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Bhutan - Shangri La Found

Is it the fabled “Shangri La”? The last of the Himalayan Buddhist Kingdoms remains elusive to the casual traveller. With its official policy of ‘Gross National Happiness’ and the limitations it places on those fortunate enough to make the journey, Bhutan holds a special mystique.

We journey into the heart of the kingdom and attempt to unravel the secrets of this fabled land. We will visit huge monasteries and dzongs. We hope to take a short trek in the lower Himalaya. We also will be seeking one of the many local festivals that occur during September when the climate is ideal for travel. Late Autumn sees clear skies and wonderful views.

What People Are Saying

"Bhutan is magical and unspoiled, the countryside as well as the people. Our Global Drift guide shared a wealth of information on the Bhutanese Buddhist culture, philosophy and history. The people we met were lovely and friendly always keen to share their lives and thrilled to have their photos taken. The highlight of our trip was witnessing the National sport. A Bhutanese archery tournament."
Debbie Walker, USA

12 Day Itinerary
Departure:26th August 2024(Monday to Friday)

A SPECIAL NOTE If you have been interested in travelling to Bhutan before you will know the government regulates travel and charges a minimum daily fee of U$225 for all travellers regardless of how the tour is structured. A local guide is also always included to enhance the journey. Global Drift has structured the tour and itinerary to also include all meals in Bhutan (3 per day) so that much of the local ground costs you would normally spend are removed. Many travel companies provide much shorter 7-9 day tours and spend much of this time in India and/or Nepal. This makes it a regional tour and not exclusively an exploration of Bhutan. Global Drift has decided to make this Bhutan journey specifically about unravelling the mysteries and wonders of this remote land. Shop around. You will not find a more competitive price for this comprehensive tour of Bhutan.

Day 1 - Arrive Paro (flight) on to Thimphu
Fantastic views of the Himalayas on clear days. On arrival we are welcomed with the white silk scarf called “Khadhar”. We head out directly to Thimphu which takes around an hour and half. Here we begin with the visit to the memorial temple which depicts the Buddhist teachings in form of paintings and statues. Originally this temple was initiated by the Third King who is known as the “Father of Modern Bhutan”. In the evening we can stroll through the town on our own.
Day 2 - Thimphu
We visit the temple of the nuns (Changgangkha) from the 12th century and then take a drive to the view point of Thimphu. En route we take a look at the Takin (national animal) research centre. Lunch is taken in one of the town restaurants. We then enjoy some sightseeing in Thimphu including the Tashichoedzong, which houses the King’s office on the southern wing and the quarters of the kingdom's Je Khempo (chief abbot), and a school for young monks. This structure delights the eye with its balanced proportions and an air of majesty. A great staircase leads into the interior of the dzong. Interesting cultural visits will commence with the Folk heritage museum which contains the medieval life style of the Bhutanese. Then on to the national library which contains the collections of literature and scriptures. We continue on to the Traditional Medicine Hospital where visitors can watch the preparation of traditional medicines
Day 3 - Thimphu to Punakha
Depending on school calendars, we may have the opportunity to visit a Bhutanese primary school in Thimphu. There we can experience their morning assembly which includes the singing of the Bhutanese national anthem, pledging allegiance to the flag and morning prayers. A drive of 2-3 hours takes us to Punakha over the Dochula pass which is 3050 meters above sea level. On clear days there are amazing views of the snow capped peaks of Bhutan. A magnificent sight is the Dzong, which has been beautifully restored. This is the second of Bhutan’s dzongs. For many years, until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government. The small size of Punakha itself is surprising, considering the important role it has played in the history of Bhutan and the fact it was the country’s winter capital for 300 years.
Day 4 - Punakha to Gangte
After breakfast we enjoy a gradual walk to Chimi Lhakhang. This temple is dedicated to Drupa Kinley, a popular lama who brought a change in the orthodox system of the then religion. We lunch then enjoy the drive to Gangte which is around 2 hours. On the way we visit the Wangdi Prodrang Dzong with its remarkable position commanding nearly a 360° view of the surrounding landscape. The dzong has a rustic charm with two courtyards and a monks’ assembly hall featuring statues of the Past, Present, and Future Buddhas. Have evening tea and take the 2 hours drive to Gangte gompa, home of the endangered cranes in winter. The guesthouse is basic since there is no electricity in this area to protect the cranes. ***Gangte has no electricity so the facilities are basic***
Day 5 - Gangte to Bumthang
We start early to reach Trongsa for lunch. En route we visit the Gangte temple. We then turn eastward crossing the Pelila pass at 3300 meters. This pass divides western Bhutan from east with several villages with different dialects. We stop at the village of Sephu whose residents are great weavers of ‘Charu', a coarse fabric from wool. We then reach the view point of Trongsa. The dzong looks magnificent on the ridge. The interior is a maze of courtyards, passageways, and 23 temples. Driving through spectacular mountain scenery we cross the Yotungla pass. The road to Bumthang rises rapidly till the Kikila pass in a series of hairpin turns. Looking ahead across the valley and the dzong, the view is amazing.
Day 6 to 7 - Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to four valleys - Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura. These valleys are wide and open, and the mountains have relatively gentle slopes, there is a feeling of spaciousness that is unequalled in any other part of Bhutan. We begin by exploring the Choekhor and Chumey Valleys. Tamshing Lhakhang contains paintings of the history of the region and is also one of the only places where Pema Lingpa's tradition of religious teachings still continues today. We continue on to the Kurjey Lhakhang complex one of the most sacred in Bhutan. The complex is made up of three temples all facing south. During dinner we observe “Puta” making, a dish made from buckwheat, something like a noodle.
Day 8 - Jakar to Punakha
We explore the villages of Chenbji & Rukubji. Here the crops are mustard, radish, beetroot, buckwheat and wheat. Lots of dried turnip leaves are sold by these villages. This is also one of the few communities in Bhutan who grow their own bamboo for miscellaneous use. This has brought less pressure on the encroachment on the forest which is highly priced for Bhutan’s economy.
Day 9 - Punakha to Paro
This morning we set off towards the Tashithang area and enjoy the natural scenery of sub tropical forests. There are many bird species and orchids in this area as well as numerous farming villages. We plan to take a short hike to Khamsumyuelling built by the Crown Prince’s mother. Late afternoon we retrace our path via the Dochula pass back to Paro.
Day 10 - Paro
We enjoy a morning in town and then visit the Ringpong dzong specially to see the painting of the great saint, Milarepa. Milarepa is considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and is believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. We will walk to the bridge and see the cantilever wooden bridge still in use. A stroll in Paro town and drive to the hotel before dusk.
Day 11 - Paro
We enjoy a morning hike to the fabled "Tiger's Nest" Taktsang Monastery. The walk takes about an hour uphill till the viewpoint and another hour to the main complex. Initially, Guru Rinpoche visited and meditated in 8th century at this particular site. The Desi Tenzin Rabgye later built the temple in the 17th century. If time permits you can also visit ruined Drukgyel Dzong, the place of historic war between Tibet and Bhutan in 17th century. Our farewell dinner is shared in Paro.
Day 12 - Paro departure
We board our plane for our outbound flight.

Trip Options

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Extra Accommodation: Single InquireDetails
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Pre and post trip accommodation is not offered on this tour as you must fly in and out on the scheduled start and finish days of the trip. The tour begins and ends at the Paro Airport. You will need to make you own arrangements if you intend to stay in any of the Druk Air hubs.

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