Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan ranks among the top ten hot spots in the world for bio-diversity. Bhutan hosts 600 species of wild orchids, 50 different types of Rhododendrons, Blue Poppy (the national flower), medicinal plants, high-altitude plants and tropical trees. Over 70% of Bhutan is blanketed in virgin forests of richly diverse flora, with rippling pristine rivers meandering alongside terraced rice fields. Land-locked and surrounded by high Himalayan Mountains the essence of Bhutan is serenity and beauty distilled through the ages of time.
Day 1: Today after you check in at the airport, you will board your plane for a spectacular flight into Bhutan. Ascending over the High Himalayan Mountains you view in awe the sacred Mount Jumolhari, "The Goddess Peak" and Jitchu Drake. Excitement mounts following a descent in altitude over a large mountain ridge. You have arrived at Paro International Airport, Bhutan, altitude 7500 ft. Your visa will now be processed and you are then received by your tour representative and drive to your hotel for check in and refreshments. You will then depart for tour of Paro.
Visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong; built in 1645 A.D. This massive building
houses the District Administration Office and the monk body. The central
tower known as “Utse” of the Dzong with its superb woodwork
is one of the most beautiful towers in the nation. A flagstone path
rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing
and abutted by two guard houses leading to the Dzong. Visit the Kyichu
Lhakhang. This Lhakhang was built in 659 A.D. by the King Songtsen
Gampo of Tibet as one of the 108 such Monasteries which he built in
Various places to spread Buddhism. It is located between Paro Town
and Drugyal Dzong. It is one of the holiest places in Bhutan as it
marks the advent of Buddhism in the country. Tonight we stroll quaint
Paro village; explore shops and converse with locals. Tonight we dine
in a cozy restaurant in Paro. Go over your itinerary with your guide.
Day 2: Enjoy breakfast at hotel and we then proceed to visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong), once the watchtower for Rinpung Dzong. It was converted into the National Musuem in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. After our museum tour we depart Paro and drive to our path to hike to the famous "Tigers Nest Monastery", i.e. Taktsang Monastery. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 4,000 feet. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava, the saint who converted Bhutan to Buddhism, alighted here upon the back of a tigress. We stop for lunch at the cafeteria and look-out point at Tiger’s Nest. On the way back from Taktsang Monastery, we stop to visit Drugyel Dzong. This is a ruined fortress about 16 Kms away from Paro town. The Dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name Drugyel means “Victorious Bhutanese”. This spot offers’ a magnificent view of Mount Jumolhari “Mountain of Goddess” on a clear day (Alt. 7329 m). We now begin onward to Thimphu, Capital of Bhutan (2 hour drive). This is a most Scenic drive. Arriving in Thimphu we visit the Bank of Bhutan to exchange currency as well as a visit to the post office to view and purchase Bhutanese collector item stamps These stamps are exquisite in design and a must for the collector or admirer as well. Check into our charming hotel for evening dinner and relaxation.
Day 3: After breakfast we now proceed to attend the famous weekend market in Thimphu, a must in Bhutan. The marketplace is alive with fresh and organic fruits, rice, chilies, wonderful textiles, handicrafts, art, jewelry and so much fun! Here is where you will meet and see enchanting Bhutanese locals shopping. There are many Kodak moments here; please ask for permission. Our next stop is to tour the highly interesting and educational Textile Museum, featuring masterpieces from the Royal Family of Bhutan and splendid fabric and exquisite Thangkas. We visit Bhutan’s National Library, which houses many ancient manuscripts, followed by a visit to see Bhutan’s national animal, the Tarkin; a treat to enjoy and a rare beast indeed! Tonight you relax and enjoy leisure time. Overnight and enjoy dinner at your intriguing Hotel.
