks etc) Two water bottles, with at least 2 quart total capacity. d) camera plus accessories, binoculars, etc. e) first aid kit. You should test-pack your day pack before leaving home.

duffle-bag for trekDuffel Bags (2 nos) –  You’ll need one large duffle bag to hold everything you do not put in your day pack, including your sleeping bag and mattress, while on trek. This bag should be durable, as it will be carried by porters and/or pack animals. A second smaller bag can be used to store items not used on trek at the group hotel.

Sleeping BagSleeping Bag – You will need a 4-season sleeping bag rated to at least zero degrees. A full-length side zip is essential to facilitate ventilation on warmer nights. A cotton or fleece liner adds to the warmth and comfort of a bag and prevents it from becoming excessively soiled.

sleepng mattressSleeping MattressA mattress is needed primarily to insulate you from the cold ground, and you should take a quality closed-cell foam mat .On all camping treks, we provide light trekking mattresses. However, if you care for extra comfort and have a sensitive back, bring a self-inflatable trek mat.

walkng polesTrekking Poles – Trekking poles can be good if you need extra support for your knees and/or ankles. Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.

Accessories  & Miscellaneous :

  • Travel Wallet Pouch (waist or neck) 
  • Locks  For Duffle Bags
  • Leather man / Swiss Army Knife 
  • Water Purification  Tablets (iodine or equivalent) 
  • Underwear –  (men- polypro boxers or briefs / women- poly-pro sports bras, cotton or polypro briefs are fine) 3 rotating pairs. As with socks and shirts, you’ll be wearing one, one will be drying from washing and one will be clean and packed. 
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher) LOTS 
  • Lip Balm with SPF 15 (or higher) 
  • Insect  Repellent
  • Personal  First Aid Kits (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Immodium, Diamox Personal Medications) 
  • ToilteriesToothbrush,Toothpaste, Bio-degradable Soap/Shampoo Quick Dry Towel, Moisturizer, Purel Hand Sanitizer, 
  • Antiseptic Hand Towelette, Toilet Paper (a small emergency stash)] 
  • Water Bottles Two liter capacity 
  • Snack food(trail mix, protein bars, GU, candy, powdered drink mixes – don’t bring a whole suitcase, but bring a variety of things you know you can eat while in the mountains to supplement your diet.)
  • Power Adapter for electrical gadgets (round pin socket- 220v)
  • Reading Glasses or contact lenses
  • Photography equipment with extra films, extra memory cards and an extra battery
  • Clothing & Gears : as per the list detailed
  • Sleeping Bags Liner: Sleeping bag Inner liner made of fleece or cotton is highly recommended that can be easily washed and dried while in the trek. Most importantly it provides additional warmth, if the temperature should drop and keeps the sleeping bag clean.
  • Pillow: Small blow pillow is provided. However you may consider bringing your own comfortable small trek pillow.
  • Optional: Ipod, Ipad, ear plugs, books, journals, a deck of cards, binoculars, whistle for safety, phone (multi band phone, you can buy local sim-cards and get free incoming calls)

Weight allowance for trekking in Darjeeling.
Please try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Choose items of clothing that can be used in multiple situations. At the start of the trek, you will be carrying your day pack loaded with just the items you will need during the day of hiking. Your packed trek/duffle 
bag will be carried by pack animals (ponies or potter) and should weigh no more than 33 pounds.

Notes on Personal Clothing and Gears 

Clothing –  Your clothing needs to be adaptable to suit a wide range of conditions, including extremes of weather and varying levels of physical activity. We recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” which involves the use of several thin layers of thermally efficient clothing, which can be worn in a number of combinations, according to the prevailing circumstances. Where it is warm enough you can trek in either shorts or lightweight trekking trousers (natural fibers) (a long skirt is an option for the ladies) and a long sleeve cotton shirt or T-shirt. For colder conditions, you can add layers of thermal clothing. And that the clothes you bring wash well in cold water and dry quickly.

Trip Expectations

Darjeeling nestled among the rolling mountains in North East India, one of the beautiful district of West Bengal and one of the most famous hill station in the world, crowning with Mt Kanchenjunga over the azure sky, Darjeeling known as “Queen of the Hills”, covers an area of 3149 square km.at the altitude of Darjeeling town, a perfect gateway for those seeking to be in harmony with nature and the people. This is the land of flavored Darjeeling Tea revered by connoisseurs across the globe

Hotels: Accommodations in Sikkim and Darjeeling are fairly updated, if not, they tend to be upkeep of old heritage ones. Accommodation standards do not detract from the beauty of the country and, if taken in the right spirit, will not detract from what is essentially a privileged stay in these fascinating areas. Furthermore, around the time of the festivals and events, there is much pressure on room availability and even confirmed bookings are subject to cancellation and changes because local authorities will demand rooms from the hotel for their guests. And one might find themselves in ‘second grade’ accommodation or in some cases, private houses.

