Day 1 Arrival, Transfer to Thimphu, o/n Thimphu
Day 2 Thimphu Exploration. o/n Thimphu
Day 3 Transfer to Punakha. Dochula, Punakha Dzong, o/n Punakha
Day 4 Transfer to Paro. Chimi Lhakhang en route, o/n Paro
Day 5 Bumdra Trek, o/n Bumdra camping
Day 6 Bumdra to Paro, o/n Paro
Day 7 International Departure
Day 1: Arrival in Paro. Transfer to Thimphu
Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatize to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and lets have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some light sight-seeing in Thimphu if possible.
Takin enclosure – See the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin.
National Memorial Chorten – which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk
Centenary Farmers’ Market – Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products.
Day 2: Thimphu exploration
Heritage Museum – Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artifacts used in rural households.
Textile Museum – witnesses the art of traditional weaving.
Thimphu Dzong – the largest Dzong, houses the throne room of the King of Bhutan.
National Memorial Chorten – which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Paper making factory – witnesses the art of traditional paper making.
Day hike to Tango or Cheri Monastery is an option.
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha
We will head on to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan in the morning. The roads bring visitors through scented pine and cedar forests, festooned with hanging lichen. The Punakha river is one of the biggest rivers in Bhutan. During spring and winter, the color of the river turns jade and is beautiful.
Dochula Pass – the 108 chortens was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the soldiers lost.
Punakha Dzong – Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid example of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture.
Drive time: two and a half hours
Day 4: Punakha to Paro
Paro Valley- The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Jomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.
Paro Dzong- also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzongkhag.
Ta Dzong- Built as a watch tower the Ta Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Drive time 4 hours
Day 5: Paro – Bumdra Trek
Hike from Sang Choekor Buddhist College (2,800m) to Yak Pasture below Bumdra Monastery (3,800m). The adventure begins with an early morning drive up to the Sang Choekor to meet our ponies and while they are being loaded we may pay our respects at the College. The initial 1–2 hour ascent of a ridge, which is steep at times though also in cool shade, brings us to a clearing with prayer flags and view down into both the Paro and Do Chhu valleys.
Above and ahead the Lung Chhoe Tse Lhakhang (temple) nestles in the mountainside 1-2 hours walk away. The trail undulates for a while before the last steep pull up to the pretty temple which boasts commanding views south over Paro airport and from its own hot stone bath northwards to the snow capped Himalaya. After a final 20 minutes climb through ruins and fluttering prayer flags, with a last glance southwards we plunge back into ancient forest traversing for about 40 minutes then come out onto a high wide meadow dotted with sacred chortens and prayer flags.
Our home for the night is tucked in under Bumdra Monastery (cave of a thousand prayers) making the most of the awesome views of the Himalayan range. After lunch we can visit the monastery (if it is occupied) and also climb the peak to the north (about 4000m) for even better views, returning in time for a slap up dinner.
Duration: 3 – 4 hours to camp 2-3 hours optional return trek to peak.
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard depending on one’s fitness level
Day 6: Paro – Hike back to Bumdra
After a hearty breakfast in the jaw dropping landscape and Himalayan mountain view, it is time to either head straight back into the valley or linger awhile soaking up the view and perhaps hang some prayer flags of our own. Eventually we have to drop back into the ancient pine and rhododendron forest on the monks’ winding trail. After 1-2 hours of descent we catch glimpses of the golden roofs of temples below and soon come upon the first of many on our way back from the wilds. The path snakes across the mountainside between the monasteries and temples before reaching the gardens of Zangtopelri (Heaven on Earth) from which you can bravely peer over edge and straight down onto the ornate roofs Taktshang in the cliff far below. An hour later and we are at the gates of Taktshang looking across the gorge a steep descent to a waterfall then ascent on steps and you are passing into the Tiger’s Nest itself.
Day 7: Depart Paro