This 9 day tour allows you to experience the fascinating annual Festival of Paro and complete a stunning 5 day trek. This trip is your chance to really experience the essence of Bhutan life and character!Departure:
9 DaysBest season:
October - December; March - MayTrek Grade:
Any festival in Bhutan is a colourful affair as people celebrate and socialise, simultaneously completing devotional duties, religious teachings and catching up with friends and family while showing off new clothes and jewellery, eating the best food and getting away from daily grind of work! Attending a Bhutanese festival is one of the best ways to appreciate the essence of the Bhutanese character.
The Paro Festival, or Paro Tsechu is a 5 day religious festival celebrated only in Paro. A renowned giant thangka of Guru Rimpoche is shown at dawn on the last day and people throng to get blessing on this special occasion.
We will attend key elements of the festival while also completing a beautiful 5 day trek through the stunning Bhutanese countryside, observing daily life of rural people and immersing yourself in the spectacular landscape.
BRIEF ITINERARYDay 01:
Welcome to Bhutan Day 02:
Paro Festival & Hike to the Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Monastery) Day 03:
Paro – Thimphu (Start of Trek) Day 04:
Geynikha - Gur Day 05:
Gur – Labatamba Day 06:
Labatamba – Panka Day 07:
Panka – Talakha - Chamgang Day 08:
Thimphu – Paro Airport (Departure)
DETAILED ITINERARYDay 01: Welcome to Bhutan
The spectacular flight into Paro is a great introduction to beautiful Bhutan – you may have breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and many other Himalayan peaks including the sacred Jhomolhari and Mt Jichu Drake in Bhutan. Your guide will meet you on arrival and take you to your hotel to settle in and have lunch.
After lunch we get the chance to enjoy seeing some of the Grand Paro Festival and then, in the evening, we drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong. This dzong, or fort, was built in 1647 by the Great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. Sadly it was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins, but it provides us with an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. We can explore the ramparts and on a clear day have breathtaking views of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m).
On the way back to Paro we will visit Kichu Lhakhang, a monastery that was built to hold down the left foot of an ogress whose body covers Bhutan and most of Eastern Tibet. It is one of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously constructed in one night by Tibetan King Songten Gampo in the 7th century. This is one of two of these monasteries that lies within Bhutan, the rest being found in neighboring countries.
After this great introduction to the history and mysticism of Bhutan, we return to our hotel to enjoy our dinner and a well earned rest.Day 02: Paro Festival & Hike to the Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Monastery)
After breakfast we will again enjoy checking out the Paro festival. After lunch, we head out of town to visit Taktsang, the Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched high on a cliff and one of the most important places in Buddhism. While flying on the back of a tiger, Guru Rinpoche identified Taktsang as a sacred place and meditated in a cave for three months. Guru Rinpoche is also known as Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD. Today it's perhaps the best-known monastery in the world, because of its stunning location and it is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. The monastery was built around the meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro and although a fire destroyed most of the original buildings in 1998, these have since been painstakingly restored to their former glory.
The hike to Taktshang is a steep walk and takes 2- 2 ½ hours to reach. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we gain an incredible view of the Monastery, perched precariously on the edge of the sheer 800m cliff!
While tourists are generally not allowed inside the monastery we have been able to arrange entry for our group so we will have the rare opportunity to go inside this incredible monastery and pay our respects by lighting a butter lamp!
After this amazing experience we will return to our hotel in Paro for dinner and rest.Day 03: Paro – Thimphu (Start of Trek)
After breakfast we will visit the National Museum of Bhutan. This stunning building shaped like a conch shell houses the largest collection of artifacts, textiles and antiques in Bhutan. A specific route must be followed in the building which ensures a clockwise progression around important images. Exhibits include an impressive collection of thankas; a description of early history that illustrates how magic and science are inseparable in Bhutan; and not to be missed, Bhutan’s eclectic stamp collection, including some stamps that you can listen to on a record player!
After having lunch we will drive to Khoma – Geynikha to commence our trek. Today we walk for approximately 4 hours through terraced paddy fields and coniferous forests to the settlement of Geynikha (2950 metres). The route then descends to a chorten that marks a camping place along side a stream at 2800 metres.
Dinner and overnight in tented accommodation.Day 04: Geynikha - Gur
Walking time 4 hours
Crossing a suspension bridge, the trail heads west for a while, then climbs steeply towards the south to a rock platform and a crest at 3200 metres. A further walk of about two hours leads to a camp in a forest clearing at 3350 metres.
Dinner and overnight in tented accommodation.Day 05: Gur – Labatamba
Walking time 5 hours
We cross the pass at 4240 metres for a view of Spectacular Dagala village. We pass though several herders camps enroute to the foot of the broad Labatamba valley at 4300 metres near Utso Lake, where plenty of Golden Trout flourish. There are many lakes in this beautiful vicinity and tonight we will camp near the Utso Lake.
Dinner and overnight in tented accommodation.Day 06: Labatamba – Panka
Walking time 4 hours
The trail climbs along the western side of the lake to a saddle at 4500 metres, where there are good mountain views. From the pass there is a steep descent to another lake at 4350 metres. A short distance beyond the lake leads to the valley and then to Panka at 4000 metres.
Dinner and overnight in tented accommodation.Day 07: Panka – Talakha - Chamgang
Walking time 4 hours
Our route leads north crossing a pass at 4000 metres, then climbs along the side of the ridge to a crest at 4270 metres. From here there is a view of the Dagala range and a view of Thimphu, far to the North. It is then a long descent through forests to the Gomba (monastery) and village of Talakha (3083 metres). We walk down hill till Chamgang where our vehicle will pick us up and drive us back to Thimphu.
Tonight we relax and relish the comforts of hotel living!Day 08: Thimpu
Back in Thimphu!
After breakfast, we will visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King of Bhutan, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The deities depicted inside are from the Nyingmapa tradition of Buddhism and teachings of Vajrayana (or tantric form of) Buddhism and provide a rare insight into Buddhist Philosophy.
We then visit the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts, including rare ancient religious texts and some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion. This is followed by a visit to the amazing Folk Heritage Museum. The principal exhibit is the museum building itself, a stunningly restored traditional rammed-earth and timber house. The museum is dedicated to connecting people to Bhutan’s rural past through exhibition of items and artefacts used in rural households, demonstrations of rural customs, traditions, habits and skills; educational programmes for children about rural life in Bhutan, and research and documentation of rural life.
Then we visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Here we learn that Bhutanese arts and crafts are deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy; the thirteen ancient art and crafts are together known as Zorig Chusum. The creation of art is mainly a spiritual practice used to convey spiritual values. New art is constantly created to replace the old, reflecting the Bhutanese understanding of material impermanence.
After lunch, we are lucky enough to visit the Traditional Medicine Institute where traditional herbal medicines are prepared and distributed nationwide. Then we visit the Textile Museum where we can get to know the living national art of weaving and where changing exhibitions introduce us to the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles woven by Bhutanese women and men.
After our full day of history and culture to top off what we saw and learnt on our trek, we have dinner and spend a relaxing night in our hotel before heading home tomorrow.Day 09: Thimphu – Paro Airport (Departure)
Early morning, drive to the airport and bid each other farewell after a great trip!