Find out what lights up the faces of the residents of Bhutan, the only country in the world that measures its well-being in GNH – Gross National Happiness. On a 10-day adventure across this bastion of Buddhist culture, explore remote mountain villages and shrines and climb magnificent heights to the cliff-side Taktsang Monastery, 900 metres (2,953 feet) above the valley floor. Amid the soaring peaks and cultural delights of this ancient place, discover your own capacity for happiness.
Arrive at any time and transfer to hotel. Later, enjoy a welcome dinner and visit Rimpung Dzong, a school for monks, and take an orientation walk in the town.
In clear weather, the flight over the Himalayas offers magnificent views of the world's highest peaks as they give way to the lush green Paro valley. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step off the plane. After clearing customs and visa control, we'll be met by our local CEO who will conduct our welcome meeting and orientation. Later, enjoy dinner and visit Rimpung Dzong, a school for monks, and take a walk through the town.
Drive to Punakha, crossing the Dochula Pass and enjoying stunning views of the Himalayas through flickering prayer flags.
After breakfast, drive through dense forests of blue pine, oak, and rhododendrons and enjoy views of the Himalayan range and the valley beyond. After a lunch stop, the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass at 3,050m (10,007 ft). After stopping here for tea and panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha.
Enjoy a full day of exploration including a visit to Punakha Dzong, and hikes to Chime Lhakhang and Wangdue Phodrang. In the afternoon, hike through rice terraces and forests to Khamsum Yueley Chorten.
Visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, located between the rivers of the Mo (female) Chu and Pho (male) Chu. Drive to Lobeysa and hike another 20 min to Chime Lhakhang, temple of the “Divine Madman,” built in 1499. Today it is mostly visited by women, as it is known as a temple of fertility.
Walk back to the road and then drive a short distance to Wangdue for a visit to the Wangdue Phodrang. We'll continue on to the suspension bridge and hike through rice terraces, fields, and deep pine forest to Khamsum Yueley Chorten, where the view is superb. Descend until we reach the suspension bridge and the return to the hotel.
Travel to Gangtey, visiting the village of Khewa en route. This evening, visit a local family's farm for a cooking demonstration and home cooked dinner.
Walk to the monastery of Gangtey Goempa, known to hold the most sacred relics in Bhutan. After walk across Phobjikha Valley to Khewa Valley, where we'll visit an old temple and make an offering.
The valley is also a centre for crane observation run by the RSPN (Royal Society for the Protection of Nature), an NGO striving to protect Bhutan's environment, flora, and fauna. At certain times of the year, it is possible to spot these magnificent birds.
Drive to the capital to visit the National Library, Memorial Chorten, and the Institute for Zorig Chusum, an arts and crafts school where we can watch students practicing traditional arts such as woodworking, painting, and ceramics. Meet with a Buddhist monk and scholar to discuss Buddhist beliefs and way of life, as well as values in Bhutan.
Drive to the Haa Valley, one of the most remote and sacred valleys in Bhutan, via the Chelela Pass. En route, hike to Kila Goempa Nunnery, which clings to a rocky cliff. Drive to the valley and visit Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple), and Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple).
Return to Paro and visit the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong fortress.
Embark on a vigorous hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger's Nest), the most venerated pilgrim site of the Himalayan world. The view is absolutely stunning, with the monastery clinging to a cliff face towering 2,953m above the valley. Later, visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple and the local archery grounds.
Depart at any time. Airport transfer included.
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Trip Name: Wonders of Bhutan
Duration: 10 Days
From Price: $4,299
Supplier Tour ID: ADWNG/155165
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