Duration: 11 nights 12 days
Places covered: Paro, Thimphu,Punakha, Wangdue, Gangety, Traongsa and Bumthang
Highlights (e.g. national parks, certain regions or sights)
- Experiences and enjoy the best of pristine environment of the Himalayan Kingdom with leisurely hikes through enchanting valleys and mountains.
- Will gain first hand experience on many aspects of Bhutanese life and culture.
- Witness unique aspects of Bhutanese history and rich culture with visits to 17th century Dzongs (fortresses), sacred monasteries, temples and special sites.
- Fascinating excursions to villages, dine with locals in farmhouses
- Learn about Bhutan’s rich tradition and cultural through visit to museums, art and craft institutes and interaction with local Bhutanese.
Requirements (physically): Relatively Fit.
The hiking trip through the charming Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan offers a visual treat of the pristine, amazing nature and clean environment. The hiking tours are a great way to see the best of Bhutan and is suitable for all age groups. Our experienced guide will help you identify the native plants and animals in the area.
Additions/ important instructions: Good hiking shoes are recommended along with sunscreen and other relevant gears.
Preferred travel time for this trip: Depending on the duration and season, the hiking itinerary can be customized to meet your needs, requirements and interests. However spring and autumn are recommended. While this tour is a 13 day itinerary, the cultural tour can be arranged for any duration ranging from 4 nights to 21 nights.
DAY 01: Arrival in Paro & Drive to Thimphu
Your flight to Paro, Bhutan provides spectacular views of Bhutan’s landscape as you approach the airport in the Paro valley. You will be received by our representative and driven to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan since 1955.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
The day will begin with visit to National Memorial Chorten, a stupa dedicated to world peace and prosperity built in 1974 in memory of the Third King of Bhutan; the National Textile Museum which showcases a range of beautiful Bhutanese textiles; National Institute for Zorig Chusum or the School of Arts & Crafts; Folk Heritage Museum which will provide a fascinating insight into traditional Bhutanese farm house and rural past through exhibits and documentation of rural life.
After lunch visit Takin Reserve to see the rare national animal of Bhutan followed by visit to Kuensel Phodrang to view gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue which is one of the largest Buddha statue in the world, at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters). Evening visit Tashichhodzong or the Fortress of the Glorious Religion built in 1641. It is Bhutan’s administrative and religious centre which houses the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan, government ministries and headquarters of His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the monk body. After the visit, if time permits we could visit Dechenphodrang, monastic school with more than 450 young monks undergo their monastic education. Late evening is free to take a stroll through town or go shopping. Overnight stay at Thimphu
DAY 03: THIMPHU – Hike to Tango Monastery
Hike – easy to moderate, 1- 2hours on dirt roads and trails.
This morning a short drive through the countryside surrounding Thimphu brings us to the Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the country. The park is home to several endangered species, including: the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. More than 300 species of birds have been catalogued within the park.
Our walk begins from the small village of Dodena. The trail starts by crossing a covered bridge over the Wang Chu, and climbs steadily on switchback trails to Cheri Goemba, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view of the Thimphu Valley. After our visit to the monastery, we descend on the same route, keeping our eyes open for the goral (wild goat) that are often spotted on the cliffs nearby. Back at the village of Dodena, we follow a riverside trail via Begana to Cabesa, home to the Choki School of Arts. The Choki School is private and provides free, skills-related education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to Bhutanese children who are unable to complete their formal education. After visiting the school, we continue along the riverside trail, passing through small rural villages before returning to Thimphu.
Overnight at Thimphu
DAY 04: THIMPHU to PUNAKHA (approximately 4 hrs); Temple of the Divine Madman
Walk – easy, 1-2 hours on local paths.
This morning, after an early breakfast, we will drive to Punakha through the Dochula Pass (10,230’), which offers a great view of the eastern Himalayan mountains. From the pass, our road descends through magnificent pine and rhododendron forests, and wanders through some of Bhutan’s most picturesque countryside.
