13-Day ESSENCE OF BHUTAN TOUR/TREK



Essence of Bhutan

A fascinating journey to the heart of the Dragon Kingdom including a 5-day cultural trek in a remote and spectacularly beautiful part of this pristine country  and day hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
 
TRIP LENGTH : 13 Days/12nights - GROUP SIZE:  2 - 12 people 
  MEALS INCLUDED:  12 breakfasts, 12 lunches & 12 dinners   -  TRIP GRADE:  Easy touring/moderate walk/trek
TRIP TYPE : Led by experienced tour/trek guide and packs carried by trekking ponies

Departure Dates and Prices on Request
 

 
OVERVIEW

Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, nestled deep between India and China (Tibet), is completely landlocked by the world’s tallest peaks. It is no ordinary place. A mysterious kingdom where buying cigarettes is illegal, where the rice is red and where chilies aren’t just a seasoning but the entire dish. 

The country’s character is underpinned by a culture rooted in its traditional past and one that has thrived in isolation from the rest of the world. More notably it is a country that measures prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels, not by gross domestic product.
With a nation that is so untouched and the doors to this unique country only open to a small number of tourists each year, now is definitely the time to visit whilst tourist numbers are still low and culture, tradition and mythical beliefs are still so deeply etched within the people.
 
ACCOMMODATION
 

  • 8 nights hotel accommodation with private facilities on a twin share basis (single supplement available on request)
  • 4 nights in tented camp with spacious tents and all bedding provided

HIGHLIGHTS

Day 1/Night 1
ARRIVE PARO 2256m – DRIVE TO THIMPHU  

Nearing Bhutan and arriving into Paro you will see the massive peaks of the eastern Himalaya, including Kangchenjunga, (the third highest mountain in the world) and Jumolhari in Bhutan.  

You will be transferred by road to Thimpu – the capital city. Key highlights include:

  • The Memorial Chorten. A large stupa built in the memory of the Third King.
  • The Folk Heritage Museum. This old traditional house showcases Bhutan’s village houses and lifestyle. This was opened under the Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother.
  • The Textile Museum. This museum, also under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, showcases Bhutan’s textile arts and has a great collection of the arts through Bhutan’s history.
  • The Takin Zoo. The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and is on the endangered species list of animals. They are a curious mix of goat, cow and yak.
  • The Thangthong Nunnery. This nunnery sits atop a hill overlooking the valley below and enrolls women of all ages to study the Buddhist scriptures.
  • The Tashicho Dzong. A great fortress and seat of the  Government. It houses the offices of His Majesty the King, the Government and Monk Body


Day 2/Night 2
PUNAKHA 1372m

Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan. The Punakha valley is dominated by the impressive Dzong, which sits at the confluence of the Mo (female) and Po (male) rivers. Built by Shabdrung in 1637, this dzong is one of the most impressive in Bhutan. It houses some of the country’s most sacred relics, including Shabdrung’s preserved remains. The Central Monk Body moves from Thimphu to Punakha every winter as the lower elevation is more temperate.


Day 3/Night 3
PHOBJIKHA VALLEY/GANGTEY 

The pituresque valley of Phobjikha is the winter home of the Black Neck crane and the largest private monastery in the country. The Cranes are an endangered species and it is estimated there are only about 800 left in the World. They fly to Tibet for the summer and return to Bhutan in Nov through Feb. The valley also has a Crane information centre that one can visit. The Phobjikha valley is known for is wind swept valley and has a number of wonderful day hikes.  

Day 4/Night 4
TRONGSA 2195m 

The Town of Trongsa is small but was significant in the past due to its central location and the trade route. En route one can stop by the Cnedebji Chorten a large stupa, which was to be a replica of the Boudha Chorten in Nepal, but the architect had the image drawn on a radish and when the radish dried and shrank so did the scales and thus the stupa is smaller than the original. The Crown Prince of Bhutan assumes the title of Trongsa Penlop (much like the Price of Wales) before he ascends the throne. The museum at Trongsa is World Class and has a wonderful collection of items through History and a short documentary on the history of Bhutan.

Day 5/Night 5
START TREK: HIKE TO KASIPHEY MONASTERY 2682m – Walking approx 5 – 6 hours 

Today we meet our horsemen and camp crew and embark on the first stage of our trek.

As we gain elevation, we have views of the valley interspersed with hiking in dense oak forests.  The trail takes us over the Dhemlay La Pass at 3,048 metres with beautiful views of the entire Nubchutey area from the pass.


Day 6/Night 6
DRONGTHANG 2621m – Walking approx 5 – 6 hours  

The walk today starts with a descent to the river with stunning views of terraced fields and ancient farmhouses along the way. We hike along the Mangdu Chu River and then take a winding uphill trail past an old chorten to the village of Drongthang, our home for the next two nights.  After settling in, we can explore the village, and enjoy a chat with the village headman.  

