Natural environment is the backbone of the country with wide range of bio-diversity. Bhutan being one of the small countries in the world, she still has 72% forest coverage making Bhutan a negative carbon zone.
The 9 days/ 8 nights tour is meant for nature lovers who love camping and hiking, including bird watching and exploring nature. Camp sites are near a river or in forest. Hiking keeps us fit but tiring sometimes. So, in order to ease our body, only nice and relaxing hotels would be in place.
Every flight to Bhutan has panoramic view of the high mountains of the world. As airstrip is in the valley, landing at Paro Airport is breathtaking. Arrive in time for your flight to Bhutan. Please note that Druk Air flight timing may change! The best way to reconfirm is to call their local office when you are in departing place. Please arrive in time for departure flight to Paro, Bhutan (PBH).
Please note that you have to produce VISA copy upon arrival. There are no fees and photos needed for VISA. Upon arrival in Bhutan, clear Immigration, customs and you will meet our representatives and be transferred to Thimphu, the capital city where we will spend two nights. After lunch in Thimphu, visit Tashichoe Dzong and Folk Heritage Museum.
Road from Paro to Thimphu: The distance of about 65kms from Paro town takes one and half hours. Drive south following Pachu River to the confluence at Chuzom, which is also the hub of road network going to Paro, Haa, Thimphu and Phuntsholing. From Chuzom, the drive takes about an hour, staying close to Wangchu River in the valley floor, as we pass through villages and suburbs to the capital, Thimphu. En-route we can stop to view Tachogang temple and the nunnery at Wangsisina.
Thimphu: (El. 2300m) is Bhutan’s capital city and center of government, religion and commercial activities. About one and half hour drive east from Paro is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development with ancient traditions. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. It was a wooded farming valley until 1960s, when it became Bhutan’s official national capital. The massive Tashichoe Dzong, about 700 yrs old, was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the Late King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to house the Royal and main government offices. Even today, it still only has a few street and no traffic lights with estimated population of 90,000 people. Thimphu has many places and sights to visit, in addition to several days excursion possibilities. It has relatively more choice in terms of the accommodation.
Tashichoe Dzong: This fortress serves as the office of the King, Ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for Central Monastic Body of Bhutan. Bhutan’s spiritual leader, Jekhenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha recite here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu festival in the fall season.
Folk Heritage Museum: A century old building is converted as museum to show the folks that how our forefathers used to live in the mid 19th century with all household belongings. The house is built with ramped mud wall and shingled roof.
After breakfast drive north to a wooden cantilever bridge, the starting point of hike to Chagri Goempa. After lunch in the town, visit the National Memorial Chorten, Takin Reserve, Zhilukha Nunnery and drive west to the Buddha point. Then transfer to the hotel and stroll around the Thimphu city in the evening.Overnight in Thimphu
Chagri Goempa: End of road, north from the Thimphu valley is Dodina, end of Jomolhari Trek 1. A cantilever bridge covered with colorful prayer flags leads to the Chagri Monastery, taking about an hour and half through oak and rhododendron forest. Chagri was built in 1619 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, forming the first monastic body in Bhutan. The place is renowned for meditation place around the monastery.
National Memorial Chorten: was built by Royal Queen Mother, Ashi Phuntsho Choden in 1794 in memory of her son, the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The stupa now stands as a symbol of peace, where people of all age come to pray and circumambulate for merit.
Takin Reserve:Takin (Budorcas Taxicolor) has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan because it is based both on its uniqueness and association with country’s history and mythology. It is said that Divine Madman, a popular Tibetan saint is said to have created the beast with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. It resembles a calf from back, a goat from the front and continues to befuddle Taxonomists, who can not quite relate to other animal. It looks like Canadian Moose.
Zhilukha Nunnery: is housed in Drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 50 nuns who live and pray every day in the monastery. There are good views of the Tashichoe Dzong, Golf course and upper Thimphu.
Buddha Point: The newly built large statue of Buddha is one of the top visual priorities in Thimphu.
Drive east to Punakha takes about 3hrs. En-route, we stop to take the panoramic view of the Himalayan range from Dochula Pass (El. 3,050 m). We can take a short hike to Lunchutse Lhakhang for an hour in the forest exploring the nature. Descending from the Dochu-la Pas, visiting the Botanical Park Centre at Lamperi lets us know about the vegetation and habitats of the Park. Just before arriving in Punakha, we will take a short and easy walk for an hour. The hike to visit Chimi Lhakhang (No-dog temple), dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as ‘the Divine Madman’ and considered as folk hero in Bhutan for his unconventional ways.Camping in Punakha along the Mo-chu river
Road from Thimphu to Punakha: The drive from Thimphu to Punakha or Wangdue Phodrang (75kms) takes about 3 hrs. The road climbs from Thimphu to Dochula Pass (3,050m), descends through ever changing forest into the semi-tropical valley of Punakha and Wangdue at about 1250m. Dochula Pass en-route, provides spectacular snow-capped mountains views of Eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan’s one of the highest mountains (Gangkar Phuensum – 7570m), on clear days. The pass is marked by 108 stupas which were built in 2004 commemorating victory of Bhutanese Army over Indian group of militants; ULFAs, Bodos and KLOs.
