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Home : Holidays : Asia : Bhutan : YOUR VISIT TO BHUTAN-The Trips

YOUR VISIT TO BHUTAN-The Trips

There are countless things to see in the world??s last remaining Himalayan kingdom. In Paro, visit Ta Dzong National Museum, filled with art, relics and artifacts; Drukgyel Dzong, an ancient fortress below the snow dome of sacred Chomolhari; and the Tiger??s Nest, one of the holiest sites in the Buddhist universe. See spectacular mountain views from the top of the Chalela Ridge, and take short hikes to the Dzongdrakha temples and Kila nunnery. From the ridge, descend into the recently opened Haa valley, still almost completely untouched by tourism.

In Thimphu, visit Tashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress monastery which now houses the National Assembly Hall, the monastery of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot), and the Dragon Throne. The Late King??s Memorial Chorten, topped with a golden spire, contains many beautiful works of art. Visit the School of Fine Arts (thangka painting and other traditional arts); the Royal Dance Academy (Buddhist Cham dances); the Folk and Textile Museums, the National Library, which houses ancient Buddhist manuscripts, Changgangkha and Zantog Pelri monasteries and Drubthrob nunnery, Explore a papermaking studio, the handicraft center, Thimphu??s myriad of colorful shops and on weekends, the outdoor market.

Beyond Thimphu, the National Highway leads east, over the 10,000 ft Dochu La pass into the Punakha valley, Bhutan??s ancient capital, where the majestic Dzong is situated at the confluence of two mighty glacial rivers. Here you can hike to the chorten of Khamsum Yuelley above the valley, and the temple of Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman. Beyond is Wangduephodrang Dzong, overlooking the river and the old trade route. At Gangtey, the rare and hauntingly beautiful black-necked cranes return every winter to the remote and lovely valley.

The Pele La pass crosses the Black Mountains and divides western and central Bhutan. East of the pass the road leads to Trongsa, site of Bhutan??s largest Dzong and ancestral home of the royal family. Beyond lie the breathtakingly beautiful Bumthang valleys, the heart of Bhutan, a treasury of temples and monasteries, a living museum of art and history. From Bumthang it takes about two days to reach the eastern border, along wild rocky roads and over Bhutan??s highest road pass to Mongar, and then the eastern center at Trashigang, where few tourists have yet ventured.

Treks bring those willing and able to do them to the most remote and glorious vistas in the kingdom, from verdant valleys and primeval forests to the snows and alpine lakes of the Inner Himalaya, where the only inhabitants are blue sheep, takin, snow leopard and yak herders. This is the home of the rarest Himalayan species of birds, animals and flowers.

There are tours to fit every interest, from textiles to birding, nature and photography, and everywhere there are hikes and excursions to villages, temples and spectacular citadels of natural beauty where visitors can experience a culture and a land which remains the most unspoiled and most beautiful example of the Himalayan Buddhist way of life in existence today. There may be no Shangri La in the modern world, but this is as close as most of us will ever come.

  • MOUNTAINS & MYSTICS: THE GOLDEN PROCESSION AND THE WILD CRANES OF PHOBJIKA

Witness the vivid pageantry and mystic spirituality of the Serdra festival at Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan.  The Serdra commemorates a victory over Tibet in the 17th c. and is highlighted by the magnificent Golden Procession which re-enacts the battle.  Galloping horsemen (descendants of the ancient warrior clans, or prasaps), monks in antique silk robes, dives into the river to retrieve oranges, and a blessing by the Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot in powerful Black Hat dress are all part of this unique festival, where the largest Thongdrel or Great Thangka in Bhutan is displayed.  We??ll explore the balmy Punakha valley with some easy hikes, and cross the Black Mountains into central Bhutan to see the beautiful dzongs, temples and farms of the lovely, peaceful Bumthang valleys.  On the way back we visit the high Gangtey valley, where the rare and magnificent black-necked cranes, the Birds of Heaven,  return each year to find refuge until spring comes to the mountains of Tibet.  These cranes, the last of the species to be discovered, the least-known and most difficult to see according to Peter Matthiessen, are considered supernatural or ?°fairy?± creatures in Bhutanese and Tibetan folklore.  Our trip includes hikes to the Tiger??s Nest, temples and a nunnery, the weekend market, an artist??s workshop, a get-together with some of the Serdra warriors, and a kaleidoscope of  discovery in this remote and ancient land.