Day 4: After a wholesome breakfast, we prepare for our day outing. A visit to the house of incense and a wonderful hand made paper factory, as well as a stop to watch local archers at play. Bhutan holds the gold in the Olympics for archery. We return to our hotel for lunch and then prepare to depart for Tango Monastery. Embark on a vigorous 2- hour hike up the mountain to Tango Goemba Monastery, one of my favorite experiences in Bhutan. Tango is one of Bhutanese’ most important Buddhist Colleges. Its name, meaning ‘horse’s head’, is derived from the horse-head shaped rock at the top. It is a Beautiful dzong built in the 18h century by the 8th Desi, Druk Rabgye. Today Tango is home to the Eight-year-old reincarnate Lama, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye. Meet with monks for discussions. Tonight join Sonam, your host in Bhutan. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 5: After breakfast, we depart Thimphu for central Bhutan, driving to Wangduephodrang, across Dochula Pass at 10,500 ft. Prayer flags send prayers on the Wind. Enjoy spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Stop for lunch at Lobesa. After lunch we take a short hike to Chhi-Med Lhakhang in the Picturesque Lobesa valley. We visit the temple of one Of Bhutan’s foremost saints, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also Known as the “Divine Madman”, whom you are getting to Know. Continuing our drive to Wangduephodrang we stop along the route to visit the Fertility Temple, Chimi Lhakhang. Check into our hotel and relax while enjoying views from your balcony room over looking Wangduephodrang and the pristine river flowing through this beautiful valley. In the near distance you can see the Wangdu Dzong strategically located on a Hilltop watching over. Overnight at Resort. You may hear the “jackals” tonight.
Day 6: Breakfast and depart hotel. Today we attend a FULL day at PUNAKHA FESTIVAL. Your senses will awake upon entering the impressive courtyard of the Punakha Dzong; “Palace of Great Happiness”. Punakha Dzong is the former winter Capital 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 rivers. The location is Strategic. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned. NOW, load your camera and with respect to the Religious festival you witness, capture its essence. We are privileged to be here among Bhutanese locals from many different areas who gather to pay respect and to be blessed at this social gathering. Dressed in Their finest clothes and jewelry, all that attend this Celebration of purification receives religious merit. Here we can truly appreciate the essence of Bhutanese People and a preserved steadfast culture. Arrays of Colorful brocades whirl through the air as the Dancers spin and dance the “thunderbolt step”. Masks of glorious demonic demons and animals arouse your Senses as you watch the purification take place. The intensity goes on; you are transposed. Picnic lunch will be served. In the evening we return to Wangdue for dinner and overnight at Dragon’s Nest Resort.
Day 7: Punakha – Phobjikha Valley: Breakfast and return to Punakha Festival in the morning. One more opportunity to revel in this glorious festival, full of color, horns, drums, Mystical dance, costumes, masks and intensity. Festival deities are invoked through benediction and Luck is increased and misfortunate gone Enjoy picnic Lunch at the festival, converse with locals and enjoy Life long memories here at the Punakha Dzong.
Departing Punakha Dzong we drive to Gangtey in the Phobjikha valley
60 Km/ 2 hours. This is a scenic drive through dense forests of oak
trees and rhododendrons; Bhutan is the least deforested county in the
Along the way, look for nocturnal red pandas that sleep in the trees during the day. At the valley’s center, rising dramatically from a small ridge, stands Gantey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingma Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan. Gantey Tulku Rimpoche, the head lama of Gantey Gompa, is the ninth incarnation of Terton Pemalingpa, the famous 14th-century Treasure Revealer from Bumthang, one of Bhutan’s famous Buddhist saints and an ancestor of the ruling Wangchuck dynasty. Visit the Gangtey Monastery overlooking the large green expanse of the Phobjikha Valley. The extensive complex consists of the gomba itself, the monks’ quarters, meditation centers, and schools. Overnight: Hotel in Phobjikha
Day 8: Gangtey ~ Trongsa ~ Bumthang Visit the Information Centre for the Black-Necked Cranes, maintained by the Royal Society for the Protection Nature. The Black Neck Crane roost in the swampy marshland can be viewed from the Observatory overlooking the fields. View these magnificent birds in their winter nesting home.
These endangered birds fly south from Siberia each fall to winter in the marshlands of Phobjikha. The calls of the Black-Necked Crane locally known as Thrung Thrung Karm have inspired folklore for generations. The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and the Phobjikha Community are now working together to protect the habitat of endangered Black Necked Cranes. To injure one of these magnificent birds is to be imprisoned for life.
