DAY-1: ARRIVE AT PARO & DRIVE TO THIMPHU (1HR 15MINS):
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, National Memorial Chorten, Trashi Chhoe Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum & Traditional paper factory or you may wish to just go window shopping. Overnight: Thimphu (Alt; 2320m)
Day-2: TANGO AND CHARI HIKE (ELEVATION: 3,000M):
Embark on a excursion to Tango monastery. Tango Buddhist University is situated in solitary hill covered by forest and is one of the best places to study Buddhism. The monks take pride in being a part of this beautiful University.
Once the monk’s graduates from Tango Monastery most of them decides to sit for meditation around the holy temple of Chari from three years to nine years. Tango Chari is located 12km away from Thimphu city.
The hike to Tango monastery takes about 1.5hrs round trip. Head back to the city for lunch and visit the remaining places that you wore not able to do on the first day. Evening at leisure. Overnight Thimphu (Alt; 2320m).
DAY-3: LUNGCHUTSE HIKE, DRIVE TO PUNAKHA (2HRS 30MINS):
Experience amazing changes in vegetation types during this 2 hours’ drive. Stop at Dochula pass to enjoy a panoramic view of the Himalayan range.
From dochula pass you will enjoy a gradual uphill climb of about 2 hours to 18th century Lungchutse Lhakhang. The picturesque route passes through forests of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, firs, hemlocks and bamboos, and occasionally meadows that are being used as yak pastures. The view from Lungchotse Lhakhang over the entire Bhutan Himalaya and its snow covered peaks is amazing. We will walk back downhill for about an hour until we get back to Dochula pass.
Drive for about for about 15 minutes down into the Botanical Park and get an interpretative tour through rhododendron and old growth forests. Overnight Punakha (Alt; 1300m).
DAY-4: EXPLORING PUNAKHA:
After breakfast drive to Yabesa village and hike to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. The Chorten is built for the well-being of the King and the Nation. The walk takes us along the paddy fields climbing up gradually to the chorten.
Afterwards visit the majestic Punakha Dzong. 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.
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/ Wangdue (Alt; 1240m)
DAY-5: TRONGSA LANDSCAPE (129 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.
The last village before you reach Trongsa is Tangsibji, which provides full view of Trongsa Dzong and its distinctive red 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. On arrival visit Trongsa Dzong and walk around the sloppy town of Trongsa. Overnight Trongsa (Alt; 2180m)
DAY-6: TRONGSA SIGHTSEEING & BUMTHANG LANDSCAPE (2HRS 30MINS):
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.
After check-in resort and some rest; visit the Kharchu Draktsang, a monastery on the northern slope of Bumthang valley. This monastery is one of the biggest Buddhist College of the kingdom and a home to the reincarnation himself (Namkhaningpo Rimpoche). This point offers beautiful view of the Bumthang valley and its silent town. (Bumthang have been referred as “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 Bumthang’s local town and experience their peaceful lifestyle. Overnight Bumthang (Alt; 2580m).
DAY-7: BUMTHANG SPIRITUAL SOJOURN
On rise, 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.
In the afternoon, visit the historical Jakar Dzong (Fortress of the White Bird) situated on the hilltop overlooking Bumthang valley & river. It is probably one of the unique Dzongs in Bhutan with the surrounding walls about 1 km in circumference.
In evening, drive to Mea-bar Tsho (the burning lake). This holy lake is located about 20km from the town. 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. Overnight Bumthang (Alt; 2580m).
DAY-8: PHOBJIKHA RURAL EXPEDITION (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; 2900m)
DAY-9: DRIVE TO PARO (178 KM/5 HRS):
On arrival 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. Overnight Paro (Alt; 2280m)
DAY-10: BUMDRA WILDERNESS OVERNIGHT CAMP:
Begin your hike from Sang Choekor Buddhist College (2,800m) to Yak Pasture below Bumdra Monastery (3,800m.)
