Bhutan Trekking
 
The Best of Himalayan Kingdom-9 days

Season: All year
Number of Days: 9 Days
Grade: Soft
Destinations: Paro, Thimpu, Punakha, Wangdue and Gangtey

Day 1: Arrival at Paro International Airport:
Fly on Druk Air to Paro. Druk Air is a Bhutan national flag bearer, which has an exclusive right to fly to Bhutan from 6 other sectors. Limited flights allow only restricted number of flyers into this beautiful Himalayan Kingdom, thereby preserving and conserving valuable culture and environment that has remained intact for centuries. On clear days, during this flight, you will experience breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains including Mt. Everest, Jichu Drak and Jumolhari in Bhutan. You will land in the beautiful valley of Paro, located at an elevation of 7,400 ft. At Paro International Airport you will be received by representative of Druk Yul Expeditions. White Khaddar or scarf with Buddhist blessings will be presented to you to be carried along your journey. Drive to Paro Town, which is 20 minutes away from Airport. Have lunch, and walk along small town designed and constructed in typical Bhutanese architecture. After a short stroll, drive to Thimpu, the capital town of Bhutan. During this drive, you will pass through idyllic countryside giving some idea about what you might come across on your journey in the next 11 days.
Thimpu (2,280m) is a small, bustling city in the heart of the Himalaya. Thimpu’s charm comes not only from its wealth of museums or places of historic interest, but also from the strong national character of its architectural style. Arrive Thimpu and then transfer to your hotel. Evening is free to rest or walk around Town. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. Notice the dress, the traditional architecture and the fresh, clean air. Just before the Dinner, your escort will make brief presentation of the whole trip program. Overnight at the hotel in Thimpu

Day 2: Thimpu (Excursion):
Today’s sightseeing in Thimpu valley includes visits to: National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is a both a memorial to the late king (‘the father of modern Bhutan’), and a monument to world peace. The painting and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; National Library: This holds a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School): where student undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. National Institute of Traditional Medicine: where the medicinal herbs, mineral, and animals organs available in abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed by traditional pharmacist and medical practitioners. This indigenous healing method is popular in entire Bhutan. Here you will have exclusive privilege of talking to a renowned traditional healer. Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insight into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Handicrafts Emporium: This government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture.

Day 3: Thimpu – Punakha (Approx. Driving Distance / Time: 77 km / 3-3 ½ hrs):
Today after breakfast drive to Punakha across Dochu La pass (3,088m / 10,130ft). En route visit Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627 and the oldest fortress of the kingdom. It now houses the institute for language and cultural studies. Drive across Dochu La pass (3050 m), which provides a superb view of the highest peaks of Bhutan, such as Gangkar Puensum, Table Mountain, and Masakhang etc. We can stop at a cafeteria for tea and snacks. Drive further down and visit a village house in Metsina and hike up to 16th century temple where you can seek blessing from lord of fertility. This temple was initiated by Divine Madman or Erotic Lama. This lama framed Bhutanese version of erotic stories or Kamasutra in 15th Century. Here replica of Poo or religious penis will touch above your forehead to bless you with fertility. Until 1955 Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). In evening visit Punakha Dzong built in the 17th century at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Damaged by fires, floods and earthquake over the centuries, the Dzong has recently been fully restored to its original glory. Overnight at the beautiful hotel in Punakha.

Day 4: Punakha – Gangtey (Approx. Driving Distance / Time: 90 km / 3-4 hrs):
Morning, drive to Gangtey Valley. Gangtey is situated in Phubjikha valley, which the winter home of endangered Black-Necked Cranes that migrate to this valley from Central Asia in winter. It is a wide, almost flat, beautiful alpine valley and is also called Gangtey, after the famous monastery. This is a scenic drive through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons. Gangtey lies within the protected area of Black Mountain Park. As you enter, you will notice that Gangtey Gompa or monastery rises on a small spur located at the valley’s center. It is one of the oldest and largest Nyingma Buddhist centre in Bhutan. Check in to hotel, (could be in a family run hotel).and evening at leisure. You will enjoy a completely different kind of stay in Gangtey unlike in all other hotels on this trip.

