Continue your exploration of South Asia by venturing into the magical Kingdom of Bhutan, land of the Thunder Dragon. Visit unique Buddhist Monasteries including the Tiger's' Nest which is perched on the edge of a cliff and only reachable by hiking in. Travel over some of the highest passes in the world which afford stunning views of the Himalayas. Ask the Bhutan Program Director if you would like to include trekking, hiking and mountain-biking.
Pricing starts at $1495 per person.
Day 1: Arrival in Paro, Bhutan
Your flight is a spectacular introduction to Bhutan as during clear weather you will have magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks and then the lush green Paro valley as you land. After clearing customs and immigration, you will be met by your guide and transferred to Paro. Start your exploration of Bhutan with a visit to the National Museum (Ta Dzong) which was once used as the watch tower for the Dzong. Explore Paro Rimpung Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most impressive and well-known temples. Walk from the dzong to the old traditional covered wooden bridge and stroll along the west bank of the river. Downstream from the bridge you have a spectacular view of the dzong. Overnight Paro [LD]
Day 2: Tiger's Nest - Thimphu
After breakfast drive the winding road to Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fortress, which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Continue to Ramthangkha, from where you will hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest), which clings to the rocks towering 2600 feet above the valley. The hike uphill to the cafeteria will take around two hours on average; it is located about 2,950 meters (9,678 feet) above sea level. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. You can choose to continue hiking up to the monastery and visit the monastery.
After the visit to the temples, walk back to the cafeteria for your lunch. After lunch, drive 1 hour to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan with a population of 100,000. The town is made of 3 rose of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. In the evening visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of our 3rd king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (a wonderful opportunity to mix with the local population). All the buildings in Bhutan conform to national building principals and are beautifully carved and decorated. Overnight Thimphu [BLD]
Day 3: Explore Thimphu - Punakha
Drive to Sangaygang, a field of Bhutanese prayer flags perched high above the city; colored flags send prayers to the heavens and white flags honor the dead. Visit the Motithang Mini Zoo where you can see the national animal, the Takin, research center where these odd animals graze peacefully in a small protected park. Walk to the Zilukha Nunnery and then drive to the Tango Monastery for a picnic lunch. The hike to the monastery takes about 45 minutes. It is a 13th Century structure and today is home to about 150 monks studying Buddhist Philosophy and meditation. Upon return, explore the weekend market.
In the afternoon depart for the pass, Dochula, climbing steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near the pass (3,050 m). This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. It is marked with 100 stupas on a small hillock. Enjoy tea at the pass to enjoy the spectacular views at sunset and sunrise, weather-permitting. You can make use of the telescope at the hotel. Descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and check in at your hotel. Overnight Punakha [BLD]
Day 4: DochuLa - Punakha
Visit Punakha Dzong, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. Spend the day hiking in the area with your guide. One possibility is a hike to the Khamsum Yueley Chorten (45 minutes each way) through terraced rice fields. Overnight Punakha [BLD]
Day 5: Punakha - Paro
Visit the Wangdue Monastery, then return to Paro stopping at Thimphu for lunch and to visit any sites you may have missed (options include the Folk Heritage Museum (a beautifully restored Bhutanese farmhouse from the last century), the National Painting School, and the Textile Museum). Continue to Paro. Overnight Paro [BLD]
Day 6: Departure
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight [B]
Accommodation is in the best available standard hotels and guesthouses. Home-stay is available as well as hotel upgrades.