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Eco Tours

1.The Ultimate Birding Trip

Trip Highlights:

Duration: 21 days
Entry Point: Paro, Western Bhutan
Exit Point: Guwahati in Assam, India
Total Area Coverage: West to east Bhutan, 11 districts, 22 birding areas

Tour Summary:

Tour's target - Get sightings of Satyr Tragopan, Ward's Trogon, Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasants, Beautiful Nuthatch, Ibisbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, White-bellied Heron, varieties of Wren Babblers, and many more birds. Also see mammals like Golden Langur, Common Langur, Capped Langer, Goral, Himalayan Black Bear, Golden-throated Martin and Flying Squirrel. Other opportunities include Bhutan's places of historical and cultural interests plus amazing mountains, landscapes, flora, and unique lifestyle.

Detail Itinerary

Day 01

Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be received by our company's representative. After check in at the hotel, we will visit the nearby places of cultural interest like fortresses, monuments and temples. After lunch, preferably around late afternoon, we will scour Paro river for Ibisbill. We may be able to see other birds like White-collared Blackbird, River Lapwing and Black-tailed Crake. Night halt in Hotel, Paro

Day 02

Paro - Thimphu

We will leave very early for Chelela pass (3,890 m). This cool alpine meadow carpeted with beautiful alpine followers and stunning landscapes is the highest road point in Bhutan. We will comb this area for pheasant species like the Kalij Pheasant, Himalayan Monal and Blood Pheasant. We will have sightings of Laughingthrush, Rosefinch and Grosbeak. After lunch back at our hotel in Paro, we will take a three-hour hike to the Tiger's Lair or Taktshang, a famous 17th century temple built on a sheer cliff-face. Towards evening, we take the hour-long drive to the capital city, Thimphu.
Night halt at hotel, Thimphu

Day 03

Thimphu

We drive to the north of Thimphu in the morning and then hike to Cheri monastery where, enroute, we hope to catch sightings of the various species of Laughing Thrush - Spotted, Chestnut-Crowned, White-throated - plus Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Dipper and White-collared Blackbird. We should be able to see Mountain Goats in the vicinity of the monastery.

After lunch back in the hotel, we visit places of cultural, social and religious interests, in and around the capital. These include Tashichho Dzong, the palace-fortress of the King, the world's tallest Buddha, Folk Heritage Museum, and if time permits a traditional archery match at Changlimithang.
Night halt at hotel, Thimphu

Day 04

Thimphu-Shaten

Today, literally, will be our communion with nature. We drive to Dochula Pass (3,150 m) where we absorb and savor the beauty of the mighty Himalayas. We skirt through forests of hemlock, oak, fir and oak besides an amazing array of rhododendron species. This mixed forest habitat spawns the beautiful Satyr Tragopan, a rarity of the Himalayas. Other species we will come across include the Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, and Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher.
We visit the exquisite fortress-palace called Punakha Dzong and head to our destination at Shaten inside the Jigme Dorji National Park.
Night halt in camp, Shaten.

Day 05 - 06

Jigme Dorji National Park

From our base at Shaten camp, we scour the park for two whole days, primarily the river banks and the foothills, for what should be our opportunity to sight prized bird species. If lucky, we could even catch a glimpse of White-bellied Heron, a rarity with less than 200 alive worldwide. Another rarity found here is the Pallas's Fish Eagle. Other species found include the Red-headed Trogon, Black-chinned Yuhina, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Small Niltava, Forktails, Wren-babblers, Woodpeckers and Laughingthrushes.
Night halt in camp, Shaten

Day 07

Punakha - Phobjikha

Drive early to Phobjikha valley where, enroute, we will look for Ward's Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and other flocks of mixed species. We will stopover for the sighting of various species of Bush Warbler and Laughingthrush which dwell in the dwarf bamboos in the vicinity of Gangteyla pass.

The highlight of our visit to Phobjikha, however, is the Black-necked Crane. As the bird's biggest wintering ground, we should be able to sight many. Afterward, we will visit the Information Centre for the crane and also take time to see the majestic 17th century Gangtey monastery.
Night halt in camp, Phobjikha.

