This afternoon we will tour the TA Dzong, the National Museum of Bhutan. Once the watchtower for Rinpung Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. On the way back visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guardhouses, to the dzong. Today the Dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, displays superb woodwork. Evening rest and relax at Hotel Oltahang. Go over itinerary with your guide.
Day 2: After breakfast we depart towards Thimphu, Capitol of Bhutan.
Along our route through beautiful Paro Valley our van drives to a trailhead
and we then hike upwards toward the famous “Tigers Nest” Monastery;
tea and snack are offered at the half-way viewpoint. Here you can view
Taktsang Monastery; a most holy and spiritual architectural wonder.
Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest” and this spectacular
building is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of 3,000 ft.
It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padam Sambhva,
the second Buddha, alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Departing
down our path to the van we now continue onward to Thimphu. Arriving
in Thimphu, we check into our charming hotel, relax awhile and enjoy
lunch. We then make a visit to Bhutan’s national bank for currency
exchange, as well as a stop at Bhutan’s post office; elaborate
and collector item stamps of gorgeous detail are here for purchase
or to admire. Tonight we join our host in Bhutan, Sonam, for a reception
dinner at her home; Bhutanese hospitality at its finest!
Day 3: This morning you attend THIMPHU DRUPCHEN Festival; one of two festivals on this tour. Enjoy and be in awe at your first Bhutanese festival; here religious blessings and purification are granted to all who attend. Medieval costumes in colorful array and glorious masked dancers performed ancient rituals; Exhilarating! Return to our hotel for lunch and our afternoon we will tour the exquisite Textile Museum and watch a local archery match. A drive to visit the Tarkin, the National animal of Bhutan, will prove to be most interesting. We also drive to view the Three Memorial Chortens, Bhutan’s National Library and stroll Thimphu village to converse and mingle with locals. Go over itinerary with your guide at hotel. Tomorrow we depart for Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 4: Early breakfast and then depart for the famous “weekend
Thimphu market” This is a delightful opportunity to mingle with
local Bhutanese at this colorful and bustling marketplace. Unique varieties
of produce and handicrafts are displayed for sale; locals and visitors
alike enjoy this shopping experience; many a Kodak moments are here;
make sure to ask permission. We then depart Thimphu and drive east
towards Wangdue Phodrang, across Dochula Pass at 10,500 ft. We stop
in the midst of hundreds of prayer flags and chortens to enjoy pristine
views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Our lunch is served at Lobesa
and we as well take a short hike to Chhi-Med Lhakhang in the picturesque
Lobesa valley. Here you will visit the temple of the “Divine
Madman” (Lama Drukpa Kunley) whom you will get to know better
while in Bhutan. Continuing on our drive we next visit the Fertility
Temple; Chimi Lhakhang. We check into our hotel which overlooks a
beautiful river and quaint village and a most impressive Dzong in the
near distance. Tomorrow we visit the Wangdu Dzong, strategically located
on this hilltop to attend the Wangdi Tshechu. Enjoy your overnight
stay at the Dragons Nest Resort; listen for Jackals tonight.
Day 5: Enjoy breakfast and depart hotel to attend WANGDI TSHECHU Festival;
Load your camera, and with respect to the religious festival you witness,
capture its essence. We are privileged to be here among Bhutanese locals
who gather here from distance villages to socialize and receive blessings
and purification. Here you can truly appreciate the enchantment of
Bhutan and enjoy an undiluted and preserved culture. Lunch is served
and we then tour the most beautiful of all Dzongs in Bhutan; Punakha.
Your senses will awake upon entering the impressive courtyard of the
Punakha Dzong; “Palace
of Great Happiness”. Punakha Dzong is the former winter capitol
and at present day hosts the Administrative seat of the district. Also,
it is 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 riversThe Dzong was built in 1637 and it was here on December
27th 1907 Bhutan’s first King was crowned. Departing Punakha
Dzong we drive for 2 hours westward and enjoy dinner and overnight
at a Thimphu hotel.
Day 6: We leave Thimphu and enjoy a leisure drive back to Paro village.
Our lunch is in the village and we explore shops. This afternoon is yours
for relax, rest and to prepare for your Jumolhari Trek beginning tomorrow.
Tonight you will go over your itinerary with your guide. REST well.
