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Walking Bhutan

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Duration: 11 days, 10 nights
Minimum Age: Min Age : 10+
Grade: 2 - Moderate
Accomodation: Hotels

So you want to hike in the Himalayas, be active, see Bhutan, experience the rich Buddhist culture AND sleep in hotels at night? Then this is the trip for you!  On this adventure, you have the opportunity to soak in the culture of Bhutan with visits to the many palaces and monasteries and also to experience its natural beauty on day hikes planned in each of the magical valleys of Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Phobjikha. Hike to the legendary Taktshang Monastery (also called Tiger’s Nest) near Paro, the Cheri Monastery near Thimpu, and in the Phobjikha valley in Gangtey. But unlike a trek, each night you will sleep in hotels instead of tents.

Your journey starts in Paro where you will acclimate to the altitude by taking small day hikes. Explore the forts (dzongs) and palaces that are sometimes many centuries old.

The capitol city, Thimphu, is a gallery of traditional Bhutanese culture. Explore the Thimphu market to shop for handicrafts and immerse with locals in their daily routines.

Engage with Bhutanese people in Punakha. Immerse in a wondrous environment on hikes to some of the holiest places in this Buddhist wonderland. The serene views are continuous throughout Phobjikha Valley and on the return journey to Paro.

The tranquil kingdom of Bhutan is often called the “last Shangri-La.” Come see why Bhutan is one of the most intriguing, rugged and unique of the world’s destinations.

Highlights

  • Hike to the cliff hanging Tiger’s Nest
  • Explore monasteries and dzongs of Paro, Thimpu and Punakha
  • Experience Bhutan’s natural beauty in the Phobjikha valley
  • Be active by day, but sleep in comfortable hotels at night
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Trip at a glance

Brief Itinerary

Day Description Overnight Altitude
Day 1 Arrival in Paro. Drive to Thimpu. Thimpu  1340m
Day 2 Hiking in Thimpu Thimpu  1340m
Day 3 Drive to Punakha    
Day 4 Hiking in Punakha    
Day 5 Drive to Gangtey    
Day 6 Explore Phobjikha valley    
Day 7 Drive to Wangduephrodang    
Day 8 Drive to Paro    
Day 9 Hiking in Paro    
Day 10 Hiking in Paro    
Day 11 Final departure    
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1Arrive in Paro. Drive to Thimpu.

Arrive Paro. Drive to Thimphu (one-hour drive).

Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital (7,609 feet), is situated in a valley surrounded by terraced rice fields. The main street in Thimphu, Norzim Lam, is lined with shops. Visit Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Drive to Drubthop Lhakhang, the nunnery temple. Learn more about the culture through visits to the Bhutanese Indigenous Hospital and Traditional Painting School.

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 2Hiking in Thimpu

There are several options for hikes in Thimpu. They include a 900 ft. one to two hour climb to the Tango Goemba, an hours climb to Cheri Goemba, a 5 Kilometer hike to the Phajoding Goemba at approximately 12,000 ft. or a three to four hour hike from Dochu La to Lungchuzekha Goemba.

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 3Drive to Punakha

Drive to Punakha after breakfast at the hotel. The road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochula pass (10,000 feet). The pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, on the descent to the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).

Before proceeding further to the town of Punakha, hike about 30 minutes to the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) on a small hilltop. The temple was dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century, known as Drukpa Kuenley, as well as the “Divine madman.” He dramatized Buddhist teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. Bold phallus symbols and paintings on the houses and temples are a result of his influence. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility.

After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong (fortress) situated between the two rivers, Pho Chu and Mochu (male and female river). The fortress is now used as the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the spiritual head of Bhutan). The Dzong served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than 300 years. The intricate Buddhist paintings inside the monastery are spectacular.

Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 4Hiking in Punakha

Today’s hikes include:
Easy hike to Khamsum Yueley Namgyel lhakhang/temple: We drive (20 minutes) upstream the mo-chu/female river from Punakha Dzong/fortress and take an invigorating hike through lush farmland to the temple located on the hilltop. The hike begins from the suspension bridge. A 40-minute gradual uphill hike lead us to the stupa. This magnificent stupa was built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother for the well being of the kingdom and the benefit of all sentient beings. Built over a period of several years, the Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters, and sculptors consulted Holy Scriptures rather than engineering manuals, to construct this 4-storey temple that presents a great view of the mo-chu valley below.

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang/temple & Nunnery: The nunnery is situated on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The nunnery complex houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting. The main temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong), one of the biggest in the country. Facing the main courtyard is also a goenkhang, housing the nation’s guardian deities. The unique feature of the structure is the skillfully carved black marble blocks surrounding the stupa, depicting the 84 Mahasiddhis, 16 Arhats, and the great lamas of Drukpa Kagyu lineage.

Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 5Drive to Gangtey

Drive to Phobjikha Valley. After crossing the Pele La pass, we will make a left turn on another road that will lead us to the expansive and beautiful valley of Phobjikha. The valley serves as the winter home for the rare black-necked cranes that migrate from the plateau of Tibet when it gets extremely cold.

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 6Hiking in Phojibka valley

A peaceful hike leads us through a local village on the way to the Gangtey Monastery. Continue downhill into the picturesque Phobjikha valley. We will continue our hike to the hotel where we will be served with our lunch. The remainder of the day is free to explore the village or observe the black-necked cranes when they have migrated from Tibet.

Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 7Drive to Wangduephrodang

Return to Wangdiphrodang. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 8Drive to Paro

Return drive to Paro. Overnight Hotel. (All meals)

Day 9Tiger's Nest hike

Begin the day with breakfast before a short drive to Taktshang Monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through pine trees festooned with Spanish moss and occasional fluttering prayer flags. Hike at your own pace for about two to four hours.

Built in 1600s, the monastery clings to the edge of a sheer-rock cliff that plunges 2,952 feet into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rimpoche is believed to have meditated here for three months. Packed lunch will be served.

Drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, the fortress of the victorious Drukpas. From Drukgyel Dzong, the Tibet border is only a two-day hike away. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

DAY 10 Hiking near Paro

Drive to Cheli La pass (12,500 ft.) for a short hike to view Jhomolhari. Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

DAY 11 Final departure

Transfer to airport for final departure. (B)

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Detailed Cost Information

Per person Price – valid till Dec 31, 2018
1 person:  $ 3,850 USD (includes single supplement)
2 persons: $ 3,550 USD per person
3 or more persons: $ 3,200 USD per person
Single Supplement: $ 550 USD

Extra – airfare into Paro (subject to change):

Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok airfare: $ 800 per person
Bangkok – Paro – Kathmandu airfare: $650 per person
Delhi – Paro – Delhi airfare: $600 per person
Kathmandu – Paro – Delhi airfare: $600 per person

Prices above are based on the best 3 star accommodations available. Upgrades to 4 or 5 star accommodations would be an additional US$500 per person per night depending on hotels selected. Please contact us for details of options available.

 

 

Price Includes

  • Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information
  • Meeting and assistance at airport and transfers to hotels
  • All in-country transportation
  • Meals as indicated on itinerary
  • Tours and excursions outlined on itinerary
  • Bhutan Visa and Tourism Development Fee

Price Excludes

  • Your international airfare
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (Required)
  • Other expenses of a personal nature (soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, mineral water, laundry, phone calls, internet, battery charging, comfort food etc.)
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Map
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