DAY  01  ARRIVE PARO & DRIVE TO THIMPHU

FLIGHT  TIME 2:20 hrs

PARO ALTITUDE 7,600 feet / 2,280 meters

THIMPHU ALTITUDE 7,730 feet / 2,320 meters

DISTANCE PARO – THIMPHU = 54 kilometers / 33.75 miles time taken 2 hours

Fly from Bangkok to Paro on Druk Air. From a left window seat on clear days, you can experience a spectacular view of Himalayan peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival our representative will receive you and then start our two hours drive to Thimphu, the road winds along the Paro River until you arrive at the confluence of Paro and Thimphu River. From here we start north along the Thimphu River passing through paddy fields, villages and Apple orchards until we see the Capital City from a distance. We check in to our hotel, if time permits we will have sightseeing around Thimphu Valley. This will solely depend on the arrival time of your flight. Overnight at Hotel.


DAY  02  THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING

After breakfast you will start your sightseeing of Thimphu starting off with a visit to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, here traditional medicines are prepared according to ancient practices and a museum of herbal medicines and herbs are displayed. Then we head to The National Institude of Zorig Chusum, in this institute the 13 different traditional arts are kept alive through young Bhutanese who take 4-6 years course in different arts. Next we will visit the National Library and then to Bhutan heritage Museum, a nineteenth century house, preserved to present the visitors with how middle class Bhutanese lived in the past. A Bhutanese traditional lunch will be served here. After lunch, we’ll visit Textile Museum, the traditional gold and silver smith workshop, weaving center and other places of interest. Overnight at Hotel.

OPTION II: Incase if we are in Thimphu during Public holidays or weekends then we proceed for hike to Cheri Monastery. The drive from the hotel is about 45 minutes North of Thimphu, we then cross a lovely traditional bridge that spans the Wang/Thimphu Chhu River and start our hike uphill towards the Cheri Monastery, this walk will take one hour of uphill, where you will come across tame deer and soaring birds that are looked after by the monks of this monastery. This monastery was built in 1620 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal and is the first monastic establishment in Bhutan. After visiting around we will hike back to the roadside and enjoy our picnic lunch. After lunch we will start our drive south from the road where we came in for about 20 minutes at Begana Hydro workshop, from where we will take another hike, this will not involve steep climbing, but a gradual ups and down to Pangri Zampa through villages and farmlands. This temple was founded in early 16th century and presently it houses the monastic institute for astrology studies. From here our car will drive back to the hotel, which will take only about 20 minutes. Overnight at Thimphu.


DAY  03  THIMPHU-PUNAKHA

PUNAKHA: ALTITUDE: 4,162 feet / 1,250 meters

DISTANCE: 71 Kilometers / 44.38 miles

TIME TAKEN; 2.5 hours driving

ALTITUDE GAIN: 2,730 feet  & ALTITUDE LOSS 6,298 feet

After breakfast we will start our drive to Punakha early before the clouds come in and block the views of the Bhutan’s Snowcapped Mountain seen from the Dochula Pass. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (10,460 feet / 3,140 m). This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, as we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha (1,350 meters/ 4,162 feet). Before proceeding further to our hotel we will hike up to the Chimi Lhakhang temple on a small hilltop. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as “Divine madman” to the westerners. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility; it is about one hour of round trip walk. After lunch we will proceed to Punakha town to view the majestic Dzong (fortress), situated between the two rivers Pho Chu and Mochu (male and Female River). This fortress is now used as the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (the Spiritual head of Bhutan). In the past this Dzong was the capital seat of the Kingdom. Overnight at Hotel.


DAY  04  PUNAKHA – TRONGSA

TRONGSA: ALTITUDE: 7,259 feet / 2,180 meters

DISTANCE: 143 Kilometers / 89.38 miles

TIME TAKEN; 6 hours driving

We will have a heavy breakfast today as our lunch will be late and simple. The drive to Trongsa takes approximately 6 hours. We start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan through the breathtaking beauties and serenity of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna. From Tikki Zampa (Bridge) we then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pele la Pass (3,300 m/ 10,989 ft.)  With an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo, the Pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. During the clear weather we can view the high snow capped peaks specially the Mount Chomolhari (7,314 m/ 24,355 ft.). We continue our drive till Longtoe Village through dwarf bamboo meadow, alpine oak etc for about 20-25 minute; from here we will hike downhill to Rukubji village through similar vegetation with mountain views and prayer flags dotting the landscape. Visit the village and its temple, continue our hike till the highway where our car will be waiting for us, the total hike time would be about 1-1.5 hours. From here we continue our drive to Chendebji Chorten, where we will make a brief stop. A Lama known as Shida in order to nail into the ground a demon that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of this valley and the Ada valley just over the ridge built this Chorten or Stupa in 18th century. As you enter Trongsa valley, the huge fortress of Trongsa makes you wonder if you will ever reach it. Backing on mountain and built on several levels, the Dzong fits narrowly on a spur that sticks out into the gorge of the Mangde River and overlooks the routes south and west. The view from the Dzong extends for many miles and in former times nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen. Arrive Trongsa and overnight at Yangkhil Resort, this resort offers a superb view of the soaring mountains and the majestic Trongsa Dzong.


