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. 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. 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, which is an excellent midway 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.
Afternoon sightseeing - Visit the Memorial chorten built in the memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, 15 century Changangkha monastery, Motithang mini zoo to see the rare "Takin" national animal of Bhutan and drive further down with good view of the Thimphu valley. Visit the new Drupthob nunnery temple and free time in the market.
This morning there is ample time to get a feel for the country's capital or do some shopping in the bazaar.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. Then there is the Handicraft Emporium with famous weaving, woodcarvings and paintings and also the Post Office - Bhutan's exquisite stamps are world-renowned. In the afternoon we will transfer to Wangduephodrang crossing the Dochula pass 3100 meters. In fine weather you will see the eastern Himalayan ranges including the highest mountain in Bhutan Mt.Gangar Punsum 7520 meters. The drive from the pass is all the way downhill dropping to the lower and warmer valleys of lobesa. Visit the market area. Overnight at Wangdi Kichu Resort.
Today the drive takes about 6/7 hours crossing 3 passes over 3000 meters. The route offers magnificent views of the Himalayas and beautiful landscape through scattered hamlets and forest of rhododendrons and pine. Picnic lunch will be served at the 18 century Chendebji chorten. After one and half hour arrive at a small town known as Trongsa, meaning new village. The town mainly consists of Tibetan refugees but the most impressive of all is the Trongsa Dzong. The whole of eastern Bhutan was controlled from this fortress during the mid 17th century. Proceed another 2 hours to Bumthang visiting the Chume weaving center. Overnight at Lhendupcholing Lodge.
Bumthang altitude 2600m, has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprised of four smaller valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Here tales of Guru Padmasambhava and his re-incarnation known as Tertons still linger in most nooks and corners. It is also known for its woolen material (yathra) which can be seen hung outside of houses for sale. Sightseeing - Visit the Jakar Dzong, 7th century Jambay Lhakhang, Kurjey monastery, Tamshing and Kunchosum monastery. This sightseeing is a round trip so it is more interesting done on foot.
Trek starts to Ngang Lhakhang. The trail follows the Chamkhar river up stream filled with rainbow trouts. The walk is very pleasant through pine forest we take our time, admiring the beautiful country side. Our camp is set at 3000 meters altitude.
Climb gradually over the Phephe la pass at 3,465m. The one hour descent from the pass is steep & sometimes slippery. At the bottom we reach a beautiful old mani wallending at an archway chorten. Here the forest opens up to give the first view of the day, the wide Tang valley. Along the way one can enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. Arrive camp at 3100 meters.
We follow the main trail through the bottom of a broad valley. High on the left is Tahung & above that there is another village called Wobtang. Follow the trail to a wooden bridge at 2865m. The trail changes to a dirt road just before the bridge. Ahead & across the river is the impressive Ugyencholing Dzong. A big suspension bridge crosses the river to meet a dirt road. From here we will be transferred to Bumthang (2/3hrs). Overnight at Lhendupcholing Lodge.
We make the return journey to Wangdi.
*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.
In the morning we drive 45 minutes to Punakha and visit the Punakha Dzong which served as an old capital of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is built between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods and fire. Every year during the month of February a procession known as the Punakha Serda takes place to commemorate the victory over the Tibetans. Proceed to Thimphu. Afternoon transfer to Paro. Overnight Kichu Resort.
Trip concludes after breakfast with a transfer to the airport.