We have arrived safely home and are finding it (predictably) difficult to adjust back to this time and life. Overall our time in Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet was fantastic. Your program met our every expectation and then exceeded it.
Our time in Bhutan was particularly enjoyable, perhaps partly by contrast with Delhi and Kathmandu. If all of the guides and drivers you employ in your company are of the same quality as Ngawang and Bhim then you must receive many critiques praising their performance. Bhim’s skills as a driver were manifest any number of times from congested traffic in Thimpu to the rugged road between Thimpu and Punakha. He also has good English and a sense of humor. We felt very secure in his car.
Ngawang is a perfect blend of calm (perhaps even serene) and knowledge. He patiently explained and reexplained some very difficult (for us) aspects of life in Bhutan and Buddhism. He was flexible (we wanted to skip the Paro Dzong) as you said he would be. Highlights of our time in Bhutan had to be our hike to the Taktshang Monastery and the meal we had on the last evening with the rice farming family. I don’t know if it was coincidental, but we had commented earlier that we were tiring of continental cuisine for seemingly every lunch and dinner. This entirely Bhutanese meal was a perfect way to end our visit.
All hotels were excellent. We especially enjoyed the view from the veranda of our hotel in Punakha.
In short, not much to complain about. We will certainly be recommending the “Bhutan experience” and Raven Tours and Treks to our friends.
Good luck and all the best.
“REESE CRITIQUE OF LHASA VISIT SEP 26-29, 2015
-Very satisfied. We had two full days for visiting four sites: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, and Sera Monastery. This was just right for us given our age (70) and need to proceed slowly.
-Very satisfied. Given the difficulty in finding parking, he did a good job of being present at the proper location at the required time. The vehicle itself was top notch.
-Satisfied. Mr. Lunzuk was very friendly and was obviously trying hard to make this a pleasant stay for us. He adjusted the program to accommodate our need to proceed slowly and to have adequate rest at high altitude. He seemed very knowledgable but at times we had a difficult time understanding him. When this occurred he patiently explained a second time.
In the critique I forgot to mention the hotel, Xin Ding. Overall we were happy. Very accommodating staff. My only comment would be they should have someone with good English language skills at the front desk all the time, or at least someone who could be called when necessary.
-We were happy with our short stay in Tibet. We were glad we included Tibet in our overall program to visit India, Nepal, Bhutan, as well as Tibet. Mr. Lunzuk sufficiently sparked our interest in Tibetan history that we plan to do some post-trip reading to fill in some of the blanks.”
We had three separate 2-day visits to Nepal. We found that interspersing visits to Bhutan and Tibet with these Kathmandu visits is an effective way to break up the experience so that we did not get too much of Nepal at any one time. Paras managed the days such that we had good time for rest each day. Also, trying to fit more into each day or running all six days together would have made it much more difficult to absorb all the information and experiences that we were provided. In short, we liked the format of the program.
As you well know, there is significant earthquake damage in Kathmandu. However, it is still very worthwhile to visit all the historical sites. We managed to visit the Durbar Square of all three ancient cities. Especially meaningful was the visit to Kathmandu where we were able to be in the exact spot where Paras was standing when the earthquake hit in April. The tourist areas are all clear of debris with much activity underway to renovate the damaged structures. All sites were quite safe and still worth visiting, even in their damaged condition.
Our accommodations were excellent. The Shambala hotel in Kathmandu was exactly what we needed for rest. The restaurant was excellent and staff very friendly and skilled. We looked forward to returning there after our visits to Bhutan and Tibet. The Club Himalaya hotel in Nagarkot was really beautiful. Despite the weather we were able to see some of the Himalaya as the clouds shifted. It is such a serene place with excellent staff and restaurant. We especially enjoyed the travel through the countryside going and coming, a nice change of pace from the bustle of the city.
Paras must be one of your top guides. He has a very pleasing demeanor with excellent english skills that makes for the perfect guide. He has a good sense of humor and is very flexible to accommodate our needs. His choice of restaurant each day for lunch was perfect as we had informed him of the type of food/drink that we tried to avoid to maintain our traveler’s health. He seems to possess an unlimited knowledge of Nepal’s history. We particularly enjoyed how he was able to relate events of the past with current issues affecting Kathmandu and Nepal today. It was very interesting to actually be present for the promulgation of Nepal’s new constitution and witness the effects in Kathmandu of India’s interference.
Particular thanks to you and Paras for being flexible with us on our last day in Nepal. The decision to depart at 11 PM was taken only late on the evening prior. Yet Paras (and you) had no problem adjusting for this. We got an extra visit (Monkey Temple) and Paras saw us to the airport late in the day for our11:00 PM departure to Hong Kong.
I would be happy to expand on any of this if you would like. You may also use me as a reference for any prospective future clients. I found being able to correspond with recent guests to be very helpful as we decided which company to use for our program. My wife was especially reluctant to travel to this part of the world without hearing about recent experiences.
Jim and Marcia Reese