  • EASTERN HORIZONS:  JOURNEY ACROSS BHUTAN WITH THE GOM KORA & PARO FESTIVALS

A highly adventurous exploration all the way across Bhutan to the eastern borderlands of Arunachal Pradesh, highlighted by the ancient and little-known festival at 17th c. Gom Kora.  Gom Kora is one of the temples where Guru Rinpoche, the great tantric mystic who brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan, meditated.  It is a small temple in front of a huge black rock, where Guru Rinpoche is said to have vanquished a local demon.   Visit the eastern towns of Mongar and Trashigang, and the tiny picturesque mountain village of Radhi; go to monasteries both ancient and new; and thoroughly explore this region of Bhutan where the finest textiles are woven by hand.  In central Bhutan, visit Trongsa, ancestral seat of the royal lineage; and the beautiful Bumthang valleys where many legendary events of Himalayan Buddhism took place. See the magnificent black-necked cranes, the Birds of Heaven, at Gangtey and Bomdeling; and the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha valleys in western Bhutan. In Paro, witness the climax of the great Paro Tshechu festival.  Days will be filled with unforgettable sights, adventurous day hikes, and the awe-inspiring beauty of this Shangri-La country whose ecology is one of the most pristine in the world. This richly detailed adventure offers the serious traveler a deeply insightful view into the ancient traditions of the last Himalayan kingdom.

  • PARO FESTIVAL TOUR

One of the greatest of Bhutan??s glorious Himalayan Buddhist dance festivals.  As spring warms the mountains, the dancers in magnificent masks and brilliant silk costumes take on the aspects of peaceful and wrathful deities as they illustrate and re-enact Buddhist teachings and legends.  Spring is a beautiful time in Paro, with flowers and blooming trees scenting the air of the peaceful mountain valleys, serene and lovely beneath the snow-covered peaks high above.  Witness the once-a-year display of the great scroll known as the Thongdrel on the final day of the festival, which is said to confer great blessings upon the onlookers.  Then set out to explore more of Bhutan, heading for the mountain valleys of Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, Trongsa, Bumthang and Gangtey. Visit the weekend market, hike to the Tiger??s Nest and see all the enchanting sites which have made Bhutan a symbol of peace, beauty, tradition and hope.

 

  • MOUNTAIN SPRINGTIME:  A BHUTAN EXPLORATION AND THE SPRING YAK FESTIVAL

Snowpeaks, yaks and alpine flowers! Begin with an exploration of the Paro valley, including hikes along the Chalela Ridge with its spectacular mountain views, and to the Tiger??s Nest , one of the most sacred sites in the Buddhist universe. Explore the mountain-rimmed capital, including the colorful weekend market, before heading into the balmy and peaceful Punakha valley, and on through the Black Mountains into the beautiful Bumthang valleys.   Spring is a gloriously lovely season in the Himalayas, when the earth renews its exuberant life and flowers bloom everywhere. Bhutan is one of the last remaining pristine ecosystems left on earth. The producer and director of The Living Edens said ?°If there is any country on earth that qualifies as an Eden ¨C not just in part but in its entirety ¨C I believe it is Bhutan.?±

  • HIMALAYAN SUMMER

Summer festivals in Bhutan are rare, but two important ones are held at Kurjey  and Nyimalung temples in the beautiful Bumthang valleys of central Bhutan.  During the balmy days of early summer, explore the high mountain valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha,  Wangduephodrang  and Gangtey in western Bhutan, and Trongsa and Bumthang on the eastern side of the Black Mountains.  The Bumthang valleys are noted for their beauty and long history, and are the cultural heart of the Dragon Kingdom, rich in art and tradition and filled with magnificent temples dedicated to Himalayan Buddhism. Take time to walk, explore, and absorb the mystical atmosphere of this unique and peaceful kingdom which has captured the imagination of so many visitors.  MSNBC says of Bhutan, ?°It has all the ingredients of a tourist paradise; misty mountains, mysterious monasteries, emerald green paddy fields and tales of yaks and yetis.  Yet, each year, barely 7,000 foreign tourists walk through the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan??s spectacular forests covered with conifers, rhododendrons and prayer flags fluttering in the wind.?±