On the road to Punakha we will stop in a small village where a short walk brings us to Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the Lama Drukpa Kunley. Drukpa Kunley is one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, and is more commonly known as the “Divine Madman.” This site is still believed to hold fertility powers for women wanting to conceive. Overnight at Meri Puensum Resort
DAY 05: PUNAKHA Hike to Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple to Punakha Dzong
Hike – easy to moderate, 3-4 hours on dirt roads and trails.
Following breakfast and a drive through the Punakha Valley, we begin our walk by first ascending a series of switchbacks to the Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple. From this modern temple, we are afforded grand views of the Mo Chu River Valley below. We then descend from the temple and follow a well-worn path down the valley through rice fields and small villages. Along the way we are rewarded with stunning views – the terraced rice paddies providing an exotic backdrop to the river below.
After enjoying a picnic lunch alongside the river, we continue our walk to the Punakha Dzong. Constructed in 1637, the Punakha Dzong was the second of Bhutan’s Dzong and for many years it served as the seat of the government. Today it is the home to Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Chief Abbot Je Khempo, who resides here with 1,000 monks during the winter months due to Punakha’s relatively low altitude. Overnight at Meri Puensum Resort
DAY 06: PUNAKHA TO GANGTEY (approximately 3- 4hrs); Gangtey nature trail hike
Hike – easy, 1.5 hours on trails.
After breakfast we depart Punakha, up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha Valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan (approximately 9840 feet). Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and is the chosen winter home of black-necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau.
We stretch our legs on the Gangtey Nature Trail soon before arriving at our destination. This trail is considered one of the most beautiful nature trails in Bhutan. The hike starts from the mani stone wall to the north of the Gangtey Goemba and ends in Khewa Lhakhang. We meander through pine and bamboo forests, and gain excellent views of the remote Phobjkha valley, where we may catch a glimpse of Black Neck Cranes (during the winter months). Before arriving at our hotel for dinner, we also may visit the Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.Overnight at Dewachen Hotel
DAY 07: Longtey hike in Phobjikha Valley & Drive to Jakar (approximately 5-6 hrs*)
Hiking – moderate, approximately 3-4 hours.
If you are looking for a picturesque hike through some of the most beautiful parts of Phobjikha, this is the one. The starting point is in Longtey village and the path begins on a downward slope, leading us through bush bamboo towards a small cluster of village houses. There are beautifully colored rhododendron forests on both sides of the valley, and in the winter months, yaks graze in the area.
We continue straight through the village, heading uphill until we reach the start of an old-growth rhododendron forest. For the next two hours or so, we are surrounded by these majestic trees. The last part through the forest is a slightly steeper uphill section until we reach the pass with impressive views of Gangtey Goemba and the rest of the valley. This is a nice place for lunch before continuing on the path as it slopes down the valley towards Kumbu village. From here we return to Gangtey Gompa, where we are picked up by our vehicle to make the drive to Jakar.
Our road to the east, and the district of Bumthang, is an incredible feat of engineering following Himalayan ridges and valleys towards the cultural heartland of Bhutan. A winding and twisting route via the Pele La brings us to Trongsa, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s current royal dynasty, the Wangchuk’s. We pass the sprawling Trongsa Dzong, perhaps the most impressive Dzong in the Kingdom, and one of the most magnificent works of traditional Bhutanese architecture. After driving over Yotung La, we descend to the Bumthang Dzongkag (district) and the town of Jakar, our base for the coming days.
The Bumthang region encompasses four major valleys: Choskhor, Tang, Ura, and Chhume. The Dzongs and the most important temples are in the large Choskhor Valley, commonly referred to as the Bumthang Valley. Different from most other valleys in Bhutan, Bumthang is broad and ideal for walkers and hikers. There are numerous Buddhist monasteries and pilgrimage sites to explore, making it the cultural and historic center of the country.