Day 08

Phobjekha - Trongsa

On our way to Trongsa, our first birding spot is the Pelela pass (4,000 m) where high altitude species are often spotted. These include varieties of Finches and Bush Warblers, Brown Parrotbill, Spotted Laughingthrush and Himalayan Griffon. On reaching Trongsa, we take our lunch and visit the imposing Trongsa Dzong, built without a single iron nail. This palace-fortress has for centuries been the bastion of powerful governors whose descendents today govern the country as kings.
Night halt at hotel, Trongsa.

Day 09

Trongsa - Zhemgang

This should be a day of frequent stopovers on the way. The forests along the road are habitats of numerous species like Crested Bunting, Long-tailed Shrike, Prinia, Rufous Woodpecker, Common Green Magpie, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Common Kestrel, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia and Minivets.

Birds aside, this is our opportunity to see the Golden Langur, discovered just about half a century ago and endemic to Bhutan.
Night halt at camp, Zhemgang.

Day 10 -11

Zhemgang - Tingtibhi Highway

This short stretch of forested area is a birder's dream come true. These lowland forests have innumerable animal and bird species. It is yet another chance to spot the Golden Langur but we will be combing the area for the next two days mainly for Rufous-necked Hornbill, Great hornbill, Chestnut-headed Tesia and Grey-bellied Tesia, Spotted Wren Babbler, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Cutia, Scarlet Minivet, and an amazing variety of Laughingthrush and woodpecker. The sighting of the day, if not the entire trip, should be the extremely rare and much sought after birds appropriately named as Beautiful Nuthatch.
Night halt at camp, Tingtibhi.

Day 12

Zhemgang - Trongs

We return to Trongsa looking for species we may not have sighted when we drove to Zhemgang. Visit the Tower of Trongsa, a museum dedicated to Bhutanese kings, and take a leisurely evening stroll in Trongsa town.
Night halt at hotel, Trongsa.

Day 13

Trongsa - Bumthang

Start early to Yotongla pass (3,500 m) for sightings of Brown Parrotbill, Chestnut-crown Laughingthrush, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Hill Partridge, Chestnut-tailed Minla, Gold-naped Finch and Darjeeling Woodpecker.On arrival in Bumthang, we have lunch and take a cultural tour of the valley filled with myths, legends, temples and sacred sites.
Night halt at hotel, Bumthang.

Day 14

Bumthang - Sengor

The drive to Sengor is through Thrumshingla (3,800 m), a key habitat for Blood Pheasants. This high altitude park area also has Spotted Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Great Parrotbills, Stripe-throated Yuhinas, Snow Pigeon, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, White-browed Fulvettas, Grey-crested Tits and Coal Tits.

Towards evening in Sengor, we will be looking for the coveted Satyr Tragopan, as this area is well-known for its sightings.
Night halt at camp, Sengor

Day 15

Sengor - Namling - Yongkala

Today, we will be entering the wet sub-tropical forests, a stretch that goes all the way to Lingmithang and is known in some circles as the"birding capital of the world". It is undoubtedly the finest birding place in the Himalayas. The lush forests are home to several rare species. We will scour for Shortwings, Bar-winged Wren Babblers, Black-headed Shrike Babblers, Ward's Trogon, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Barbets, Golden Bush Robin, Chestnut-breasted Partridge and many other rare species.
Night halt at camp, Yongkala.

Day 16 - 17

Sengor - Namling - Yongkala

This place indeed is the birding paradise. We will spend the entire two days birding the upper and lower Limithang road. Here we have the opportunity to see Wedge-billed Wren Babblers, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Spotted Wren Babblers, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Coral-billed Scimitar Babblers, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, flocks of Parrotbills, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Scarlet Finches and many more. Night halt at camp, Yongkala.

Day 18

Sengor - Namling - Yongkala

A quick morning birding will be done before we head further eastward to Trashigang.
On the way we stop at Korila pass where its forests of mosses and lichens harbor birds like Steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Long-tailed Minivet, Grey-winged Blackbird, Hoary-throated Barwing, Bhutan Laughingthrush, and Long-tailed Minivet.
Night halt at hotel, Trashigang.