For the camping on trek, we have trekking gear which are up to date and well furnished, consequently made it as comfortable as possible for you deserve to have  sound rest after the hard day trek

Food: Darjeeling and Gangtok have some choice for eating out. It is best to stick to diets that are cooked well, instead of eating, raw or semi-cooked food to avoid any stomach problems. In Darjeeling and Sikkim, one typically tends to eat in the hotel where they stay, especially if your package includes meals.

Food on Trek. During the trek our cook will serve you well with local food and also our cook and staffs are well trained in European, Chinese and Continental style of food, so we know well what to serve you during the trek. We will also ask you for your like and special need and will try all our best to arrange it if it within our reach.

The major thing to watch is water. Be sure to drink bottled water at all times. Even if the water is good where you are, you are not accustomed to the local microbes. Remember to stay well hydrated. It is very important in high altitude situations to drink at least 4 quarts of liquid a day, excluding tea. Always carry a bottle of purified water with you while touring or driving.

Important Notes on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary and its schedule, this itinerary should be considered an approximate indication of the schedule and scope of activities, and trip routing. It is likely that there will be changes in terms of anything from the exact hotel used to the villages we may stop in for the night.  

There are a few key points to remember while traveling through Darjeeling & Sikkim

Even though we do our very best, it is important to acknowledge that some things are simply out of our control: weather, people and their concepts and culture.  Bhutanese by nature are very laid back and take opportunities as they come and very rarely take the “bull by the horns”. In Bhutan, you simply have to hang loose, be open-minded, and allow the culture and experience to enhance your life.

The best way to look at a trip is with an open mind. This is not to say that you should not expect good service. However, it does mean that you should be flexible and let things happen. 

John Steinbeck says it well: “We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

I hope this helps you keep in perspective the reason you visit the Himalayas is not really for the comfort and sophistication, but for its culture, nature and its people.

Tipping

Tipping is not included on your trip. Tipping is optional, and at times expected in travel trade. Obviously there is no limit to how much you can tip and some guests who enjoy and appreciate the services of Guides, driver and other crew will and have tipped much more than our average tipping guideline of about $10-15 per day.

Checklist Guide 

These are last minute checklists of some important things that you must bring along on this trip.For your trip, you must have:

  • Valid passport (valid for six months after your date of entry into Asia) Optional: One other picture ID, such as driver’s license is useful (in case of emergency and for use as a substitute of passport or in case of loss of your passport) Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet). Also bring along with you few extra copies of a passport size photos (color or black& white). This may be required to provide at the check-points, when filling up forms.
  • Visa: You must have Indian Visa prior to arrival or departure from your country. Visa on Arrival (India) is proposed from October, 2014 as per government notification. Sikkim permit are arranged at the border of Sikkim State without fees. They may ask you submit 2PP size photos each. IMPORTANT UPDATE: When you arrive in India for the first time, you should ask the immigration officer to give you a waiver to re-inter India twice or thrice as the case may be; India visa recently changed the rules that one may not re-enter India again within 60days of the first visit
  • Bring extra passport size photos, that may be required sometimes
  • Air tickets (Make copies of flight tickets and carry with you) you should bring the copy of your E-tickets and also bring copies of all other E-tickets along with you.
  • Money (some cash and some in Traveler’s checks) Credit cards are accepted in high-end restaurants, shops and hotels in most major town in Sikkim and Darjeeling but not in smaller establishments. Some of the shops may even charge fees to use credit cards.
  • Travel & Medical Insurance (recommended). Bring the copy of your policy if you have purchased it.

Baggage allowance on flights

In India is usually 15 Kilos to check-in and one carry-on about 5 kilograms. Some airlines or airports apply these rules strictly and so they may charge you extra for excess weight of luggage. For details please visit the link  http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/question/what-is-the-baggage-limit-for-domestic-flights

Travel Resources /References

Following are very useful websites when planning or preparing for your trip.

US State Department Travel Advisories www.travel.state.gov

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.smartraveller.gov.au

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA U.S.A http://www.cdc.gov/travel

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British government official travel advice and warnings for all countries)http://www.fco.gov.uk

Official travel advice of New Zealand government http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

Canadian government’s official travel advice http://www.voyage.gc.ca

Trip Comments

When you return from your trip, please share with us your experience. Any photos, suggestions will be appreciated. Although we try our best, Tourism is a trade, which cannot be perfect and there will always remain a room for improvement. Your comments (both criticism and compliments) are invaluable to us and we look forward to hearing from you, upon your return.

Add comment September 15th, 2014

Check list for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Snowman Trek (Bhutan)

Wind-1Snowman Trek (Bhutan)

Snowman Trek is among the top draw trek in the world. Undoubtedly, its rugged and unforgiving terrain, hostile climate and weather-beaten trail that traverse through Lunana, one of most remote region in the world, is a challenge in every sense. Generally, only seasoned trekker vied for this trek which dictate you to be the best in physical shape and squeeze the best out of you. Trek as such, to be fair, cannot be categorically put in toughest bracket(Physically) but three weeks in complete wilderness, in the remotest region of the world can be a real challenge mentally and physically.One of guests, who is the seasoned trekker himself said “We are aware that the trek is extremely challenging but we believe that we have good chances to complete it. We summited several mountains, to name but a few Mont Blanc, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua, Denali, Elbrus, Island Peak and accomplished several treks in Nepal namely Everest Base Camp, Annapurna circuit, Langtang, but Snowman Trek was always our dream”. 

