A. Itinerary in Detail (12 Days)
Day 01: Fly to Paro from Kathmandu and Drive to Thimpu,
The flight into the Himalayas is truly a memorable experience. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, look down and you will see the Paro Dzong overlooking the Paro chu (river) with Ta Dzong (National Museum) above it. On arrival and after visa formalities we are received by our Bhutanese guide before the drive to Thimphu. In the evening we visit the Tashicho Dzong, the head seat of the King and the Je Khenpo, the highest abbot of Bhutan. Upon arrival, you check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Thimpu
After breakfast we drive 12 kms and then hike for about 45 minutes to Tango Monastery / Tango Monastery is a Buddhist college and is the residence of Desi Tenzin Rabgye the reincarnation of the 16th century monk who built the Tango / visit Cheri Monastery which lies15 km north of Thimphu / built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan native and a holy man / situated on a steep mountain slope on the southern boundary of the 4,200 sq km Jigme Dorji National Park / in the transition zone between broad-leaved forests of oak, rhododendron, maple, walnut and conifer forests with spruce, fir, hemlock and the Himalayan yew.
A visit to the Memorial Chorten, Folk Heritage Museum and the Arts & Crafts centre is also included / The Memorial Chorten is a stupa built in memory of Bhutan’s third king, the late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk / popularly regarded as the father of modern Bhutan / the paintings and statues inside the monument offer a deep insight into Bhuddhist philosophy / The Folk Heritage Museum was established in the year 2001.This museum houses some original and ancient artefacts used in the Bhutanese rural areas / visit the Arts & Crafts School that teaches the techniques of traditional thangkha paintings / see students at work producing intricate designs on cloth / overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha (70 km & 03 hrs)
After breakfast visit the oldest Dzong in Bhutan, Simtokha Dzong / continue the drive to Dochu La Pass (3050m) / from here good views of a range of high peaks towards the north east / the recently built 108 chortens gives the ridge a very beautiful and charming presence / on the way visit Chhimi Lhakhang / the temple of the ‘divine monk’, Drukpa Kuenley / the approach to the temple is an easy walk through the village / continue the drive to Punakha and check in at the hotel.
Later visit Punakha Dzong / the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan / Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 by Shabdrung, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan prior to the present dynasty / it is an old capital which still serves as the winter residence of the monks / the first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907 / the Dzonghas withstood damage by fire, earthquakes and floods / the latest flood in Oct’ 94 caused great damage to the fortress but miraculously the statue of the Buddha Jojampa remained untouched / overnight hotel
Day 04: Punakha – Trongsa (146 km/ 05 hrs)
After breakfast depart for Trongsa / en route visit Wangdue Dzong / the drive takes us over the Pele La Pass (3300m) to reach Chendebji Chorten / where we stop for a picnic lunch / continue drive to Trongsa / beautiful view of Trongsa Dzong on the way / upon arrival check in at the hotel / overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Trongsa – Bumthang (68 km/ 03 hrs)
After breakfast visit the beautiful Trongsa Dzong and Ta Dzong and later visit the Kuenga Rabten Palace located 22 kms from Trongsa / this ancient palace is the palace of the second king of Bhutan / later we continue the drive over Yuto La Pass (3400m) to reach the Bumthang Valley / the most beautiful valley in Bhutan / upon arrival check in at the hotel / later we visit the Jakar Dzong in the late afternoon / overnight hotel
Day 06: Bumthang
After breakfast visit Jampey Lhakhang, Kuje Lhakhang, and Tamsing Monastery /
Jampey Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan / built in the 7th century, Kuje Lhakhang is where Guru Rinpoche left the imprint of his body in the cave he was meditating in / Tamsing Monastery is a private monastery where people can wash thier sins away, if they are prepared to carry the coat made of nails three times around the shrines / this coat of nails was made by Pemalingpa himself / If time permits we take an excursion to Thangbi Lhakhang to visit a very old Lhakhang.
Day 07: Bumthang
Today after breakfast / a full day excursion to Ura Valley. Just before reaching the Sheltang Pass there is a splendid view of Gangkar Punsum (7541m) the highest peak in Bhutan / explore this prosperous vialley including the village temple with some beautiful paintings / on the way back we visit the Shingkhar Monastery and Shingkhar village / overnight at the Hotel.
Day 08: Bumthang – Gangtey (193 km & 07 hrs)
After breakfast depart for Gangtey / upon arrival check in at the hotel / Gangtey is a beautiful place set amongst rolling hills and green meadows and surrounded by snow-capped mountains set at an altitude of 3000m. From Gangtey there are some good views of the Black Mountain ranges as well as the beautiful Phobjikha valley / Gangtey Gompa is perched atop a small hill that rises from the valley floor / the monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens (Lay Monks) / Gangtey Gompa is the only Nyingmapa Monastery on the western side of the Black Mountains and is also the biggest of its kind / Gangtey is also the winter home for the famous Black Necked Cranes who migrate here from Tibet during the winter months / while the cranes reside in the valley for four to five months the village folks are not allowed to make loud noises or fish in the river that runs through the valley. At Gagtey we visit the Gangtey Monastery and the Black Necked Crane centre / overnight at the hotel.
Day 09: Gangtey – Paro (135 km & 5 hrs)
After breakfast, depart for Paro / Paro is situated in a beautifule valley with quaint clusters of hamlets amid terraced paddy fields / although the site of the nation’s first airport, Paro still retains its traditional charm with its traditional buildings and simple way of life / upon arrival check in at the hotel then at leisure around the town / overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Paro
Today after breakfast we visit Rinpung Dzong / the administrative headquarters and the monastic unit of Paro district. Along the wooden galleries, lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong there are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as / The Four Friends, The Old Man of Long Life, The Wheel of Life, Scenes from the Life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic mandalas / we also visit the ancient and holy Kyichu Temple (built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century) / then the National Museum antique thangkhas, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefacts are exhibited / overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast we take a drive up the valley to Drukgyal Dzong or the fort of Drukpa’s Victory / The dzong, although gutted by fire and in ruins now, still attracts visitors / It was used to repel Tibetan invasions throughout the course of early Bhutanese history / looming above the smouldered ruins is the snow-capped peak of Chomolhari.
We stop at the view point of Taktsang (hike uphill for around one and a half hours for a close up of the Taktsang or Tiger’s nest) / The monastery can be visited /This is the famed site where Guru Padmasambhava alighted upon the back of a tigress / overnight at the hotel
Day 12: Paro – Final departure to Onwards destination.
Early morning transfer to the airport for flight to Kathmandu