Day 19

Trashigang - Morong

Our next campsite is Morong. As the journey is fairly long, we drive early, to catch sights of Hill Prinia, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Red-billed Leiothrix, flocks of Striated Yuhinas, Streaked Spiderhunter, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Common Green Magpie and Red-faced Liocichla. Again, we have an excellent opportunity to see the prized Beautiful Nuthatch.
Night halt at camp, Morong.

Day 20

Morong - Samdrup Jongkh

This trip will take us to the lowest elevation of our entire journey. Along the way, our target will be to sight low altitude species like Pied Falconet, Dark-rumped Swift (extremely rare), Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Sultan Tit, Black-backed Forktail, Red- headed Trogon, Black Eagle, House Sparrow, several species of Cuckoo, Jungle Babbler, Grey-sided Laughingthrush besides many others.
Night halt at hotel, Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 21

Samdrup Jongkhar - Guwahati

As we travel to the plains of Assam, India, we will come across many species unlike those in the Himalayas. Along the way, we will be looking for species like Little Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Egrets, Black Ibis, Black Drongo, and even the very rare Lesser Adjutant and Greater Adjutant.
See off at the airport in Guwahati, Assam.

2.The Manas safari

Tour Summary:
The park's location and the largely pristine forest, which covers approximately 92% of the area, make the park extremely rich in biodiversity. There are five different vegetation types which consist of tropical monsoon forest, subtropical broadleaved forest, warm broadleaved forest, cool broadleaved forest and evergreen oak forest.
These habitats support a wide range of fauna, including many rare and endangered species such as the Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, wild buffalo, wild dog, common leopard, black panther, marveled cat, golden cat, clouded
A total of 530 species of birds have been recorded so far, highest among all protected areas. Globally endangered species include the Rufous-necked hornbill and Pallas fish eagle.
The chestnut-breasted partridge for which there are no recent records outside Bhutan has also been recorded here. In addition, more than 900 species of vascular plants have been recorded in the park.

Detail Itinerary

Day 01

Gomphu - Pangtang

Gomphu is the first eco-camp located at an altitude of 1457 meters above sea level. Gomphu can be reached from either Zhemgang or Gelephu. From Zhemgang, it takes 3 hrs and from Gelephu it takes about 5 hours. The eco-camp at Gomphu is located in the forest just above Gomphu Park Range Office. The facilities include two eco-lodges, two bathroom and toilets, dinning, kitchen, water supply and camping facilities. The facilities are built using local materials such as wood and stone.
One can hike from Gomphu to Pangtang either along the traditional route which takes approximately four and half hours or along the motorable road, which takes about an hour. The eco-trail passes through mixed broadleaf forests and thick undergrowths with numerous such as barbets, hornbills, bulbuls, doves, wood pecker and cuckoos.
The traditional route starts with a descent for about an hour and half and ascents for another hour before gentle descent again. The road has well maintained slope and is much easier than the traditional route. One can even ride a bike from Gomphu to Pangtang.
Mamung is the spot where people usually stop for lunch. It is approximately half way to Pangtang. With small settlements in Mamung, fresh oranges are available during winter. The trekking trail actually descents further until Pangtang which is at the level of Mangdi chhu. It is a beautiful valley with settlements and government offices.

Day 02

Pangtang - Shilingtoe

Pangtang lies at an altitude of 239 meters above sea level. The camp is located on the right bank of Mangdi chhu while trekking towards Shilingtoe thus, overlooking Pangtang settlements and the river itself. The trail starts with gentle descent and occasional short climbs. The entire trek will take about four hours and the last leg before reaching Shilingtoe ecocamp is a climb for over half an hour. The trail is a paradise, especially for bird watching with many birds such as thrushes, drongos, hornbills, partridges, pheasants, bulbuls, tree pies, barbets, eagles, fowls and many other species.

