|Essence Of Bhutan
Bhutan, the fabled Land of the Thunder Dragon - a country of Buddhists and Dzongs (Fortresses), yaks and Blue Sheep, alpine valleys and lofty white peaks was unknown to foreigners until the mid -1900s. In 1959 Tibet was taken over by China and in 1975 its other neighbour became part of India. Bhutan became surrounded by two giant powers and as a consequence in 1971 joins the United Nations to protect itself.
In 1974 the King opened Bhutan's borders to tourism in order to obtain foreign currency. Unfortunately, foreigners did not respect Bhutan’s religious customs - photography or religious treasures and bribed Lamas (Monk) to steal sacred scrolls and other precious items for them. In 1987 the king announced changes for the visitors from foreign lands. He closed most of the monasteries, sacred institutions, and sanctified mountains to foreigners. Visitors would now be requested to travel with fixed itineraries and lead by Government guides.
Bhutan is a beautiful land. Across its northern border stand the shimmering peaks of the Grand Himalayas, including to sacred mountains: Jomulhari and Gangkar Punsum. Both are home to bharal (Blue sheep) and rare Snow Leopard. Glaciers tumble down slopes, creating mountaintop lakes and rivers that rush through narrow gorges and wind through wide, sloping valleys.
Destinations Covered: Paro - Thimpu - Punakha - Paro
09 Nights / 10 Days
Day 1: Arrive Paro
Flight to Paro. You are met and greeted at the airport and transferred to hotel. After some rest, in the evening your guide will take you to a tiny Paro town for orientation with the place and people.
Day 2: Hike Taktsang Monastery and Tour the Paro Valley
The legendary Taktsang Monastery, which is also called Tiger's nest, perched some 2,000ft/600m up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley, is a popular hiking destination. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes about a little more the time it has taken you to come up. On the way back, visit a typical Bhutanese village home to have an insight on living style of Bhutanese villagers. Drive back to your hotel in the evening.
Day 3: Chele La Hike
Take a scenic drive of 1 & ½ hr to Chele La pass at an altitude of approximately 3900m/13000ft with views of Paro Valley on one side and Haa Valley on the other side. Hike up to clustered shelters built on sheer cliffs, under the rock cave and a temple that house some 50 or so nuns.
Walk back to meet the transport and drive to Paro and visit Bhutan's national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro Dzong. You will also visit Rinphung Dzong.
Day 4: Paro - Thimpu
After breakfast, we drive to Thimphu, 2 ½ hrs, the least visited of all the Himalayan capitals. Check in hotel and after some rest embark on the tour of Thimphu, beginning from a Nunnery on the outskirts of Thimphu. You will then visit the School of Arts and Crafts, Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, Changgangkha Lhakhang (temple), National Library, Traditional Hospital and traditional paper factory. At the end of the day, we may also pay a visit to the great Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan's administrative and religious centre.
Day 5: Thimphu Valley and hike Cheri Gompa.
Early in the morning, visit the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, where people gather to pray and pay homage. Today, we hike to Cheri Gompa Monastery.
This is a pleasant rural walk, gently up a valley through paddy fields and woodland via a Tibetan village. You can enter the courtyard of the Gompa but entrance to the main shrine is not permitted for Non Buddhists. Descend to the bottom of the hill, meet your transport and drive back to Thimphu.
Day 6: Hike to Chokortse Monastery
This morning, we hike to Chokortse monastery which is situated on a saddle. The walk is all the way uphill 40-50 minutes and passes through blue pine, spruce and rhododendrons. From here, the view of Thimphu valley below is breathtaking. It takes 2 hrs, for the out and back trip. In the afternoon, browse the markets of Thimphu and later drive to Paro for overnight.
Day 7: Thimpu - Punakha
After breakfast, drive to Punakha, the old winter capital of Bhutan with a Stop at Dhochu La Pass, (10,000ft/3,048m) and appreciate the spectacular views of eastern Himalayas. Check in hotel and in the afternoon, you will make a short trek to visit the Crown Prince's Chorten and nearby villages. You return on a different route through the village to Sonagasa (the King’s winter residence) and through to Punakha Dzong, following the Mo Chu river. You will meet the vehicle and visit huge impressive Punakha Dzong.
Day 8: Chimi Lhakhang Hike and explorations of Wangduephodrang Town and Dzong
After breakfast, hike the legendary Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the ‘temple of fertility’. It’s a 20-minute walk leading across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are very few monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings.
Drive 13 km to the town of Wangdue Phodrang. Walk through the clean streets of the town of slate roofed houses and visit the Dzong, the district headquarter. Return to Punakha for overnight.
Day 9: Punakha - Paro.
After breakfast, retrace drive the way via Dhochu La where you will stop for a while for the views and refreshment drinks. We will have lunch in Thimphu and drive further 2 hrs to Paro.
Day 10: Depart Paro
In timer transfer to airport for your flight to next destination.