  • AUTUMN FESTIVALS

Bhutan at the height of the festival season, in the glorious days of early autumn ¨C this is Shangri La in its most awe-inspiring and beautiful season. In fall??s golden days, the mountains echo with the boom of alpine horns, accompanied by bells, drums, gongs and conch shells. In an atmosphere of mystical power unchanged for centuries, silk-robed masked dancers leap and whirl in a kaleidoscope of color as they celebrate the ancient Himalayan Buddhist rituals. The festivals in Bhutan are pure and genuine, representing a tradition that dates back thousands of years. This favorite fall tour combines three traditional festivals, at Wangduephodrang, at Tamshing in the Bumthang valleys, and at rural Tangbi, a small mountain temple up in the hills. Hike to the Tiger??s Nest, visit the weekend market, cross the spectacular Dochu La pass into the balmy Punakha valley, cross the Black Mountains into central Bhutan and expore the beautiful and historic Bumthang valleys. Intensive sightseeing, day hikes, and a wealth of visual and cultural experiences create an exhilarating visit to one of the world??s most untouched and fascinating places.

  • MOUNTAIN FESTIVALS THE JAMBE FESTIVAL AND THE BIRDS OF HEAVEN


Explore the serene and lovely Bumthang valleys, filled with ancient treasures of Bhutanese art, history and legend. Visit farms and villages, temples and dzongs, roaming through the deep forested mountains and peaceful valleys of rural Bhutan in the brilliant days of autumn. At 7th c. Jambe temple, the annual Tsechu festival commemorates the deeds of Guru Rinpoche, the great Tantric mystic who brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. The festival is a stunning visual experience and one of great spiritual meaning, opening with the powerful Black Hat Dance and ending on the first night with a fire ceremony for blessings and fertility. Another festival takes place nearby, at the hillside Prakhar temple. Short hikes in the beautiful Punakha valley, to the Tiger??s Nest monastery, and atop the Chelela Ridge; visit Phobjika sanctuary to see the legendary black-necked cranes; and explore the lovely valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa and Bumthang for a rich and colorful tour through the Land of the Thunder Dragon, in a season of exceptional beauty and powerful mystery.

  • THE BIRDS OF HEAVEN:  BHUTAN & THE CRANE FESTIVAL

Explore the serene and lovely Bumthang valleys, filled with ancient treasures of Bhutanese art, history and legend. Visit farms and villages, temples and dzongs, roaming through the deep forested mountains and peaceful valleys of rural Bhutan in the sparkling days of late autumn.   Enjoy walking in the beautiful Punakha valley, to the Tiger??s Nest monastery, and along the Chalela Ridge; and see the lovely valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa and Bumthang. 

The black-necked cranes which come to Bhutan each year from Tibet and the Qinghai Plateau are renowned in song, poetry and legend for their beauty and mystery.  In western Bhutan, they winter in the isolated Phobjika valley near Gangtey, high, remote and beautiful.  The people of the valley, mostly farmers, hold an annual celebration in honor of the cranes, with a procession, religious ceremony, folk and masked dances, and archery contests.  The black-necked crane is the least known, most difficult to see and last to be discovered of the cranes, the largest flying birds in the world, and according to Peter Matthiessen, ?°magnificent and stirring creatures, heralds and symbols of all that is being lost.?±  In Bhutanese and Tibetan folklore they are considered almost supernatural, and it has never been scientifically explained why each and every year, they circle Gangtey monastery three times upon arrival and again when it is time to depart.  In Bhutan, mystery is taken for granted.

  • JOURNEY TO THE EASTERN FRONTIER

A rich and very comprehensive cultural exploration of the Dragon Kingdom, from the western to the eastern borders, traversing all the beautiful mountain valleys along the national highway between the two borders. Explore in depth Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Gangtey in the west; Trongsa and Bumthang in central Bhutan; and Mongar and Trashigang in the east, in an intricately detailed tapestry of the entire kingdom, across the endless mountain ranges of this ?°Lost Horizon?± land which few westerners have yet seen. Witness the spectacular events which take place in Mongar and Trashigang at the year-end Tshechu festivals. Hike to the sacred Tiger??s Nest, go to the great stupa of Chorten Kora, and see the legendary and beloved cranes which find sanctuary in Bhutan every autumn. This wide and varied array of experiences provides an insider??s view of the last Himalayan kingdom. Optional add-on walking extension to the Nganglhakhang Mountain Festival includes an overnight hike to the mountain village, where young men of the warrior clan dress in the manner of the ancient Prasap warriors. The sacred temple deity is displayed in a brilliantly colorful parade of monks, lamas and dancers as the village celebrates the ancient tradition.

