Hovering over the mountains, you can have an amazing view of the green valley and mountains. The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas; offering dazzling scenic views of some of world’s highest glacial peaks. After completing the formalities of custom and immigration, check out from the departure lounge. There you will meet one of the representatives of Nature Trail Travels & Tours, Trekking & Expedition who will greet you and then escort you to your respective hotel where you will stay overnight. After lunch, at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette and description about the trip by our guide. Overnight in Paro
On the following day, we pass through the fertile rice paddies of Paro Valley. Here, you can assist a local farmer to make butter tea from scratch, beginning with milking the cow. While performing such activity, you can observe how the region’s main cereals are ground and roasted on the farm, before enjoying a traditional Bhutanese tea time with the farmer and his family. Then we will drive you to the capital city, Thimphu.
In Thimphu, we meet the government’s agriculture ministry professionals to learn about national policies on cultivation and food security. Further you can also visit the National Memorial Chorten, which was built in the honor of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This Chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues. Explore the textile museum which is operated by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs of Bhutan. The Museum was established in the year 2001 and has a good collection of exclusive and antique Bhutanese textile artifacts. The museum was set up with an objective to promote encourage weavers to continue the weaving of traditional Bhutanese textile, Promote Bhutan in the field of textile art and to preserve and promote the history and tradition of Bhutan.
After breakfast, drive from Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula passes (3150 m). Dochula pass is the most known pass in Bhutan. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen from this sight. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chorten which is believed to bring multi fold merit to all sentient beings and which make the pass a must visit place.
Upon arrival at Punakha, you can visit Punakha Dzong which was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tshechu is held here. The monk body resides in this Dzong in winter. In Punakha and Wangdue valleys, we visit a series of temples and monasteries and eat a lovely meal at a restaurant overlooking the valley’s red rice paddies. Overnight at Punakha.
On this day, you will cover a distance of 13 kilometer in order to reach Wangdue Phodrang. While you are here, you can visit Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, which was destroyed by fire in late June 2012. This Dzong is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu River. We then continue a scenic drive for a distance of further 65 kilometers for about 3 hours to Gangtey in the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjikha at an altitude of 3000 meters.
Phobjikha valley is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrates to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter Travelling November through February shall give you the rare opportunity to see the black necked cranes. Admire splendid flora and trees, hopefully Dendrobiums along the highest motorable pass through dense spruce and larch forests. Afterwards, visit the picturesque Gangtey Gompa (monastery) and take in breathtaking views of this beautiful upland plain, stroll through the village and along a nature trail of the Phobjikha valley. In evening, visit the local weavers and interact with them. You can try weaving for yourself. Overnight in Phobjikha
On the following day, we drive to kingdom’s central heartland, Trongsa. Trongsa is the gateway to central Bhutan at 2,180 metres. Set amid spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family, commands the eye from miles away. Experience a journey through a warm broad leaved forest passing by the Black Mountains up to Pele La Pass at 3300 meter. This stretch covers a range of habitat from tall, dense, evergreen forest characterized by moss and lichen, covered oak and rhododendron together with broad-leaved trees such as horse-chestnuts, laurels, maples and alders. At higher elevation, the composition changes perceptibly with conifers such as fir, spruce, larch, hemlock and juniper. Bamboo is another important habitat in this region, holding number of special but elusive species. It is not very prominent birding area.
After arrival at Trongsa, we visit a small village and enjoy an atmospheric meal inside an old family temple. You can also visit Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify Eastern Bhutan. It was enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Further, move on to Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Overnight in Trongsa.
Embarking our tour from Trongsa, drive a distance of 68 kilometers towards Bumthang via Yotong La Pass (3400 m) through temperate forests of Trongsa to coniferous and mixed alpine of Bumthang. Apart from being one of the most beautiful valleys of the kingdom, Bumthang is also the religious heartland of the nation. In the valleys of Bumthang, we visit more traditional farms, and establish the connections between local cultivation practices and the hearty buckwheat-based fare that ends up at our table. Farmers of the Bumthang District have transitioned from cultivating a diversity of subsistence grains through Sweden farming with no external inputs in the 1980s to intensive mono-cropping of potatoes utilizing fertilizers and tractors in 2011. During the same time, household diets changed from locally cultivated buckwheat and barley to make greater use of purchased rice. Overnight at Bumthang.
Start the day with a fulfilling breakfast as the events planned for you involves exploring cultivating lands along with many legendary monasteries and temples. The valley has more flatlands compared to other dzongkhags of the country but its different locations are perched at elevations ranging from 8,500ft to more than 13,000ft. Places you will visit include some of the most ancient and holy temples blessed by the eighth century saint Guru Padmasambhava. One such temple is the Jambay Lhakhang which was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. He had built 108 Lhakhang to suppress a supine demoness, Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro are two among the 108.
Also, another Lhakhang blessed by Guru Rinpoche is the Kurje Lhakhang. Kurje means ‘body print’ and the Lhakhang displays an area where the Guru had left his print on the wall of a cave when he meditated in it. You will visit the two temples in the afternoon while you will be able to visit other Lhakhang just as holy and ancient as the two above. To name a few there’s the Tamshing Lhakhang, which is a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings, Kenchogsum Lakhang and Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley. The place is also famous for the Bumthang Cheese, Bumthang Honey and Bumthang Bukhari (stove to warm yourself during winter). And one other product that. In the evening take a stroll through the Bumthang town and visit local handloom weaving house and opportunity to interact with the weavers. Overnight in Bumthang.
Drive for about six hours in order to reach Gangtey. On the plus, however the fatigue of journey will be forgotten as you drive through serene dense forests of Oak and Rhododendron before reaching Gangtey (Wangdue Phodrang). Enroute, halt and visit again Bumthang famous wool fabric local handloom weaving center. You can also visit the Yathra shop for your shopping. Gangtey is situated at the height of 2,900 metres above sea level. On arrival, enjoy the immense views of the remote Phobjikha Valley and the Black Mountains. Move onto visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest and recently renovated monasteries) and explore the valley where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November of each year, after spending the summer in Tibet. Explore the colorful, recently-restored Gangtey Gompa, a monastic college famous for its annual festival to welcome the migration of black-necked cranes. Toward evening side, feel free to make a round of the quaint valley and its villages. Overnight at Wangdue Phodrang.
Hike up to the hilltop village of Rinchengang and learn about its interesting history. Rinchengang is picturesquely situated on a steep ridge near Wangdi and then drive to Paro. Upon arrival at Paro, you can visit impressive Paro Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Throughout the journey, we meet an interesting range of growers across Bhutan, learn about their challenges and their joys, and come to appreciate the deep connections between the land, the people, and the foods of Bhutan.