NEW DEPARTURE | Spring 2020

Visit the grand Talo Festival of western Bhutan

 

An active hiking journey to Bhutan’s 2020 springtime festival in the valley of Bhutanese Queens

Group | 12 Days | Moderate Touring

Dates: March 28 ~ April 08, 2020

 

The bucolic Talo & Nobgang valleys in western Bhutan, surrounded by green rice paddies during sowing season, and overlooking the ancient capital of Punakha, is the ancestral home of Bhutanese Queens. Each year, a Buddhist mask dance festival celebrates the foundations of the monastery established by the illustrious Shabdrung, the "Great Unifier," who codified the religious and administrative laws of Bhutan. This journey takes us to the Grand Talo Festival, named for the famous monastery pictured on this page, combined with a hiking adventure across the main cultural centers of Bhutan. 

 
  •  Active country hikes and walks
     

  • Buddhist mask dances 
     

  • High-end, traditionally authentic lodges & accommodations
     

  • Highlights of central & western Bhutan
     

  • Markets, monuments, museums and more

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW

 

FROM OUR PHOTOGALLERY

 

ITINERARY

Talo is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s queens. Our hiking journey to visit this colorful splash on the kingdom’s springtime festival calendar sidesteps some of the other, more crowded, venues, and brings us to the fertile agricultural valley of Punakha. But first, we begin the journey with a mountain flight to the lovely central highlands where we explore a series of scenic valleys before making the overland road trip back west to attend the festival. A final climb up to fabulous “Tiger’s Nest,” closes this early April 2020 adventure. 

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 8: DRIVE TO JAKAR, BUMTHANG


Today we continue our drive east along the national higheway to Jakar Valley, with a stop en-route and the textile co-op in Chumey valley to admire the local textiles and 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 7: GANGTEY/TRONGSA


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 5: FESTIVAL DAY IN PUNAKHA


Enjoy the grand spectacle of the Talo Tshechu Festival, celebrating one of the primary founding figures of Bhutan in the Talo-Nobgang valley, home to Bhutan's queens. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Zhingkham Resort or comparable




DAY 4: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA AND TEMPLES TOUR


This morning we 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 9: PILGRIMS WALK, JAKAR VALLEY LOOP


Visit an exquisite series of temples and monasteries around the valley today on a loop hike that follows the ancient pilgrim's walk, from the 8th century temple of the future Buddha to the Padmasambhava cave at Kurjey, and the magnificently restored 14th century Konchogsum Monastery - picture, right. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 2: EXPLORE THIMPHU, BHUTAN'S BUSY CAPITAL


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

Thimphu has some of the most interesting 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 Ariya Hotel or comparable




DAY 3: MORE CAPITAL SIGHTS & LEARNING TO COOK BHUTANESE


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 6: FESTIVAL DAY / EXPLORE PUNAKHA VALLEY


Spend a second day at the Grand Talo Tshechu Festival or take a tour around the valley to see the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan and/or a hike to Khamsum Pagoda with sweeping views of the valley. 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 10: MOUNTAIN FLIGHT TO PARO, MARKET, ARCHERY


Take the dramatic half-hour flight to Paro with views of the high Himalayas and the deep valleys and ridges that form much of the terrain of Bhutan. In Paro, there may be time to explore the town or spend some time trying your hand at archery, in traditional-style, with bamboo bows and arrows. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Olathang Resort or comparable





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 - 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

 

March 28 - April 08, 2020

2021 Dates

  • March 26 - April 06, 2021

2020 Pricing

 

$4,500

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

 

2021 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

  • 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

 

The country is beautiful, and its story is compelling but the special sense of a privileged view into the life of the country that you provided is beyond describing. We are very grateful; thank you!


~ Laurie H. Z, Denver, Co.

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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