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Wonders of Bhutan
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Anyone with an interest in Buddhist culture will be fascinated by this 10-day adventure into the heart of Bhutan, the only country in the world that measures its productivity in GNH Gross National Happiness. Explore remote villages and shrines in the mountains. Climb magnificent heights to the cliff-side Taktsang Monastery, 900m (2,953 ft) above the valley floor. Discover your own capacity for happiness within Bhutan's ancient culture.


Duration: 10 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Hiking, Local Culture & Cuisine, History, Trekking Physical rating: 3 - Average
Accommodation standard:   Moderate% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 155165
Starts: Paro, Bhutan Finishes: Paro, Bhutan
You will visit
  • Paro
  • Paro

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Paro (1D)

In clear weather, the flight over the Himalayas offers magnificent views of the world's highest peaks as they give way to the lush green Paro valley. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step off the plane. After clearing customs and visa control, we'll be met by our local CEO who will conduct our welcome meeting and orientation. Later, enjoy dinner and visit Rimpung Dzong, a school for monks, and take a walk through the town.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Paro 2,300m

Included Activities:
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Rimpung Dzong Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (0.50 hour(s))

02

Day 2: Paro/Punākha (1B, 1L, 1D)

After breakfast, drive through dense forests of blue pine, oak, and rhododendrons and enjoy views of the Himalayan range and the valley beyond. After a lunch stop, the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass at 3,050m (10,007 ft). After stopping here for tea and panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha.



Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Punakha Valley 1,300m

Transport:
Private Vehicle (7.00-8.00 hours, 180km)

03

Day 3: Punākha (1B, 1L, 1D)

Visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, located between the rivers of the Mo (female) Chu and Pho (male) Chu. Drive to Lobeysa and hike another 20 min to Chime Lhakhang, temple of the “Divine Madman,” built in 1499. Today it is mostly visited by women, as it is known as a temple of fertility.

Walk back to the road and then drive a short distance to Wangdue for a visit to the Wangdue Phodrang. We'll continue on to the suspension bridge and hike through rice terraces, fields, and deep pine forest to Khamsum Yueley Chorten, where the view is superb. Descend until we reach the suspension bridge and the return to the hotel.

Additional Notes:
Wangdue Phodrang is currently under reconstruction, depending on the status, we may or may not be able to visit.

Included Activities:
Punakha Dzong Visit
Chime Lhakhang Visit
Wangdue Phodrang Visit
Hike and visit Khamsum Yueley Chorten

Transport:
Private Vehicle (6.00 hour(s))

04

Day 4: Punākha/Gangtey Gonpa (1B, 1L, 1D)





Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Gangtey Valley 2,900m

Included Activities:
Khewa Village Visit
Family Farm Meal

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours, 78km)

05

Day 5: Gangtey Gonpa (1B, 1L, 1D)

The valley is also a centre for crane observation run by the RSPN (Royal Society for the Protection of Nature), an NGO striving to protect Bhutan's environment, flora, and fauna. At certain times of the year, it is possible to spot these magnificent birds.


Included Activities:
Gangtey Goempa Monastery Visit
Community School Visit
Phobjikha and Khewa Valley Hike

Transport:
Private Vehicle

06

Day 6: Gangtey Gonpa/Thimphu (1B, 1L, 1D)

Drive to the capital to visit the National Library, Memorial Chorten, and the Institute for Zorig Chusum, an arts and crafts school where we can watch students practicing traditional arts such as woodworking, painting, and ceramics. Meet with a Buddhist monk and scholar to discuss Buddhist beliefs and way of life, as well as values in Bhutan.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Thimpu 2,300m

Included Activities:
National Library Visit
Memorial Chorten Visit
Institute for Zorig Chusum Visit
Meet a Buddhist Monk

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours)

07

Day 7: Thimphu/Haa Dzongkhag (1B, 1L, 1D)

Drive to the Haa Valley, one of the most remote and sacred valleys in Bhutan, via the Chelela Pass. En route, hike to Kila Goempa Nunnery, which clings to a rocky cliff. Drive to the valley and visit Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple), and Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple).

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Haa Valley 2,600m

Included Activities:
Kila Goempa Nunnery Hike
Haa Valley Temples and shrines

Transport:
Private Vehicle (6.00-8.00 hours)

08

Day 8: Haa Dzongkhag/Paro (1B, 1L, 1D)

Return to Paro and visit the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong fortress.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Paro 701m (2,300 ft)

Included Activities:
Drukgyal Dzong Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.00-3.00 hours, 65km)

09

Day 9: Paro (1B, 1L, 1D)

Embark on a vigorous hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger's Nest), the most venerated pilgrim site of the Himalayan world. The view is absolutely stunning, with the monastery clinging to a cliff face towering 2,953m above the valley. Later, visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple and the local archery grounds.

Additional Notes:
Due to the altitude this climb can be tough. Be prepared to spend about 5 1/2 hours to get up and down with stops, including lunch. Remember to stay hydrated and take your time.

The hike is gradual and uphill and takes about 2 hrs to reach the first stop at the cafeteria where you can enjoy views of the monastery. If you choose, you can stop here and wait for the group who choose to continue up to the Monastery.

Included Activities:
Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery Hike
Kyichu Lhakhang Temple Visit
Local Archery Grounds Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle

10

Day 10: Paro (1B)

Depart at any time. Airport transfer included.

Transport:
Private Vehicle (0.50 hour(s))

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Arrival and departure transfer
    • Visit the Rimpung Dzong
    • Hike to Punakha Dzong monastery and fertility shrine
    • Visit the town of Wangdue and walk to Khamsum Yueley Chorten shrine
    • Visit the village of Khewa
    • Lunch and cooking demonstration at a family farm
    • Walk to the monastery of Gangtey Goempa and visit a community school
    • Walk across Phobjikha and Khewa valleys
    • Visit the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (arts and crafts) and the Thimphu Chorten
    • Lecture on Buddhist culture
    • Hike to Kila Goempa nunnery
    • Explore shrines and temples of the Haa Valley
    • Visit the fortress of Drukgyal Dzong and hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
    • Visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple
    • Interesting articles, helpful tips, and photography advice from National Geographic before you depart
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotel/lodges (9 nts)
    Meals Included
    • 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners
    Transport
    • Private vehicle, walking, hiking
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Visit one of the most remote countries in the world
  • Enjoy a meeting and lecture with a monk about Buddhist culture in Bhutan
  • Learn how to cook ema datshi (chili cheese) with a local farm family
  • Hike along peaceful nature trails and thrilling cliffs
  • Experience the pristine and peaceful nature of the "Dragon Kingdom"