Typical trekking day in Bhutan

On a typical trek in Bhutan, you are provided a bed tea/ Coffee (Nescafe). Then you are provided with a bowl of warm water to wash and brush. Breakfast is served in your dinning tent. After breakfast, crews take down the tents, clean the campsite, pack the bags/boxes and begin loading the animals, at which time you and your guide set-off on the trail. During the day, for most part of the time, you walk at your own pace and stop to take pictures or admire landscapes. All you carry is a personal backpack with only a water bottle, camera and jacket and accessories you need during the day. Around noon, hot lunch or packed picnic lunch with tea, coffee and juice is served.

Checklist for Clothing & Equipment/Gears for Snowman Trek (Bhutan) 

“Travel light” is the phrase which we often hear in our trade. This expression hold water as it’s the bare essence of travelling. However, there are many aspects to consider when we prepare for trekking. One singular most important consideration that dictates our welfare is how to be suitably equipped to combat with elements of nature that we may come across like inclement weather and rugged and unforgiving terrains whilst on trek.

Though our intent is to provide check list with appropriate information however we ask you to examine and exercise discretion in most resilience manner based on your own outdoor experience and preference.
As mentioned, the art lies in maintaining finer balance between taking not too much or too little, especially considering that you need to equip yourself for all extremes of climate

                                                                              Basic, Necessary & Light 

HEAD Gears  (Trekking Hat)

Trekking hatOn a clear, sunny day, the sun burnt will be an issue, at altitude, the sun rays are particularly strong. Bring  a hat that shade your head, face and neck from the sun and also consider using Arab type scrap for further protection.You should bring a plentiful supply of sunscreen cream – a couple of large tubes of factor 6-10 (depending on your skin sensitivity).

Warm Hat

Warm CapOn this particular trek, you will cross many passes over 5000 m, which can be very cold. A comfortable, warm hat such as  one made from Polar Fleece or wool that covers your ears. Make sure that it fits well and, if applicable to your trip, can fit under a climbing helmet.

Sun Glasses
sunglasses for trekAt altitude, the sun’s rays are particularly strong, and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet and infrared filtration are recommended. These glasses are available with detachable leather or plastic side pieces, which give increased protection, especially from reflected glare, and you should give serious consideration  to such ”glacier glasses” for Snowman trek with possibilities of walking or climbing on snow.Make sure they are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable on the brightest day

Headlamp

Head Lamp for trekBring a good headlamp for this trek.  It should be bright enough to use on the trail if we have a day that is longer than usual, an early start for a pass or climb,  or for reading in your tent.L.E.D. headlamps are sufficient. Make sure you bring at least 2 extra bulbs and extra batteries. 

Hand Gears

warm glovesWarm Glove Liner with waterproof outer shell-

At higher passes it can get cold and windy. You should bring 2 pair of properly-fitted Wind Shields fleece glove liners and a pair of warm gloves with a waterproof outer shell to protect you from wind,

Feet Gears

Liner socksLiner Socks (2 Pairs)-

If you prefer to wear two pair of socks your inner liner socks Liner  ( – A thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon. NO COTTON. 

Hiking Socks 1Hiking Socks ( 3 pairs) - 

You should bring a thick woolen sock to use as an extra layer over the liner sock or some may prefer to wear just the hiking sock, in such case ensure it’s thick mainly natural fibers and of loop stitch construction for maximum warmth and comfort.  Thor-Lo is an example of a sock manufacturer, which markets a wide range of technically advanced trekking/walking socks.

Hiking Boot

Hiking Boot 

This is one of the most important considerations, as blisters and sore feet will spoil your trek. We recommend that you take a pair of light to mid weight trekking boots, well broken -in, provide good ankle support and suitable for walking over rough terrain and comfortable over long distances. Good quality fabric boots are recommended. 

GaiterGaiters: Gaiters are an important piece of equipment, which will help to keep your feet warm and dry in wet and snowy conditions. The simple “alpine” style of gaiter which hooks onto the bootlaces and is held under the instep by a strap or lace is fine for most trekking applications. These “alpine” gaiters are widely available.

Upper Body Gear

Mid – mid weight top for trekWeight Top-

A mid to heavier weight thermal layer. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. As we recommend to adopt the principle of layering , this light to mid weight top can be used as base layer.

warm fleece jacketWarm Jacket -

As it can get cold at higher passes and during morning and night specifically at camp. You should incorporate  a Polar guard or fleece jacket. This can be a very warm fleece or Polar guard jacket. Full zip is recommended.

