Drukyul Walking Tour Of Bhutan Via Nepal ( Eco Village Tours)
17 Nights / 18 Days
Destination Covered : Kathmandu, Paro, Bumthang
Tour Activities : Hill Stations & Valleys
Kathmandu, Paro and Bumthang Tour Itinerary
You are met and transferred to your Hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure to take a walk around on your own or to settle in from your long flight. In the evening, enjoy Nepalese welcome dinner and performance of traditional dance. Overnight at the Hotel, Kathmandu.
A full day of sightseeing includes the Temple of the Living Goddess, Durbar Square, the royal family's Hanuman Dhoka Palace, and 2,000 year-old Swayambunath Temple. Also visit Patan, "the city of fine arts," to see Krishna Temple and the Tibetan Refugee Handicraft Center. Overnight hotel, Kathmandu.
Fly to Paro, Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If you get a seat on the left side of the plane and if weather permits, you may have spectacular views of the high peaks of the Himalayas. After visa formalities at the Paro airport (7,590'), you are met by our Bhutanese guide and taken to the hotel. There is usually time do some sightseeing, which may include visit to the Paro Rinphung Dzong (a dzong is a fortress-monastery) and the downtown of Paro. Overnight at hotel, Paro
This morning a scenic drive of 1 & ½ hr will bring us to Chele La pass at an altitude of aprrox. 3900m/1300ft. On one side is the Paro and on the other side is Haa valley. The hike of this morning begins from a short descent below the pass. It is about a half hour uphill and shorter coming down hill. The hike brings you to a clusters of shelters built on sheer cliffs, under the rock/cave and a temple that houses some 50 or so nuns. Visit the surroundings and meet some of the nuns. Return drive to Paro and visit Bhutan's national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro. There will also be a chance to wander around the small township of Paro itself. Overnight hotel, Paro.
Your hike this morning is to site of Taktsang Monastery (meaning Tiger's nest), tragically wrecked in a fire early in 1998. The monastery, which has now been rebuilt, is perched some 2,000ft/600m up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. The hike is about 2 hrs to the teahouse, from where you may either opt to go further uphill near the monastery for about 45 mins. Lunch is served at the tea house with the majestic views of Taktsang above and the Paro valley at the bottom. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes about half the time it has taken you to come up. You will then be driven to Thimphu about 2 hrs away. Dinner and Overnight at hotel, Thimphu.
This is a pleasant rural walk, gently up a valley through paddy fields and woodland via a Tibetan village. The walk commences at the junction just before the village of Dechencholing (15 mins drive from Thimphu). Walk through the village and on along a dirt track to Pangri Zampa gompa, by the river. The route passes Tibetan village, through paddy fields, past chortens and the village of Choku to Begana (also known as Dodena). From Dodena, after crossing the cantilevered bridge, it is another 30-45 minutes steep climb up hill. Cheri Dorji Dhen was first built in 1620 by Shabdrung, the first ruler of Bhutan, who also established the first order of monks here. It is usually possible to enter Cheri courtyard, but may not be allowed to visit the shrines inside. Descend to the bottom of the hill, where your transport arrives to take you back to Thimphu. There is plenty of time to wander around in the evening. Dinner and Overnight at Hotel, Thimphu.
Early in the morning, you can take a self-guided ten-minute walk from the hotel to the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Many Bhutanese people gather here to pray every day. After breakfast, we'll begin our sightseeing with a visit to a nunnery on the outskirts of Thimphu. We will then visit the School of Arts and Crafts (or "painting school"), where Bhutanese children can follow an eight-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. Visit Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum and perhaps the national library. And on available time, we may also visit the Traditional Hospital of Herbal Medicine or watch the Royal Silversmiths create relief work for the monasteries and see how paper is made from the daphne plant with cosmos flower petals and other plants. At the end of the day, we may also pay a visit to the great Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan's administrative and religious center. Overnight hotel, Thimphu
In the morning you drive to Punakha, the old winter capital. En-route stop at Dochu LaPass, 10,000ft/3,048m to view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied –ever changing forest, finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley. In the afternoon you will make a short trek to visit the Crown Prince's chorten and nearby villages. You return on a different route through the village to Sonagasa (the King’s winter residence) and through to Punakha Dzong, following the Mo chu river. You will meet the vehicle and visit Punakha Dzong, provided the head abbot is not is residence. Dinner and Overnight at hotel, Punakha.
Drive down the valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang. Here again there is a very large fortress built in the shape of a sleeping bull. Our road gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La Pass at 11,152ft, where we make stop for views of the snow clad peaks, including that of Bhutan’s sacred peak Mt. Chomolhari. Possibly, your picnic lunch is planned at Chedebji Chorten (Stupa) patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. It is a popular picnic lunch and pilgrimage for Bhutanese driving east-west road. In afternoon, we arrive in the town of Tongsa, the site of the largest Dzong in Bhutan and certainly one of the most impressive ones. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century. Wander around Tongsa Township and visit the watchtower above the main Dzong. It has a fine temple at the top containing original Mongol Armour and a large prayer wheel outside. Total drive of about 6 & ½ hours. Dinner and Overnight at Hotel, Trongsa.
