SIGNATURE JOURNEY | Spring 2022

Travel to see Bhutan’s stunning rhododendron flowering season

 

Bhutan in the Time of Rhododendrons: Spring 2022 journey

Group | 12 Days | Moderate Touring

Dates: May 09 ~ 20, 2022

(See "Dates & Prices" below for other future departures)

 

Discover Bhutan when the kingdom’s legendary wild rhododendrons bloom like the exuberant whorls of a flamenco dancer’s dress. Hike along forested trails overhung with spring rhododendrons to enter secluded valleys and visit ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries; learn about Bhutanese culinary traditions with a curator of Bhutanese heritage foods. Experience the Himalayan landscape of Bhutan during one of the loveliest seasons of the Bhutanese year. 

 
  •  Excellent time of year for nature enthusiasts 
     

  • Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
     

  • High-end, traditionally authentic lodges & accommodations
     

  • Highlights of central & western Bhutan
     

  • Markets, monuments, museums, and more

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW

 

FROM OUR PHOTOGALLERY

 

ITINERARY

Bhutan's wild and magnificent rhododendron blooms elevate the stunning landscape, transforming the merely beautiful into a journey that is unforgettable. Old-growth rhododendron forests, such as those found in Bhutan and a few other parts of the Himalayas, have long fascinated explorers, botanists, collectors, and enthusiasts. This journey coincides with the long season of flowering rhododendrons in Bhutan and takes us to a centuries-old village in the center of Bhutan, where we get a taste of traditional life. Traveling along the east-west national highway, we stop to “smell the flowers” and explore hiking trails redolent with the breath of Himalayan pines. Enter a series of awe-inspiring Buddhist monasteries strung across the country like pearls on a necklace before the final, spectacular ascent to Tiger’s Nest monastery, one of Bhutan’s most beloved shrines.

RELATED:
Our In Focus feature The Magnificent Madness of Bhutan's Wild Rhododendron Blooms.

DAY BY DAY

DAY 1: FLIGHT FROM BANGKOK, THAILAND TO PARO, BHUTAN


Take the breathtaking flight to Bhutan from Bangkok this morning with some of the highest peaks in the world rearing their heads above the clouds, including Mt. Everest. After meeting your Bhutanese guide—who will travel with you for the duration of your stay—at the airport, we transfer to our lodge in the forested hills overlooking Paro town. Meals included: Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: The Olathang Hotel or comparable




DAY 9: EXPLORE BHUTAN'S CAPITAL


National Memorial Stupa, Thimphu, copyrighted, source: bhutanhimalaya.com

This morning, we explore the bustling and exciting capital of Bhutan. Thimphu has some of the most impressive markets in the country as well as many colorful temples and monasteries scattered around the valley. Later, dive into Bhutanese culture with a trip to the magnificent Royal Textile Academy and learn about Bhutan's 13 sacred arts and crafts.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: The Thimphu City Hotel or comparable




DAY 10: MORE CAPITAL SIGHTS & LEARNING TO COOK BHUTANESE/PARO


Today, meet a Bhutanese food curator and learn to cook a traditional Bhutanese meal with her and her team. Visit a beautiful nunnery overlooking the valley, and take an optional hike with sweeping views of the capital. Transfer this evening with an hour-long return drive to Paro Valley Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Olathang Hotel or comparable




DAY 2: FLIGHT TO JAKAR, CENTRAL BHUTAN


A dramatic mountain flight past Bhutan’s Himalayan peaks brings us to Jakar valley in central Bhutan. We check into our family-owned lodge and begin our stay with an exploration of the Jakar town. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: The Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 5: EXPLORE TANG VALLEY


An old man naps in the medieval palace of Tang Orgyencholing, Bhutan, Spend the day on an excursion to bucolic Tang valley where we eat at a traditional farmhouse featuring ingredients grown on the farm. Cross a suspension bridge and enter a village where time seems to have stopped still before continuing on a hike to Tang Orgyencholing Palace with its surrounding homes and ancient palace complex, now a wonderful repository of Bhutanese history. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 3: PILGRIM’S WALK, JAKAR


Follow the ancient pilgrim’s route around the Jakar Valley on foot with optional van support. The loop around the valley takes us past some of the most beautiful architectural monuments in the premier central Bhutanese valley and provides glimpses of daily local life, including the popular pastime of weaving. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 12: BANGKOK, THAILAND/DEPART


Depart for Bangkok where you can connect with your international flight home.