Day 7/Night 7
DRONGTHANG
 

The name of the village is derived from the name of the National Animal of Bhutan, called the “takin”.  It is believed that hundreds of takins resided in the meadow where the village is located.  The village is divided into upper and lower and we camp in the middle with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Today is a great opportunity to mingle with the local villagers. We will visit a home to see how the local brew called “ara” is made. Tonight there will be a celebration in our honour with traditional songs and dances by our new villager friends.  Of course, we will be requested to join in the fun. 


Day 8/Night 8
DRONGTHANG TO BEMJI 2530m – Walking approx 5 – 6 hours 

Today’s hike is a gentle downhill one to the Mangdu Chu River.  Along the way we pass through several small hamlets and terraced fields overlooking the river and its valley. After lunch at a scenic overlook, we gradually make our way up to the village of Bemji with its lovely manor house.  Here we camp in the schoolyard.  If we’re lucky, some school children will visit our camp and regale us with their pretty voices and traditional songs.   

Day 9/Night 9
BJIZAM/ DRIVE TO BUMTHANG – Walking approx 5 – 6 hours  

Those who want can attend the morning assembly at the school and listen to the students sing the Bhutan national anthem. We can also visit them in their classrooms briefly before we head out on the trail.  We first descend to the river, and cross to the opposite bank and side of the valley. Rounding the mountain-side, we drop into the valley and the village of Bjizam.  Here our vehicles await us and after enjoying a relaxing picnic lunch we drive to Bumthang.

Day 10/ Night 10
BUMTHANG
 2987m

Bumthang is noted as one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan (Bumthang literally translates to “Beautiful Valley”). Its history is hallowed by numerous visits from Padmasambhava as he brought the Buddha’s message to Bhutan.  He meditated in many local caves that now have temples and shrines dedicated to him. 

Kurje Lhakhang, a 17th-century temple, now features a spectacular new monastery built in traditional style.  From Kurje, we begin our rambles through the countryside, crossing a footbridge over rushing Chamkhar Chu and wending our way through the ripening paddy fields to Tamshing.  Tamshing was founded in 1501 by Pemalingpa, “the treasure discoverer.”  Pemalingpa was a famous 14th-century blacksmith from Bumthang who is one of Bhutan's most revered Buddhist saints and teachers.  We end our walk with a visit to the Swiss Project – an industrious complex producing cheese, beer, apple juice, and honey.

We also visit Membartsho, the “burning lake,” a sacred place associated with Pemalingpa. Membartsho is not actually a lake but rather a water-worn defile in a granite streambed where the water moves slowly.  Legend has it that Pemalingpa, inspired by a vision in which Padmasambhava instructed him to retrieve a ter, or hidden treasure, from this spot, dove into the water holding a butter lamp (which miraculously stayed lit under water) and returned with texts and treasures of the Guru. Pemalingpa was one of the greatest tertons (treasure finders).

Day 11/Night 11
PARO  

This morning we fly back to Parowhere we visit the magnificent Paro Rimpung Dzong.  Bhutan’s dzongs originally served three purposes: as a fortress, an administrative centre of local government, and a residence and focus for the monks’ religious activity. Time permitting; we can also visit Kyichu Lhakhang (lhakhang means “temple”).  Kyichu is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan (the other being Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang) built around 750 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.  The king pledged to build l08 temples to the Buddha during his lifetime, many of which were demon-subduing temples. 

Day 12/Night 12
PARO – HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST 

Today we hike to one of the most scared of the Buddhist temples. Taktsang Lhakhang, the Tiger’s Nest. This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 610 metres above the valley floor. The legend of Taktsang dates from 747 ce, when Guru Rinpoche, in the wrathful form, arrived here on the back of a tiger and subdued the evil spirits of the region. The guru then meditated in a holy cave, the present-day site of the Pelphug Lhakhang. According to Tantric Buddhist mythology, the vanquished local deities became protectors of the dharma and one, Singye Samdrup, is recognized as the guardian of Taktsang.                 

Day 13
DEPART PARO 

Although your journey to Bhutan comes to an end, the memories of this impressive Kingdom will never leave you.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A BOOKING:

PHONE: +61 402 910 552

EMAIL: Glenyce Johnson glenycej@wanderingtheworld.com.au

VISIT: www.wanderingtheworld.com.au

Full booking conditions and payment details available on request.

Wandering the World specialises in creating and tailoring exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays in some of the most beautiful places on earth. This includes both escorted small group and self-guided trips, as well as individually tailored itineraries for privately organised trips. 

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