13 days An Exclusive Expedition through the Mystical Dragon Kingdom

An Exclusive Expedition through the Mystical Dragon Kingdom

This tour is designed for those who are not only keen to experience Bhutan’s distinctive culture and the glorious Paro Tshechu festival but for those who are also enthusiastic about exploring Bhutan’s superb Druk Path Trek through the beautiful forests in the foothills of the great Himalayas.

Day 1 : 7 April 2017 - PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - PARO (L/D)

Upon arrival at Paro International airport, you will be met by your guide.

After lunch, you will visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”), the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

In the evening, explore the beautiful town of Paro.

Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Uma Resort in Paro.

Day 2 : 8 April 2017 - ATTEND THE PARO TSHECHU FESTIVAL (B/L/D)

Festivals or tshechu are held every year in various temples, monasteries and dzongs (fortresses) across Bhutan. It is mainly a religious event celebrated on the 10th day of the month of the Lunar Calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, an 8th century Buddhist teacher.

The Paro Tshechu is held every spring and is one of the most colourful and biggest festivals in the Paro district. It has been held annually since the 17th century when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the state of Bhutan, and Penlop Rigzin Nyingpo initiated the festival together with the consecration of Paro Dzong in 1644. The festival is observed in three parts – the pre-festival rituals on the first day, ceremonies on the second day inside the Paro Dzong, and the main festival at the festival ground for three days. Bhutanese from all walks of life in their finery come to attend this fantastic five-day festival.

Early in the morning on the last day of the celebration the monks display a gigantic thangka (embroidered painting) of the Guru Thongdol inside the dzong. Thongdols are especially impressive examples of Buddhist art and never fail to amaze viewers. They are considered so sacred that simply seeing a Thongdol is said to cleanse the viewer from sin.

After an early breakfast, attend the first day of the 5-day Paro Tshechu festival, which is held inside the courtyard of Paro Rinpung Dzong. The Paro Tshechu is one of the most popular Tshechu festivals in Bhutan. You will get an opportunity to witness masked dance-dramas of this typical Buddhist festival. Be amongst throngs of Bhutanese from the Paro valley and from outlying villages of Bhutan – all dressed in their traditional finery. Witness the age-old, wonderfully colourful and esoteric religious masked dance-dramas performed by specially trained groups of Buddhist monks.

Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Uma Resort in Paro.

Day 3 : 9 April 2017 - TAKTSANG MONASTERY OR TIGER’S NEST (B/L/D)

After an early breakfast, drive about 16km from Paro to visit Drugyal Dzong (a ruined fortress). Although it is now in ruins, this dzong has great historical importance for the people of Bhutan. It was a place where the Bhutanese finally defeated the Tibetan invasion. On a clear day one can view sacred Mt. Jomolhari (Mountain of Goddess).

We will then drive you to the trail head to take a breathtaking and memorable hike through beautiful pine forest. You will stop for light refreshments at the Taktsang cafeteria before walking on to the Taktsang monastery or Tiger’s Nest. The primary Lhakhang or main temple was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in the east. Hiking to this sacred monastery will not only reward you with blessings but also be able to get acclimatized before you embark on the 6-day Druk Path Trek.

Later in the afternoon, you will have an opportunity to visit the 7th century old Kyichu lhakhang. This temple is one of the oldest lhakhangs to have been built in Bhutan. It is one of the 108 lhakhangs built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD. The king is said to have built 108 lhakhangs in a day throughout the Himalayan regions, of which Kyichu lhakhang in Paro and Jampa lhakhang in Bumthang are two. Most of the remaining lhakhangs can be seen in Tibet. Kyichu lhakhang was originally a small structure at the time of its establishment. Owing to Jowo (Buddha) as its main statue, the lhakhang was also known as Jowo lhakhang.

Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Uma Resort in Paro.

Day 4 : 10 April 2017 -  PARO – JILI DZONG (B/L/D)
(Trek distance: 7 km, 4-5hrs, 1090m ascent, camp altitude 3480m)

This amazing six day trek is the most popular trek in the country as it passes through a gorgeous natural landscape of blue pine forests, high ridges and pristine lakes while at the same time offering the opportunity to visit some ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and villages.

The Druk Path is also a relatively easy hike to undertake as the distances between rest camps are fairly short. The trail takes you through forests of fir, blue pine and dwarf rhododendrons at altitudes ranging between 2400-4200m. On the third day, hikers will arrive at Jigmelang Tsho Lake, whose crystal clear waters are home to gigantic trout.

This trek also offers hikers stunning views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest un-scaled peak in the world.

This 6-day Druk Path Trek beginsat the National Museum (Ta-Dzong). The first day can be quite arduous as you have to climb more than 1,000m. The trek follows a gravel road past a few farms for about 30 minutes and then climbs up a steep ridge before leading through blue pine and fir forests to Damche Gom. Once you reach the ridge below Jili Dzong you descend about 100m to the camp site below the dzong. If the weather is clear, the Paro valley and the high snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas can be seen.

Dinner and overnight luxury camping at Jili Dzong.

