Day 1: Arrive Paro-Thimphu
If we are lucky, we’ll have glorious views of the snow-capped Himalayas on the way to Paro (Try and get the left hand seat for better view of the Himalayas). The remarkable and steep descent into the Paro Valley is an awe-inspiring beginning to your adventure.
Enroute Tachoggang to have an experience to walk across over see through the iron bridge which dates back to mid-15th century.
Take a drive to Thimphu following Pa Chhu downstream. Drive on to the Buddha point to have an outlook of the city and for a stunning view of the valley. This is one of the largest Buddha statue in world measuring about 51.5m. Later visit Takin Preserve to see the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal – a strange looking beast which some say resembles a beestung moose!
Take a view of the majestic Tashichoe Dzong, the seat of the government. Visit the school of arts and crafts where students are taught 13 different arts and crafts. Visitors can see the students perfecting their crafts.
Visit National memorial stupa. Leisure time in the evening or a stroll in the hub of the city.
Overnight: Thimphu (Alt; 2350m)
Day 2: Phobjikha Rural Expedition (135 kms/5 hrs)
On rise, after your breakfast drive to Phobjikha enrouting Wangdue valley.It’s about 5 hrs drive from here.
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley is a conservation area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. People sometimes refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. According to legend that the Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson (the mind incarnation) of Pema Lingpa in 1613. The Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes that migrate each year in winter from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia to these grounds.
Visit Information Centre for the Blacked Necked Cranes. Evening, take a hike through the Blue Pine forest to the village farmhouse. Try traditional Bhutanese snacks made from corn and rice with a homemade wine. Overnight Phobjikha. (Alt; 2900m)
Day 3: Phobjikha-Trongsa-Bumthang (140 kms/6 hrs)
At dawn take a walk out into the serene valley of Phobjikha to enjoy the sunrise. After breakfast head on the journey which will take you across Pele La pass (3,300m), which is marked by a chorten and an array of prayer flags. On a clear day, you can get spectacular views of the highest
Peaks of the kingdom and its quite common to spot some yaks and yak herders on this pass. This point marks the boundary between western and central Bhutan as well as the western border of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
Beyond Pele La is Longte Valley where people raise sheep and yaks. You’ll come to the village of Rukubji Valley, with its big school and Gompa. The houses here are clustered amid extensive fields of mustard, potatoes, barley, and wheat. As you drive down through rhododendron trees and ferns, you’ll reach Chendebji village. This was a night halt for mule caravans traveling from Trongsa during the reign of the 2nd King of Bhutan.
Just below Chendebji village is the Chendebji chorten, a large white structure beside a stream. This chorten is modeled after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. The last village before you reach Trongsa is Tangsibji, which provides full view of Trongsa Dzong and its distinctive roof. Trongsa Dzong, built in 1645, is a vast, white fortress that appears to grow directly up from the narrow green ridge on which it is constructed. It is one of the most powerful Dzongs and even today the crown prince of Bhutan must first become its Trongsa Penlop (governor) before he can become Bhutan’s King.
Enroute visit Trongsa Dzong and the Ancient watch tower which has been now turned into a historical museum. This tower provides a good view of the Trongsa town & its surrounding valley. Drive to Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. This journey will take you over one of the most scenically beautiful routes in Bhutan via the Yotong La pass (3425m), which is also the habitat for the Satyr peasant. Good for photography.
As you enter the Chhume Valley (the first of the four valleys that comprise the Bumthang Valley) you can visit a center of Yathra weaving. Yathra is the name for the locally produced hand-woven woollen cloth. Distinctive patterns and bright, earthy colors enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and sought after throughout the country.
On arrival, visit the Kharchu Draktsang, a monastery on the northern slope of Bumthang valley. This monastery is one of the biggest Buddhist colleges of the kingdom and a home to the reincarnation himself (Namkhaningpo Rimpoche). This point offers great view of the Bumthang valley and its town. (Bumthang had been named “the little Switzerland of Asia” by many travellers. Wait here to catch the golden hour while the sun sets gently. Evening, stroll down from the monastery to the river bank and walk around the peaceful town of Bumthang.
Overnight Bumthang. (Alt; 2580m)
Day 4: Bumthang-Ngang Lhakhang(4 hrs)
Distance 12 km/4-5 hours
The route follows the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for trout and stops for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) at the centre of which lies the Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple).Overnight wilderness camp (Alt; 2,800m)
Day 5: Ngang Lhakhang-Ugyencholing(8 hrs)
Distance 19km/7-8 hours.
The trail ascends gradually through juniper forests towards Phephe La Pass (3360m). From there the path descends to Tang valley, finally arriving at Ugyencholing village (2850m).
Overnight at Guesthouse (Altitude; 2670m).
Day 6: Ugyencholing-Bumthang(3 hrs)
Distance 27 kms/3 hours.
In the morning, walk around the 16th century Tang Ugyencholing Palace, a beautiful private mansion which also houses a small museum containing an excellent overview of traditional rural life in Bhutan.
On the way back we will visit the Mebartso (The Lake of Fire). It is here that Terton Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) is said to have found treasure hidden by Guru Rinpoche in the 15th Century. He retrieved the treasure carrying a lamp which continued to burn even after being plunged into the freezing water. Legend says the key to Shangri la will be found here someday. This lake is very sacred, and on auspicious days many Bhutanese people go there to make butter lamp offering. Overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7: Bumthang-Punakha(200 kms/7 hrs.)
After breakfast, depart for Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival enjoy a stroll through the Punakha Township. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha. (Alt; 1,300m)
Day 8: Punakha sightseeing-Paro (130 kms/3hrs 30 mis)
Punakha is the former Capital of the kingdom and at present day hosts the administrative seat of the district. Also the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and Female River. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
After breakfast drive to khamsum yuelay namgyel chorten towards the head of the valley. Upon arrival near suspension bridge you can begin your 45 minutes hike to the chorten through rice fields and chirpiness. It was built in 1999 for the king who was then the crown prince. Once you get to the top you can see the panoramic views of the surrounding valley.
Visit the massive Punakha Dzong “Palace of Great Happiness”. The Dzong show cases the living example of Bhutanese architecture.
Evening, hike to Chimi Lhakhang. This temple is called the Temple of Fertility as it is believed that childless couples who come here to pray for a child is usually blessed with a child. This is the temple of one of Bhutan’s foremost saints, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.” The trail takes you through the Himalayan paddy fields and a typical village called Lobesa.
Time to retrace our steps over the Dochu la for a second view of the wonderful Himalayan range.Returning to the Chunzom (river confluence) we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepal,Tibetian and Bhutanese style which were built to ward of the evil spirits near the checkpoint. Overnight Paro (Alt; 2,280mm)
Day 9: Paro Sightseeing
Day tour begins from National Museum (Ta-Dzong).Once the watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums of Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. Visit the Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation.
Visit the oldest temple of the kingdom, Kichu Lhakhang. This temple was built in 629AD by a Tibetan King to pin down a giant demon. There is a sacred orange tree that grew on its own at the courtyard which bears fruits on all the seasons.
Evening, check-in a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake) & yak meat. Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “Chu Tse.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing.
Overnight Paro (Alt; 2280m)
Day 10: Quest for Mystical Taktsang (Alt; 3080m)
Drive to Satsam Chorten and spend the day hiking up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4 hours round trip. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two-thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get tight photographs.
This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations started pouring in
from Buddhist centres all over the world, and today, the magnificently rebuilt exterior is complete. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Picnic lunch on the hillside cafeteria.
Day 11: Departure
Our representative will bid you farewell at the Airport. Tashi Delek!