Shell JacketsShell Jacket -

As for Snowman trek specifically, it requires protection from the chill of the wind more often than protection from rain, especially at higher passes over 5000 m. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

Ddown jacketown Jacket – This is certainly not optional for Snowman trek. This is what will keep you warm at higher passes and at night.

 

 

Leg Gears

light or mid weight trekking pantLight or mid-weight (2 pair) – A light or mid weight thermal bottom base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

 

 

warm pants for trekWarm pants – A pair of comfortable fleece or similar material warm pants are great for higher passes and  camping at night.

 

 

shell pantShell Pant- As for Snowman trek specifically, it requires protection from the chill of the wind more often than protection from rain, especially at higher passes over 5000 m. Shell garments made from breathable fabrics (GoreTex or equivalent) are recommended.

 

Gears

day pack for trekDay packs – A 2500 cubic inch pack should be large enough to carry the following items on trek. a) shell jacket and pants. b) fleece jacket, pants, extra pair of socks, gym shoes. c) Two water bottles, with at least 2 quart total capacity. d) camera plus accessories, binoculars, etc. e) first aid kit. You should test-pack your daypack before leaving home.

duffle-bag for trekDuffel Bags (2 nos) - You’ll need one large duffle bag to hold everything you do not put in your day pack, including your sleeping bag and mattress, while on trek. This bag should be durable, as it will be carried by porters and/or pack animals. A second smaller bag can be used to store items not used on trek at the group hotel.

Sleeping BagSleeping Bag – You will need a 4-season sleeping bag rated to at least zero degrees. A full-length side zip is essential to facilitate ventilation on warmer nights. A cotton or fleece liner adds to the warmth and comfort of a bag and prevents it from becoming excessively soiled.

sleepng mattressSleeping Mattress - A mattress is needed primarily to insulate you from the cold ground, and you should take a quality closed-cell foam mat .On all camping treks, we provide light trekking mattresses. However, if you care for extra comfort and have a sensitive back, bring a self-inflatable trek mat.

walkng polesTrekking Poles – Trekking poles can be good if you need extra support for your knees and/or ankles. Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.

 

Accessories  & Miscellaneous :

  • Travel Wallet Pouch (waist or neck) 
  • Locks  For Duffle Bags
  • Leather man / Swiss Army Knife 
  • Water Purification  Tablets (iodine or equivalent) 
  • Underwear –  (men- polypro boxers or briefs / women- poly-pro sports bras, cotton or polypro briefs are fine) 3 rotating pairs. As with socks and shirts, you’ll be wearing one, one will be drying from washing and one will be clean and packed. 
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher) LOTS 
  • Lip Balm with SPF 15 (or higher) 
  • Insect  Repellent
  • Psrsonal  First Aid Kits (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Immodium, Diamox Personal Medications) 
  • Toilteries – Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Bio-degradable Soap/Shampoo Quick Dry Towel, Moisturizer, Purel Hand Sanitizer, 
  • Antiseptic Hand Towlettes, Toilet Paper (a small emergency stash)] 
  • Water Bottles – Two liter capacity 
  • Snack food – (trail mix, protein bars, GU, candy, powdered drink mixes – don’t bring a whole suitcase, but bring a variety of things you know you can eat while in the mountains to supplement your diet.)

Weight allowance for trekking in Bhutan
Please try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Choose items of clothing that can be used in multiple situations. At the start of the trek, you will be carrying your day pack loaded with just the items you will need during the day of hiking. Your packed trek/duffle
bag will be carried by pack animals (ponies or yak) and should weigh no more than 33 pounds.

Notes on Personal Clothing and Gears 

Clothing Your clothing needs to be adaptable to suit a wide range of conditions, including extremes of weather and varying levels of physical activity. We recommend to adopt the principle of “layering” which involves the use of several thin layers of thermally efficient clothing, which can be worn in a number of combinations, according to the prevailing circumstances. Where it is warm enough you can trek in either shorts or lightweight trekking trousers (natural fibers) (a long skirt is an option for the ladies) and a long sleeve cotton shirt or T-shirt. For colder conditions, you can add layers of thermal clothing. And that the clothes you bring wash well in cold water and dry quickly.

Trip Expectations

Bhutan existed in self-imposed isolation up until the 1950’s when China took over Tibet and the King realized he would need alliances to fend off any future threats.  The first tourist group came in 1974, but tourism remained minimal. TV and the internet were introduced in Bhutan in 1999, followed by cell phones in 2003. Modernization is relatively slow here, but that is precisely Bhutan’s charm.  It remains unblemished by Western ways.  Buddhism here means people ‘go with the flow’ and strive for serenity.  Enjoy the simpler, slower pace of life.