  • HIMALAYAN HOLIDAY AND THE TRONGSA FESTIVAL

Celebrate the winter holidays high in the mountains of Bhutan. Climb to the Tiger??s Nest, visit the remote valley of Haa and hike to temples and a nunnery. See the great peaks of the Inner Himalaya in the crisp clear air of year??s end, when days are usually brilliantly sunny and nights full of stars. Visit the colorful capital, Thimphu, then go east to the lovely Punakha valley, where you can hike to a hilltop chorten and visit the temple of the Divine Madman (famous for fertility blessings), Cross the Black Mountains into central Bhutan and witness the great annual festival at Trongsa, site of Bhutan??s largest Dzong (ancient fortified monasteries, the dzongs are noted for their unique architecture and imposing size). The festival is celebrated with mask dances and attended by crowds of people dressed in traditional finery. In the Bumthang valley, visit the historic old temples and hike along the country lanes; then on to Gangtey, winter home of the great black-necked cranes, the Birds of Heaven, who make Bhutan their refuge from the icy snows of Tibet. A unique, special, and very spiritual way to end the year.

  • HOLIDAYS IN ASIA:  PRIVATE YEAR END ADVENTURES

Spend the year-end holidays in Asia, on the private adventure of your choice.  Southeast Asia (Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand) are best visited at this time of year; as well as India with all its colorful treasures.  Or venture into the Himalayas when peace reigns over the countryside, and listen to the silence.  Whatever your choice, we can make it a reality, with custom itinerary planning and creative ideas for a memorable end to the year.  

 

 WALKING TOURS

  • NOMADS OF THE EASTERN FRONTIER JOURNEY ACROSS BHUTAN WITH THE DROGPA NOMAD FESTIVAL

A highly adventurous exploration all the way across Bhutan to the eastern borderlands of Arunachal Pradesh, highlighted by the ancient and little-known Drogpa nomad festival at 18th c. Chorten Kora. Chorten Kora is a huge domed stupa with painted eyes facing the four directions at the southern tip of the Bomdeling valley in eastern Bhutan. Its existence was predicted centuries in advance by Guru Rinpoche, the great tantric mystic who brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. The festival is the most important event of the year for the Drogpas, nomadic yak herders of the high Merak Sakteng valleys, who have retained many of the ancient pre-Buddhist Bon beliefs and customs, lending a rather wild and wooly atmosphere to the festival and making it one of the more unique in Bhutan. Visit the eastern towns of Mongar and Trashigang, and the tiny picturesque mountain village of Radhi; go to monasteries both ancient and new; and thoroughly explore this region of Bhutan where the finest textiles are woven by hand. In central Bhutan, visit Trongsa, ancestral seat of the royal lineage; and the beautiful Bumthang valleys where many legendary events of Himalayan Buddhism took place. See the magnificent black-necked cranes, the Birds of Heaven, at Gangtey and Bomdeling; and the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha valleys in western Bhutan. Days will be filled with unforgettable sights, adventurous day hikes, and the awe-inspiring beauty of this Shangri-La country whose ecology is one of the most pristine in the world. This richly detailed adventure offers the serious traveler a deeply insightful view into the ancient traditions of the last Himalayan kingdom.

  • A WALK THROUGH SPRING

Our spring walking tour takes place during the gentle month of April, when flowers begin to carpet the mountainsides and fill the forests and rhododendrons put on their spectacular annual display.  Lots of day hikes and leisurely explorations throughout the lovely valleys of Bhutan from Paro to Bumthang and a chance to really gain insight into a mountain kingdom of great beauty and ancient traditions. Our spring walking tour takes place during the gentle month of April, when flowers begin to carpet the mountainsides and fill the forests and rhododendrons put on their spectacular annual display.  Lots of day hikes and leisurely explorations throughout the lovely valleys of Bhutan from Paro to Bumthang and a chance to really gain insight into a mountain kingdom of great beauty and ancient traditions.  Bhutan is a country made for walking, from snowcapped peaks to deep untouched forests and beautiful peaceful valleys filled with temples and monasteries.  Its birds and butterflies, flowers and woodlands, its glacier-fed streams and rivers provide the colorful backdrop to the traditional lives of farmers, yak herders, villagers and people of the valleys and mountains, following the ancient Buddhist and pre-Buddhist traditions of ancestors lost in the mists of history.  There are not many places left on earth where you can find such beauty, mystery, and spirit, a country blessed by nature and the gods.

