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


October 22 ~ November 02, 2020

High-end Accommodations

 

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

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 of life. Next, we take an overland journey that through the cultural centers of western Bhutan before celebrating with a hike to spectacular Tiger’s Nest monastery. Other valleys featured in 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 events of the annual Buddhist calendar!

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 site. Return to the Paro’s for a delicious lunch at a special friend’s busy restaurant before walking along the shops and windows to people-watch or pick up last-minute gifts and reminders of your trip. This evening we have a special farewell feast at a surprise location featuring some familiar and some new Himalayan delicacies!

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodations: Olathang Hotel or comparable




DAY 12: BANGKOK, THAILAND | DEPARTURE


This morning/afternoon we bring you back to the airport in time for you to catch your flight to Bangkok or another gateway city, from where you can connect with your international flight home, or travel to other destinations.





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. The hikes on this trip can range from moderate to challenging, depending on your abilities. 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 - 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

 

2020 Dates

 

October 22 - November 02, 2020

2021 Dates

  • September 29 - October 10, 2021
     

  • October 22 - November 02, 2021

2020 Pricing

 

$4,500

Per Person

 

 

 

2021 Pricing

 

$4,500

Per Person

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

  • All Accommodations

  • All meals, including excursions to try well-known local restaurants 

  • The expertise and services of your Bhutanese Trip Leaders, Guides & dedicated trip field staff

  • Courtesy booking services & arrangements for round-trip regional flights from gateway cities (such as Bangkok) to Bhutan & any internal domestic flights (airfare is additional). 

  • Sightseeing, special events & receptions, visits and entry fees 

  • All environmental national parks & conservation fees and permits

  • All Trek Arrangements (if you signed up for a trek), including community camping and commissary equipment (comfortable and roomy two-person tents, kitchen and dining tents, and other  community equipment), camp, cook and support staff

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable

  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance 

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Gratuities

GUEST COMMENT

 

“Through the eyes of a select few informed leaders we saw the dilemmas of a culture: A hitherto sheltered nation discovering the arguments for and against remaining a cloistered society in this 21st Century. I loved the adventure, and I loved the discovery. Unlike anything else I have ever experienced!”


~ Lola W

GETTING THERE

Fly from your home city to Bangkok, Singapore, New Delhi Kolkata or Kathmandu (Main Gateway Cities)* 

Overnight

Fly from Gateway City to Paro, Bhutan.

Important: Bhutan Himalaya Expeditions makes round-trip flight arrangements from the Gateway City of your choice to Bhutan as a courtesy to our travelers. Airfare is not included in trip price. 

For further details please email us using the contact form on our Request Full Details page. 

*Bangkok is the primary Gateway City & offers the most frequent and most reliable flights to Bhutan. 

PRIVATE TRIPS

CUSTOM JOURNEYS TAILORED JUST FOR YOU

___
 

Did you know we also arrange custom journeys throughout the year? Just tell us what you need from your trip and we will put it together for you. 

TRAVEL EXTENSIONS TO
CAMBODIA & LAOS

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(with optional Bangkok Transit arrangements)

If you'd like to spend a little more time exploring the magnificent World Heritage sites of Cambodia and Laos before or after Bhutan with arrangements in and out of Bangkok, we can take care of those details as well. Tie in a visit to the awe-inspiring temples of Angkor Wat or explore the quaint streets of Luang Prabang where French Colonial meets a distinctly unique Asian sensibility. 

REGIONAL

EXTENSIONS

 

|SPOTLIGHT

 

|LONG READS

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HOURS

MON-FRI: 9 a.m. - 5  p.m. PST 

PHONE

Telephone: 1-805-534-9224

Toll Free: 1-855-4-BHUTAN (24-8826)

 

MAIL

BHUTAN HIMALAYA EXPEDITIONS 

1189 Los Osos Valley Road, #6858 

Los Osos, CA 93412

AFFILIATIONS

Member: Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) | Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) |

Registered: California Seller of Travel (CST) CST#2077990-40 

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