Lungchutse Lhakhang: The hike of an hour to Lunchutse Lhakhang (El. 3600m) through the rhododendron and orchids in oak forest is a great time to explore and enjoy the nature. The temple was built two and half centuries ago, served as the seat of the Treasure Revealer, Drukda Dorji. He had prophesized the birth of great fourth monarch of Bhutan, His Majesty the king Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Her Majesty the queen Ashi Dorje Wangmo Wangckuck restored the temple along with 108 stupas at Dochu-la Pass in 2004.
Chimi Lhakhang: A fertility temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, a Tibetan Buddhist saint known popular as ‘the Divine Madman’ and considered a folk hero in Bhutan for his unconventional ways. Drukpa Kuenley originally built a black stupa at the site; the temple was later built in the 15th century by his half brother, Ngawang Chogyal. The temple, flanked by nearly 100 tall prayer flags, sits atop a picturesque hill. It has long been a pilgrimage site for childless couples. This easy walk takes about less than 1 hr.
Drive to the idyllic countryside north of Punakha and start a gradual hiking ascent through cultivated field and little hamlets to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a shrine recently built by the Royal family. The shrine is an amazingly elaborate structure with rainbow images of Guru Rinpoche and superb views of Punakha valley. The hike uphill takes about ½ hr and after return, instead of driving back we follow the ancient riverside trails, amid farm houses, through So-nga-gasa and arrive near Punakha Dzong. This walk back from Khamsum to Punakha Dzong is expected to take more 2hrs depending on the weather conditions. Visit impressive Punakha Dzong, an architectural masterpiece, located on the confluence of Pho and Mo Chu rivers. Lunch will be served either picnic or at the camp.Overnight in tent
Khamsum Yuelley: drive to the idyllic countryside north of Punakha to the village of Nyizergang, starting point for an hour gradual hiking ascent through cultivated fields and little hamlets to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a shrine recently built by the Royal family. The shrine is an amazingly elaborate structure with a rainbow of Guru Rinpochhe’s images of his thoughts and superb views of the Punakha valley. The hike uphill takes about 1 hour and return through different route following ancient river side trails amid white wash farmhouse and Aman Resort to Punakha Dzong.
Punakha Dzong: or Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, “ palace of great happiness” is located on the confluence of Pho-chu and Mo-chu Rivers. It was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in accordance to the prophecy of Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Master of the 7th century. The dzong still follows the ancient traditions; it serves as winter residence for chief abbot (Je-khenpo) and the monks of Central Monastic Body and Thimphu as the summer residence. The Building was damaged and rebuilt several times, due to flooding, fire and earthquake. It is an exemplary masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.
Drive for about 3 hours eastward through sub-tropical forest and few settlements to the Phobjikha valley. En-route visit the ruins of Wangdue Phodrang dzong which was burnt down in June 2012 and being built. This is an important wildlife conservation area within the Black Mountains National Park. This afternoon, visit Gangtey monastery and take a walk in the valley. You may be able to sight the rare and endangered species of crane (Black Necked Crane) in the mid fall season.Overnight in Phobjikha
Drive from Punakha to Phobjikha: The road follows the Punatsang-chu River till Wangdue Phodrang and turns east to the Phobjikha valley. Approximate distance of 75km from Punakha to Pobjikha takes about 3 hours. After Nobding, cross small pass called Laog-la (3360m) and descends into wide and beautiful valley of Phobjikha or Gangtey (El. 3000m).
Phobjikha Valley: (3000m) is a wide and beautiful valley, designated as conservation zone within the Black Mountains National Park, a natural habitat for wildlife, including nesting black-necked cranes from Central Asia (mid autumn till early spring). Because of the conservation measures, there is no electricity in the valley. The lodges use solar power cells to light which is turned off after the dinner. Hot water is provided in the bucket and rooms are heated with wooden stoves.
Gangtey Gompa Monastery: Site atop a hillock that overlooks the Phobjikha valley. It is headed by the ninth Gangtey Trulku (reincarnation) and is the largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan. It was founded in 1613 AD by Gyelse Pema Thinley, a grandson and reincarnation of influential treasure discoverer, Pema Lingpa. An incarnate line of Pema Thinley, representing the body aspects of Pema Lingpa, contrasted with mind and speech emanations. The monastery has been recently built and surrounding the monastery are village homes and hermitages.