  • AUTUMN WALKING TOUR WITH THE JAMBE FESTIVAL

Walking tours are for people who enjoy being outdoors, exploring traditional cultures and meeting people who follow a different way of life.  To understand and appreciate Bhutan, it??s best to go slowly, visiting places which can??t be reached by motor roads, away from tour buses and groups.  The Autumn Walking Tour is an in-depth exploration which includes numerous day hikes, visits to craft artisans, an outdoor market, a Buddhist dance festival at an ancient temple, informal talks, opportunities to meditate and to interact with local people and get to know our knowledgeable and informative escorts.  Participants will gain a unique insight into traditional Bhutan, beyond the standard tourist routes, and an insider??s view of the legendary country which is constantly compared to Shangri La.  The hikes include small villages, temples and spectacular scenic sites, places where Bhutan??s Buddhist traditions and historic way of life can be deeply experienced.  The leisurely pace affords the chance to absorb the peaceful atmosphere and rich beauty of this most remote Himalayan kingdom during the blissful days of autumn, when days are usually crisp, sunny and bright. Roam the historic Thimphu and Paro valleys, then cross high passes into the beautiful valleys of central Bhutan, to attend the annual Tshechu festival at 7th c. Jambe temple.

Then go to the hidden Gangtey valley, winter home of the world??s rarest and most majestic cranes. The black-necked cranes which come to Bhutan each year from Tibet and the Qinghai Plateau are renowned in song, poetry and legend for their beauty and mystery.  In western Bhutan, they winter in the isolated Phobjika valley near Gangtey, high, remote and beautiful.  The people of the valley, mostly farmers, hold an annual celebration in honor of the cranes, the least known, most difficult to see and last to be discovered of the cranes, the largest flying birds in the world, and according to Peter Matthiessen, ?°magnificent and stirring creatures, heralds and symbols of all that is being lost.?±  In Bhutanese and Tibetan folklore they are considered almost supernatural, and it has never been scientifically explained why each and every year, they circle Gangtey monastery three times upon arrival and again when it is time to depart.  In Bhutan, mystery is taken for granted.

This special and unique tour is for active, enthusiastic travelers, who may not want to trek, but who enjoy going beyond the usual brief look at a new culture; this is an ideal way to get to know the Dragon Kingdom with a balance of comfort and activity.

  • DANCE OF THE WARRIORS:  HIKE AND FESTIVAL

Roam through the beautiful landscape of Bhutan??s many mountain-ringed valleys, formed by the glacial rivers which rise in the snow peaks along the Tibetan border.  At this time of year, the crowds have gone, and the land is again wild, remote and peaceful.  Visit Paro and Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang in the west; then Trongsa and Bumthang in central Bhutan.  Along the way,  explore the sights of this kingdom so often compared to Shangri La, with its massive Dzongs, red-banded temples, tranquil farms and unique architecture; its deep primeval forests, crystalline rivers and towering mountain peaks.  Your stay in Bumthang is highlighted by an overnight hike to the mountain village of Nganglhakhang (literally, ?°Swan Temple?±) where, during the annual festival, young men of the warrior clan dress in the manner of their ancestors, the ancient warriors called ?°Pazaps.?±  The sacred temple deity is displayed in a brilliantly colorful parade of monks, lamas and dancers in a glorious kaleidoscope of color, sound and movement, as the village celebrates its ancient traditions.  Then see the legendary black-necked cranes at Gangtey, hike to the Tiger??s Nest to meditate, and come away with an unforgettable experience in a country visited by few, but revered by many, a sanctuary in today??s troubled world.

