DAY-1: ARRIVE PARO, PROCEED TO THIMPHU (55 KMS):

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport.

The capital of Bhutan is an hour’s drive away with a quick stop at Tamchhu Lhakhang on the way. Built by Thangtong Gyalpo or the Iron Bridge Builder as he is known. This 14th century saint introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains and the only way to reach his temple is by one of his bridges.

The view over Thimpu from the big Buddha statue helps to get our bearings before we plunge into this vibrant growing town struggling to blend the shock of the new with traditional aspects of life in the shadow of the Himalaya. Depending on opening hours, guests’ interests and time, your guide may include some of the following in your private schedule: The School of Arts & Crafts, Textile museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum & Traditional paper factory or you may wish to just go window shopping.

Overnight Thimphu (Alt; 2,320m) 

DAY-2: ATTEND THIMPHU FESTIVAL:

The Thimphu Festival (Tsechu) is one of the grandest of Bhutan’s festivals and attracts the largest audience. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. The Thimphu Tsechu was established by the 4th Temporal Ruler, Tenzing Rabgye (1638-1696) in 1670. This festival also provides a great opportunity to witness locals gathered in their finest Gho’s and Kira’s in a celebration of their culture and faith.

In the afternoon you can either continue with the festival or visit few places like Takin preserve & Traditional paper factory. Evening at leisure.

Overnight Thimphu (Alt; 2,320m) 

DAY-3: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA (67 KMS/2HRS 30MINS):

After breakfast, drive to Punakha through the winding roads. Stop for a hot cup of coffee at Dochu La pass (3,150m) where you can enjoy the spectacular views of the eastern Himalayan mountain range. Take a walk around the 108 stupas and also enter the Drukwangyel temple built by the four queens as a tribute to the fourth King of Bhutan.

En route visit Royal Botanical Garden in Lamperi. The park features a variety of forest types, spectacular scenery, natural rhododendron groves, endangered wildlife and a lake.

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.

Later in the afternoon, 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.

Overnight Punakha (Alt; 1,300m)

DAY-4: DRIVE TO TRONGSA & SIGHTSEEING (145 KMS/5 HRS):

The journey 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 it’s 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 modelled after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu.

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. On arrival visit Trongsa Dzong and walk around the sloppy town of Trongsa.

Overnight Trongsa (Alt; 2,180m) 

DAY-5: MUSUEM & DRIVE TO BUMTHANG (67 KMS/2 HRS 30 MINS):

After breakfast visit the ancient Watch Tower which has been now turned into a historical museum. The top part of the tower provides great view of the fortress and its surrounding villages.

Drive to Bumthang from Trongsa (68km/ 3hr), 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 colours enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and sought after throughout the country.

On arrival visit 17th century Jakar Dzong (the castle of white bird) perched on the hillock. Later visit the old Wangdicholing Palace which was built in 19th century by the father of the first king.

Evening, take a stroll in Bumthang’s local town and experience their peaceful lifestyle.

Overnight Bumthang (Alt; 2,580m)

DAY 6: THANGBI MANI FESTIVAL:

Thangbi Mani festival is one of the most popular festivals held in Chhoekhor Gewog in Bumthang. The highlight of the festival is the fire blessing (Mewang) ceremony, performed in an open ground.

The lay monks perform purification rituals while people jump over flames to purify themselves. Several mask dances are also performed. It is believed that the festival would bring peace and prosperity and ensure better harvest for the entire community. Thangbi Mani is a unique festival which displays the rich tradition and celebrates the cultural heritage of this ancient monastery Thangbi Lhakang, founded in 1470 by the Shamar Rinpoche, Chokki Drakpa. The iron curtain at the entrance is said to have been cast by the saint himself.

After lunch, take a leisurely hike through several ancient and important monasteries such as, Jambay lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Kencho Sum Lhakhang & Tamshing (These temple have many mythical stories linked to its origin and some of them dates back as early as 7th century. Your guide will unfold its mystery as you visit these holy sites.

Evening at leisure.

Overnight Bumthang (Alt; 2,580m)

DAY 7: TANG VALLEY EXCURSION:

After breakfast take a day excursion to picturesque Tang valley. From Bumthang central, it is a short drive past the Dechen pelrithang sheep farm to an unpaved road that leads to the north. Just under a kilometre ahead, there is a rough track on the left and another kilometre ahead, there is junction where vehicle can be parked. From parking, it is a short walk down to the Meabar Tsho (the burning lake). This holy lake was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (treasure revealer).It is believed that he has discovered many treasures from beneath the lake. When the locals visit this lake they tie a coin inside a white scarf, make a wish and offer it to the lake. It is believed someday your wish will be fulfilled.