Day 03

Shilingtoe to Pangban

Held in the massive grounds of the historic Punakha Dzong, Punakha Drubchen is one of Bhutan's most significant religious events, wherein one is taken back to the 17th century, as a scene from the period is enacted. In the 17th century, Tibetan forces from across the border attacked Bhutan. Bhutanese emerged victorious under the leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is said that during that period, there were no standing Bhutanese military force. Then emerged the "Pazaps", the local militiamen from the eight great villages (Tshogchens) of Thimphu, who were victorious. To commemorate the victory, Zhabdrung introduced the Punakha Drubchen.

Shilingtoe eco-camp, Shilingtoe village
After reaching Panbang, one could also exit via Indian Manas to Phuntsholing or Gelephu or Samdrupjongkhar.

Day 04

Pangbang to Norbugang

The camp site at Pangbang is located at a place called Anilademba at the junction of Mangdi Chhu and Dangme Chhu at an altitude of 160 meters above sea level. It is now connected with motorable road to Panbang which connects to Indian Manas Tiger Reserve.The same road is also one of the entry and exit points into Royal Manas National Park from the Indian Manas. Panbang communities celebrate annual tsechu from 8th to 10th day of 11th Bhutanese month. Various mask dances are performed at the Sonam Choeling Dratsang.
The other attractions at Panbang and Bhutan Manas include boating, river rafting, elephant rides and wildlife watching. The Park Range Office at Manas coordinates these services. While boating and river rafting along the Manas River, one can see goral, capped langurs, cormorants and many other bird species besides the beautiful landscape.

Panbang-Norbugang

Norbugang can be reached either from Bhutan Manas or from Nanglam under Pemagatsel Dzongkhag. The trek between Pangbang- Norbugang will take approximately six hours and is the longest trek of all. Most of the birds sighted along the Shilingtoe-Pangbang eco-trail are also found along Pangbang-Norbugang eco-trail. The eco-camp at Norbugang is located at a place called Dorji Jadram. The road from Nanglam to Pangbang has reached till Tsheshengzor, with another two and half hours walk to the camp.
This road is also one of the entry and exit points to reach Royal Manas National Park. The five villages along the trail from Nanglam to Norbugang conduct Tsechus and among them the Tsechu at Nimshongborang village is unique and entertaining. It is held annually from 8 to 10th day of 5th Bhutanese month and from 9 to 10 day of 8th Bhutanese month.
After Norbugang, one could also exit via Nanglam and Samdrupjongkhar.

3.Nabji-Korphu Trek

Trip Highlights: Trekking/cultural tours
Trip duration: 12 Days/11Nights
On trek duration: 6 days
Max. Elevation: 3,480m
Highest Camp: 1,500m
Physical grade: easy
Best time: October- April
Start: Tongtongphey, Trongsa
Finish: Reotala, Trongsa

Tour Summary

The Nabji-Korphu trek, comparatively an easy trek, runs through a rich vegetation of temperate, mixed forest. The trail covers several villages of this central district. Along the trail, you will be able to sight the endangered golden langurs, hornbills and other rare wildlife. The ideal season for the trek is from March to May and September to November.

Detail Itinerary

Day 01

Arrival Paro

On a clear day, the flight to Paro is breathtaking, with views of major Himalayan peaks such as Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Makalu, and on the final approach Bhutan's own snowy peaks, the sacred Mt. Jhomolhari, Mt. Jychu Drakey and Mt. Tserimgang. On arrival at Paro airport and after completion of arrival formalities, your tour guide will receive you and take you to the hotel. After freshening up, you will be taken for a tour of Paro town including the ruins of Drukgyel dzong and Kychu Lhakang.

The journey between Paro and Thimphu takes just about an hour. It is a smooth drive along the Parochhu and later the Thimphuchhu after crossing Chuzom. Along the road, you will be able to see village settlements, farmlands, temples and chortens. On the way, you will visit Tagcho Lhakhang (temple) on the other side of the river. In Thimphu, you will be taken for a cultural tour to Changangkha Lhakhang, Folk Heritage Museum, National Memorial Chorten, and Kuenselphodrang or popularly known as Buddha point.

