Day 1: Arrive Paro Airport.
On arrival at the Paro airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to a hotel. Afternoon for leisure or sightseeing. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Over night at the Hotel.
Day 2: Paro.
After breakfast, make drive to the valley of Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though now in ruins, it towering walls are still an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a splendid view of snow capped Mt Jhomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Then visit 7th century Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan. In the afternoon, visit Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watch tower to protect Rimpung Dzong, and in 1968 inaugurated as the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique Thangka paintings, textiles, weapons and armor, folk arts, relics, coins, postage stamps and small natural history display. Then walk don the trail to visit Rimpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro – Thimphu.
After breakfast drive to Thimphu, stopping briefly at Chuzom (confluence) where the Paro river joins the Thimphu river, to observe the three Chorten on the river bank at this place, each in a different style, which marks the confluence of the two rivers. Shortly before reaching Thimphu, we stop to visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom, built in 1627. The complex now houses the institute for language and cultural studies. After lunch in Thimphu, we visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of government and summer residence of the chief abbot and central monk body, and the national memorial Chorten, completed in 1974, which serves both as a memorial to Bhutan’s revered third king and as a monument to the world peace. In the evening we take a stroll around the town. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Thimphu.
Full day sightseeing in Thimphu valley, including visit to the following as the time permits:
- National library - established in late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage, it now holds an extensive collection of Buddhist text and manuscript;
- Institute for Zorig Chusum (more commonly known as the painting school)- students take a six year course to learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed, and traditional practitioners are trained.
- Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums, which provide fascinating insight into Bhutanese material culture and the way of life;
- Handicrafts emporium, which stocks a wide range of beautifully hand woven textiles, basket ware, silver jewelry, Thangkas and other traditional crafts of the kingdom.
- Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 5: Thimphu - Dopshingpang (17 km, 5-6 hours).
We drive north up the valley towards Dechehcholing Palace, following the Thimphu river. We drive along a logging road for about an hour, passing through Kabesa village en route to Shong Pang where the trek begins. The trek trail ascends gradually to Sinchula (3200 m). If the weather is clear, you can see Phajoding monastery from the pass. After walking another 2 km, you can view Thinley Gang village, Talo Monastery and the road to Bhutan’s former capital, Punakha. The trail descends gradually from the pass till we reach our overnight campsite at 2,800 m.
Day 6: Dopshing Pang - Chorten Ning Po (18 km, 6-7 hours).
The trail to Chorten Ningpo descends rather gradually, passing mainly through densely forested areas. We pass through rice fields before reaching our campsite at 2,700 m.
Day 7: Chorten Ningpo - Kabesa/Punakha (5 km, 1 hour).
The trek trail takes us through villages for an hour until we reach the motor road, where GLTB transport meets us to transfer us to Punakha. We stop about 7 km out of Punakha to visit Chorten Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel, situated on hilltop across the river. Consecrated in Dec 1999, this Chorten is dedicated to Bhutan’s protective deity Mahakala. Contains exceptionally fine scriptures and mural paintings. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 8: Punakha Limukha (15 km, 506 hours).
We follow the road to Punakha Dzong, and then across the Pho Chu (river), which drains the remote Lunana region. After walking through the rice fields for about 15 minutes, we start climbing gradually through scattered chirpine forests, and after about 3 hours enter deciduous forests. Further along the trail we will also enjoy a wonderful view of Punakha valley and the Dzong, and if the weather is clear we will also see some of the snow capped mountains to the north. The campsite is near Limukha village at altitude 2,250 m.
Day 9: Limukha – Chungsakha – Wangduephodrang (15 km, 5-6 hours).
The trek trail rises gradually up through oak and rhododendron forests, and then descends gradually through thick forest to a small Lhakhang dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who used it as a winter residence in the 15th century. From Chungsakha, you can look across the valley to Samtengang. We walk downhill till we reach a road, where GLTB transport meets us for 30 minute drive to Wangdue. Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephoidrang.
Day 10: Wangduephodrang – Punakha.
After breakfast, visit Wangdue Dzong, stretched along the hilltop above the confluence of the Punakha Chu and the Tang Chu rivers. This fortress was built in the 17th century by Zhabdrunng Ngawang Namgyel. Visitors may attend the Wangduephodrang Tshechu, an attractive Tshechu held at the Dzong every autumn. Then drive up the valley to Bhutan’s former capital, Punakha and visit sacred Punakha Dzong. Damaged over the centuries by fire, flood and earth quake, this superb example of Bhutanese architecture has been fully restored in recent years. The Zhabdrung died here, and his remains are conserved in a casket in Machen Lhakhang in the Dzong. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 11: Punakha – Wangdue – Thimphu.
If time favors, finish up the left over sightseeing. Overnight at hotel in Paro/Thimphu.
Day 12: Leave Paro.
You will be taken to Paro Airport by our representative for our onward journey.
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