SIGNATURE JOURNEY

The Blessings of Bhutan

 

Exploring the spiritual heart of Bhutan, its scenic trails, temples & vibrant Buddhist culture

Group Travel| 12 Days  


Moderate to challenging hikes; easy to moderate cultural touring, high-end accommodations

2021 Travel Program (tentative post-covid recovery dates):
October 22 - November 02, 2021

(See below for 2022 dates and prices)

 

Take this beautiful fall hiking journey exploring the breathtaking central highlands of Bhutan, stopping at some of the most scenic temples and monasteries in the kingdom, and learning about the ancient Himalayan Buddhist culture that shapes life in Bhutan to this day. Take optional hikes along forested mountain trails, country walks skirting terraced rice fields, and experience an exciting mask dance festival as well as magnificent Tiger's Nest monastery.  

 
  •  Enjoy a Bhutanese feast prepared by a curator of Bhutanese food traditions
     

  • Meet interesting Bhutanese people from many walks of life
     

  • Watch a traditional mask dance festival
     

  • Visit exquisite temples and monasteries 
     

  • Markets, monuments, optional hikes and more

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW

 

FROM OUR PHOTOGALLERY

 

ITINERARY

This scenic journey during Bhutan’s lovely fall season starts with your arrival in Paro, Western Bhutan, from where you take a scenic mountain flight to the central valleys of Bumthang. Here, in our home region, we attend the colorful Jakar Tshechu festival and explore the enchanting valley and its ancient monasteries, taking informative walking tours and enjoying a deeper experience of the kingdom’s balanced way life. Next, we take an overland journey through western Bhutan's cultural centers before celebrating with a hike to the spectacular Tiger’s Nest monastery. Other valleys featured on this journey include Punakha, Thimphu, Wangdue, and Trongsa, with a possible overnight excursion to Gangtey. We also meet interesting Bhutanese people and celebrate a vibrant annual mask dance festival at one of the most anticipated annual Buddhist calendar events!

DAY BY DAY

DAY 01: 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 your lovely lodge overlooking Paro town.

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: The Olathang Hotel or comparable




DAY 02: MOUNTAIN FLIGHT TO BUMTHANG - JAKAR TOWN


Today, a dramatic mountain flight over Bhutan’s Himalayan peaks and valleys brings us to Bumthang. We have time to check in at our lovely family lodge and stretch our legs with a stroll to the small, two-lane market center of Jakar with its picturesque fortress overlooking the shops and houses from the high a knoll like an elegant white bird.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 03: PILGRIM’S WALK - JAKAR VALLEY


This morning, embark on the traditional Buddhist pilgrim’s walk around Jakar Valley. We stop at a series of exquisite monasteries and temples where we learn about Bhutanese cosmology, life, impermanence, the Kalachakra “Wheel of Time” and other foundational pillars of Himalayan Buddhism. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch mid-day and complete the circuit with a special blessing at a local monastery.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 04: EXPLORE TANG VALLEY


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 05: JAKAR FESTIVAL


Break out your festive gear or, better yet, try on the colorful Bhutanese national dress today and join Jakar Valley’s residents at the annual event of the year! The mask dances depict myths and legends from Himalayan Buddhism, and illustrate morals such as compassion, tolerance and non-violence that still informs Bhutanese national life to this day.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 06: DRIVE TO TRONGSA - GANGTEY


After descending from the high pass of Yotongla, we drive today along the national highway west toward the densely forested valleys of Trongsa and Wangdue valleys. We may have time for a stop at the beautiful Museum of Royal Antiquities, housed in a fascinating medieval watchtower. 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, Gangtey Ecolodge, RKPO Lodge, Yangkhil Resort or comparable




DAY 07: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA


Today we descend via the steeply forested valleys of the Black Mountains. If we’re lucky, we’ll spot families of Bhutan’s rare White Langur monkeys among the flame-trees, magnolia, birch, rhododendron and Asian Maple in this vegetation-rich zone. In the evening, check into the beautiful lodge overlooking Punakha’s massive dzong. Begin the day with a stop at the beautiful Museum of Royal Antiquities, housed in a fascinating medieval watchtower.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Zhingkham Resort or comparable




DAY 08: PUNAKHA HIKE & TOUR - TRANSFER TO THIMPHU


Explore the regal valley of Punakha, home to Bhutan’s Queen Mothers and some of Bhutan’s most exquisite temples. Visit monumental Punakha Dzong, receive a traditional Buddhist blessing and walk across the country’s longest suspension bridge.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: The Ariya Resort or comparable




DAY 09: EXPLORE MUSEUMS & MONUMENTS OF BHUTAN’S BUSY CAPITAL


Dive into Bhutanese culture with a trip to the magnificent Royal Textile Academy, then see how “Deh-sho,” Bhutanese handmade paper, is made. Explore Thimphu’s colorful city center and learn about Bhutan’s 13 sacred arts and crafts. End the day with an evening walk alongside Buddhist devotees at the National Memorial Stupa, built in memory of Bhutan’s third king.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: The Ariya Resort or comparable




DAY 10: THIMPHU’S GIANT BUDDHA; HIKE - TRANSFER TO PARO


Today we visit the largest bronze Buddha in the world, followed by a hike on a scenic forest trail with views of the capital. Following a delicious lunch of traditional delicacies, we transfer to Paro in time for an evening stroll or a round of traditional archery using bamboo bows and arrows. An early dinner and rest prepare us for our early morning hike.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Olathang Hotel or comparable




DAY 11: TIGER’S NEST HIKE FAREWELL DINNER


Cap your journey across Bhutan with an early hike to the famous cliffside monastery at Taktshang, or the “Tiger’s Nest.” Complete the strenuous hike to the monastery, perched on a steep rock face more than 2,000ft above the valley floor, or rest at the halfway viewpoint to admire the beauty of the surrounding mountains, the magnificent temple, and meditation retreats that sit above the famous s