Day 02

Paro/Thimphu

The journey between Paro and Thimphu takes just about an hour. It is a smooth drive along the Parochhu and later the Thimphuchhu after crossing Chuzom. Along the road, you will be able to see village settlements, farmlands, temples and chortens. On the way, you will visit Tagcho Lhakhang (temple) on the other side of the river. In Thimphu, you will be taken for a cultural tour to Changangkha Lhakhang, Folk Heritage Museum, National Memorial Chorten, and Kuenselphodrang or popularly known as Buddha point.

Day 03

Thimphu/Trongsa

The journey to Trongsa, the political and historical center of Bhutan in the past, is a mesmerizing one that takes you through a serpentine road, mixed forest, changing altitudes, and diverse sights and sounds. You will come across traditional agrarian villages along the way. You will also cross Dochula pass and Pelela pass.

Day 04

Tongtongphey/Jangbi village

Distance: 7-9.5 kms
Time: 3-4 hours
Altitude range: 1,000m - 1,350m
After early breakfast, you will visit the historical Trongsa dzong followed by the Ta-dzong that houses a museum. You will then drive along the Trongsa - Zhemgang national highway till you reach Tongtongphey, from where you will start the trek. Along the way, you could also visit the Kuenga Rabten palace.
From Tongtongphey, you will walk downhill till you reach a suspension bridge over Mangdechhu. On this trail, you will sight golden langurs and hornbills. You will come across an indigenous community of Monpas said to be the first inhabitants of the country. You will also be able to experience their unique ethnic lifestyle and culture. The campsite is at Jangbi overlooking the beautiful Mangde valley.

Day 05

Jangbi village/ Kudra village

Distance: 13-14.5 km
Time: 6 hours
Altitude range: 1,350m - 1,500m
In the morning you will visit the orchid garden that is home to about 75 different species of orchids. The trail leading to Kudra village is a fascinating one as you will come across numerous religious sites. The trail is filled with stone imprints of Guru Rinpoche's footprints, dagger and phallus. Just before you reach Phumzor, lunch will be served. If there is time, you can also visit the village Lhakhang and then continue to the campsite in Kudra. An hour before you reach Kudra, you will pass through another Monpa village, Lekpogang. The campsite offers a bird's eye view of Nyimshong village and also Zhemgang town.

Day 06

Kudra village/ Nabji village

Distance: 11-14 kms
Time: 5-7 hours
Altitude range - 1,500m - 1,300m
Today, the trail is truly a walk through the wild. The sights and sounds of Rufous-necked hornbill, streams, waterfalls and thick forests - all add to the experience. The Great Himalayan Squirrel, Rhesus Mecaques, and small snakes are often spotted along the trail. After five to seven hours walk, you will reach the idyllic village of Nabji, surrounded by terraced paddy fields from all around. Here you can indulge in local culture or play a game of football or volleyball with students at the community school.

Day 07

Nabji village/Korphu village

Total distance: 9.5-13km
Time: 2-3 hours
Altitude range: 1300m - 1500m
At Nabji, you will visit the historical Nabji temple. Guru Rinpoche is said have mediated a truce between two warring kings - King Sindhu Gyalp of Bumthang and King Noeche of South - by imprinting their thumbprints on the black stone pillar. From Nabji, Korphu is about two-hour's uphill walk. At Korphu, you can partake in the traditional game of 'Khuru', 'Dego', 'Sok-sum', and 'Gee-dum'. You could also pay a visit to the village temple that houses the sacred relics of Pema Lingpa, the famous 'Treasure revealer' of Bhutan. Korphu also offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of Nabji village.

Day 08

Korphu village - Nimshong village

Distance: 11-12 km,
Time: 4-6 hours
Altitude range: 1,500m - 1,300m
The trek to Nimshong is a pleasant one and along the trail, you will able to spot numerous species of bird species. The forest here boasts of being home to more than 395 species. People of this village will entertain you through the night with offerings of ara (locally brewed alcohol).

