Fly over to the dragon kingdom Paro passing by Mountains of 5500 meters to Paro. This flight offers you a mesmerizing aeronautical feat and offers exciting descent into the kingdom. Paro is a beautiful valley and is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples, and the country’s only international airport. The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth including Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga, and Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake peak. Paro Airport has been described as “the most difficult commercial airport in the world”. 1980 meter runway length presents a double challenge, due to the extremely low density altitude at the site. So, only a handful of well experienced pilots are certified to operate commercial airplanes here thus, making least number of flights in a day. After immigration and custom formalities, 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.
Drive to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu following the Pachu River. Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. At evening, explore this beautiful upland valley. Relatively dry, Thimphu valley is surrounded by fine stands of Blue Pine and temperate evergreen forest. After your arrival, you will have a fascinating full-day sightseeing tour to see the best of Thimphu. The first stop will be at National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. After that, you will visit the 13th century Changgangkha Temple and Folk Heritage Museum, a showcase of the Bhutanese artefacts used in rural households. Later, you will have a drive up to the Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) offering a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. After lunch, you will visit a mini zoo for takins (national animal of Bhutan) and continue to Centenary Farmer’s Market on the banks of the Wangchhu River selling farm produces, local arts and crafts, etc. You will stay overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast, we set out on a scenic drive to Punakha with a stop at Dochu La pass (3,100m) for a hot drink, where on a clear day we can get spectacular views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. You’ll probably notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach the low-lying Punakha at 1,250 metres altitude. From the pass, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. We stop at Lobesa and hike through rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang temple. This temple is dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, or the ‘Divine Madman’, who is believed to bless women who seek fertility. On arrival to Punakha this afternoon, visit the strategically placed Punakha Dzong (Palace of Great Happiness) at the confluence of the Po Chu and the Mo Chu rivers. If time permits observe the incredible 52m-tall golden Buddha Dordenma statue in the hills above Thimphu, the largest sitting Buddha statue in the world. Tonight, spend the night in a traditional farmhouse and relax before another day of travel.
On this day, we will drive towards Jakar. On this day, though the drive is for long but certainly memorable with dramatic landscapes of terraced farmland, deep river valleys and precariously perched farmhouses viewed from the only east west highway that has been ingeniously carved out of the mountain faces. Following a brief stop at Chendebji Chorten, which according to belief was built to cover the remains of a demon spirit, we will carry on to what was the original home of the royal family. Upon reaching Trongsa we may take time to stroll this quaint village and official business permitting, perhaps visit the Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home to Bhutan’s monarch where you will often find novice monks reciting mantras or practicing on sacred horns, flutes or drums. The drive onward to Bumthang takes you over the picturesque Yotong La and down into the Chhume Valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving. Here you will have a chance to browse the traditional textiles and perhaps see the weavers create their intricate handiwork.
Explore the neighboring palaces, Wangdi chhoeling, home to the 2nd King, and the auspicious prayer wheels next door. Heading up valley, we will take in the grand Kurjey Lhakhang, considered one of Bhutan’s most auspicious monuments, that was once the resting place of Guru Rimpoche, and Jambay Lhakhang, home to the early winter festivals that draw thousands of Bhutanese for their annual blessings. Heading back into town and across the Bumthang Chhu, we will enjoy a visit to the sin alleviating Tamshing Monastery followed by quick visits to swish cheese and red pandy brewery before heading to our white bird valley resort. If time persist, visit Jampay Lakhang, the one of the first 2 Buddhist temples built in the country. This is the home of the naked dance that is still performing annually. Visit Kurjey Temple, the site where royals are cremated, one can either walk cross the suspension bridge and visit the village of Parar and Tamshing or drive there. End your day with a walk passing by the Swiss farm. Evening stroll in Jakar town and try some local pancake and noodles.
Drive for about six hours to reach Gangtey. 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. Phobjikha valley is also known as the valley of black necked cranes. Upon entering the valley, we will pay homage to 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.
After having breakfast, you will visit the picturesque Gangtey Gompa once again. Gangtey Gompa is the only Nyingma monastery on this side of Black Mountains. Later, you will drive a distance of 65 kilometers for about 3 hours to Wangdue Phodrang first and stop to have a photo section along the highway as there are loads of breathtaking views the journey. Afterwards, you will continue to Punakha and have an overnight stay there.
Today, you will visit the Punakha Dzong which is located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) Rivers. No visit to Bhutan would be considered as complete without a trip to the famous Chimi Lhakhang (temple) especially for honeymooners. The temple is located near Lobesa on a round hillock. It is popularly known as the “fertility symbol” built by Lama Drukpa Kinley, the “Divine Madman” who was fond of women and adopted unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism
Your tour ends with a departure to the Paro Airport (PBH) for your onward journey. Your guide from Bhutan Green Travel will see you off. Goodbye and good luck!