DAY 6: DRIVE OVERLAND TO GANGTEY VALLEY


We drive today along the national highway back west through the spectacular Black Mountain Range. If we're lucky, we may spot some of Bhutan's rare White Langur monkeys among the flame-trees, magnolia, birch, rhododendron and Asian Maple in this vegetation-rich zone. This evening we rest at our comfortable lodge in Gangtey (with a view of the valley) or, alternately, Trongsa (with a view of the longest fortress in Bhutan). Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Dewachen Lodge, RKPO Lodge, or Yangkhil Resort




DAY 8: EXPLORE PUNAKHA/TRANSFER TO THE CAPITAL


Explore the regal valley of Punakha, home to Bhutan’s Queen Mothers and some of Bhutan’s most exquisite temples. Hike to panoramic Khamsum pagoda, explore villages surrounded by ancient rice-terraces, enter monumental Punakha Dzong and receive a traditional Buddhist blessing. This evening we transfer over the Dochu-la pass to the capital, Thimphu Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Thimphu City Hotel or comparable




DAY 7: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA AND TEMPLES TOUR


This morning we hike the flanks of beautiful Gangtey valley to the nature center and continue our drive along the east-west highway and arrive in the fertile Lobeysa valley in time for a delicious traditional red rice lunch. In the afternoon, we walk along rice terraces and visit a nearby village and its historic temple/monastery. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Zhingkham Resort or comparable




DAY 11: HIKE TO TIGER'S NEST


A dramatic hike up the valley's most famous trail brings us to magnificent Tiger’s Nest. Later, we have time to explore the colorful market center and maybe even the fabulous 7th century Kyichu Temple where we can light votive butter lamps for World Peace. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Olathang Hotel or comparable




DAY 4: EXPLORE BUMTHANG


Bhutan Himalaya Expeditions visiting with local monks We make an indepth exploration of the central Bumthang region today: among the several options are visits to more temples and monasteries, traditional village life and hiking on surrounding forested trails with a stop to sample the local brews and Bumthang’s famed “Swiss” Cheese. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner





WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

The activities on this trip are rated as moderate and suits a wide range of interests and physical fitness levels. Trip members should be in good health and comfortable standing or walking for extended periods of time and confident navigating mixed and steep terrain that may include rocky trails, slippery conditions and, or, steps and stairs. Daily activities include city walking tours, hiking to and entering monasteries, temples and fortresses, driving over winding mountain roads and easy to moderate hiking with some strenuous options where possible. The general elevations in the valleys will mostly range from 6,800 ft to 9,000 ft, with drives that will take us over higher passes before descending to the average elevations mentioned above. The final hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery is 10,000 ft. 

Accommodations

The high-end accommodations on this journey feature traditional Bhutanese style with modern elements. The lodges are handpicked for regional character, comfort, and hospitality, including our beautiful family lodge in the central highlands of Bhutan, the Mountain Resort (see more on the Mountain Resort below). In peak season, depending on availability, we may use lodges comparable to the ones we have listed or advertised. 

Expedition Staff

Every expedition is curated by expert native-born guides and trip leaders who also facilitate meetings and learning experiences with other locally knowledgeable people along the way. Our experienced team shares valuable insights and local expertise to ensure a culturally rich adventure of discovery through the Himalayan landscape and traditions of Bhutan. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Mountain Resort Entrance
Mountain Resort Entrance

Traditional Buddhist stupa in the outer courtyard of the family lodge

Serving Tea
Serving Tea

All rooms at the Mountain Resort feature a spacious design with wood paneling and beams of local pine

Bhutanese Dishes
Bhutanese Dishes

The food at the Mountain Resort features traditional favorites both mild and spicy

Mountain Resort Entrance
Mountain Resort Entrance

Traditional Buddhist stupa in the outer courtyard of the family lodge

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Mountain Resort - Bumthang, Bhutan

Set against a sacred cloud forest a short distance below Bumthang's Jakar Dzong (fortress), our family-run lodge in Central Bhutan features the best elements of traditional architecture, including flagstones of river rock, the beautiful wood-and-stone masonry construction of Central Bhutan, and spacious rooms with wood paneling and post and beams of fragrant pine. Guests can enjoy a healing soak in traditional "hot stone" baths enhanced, in accordance with indigenous practices, by mugwort and other medicinal herbs. It's our perfect base for exploring the ample beauties and blessings of the central highlands of Bhutan.     

DATES & PRICES

 

2022 Dates

 

May 09 - 20, 2022

2022 Dates

  • May 09 - 20, 2023

2022 Pricing

 

$4,500

Per Person doubles; Single traveler Supplement ($550/-pp)

 

2023 Pricing

 

$4,500

Per Person doubles; Single traveler Supplement ($550/-pp)

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $980 per person & $175 per person where a short-duration flight is included on the itinerary. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • All ground transportation, visas for Bhutan and airport transfers