 MODERATE TREK ADVENTURES

  • IN THE MOUNTAIN OF THE GODS

The Paro Tshechu is one of the greatest of Bhutan??s glorious Himalayan Buddhist dance festivals.  As spring warms the mountains, the dancers in magnificent masks and brilliant silk costumes take on the aspects of peaceful and wrathful deities as they illustrate and re-enact Buddhist teachings and legends.  Spring is a beautiful time in Paro, with flowers and blooming trees scenting the air of the peaceful mountain valleys, serene and lovely beneath the snow-covered peaks high above.  Witness the once-a-year display of the great scroll known as the Thongdrel on the final day of the festival, which is said to confer great blessings upon the onlookers.  Then set out to explore  the mountains of Bhutan, on an extremely beautiful trek through cloud forest and alpine gardens, with periodic views of the high peaks, and spectacular vistas above both the Paro and Haa valleys (sometimes both at the same time!).  The birds, flowers trees and plants seem infinite in variety, and every once in a while you will come across an isolated yak herder??s hut or two.  The grade of difficulty is moderate to strenuous, and the highest point is below 14,000 feet.   You??ll also have the chance to explore the newly opened Haa valley, and the opportunity  to discover the enchantment which has  made Bhutan a symbol of peace, beauty, tradition and hope.

  • HIMALAYAN SPRING

Spring is glorious in the mountains, when the hills are covered with flowers in bloom, especially Bhutan??s national flower, the glorious rhododendron.  A short trek from the beautiful Gangtey valley winds through the Black Mountains which divide western and central Bhutan.  The trail goes to the remote Gogona valley, home of yak herders and high altitude farmers, and over the Tashi La pass, through mountains noted for the lush beauty of their forests, where rhododendrons grow to tree size and bloom in a rainbow of colors.  The trek stays below 12,000 ft, and is one of the gentlest in Bhutan. Visit the valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, and Bumthang, with an excursion to Ura, as you  explore Bhutan??s countryside, filled with  massive Dzongs, red-banded temples,  unique architecture and friendly people in traditional dress, in a world of towering mountains and deep forests.  Beautiful at any time of year, it is especially so surrounded by the birds, butterflies and flowers of spring.  Wildlife Conservation magazine called Bhutan ?°perhaps the most pristine mountain eco-system on the Indian subcontinent.?±

  • HIMALAYAN FESTIVALS & A TREK THROUGH THE DRAGON KINGDOM

An exploration into the rich culture of Bhutan, at an auspicious time of year when traditional festivals afford a glimpse into the power and mystery of Himalayan Buddhism. Begin the trip in Thimphu, the mountain-girded capital, as the great festival unfolds in the courtyard of Tashichhodzong; then set out eastward across the 10,000 ft Dochu La pass into the lush Punakha valley, the kingdom??s ancient capital. Passing below the looming fortress of Wangduephodrang Dzong, arrive at the remote and dream-like Gangtey valley; then cross the Black Mountains into the legendary Bumthang valleys of central Bhutan. Hike to a rural mountain temple to witness a village festival before setting out into the high mountains to explore the Bhutan which cannot be seen from the road. Roam above the valleys, through the hills of autumn, for five days until finally the trail crosses the last high pass and ends in the spacious Ura valley. Return to Paro with a stop to relax and explore in Punakha, before a final hike to one of the most sacred sites in the Buddhist universe, the Tiger??s Nest, a fitting climax to an in-depth visit to the Thunder-Dragon Kingdom.

  • HEART OF THE DRAGON: AUTUMN TREK & THE JAMBE FESTIVAL

Explore the serene and lovely Bumthang valleys of central Bhutan, filled with ancient treasures of Himalayan Buddhist art and the legendary sites of the kingdom??s ancient history. Visit temples and dzongs, villages and farms, roaming through the thickly forested hills and peaceful river valleys of rural Bhutan in the sparkling days of late autumn.  At 7th c. Jambe temple, the annual Tshechu festival takes place, commemorating the deeds of Guru Rinpoche, the great tantric mystic who brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to the Dragon Kingdom.  The festival is a stunning visual experience and one of great spiritual power. The festival experience is followed by an exhilarating 5-day trek through the mountains high above the Bumthang valleys. Also visit the historic and beautiful sites of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Trongsa.  At Gangtey witness the return of the hauntingly beautiful and rare wild cranes, one of nature??s grand spectacles. End your visit with a hike to the Tiger??s Nest, one of the most sacred places in the Buddhist universe.  This richly varied travel experience offers multiple insights into the mystery and beauty of the last Himalayan kingdom.