Day 09

Nimshong village/Trongsa

Total distance: 5-6km
Time: 2 hours
Altitude range: 1,300m - 1,000m
The trek from Nimshong to Reutala involves descend and a sharp uphill climb till the road point. Along the trail, you can sight the Golden Langurs. You will be picked up by your driver and driven to Trongsa.

Day 10

Trongsa/Punakha

After a night halt in Trongsa, you will head to Punakha today. On the way, you will visit Chimi Lhakhang, the mecca of fertility. Later you will visit the magnificent Punakha dzong, located on the confluence of Mochu and Phochu.

Day 11

Punakha/Thimphu

You will be driven to Paro today. After lunch, you will visit Paro Rinpung dzong and Ta-dzong that houses the National Museum. Evening is a right time to shop in Paro town.

Day 12

Exit

Your tour escort will see you off at the airport.

4.Hike in Bhutan Tour

Tour Summary

This hiking adventure trip offers you an amazing view of Bhutan's pristine environment. Hiking can be a therapeutic experience, especially when you open up your senses to the world of nature. And this trip just does that, and even more. It brings you not only closer to the world around you but to yourself. This trip includes sightseeing hikes in Paro, guided hiking around Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue, farmhouse stay in Lobesa, hike to Tiger's Nest, and hot stone bathes. With 81% of Bhutan's total area under forest cover, some of the well-known hiking trails pass through protected national parks with diverse flora and fauna. Some hiking trails provide opportunities to visit magnificent temples and monasteries perched on hilltops, offering panoramic views of valleys.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01

Arrival Paro/Cultural Sightseeing/Paro

Welcome to Bhutan! Our local guide will receive you at the airport and drive you to your hotel. After lunch, we will Pick-up from the airport by your local guide and drive straight to the hotel for arrival refreshment and room check-in. Following lunch at the hotel, venture a walk towards Nimezampa through small township of Paro. Crossing the traditional bridge stretching over Pachu River, enjoy a five-minute gentle climb until you reach the majestic Ringpung Dzong. At the dzong, you will be escorted to the main courtyard, the venue of the Spring Paro Festival and the Inner Sanctum revealing the Drukpa Kadygu tradition, Buddhism and 17th century political history of Bhutan. Enjoy a walk around the main courtyard taking pictures and interacting with the young monks.
From Ringpung Dzong, take a short hike to the National Museum, which used to be a watchtower located above the fort. This five storied round building displays a rich collection of arts and artefacts, traditional armaments, Thangkas of spiritual matters, textiles, endangered animal parts and traditional household tools from across the country.
Upon completion, take a breathtaking hike across Shari through rice fields and rural communities that offers ample opportunities to see the rural way of life. Finishing the hike, drive to Kichu and Drugyal localities to visit the ancient Kichu Temple and Drugyal Fort ruins.
In the evening, explore the main town of Paro, soaking up the sights and scenes of the local people.

Day 02

Chelela Excursion/Killa Hike/Thimphu

After breakfast, take a driving excursion through thick pine forest all the way up to Chelela Pass, perched at 3989m offering a panoramic view of Haa and Paro Valleys including Mt. Jhomolhari, 7315m. The pass is a winter home to the nomadic herders, where during the winter and early spring you can see the yak herds.

From the pass, take a short climb up to a small stupa surrounded by prayer flags. Make a gradual descent followed by a walk through the undulating trail leading to the Kila Nunnery Centre across the mixed forest and ridges. Enjoy the hike, which also combines the rare chance to view mountain birds.

Kila Nunnery Centre is a home to approximately 40 nuns secluded on the folds of towering rocky hill within the serene ambience to pursue meditation and spiritual learning. You will get to know several legacies of the past meditation practitioners and spiritual leaders. Spend some time talking to the holy nuns who have deserted to journey through layman’s path in search of eternity.

After a while, descend downhill following the rugged trail passing through pine forest until you cross the mountain stream. After a short climb from the stream, you will reach you the point in the road where your driver will pick you up and drive you to a scenic spot for picnic lunch.

Drive straight to the capital city, Thimphu after the lunch and retire for a short break in the hotel to reenergize for a breathtaking walk up to Buddha point. Or take an optional bike ride.

