Essence of Bhutan 2 (7 nights/8 days)
Nestled in the heart of the great Himalayan range, Druk Yul (The land of Thunder Dragon) – the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, is on of the world’s most beautiful travel destinations. Often referred to as the last Shangri-la, this tiny Himalayan kingdom hosts a remarkable variety of climate and ecosystem, with 72% of it under forest cover, high mountain terrain and deep fertile valleys. Out itinerary and gives participants an opportunity to interact with the people of Druk Yul and experience the Bhutanese way of life in its undiminished natural form.
Day 01: Arrive Paro (by Druk Air) – Transfer to Thimphu.
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In the clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. First gift from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. After clearing customs and visa control you will be brief by our guide and transferred to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The drive will take around one hour. Thimphu has a population of about 100,000. The town is made up of just three lines of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. In the evening, we will visit the handicrafts Emporium, where all types of Bhutanese handicrafts are made and sold, overnight at Hotel.
Day 02: Thimphu sightseeing – Punakha.
In the morning visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck; visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibition of items and artifacts used households, Textile Museum,where the art of traditional weaving is still kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in its color and design. Lunch served at a restaurant in Thimphu. After lunch depart to Punakha, an ancient capital of Bhutan. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for a tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and drive to your hotel and check in. Visit Punakha Dzong winter seat of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan) and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 03: Punakha – Trongsa – Bumthang.
Today we start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. The drive to Bumthang via Trongsa is approximately seven hours crossing over Pele La pass (3,300 m) and yotongla pass (3,400 m). “The Central Road”, across the Black Mountains, was completed 30 years ago, and it brought about great changes to the people in the central Bhutan. We pass Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan where we make a short stop to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong dramatically located on the spur of a hill at the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. We then climbs steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass (3,300 m) with an alpine environments of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East of Bhutan. If the weather is clear the Himalayan ranges can be seen, particularly the peak of Johomulhari (7,314 m) to the west. En route we cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. In Trongsa we visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In olden days the Dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We then drive to Bumthang valley (described as “one of the most beautiful spot in the Himalayas” across the Yotongla pass (3,400 m). dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 04: Bumthang sightseeing.
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Bhuddhism. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders), have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley. In the morning we visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in 7th century) and visit Kurjey Lhakhang (where Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock), hike to visit the Tamshing monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Tertons Pema Lingpa). After lunch hike to Thangbi valley across the suspension bridge and visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century, on the way back visit Jakar Dzong, (seat of the district administration). Evening stroll in Chamkhar Town. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 05: Bumthang – Gangtey – Wangdue.
Today after breakfast we drive back to Wangdue via Gangtey and over the Pelela Pass (3,300m). The drive is approximately six and a half hours, climbing steadily through semi-tropical vegetation with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. Gangtey lies towards the east of Punakha and Wangdue on the flanks of the Black Mountains. There is an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. A few kilometers past the Gompa on the valley floor is the fascinating valley of Phobjikha. The gently sloping hill sides of Phobjikha is described as “the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas”. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climates. After the visits to Gangtey Monastery continue your drive to Wangdue. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 06: Wangdue – Thimphu – Paro.
After breakfast drive over the Docula pass (3,050 m) to Paro with a lunch stop and some shopping at Thimphu. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 07: Paro sightseeing – hike to Takshang.
After breakfast drive the winding road to Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fortress, which was once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. We then drive to Ramthangkha, the terminating point of the motorable road and then hike up to the taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The hike up to the cafeteria will take around two hours of average walking speed and is located above 2,950 meters (9,678 feet) above sea level. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of Tigeress in the 8th century. If you desire then you can hike up to the monastery and visit the monastery which contains thirteen holy places. Takstang is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan World. The monastic complex clings to the rock towering 900 meters above the valley (over 2,600 feet). After the visit to the temples walk back to the cafeteria for your lunch. After lunch we then walk back to the road point and then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. In the afternoon visit the National Museum, Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower which is now houses the National Museum and visit Paro Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now used as an administration centre and school for monks. Evening stroll through main town of Paro. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 08: Depart from Paro (Druk Air).
In the morning ABC escort will bid you farewell at Paro airport. Good-bye and happy journey back home.
Note: This itinerary is a sample itinerary intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. We have designed this itinerary including the best cultural and natural aspects of this country. We can further customize the itinerary to suit your specific interest and needs to our valued customers.