DAY 01 ARRIVE PARO BHUTAN
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 to Paro, from a right window seat on clear days you can experience a spectacular view of Himalayan peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by our representative, and then drive to Thimphu, which will be approximately 2 hrs drive. Rest of the day will depend on arrival of the flight. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02 SIGHTSEEING OF THIMPHU VALLEY
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: If you are in Thimphu during Friday Saturday and Sunday then the sightseeing will
Visit Thimphu weekend market, which is in a permanent set of stalls, vendors from throughout the region arrive on Friday afternoon and remain selling their goods until Sunday night. It’s an interesting place to visit, where village people jostle with well-heeled Thimphu residents for the best – and cheapest – vegetables and foodstuffs. This is the only time that fresh produce is easily available and the shopping is enhanced by the opportunity to catch up on the week’s gossip. At the northern end of the market is a collection of stalls called the indigenous goods and handicrafts section. Here you will find locally produced goods, including religious objects, baskets, fabrics and different hats from various minority groups. Continue your sightseeing to Zangdopelri temple, the Changlimithang where you can witness young Bhutanese practicing their favorite archery game. Return to hotel for lunch, after lunch visit the Memorial Chorten built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Dupthop Lhakhang (Monastery for the nuns) and other places of interest.
HIKING: Moderately strenuous
DAY 03 THIMPU-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
Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned for about 45 minutes, before we start our hike. We will try to driving through the dirt road if weather is sunny, otherwise we will need to start our hike from the highway to Trashigang Monastery sitting at an altitude of 3,200 meters, This monastery was built in 1786 by the 12th Je khenpo. From this monastery we begin our gradual climb towards Lungchoetse Temple. The route passes through forests of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, bamboos and hemlocks and ocassionally meaqdows that are used for cattle grazing, The view from this temple is breathtaking, on a clear day you will see spectacular views of Bhutan’s snowcapped Himalayan peaks. We will wlak downhill for about 1 hour to Dochula Pass where you will see the beautiful 108 stupas. Again on a clear day the view of the Himalayan peaks are breathtaking. We will continue our drive for about 2 hours to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 04 PUNAKHA FESTIVAL
After breakfast we will drive to the majestic Punakha Dzong, situated between Phochu and Mochu river, this dzong is the most magnificent dzong of Bhutan and had served as the capital of the country in the 17th and 18th centuries. Presently the Dzong is the district administration and judiciary office as well as the winter home for Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je Khenpo and the 600 monks of Thimphu and Punakha. At this Dzong we will 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.
In the Afternoon we will drive north of Punakha dzong, the drive will take about 45 minutes to the base of the hill on which Khamsum Yulley Namgyal temple is built. From the car park, you have to cross a suspension bridge and walk through rice fields before you start climbing a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees. It takes about 1 hour from the car park to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes to hike down. During the summer, the walk could be a bit muddy, so be prepared. A hiking pole is recommended. Khamsum Yulley Namgyal stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha valley. It is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. Built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, this temple is dedicated for the well being of the kingdom and the benefit of all sentient beings. We will then hike down to the roadside and our car will drive us south en route we visit villages and farm house etc. Overnight at hotel.
HIKING: Moderately strenuous.
DAY 05 PUNAKHA- PHOBJIKHA
PHOBJIKHA : ALTITUDE : 9,500 feet / 2,900 meters
DISTANCE : 71 Kilometers / 44.38 miles
TIME TAKEN ; 4 hours driving
ALTITUDE GAIN : 5,338 feet & ALTITUDE LOSS 1,720 feet
The drive to Phobjikha takes approximately 4 hours. After 30 minutes of drive we will hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple on a small hill top. 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. Return to the highway and then start our fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan through the breathtaking beauties and serenity of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna. As we cross the fertile valley of Punakha and enter into the valley of Wangdue Phodrang. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation, before reaching Pele La Pass, we will make a right turn on another road that will lead us to the broad and beautiful valley of Phobjikha. This valley also serves as the winter home for the rare black-necked crane that migrates from the plateau of Tibet in winter, if your visit here is after October 25th then you will be able to witness the cranes. Our car will drop us at the Gangtey Monastery, We will start our hike through the village to the monastery and then continue downhill into the Phobjikha valley. If our visit is from end of October then we will have ample opportunity to witness the rare black- necked crane feeding in the marshy meadow. We will continue our hike to the hotel where we will be served with our lunch. Rest of the day free for us to explore the village around or just observe the cranes.
DAY 06 PHOBJIKHA-PUNAKHA
After early breakfast we will check out and load our baggage into the vehicle. We will carry only our packed lunch and whatever required for the day and start our Shasi La trail Hiking. The three to four hour Shasi La hike shortens down your driving time towards Wangdue about one hour. The trail is the migration trail for the Gangteps to the lower valleys in the fall. This beautiful hike starts from Gela village and continues through Tokha village and slowly upwards through Rhododendron forest. It continues across open meadow and bush bamboo towards the Shashi La Chorten. From here, the trail continues downwards through stunning old-growth Rhododendron forest all the way to Phama Hotel in Khelikha on the main Wangdue Phodrang road. From here, it takes two hour to Reach Punakha or Wangdue. Overnight at hotel.
HIKING: Moderately strenuous
DAY 07 PUNAKHA PARO
PARO ALTITUDE 7,600 feet / 2,280 meters
THIMPHU ALTITUDE 7,730 feet / 2,320 meters
DISTANCE = 130 kilometers / 81.25 miles time taken 4-5 hours
After Breakfast resume your journey to Paro stop at the Dochula Pass for few minutes for a leg stretch and photographs, if lucky you might be able to view the Bhutan’s 200mile snowcapped peaks in the north if you had missed the other day. Resume your journey, your next stop will be at the oldest Simtokha Dzong, built in 1629 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal. It now houses the institute of traditional studies for lay men and women. Continue your drive to Thimphu. Lunch will be served here. After lunch you will have about an hour to do the last minute shopping before you resume your journey to Paro. On your way to Paro you will stop at the Tachogang Temple, built by Thangtong Gyalpo in the 15th century, who was responsible for numerous iron bridges throughout Bhutan. Continue your drive to Hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 08 SIGHTSEEING OF PARO VALLEY
After breakfast our car will drop us at 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. Drive south to Satsam Chorten, built in memory of the late Dilgo Khentse Rinpochey, and continue on 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, armor 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 at the valley floor and take you to the Hotel. If time permits, hike up the near by hill to get a panoramic view of the Paro Valley. Overnight at hotel.
DAY 09 EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG MONASTERY.
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 remains of Taktsang monastery. Built 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. 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.