Day 0119th April 19
- Arrival at Paro – Paro Sightseeing / Transfer to Thimphu (D)
Your arrival at Paro’s airport will be marked by the memory of your flight over the Himalayan peaks, and the sight of the green valley of Paro that is perched among them. As soon as you step off the plane, the crisp and clean, fresh air of the mountains will welcome you: this is the first gift of Bhutan. At the exit, you will be greeted by the Rahhalah representative who will take you to the centre of Paro where you will have some time to explore the town. You will visit Paro Dzong, which ranks as a high point of Bhutanese architecture. The massive buttressed walls that tower over the town are visible throughout the valley. It was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly and now, like most dzongs, houses both the religious body and district government offices, including the local courts. Most of the chapels are closed to tourists, but it's worth a visit for its stunning architecture and views. You will also have the chance to visittheParo National Museum. Perched above Paro Dzong, it is a ta dzong (watchtower), built in 1649 to protect the undefended dzong, and was renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls. Soon afterwards, you will head towards Thimphu (approx. a 2-hr drive). Welcome dinner. Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 0220th April 19
- Thimphu- Punakha (77km 3hrs) (B)
After breakfast, you will depart towards Punakha (77 km, a 3-hour drive). On the way, you will stop at the Dochula pass and the Rhododendron festival. Dochula pass (elevation of 3100m):it is located on the road to Punakha from Thimphu and is popular among the tourists because it offers stunning, 360-degree panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range. The landscape is especially scenic on the clear winter days with the snow-capped mountains forming a majestic background to the 108 chortens (Buddhist shrines)that adorn the mountain pass. The place is also known as DrukWangyal, a spiritual destination for both locals and visitors. The construction of this stupa was commissioned by the eldest queen AshiDorjiWangmoWangchuck. Rhododendron Festival: The festival celebrates the blossoming of the rhododendron flowers. It features a rhododendron garden walk and exhibition, local customs and food, arts and crafts, traditional games, cultural programs, guided tours and activities. It also displays different species of rhododendrons that are in full bloom in their natural habitat. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 0321st April 19
- Punakha- Thimphu (B)
After breakfast, you will depart for an early morning visit to Chimmilkahang, known to the English-speaking world as The Fertility Temple.It is a Buddhist monasteryin the Punakha District, idyllically placed on a round hill. The temple was built over half a millennium ago by NgawangChoegyel, the 14th Drukpa hierarch. The stupa – a meditation hall – was constructed by the “Divine Madman,” the eccentric Yogi and saint DrukpaKunley, who blessed the entire grounds. The monastery is famous throughout Bhutan as a fertility-inducing magnet, pledging that all who wish to conceive will find guidance at the temple. Thousands each year flood to the site in the hope of having a child, as well as receiving a wang (a blessing) from the saint with the ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’. You will be amazed to hear the real-life stories of many tourists who visited the temple and, afterwards, were blessed with a baby. You will then visit Punakha Dzong-PunakhaDzongkhag which has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in the Bhutanese history. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907, and the first national assembly was hosted there in 1953. PunakhaDzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong but also has one of the most imposing structures in the country Later, you will embark on your river rafting adventure. Only a few rivers are open for rafting in Bhutanbased on their safe course and easy access. The Pho Chu, with its approx. 16 km course and 15 rapids of class 2-4 is the most popular river for rafting in the country followed by the Mo Chu River with a 10-Km course and 10 rapids (2 - 2+ class). You will pass by the magnificent, 17th-century Punakha Dzong (fort cum monastery) and you will have the chance to observe the world’s rarest bird – the White-bellied Heron – in its natural habitat as well as Kingfishers frolicking on the riverbank, continuously surrounded by peaceful alpine valleys. Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 0422nd April 19
- Thimphu (B, L)
Today you will spend the day exploring the capital city of Bhutan. You will visit the Buddha Dordenmawhich is located atop a hill in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to the Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy that dates to the 8th century A.D and was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer). As a result, it is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. Next, you will visit the Zhorigchusum center which showcases the 13 arts and crafts of Bhutan, before moving to the Folk Heritage Museum. This museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, including artifacts from rural homes, and an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment. It also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs and hosts educational programs for children. You will then proceed to the Bhutan Post Museum which tells the story of the evolution of Bhutan’s postal system and offers you the opportunity to create your own postage stamp! Last stop is the Craft Bazaar that hosts Bhutanese textile and craft shops. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 0523rd April 19
- Thimphu –Paro(B)
The day will start with a scenic view of the Thimphu Dzong-TashichhoDzong, which has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby. The final stops before heading towards Paro will include a visit to theWeaving Center, the Traditional Paper-making factory, and the National Memorial Chorten (stupa) which was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of Bhutan, King Jigme DorjiWangchuck, widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The term ‘chorten’ literally means 'seat of faith', and Buddhists often call such monuments the 'Mind of Buddha'. The sight of the elderly generation in circumambulation is both meditative and inspiring. Drive to Paro (55 km – two hours). Overnight in a hotel in Paro.
Day 0624th April 19
- BumdraTrek starts (B, L, D)BumdraTrek starts (B, L, D)
After breakfast, a short drive will take you to Sangchen Chokhor which is the most important college in Bhutan and the trek’s starting point. You will then climb steadily up the mountainside through thick forests of Himalayan blue pines, oaks, and rhododendrons until reaching ‘Chochong-Tse’, a small 17th-century temple and meditation cave. The trail then proceeds with a short steep climb to a panoramic viewpoint; you will walk along the ridgeline trail above the valley floors witnessing great views of the surrounding valleys and the snow-capped peaks. You will then pass through beautiful forests and meadows with wildflowers before approaching the tree line and the campsite. Overnight at the camp. Camping site:Your home for the night is tucked away among the mountain slopes, under theBumdra Monastery at 3800 m (Cave of a Thousand Prayers), offering unimpeded views of the Himalayan range. The camp is preset,permanent, and comfortable. After lunch, you can visit the Monastery (if it is occupied) and climb to the peak on the north (about 4000m) for even better views, returning in time for a well-earned dinner. Duration: 3–4 hours to camp. Optional 2–3 hours return trek to peak. Difficulty: Moderate. Overnight: Comfortable camping.
Day 0725th April 19
- Bumdra trek ends/ Hike to Tiger Nest (Taktshang) (B, D)
Today, you will return from the Bumdra Monastery camp via the ZangtoPelri Monastery towardsthe Taktshang Monastery. After a hearty breakfast, you may either head straight back into the valley or spend a little extra time soaking up the view. Eventually, you will have to descend through the ancient pine and rhododendron forests, following the zig-zagging trail. After one to two hours, you will get the first glimpses of the golden roofs of the temples below. The path snakes across the mountainside between these monasteries before reaching the gardens of ZangtoPelri (Heaven on Earth) from which you can, if you are brave, peer over the edge, straight down onto the ornate rooftops of the Taktshang Monastery, perched against the cliff-face far below. An hour later, you will arrive at the gates of Taktshang looking across the gorge. There is a steep descent to a waterfall and then up some steps until you reach the Tiger’s Nest. This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through a beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.Retracing yoursteps, you will begin the final descent (around 45 minutes) until you reach the car. In the afternoon, you will visit the DrukgyelDzong, built by ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by a fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain an imposing sight. On a clear day, you can have a splendid view of Mt. Jhomolhari (alt.7321). Farewell dinner. Overnight in Paro. Duration of the hike: 5 – 7 hours depending on time spent in the monasteries. Difficulty: Moderate.
Day 0826th April 19
- Departure from Paro (B)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.