DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02: THIMPHU
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 05: PARO – BUMDRA CAMPING
DAY 06: BUMDRA – TIGER NEST MONASTERY – PARO
DAY 07: DEPART PARO
Itinerary (Subject to changes) DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our Bhutan representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu. DAY 02: THIMPHU Begin your day with a short drive to Kuenselphodrang, a popular vantage point, with the biggest Buddha statues in the world. This site offers a panoramic view of the capital below and also has several walking trails, which ranges from leisurely to moderate. Then visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in the memory of the Third King and for world peace. Continue on to the picturesque 12th century Changangkha Temple and Nunnery at Zilukha . Afterwards visit the Folk Heritage Museum featuring an exhibition of items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. After visiting the museum we will walk to School for Arts & Crafts which is located close to the museum. This is one of the interesting schools where young boys & girls learn 13 different skills of arts & crafts in Bhutan. If your visit to Thimphu coincides on a weekend, you can visit the weekend vegetable market (open from Friday To Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu. DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour. Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned. After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha. DAY 04: PUNAKHA – PARO Today we drive back to Thimphu on the same road crossing over Dochula pass at 3150m. If the weather is clear we will stop for few minutes to enjoy the scenic view of snow covered mountains. Later in Thimphu we can visit handmade paper factory. The papers are made from the bark of the Daphne plant, a dark woody paper fiber found only in Bhutan. Visits the National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and the Institute of Traditional Art & Crafts. Later in the afternoon drive back to Paro visiting Semtokha dzong, the oldest in Bhutan. Overnight at hotel in Paro DAY 05: PARO – BUMDRAK MONASTERY TREK Hike from Sang Choekor Buddhist College (2,800m) to yak pastures below Bumdra Monastery (3,800m). The adventure begins with an early morning drive up to the Sang Choekor to meet our ponies and while they are being loaded we may pay our respects at the college. Above and ahead the Chhoe Tse Lhakhang (temple) nestles in the mountainside 1-2 hours walk away. Our home for the night is tucked in under Bumdra Monastery (cave of a thousand prayers) making the most of the awesome views of the Himalayan range. After lunch we can visit the monastery (if it is occupied) and also climb the peak to the north (about 4000m) for even better views, returning in time for a slap up dinner. Duration: 4-5 hours to camp 2-3 hours return trek to peak (optional)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate; Hard (to peak).
Overnight at Bumdra Wilderness Camp. DAY 06: PARO (TAKTSANG MONASTERY HIKE) Hike from Yak Pasture below Bumdra Monastery (3,800m) via Zangtopelri Monasteries to Taktsang Monastery (2,900m). Get to enjoy the beautiful sunrise from the jaw dropping landscape of bumdrak. After a hearty breakfast, it is time to either head straight back into the valley or linger awhile soaking up the view and perhaps hang some prayer flags of our own. Ascending the steps on the other side, you are passing into the Tiger’s Nest itself. Drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to control northern route to Tibet. The route is picturesque, and the site of the dzong, magnificent (from here, it is only a two- day hike to the border with Tibet, China dominated by Mt Jhomalhari). Overnight Hotel in Paro
Duration: 5 – 6 hours depending on time taken in monasteries
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate DAY 07: DEPART PARO Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.