Bhutan Walking Tour
This program is tailored for our clients who are adventurous and like trekking in Himalayas but do not like the idea of having to camp overnight with various day hikes. The hikes that we have for you will take you through the wilderness to the isolated temples and monasteries, remote and peaceful villages, and to high passes along the forsaken ancient trade route with breathtaking mountain sceneries that are accessible only on foot. Bhutan travel designers has exclusive access to some of your longer hikes where you are not likely to come across any other explorers. We offer eco-tourists and wildlife admirers the wonderful opportunity to explore nature in its pristine state. No doubt! This is an ultimate choice to see Bhutan at its best.
Day 01: Arrive Paro
Flying in to the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Bhutan Wilderness Travels for the trip will receive you and transfer you to the hotel in Paro. In the evening, you can stroll along Paro downtown to see the people and the local stores.
Overnight- hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Hike to Tiger’s Nest (5 – 6 hours)
Today we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
Normally people hike up till the Tiger’s Nest and turn around but we will climb further to the temples that are on the ridges way up from the Tiger’s Nest and enjoy the views of the valley and the mountains that touches your heart and soul as you look around through the fluttering prayer flags. To go down, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.
Overnight – hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Chelela Ridge Hike (5 – 6 hours)
Today we will take a drive to Chelela (3750m), the highest motor able pass in the country and start our hike following the path that’s used by yaks and yak herders. We will enjoy the breathtaking views of the snowcapped mountains while walking above the tree line along the ridge that divides Paro and Ha valley till we get to Dzonglela pass (3765m) which is marked by a cairn of stones. This pass is along the forsaken ancient trade route that we are going to follow from here. Not long time ago this path had the traffic of mules and people being the beast of burden in the same way. From here we have a long descent through the forests of junipers, firs, pines, oaks and rhododendrons.
Overnight – hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Paro -Thimphu
Today we will have an easy day with no hikes. In the morning, we will take a drive to Thimphu along the windy road taking about 02 hours and then we will have sightseeing in Thimphu which includes;
Visit to the Institute of Traditional Medicine; Bhutan has long and rich tradition of medicine based on natural remedies derived mainly from plants and earth, and some animals. This institute has facility for out patients, training, research and production of traditional medicine. The courses to become traditional doctors, called drungtsho, entail six to eight years of strenuous study after high school. The institute has an exhibition room that imparts excellent look into the tradition.
Visit to the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, the school offers an six-year course in the techniques of traditional art in religious and secular paintings, woodcarving, clay sculpture and traditional mask making. One can see students working through progressive levels practicing precise rules of Bhutanese art. The school also has a showroom from where student works are sold at very reasonable price compared to town for same quality of work.
Visit to the Folk Heritage Museum; established in 2001, this is an interesting museum housed in a very old traditional house. The museum is a walk through the fast changing rural tradition, habits and skills, and those of the past. They organize special exhibitions annually on select subject pertaining to Bhutanese heritage.
After lunch, you can have free time on your own to walk along the street to see the people and the local stores.
Overnight – hotel in Thimphu.
Day 05: Hike to Cheri monastery
This morning a short drive through the countryside surrounding Thimphu brings us to the Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the country. The park is home to several endangered species including the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. More than 300 species of birds have been cataloged within the park.
Our walk begins from the small village of Dodena. Our trail starts by crossing a covered bridge over the Thim chhu and we climb steadily to Cheri Goemba, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view over the Thimphu Valley. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built this monastery in 1620, and this is where the first community of monks in Bhutan was established. The monastery is considered very sacred as it contains the ashes of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints. Shabdrung also spent three years in retreat here and it’s a renowned meditation place even today.
After our visit to the monastery, we descend back the way we came, keeping our eyes open for the goral (wild goat) that are often spotted on the cliffs nearby. Back at the village of Dodena we will have picnic lunch along the clean and unpolluted Thimphu River. After lunch, we follow a riverside trail via Begana to Cabesa, home to the Choki School of Arts. The Choki School is private and provides free skills-related education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to Bhutanese children who are unable to attend or complete their formal education. After visiting the school we continue along the riverside trail and pass through small rural villages before returning to Thimphu.
Overnight – hotel in Thimphu
Day 06: Hike from Dochula Pass to Nahee (7 – 8 hours)
We take a drive for about an hour along the east-west highway till Dochula Pass (3050m) to begin yet another hike. From here one can have a spectacular view of the Himalayas to the north when the sky is clear. The pass is marked by 108 chortens (Stupa) which are Buddhist reliquaries, memorials to the teachings of the Buddha. Sometimes actual relics of the Buddha or revered monks are inserted into the dome of the stupa, but whether or not there are relics inside, the stupas mark the landscape with reminders of the Buddha’s teachings.
Today’s hike takes you to the isolated temple called Lungchuzay with a gradual uphill climb of about two hours. It goes through the forest of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, firs, hemlocks and bamboos, occasionally passing by meadows that are being used as the yak pastures. From the temple, the path is level as we walk along the ridge towards southwest till there is a short steep descent to Helela Pass on the old trade route. On this stretch, you may see some pheasants. Here our path turns from yaks trail to the centuries old abandoned trade route, we will keep track of the old trade route leading down to sup-tropical region of Punakha and Wangdue ultimately.
Overnight – hotel in Punakha
Day 07: Hikes in Punakha
In Punakha, we will visit the Dzong that was built by Shabdrung, in 1637, on a strategic junction at the confluence of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. The Dzong has played a hallowed role in the history of Bhutan. It served as the seat of Shabdrung’s government, several foreign delegations were received here in 18th and 19th century, the election and coronation of the first King was observed in 1907 and the Third King convened the first National Assembly in the Dzong. The central monastic body continues to reside here in winter. The embalmed bodies of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Pema Lingpa are housed on the top floor of the main tower. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King from the latest fire in 1987.
Next in line is a short hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten in the northern part of the valley. Newly built and it is a more elaborate version of the Memorial Chorten in Thimphu. It has an astounding work of frescoes and intricate statues.
After lunch, we will take a drive for about an hour to Talo, the native home town of the queens for our short downhill hike following the beautiful track that links the village of Talo and Nobgang.
Overnight – hotel in Punakha
Day 08: Punakha – Paro
It’s a return journey now; the countryside that you missed after Dochula Pass while we were on hike will be seen today. We will have a short hike to the 15th century temple of Divine Madman before we start the five hours drive back to Paro.
Tonight, before we have our farewell dinner, we will have a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath. A long soak in a hot stone bath will be so good after all your hikes in Bhutan.
Overnight – hotel in Paro.
Day 09: Departure
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort from Bhutan travel designers will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.