Hotels: Primarily 3 stars, clean, comfortable, all with Western bathroom amenities and touches of Bhutanese textiles and wall-paintings. Most of the Tourist standard Hotels particularly in Thimphu and Paro provide Wi-Fi internet connection. Nothing fancy, but you come for the magical kingdom, not for a 5 star hotel. Just as there is currently only one international airport, the number of tourist hotels is modest.   Furthermore, around the time of the Tsechus (Festival), there is much pressure on room availability and travel companies have to adjust rooms for large group often in more than one hotels and guest houses. Sometimes, one may land up attending festival in one town and staying in different town. While on the trek, we provide a tent, mattress, small blow pillow, hot water bag, and all Kitchen and dining equipment and a small toilet tent (pit dug out)

For the camping on trek – We have recently upgraded our trekking gear, which are up to date and state of art, consequently made it as comfortable as possible for you deserve to have sound rest after the hard day trek

Food - Bhutanese food always contains a goodly variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, rice/potatoes with some meat.  It is substantive, simple fare.  A set of meals or Buffet meals are served in all or most of the places, including on the trek and it can get pretty monotonous.
On the treks the food is simple with fewer dishes. Especially on a long trek like this, as supplies are brought from Thimphu and not available for purchase along the way, the fresh vegetable and meat will be limited. Many of our guests, like to bring along some dried fruits, nuts, energy bars and packaged food items.

Food on Trek. During the trek our cook will serve you well with local food and also our cook and staffs are well trained in European, Chinese and Continental style of food, so we know well what to serve you during the trek. We will also ask you for your like and special need and will try all our best to arrange it if it within our reach.

The major thing to watch is water. Be sure to drink bottled water at all times. Even if the water is good where you are, you are not accustomed to the local microbes. Remember to stay well hydrated. It is very important in high altitude situations to drink at least 4 quarts of liquid a day, excluding tea. 

Important Notes on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary and its schedule, this itinerary should be considered an approximate indication of the schedule and scope of activities, and trip routing. It is likely that there will be changes in terms of anything from the exact hotel used to the villages we may stop in for the night.  

There are a few key points to remember while traveling through Bhutan.

Even though we do our very best, it is important to acknowledge that some things are simply out of our control: weather, people and their concepts and culture.  Bhutanese by nature are very laid back and take opportunities as they come and very rarely take the “bull by the horns”. In Bhutan, you simply have to hang loose, be open-minded, and allow the culture and experience to enhance your life.

The best way to look at a trip is with an open mind. This is not to say that you should not expect good service. However, it does mean that you should be flexible and let things happen. 

John Steinbeck says it well: “We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

I hope this helps you keep in perspective the reason you visit the Himalayas is not really for the comfort and sophistication, but for its culture, nature and its people.

Tipping

Tipping is not included on your trip. Tipping is optional, and at times expected in travel trade. Obviously there is no limit to how much you can tip and some guests who enjoy and appreciate the services of Guides, driver and other crew will and have tipped much more than our average tipping guideline of about $10-15 per day.

Checklist Guide

  • Valid passport (valid for six months after your date of entry into Asia. Bring the one that was used for Bhutan visa) Optional: One other picture ID, such as driver’s license is useful (in case of emergency and for use as a substitute of passport or in case of loss of your passport) Photocopy of your passport page to carry in your wallet.
  • VisaBhutan Visa clearance letter will be emailed to you or attached at the end. Please print and bring a copy with you to show at the airport. Please check the visa requirements of other countries you may be travelling prior or after Bhutan. Some countries such as India and China do not provide Visa upon arrival.
  • Air tickets: You must print and bring a copy of your Bhutan Air ticket for check-in at the airport.
  • Money (Cash and some in Traveler’s checks) Credit cards are only accepted by some Souvenir Shops for larger purchases only. There are ATMS in Bhutan, but as it relatively new and hence it is not very reliable.
  • Travel Insurance (recommended). Bring a copy of the certificate, if you have purchased.
  • Power Adapter for electrical gadgets (round pin socket- 220v)
  • Reading Glasses or contact lenses
  • Photography equipment with extra films, extra memory cards and an extra battery
  • Clothing & Gears : as per the list detailed
  • Sleeping Bags Liner: Sleeping bag Inner liner made of fleece or cotton is highly recommended that can be easily washed and dried while in the trek. Most importantly it provides additional warmth, if the temperature should drop and keeps the sleeping bag clean.
  • Pillow: Small blow pillow is provided. However you may consider bringing your own comfortable small trek pillow.
  • Optional: Ipod, Ipad, ear plugs, books, journals, a deck of cards, binoculars, whistle for safety, phone (multiband phone, you can buy local sim-cards and get free incoming calls)

Baggage allowance on Flights

On Druk Air is 20 Kilograms & Bhutan Airline is 30 Kg. Two pieces 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

Link & Resources that can help to prepare well for the trip.