Day 03

Phajodhing Hike /Cultural Sightseeing

Phajoding, literally translating to “tranquil gorge”, is a historic residence of the Tibetan yogi Tongden Phajo who spent meditating in 13th century. The present stature of monastery which houses ten temples amidst sparse settlement was built in 17th century, initiated by the 13th Abbot, Shkya Rinchen. And his image remains enshrined as the main content inside the main temple still today.

With its historic significance in the Drukpa Kadygu Tradition, Phajoding Monastery is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is yet to be recognized. The monastery offers a place of worship to thousands of Buddhist devotees and a sacred centre of Buddhism learning to young monks.

The monastery is located approximately seven kilometres northwest from the capital city, hidden in a dense forest. The place offers panoramic views of Thimphu Valley and the surrounding mountains.

The hike will commence from Sangaygang BBS tower with a climb over hills covered by prayer flags through pine forest all the way up to Chhoekhor Tse Temple. After a brief rest, resume a walk through straight trail until you encounter bifurcation point. Take the left trail that will make a gentle ascent through the forest. Continue trekking until you come across a stupa offering a view of Phajoding Monastery on the hilltop. Another 45 minutes of gentle climbing from the stupa will take you to a monastery offering stunning views of Thimphu Valley and green mountains.

Activities at Phajoding include a visit to various temples, photography, interaction with young Buddhist monks and the surrounding community, and a hike up to Thujidra if time permits. A picnic lunch will be served at a scenic spot followed by photography activities and a hike back to Thimphu following the trail to Motithang Takin Preserve.

In the evening, explore the main town of Thimphu at your leisure.

Day 04

Lungchuzikha Hike/Chimilhakhang Hike/Punakha

Drive up to Dochula Pass along the winding road passing through mixed alpine forest and interlocking valleys. There will be a brief stopover at a viewpoint above Simtokha to capture the sight of the first Dzong of Bhutan perched on gentle hill at the end of Thimphu Valley. Popularly known as Simtokha Dzong, it was built in 1629 by the eminent Tibetan Buddhist legend, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to institute the monastic school and administration centre of the valley.

On arrival at Dochula Pass, spend around 20 minutes walking around 108 stupas, taking pictures of snow-capped mountains and hanging mountain prayer flags to summon good fortune.
The hike begins from the trail leading through thick-forested raising hill on the right hand side of 108 stupas (Thimphu to Punakha direction). It is an easy to medium trek that will last for two and half hours, up and down walking through prominent trails. The hiking trail also constitutes birding sites and the famous magnolia flower photography spot in the early spring.

On completion, lunch will be served at Dochula cafeteria in the close proximity of Druk Wangyal Chhorten. After lunch, enjoy an hour-long downhill excursion through winding road across Lamperi, Menchuna and Thinleygang capturing the breathtaking scenes of terraced rice field and villages settled on thick-forested hilly landscapes. Agriculture characterizes the main economy of the valley with production of one of the finest rice and agricultural products in the country. In the lower valley of Punakha, venture a short hike to Chhimi Lhakhang across typical rural village through terraced paddy fieds. The temple beautifully located on a gentle hill unfolds the history of a 13th century Buddhist legend, Lama Druk Kinley, existed to have known of his unique Buddhism teaching. He loved women and wine and used the power of jokes, songs and tales to preach Buddhism in the simplest manner to the common people. He had travelled all over the western region and left plenty of legacies.
In the evening, receive a warm welcome by your local farmhouse/homestay family in the village.

