Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur Kathmandu, Nepal
US Office: 35 Evergreen Lane Middlebury VT 05753
Bumthang is in the East of Bhutan, the country's cultiral heartland. This great trip combines a festival week in Bumthang with an easy three day trek and great sightseeing. This is a perfect first visit to Bhutan, or a return trip for visitors who saw only the West initially or who came on a cultural tour and want to try light trekking.
The opportunities to visit little villages, farms and local shrines are particularly good on this short trek.
Suggested arrival in Bangkok, free day in Bangkok, jetlag recovery
Fly Bangkok to Paro Bhutan. During the flight, you will see breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Jhomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received by our representative. Paro sightseeing: Drive to Drugyal Dzong (a ruined fortress ~16 kms away from Paro town). The dzong(castle fortress) was built in 1647 although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means "The Victorious Bhutanese." This spot unfolds a magnificent vista of Mount Jhomolhari (Alt.7329 mtrs). Visit a typical Bhutanese farmhouse on the way back. Visit the 7th century Kyichu Monastery and Paro national museum.
Drive along the winding road alongside the Paro Chu (Chu means water or river) to the confluence with the Wang Chu, then follow the Wang Chu to Thimphu, the Capital. After lunch visit the Memorial Chorten (dedicated to the Late Third King of Bhutan), Takins mini zoo (Takin is a rare and unique species and its the national animal of Bhutan), Thimphu view-point, Zilukha Nunnery, National Library, Traditional Painting School, traditional indigenous hospital, hand-made paper factory and visit to a traditional handicraft gift shop.
The journey to central Bhutan begins today. The drive to Trongsa takes about 7-8 hours from Thimphu. Packed lunch stop at Chendebji Chorten. .
Drive for 2 and half hours to Jakar. Bumthang (the "Plain of Ghosts") is a land of myth and mystery and tales of the great Guru Padmasambhava who performed formidable feats and miracles here. Bumthang sightseeing: view of Jakar Dzong ("Castle of the white Bird"), Jambay Lhakhang (the monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gambo), and visit Mebar Tso(the 'burning lake' from which Pema Lingpa retrieved sacred religious relics). Evening fire ceremony at Jambay Lhakhang, as the festival starts. .
Attend Jambay Lhakhang Drup (an annual festivity of the locality).
Drive from Bumthang to Gangtey valley (habitat of the endangered black-necked cranes which migrate from Tibet), visit the old Gangtey Gompa [monastery] and drive to Wangdi. O/n hotel.
Drive from Wangdi to Paro. Visit Punakha Dzong enroute. Punakha used to be the winter Capital of Bhutan until 1966. It is a place of great historical significance. The mortal remains of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal are preserved in a shrine here. Punakha is also the winter residence of the (Head Abbot) and the Central Monk body. O/n hotel.
Day trip to Taktsang, the Tiger's Nest Monastery. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 4,000 feet. In the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava flew here on a tiger's back to found the monastery.
Depart Paro for Bangkok, and connect to homebound flights.