ROYAL MANAS PARK TOUR – 15 DAYS
Bhutan’s Crown Jewel, the Manas National Park represents the largest example of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in Bhutan.
This park has only recently been opened to the public and offers thousands of animal and plant species, many of which are globally endangered, it is not only the most diverse protected area in the Kingdom but also noted as one of the world’s biologically outstanding parks.
Lying in south central Bhutan, Manas is connected at the southern border with India’s Manas Tiger Reserve, a World Heritage Site. To the north it borders the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Royal Manas was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1966 making it Bhutan’s oldest protected area. The area was upgraded to a National Park in 1993.
There are wide climate variations in Royal Manas. The May-September monsoons bring up to 5,000mm of rain. Rainfall is negligible in winter and the climate is extremely pleasant from November till March.
Manas is also extremely rich in wildlife species, including the highly endangered Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, gangetic dolphin and pangolin. Found virtually nowhere else in the world is the especially rare golden langur, a primate of extraordinary grace and beauty with its long, silky blond fur.
More than 365 species of birds have been officially recorded in Royal Manas National Park with an additional 200 believed to be in residence. Species found here include the globally threatened rufous-necked hornbill, Pallas fishing eagle, great white-bellied heron, spotted wren-babbler, blue-headed rock thrush and emerald cuckoo. Many of the park’s more than 900 types of plants have commercial, medicinal, traditional and religious significance.
Day 01 Arrive Paro and Thimphu
The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks like Gangkar Puensum, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Your Bhutanese guide and driver from Authentic Bhutan Tours will warmly welcome & greet you on arrival, who will remain with you all through out your journey across Bhutan. Then we will drive to Thimphu. Lunch will be served at Thimphu. After lunch we will visit to Memorial Chhorten – built in 1974 in the memory of third king late Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, and the temple inside gives good examples of tantric Buddhist and its philosophy and then we will visit to Big Buddha Statue – this gigantic statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. Evening stroll around Thimphu town. Dinner and overnight stay at Thimphu Hotel.
Day 02: Thimphu
After enjoying the breakfast at hotel, we will do sightseeing in Thimphu City.. Visit to Post office, to make your own stamp and send to your loved ones.. Traditional Bhutanese Paper- to see the traditional methods to produce the authentic Bhutanese Paper known as Deh-sho), Weaving center, you will see here our young girls and women weaving so interestingly. Lunch will be served at one of the Restaurant at Thimphu.
After lunch, we will continue with our sightseeing and visit to Drupthop Dewachen Nunnery, this nunnery was founded in 1976 by Rikey Jadrel, who is considered an emanation of Thangtong Gyalpo and then Takin zoo, to see the national animal of Bhutan. Evening visit to Trachichho Dzong, it is an architectural delight and houses the throne room, and the office of His Majesty the king and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Then stroll and explore around Thimphu town and do some shopping in Bhutan.
Dinner and over night stay at one of the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time).
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. After Lunch, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). And drive for about 12 km and from the road point take a walk across the rice fields and a river to reach the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is located on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang. It houses the paintings and statues belonging to the Nyingmapa tradition. Visit Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing if you wish.
Day 4: Punakha – Gelephu
After breakfast, you will drive to Gelephu, the southernmost district of Bhutan bordering with India. You will stop for lunch on the way. Seven hours journey leads through the sub tropical forests, villages and small townships of Tsirang and Sarbhang before you arrive Gelephu. Walk around the town. Dinner and overnight stay at Gelephu hotel.
Day 5: Gelephu – Gongphu
After the breakfast at hotel, we will take the 150km drive from Gelephu to Gongphu and enjoy the ascent from 280m-1450m. You will pass through Surey village where mandarin and cardamom farming is the main cultivation. From Surey you can also see Jo Dungshing peak on clear days. This peak is the highest in the Black Mountain range. Gongphu is the northern most tip of the Royal Manas Park. The area gets maximum rainfall in the country. This makes the area a thriving sub-tropical ecosystem. This is the haven for wildlife such as langur, tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, samber, and large number of bird species. Overnight in Eco-camp at Gongphu.
Day 6: Gongphu – Pangbang
After the breakfast, we will drive to Panbang through forests of mixed broad-leaved forests and thick undergrowth with numerous birds such as barbets, hornbills, bulbuls, doves, woodpecker and cuckoos. The camp is on the way to a village and provides a good view of the area due to being located at a higher alleviation. Overnight in Eco-camp Panbang.
Day 7: Panbang, Royal National Manas Park
After the breakfast, drive to Royal Manas Park and do the Elephant Safari. Cross the river using the boat and do the Elephant Safari. This safari allows for the perfect tour to appreciate the wealth and the beauty of the park. Towards evening drive back to Panbang and dinner and overnight stay at the Panbang Eco Camp.
Day 8: Royal Manas Park, Rafting
Morning explores the villages nearby the Eco camp and after the lunch, we will enjoy the River Rafting. Overnight at Eco-camp at Panbang.
Day 9: Royal Manas National Park
Stay one more day here and explore other activities here at Royal Manas National Park.
Day 10: Panbang – Trongsa
After breakfast, you will drive to Trongsa. As you drive you will notice that the vegetation changes from sub-tropical to broad-leaved evergreen forests. This route has one of the richest forests and has many varieties of trees and orchids and other botanical plants. Check into your hotel on arrival.
Day 11: Trongsa – Gangtey
In the morning, you’ll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. You will then drive to Gangtey. You will stop at Chendebji Chorten for lunch. After lunch, you will continue driving to Gangtey through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons. On taking the diversion from the high-way, and crossing Lawala pass blanketed with dwarf bamboos, you will arrive at Gangtey. From Gangtey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjikha Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. Visit Gangtey Goenpa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. You can spend some time interacting with the monks studying here. The college offers nine-year course in Buddhist studies.
Day 12: Gangtey – Punakha
Highlight: After breakfast drive to Gangtey valley (Also called Probjikha is one of the most beautiful destinations in Bhutan and also the winter home of endangered black necked cranes that arrive every year from the Tibetan Plateau). Here you visit of Gangtey Monastery (The 17th century monastery located on a small hill that rises from the valley floor and is surrounded by a large village) and Black Necked Crane Information Center (This center has an observation room equipped with high power telescope for catching the best view of the cranes). After lunch drive to Punakha.
Day 13: Punakha – Paro
Set out for Paro with a stop in Thimphu for lunch and a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum. In the afternoon, you will continue the drive to Paro. In the evening you can visit a traditional farmhouse and, if you wish, enjoy a hot-stone bath and a typical Bhutanese dinner. Overnight in Paro.
Day 14: Hike Paro Taksang
Drive up to Satsam Chorten, 10 km from Paro town and hike up to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The Monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 3000 ft. and overlooks the Paro valley and river. Taktsang is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world. It is believed that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava, known as the second Buddha in Bhutan, meditated in the spot where the Monastery is situated having alighted there on the back of a tigress. Picnic lunch at the Taktsang cafeteria. The round trip hike takes about 4 hours.
Day 15: Depart Paro
After early breakfast drive to Paro Airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.