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Himalayan Explorer


This SIX-night trip takes us to the heart of the ethereal kingdom of Bhutan. From the gravity defying Tiger’s Nest monastery to the temple of the Divine Madman, this trip combines spectacular drives, unique nature walks, and fascinating monastery visits. We spend one night in Thimphu, Two Nights in Punakha and 2 Nights in Paro. We journey deep into the Kingdom’s heartland exploring three distinctly different but important valleys; the bustling capital of Thimphu in a valley dotted with monuments, museums and markets; the almost tropical Punakha valley with its magnificent dzongs; and the emerald valley of Paro with its rice paddies, ancient temples.

6 Nights Package

DAY 1: Arrival, Paro-Thimphu.

Our Experienced English Speaking guide and team will welcome you at the airport, once you have settled in your first foray into the Kingdom begins with sightseeing on the way to Thimphu. After lunch the sightseeing begin with a tour including some of the following (exact itineraries dependent on opening times and interests): National Memorial Chorten, Buddha Point, Takin Zoo and Trashi Chhoe Dzong. The weekend market (Main market days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday), and Folk Heritage Museum.

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 2: Thimphu to Punakha Valley via Dochu La

This drive is truly awe-inspiring as it zigzags up to the 3,140m-high mountain pass of Dochu La with its forests of fluttering prayer flags, maze of memorial chortens and, on a clear day, sweeping views of the main Himalayan range. Up river, deep in the verdant terraced hills past Punakha Dzong is our home for the next two nights, Please note museum, monastery, temple and dzong opening days and times can and do vary with national holidays and events such a visit by a member of the Royal Family or auspicious ceremonies.

Duration of drive (Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula): 2 - 3 hours

Guided with picnic or lunch at local restaurant

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 3: Punakha Dzong, Khamsan Yuley Namgay Chorten Walk, Chimmi Lhakhang.

We have a full day for further exploration of the scenic Punakha Valley, which is low enough (1,200m) to allow bananas and oranges to grow. The destination for this morning’s walk up through whitewashed homesteads and farmland is Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, a shrine recently built by the royal family. It is a startlingly ornate and elaborate structure with a rainbow of Guru Rinpoche images and superb views. Heading down along the riverside the massive architectural edifice of the 17th-century Punakha Dzong soon looms into view. The fortress-monastery was built in 1637 by Shabdung Nawang Namgyal in a commanding position at the confluence of the Po Chhu and Mo Chhu (Father and Mother rivers). It once served as the seat of the Kingdom's government and is now the winter home of Je Khempo, the head abbot of Bhutan, along with a retinue of 1,000 monks. In the afternoon a short walk across rice paddies takes us to Chimmi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, a Tibetan Buddhist saint known popularly as the Divine Madman. The temple sits atop a picturesque hill surrounded by rice fields. Drukpa Kuenley built a chorten on the site in the 14th century, and it has long been a pilgrimage site for couples hoping to start a family.

Duration: 6 - 7 hours

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Guided with picnic or lunch at local restaurant

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 4: Chorten Nibu and Village walk

In the 15th century Drukpa Kunley (the Divine Madman) observed a witches coven plotting to harm the locals so he threw a stick of firewood into their midst all the way from Cat Hill (Jeligang). The log later grew into a beautiful tree and a stupa or chorten was built. In the 17th century, Desi Tenzin Rabgay (the 4th regent) then built a temple and monastery on the spot which now houses a retinue of 50 monks. It is near the old stupa and you may walk the village.

Duration: 2 - 3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Talo Sanga Lhakhang

The site was founded by Chogtrul Jigme Singye (1742-89), the 4th reincarnation of Lama Thripa (Galsey Tenzin Rabgye), which literally means the holder of the throne, a title given to Gyalsay Tenzin Rabgye (1638-96) as the Gyaltsap (regent) appointed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. This took place in 1767 corresponding to the 13th Rabjung (name of the cycle of 60 years starting with rabbit year) of the Fire Pig Year of the Bhutanese calendar. In the 14th Rabjung, Jigme Dakpa (1791-1830), the third mind reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, renovated the area and built a monastery. He also installed in the temple statues that he had brought from Samye in Tibet. Thereafter, the monastery was renovated by several reincarnations of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel including Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu, the fourth mind incarnation, Zhabdrung Jigme Chogyal, the fifth mind incarnation and Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji, the sixth mind incarnation. The monastery also served as their living quarters. Currently the monastery accommodates the Gonkhang (inner chapel dedicated to guardian deity) and residence of the abbot. Talo Sanga Choling also houses many lhakhangs, in which Neten Chudrug (sixteen Arhats) lhakhang is one of them.

Duration: 3 - 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Guided with picnic

DAY 5: Punakha Valley to Paro via Chuzom and Tamchhu Lhakhang.

Time to retrace our steps over the Dochu La for a second view of the wonderful Himalayan range. Returning to the Chuzum (river confluence) we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward of evil spirits near the checkpoint. Time permitting the journey can be broken with a visit to Tamchhu Lhakhang built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the so-called Iron Bridge Builder. This former saint from the 14th century introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains and the only way to reach his temple is by one of these bridges. On the final leg the road snakes alongside the Pa Chhu River, through apple orchards and rice paddies, past quaint homesteads to our home in the mountains, After check-in and a show round, we invite you to spend the rest of the day relaxing around the property, enjoying the facilities or trying an activity like the Bhutanese national sport of archery or a traditional Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath.

Duration of drive (Punakha to Paro via Chunzom) : 3 - 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Guided with picnic or lunch at local restaurant

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 6: Highlights of the Paro Valley–Taktsang Walk.

One of the most amazing and important pieces of architecture in Bhutan, Taktsang Goemba defies logic, gravity, and reason. Legend has it that this Cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet. To avoid the hot sun an early start is advisable for the two-hour climb to the Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. Descend steeply, then climb up to the monastery, passing a waterfall and entering through the main gates which are filled with murals. Retrace our steps or alternatively (if time and energy levels allow) head further up to several remote temples and monasteries. In the evening you are invited for a firelight farewell dinner.

Duration: 7 - 8 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Guided with picnic or Taktsang cafetaria

Overnight: Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

Depart Bhutan.

Druk Air normally departs in the morning, so after breakfast your 10 minute transfer to Paro International Airport will be arranged depending on the flight schedule.

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