Day 7: Today begins your trek. Excitement mounts as you drive to meet the team at Drugyel Dzong where the road ends and the trek begin. Your trek accommodations are of the finest quality. Packhorses will carry all supplies, food and your necessities. Cooks will prepare for your very large appetite sumptuous meals of hearty Bhutanese Varieties. You will look forward to each meal with delight and dinners around the Campfire. Optional folklore and singing served with local Bhutanese beverages; Arak Anyone? High Altitude tents are of the highest quality and sleeping bags can be provided. Paro Shana is about a 5 to 6 hour journey. The trail follows the river through the Beautiful meadows and paddy fields of the Paro Chhu valley. A gradual climb along the Paro River through the cultivated valleys and villages. Look back to view the strategically built Drukgyel Dzong, watchtower over Paro Valley. Pass through the small Villages of Chamg and Metshi Zampa as you traverse through rice terraces and fields of millet and blue pine forest. Bhutan is the least deforested land in the world, with 70% of the country blanketed in virgin blue pine forest. The night’s camp is just beyond an army outpost at Shana. This is the last stop before Tibet. Your guide will Process all necessary permits at the Gunyetsawa army post. Here are a few shops and a School. You proceed over a wooden cantilever bridge across the Paro Chhu and begin your climb to the rustic village of Shana Zampa for overnight camp. Altitude 9,184 ft.
Day 8: Shana to Thangthangkha is a 6 to 7 hour trek. Continuing on a gradual climb Alongside the Paro Chhu (river in Drukpa) through conifers and rhododendron you’ll soon enter Jigme Droji National Park. Lunch served at Sheng Karap; Tremo-la is close; a stone paved trail utilized for invasions and trade route from Tibet. We will not take this path, but cross over a wooden bridge and continue our climb over a set of Switchbacks and cross the river again. Ups and downs, with more ups, will bring us over our last bridge of the day. You will be looking for a white chorten and a lovely Meadow. Here you will see Jumolhari. The white peaks beacon to you. Here we will Camp and rest for the night. 12,700 ft.
Day 9: Thangthangkha to Jangothang is a 5-hour trek starting at Pa
Chhu. Your climb today gains elevation and you will be comfortably
worn out at day’s end. You are now entering “yak” country.
Yaks are utilized for pack animals as well as supply cheese, Milk,
tea, meat and Yak hair for weaving of huts, blankets, clothes, backpacks
and Hats. Burley and huge, the yak plays an important role in Bhutan
history, yesterday and Today. Remote villages are dotted throughout
this area. A stone and log bridge provides access to Jangothang. Winters
here are harsh and long. Unparalleled views of snow mountain peaks
from the eastern side of the valley. You are in the most spectacular
camp spot in the entire Himalayan range. Here you will say farewell
to your horse and exchange for a yak. You are truly in the High Himalayas!
Camp beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mt. Jumolhari. 13,500
Day 10/11: Jangothang Halt. Rise early this morning to view Jumolhari
Mountain. The next Two days are for exploration and relax! Choose from
several day hikes for unsurpassed Views of Jichu Drake at 28,000 ft
and surrounding unsealed peaks in the east. Fishing Expedition to Tshophu,
a high altitude lake, is an alternative. Spotted trout do not get any
bigger or fresher then here; yum! Revel in the experience of your High
Himalayan Trek; an adventure of your lifetime. Overnight halt in camp.
Day 12: Jangothang to Lingshi is about 5 to 6 hours journey through
wide yak pastures and 2 high pass, as we trek into isolation. As you
come down into the Lingshi basin, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi
on a clear day. Tserim Kang, at 22,267 ft and its glaciers rise up
at the north end of the valley. Watch for blue sheep and musk deer
as you trek in the afternoon shadow of the High Himalayas. Night halt
is a choice between a stone hut and the tent. 14,660 ft
Day 13: Lingshi to Shodu trek is approximately a 7 to 8 hours journey.
Climb the trail up to the Yalila Pass at an altitude of 15,809 ft.
From the pass, on a clear day, you get an excellent view of Jumolhari,
Tserim Gang and Masagang. Ancient Chortens dot the path along our way.
The trek from the pass to campsite at Shodu is steep down hill. Camp
can be made in a stone shelter or in tent. 13,000 ft.
Day 14: Shodu to Barshon walking distance is 3 to 4 hours the trail
follows the Thim Chhu river through thick rhododendron forests. Waterfalls
can be seen along the way. The valley narrows till the path takes to
the slopes and gradually ascends to reach the ruins of Barshong Dzong.
Watch for Langurs (Monkeys) along the way. Camp can be made in stone
shelter or tent. 12,415 ft
Day 15: Barshong to Thimphu: (7 hours) today we arrive in Thimphu, the capitol of Bhutan; check into Druk hotel. Relax and revel in your High Himalayan Trek! *(Note: For groups of over 3 persons, it is recommended that this portion of trek from Barshong to Thimphu be extended to 2 days with halt in Dolem Kencho between Barshong and Thimphu.
Day 16: Full day of leisure to relax and refresh. Your expert Bhutanese
guide will assist you in any special interest you may have. Late afternoon
we depart for Paro. Overnight Paro Hotel.
Day 17: Depart to Paro Airport and onward to your next destination. We hope you have enjoyed your adventure into the Land of the Thunder Dragon.