1. Please visit link for General Pre-departure Guide for Bhutan:  http://www.windhorsetours.com/wa/images/tourcost/2013SepThu_Predeparture-Bhutan13.pdf

2. Useful tips and overview on how to prepare and train for the trek/Hike, please visit the link below;http://windhorsetours.com/blog/?p=1127

3.Questions about temperature & weather & Clothing and other FAQ; http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/categories/bhutan

4.. For detail structure on weather, climate, temperature and altitude of Bhutan http://windhorsetours.com/blog/?p=913

5.Link for different species of Flora found in Bhutan http://www.biodiversity.bt/species/list

6. Please watch Wind Horse Tours You Tube https://www.youtube.com/user/ugenwindhorse

7.FAQ for Bhutan http://faq.windhorsetours.com/questions/categories/bhutan

For complete checklist (Trekking), please refer the link below:

http://www.windhorsetours.com/wa/images/tourcost/2013SepMon_Bhutan_trek_check_list.pdf

Travel Resources /References

Following are very useful websites when planning or preparing for your trip.

US State Department Travel Advisories www.travel.state.gov

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.smartraveller.gov.au

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA U.S.A

http://www.cdc.gov/travel

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British government official travel advice and warnings for all countries) http://www.fco.gov.uk

Official travel advice of New Zealand government

http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

Canadian government’s official travel advice http://www.voyage.gc.ca

Trip Comments

When you return from your trip, please share with us your experience. Any photos, suggestions will be appreciated. Although we try our best, Tourism is a trade, which cannot be perfect and there will always remain a room for improvement. Your comments (both criticism and compliments) are invaluable to us and we look forward to hearing from you, upon your return.

Add comment September 13th, 2014

Merak & Sakten Trek – Yeti Trail (Group Journey) Oct 21 to Nov 07, 2014

Merak Women

Merak Women

Till date we have 3 members enlisted for this trip. With the maximum strength of 9 people, which still leave room for 6 more to join.

This trip actually provides a chance to see best of both regions – west and east Bhutan. West juxtapose with modernization and tradition & culture. You can see the blend of traditions and culture in harmony with modernization and east with its quaint charms.

And also the trip is aligned with the colorful festival (Jakar Festival, Bumthang) providing glimpses of thriving tradition and highlighting the cultural essence of the trip. The trip incorporates the world of wilderness in natural state in trek and vibrant culture and tradition.

Outline Itinerary of the trip

Tue Oct. 21, 14 : Arrive Guwahati-S/Jongkhar 

Wed Oct. 22, 14 : Samdrup Jongkhar-Tashigang 

Thu Oct. 23, 14 : In Trashigang (Day excursion to Tashi Yangtse) 

Fri Oct. 24, 14 : Start trek to Donmong Chu

Sat Oct. 25, 14 : Donmong Chu-Merak 

Sun Oct. 26, 14 : Merak-Mitsateng 

Mon Oct. 27, 14 : Mitsateng-Sakten 

Tue Oct. 28, 14 : Sakten Exploration 

Wed Oct. 29, 14 : Sakten-Joenkhar teng 

Thu Oct. 30, 14 : Joenkhar teng (Trek ends) 

Fri Oct. 31, 14 : Mongar- Jakar, Bumthang 

Sat Nov. 01, 14 : In Bumthang 

Sun Nov. 02, 14 : Bumthang – Trongsa – Punakha 

Mon Nov. 03, 14 : Punakha-Thimphu 

Tue Nov. 04, 14 : Thimphu – Paro

Wed Nov. 05, 14 : In Paro 

Thu Nov. 06, 14 : In Paro(Taktshang Hike) 

Fri Nov. 07, 14 : Departure

For further comprehensive details. Please emails us on office@windhorsetravel.com.

Video of the trip:

http://youtu.be/TfvFQ4IDS7Q
Merak Village

Merak Village

After the success of our maiden trip to the region last year, this is second time we are organizing this trek. Our CEO partook on that trip; the temptation was so intense of exotic community and the wilderness of far-eastern Bhutan of Merak and Sakten that beckons alluringly got better of our CEO, Ugen Tshering.

Eastern region of Bhutan was recently opened to tourism and as a new hot spot destination has created quite a buzz in tourism arena. These region are least explored, and with an air of quaint tranquility and rare rural experience with  cultural uniqueness of community.

 And one element that separate the Merak & Sakten Trek from others is – it’s one of the few trek with the community development based sustainable tourism which serves, seek and strive to incorporate social and environmental criteria while contributing, in particular, to local and regional sustainable development;

Our Guests watching Sakten Cultural Show

Our Guests watching Sakten Cultural Show

The history of these nomadic enclaves of Merak and Sakten speak volume for itself as it survived unchanged to this day and form rich part of Bhutan cultural and ethnic diversity. This region has practically remained isolated from civilization for more than 35 years. Until now only a handful of researchers and tourists have been granted permission to enter this area. Merak and Sakten has been closed to protect the unique cultural heritage of the Brokpa people and in part to give the mythical Yeti some peace, whose tales of wandering in the valley is very popular among the locals.

Sakten people watching  bank opening ceremony

Sakten people watching bank opening ceremony

What the past guests has to say

“One of the guests (name withheld) said ‘I was glad to see you in Bhutan.  What I appreciate about your agency is your ability to listen to the desires of the client and be willing to meet those desires.  You are not a “cookie cutter” agency that forces clients into the pre-made packages! The trip was more than I anticipated. And series of events and sceneries that unfolded was simply breathtaking. May you have continued success.  And if there are potential clients who would like to speak to a former client, i would be happy to oblige.”