Black-necked cranes: or ‘Thrung Thrung’ as this bird is passionately known in Bhutan which has become of the subjects of many Bhutanese songs and folklore. They are seen among the painting on the walls of temples and thangkas (scroll paintings). These endangered species of cranes migrate from Tibetan Plateau in late autumn and typically stay till mid March. The wetland in the center of Phobjikha valley provides the nesting ground and natural habitat for these black-necked cranes. The Observation & Education Centre has informative displays about the cranes and conservation effort in the valley.
Hike in Phobjikha: An hour and half easy walk across the hamlet, pine forest and valley will give an opportunity to spot Black Necked Cranes in the marshy land in mid October till early spring. The cranes migrate from the Tibetan Plateau in winter and back in early spring. The valley is the roosting place for cranes with meandering streams on which they fed on. On the opposite side of the valley is the Crane Information Centre.
Drive 185kms, 6 hours same way back to Paro across Dochu-la Pass, Wangchu and Pa-chu Rivers. Today is more flexible and time would be given upon to your interest with availability of time.Overnight in Paro
Paro: The wide Paro valley is one of the beautiful tourist spots with lot of sites and landscape. Green in summer and brown in fall, terraces with hamlets cover most of the valley along the Paro International Airport. The small town of Paro is comprised of three leveled buildings with authentic architecture of Bhutan, giving one impression of the country’s living culture in the 21st century.
Start early! As we will have now covered more grounds on foot and well acclimated, we hope to take a bit beyond what regular tourist generally cover. Drive to Sangchoekhor Goemba (El. 2750m), the starting point of a day trek to Bumdra.Overnight at camp, Bumdra
Bumdra: (El. 3900m) an easy trek to Bumdra takes about 3-4 hours through the pine forest. Walking in the woods along the ridge gives panoramic view of Mt. Jomolhari (7314m) in the north and the Paro valley in the south. Camping site at Bumdra in a meadow is marked with prayer flags and chorten or stupa. Later in the afternoon, visit the the Bumdra Lhakhang or the temple of thousand prayers and the cave where the Dakinis (celestial beings) had convened. On the clear days, further up (30 minutes walk) from the temple is the stunning view point of Mt Jomolhari.
Follow other trial to Taktsang and also visit some of the temples; Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo upon your interest. This special hike beyond Taktsang provides some rare view and look at the Taktsang and the valley. Return to Paro and visit Kyichu Lhakhang in the afternoon.Overnight in Paro
Ugyen Tsemo: from the view point overlooking Taktsang, another trail leads upwards to the summit. Here there are three temples highly venerated as well but not on the usual tourist route. Zangdopelri (named after Guru Rinpoche’s heavenly abode), built in 1853 sit of the summit of opposite ridge-across the chasm from Taktsang Pelphug. The small shrine and its balcony overlook provide view of Taktsang. Ozegang is nearby hermitage constructed in 1646. Higher still and on the summit of ridge directly above Taktsang Pelphug, sits Ugyen Tsemo. Ugyen refers to Taktsang and Tsemo means top or the head. The temple was originally built in 1508 and restored recently in 1958. It contains some beautiful frescoes of Guru Padmakara and his followers. The view from Ugyen Tsemo is astoundingly beautiful. A day excursion to higher ridge of Bumdra can be done from here.
Taktsang Monastery: Taktsang (Tiger’s lair) – or Taktsang Pelphug is one of the most venerated and famous of Bhutan’s monasteries. It is located on the face of a sheer 1000m cliff above the Paro valley. It is an impressive sight but accessible only by trek or pony. The walk to the Tea-house is a steep one hour uphill (about 350m ascent). From the Tea-house (2940m), one can get a close-up view of Taktsang and most actually return back from here. After tea, snacks and rest, we will trek further uphill to a high observation point (3140m), where there is a Chorten (stupa). Continue down the flight of cliff-hanging steps on the narrow trail to a beautiful waterfall that plunges down the chasm and alongside is a retreat hermitage. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the great Buddhist tantric master, who spread Buddhism across the entire Himalayas is said to have flown here in 8th century on the back of a Tigress. During his visit he meditated in the cave here for three months. In 1692, Gyesey Tenzin Rabgye built a two storey temple here, which over a period of time was expanded and refurbished. In April 1998, tragically, two of the three temples were completely burnt down by fire. It has now been restored to its original splendor.
Kyichu Lhakhang: is one of the most important Buddhist temples similar to Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, before the advent of Buddhism in Bhutan. Tibetan King, Songtsen Gempo built the temple in 7th century, in order to pin down an ogress, obstructing him in flourishing Buddhism in the Himalayas.
Trek Price - USD 2000