SIGNATURE JOURNEY | Spring 2022

Journey to discover Bhutan’s vibrant Warriors Pageant

 

Travel to see Bhutan’s first 2020 mask dance festival & welcome the magnificent Himalayan springtime  

Group | 12 Days | Moderate Touring

Dates: March 01 ~ 12, 2020

 

Get an early start on Bhutan’s exciting 2020 travel season with this early March departure to experience the colorful “Pageant of Warriors,” a unique festival that celebrates the handpicked historical guardians of Buddhist treasures in Bhutan. From the western valleys of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha this active adventure takes you cross-country to the beautiful central regions of Bumthang where we explore a network of hidden valleys. We close our journey with a scenic mountain flight back to Paro and a final hike up to spectacular Tiger's Nest!  

 
  •  Active country hikes and walks
     

  • A festival of Buddhist pageantry and dances 
     

  • High-end, traditionally authentic lodges & accommodations
     

  • Highlights of western & central Bhutan
     

  • Markets, monuments, museums and more

SEE DAILY ITINERARY

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW

 

FROM OUR PHOTOGALLERY

 

ITINERARY

A group of Bhutanese warriors, the Paazaaps, have long been entrusted with the safety of Bhutan’s holy Buddhist relics, housed inside the great fortress of Punakha in western Bhutan. It is a sacred duty they have performed with honor and pride for centuries. This early springtime festival celebrates their important contributions to Bhutanese history, and the colorful role they play in protecting the cultural treasures of the country, providing us with a wonderful excuse to visit the festival and range across the Bhutanese countryside. We start with the western cultural centers before making our way overland across to the surpassingly lovely valleys of central Bhutan, with stops along the way to visit a series of unforgettable monasteries and temples. A short flight past the peaks and valleys of Bhutan, and a final climb up to fabulous “Tiger’s Nest,” closes this remarkable 2020 adventure. 

 


To see photographs and read about a recent warriors pageant festival, please see our picture story: Bhutan’s Procession of Warriors Festival. 

DAY BY DAY

DAY 01: FLIGHT FROM BANGKOK, THAILAND TO PARO, BHUTAN


The Giant Copper Buddha at Thimphu, Bhutan's Capital. Copyrighted. Source: bhutanhimalaya.com 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 Bhutan's bustling capital where we check in at your hotel. Later, this afternoon, take an orientation walk in the busy city center before returning to your hotel for dinner. Meals included: Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: The Ariya Resort or comparable




DAY 03: GIANT BUDDHA, HIKE & LUNCH; PUNAKHA


Today, start the day with a walk around the giant Buddha Dordenma, the world's largest bronze Buddha. Follow this with a hike through the prayer-flags-strewn forests above the capital, arriving in town for lunch. Enjoy a healthy organic meal including Bhutanese cassava noodles and dumplings and soup and salad before continuing to Punakha, Bhutan's old capital in the arly afternoon. Check in to your lovely lodge overlooking the valley's monumental 17th century dzong! Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: The Zhingkham Resort or comparable




DAY 10: FLIGHT TO PARO / PARO MARKET


A dramatic mountain flight past Bhutan’s Himalayan peaks brings us to Paro in the morning. 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 09: 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 08: EXPLORE BUMTHANG


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 Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 06: TRANSFER TO JAKAR, CHUMEY WEAVING CENTER


Transfer to the central valleys of Bumthang this morning, stopping at the Chumey Weaving Center before continuing on to our beautiful family-run lodge. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Mountain Resort or comparable




DAY 12: BANGKOK, THAILAND/DEPART


This morning our staff will pick you up from the lodge in time for you to catch your flight to Bangkok or another gateway city where you can connect with your international flight home.




DAY 05: TRANSFER TO GANGTEY/TRONGSA


We drive today along the national highway east 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: Eco Lodge, Dewachen Lodge, RKPO Lodge, or Yangkhil Resort




DAY 04: FESTIVAL DAY IN PUNAKHA


Enjoy the grand spectacle of the Punakha Pageant of Warriors, celebrating Bhutan's ancient martial tradition and history. To see a full description of the festival visit: Bhutan's Procession of Warriors Festival. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Zhingkham Resort or comparable




DAY 02: EXPLORE THE MARKETS & MONUMENTS OF BHUTAN’S CAPITAL CITY


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 colorfully around the valley. We explore some of the best options in our itinerary today. Later, dive into Bhutanese culture with a trip to the magnificent Royal Textile Academy and learn about Bhutan's 13 sacred arts and crafts. End the day with an evening walk with 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 07: 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 11: HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST/PARO MARKET


Today, start very early to beat the crowds on the hike to Tiger's Nest. Enter the magnificent cliffside temple and marvel at the ancient art and sacred shrines within this living temple complex dating to the 8th century. Later, enjoy lunch in the town center and pick up last-minute gifts and souvenirs before heading back to the lodge to try some traditional archery. A farewell dinner wraps up your last night with the guides. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Olathang Hotel 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.