After clearing customs and immigration you will meet your Bhutanese leader and drive a short distance via the main street of Paro to our accommodation at the Kichu Resort. Rest of day at leisure.
Our touring program in Paro will take in the grand Paro Dzong which dominates the valley and is the most important Dzong (fortress) in Bhutan. It is the model by which all other dzongs are constructed and is not open to visitors. The watchtower above it, Ta Dzong, is also an impressive building that houses the National Museum that is very informative. Old costumes and battle dress, together with priceless jewellery and specimens of the kingdom's unique flora and fauna are included within the museum. Downtown, there is a mixed collection of shops selling basic goods, and also handicrafts of wood, cloth and metalware. Archery is the national sport and practised throughout the kingdom. Shooting ranges lined by willow trees can be seen during our travels, as well as some traditional style bridges.
A really exciting and informative day as an introduction to this wonderful country (described in part above). The Paro valley is truly beautiful, being a location for various farming activities, including commercial quantities of asparagus, strawberries and shitake mushrooms for export, plus various grain and vegetable crops. It is a patchwork of colours delineated by well kept traditional design farm houses that are ornately decorated. All of the slopes surrounding the valley are forested and the hint of mountains beyond is alluring. Simply driving through the willow lined streets is relaxing and uplifting – there is no clutter of people, or traffic or rubbish, (Plastic bags are banned). Our morning is spent exploring and appreciating the Tigers Nest Monastery or Taktsang, as it is known in Bhutan, a short drive from our resort. It takes us about one and a half hours to walk up the winding trail steeply through chir pine forest to a tea house and excellent vantage point. Another half hour walk takes us almost directly opposite the cliffs where the monastery is set. The monastery is the divine resting place of the Guru Ringpoche, and although it was accidentally burnt down some years ago, reconstruction is now finished and the Monastery is now fully restored. We return back to our accommodation for lunch, afternoon at leisure.
Trek to Khadey Gom (3235m) crossing Yatong Gompa, Talung village.Commencing our trek the trail winds around picturesque farmlands fenced with piles of stones to protect the fields from deer & wild boars. Overnight camp.
Trek to Dongney Tsho (3200m) via Saga La. A gradual hike for approximately one hour through meadows and coniferous forest is followed by a 1-1.5 hour climb to the Saga pass. On a clear day there is a fantastic view on both sides of the pass. The view towards Paro includes sacred Mount Chomolhari & below in the valley the Drukgyel Dzong & the sacred Taktsang Monastery.Looking to the west the peaks of Haa and the border with Tibet can be seen.From the pass it is all downhill for two hours through mixed conifer forests and rhododendrons. We camp in an open meadow at Dongney Tsho surrounded with tall firs.To the left is the black Choshola mountain: a holy place from which a lake escaped. Overnight camp.
The first part of today's hike is steeply downhill until we reach the Genchu Zam. The hike is through thick vegetation, laughing thrushes, magpies, nutcrackers and pheasants are often seen. There is a beautiful small village comprised of about eight households and a temple on the left side of the trail. Chodeypu, is set at the base of the mountain Laump Bjara (Foggy Mountain, inhabitated by mountain goats). From this village will walk to Balakha Chhu where the ancient Haa Planters' Trail ends. Here we meet our transport and transfer to Thimphu. This afternoon we will visit the main Secretariat building, the Tashichho Dzong is the most prominent building consisting of the main Secretariat, the National Assembly Hall, the Office of the King and the Throne Room. Its remarkable construction is in traditional Bhutanese style completed without the use of nails or metal of any kind. There is a large Stupa dedicated to the late King HM. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, regarded as the founder of modern day Bhutan.
This morning there is ample time to get a feel for the country's capital or do some shopping in the bazaar. Then there is the Handicraft Emporium with famous weaving, woodcarvings and paintings and also the Post Office - Bhutan's exquisite stamps are world-renowned. From Thimphu, we drive for about three hours to Wangduephodrang (locally known as “Wangdi”), changing climatic zones from mountainous to tropical. On the way, we cross over Dochu La, a 3150-metre-high pass marked by prayer flags and a chorten and, if the weather is fine, a view of the eastern Himalaya including the highest mountain in Bhutan, Mt Gangar Punsum (7520m). Overnight Wangdi Kichu Resort.
*On the 24th June 2012, the beautiful Wangduephodrang Dzong was completely destroyed by fire. It was one of the oldest and most substantial dzongs in Bhutan built in 1638. Renovations were underway when the fire started and so most of the historic relics had been put into storage and were saved from the devastation of the fire. Re-building is already underway to restore the dzong to its former glory.
Today we visit the Punakha Dzong, which once served as the old capital of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is built in 1637 between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods and fire. Every February there is a procession known as the Punakha Serda to commemorate the victory over the Tibetans. From there it's just 45 minutes' drive to Wangduephodrang where you can view the Dzong and stroll around the market area. Afternoon drive to Paro for overnight accommodation at the Kichu Resort.
Trip concludes after breakfast with a transfer to the airport.