DAY 1: Airport of Departure / PARO
Departure to PARO in Butan, transit in Dacca .
DAY 2: PARO ARRIVAL
Your introduction to our enchanting kingdom begins on a flight over the Himalayas into the lush green valley of Paro; truly one of the world’s most spectacular sights. Flying into Paro, Bhutan is a unique experience altogether. You will view the world’s highest, most majestic peaks and enjoy the view of the approaching valley with its primeval alpine forest, monasteries, temples and farmhouses nestled in splendid mountain isolation.
After Lunch : Visit the museum (Ta Dzong). This was once the watchtover for the Rinpung Dzong. Visit the Paro Rinpong Dzong. This is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The Dzong was built in 1645 A.D. Visit Dungtse Lhakhang, a temple with interesting architecture built in the form of a chörten. It contains one of the most beautiful collections of paintings in all the country. It is characteristic of the school Drukpa Kagyu. Evening : Stroll through tshongdue town.
DAY 3: PARO TO HAA
Haa is the western-most valley in Bhutan bordering on the Tibet region of China. The valley is traversed by the Haa Chhu (river) and its characteristic features are the three al- most conical shaped hillocks considered to be holy by the local people. The first hillock is dedicated to Ap Chhundu, the supreme local protective deity of Haa. Early morning drive to Chelela Pass. The drive is a gentle uphill climb through forests of blue pine, fir, oak and rhodendrons till the Chelela Pass. The pass is at an elevation of 3810 m. Stop at the pass for a panoramic view of the northern and western Himalayan mountain ranges as well as Haa and Paro Valleys. Tea at the pass. Continue to the Haa valley. From the Chelela Pass drive down- hill for 24 Km to the Haa valley and the Haa township. Overnight.
DAY 4: HAA TO PUNAKHA/WANGDUE
After breakfast you will have a five-hour drive from Haa to Punakha. The drive from Haa to Punakha follows the Haa river winding through the hills passing several small villages and local temples until the confluence of the Thimphu and Paro river. Just before the confluence, visit Dobje Dzong located on a hillock between Paro and Haa. From the confluence take the road along the Thimphu river valley untill Semtokha from where the road diverts to Dochula Pass (3150 meter pass), which in good weather provides a 180- degree panorama of distant Himalayan summits.
As you descend from the pass, observe dramatic changes in vegetation. At the lower elevations, semi-tropical plants dominate the exotic landscape. In the evening, visit Chime Lhakhang in the valley of Lobesa. Chhi-Med (means no dogs) Lhakhang in the picturesque Lobesa valley. The temple is dedicated to the famous saint, Drukpa Kunley, affectionately known as the Divine Madman. The phallic paintings on the exterior walls
of Bhutanese houses are attributed to the Divine Madman for his skill in warding off evil deities using ribald sexuality and outrageous behavior.
Overnight at the Wangdue Eco-lodge
DAY 5: PUNAKHA-WANGDUE VALLEYS
After breakfast, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong (fortress-monastery), situated at the confluence of the Phochu and the Mochu Rivers. This huge fortress was built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan, and served as the national capital until 1966. This is the seat of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot.
After lunch you will hike through a small village on the edge of the Pochu (male river) to visit the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Monastery, a stupa built in unconventional Bhutanese architecture.
In the evening, drive along the Phochu valley to seek out sighting of the rare and critically endangered White-bellied Heron.
Overnight at the Wangdue Eco-lodge
DAY 6: PUNAKHA TO PHOBJIKHA
Drive to Phobjikha valley. The drive follows the high- way to Nobding, which is 40 km away from where you will divert onto a 13 km unpaved track crossing over the Gangtey Pass (3140 m), and then drop into the Phobjikha Valley.
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the northwestern tip of Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. The valley is a conservation area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. The Phobjikha Valley is one of the roosting grounds of the black- necked cranes (grus nigri collies). Each year in winter the birds migrate from Tibet and Siberia. People some- times refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. According to legend the Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson (the mind incarnation) of Pema Lingpa Gyalse Pema Thinley in 1613. Now it is the seat of Gagtey Truelku, one of the incarnations of Pema Lingpa, which was recently renovated. This monastery has one of the most elaborate and beautiful carvings and paintings in the country. Visit the Gangtey Goempa and then hike across the valley.
The hike starts below Gangtey Gompa. The first part of the walk is downhill for about 30 minutes to the Khewa Chu stream that meanders through Phobjik- ha valley. From Khewa village the trail leads through open meadows to the Khewa Lhakhang built in the 13th century by the decedents of Saints Khuen- khen Longchen Rabjampa. The Khewa Temple houses about 30 young monks. Meet with Khenpo, the head of the monastery, and enjoy a cup of tea. Take a short hike to visit the village of Gophu and visit a Bhutanese farmhouse for an authentic Bhutanese style lunch.
The walk will end at the village school before reaching the Phobjikha village town. Afternoon: Explore the Phobjikha valley and visit the Black-necked Crane Center for brief on the valley and its ecological significance as a RAMSAR site.
Evening walk to the Black-necked Crane Roosting Area.
Overnight in Phobjiha Farm house
DAY 7: PHOBJIKHA TO THIMPHU
Visit the Textile Museum, which has on display some fabulously intricate and rare hand- woven textiles that are one of Bhutan’s specialties. Visit the Zorig Chuksum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts” (Morning only). Visit Trashichhodzong, the Central Secretariat of the Royal Government. Visit Buddha Point, which is a newly built giant statue of Buddha located above Thimphu town. Short hike overlooking Thimphu city end the day excursion.
Overnight in Namgay Heritage, Thimphu.
DAY 8: THIMPHU TO PARO
After breakfast, drive to Dodeyna and take a short hike to Tango Buddhist University or Chari Meditation Centre in preparation for a hike up to the Tiger’s nest. Visit the monastery and interact with the students.
After lunch, visit the Post Office and folk heritage museum.
Drive to Paro in the evening and enroute visit Tamchoe lhakhang with the iron bridge.
Overnigth in Rema Resport Paro.
DAY 9: PARO VALLEY EXCURSION
Take a hike to Taktshang Monastery early morning. The hike will have a duration of about 5 hrs round trip. Taktsang Goemba (Tiger’s Nest Monas- tery) is perched on a steep rock face at 2927 m. or 9,678 ft. This is one of the most important pilgrim- age places in Bhutan. Legend says that the great saint Padma Sambhava, known as the second Bud- dha in Bhutan, came here in the 8th century on a flying tigress who was actually his favorite consort, Yeshe Tsogyel. The great Saint came to Bhutan to subdue demons that were trying to stop the spread of Buddhism. The cave where the Guru meditated in 8th century can be still seen under the main temple. Lunch at the Taktshang Cafeteria overlooking the resplendent Paro valley. On descent from Taktsang Monastery, drive up the valley to visit the Drugyel Dzong, a ruined fortress. The dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. On a clear day this spot offers a magnificent vista of Mount Jumolhari, which means ‘Mountain of Goddess’ (Alt. 7329 m). The houses surrounding are interesting to explore. There is also a care center for the local elderly.
Visit Kichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest temples built by Tibetan king Songtshen Gempo in the 7th century. You will find elderly people here praying and spinning prayer wheels, as this is a part of their normal day. Evening: Relax with a hotstone bath at the hotel.
Overnight in Rema Resort, Paro
DAY 10: HOMEBOUND and END of The trip