The importance of this site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay offerings called ‘Tse Tsa’ in rock niches.

Ugyenchholing Palace in Tang valley is another attraction. Restored in 19th century, it is now housing the Family Museum, a place that will transport visitors to another world and time. The visitors will view permanent exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the lifestyle of the Trongsa Penelop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji and his household. It also serves as retreat for those engaged in religious history. Bhutan’s history truly unfolds here.

Overnight Bumthang (Alt; 2,580m)

DAY-8: DRIVE TO PHOBJIKHA (140 KMS/5 HRS):

After an early breakfast drive to Phobjikha through different vegetation of alpine, subtropical and glacial from Bumthang (148km/ 5.5hr). 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 cranes. Evening, take a hike through the Blue Pine forest to the village farmhouse.

Overnight Phobjikha (Alt; 2,900m)

DAY-9: DRIVE TO PARO (150 KMS/5 HRS 30 MINS):

It is time to retrace our steps back over the Dochu La for a second chance of that spectacular view of the Himalayan range. Returning to the Chunzom (or confluence) we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward off evil spirits near the checkpoint.

On the final leg the sinuous route follows the Pa Chu River, through apple orchards and rice paddies, past quaint homesteads to our home in the Himalaya, Paro town. After check-in at the hotel, we invite you for stroll in town and to spend the rest of the day relaxing after the long drive.

Overnight Paro (Alt; 2,280m)

DAY-10: PARO SIGHTSEEING:

Drive through Paro Town, past Ugyen Pelri Palace and the main archery ground and onto Uma Hotel from where you will start your walk.

Time for an easy but spectacular walk high above the valley to the pretty grounds of Zurig Dzong overlooking Rinpung Dzong and the festival ground before descending to our pick up point near Ta dzong(watch tower). Taking in the magnificent views, we may be fortunate to see a plane on its final approach.

Visit Bhutan’s National museum which houses some of the religious mask, Thangkhas(wall hanging/tapestry), religious artefacts, History & geological landscape of Bhutan. Proceed further down to visit Rinpung Dzong(fortress on the heap of jewel) which houses the seat of government and monastic body of Paro valley.

Take a short walk down to the traditional cantilevered bridge Nyami Zam which is built over the Pa Chhu River. From here you can get a good picture of the Ta Dzong, Dzong & the bridge. Later visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magic orange tree that bears fruit all year round. The walk can be also done vice-versa, you can discuss with your guide.

Overnight Paro (Alt; 2,280m)

DAY-11: MYSTICAL QUEST TO TIGER’S NEST (3,080M):

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 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.

Overnight Paro (Alt; 2,280m)

DAY-12: DEPARTURE:

Druk Air normally departs in the morning to avoid adverse weather conditions so after breakfast, your transfer to the airport will be arranged depending on the flight schedule.

Tour package cost is inclusive of the following:

  • Royalty and taxes of the government
  • Entrance fees to various museums
  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis ( 3 star hotel approved by TCB )
  • Meals ( breakfast, lunch & dinner )
  • Licensed English speaking tour guide
  • Ground transportation within Bhutan
  • Camping equipment and gears for the trekking
  • Ponies and pack animals on trek

Tour package does NOT include the following:

  • One time US$ 40 (visa fee for single entry)
  • Flight fare
  • Refreshment, any alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages and any other personal expenses
  • Travel Insurance (Must for Trekking)
  • US$ 30/Night, single room supplement charge for 2 Pax and above
  • Luxury star hotels and resorts available at an additional cost
  • Luxury camping/trekking can be arranged at an additional cost
  • Gratuities to guide, driver, trekking staff, etc.
  • Specialized guides (Foreign Language, Photography, Bird Watching, Buddhism, Flora and Fauna) available at an additional cost

PLEASE NOTE:

This itinerary is intended as a guide only. Routes and weather conditions may mean variations to the programme, which could affect the availability of views and panoramas described. Please be aware that all times stated are approximate, and may vary with individual and group fitness and interest levels.

Throughout your stay, you have the option to participate in a range of extra outdoor activities at an additional fee.

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