Trip Length: 10 days
Trip Dates: Spring
Activity Level: Easy to Moderate
Explore Bhutan on this 10-day personal journey and cultural tour. Immerse yourself in rich traditions, explore nature, hike at a moderate level in the Himalayas, and visit the country’s cultural highlights including Paro, Thimphu, Dochula, Punakha, Pobjika, and Bumthang.
This journey takes us well beyond the typical tourist itinerary. Join biologist and trek leader Cathy Shill who loves to share Bhutan, her strong Buddhist foundations and her passion for nature. She partners with expert Bhutanese guide and business owner Kinlay Gyeltshen to co-lead this amazing trip.
• Stunning Himalayan Views
• Moderate Day Hikes
• Trek to the Tiger’s Nest
• Cultural Dzongs & Museums
Trip Cost: $3,780 double-occupancy (all inclusive once in country)
Guides: Cathy Shill and Kinlay Gyeltshen
Temperatures will vary greatly based on our altitude and current weather. Ranges from high 70’s, low 30’s.
We will sleep between 7,000 to 9,800 feet. Hikes will vary in elevation.
Day 1-Arrival to Paro Airport
During the flight into Paro Airport, enjoy the view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan Mountains including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. Upon arrival at Paro Airport, you will be greeted by the trip leaders and transported to your comfortable hotel in Thimphu. We will visit the Tamchong Temple which was built in the 15th century by Thangthong Gyalpo, an iron bridge builder. Time in the afternoon can be spent enjoying sites of Thimphu. Overnight Hotel Sernya.
Day will begin with a walk north of Thimphu up a well-worn trail to the 17th century meditation site of the Shadbrung, the unifier of Bhutan. Following the temple visit, we will retrace our steps to the river bank where we will be served a picnic lunch. Difficulty: easy to moderate, 800 foot elevation gain. After lunch, drive to Thimphu, visit textile museum and school of arts and crafts, Takin zoo, and world’s largest Buddha statue, Tashichho Dzong. Overnight Hotel Sernya.
We will drive to a 10,500 ft. pass called Dochula, where we will take time to photograph a set of 108 stupas, called chortens, constructed in honor of the Fourth King, and the distant peaks of the Bhutanese Himalaya. We continue to Punakha and enjoy a very scenic walk to Chimi Lakhang, the temple dedicated to Bhutan’s most infamous saint, named Drukpa Kinlay. Difficulty: easy. We will spend about an hour here, then return to our van on narrow trails wedged between a series of terraced rice paddies. After lunch, we drive a half hour to the north to be guided through the huge and lovely Punakha Dzong at the confluence of the Mo Chuu (Female River) and the Pho Chuu (Male River). Overnight Zangto Pelri Hotel.
Today we journey to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation. We will visit Trongsa on the way and the Trongsa Dzong. Bumthang shares lush valleys and hilly forests where four different valleys merge. Elevations range from 8500 to 13000 feet. Overnight Swiss Guest House.
We will visit highlights of Bumthang including the oldest temple in Bhutan, Kujey Lhakhang where Guru Rinpoche meditated, the Iron Castle (Chakhar Lhakhang), and the castle of the White Bird (Jakar Dzong). We will also explore the lush countryside on foot. This day offers many options and will be customized to the group. Overnight Swiss Guest House.
Today we travel to Gangtey located in the Pobjikha valley where the endangered Black-Necked Cranes winter. They will be migrating back to Bhutan in the fall from Tibet so we will see these majestic birds and visit the nature center. We can enjoy a walk through the countryside, time to read a book, or enjoy the sites of the town. Overnight Gangtey Hotel.
We begin our journey back so will overnight at Dochula and visit the Royal Botanical Garden, and hike up to a secluded mountain temple (Lungchuzer Goempa) at 13,000 ft. Dinner and overnight at the Dochula Resorts to view the sunset and sunrise over the Bhutan Himalayas.
After a short drive to Paro, we have numerous options for the day. We can visit the National Museum, the Dungtse Temple, the Paro Dzong, explore the town, and relax in the afternoon. Overnight Janka Resort.
After breakfast, we will drive to the trailhead and start hiking to Taktsang, or Tiger’s Nest, one of Bhutan’s most sacred sites and an architectural gem. We can take our time, visit the tea house, and explore this sacred pilgrimage site. Difficulty: moderate to challenging- 4 miles, 3000 feet elevation gain to 10,200 feet. Overnight Janka Resort.
Early departure to Paro Airport, and morning departure on Druk Air bound for connections home.