Beyond the Clouds – 10 Days
This Bhutan walking tour will take you through stunning, isolated wilderness to rarely visited monasteries, remote and peaceful villages and valleys, and to high passes offering breathtaking mountain scenery that are only accessible only by foot.
This fantastic tour provides a wonderful opportunity to explore Bhutan’s natural wonders at their best, as well as gain a true experience of traditional life with an afternoon spent as a guest in a village. This tour also explores the highlights of Bhutan’s culturally rich western valleys of Paro, Punakha and Thimphu and beautiful Phobjikha.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will receive you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. and Rimpong Dzong. Later Proceed to the capital city (Thimphu). Thimphu is very much different from the rest of the capital cities in the world. The city does not have any traffic lights. There is only a policeman standing in the intersection directing traffic with hand motion which is something unique to see in the world.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Thimphu beginning with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernization. If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu- Punakha
Begins with an early start, you will be driven towards Punakha. On the way, you can stop at Dochula pass (3,000m) to witness the Himalayan peaks and circumambulate the chorten. A 40 minute downhill hike through rhododendron forests will give you a breath of fresh air which you miss in the hustle-bustle of city life. After that, you start on a beautiful two-hour walk through villages and farmland. In the spring you will walk through small villages, skirt green rice terraces and see various exotic trees, plants, and birds. In the fall the farmers will be harvesting their rice terraces. You may even see eagles swooping below you deep into the forested valleys. On the way, visit Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (Popularly known as “The Divine Madman”, in the year 1499. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529) was one of Bhutan’s Favorite Saints who was born in Tibet, trained at Ralung Monastery and was a contemporary disciple of Pema Lingpa. He traveled throughout Bhutan and Tibet as a “Neljorpa” (Yogi) using songs, humor, and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings of Salvation through sex. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
In the morning visit Punakha Dzong, built-in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava).
Afterward, drive to Yabesa village and hike through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – TRONGSA
Morning drive towards Trongsa. En route to visit beautiful Chendebji Chorten. The Chorten was erected in the 18th century. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
DAY 06: TRONGSA- PHOBJIKHA
After breakfast transfer to Phobjikha Valley. Drive down the winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black-necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau.
DAY 07: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – WANGDUE (SHASILA HIKE)
Drive to Longtey Village located beyond Pele La pass (3,420m) for a hike across Kayche La (3700m) and back to Gangtey. We climb up gradually through the thickets of dwarf bamboos, birch, rhododendron, hemlock and fir rich with diverse birdlife to Kayche La, marked with some prayer flags. The other side of the pass is mostly meadows, and it’s all downhill to Gangtey through the long and beautiful stretch of meadows and farms.
DAY 08: WANGDUE – PARO
Drive back to Paro over Dochu La via Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Thimphu. Afterwards, we drive back to Paro and en-route visit Semtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan.
Time permitting the journey can be broken with a visit to Tamchhu Lhakhang built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the so-called Iron Bridge Builder. Overnight at hotel in Paro
DAY 09: PARO
Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m)
After breakfast drive towards the base camp of Taktsang for the hike up to the Taktsang Monastery-Tiger’s Nest. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill. From this point, enjoy the spectacular view of the monastery, The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan. In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. In fine weather, the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit other sights in Paro valley. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 10: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for a flight to your onward destination. Tashi Delek!