Day 05

Chorten Nyingpo Hike/Khamsum Yuelay Hike/Paro

Today you will walk through one of the most beautiful valleys in the north of Punakha, across rural communities and visiting temples dating back to antiquity.
After breakfast, drive north of Puankha for about 30 minutes to hike to Khamsum Yuelay Namgyal Chhorten at Yibesa Village. From the starting point, cross the suspension bridge spreading over Mochu River and follow the trail leading through green terraced paddy fields. The hike continues for 30-40 minutes and enjoys breathtaking rural sights and views of a meandering river through the valleys beneath.
Khamsum Yuelay Namgyal Chhorten is famed for its strategic location, offering panoramic views of the surrounding valley from its rooftop. Spiritually, this richly crafted four storied stupa houses the statues of Dharma protectors and mesmerizing wall paintings in the first three floors that reveals Buddhist significance.
Upon completion, drive further up north for 15 minutes until you encounter Shoshi Zampa Bridge, the starting point of the hike to Chorten Nyingpo that will last for two hours.
From the bridge, begin a gentle climb through mix forest and after crossing the newly built Uma Resort, you will head to Yuesukha Village, home to Drub Gang Temple personally visited by Zhabdrung in 1616. It was from this village that Zhabdrung trekked to Thimphu Chari Monastery and was later known to have conducted a magical spell for a week at Drub Gang Temple to inflict a Lama to death, for his rebellious act aimed at Zhabdrung.
Bypassing the temple, you will encounter an old stupa that was designed after the Drub Gang Temple of Yuesakha, retaining the Zhabdrung's hair as the main relic. It is orated by local folks that this stupa served as Chhokhor of Paazap, the regiment of Zhabdrung. Prior to the commencement of Punakha Tshechu (religious festival), the Paazap circumnavigate it as a symbol of respect to Zhabdrung and proceed to Punakha Dzong for the festival inauguration. From this stupa, an hour climb will reach you to your final destination, Chorten Nyngpo.
Chorten Ningpo was founded in the 13th century by a famous Tibetan Saint, Lama Drukpa Kinley where he subdued demons at the present site of a temple while coming from Seu Laga. The Lama planted an oak tree as a sign of promise made by the demons to never hinder the spread of Buddhism.
So after consecration of the site by Drukpa Kinley, Zhabdrung constructed the temple much after the dismissal of Lama Kinley. The temple later became the winter resident of Desi Tenzin Rabgay, the great grandson of Lama Kinley.
A picnic lunch will be served at Chorten Ningpo followed by an excursion to Paro.

Day 06

Tiger's Nest Hike

Geographically, Tiger's Nest is located on a precarious cliff at 3120 meters, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. It was blessed by an eminent Indian Buddhist master, Guru Padmasamvawa, who conducted a three-month meditation in a cave to subdue the evil spirits in the 8th century. Following the visit of Guru Rinpochhe, several Tibetan Buddhist saints spent meditating in the cave and preaching Buddhism in the valley and across the country.
Later in 1692, Desi Tenzin Rabgay initiated the construction of a temple at the Tiger's Nest to introduce Mahayana Buddhism learning centre. The temple gradually turned into a place of worship by hundreds of thousand devotees from across the country and around the world.
This approximately three-hour hike to Tiger's Nest will offer unparalleled Himalayan adventure experiences intertwined with a blend of cultural and spiritual vibe. Adding to it, the scenic landscape and lush greenery will instil unforgettable memories that you will take back home.
Enjoy a pleasant evening experience in a traditional hot stone bath in the farmhouse, believed to cure body aches, arthritis and sinuses, followed by a traditional dinner and cultural program by the locals.

Day 07

Exit

In the morning, your local guide will see you off at Paro International Airport to embark your flight for onward voyage.

Things You Might Need

  • Clothes: Waterproof jacket and pants. You really don't need thick heavy clothes. As always, trekking in layers is better.
  • Bag pack with rain cover for bagpack
  • Water bottles (at least 3 liters total capacity)
  • Baseball cap (the sun is strong at all elevations)
  • Hiking poles (lessen the impact on your joints)
  • Sunglasses (essential when you cross snow line)
  • Trekking shoes: A pair of lightweight-waterproof hiking boots is a must. Break them in beforehand
  • Winter hat
  • Winter gloves
  • Head lamp with extra batteries
  • A pair of Camp shoes too.
  • Thermal underwear and can be useful in the mornings, or for sleeping in at night. If you forgot some, jogging pants are widely available in all towns for less cost
  • Reading materials (Kindle may be best)
  • Journal and pens.
  • Tango Cheri