  • HEIGHTS OF THE DRAGON KINGDOM

The Paro and Dzongdrakha Festivals, a short trek, and sightseeing during Bhutan??s glorious spring season. Begin with a visit to the colorful capital of the Dragon Kingdom before heading up to the mountain-rimmed Chalela Ridge and a village festival at a temple in the hills; hike to the Tiger??s Nest and witness the spectacular Paro Festival, followed by a short trek high up into the peaks between Paro and Thimphu. Sojourn after the trek in the balmy and peaceful Punakha valley, with day hikes along the way. Spring is beautiful in the Himalayas; the earth seems to sing with exuberant life and flowers perfume the air. An optional extension to the Bumthang valleys leads over the Black Mountains into the historic and cultural heart of Bhutan.

  • DRAGON??S PATH TREK ADD-ON TO ANY TOUR

Hike the high ridge trail known as the Druk or Dragon??s Path for five days. This trail was once used by local people to walk between Paro and Thimphu, and leads to yak-herders?? encampments, a once-haunted Dzong, some jewel-like alpine lakes, hillsides covered with lush forests and alpine meadows, and views of the mighty Himalayas. Begin at Drukgyel Dzong near Paro, then follow the trail upward, high above the valleys, until the snow peaks appear. The route descends to Phajoding through thick rhododendron forests and ends above a cluster of golden-spired temples above the Thimphu valley. This short trek can easily be added at the beginning or end of any tour, as can many other treks both short and long. Please call or email us for details on adding a trek to your tour.

 HIGH TREK ADVENTURES

  • MAGIC MOUNTAINS AND SACRED DANCERS - THE CHOMOLHARI TREK

The beautiful Chomolhari trek goes to the base of the great snow peak called ?°Sacred Mountain of the Goddess?± which dominates the Paro valley.  The trail along the 8-day trek climbs up from rice terraces, wildflower meadows and deep primeval forests before emerging above treeline into a world of glaciers and perpetually snowcapped peaks.  Hike along the winding trails below the majestic giants which form the Inner Himalaya along the Bhutan/Tibet border, crossing several mighty passes, the haunt of rare animals, birds and flowers like the blue poppy, blue sheep, takin and the legendary snow leopard.  Once above timberline, walk below the great peaks along sky-high hilltops, green and misted with rainbows, jewel-like mountain lakes, and a botanical garden of wildflowers.   In spring and  autumn, yak herders will be moving their shaggy flocks between the high summer meadows and the lower pastures where they stay in cold weather;  you may spot their black yak-hair tents here and there along the way, and be invited in for tea! The trek is a challenging wilderness adventure along a spectacularly beautiful route. Witness the hidden beauty of Bhutan??s mountains, and be present also at the Paro Tshechu festival in the spring, or the Thimphu Tshechu in the fall, the gloriously colorful annual celebrations of Himalayan Buddhist masked dances, two of of Bhutan??s most important spiritual and cultural events.

  • TRACK OF THE SNOW LEOPARD:  THE LINGSHI-LAYA TREK

This superb trek climbs to the base of Chomolhari, whose sacred white peak dominates the Paro valley; then continues northeast into Lingshi??s great green rainbowed hills and climbs north to the remote sky-high settlement of Laya, reachable only on foot.  The route is extraordinarily beautiful, with an everchanging panorama of stunning mountain views.  The intensive wilderness experience is enriched by the opportunity to see the culture of an isolated mountain village where outside influences have had little impact. Here women wear bamboo hats decorated with coral and turquoise, houses are adorned with elaborate paintings, and ?°spirit-catchers?± are sometimes found along the path.   From Laya, the route begins a descent, past ethereal Gasa Dzong, high on a mountaintop, and the warm luxury of Gasa Hot Springs.  The end of the trail contours the ridges of deeply forested mountainsides above the Punakha valley.  This magnificent and challenging trek offers a wealth of outdoor adventure in one of the world??s most beautiful places.

  • CHOMOLHARI TREK & JAMBE FESTIVAL

The beautiful Chomolhari trek goes to the base of the great snow peak called ?°Sacred Mountain of the Goddess?± which dominates the Paro valley. The trail along the 8-day trek climbs up from rice terraces, wildflower meadows and deep primeval forests before emerging above treeline into a world of glaciers and perpetually snowcapped peaks. Hike along the winding trails below the majestic giants which form the Inner Himalaya along the Bhutan/Tibet border, crossing several mighty passes, the haunt of rare animals, birds and flowers like the blue poppy, blue sheep, takin and the legendary snow leopard. Once above timberline, walk below the great peaks along sky-high hilltops, green and misted with rainbows, jewel-like mountain lakes, and a botanical garden of wildflowers. In the autumn, yak herders will be bringing their shaggy flocks to lower altitudes and we may spot their black yak-hair tents here and there along the way. The trek is a challenging wilderness adventure along a spectacularly beautiful route. Witness the hidden beauty of Bhutan??s mountains, and be present also at the Jambe festival, the gloriously colorful annual celebration of Himalayan Buddhist masked dances and fertility blessing held in an ancient temple deep in the Bumthang valleys.