In the evenings, we sample local specialties such as buckwheat noodles and pancakes, locally produced Swiss-style cheese, fresh apple juice, and a delicious home-made wheat beer. Overnight at Samyea Resort
DAY 08: BUMTHANG- Pasaling Gompa Hike and Kurje to Tamshing hike
Hiking –moderate, approximately 3-4 hours.
Today’s hike begins with a gradual climb through blue pine forest, where along the way; we visit a Pasaling Lhakhang (sacred temple) which overlooks the beautiful valley of Bumthang. Along the route, we are granted breathtaking views of the valley and large species of flora and fauna.
Following a picnic lunch, we embark on a hike from Kurje temple. The trail leads over a suspension bridge and towards Choekhortoe village and the Tamshing area, where we visit the Dorjibi weaving centre. We will enjoy passing through the pastoral landscape consisting of farmer’s fields and farmhouses. We are greeted by the villagers working their daily routine in the fields. Eventually, we reach Tamshing Lhakhang from where one can get a perfect view of Kurje Lhakhang on the opposite hill where we began. Overnight at Samyea Resort
DAY 9 BUMTHANG TO WANGDI (approximately 8-9 hrs)
Today we retrace our route to Paro, where our journey began. There will be plenty of time to stretch our legs along the way, including stops for both tea breaks and lunch. We have another chance for some spectacular views of the Himalayas as we drive over the Dochu La and Yotung La passes. Following a Bhutanese tradition, we will have the opportunity to spread our own prayer flags at the top of one of these passes, granting us blessings for a long life.
Upon arrival in Paro, we stretch our legs with a stroll through the market before enjoying dinner. Overnight at Janka Resort
DAY 10: PARO- Drive to Cheli La Pass & Hike to Kila Gompa
Drive to Paro.
visit the Ta-Dzong or the National Museum. It is rated as the best natural history museums in Asia. It holds a wide collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, handicrafts, masks, costumes, armour and Bhutan’s exquisite stamps. The visit will provide an insight into the rich and unique cultural heritage and tradition of Bhutan. We could also visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one the oldest and most scared temple in the Kingdom dating back to 7th century.
DAY 11: PARO Hike toTaktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery
Hike – moderate, 4-5 hours on hiking trails; approximate elevation gain of 1,650 feet.
This morning we enjoy a hike to the famous Cliffside hermitage called Taktsang – “Tiger’s Nest” – a monastic retreat built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro Valley. Our hike begins on the valley floor and is a steady uphill climb on a wide hiking trail that switchbacks through pine forests, with glimpses of Tiger’s Nest along the way. As we near the monastery, we stop by a small teahouse for snacks and tea and take in our first up-close view of Taktsang. From here our hiking trail levels out for a short while, before we begin climbing down steps and cross a bridge, eventually leading us to this most impressive sacred site.
After a trailside picnic lunch, we will have the option to relax in the hotel or Overnight at Janka Resort
Paro is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries.
Next we complete a short walk to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. This Dzong was built in 1649 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders, and sits at the point where the trail from Tibet enters the Paro valley. If we are lucky and the weather is clear, we may have the opportunity to view the sacred Mt. Chomolhari (23,977’), which lies along the border of Tibet and Bhutan.
After enjoying a light lunch and afternoon tea, we transfer to the capital city of Thimphu (aproximately 1 hour). Before becoming Bhutan’s official national capital in 1961, Thimphu was simply a rural farming valley. Small and secluded, Thimphu is unlike any other capital in the world. The city is quiet and there are still only a few streets, no traffic lights, and none of the traffic problems that can be common to other Asian cities. This evening before dinner, we will enjoy a Bhutanese cultural teaching delivered by an expert from Thimphu.
DAY 12: Departure from Paro
Today we will bid fond farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country and take flight back to your onward Destination .We hope by now you would have made some friends and also kept many photos and beautiful memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of endless Enchantments! Tashi Delek!