Summary : Bhutan adventure travel is the experience of a lifetime. In a country where they’ve adopted the concept of Gross National Happiness and where snowcapped peaks are set off by ornate temples and colorful houses, journey where few travelers have gone before. Your Himalayas expedition includes nature hikes, interactions with local people, and wildlife viewing—glimpse the Himalayan black bear and the black-necked cranes from Tibet. This is a pilgrimage back in time to places where determined people live close to the heavens and keep their traditions alive.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart on your independent flight to Bangkok. Arrive late the next day and transfer to the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel.
After breakfast and a short orientation, explore Bangkok at your leisure and enjoy lunch and dinner on your own.
Depart this morning on your flight to Paro, then drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital and largest city. After lunch get a good sense of Bhutanese politics and religion as you tour the Thimphu Dzong. If time permits, visit the handicraft emporium to shop for masks, jewelry, and hand-woven textiles and carpets. Dinner and overnight at Namgay Heritage Hotel.
After a scenic drive over Dochu-la Pass to the Punakha Valley, check into the Punatsang Chu Resort and enjoy lunch. Hikers may opt to walk to Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to fertility and built by Lama Drupka Kunley—one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, he’s nicknamed “The Divine Madman,” for his eccentric behavior. Childless women make pilgrimages to the temple to be blessed by a symbolic phallus and to promote fertility.
After breakfast choose a visit to the Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness,” followed by a short hike to Khamsung Yuely Namgyal Temple, a perfect example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions. Or visit a local school and farmhouses for intimate one-on-one experiences with locals. Recharge over lunch which could consist of the delicious ema-datse (chili-cheese) and red rice—a famous Bhutanese specialty found throughout the country. After lunch, continue to the Chussomza Valley, stopping en route to visit the local market and photograph the beautiful Wangdiphodrang Dzong. Overnight at the Kyichu Resort.
This morning depart for the glacial-carved Phobjika Valley, making a stop at Gangtey Goemba, an impressive Buddhist monastery overlooking the verdant valley below. Following check-in and lunch at the Dewachen Lodge, walk to the Crane Information Center to learn about the black-necked cranes that migrate to the valley from Tibet in the winter. You can also explore a nearby village.
At nearly 11,000 feet, Pelila Pass is a breathtaking starting point from which to begin your descent into the Phobjika Valley. Opt for a downhill, six-mile hike, which gives you a chance to view the area’s vast array of wildlife. In addition to black-neck cranes, it is home to muntjaks (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, Himalayan black bears, leopards, and red foxes. Alternatively, pay a visit to resident families, to learn more about the customs and traditions of the Bhutanese. After lunch make your way back to Chussomza.
After breakfast depart for Thimphu. En route stop for a stroll at the Royal Botanical Garden near Dochu-la. Keep an eye out for resident birds as you wander colorful trails lined with numerous species of rhododendron. After lunch continue over Dochu-la Pass to Thimphu and check in to the Namgay Heritage Hotel. Tour Bhutan’s capital this afternoon.
Today you have a full day to explore Thimphu, the main residence of the king, and its environs. Among today’s highlights are the Changangkha Lhakhang temple and monastic school established in the 12th century, and the Zilukha nunnery, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. At the Takin Nature Preserve view the intriguing national animal which resembles a cross between a goat and an antelope. Other cultural attractions include the National Library, Folk Heritage Museum, and Institute of Traditional Medicine, where traditional medicines are prepared according to ancient practices. At the Changzamto Weaving Center you have the opportunity to witness some of the best weavers in the country practice their craft.
Today set out for a full-day trek to Tiger’s Nest. Perched on a cliff above the Paro Valley, it is the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries. This is the site where Guru Padmasambhava, who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan, meditated in a cave for three months in the 8th century. A wonderful hike, coupled with dramatic scenery and the melodic murmur of chanting monks, is an expedition highlight. Less strenuous options for this day include strolling the town of Paro, exploring the art galleries, handicraft shops, tea houses, and temples, or simply relaxing at your hotel and spa. Dinner and overnight at Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a stunning guesthouse that combines authentic Bhutanese architecture with 21st-century amenities.
Your last full day in Bhutan includes a short walk to the ruins of the Drukyul Dzong, which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Visit Ta Dzog, the watchtower of the Paro Dzong that houses the National Museum; Rinpung Dzong; and Kycihu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan built in the 7th century. Make your way over to the base of the dzong, to one of the innumerable archery grounds. If you are lucky you may catch a match in action. Conclude your day with a farewell dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Depart this morning on your flight from Paro to Bangkok. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel. Enjoy lunch on your own and afternoon at leisure, followed by dinner and overnight at the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel.
After breakfast at your hotel, depart for the airport for your independent flights homeward.
All accommodations and group meals; group transfers; guided excursions as stated in the itinerary; entrance fees for parks, reserves, etc.; all gratuities; emergency medical coverage (maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000)*; evacuation coverage (maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000)*.
All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; accident/baggage/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, email/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.