Guests interactive session with students

Guests interactive session with students

Add comment September 2nd, 2014

The Tango Murals-Michelangelos of Asia

Murals in Tango

Murals in Tango

Thimphu: Bhutan: “The paintings in Tango are among the most important, beautiful and sacred in the world,” professor David Park, Director of Wall Painting Conservation at the Courtauld Institute of Art confirmed. The professor described the paintings as the, “Michelangelo’s of Asia.”

History of Tango

Tango Choying dzong is located at the end of the Thimphu valley. As the seat of the Drukpa Kagyu school of Buddhism, the fortress plays an important role as the seat of learning and propagating Buddhism in the country.

Many of the great Kagyu masters in the country have mediated and blessed this dzong. The list includes luminaries like Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo (1184-1251), Drukpa Kunlay (1455-1529) and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal ( 1594 -1651). Monks believe that the place is so sacred that seven days of meditation in Tango is equivalent to seven years of meditation elsewhere.

Lam Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo, the master who introduced the Drukpa Kagyu School to the valleys of western Bhutan meditated in the monastery. It is said that while in retreat, the lam saw the cliff in the form of horse head, which is the symbol of Yidam Tandin (Hayagriva). Accordingly, the monastery was named Tango or “Horse Head.”

Centuries later, in 1688, Desi Tenzin Rabgye (r.1680-1694), expanded the monastery to its present structure. The 4th Desi assigned his secretary Drung Norbu to supervise the construction of this architectural grandeur. The three-storied tower was built in the traditional fashion using, stones, mud and timber. The central tower has twelve corners making the architectural façade unique and magnificent.

According to, msthung med chokyi gyal po, in 1690, an elaborate consecration rite was held for the completion of the monastery. Since the Desi could not produce a male heir, he took his fourth wife, Wangdue Lhamo, and the marriage was timed with the consecration.

Lam Pekar Lhendup (1689–1697) who later became the third Je Khenpo or head abbot presided over the consecration ceremony.

According to msthung med chokyi gyal po, “the restoration and enlargement of Tango had been undertaken to fulfill a wish expressed earlier by Ngawang Namgyal, and no doubt the timing of the marriage had a certain magical rationale.”

In 1690, the new murals were completed but separately consecrated. The Desi’s closest disciples and advisor presided over the service, which was kept as a private affair. The disciple blessed the murals and offered prayers for his master’s continued male line.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the 8th Druk Desi Druk Rabgye (r. 1707-1720) added some structures to the Tango monastery to bring it to its present stature. In 1977 some alterations were made in the internal supporting timber but today, the utse or retains its integrity as a historic structure.

The priceless paintings of Tango are on the walls of the northern shrine rooms on the second and third floor of the utse. There are also some paintings in the secondary lhakhangs on the eastern and western sides of the utse.

The Paintings.

According to professor Park, the wall paintings of Tango Choying dzong are unique. He pointed out that only a handful of such painting exists in the world.

The professor, who is a world authority on murals conservation, said the Tango paintings are of tremendous importance because of its religious significance, subject matter, art technique and the era in which it was painted.

Mural-of-Phajo-Drukgom-Zhigpo-and-his-family-in-Tango-Choying

Mural-of-Phajo-Drukgom-Zhigpo-and-his-family-in-Tango-Choying

Unlike modern Bhutanese paintings, the ones in Tango are not produced in workshop or painted on industrial produced cloth as they have been painted directly on the adobe walls. The paints used are all from natural products; a style unique to the 17th century, making it precious.

The professor pointed out that the Tango paintings display sophistication in style and are of incredible quality. The gilding works and the details of the gold work, jewellery and drapery simply could not be better.

The most unique painting is the weeping Guru and has been associated with a miracle. It is believed that when the Desi died, the image shed a tear and hence the red spots in the corners of the painted eyes, making it the only painting of its kind in the world.

 The Artist

Little is known about the artist. Tsang Khenchen and Trulku Mipham Chogyal helped start up the formal training of painters in the country. Both these artists were renowned in Tibet for their mastery of the Men-ri and Khen-ri style of paintings that were used in the Tango painting.

Tsang Khenchen’s two most famous trainees were Lhadrip Jangchub Sempa and Tenpa Gyamtsho (1646-1719). The former is credited with the paintings of the murals in the Tango monastery and the latter is known for his works in Taktsang monastery.

Professor Park said the artist of the murals in the Tango dzong was a genius. From his work it is clear that the artist trained professionally for decades.  The professor said he didn’t know any one in the world who can produce paintings like this any more.

Dashop Zepon Wangchuk who has helped renovate many monasteries said he saw a thangka painted by Lhadrip Jangchub Sempa in Phajoding monastery. The painting is that of Penden Shing Chen, the principal deity of Je Shakya Rinchen (1744-1755).