DAY  05  TRONGSA – BUMTHANG (JAKAR)

BUMTHANG: ALTITUDE : 8,591feet / 2,580 meters

DISTANCE: 71 Kilometers / 44.38 miles

TIME TAKEN; 2.5 hours driving

ALTITUDE GAIN: 1,245 meters / 4,145 feet  & ALTITUDE LOSS 845 meters 2,814 feet

After early breakfast we start our walk from the hotel to visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong, built in 1647, by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, this Dzong was the source of many important historical events in making of Modern Bhutan. Next, we will walk uphill to Taa Dzong, the ancient watchtower. This tower had served as the watchtower in the ancient time. Now it is turned into a beautiful museum dedicated to the Kings of Bhutan. We will then drive to hotel for lunch. After lunch we will start our drive to Bumthang, crossing the Yotongla Pass at an altitude of 3400 meters / 11,300 feet and into the first four valley of Bumthang known as Chumey (2800 meters / 9184 feet). We will make a short stop at Tsungney village, where we will observe the weavers weaving the famous Bumthang fabric known as Yathra. Continue our drive for an hour and arrive at the Chokhor Valley (2,600 meters / 8,528 feet), if time permits your car will drop you at the Chamkhar Bazaar, from where you can walk back to the hotel after sightseeing around the market. Overnight at Yugharling Resort.


DAY  06  ATTEND FESTIVAL

After breakfast we will drive to witness the ongoing festival. The local people celebrate the festival annually. During the festival various spiritual mask dances are performed and local people with their picnic lunch participate the festival in their finest dress. If you feel half day is enough for the festival then we will take a short hike around the village. Overnight at the hotel.


DAY  07  BUMTHANG SIGHTSEEING 

After early breakfast we will start our sightseeing around Chokhor valley. We begin our walk around the valley from our lodge carrying our daypack towards the Jambay Lhakhang temple through scattered and clustered villages of Jakar. A Tibetan King, Songtsen Gonpo, built this temple in the 7th century. Your next stop will be Chakar Lhakhang, which was built in the 8th century. This House was a castle of the King Sindhu Raja who used to rule the Bumthang Valley. Continue your hike to Kurjey monastery, it is here, the great tantric saint Padmasambhava had meditated and subdued a local deity known as Shelging Karpo. Continue your hike north and cross the Chamkhar River over a suspension bridge and we will arrive at Tamshing Lhakhang. Terton Pemalingpa built this temple in 1500s. Your final stop of the hiking will be at Konchogsum Lhakhang, built in 7th century. After Lunch we will proceed to visit a Nunnery at Bebzur, the 9th Gangtey Tulku, the lineage holder of Pema Lingpa, established this nunnery in 2001. The nuns had to live under few makeshift huts for several years until they themselves built the present Monastery in 2005.  Also known, as Pema Thekcholing is a Non-Profit Organization working to support education and generate self-sufficient girls and women in Bhutan. Pema Choling Shedra is the first Buddhist College to produce women completing masters in Buddhist philosophy and to women seeking a spiritual path. The nunnery consists of over 100 nuns coming from various society and educational background. The shedra offers a 9-year masters degree in Buddhist philosophy as well as other regular school courses. Overnight at Yu-Gharling Resort.

HIKING: Moderate walk


DAY  08 BUMTHANG – PARO

Morning drive to Bumthang Domestic Airport for departure to Paro. The flight will take about 40 minutes. On arrival you will be received by our representative, and then drive to hotel. Depending on time we will have sightseeing around Paro valley by first visiting Drukgyal Dzong built in 1647 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, the Dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you can get a magnificent view of the Mount Chomolhari, alt. 7314 m / 23,990 ft. Go round the fortress, it is a 30 minutes leisurely hike, this is a beautiful walk. Drive south to Kyichu Lhakhang, built in seventh century by a Tibetan King, Songtsen Gonpo. After lunch visit the National Museum of Bhutan, (Ta Dzong) which contains works of art, handicrafts, costumes, armors and rare stamps. Take a leisurely hike down to Rimpung Dzong. You will walk through a traditional covered bridge across the river to your waiting car and drive to your hotel. Overnight at hotel.


 DAY   09  EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG MONASTERY:

ALTITUDE: 10,240 feet / 3,075 meters

ALTITUDE GAIN: 2,640 feet / 793 meters

HIKING HOURS : 2.5 – 3 hours

After breakfast our car will drop us at the starting point of the excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s lair). The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike (if not tired) for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the majestic Taktsang monastery. Founded in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The history states that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the monastery flying tigers doesn’t seem so impossible after all. Unfortunately, in 1998 the main structure was engulfed by fire and it was rebuilt in April 2000. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria. After lunch we start our hike back to Paro valley, if time permits we will have some more sightseeing or a free day for more shopping in the small Bazaar. Overnight at hotel.


DAY  10  DEPART PARO BHUTAN

Morning drive to Paro International Airport for departure to your onward destination.

Note: This is a sample intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors such as weather, tour conditions, the physical ability of the participants’ road condition etc., may dictate itinerary changes either before departure or while on the tour. We reserve the right to change this schedule in the interest of the trip participants’ safety, comfort and general well being. RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

 

Thanks again so much for all your patience and kindness while I was there.

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