From Tongsa you drive across the Yotong La 11,234'and descend eventually into the valley of Chumey, the first of four Bumthang valleys. Here we will visit the Palace used primary by the second King as his summer residence, and hike for about 15 minutes that brings us to the Prakar monastery, followed by visit to Yathra Weaving centers (a Colourful wool weaving). Then we’ll drive onto the Jakar the center of Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings were cremated and the present royal families trace their ancestry back to a famous saint called Pemalingpa, who was also a smith in Jakar Township. Overnight at Lodge, Jakar.
The region of Bumthang encompasses four major valleys: Choskhor (Jakar), Tang, Ura and Chhume. One can spend months visiting/hiking in the areas. Today you drive to Tang, for about an hour and half on a dirt road to Tang Rangmachen Lhakang and walk to Ugyen Chholing Palace, built by Deb Tshogey Dorji, a descendant of Pemalingpa. There are servants’ quarters and storage rooms in the building that surround this magnificent small palace. This is an easy walk totaling about 3 hours from the valley floor. On return stop en-route to visit Membartso, ‘the flaming pool’ of Pemalingpa. Pemalingpa (1450-1521) was one of the five great tertons (treasure discoverers) of Nyingma Buddhism. The artifacts he found and the dances he composed are all important parts of Bhutan’s heritage. Return to Jakar for overnight and dinner at Lodge, Jakar.
After breakfast start the walk from the hotel to Jambay Ihakang and continue to Kurjey lhakang. Cross the suspension bridge over to Tamshing Lhakang. Continue walking to the Swiss farm and then on to the main town area. The vehicle will meet you at this point and drive you to visit other sights in and around Jakar; which may include homeopathic hospital, the cheese factory, the castle of the 'White Bird', perhaps one or two local temples and a walk around to visit woodcraft workshop, dying workshop, and the five water wheels behind Wangdicholing Old Palace. Overnight at Lodge, Jakar.
From the township of Jakar, you first climb out of the Bumthang valleys on the twisting mountain road towards the Yotong La (11,000ft/3,353m). Near the pass is an area of wild cane/bamboos that is a well-known habitat for Red Panda. The road then descends to Tongsa but instead of stopping here for the night you will drive on, past Chendebji Stupa, over the Pele La (11,000ft/3,353m) and start the descent towards Wangdiphodrang. However, as you descend from the Pele La you will see after a while a spur road leading up into the forest. This eventually leads into the 'hidden valley' containing the stunningly beautiful monastery of Gangtey Gompa. This lovely temple sits on top of a conical hill in the middle of the valley with a small township nestling at the foot of the hill. It is normally possible to look around the inner courtyards and meet some of the monks. The valley is also home to the famous Black Cranes that migrate in the winter from Tibet. Provided they have arrived, it may well be possible to view the cranes in their traditional winter quarters in the Phobjikha valley. This lovely valley is situated on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is designated a conservation area. Overnight at Guest House, Phobjikha.
Breakfast at Gangtey, where you will probably be awakened by the calling of a myriad of crows and or the call of Cranes if they are around. Start one-hour walk to the Khebethang Nature Study Centre. This is a Royal Government of Bhutan project with WWF assistance and houses research facilities for scientists to determine conservation and management methods. It also has exhibits and is the site for workshops and interpretation courses for farmers, park staff and students. Then continue drive to west to Wangdue and Punakha valley and climb again to Dochu La, where we make a short stop once again to view the Eastern Himalayas. Descend from the pass brings you the village of Hongtsho, a Tibetan settlement and then onto Thimphu. Dinner and Overnight at hotel, Thimphu.
Morning is free to wander around or catch up on sightseeing missed previously here in Thimphu. In afternoon drive to Paro, stopping en-route to visit a nunnery started by a renowned Buddhist master Dilgo Khyentse. If there is time, we may also visit the Tamchoe lhakhang on the other side of Pachu River. Arrive in Paro in the evening for short stroll around the town. Farewell dinner and overnight at hotel. Overnight hotel, Paro.
Again a sensational take-off and scenic Himalayan flight past Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak, then on past Kangchenjunga and Everest back to Kathmandu, where you are met and transferred to the Hotel.
At leisure to explore on your own or take one of the optional tours. Kathmandu , Asia’s hippy capital, has a wonderful mixture of crowded bazaars, Hindu and Buddhist temples, shrines and stupas, colonial and ancient architecture as well as more modern buildings. Overnight hotel.
Transfer to airport in time for your international flight back home.
More Details about Kathmandu, Paro and Bumthang Tour
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