10 NIGHT 11 DAYS HISTORICAL CENTRAL BHUTAN TOUR
Day 1 : Paro [Arrival] transfer to Thimphu
Paro [Arrival] transfer to Thimphu: The flight into the Himalayas reveals scenic and breathtaking views of Himalayan Mountains. As soon as your flight enters Paro valley which is surrounded by 4000 meter high mountains stretching across the west of Bhutan, will enable you to have a visible landing which is indispensable and will make your day an unforgettable one. Your Bhutanese representative from Sahara Holidays Nepal will welcome you on arrival and drive Thimphu (2350m) it takes about 1.5 hours through Paa chu and Wang chu river, it mainly have scrub as vegetation. The countryside from Chuzom to Thimphu is less forested than what you have been seeing so far and the valley are narrow except for two sections where it widens into gentle slopes, terraced rice field and lovely strand of conifer trees. After reaching Thimphu visit: Kuensel Phodrang alias Buddha Point is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue constructed in the mountains of Bhutan. The view of Thimphu town from the Buddha point is ravishing and magical. The memorial chorten is one of the most visible landmarks of Thimphu, built in 1974 to honor the memory of third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It is a four-storey chorten decorated with richly carved annexes facing the cardinal directions, and features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular third king.
This landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in the memory of third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is popularly regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-storey tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country. Evening stroll around the Thimphu City. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu
Day 2 : Thimphu (Sightseeing): This morning visit the ma...
Thimphu (Sightseeing): This morning visit the majestic Tashichho Dzong and the newly consecrated Tara Lhaden Zhingkham lhakang (temple). Continue on to the awesome Changangkha Lhakhang which also offers an excellent with sensational valley views.
Other recommended places to visit are Zorig Chusum – the Institute of the 13 Arts & Crafts of Bhutan (sometimes closed for visitors); the Folk Heritage museum; the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts; the hand-made paper making factory & the weekend market (Fri-Sun) where everyone goes to buy an array of fresh fruits & vegetables; home-wares, handicrafts and clothes. Don’t forget to take a wander along Thimphu’s main street, Norzin Lam, which offers good shopping and the Craft Bazaar. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu
Day 3 : Thimphu - Phobjikha Valley (5 hrs)
Thimphu - Phobjikha Valley (5 hrs): This morning you will be transferred by road eastwards to the Phobjikha Valley. En-route passing the Semtokha Dzong, built in 1629 & the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley, which today it is a monastery. Continue ascending to Dochula La (pass) to view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya and depending on the time of the year the vista can vary from alpine snow (November – March) to a profusion of blossoms (March – May) splashed among the soft green of the wild herbs and forest trees.
When the ruins of the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (tragically destroyed by fire in June 2012)come into view, notice the large cacti that cover the hillside below which, were planted long ago to discourage invaders from climbing the steep slope to the Dzong. From the road view Rinchengang, one of Bhutan’s oldest villages, which did not have access to water, electricity or schooling until the early 1990’s.The craftsmen of Rinchengang are sought after for their skills in construction of Dzongs and Lhakhangs (temples).
Until recently the Phobjikha valley’s only electricity came from solar or mini hydro plants. In 2011 underground cabled electricity is gradually connecting the valley to the national grid. Potatoes are this region’s primary cash crop and mainly exported to India. Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. It is also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and the winter home (late October to early February) of the rare black necked crane, which annually flies in from Tibet. There are also muntjaks (barking deer), wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red foxes.
Day 4 : Phobjikha - Bumthang Valley
Phobjikha - Bumthang Valley: This morning depart Phobjikha to the central Bumthang region comprising the 4 valleys of Chhume, Choekhor, Tang and Ura. Traverse the Pele La (pass) which crosses through the Black Mountains National Park and divides western and central Bhutan. Pass through the town of Trongsa, where you will spend more time on your return journey, and keep a watchful eye out for Rhesus Macaques (Brown Monkeys) on the side of the road. The Trongsa Dzong is perched at the end of a ridge and seems to hang in space at the head of the valley. The Dzongs location afforded it great power over this part of the country as the only foot and mule trail between east and western Bhutan leads straight through Trongsa and through the Dzong itself.
