Day 1: Arrival in Paro-Drive to Thimphu
You are met at airport and we drive one hour through the hamlets of Paro along the riverside to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan.
On the drive we will pass the Tamchog Lhakhang, built by Thangtong Gyalpo (iron bridge builder/saint from the 14th-15th century. We shall stop to visit the 17th century Simtokha Dzong standing on a lofty ridge.
This afternoon we shall explore the small city including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, the Textile Museum and the Weaving Center.
Day 2-3: Thimphu
Our small group will enjoy visiting the cultural highlights of Thimphu and attend the Thimphu festival where dances are performed by monks and secular people.
Visit the School of Arts and Crafts, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, the Folk Heritage Museum, the textile museum and weaving center and Tashi Cho Dzong, as well as the bustling local bazaar.
Day 4: Punakha
This morning we attend the Thimphu festival again.
Afterwards, we drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass where we see the 108 Bhutanese stupas built by the queen for the well being of the country.
Day 5-6: Gangtey (Phobjikha Valley)
Visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1673. Then drive to Gangtey in beautiful Phobjikha Valley.
Phobjikha Valley is home to the rare black-necked crane that migrate from high plateaus of Tibet in late Fall.
We attend the Gangtey Festival and visit Gangtey Goempa. It is one of the oldest and most important seats of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism.
Afterwards, we enjoy a walk that descends through flower meadows to Semchubara village and into an open valley past chortens into the edge of the forest before descending to the Khewang Lhakhang and village. Here we have an opportunity to interact with local residents.
We also visit the Black Necked Crane Information Centre.
Day 7: Gangtey-Trongsa
During a spectacular drive to Trongsa enjoy unspoiled natural scenery with many waterfalls alongside the climbing road. We drive over Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range.
Visit the beautiful Chendebji Chorten en route built in Nepalese style with painted eyes facing the four directions. The Chorten was erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan's ruling dynasty.
Visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture and the largest Dzong in Bhutan.
Day 8-10: Trongsa- Bumthang (Jakar)
A pleasant drive to Bumthang one the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual and historical heartland of the country. The road winds steeply up to Yo Yutung La Pass (3,400m) before descending down through dense coniferous forest to Chummey Valley. We visit the Chummey weavers' workshop showcasing Bumthang's noted textiles.
We’ll tour the historical Jakar Dzong built by Minjur Tenpa, the third Druk Desi (Temporal ruler appointed by Shabdrung) in 1646 A.D.
Visit The Burning Lake, also known as Membar Tsho, a pool where the Guru Padmasambhava hid a treasure.
One morning we go to Choekhor Village to observe Thangi Mani Festival held at Tamshing Monastery. The Tamshing Lhakhang (temple of the good message), built in 1501 by Pema Lingpa, is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom and follows the Pelling tradition of Pema Lingpa.
We shall tour the sites of Bumthang including: Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang and several ancient and important monasteries including Kurjey Lhakhang, Kencho Sum Lhakhang, and Pema Samba Lhakhangs.
One day we will venture off the usual tourist route to visit the isolated village of Ura in the beautiful central valley.
Day 11-12: Paro
This morning fly to Paro (weather permitting).
We visit Ta-Dzong (converted into the National Museum in 1968), located on a hill overlooking the Paro Dzong, as well as Paro Dzong- also called Rinchen Pung Dzong / Rinpung Dzong ('fortress on a heap of jewels').
The next day, we start at 7 am to Satsam Chorten for a glorious hike to Taktsang Lhakhang (aka “Tiger’s Nest Temple”). The monastery is perched on a rock face and is revered by the Bhutanese as Guru Padmasambhava (who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan) is said to have flown on the back of a tiger to the site to meditate.
On the return to Paro town, we stop at the Kyichu monastery built from the 7th century. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan built by the great Tibetan King Songsten Gyepo and the main statue is of the Future Buddha, which is similar to the main Buddha statue in the Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet.
Day 13: Depart or continue on the Nepal-Tibet Tour
Transfer to the airport.