The thankga is one thok sem or one floor in height. Dasho said that the Lhadrip’s work is beautiful and it is commonly believed that in the future the thankga will sung jun or speak to its viewers.

While it is possible that the artists were influenced by the Tibetan culture and artistic tradition, the frescos in Tango dzong are a fine example of environmental adaptations as they the paintings have a distinctive pattern. The genius of Bhutanese art is represented by frescos such as the ones in Tango.

 The Challenge

The considerable interest of the world community in historic Buddhist art was well demonstrated by the international outcry, which followed the willful destruction of the ancient statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan.

The rare murals on the walls of the northern shrine rooms of the utse were discovered recently. In preparation of the renovation work, altars were moved and this is when the murals were discovered.

In the government’s haste to renovate, the fortress, some of the walls on which these paintings sit would have damaged. Without the timely intervention of the royal family, some of the world treasure would have been reduced to dirt.

Art historians and conservations experts say that the value of these unique paintings is enhanced when they remain in their original context in a building, which retains its historical integrity. This is the case with Tango dzong, and the paintings it contains.

It is important therefore not only for us to preserve the paintings but also to conserve the historical integrity of the structure.

Tango's-Mural

Tango’s-Mural

Courtesy Kuensel

August 29th, 2014

Tashi Tagye: the eight auspicious signs.

This set of symbols is very popular in Bhutan and you will find them in dzongs, temples, monasteries, home and offices. It is also known in Sanskrit as ‘Ashtamangala’, ashta means eight and mangala means auspicious and they carry special meanings:

DUG (parasol) embodies notions of wealth or royalty, for one had to be rich enough to possess such an item, and further, to have someone carry it. It points to the “royal ease” and power experienced in the Buddhist life of detachment. It also symbolises the wholesome activities to keep beings from harm (sun) like illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth, and the enjoyment of the results under its cool shade.

Dug - Parasol

Dug – Parasol

SERNYA (a pair of golden fishes) were originally symbolic of the rivers Ganges and Yamuna, but came to represent good fortune in general, for Hindus, Jain and Buddhists. Within Buddhism it also symbolises that living beings who practice the dharma need have no fear to drown in the ocean of suffering, and can freely migrate (chose their rebirth) like fish in the water. They may also be taken to symbolize the eye of perception as fish can see through muddy water.

Sernya - A pair of Fishes

Sernya – A pair of Fishes

BUMPA (Treasure Vase) is a sign of the inexhaustible riches available in the Buddhist teachings, but also symbolises long life, wealth, prosperity and all the benefits of this world. (There is even a practice which involves burying or storing treasure vases at certain locations to generate wealth, eg. for monasteries or dharma centers.)

Bumpa- Treasure Vase

Bumpa- Treasure Vase

LOTUS (padma) is a very important symbol in India and of Buddhism. It refers to the complete purification of body, speech and mind, and the blossoming of wholesome deeds in liberation. The lotus refers to many aspects of the path, as it grows from the mud (samsara), up through muddy water it appears clean on the surface (purification), and finally produces a beautiful flower (enlightenment). The white blossom represents purity, the stem stands for the practice of Buddhist teachings which raise the mind above the (mud of) worldly existence, and gives rise to purity of mind. An open blossom signifies full enlightenment; a closed blossom signifies the potential for enlightenment.

Lotus - Padma

Lotus – Padma

DUNGKAR (conch shell), which is also used as a horn, symbolises the deep, far reaching and melodious sound of the teachings, which is suitable for all disciples as it awakens them from the slumber of ignorance to accomplish all beings’ welfare. It symbolizes reverberating sound of Dharma and signifies the awakening of sentient beings from The sleeping state of Their ignorance. It persuades them towards the path of noble deeds that are beneficial to others. Gautam blew the conch shell when he decided to preach the law. The Conch shell is blown in commemoration of this event whenever there is a special sermon by a high lama.

Dungkhar - Conch Shell

Dungkhar – Conch Shell

PALBHEU (endless knot) is a geometric diagram which symbolises the nature of reality where everything is interrelated and only exists as part of a web of karma and its effect. Having no beginning or end, it also represents the infinite wisdom of the Buddha, and the union of compassion and wisdom. Also, it represents the illusory character of time, and long life as it is endless.

Palbheu (Endless Knot)

Palbheu (Endless Knot)

The GYALTSEN (Victory Banner) symbolises the victory of the Buddha’s teachings over death, ignorance, disharmony and all the negativities of this world, and victory over. This symbol also signifies the fortune of having victory of good over the evil forces which hinders the success of noble goals and also proclaims the victory of deity over evil. It is used in processions.

Gyaltshen (Victory Banner)

Gyaltshen (Victory Banner)

KHORLO (Dharmachakra); it is said that after Siddharta Gautama achieved enlightenment, Brahma came to him, offered a Dharma-Wheel and requested the Buddha to teach. It represents the Buddhist teachings.

Khorlo - The wheel of Dharma

Khorlo – The wheel of Dharma

August 23rd, 2014

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