Depart towards Trongsa. The drive from Phobjikha to Trongsa takes about two and half hours. Our route crosses Pele La (11,155 feet), which is marked by a chorten and an array of prayer flags. If the weather is clear we should see Jhomolhari (23,684 feet) and other peaks from the pass, which 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. We'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 we drive down through rhododendrons and ferns, we’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 and was built in the 19th century.
The last village before we reach Trongsa is Tangsibji, which affords us a full view of Trongsa Dzong and its distinctive yellow roof. Built in 1648 AD it is presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the Dzong is an architectural wonder. The view from here extends for many miles and in the old days, it was a vigilance point for both the eastern and western routes;thus, the strategic importance of this Dzong. Tonight we overnight at a local Lodge in Trongsa town.
Day 9: After breakfast we visit the Trongsa Dzong and view the imposing watchtower above. Trongsa Dzong represents Bhutan’s link with its historical monarchy. It is the Ancestral home of Bhutan’s monarch. This is also the investiture site for future kings ascending the Golden Throne of Bhutan. Trongsa Dzong represents the very Best opportunity to capture the true essence of Bhutanese monastic and parliamentary architecture. Here, are 25 lhakhangs (small temples, among which is the oldest lhakhang in Bhutan - the Chorten Lhakhang Built by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk in 1543.) After lunch we leave Trongsa and head to Jakar, in the central district of Bumthang, a 4-to 5 hour drive eastward. We cross over Yotongla Pass at 11,300 ft.Here you get your first glimpse of the Black Mountains. You will also make numerous stops to photograph yaks and their herders, alpine flowers, lovely picturesque villages and other roadside and panoramic scenes. This drive between Trongsa and Bumthang is the most scenic and exciting leg of the journey into the clouds, as you cross-rivers and streams and pass a chorten with water-driven prayer wheels and colorful rock carvings. An hour outside of Bumthang, just after crossing the Yotongla pass, you make the first sighting of the golden-roofed Jakar Dzong, the Castle of the White Bird, with the Chamkar River cascading in one continuous waterfall down through the valley beneath. Overnight: River Lodge; Family style Bhutanese hospitality
Day 10: Today we enjoy Bumthang sightseeing. Beauty again overwhelms our senses. We will drive to Tang Valley and hike to visit the Ugyenchholing Dzong. The Ugyenchholing Dzong was formerly the palace of Trongsa Penlop Tsokey Dorji. You will visit the Ugyenchholing Palace, now housing the Family Museum, a place that will transport you to another world and time. You will view permanent exhibits recreated to capture the ambience of the lifestyle of the Trongsa Penelop (Governor) Tshokey Dorji and his household. Bhutan’s History unfolds. Continuing from Ugyenchholing, we reach the Rimochen Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Guru Rimpoche, the Patron Saint of Bhutan. We also Visit Rimochen Temple, another temple blessed by Guru Rimpoche and where imprints of the Saint’s foot and Body can be seen on the rock. In the evening we visit a farmhouse for local hospitality and conversation. Overnight at the River Lodge Guest House enjoying a sumptuous dinner followed by Arak, a local drink. Tonight you sleep as a baby.
Day 11: After our buckwheat breakfast, we visit Jakar Dzong, Tamshing Monasteries and Jambay Lkakhang. We stop for refreshment at the Cheese and Beer Factory and village handicraft shops. Here in Bumthang are some of the best weavers of the Bhutanese famous style of textile. Weavers weave their magic on ancient back strap and toe looms. Textile fabric can be purchased here at a good price; unique and wonderful gifts. A visit to a Bhutanese schoolhouse is a favorite delight for guest, teacher and children alike. Overnight at River Lodge.
Day 12: We depart after breakfast driving to Wangdue-phodrang. Enjoy an evening tour of the Wangdu Dzong courtyard. Look for yaks along the route. Overnight and rest at Resort.
Day 13: EARLY breakfast and continue on westward toward Thimphu. We enjoy EARLY lunch in the Capitol of Bhutan, Thimphu and you are free to shop and stroll the shops.. We depart Thimphu and continue onward towards Paro and check into the Olathang Hotel. Tonight we enjoy our farewell dinner at a cozy restaurant in Paro Village. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 14: Depart Bhutan for your return flight. We hope you have enjoyed Bhutan and will visit us again.