The gravity defying remote Temple of a Thousand Fairies (Bumdra Lhakhang) is a mini Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest seemingly floating on its own cliff face high in the mountains between the Do Chhu and Paro valleys. The half-day trek to our wilderness camp is aided by vehicle uplift to the Buddhist college of Sang Choekor where our pack ponies await.
The first two hours are ever upwards through deep ancient forest all the way to the little temple Chhoe Chhoe Tse Lhakhang, where our efforts are rewarded with spectacular views towards the main Himalayan range and back southwards where the runway at the airport is a tiny strip in the valley far below. Fortified with water, a snack and blessings from spinning prayer wheels there is a final steep pull before the trail traverses then pops out onto high, wide meadows dotted with sacred chortens and prayer flags.
Later we can visit the monastery up a ladder and through a trapdoor (if it is occupied) and also climb a sky burial peak (about 4000m) for even better views, returning in time for a slap up dinner as the sun sets over the mountains. Riding ponies are available at an additional charge.
Duration: 4 – 5 hours to camp (elevation gain 1,000m) 2 to 2 hrs 30 mins return trek to peak
Difficulty: MODERATE to HARD
Overnight: Thousand Fairies Wilderness Camp (Alt; 3800m)
DAY-11: TIGER NEST (3,080 M):
Hike from Yak Pasture below Fairies Monastery (3,800m) via Zangtopelri to Taktsang Monastery (2,900m) With “bed tea” delivered to your comfortably appointed tent you can lie in bed and peak out at the morning mountain vista, before joining your guide for a hearty and leisurely open air breakfast.
After a farewell to any monks in residence we take their path downwards through pine and rhododendron forest and soon catch glimpses of golden roofs below. Emerging from the wilds we pay our respects at the monasteries and temples dotting the mountainside before reaching Zangtopelri (Heaven on Earth), peering over edge of the temple gardens and straight down onto the ornate roofs Taktsang Goemba (the Tiger’s Nest monastery) in the cliff far below. A further hour’s descent then short climb from a waterfall brings us to the gates of Taktsang which we have to ourselves and the monks at this early hour.
Otherworldly forces seem to be at work to keep the monastery clinging to its perch in the rock face so it comes as no surprise to discover that this Cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) landed on the back of a ﬂying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet. Retracing our steps we begin the final descent of about 1 -2 hours to reach our vehicle. On the way back visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magic orange tree that bears fruit all year round. Time to return to our hotel via Paro town for some last minute shopping.
Evening, visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake). Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “Chu Tse.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing.
Duration: 5 – 7 hours depending on time taken in monasteries (elevation loss 1,500m)
Overnight – Paro (Alt; 2280m)
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.
THE THOUSAND FAIRIES OVERNIGHT CAMP
Your equipment provided at the Thousand Fairies Camp is very comfortable and well-appointed (camping arm chairs, raised camp beds, 4-season sleeping bags and “walk-in” tents) plus our trek team also set up separate kitchen, dining and loo tents ready for your arrival into camp. In-camp services include a choice of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and mineral water on tap, two picnic lunches, a three/four course dinner either al fresco with mountain views or tucked in the dining tent and in the morning bed tea and washing water delivered to your tent before a full trekker’s breakfast. As we trek in wild, remote areas at altitude with little or no emergency support, we advise that all guests over the age of 55 years or with a pre-existing condition consult their Doctor about their travel plans.
To make the most of this wilderness experience we strongly recommend that you train for your trek with regular walks, runs or similar starting three to four weeks before your travel date.
IMPORTANT NOTE The information in these notes is given in good faith, and covers the average range of conditions likely to be found on this trip.
In remote destinations abnormal conditions can prevail at any time, and all adventurous holidays can therefore be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them we request that you be prepared to be flexible where necessary.
OPTION- FOR BUMDRA OVERNIGHT CAMP WE CAN PROVIDE LUXURY CAMPING AT AN ADDITIONAL COST