On arrival in the Bumthang region notice the large fields of buckwheat that cover the valleys…..buckwheat noodles and pancakes are a Bumthang specialty. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. There are short walks and hikes to choose from and your guide will be happy to make recommendations. Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 5: Bumthang Sightseeing
Bumthang Sightseeing: Home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Visiting the Jakar Dzong built in 1667 and it`s seat of district administration and regional monastic body of Bumthang. Jambay Lhakhang founded in 7th century by the Tibetan king Songsen Gampo it is one of the oldest monasteries in the country. Kurje Lhakhang, where the patron saint of Buddhism in Bhutan subdued a local demon and left his body imprint. Tamshing founded in 1501 by Terton (Treasure Revealer) Pema Lingpa the incarnation of Guru Rinpoche. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhisattvas) in Bhutan. Visit a farmer’s house for refreshments and observe the traditional way of living. We also visit a Swiss farm which produces cottage, swiss cheese, honey, a large variety of fruit juice and spirits. The Brewery that manufactures the famous Red Panda Beer (weiss beer) also located here. Take a leisurely walk in Chamkhar town. Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6 : Bumthang – Punakha(via Trongsa)
Bumthang – Punakha(via Trongsa): Leaving Bumthang, we head for Trongsa where we will visit the Trongsa Dzong which was built in 1648 it is the biggest of all the fortresses in the country. Drive to Punakha via Wangdiphodrang after which we take a stroll through the Wangdi market. Overnight at Hotel in Punakha
Day 7 : Punakha (Sightseeing)
Punakha (Sightseeing): This morning visit the dramatic Punakha Dzong, which formerly served as the seat of the government and is still the winter residence of the Dratsheng (Central Monk Body). This is Bhutan’s most spectacular Dzong and an excellent example of how a medieval fortress and a centre of both monastic and administrative functions, has adapted and evolved for modern day use. Don’t forget the local market if you are in Punakha on a Saturday morning.
This afternoon we recommend a fascinating hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten through fields of vegetables, rice paddies and tiny hamlets. This Chorten holds very special significance being consecrated in 1999 and dedicated to the protection of the former Crown Prince – today’s current King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Towards the evening visit Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman or Mad Monk), which is a pleasant, easy 20 minute walk accross paddy fields. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing) from the resident monk. Overnight at Hotel in Punakha
Day 8 : Punakha - Paro Valley (4hrs)
Punakha - Paro Valley (4hrs): Depart Punakha early morning for your transfer westwards to the Paro Valley, once again traversing Dochu La, and arriving in Paro town in time for a late lunch at one of the local restaurants. This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the major features in Paro town including Paro Dzong with its cantilever bridge; Kyichu Lhakhang – one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit followed by a visit to the old ruined fortress of the Drugyel Dzong (14km from Paro). This is the historical site of the Fort of Drukpa Victory, from which the Bhutanese used to repel the Tibetan invaders again and again. On a clear day views of the 7314 m snow domed peaks of sacred Mt Chomolhari can be seen. Overnight at Hotel in Paro
Day 9 : Haa Valley (via Chele La) – Paro
Haa Valley (via Chele La) – Paro: Weather permitting enjoy a trip to Chele La (pass) on what is reportedly Bhutan’s highest motorable road at 3988 metres. You can take the option of continuing down into the remote valley of Haa, a very beautiful valley that only opened up to tourist visitors in 2004 or perhaps enjoy one of the ridge top hikes, which can afford spectacular mountian vistas on a clear day, to the Kila Nunnery, the oldest in Bhutan where you can easily interact with the 45 odd resident nuns. Overnight at Hotel in Paro
Day 10 : Hike to Tiger Nest
Hike to Tiger nest- after breakfast a short drive will take us to Satsam Chorten; from there a 2 hours walk up hill will take us to our destination-The Tiger Nest. The trial climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned the Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of flattering prayer flags. We take a short break for light refreshment at Taktsang Lhakhang (cafeteria), then walk a short distance until we clearly, seemingly and within reach to see the Taktsang Monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around the mediation cave of Guru Rinpoche in 1684 by the then Paro Penlop Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible Lhakhang was built at the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who bought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here at a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favorite consort. Evening walk at Paro town and Overnight at Hotel in Paro
Day 11 : Departure Transfer: After breakfast, drive to Paro to Kathmandu or Onward
Departure Transfer: After breakfast, drive to Paro International airport for onward destination.