Day 5 : 11 April 2017 - JILI DZONG – JANGCHU LAKHA (B/L/D)
(Trek distance: 10 km, 4-5hrs, 310m ascent, 50m descent, camp altitude 3770 m)

Today’s trek starts with a short and steep climb for about an hour and a half, and then the slope evens out a bit and the ascent is more gradual passing through a thick alpine forest of rhododendron till we reach our overnight camp. You may see herders and their yaks around your campsite.

Dinner and overnight luxury camping at Jangchulakha.

Day 6 : 12 April 2017 – JANGCHU LAKHA – JIMELANGTSHO (B/L/D)
(Trek distance: 11km, 4hrs, 230m descent, 330m ascent, camp altitude 3870m)

After breakfast, we follow a trail along the ridge of the mountains and on a clear day you can get stunning views of the mountains and valleys. Our overnight camp is close to Lake Jigmelang Tsho. This lake is known for its giant sized trout, and if you are lucky you may enjoy well-prepared trout for dinner.

Dinner and overnight luxury camping near Jigmelang Tsho.

Day 7 : 13 April 2017 - JIMELANGTSHO – SIMKOTRA TSHO (B/L/D)
(Trek distance: 11km, 4hrs, 820m ascent, 400m descent, camp altitude 4110m)

The trail today goes through large areas of dwarf rhododendron trees and past Janetsho Lake. Once again, you may come across some yak herder camps where you will get the opportunity to get a glimpse of a nomad’s life.

Dinner and overnight camping near Simkotra Tsho Lake.

Day 8 : 14 April 2017 - SIMKOTRA – PHAJODHING (B/L/D)
(Trek distance: 10km, 3-4hrs, 130m ascent, 680m descent, camp altitude 3750m).

Today’s trek begins with a gradual climb and if the weather permits you will get a spectacular view of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan and several other Himalayan peaks. From this pass, the trek takes you gradually downhill towards Phajodhing, where a monastery and meditation retreat centre is located.

Dinner and overnight luxury camping above Phajodhing Monastery.

Day 9 : 15 April 2017 - PHAJODHING – MOTITHANG (B/L/D)
(Trek istance 4-5km, 3hrs, 1130m descent)

After passing Phajodhing monastery the trek to Thimphu (Motithang), is downhill through a forested area of mostly blue pine. The walk, at a leisurely pace, takes about three hours.
On the way, visit the mini zoo to see Bhutan’s endangered national animal the Takin at close hand.

In the evening, visit the Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body which includes the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).

Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu

Day 10 : 16 April 2017 – THIMPHU (B/L/D)

After breakfast at your hotel, you will visit the Memorial Chorten, dedicated to the late Third King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and then drive to Kuenselphodrang to where the Giant Buddha (believed to be the world’s tallest Buddha statue) is being built.

You will then visit the National Institute of Zorigchusum (Institute of 13 arts and crafts), the Royal Textiles Academy and other handicraft shops for souvenir shopping if you wish.

You will have free time to explore Thimphu city.

Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu

Day 11 : 17 April 2017 - THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (B/L/D)

After breakfast, drive to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan. On the way, stop at the Dochula pass (3140m) to see the spectacular array of Druk Wangyal chortens (stupas), to enjoy the superb view over the snow capped Himalayan Mountains and to see the Gasa Dzong at a distance if the weather if clear. Your journey then continues through varying scenes of greenery all the way to Punakha.

After lunch, walk a little along the terraced farmlands and farm houses to visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kunley (the Devine Madman) in the 15th century. He subdued the demoness with his “magical thunderbolt”. The temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.

Later visit the impressive Punakha Dzong which lies between two great rivers the Pho Chu (Male River) and the Mo Chu (Female River). The Punakhas Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body and also the office of the district administration.

Dinner and enjoy a relaxing overnight at the deluxe Dhensa Resort in Punakha.

Day 12 : 18 April 2017 - PUNKAHA – THIMPHU – PARO (B/L/D)

After an early breakfast, drive about 7 km from Punakha and cross the suspension bridge over the Mochu River before walking approximately 30-45 minutes to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten (Stupa) which is perched on a strategic ridge overlooking the nearby villages under Kabisa geog. It was built under the sponsorship of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangden Wangchuck to remove evil forces and promote peace, stability and harmony throughout the world. As the first of its kind in the world to have been constructed, the details and the architectural designs were drawn from scriptures as visualized by Dudjom Lingpa.
Later drive to Paro with the journey taking about 4 hours via the Dochula Pass. Stop here for lunch at the Druk Wangyal cafe.
You will have free time to explore Paro in the evening.

Dinner and enjoy a relaxing overnight at the deluxe Zhiwaling Hotel in Paro.

Day 13 : 19 April 2017 -  PARO - PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (B)

After breakfast at your hotel, drive to Paro International Airport where your guide will accompany you to bid you farewell.

Cost Information

Numtber of days: 13 days, 12 nights (6 days trekking, 1 day festival and 6 days cultural sightseeing with hiking and short walking tour)
Price:
US$ 8,330 single per person
US$ 5,980 twin/double per person
US$ 5,615 triple per person