Day 1: Arrival & Paro sightseeing
Drive through Paro Town, past Ugyen Pelri Palace and the main archery ground and onto Uma Hotel from where we will start our 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.
Duration: 5 – 7 hours (depending on time spent in National Museum and Paro)
Difficulty: EASY to MODERATE
Overnight: Paro (Alt; 2280m)
Day 2: Chele la Pass & Alpine walk
Chele La Pass, Alpine skyline walk to Kila Nunnery (optional bike descents)
Seemingly suspended in rock crags almost on the brink of the highest road pass in Bhutan (Chele La 3,988m), Kila Goemba has been a retreat for meditation since the 9th century. As with so many temples in the Himalaya it was destroyed by fire before being rebuilt by the 25th Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan), Sherab Gyaltsen. These days it is an Anim Dratshang or nunnery; lofty retreat, place of worship and home to about 30 hardy nuns.
The day’s adventure starts early but we soon get towards the summit of Chele La we pop out of the blue pine and rhododendron forest into windswept highlands much favored by yaks and dotted with azaleas, edelweiss and perhaps even the famous blue poppy at certain times of the year. With tantalizing glimpses of Mt Jhomalhari (7,314m) at every other hairpin bend we finally reach the summit and western Bhutan is laid before us with the unspoilt Haa valley and the mountains of Sikkim to the west, Mt Jhomalhari and Tibet to the north and the patchwork fields of the Paro valley down to the east.
Leaving the prayer flag swathed col and our vehicle behind we strike off along the ridge to the summit ( almost 4200 m ) before plunging back into the primeval forest, reaching the nunnery after around three hours. Having paid our respects at the temple and maybe even received a blessing it is time to say farewell to the nuns and drop further into the valley and back to our waiting vehicle.
Duration: 7 – 9 hours
Guided with picnic lunch
Day 3: Thimphu & local sightseeing
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 National Memorial Chorten, Trashi Chhoe Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, the National Textile Museum, the Weekend Market, the Folk Heritage Museum, or you may wish to just go window shopping.
Duration: 6 – 8 hours
Overnight: Thimphu (Alt; 2320m)
Day 4: Hike to Tango monastery
Today you are taking a hike up to Tango monastery which is about 30 minutes’ drive from the city. Tango monastery is a Buddhist college that was established in 17th century. The walk to the college takes about 45 minutes through nice shady rhododendron and oak trees ascending gradually to the monastery. The round trip takes about little more than 2 hours. Drive back to the city for the lunch. After lunch visit the remaining sights within Thimphu valley or take a stroll in the city or visit week end market if it coincides with weekends.
Difficulty: EASY to MODERATE
Duration: 6 – 8 hours
Day 5: Thimphu, Sang Choekor Buddhist College
Drive to Paro and 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 6: Descend to Tiger’s Nest
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 for a quick drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 16449 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to control northern route to Tibet. Time to return to our hotel via Paro town for some last minute shopping and sightseeing.
Duration: 5 – 7 hours depending on time taken in monasteries (elevation loss 1,500m)
Overnight – Paro (Alt; 2280m)
Day 7: Depart Bhutan
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.
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.