Day 1: Arrival Paro, Paro to Thimphu
Arrive paro by Druk Air, the only national carrier. The flight offers you view of mountains and landscapes. Upon arriving the Paro Valley and after completing visa formalities, you will be met by Gawaling Tours & Treks’ representative at the airport.
Visit to Ta Dzong, built in 17th century, as watchtower to defend Paro Dzong and the Paro valley. The fortress was later converted into the National Museum in 1968 by the Third King. It has a rich collections of antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and Bhutan’s renowned postage stamps. Below the Ta Dzong, is the fascinating Rinpung Dzong meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’, which is the seat of the Paro district built in 1645 by Shadrung Ngawang Namgyal. Drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The journey would take us one and half hours. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 2: Thimphu to Punakha
Distance: 75 km
Time: 2 1/2 hours
Drive over the DochuLa pass in the morning. On clear weather, we can see around 200 miles of Himalayan summits bordering northern Bhutan. As we descend from the pass, we will notice that the vegetation changes from sub-alpine to sub-tropical. At the lower elevation, we can see banana plants, cactus and other semi-tropical plants, and the green terraced rice fields of Punakha.
We begin our explorations of Punakha valley with a visit to Punakha Dzong, located between two rivers. It serves as the winter residence for the central monastic body. Next, visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and then take a hike to Chimi Lhakhang, the monastery dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley ” Divine Madman” knows for his outrageous behavior. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 3: Punakha to Bumthang
After breakfast, we drive to Bumthang crossing approx. 3,300m high Pele la pass; then we descent towards Chendebji Chorten, built in the 18th century and has a shape of that of Bodanath temple in Nepal. Then, we start our journey to Bumthang, located two and half hours towards east. We cross over the Yotongla Pass(3400m) and then descend to Chumi Valley where we can see a weaving center- where professional weavers weave well-patterned fabrics out of wool known as “yathra”.
On the way Visit # Prakar, or Pra, is a picturesque village in the Chhume valley, perched on a small plateau located at the curve of the river. The village composed of seven large stone houses, has easy access on foot from the main road (10mn walk). A feeder road has also connected the village since 2006. Prakar Ngatshang is a complex of temples and a mansion (ngatshang), which belongs to the lineage of religious lords, as a reminder of the time when the village of Prakar was the seat of the lords of Chhume Valley.Overnight in hotel.
Day 4: Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys: Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries and was the seat of the government until the reign of second king.
We will visit Jambay lhakhang- one of the two oldest monasteries built in Bhutan in the 7th century. Then we move on to visit Kurji Lhakhang- where one can see the body imprint of GURU RIMPOCHE. Next visit Tamshing Lhakhang, the treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings and visit Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley.
Afternoon we will make an excursion to see Mebar Tsho – burning lake. It is believed that Terton Pemalingpa had taken out a hidden treasure from the lake. Over night stay in Hotel.
Day 5: Bumthang to Phobjikha
Early morning breakfast and drive to Phobjikha, by pass we will visit the Trongsa Dzong- the biggest/longest fortresses in Bhutan and the watchtower located above the Trongsa market. And then proceed to Gangtey Gonpa, the seat of the Ngyingmapa Buddhism, one of the religious sects in Bhutan. The present reincarnate is the 9th descendant of Terton Pemalingpa. We will visit Gangtey Gonpa monastery and take a stroll around the Phobjikha Valley. This place serves as the wintering place for endangered black-necked cranes migrating from Tibet from November to February to escape harsh winter there. The road to Gangtey passes through dense forests and oak, rhododendron tress and is beautiful. Overnight at a Guest House.
Day 6: Phobjikha to Thimphu
Drive towards Thimphu. Visit
# Traditional handmade Paper Factory- Where you can see the tradition of paper making in Bhutan is still preserved.
# Memorial Chorten- was built in 1974 by Ashi Phuntsho choden in the memory of 3rd King of Bhutan.
# Changangkha Lhakhang/monastery- built in 14th century
# Mini Takin zoo – whre you can see the nazional animal of Bhutan, Takin.
# Kuensel phodrang- Where you can see the 169 feet tall statue of Buddha Dordema.
Overnight stay in Hotel.
Day 7: Thimphu to Paro
Drive towards Paro, Visit,
Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the two oldest monasteries built in Bhutan by the King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and most sacred monasteries of Bhutan.
Then, we drive towards the north to see the Drukgyel Dzong, in ruins. It was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1649 to commemorate a victory over the Tibetan forces. Unfortunately the fortress was destroyed by fire and was never rebuilt. On clear weather, we will be able to see Mt. Chomolhari from the Drukgyal Dzong. Overnight stay in Hotel.
Day 8: Hike to Tiger's Nest
Paro is a valley of religion and myth. The most famous landmark, the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), stands on a granite cliff about 800m above the valley. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist saint, flew to Paro on a tigress and meditated at Taktsang. The monastery is considered as a national treasure of Bhutan.
The hike to Taktsang would take us around two and half hours. To reach a cafeteria, a point from where one can enjoy a great view of the monastery is more than an hour walk from the road-head uphill. Those interested can walk further 45 minutes uphill to get a closer view of the monastery and return to the cafeteria for lunch. The journey downward to the road-head would take us less than one and half hours.
Day 9: Departure
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for departure.