Day 5: Gangtey - Wangdue (Approx. Driving Distance / Time: 60 km / 2 hrs):
Morning, visit 17th century Monastery, and drive further down to information centre for the Black-Necked Cranes. This centre is maintained by a NGO; Royal Society for the Protection Nature. The Black Neck Cranes roost in the swampy marshland during winter. We can see these magnificent birds in their winter nesting home. These endangered birds fly south from Siberia and Tibet. The calls of the Black-Necked Crane locally known as Thrung Thrung Karm have inspired folklore for generations. RSPN and Phobjikha Community are now working together to protect the habitat of endangered Black Necked Cranes. There is annual festival to celebrate and create awareness about importance of this protected bird species. Community participation is active. We can look for caretaker of the centre to answer some of our questions. Later stroll around the village. After the visit, drive down back to Wangdue Phodrang. On arrival at Wangdue, and depending on time, we can check in at local restaurant for warm lunch. Later visit Wangdue Dzong, and stroll around the congested temporary local market. Overnight at hotel or resort in Wangdue besides turquoise blue river.

Day 6: Wangdue – Thimpu (Approx. Driving Distance / Time: 77 km / 2 ½ hrs):
Today, we start the day a little early at around 7 AM. Proceed to Thimpu by the same way we took the first day. Thimpu is perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, with no traffic lights! Overnight at hotel.

Day 7: Thimpu - Paro (Approx. Driving Distance / Time: 65 km / 1 ½ hrs):
Morning drive to Paro with a visit to Ta Dzong which houses the National Museum, the ruins of Drugyel Dzong and the courtyard of Kyichu Lhakhang one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan - dated 7th century AD. Visit National Museum housed at Paro Ta Dzong (Dzong means Fortress). It was originally built as a watchtower to keep an eye on the invaders planning attack on Paro Rinpung Dzong. Then walk down to Rinpung Dzong meaning 'fortress of the heap of jewels" built in middle of 17th century. Your guide will explain you fascinating story behind the history of Dzong. Like in all Dzong around country, Rinpung Dzong also has two divisions. One part houses monk’s body, while another part has offices of local Dzongkhag or district administration. You will come across large monks’ prayer room, and many small temples dedicated to different Buddhist deities. You will have chance to visit some of the temple, and marvel over wall paintings, and Thangkas. Walk down and pass through old wooden bridge constructed over Paro Chu or river. Lunch at a restaurant in Paro town. After lunch drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, originally built in 7th century to tame a she demon in Himalayan region. This monastery houses Maitreya or coming Buddha, and is one of the most important pilgrim destinations in Western Bhutan. Later in the evening, take a stroll around Paro town. Overnight at hotel.

Day 8: Paro (Taktsang Hike):
Drive to Ramthongkha and then hike to viewpoint of Taktsang, the Tiger's Nest (one and a half hours). This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3,000 ft above the valley floor. The trail is broad and the walk uphill takes you a little more than a 1000ft above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang monastery built on the cliff is a spectacular sight. It is a great pilgrim site for the Buddhists and also it is one of the most sacred sites in the Himalayan world. Beyond the viewpoint, the path is narrow and steep as it climbs to a point above the temple, from where walkers descend to the building itself. The main deity of Taktsang is Dorje Drolo, the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche, the precious Teacher, also known as Padmasambhava. The great tantric mystic is said to have flown here on the back of a tiger, a manifestation of his consort, Yeshi Tsogyal, when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th century. The image of Dorje Drolo inside the temple is shown standing on a tiger. There are 13 sacred sites at Taktsang, and several meditation caves in the cliffs above. Here you can meditate awhile before beginning the descent. Nearby there is a teahouse, where you can stop for lunch or a snack. In the evening, visit a farmhouse in Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro

Day 9: Departure:
Our escort will complete the departure formalities well in advance, and if need be assist you with it. Drive down to airport and check in at least 2 hours prior to flight departure schedule.
Trip ends

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