  • CHOMOKHARI TREK & THE PARO FESTIVAL

The Paro Tshechu is one of the greatest of Bhutan??s glorious Himalayan Buddhist dance festivals.  As spring warms the mountains, the dancers in magnificent masks and brilliant silk costumes take on the aspects of peaceful and wrathful deities as they illustrate and re-enact Buddhist teachings and legends.  Spring is a beautiful time in Paro, with flowers and blooming trees scenting the air of the peaceful mountain valleys, serene and lovely beneath the snow-covered peaks high above.  Witness the once-a-year display of the great scroll known as the Thongdrel on the final day of the festival, which is said to confer great blessings upon the onlookers.  Then set out to explore  the mountains of Bhutan, to discover the enchantment which has  made Bhutan a symbol of peace, beauty, tradition and hope.

  • THE LUNANA TREK

The ultimate trek in Bhutan and one of the greatest treks in the world.  Three full weeks of highly challenging hiking, crossing some of the mightiest passes in these great mountains, in the wildest, most remote part of the legendary kingdom.  The route leads into a hidden region of stupendous beauty, utterly removed from the outside world.  The trail winds through dreamlike vistas directly below the massive snow and ice barrier of the Himalayas along the Tibetan border.  Majestic peaks, crystalline waterfalls,  turquoise alpine lakes, roaring glacial rivers,  endless fields of exquisite mountain flowers, and encounters with rare animals and birds become the trekker??s world.  The people we meet along the way still live according to ancient, centuries-old patterns, following a way of life as it existed before the industrial age changed the face of the earth forever.  This is the last refuge of the rarest of the Himalayan species; the blue poppy, blue sheep, takin and snow leopard ¨C and who knows, maybe even the yeti!   This is a trek that will remain in your memory forever.  No one who has done it will ever forget it; and if you can, you are among an elite group of trekkers.  The trek is best timed during Bhutan??s clear autumn season.

 

  • MAGIC MOUNTAINS AND SACRED DANCERS
    THE CHOMOLHARI TREK AND THE THIMPHU FESTIVAL

The beautiful Chomolhari trek goes to the base of the great snow peak called ?°Sacred Mountain of the Goddess?± which dominates the Paro valley.  The trail along the 8-day trek climbs up from rice terraces, wildflower meadows and deep primeval forests before emerging above treeline into a world of glaciers and perpetually snowcapped peaks.  Hike along the winding trails below the majestic giants which form the Inner Himalaya along the Bhutan/Tibet border, crossing several mighty passes, the haunt of rare animals, birds and flowers like the blue poppy, blue sheep, takin and the legendary snow leopard.  Once above timberline, walk below the great peaks along sky-high hilltops, green and misted with rainbows, jewel-like mountain lakes, and a botanical garden of wildflowers.   In the autumn, yak herders will be bringing their shaggy flocks to lower altitudes and we may spot their black yak-hair tents here and there along the way. The trek is a challenging wilderness adventure along a spectacularly beautiful route. Witness the hidden beauty of Bhutan??s mountains, and be present also at the Thimphu Tshechu festival, the gloriously colorful annual celebration of Himalayan Buddhist masked dances held in the capital, and hence one of Bhutan??s most important events. 

  • TRACK OF THE SNOW LEOPARD:  THE LINGSHI-LAYA TREK + FESTIVAL

This superb trek climbs to the base of Chomolhari, whose sacred white peak dominates the Paro valley; then continues northeast into Lingshi??s great green rainbowed hills and climbs north to the remote sky-high settlement of Laya, reachable only on foot.  The route is extraordinarily beautiful, with an everchanging panorama of stunning mountain views.  The intensive wilderness experience is enriched by the opportunity to see the culture of an isolated mountain village where outside influences have had little impact. Here women wear bamboo hats decorated with coral and turquoise, houses are adorned with elaborate paintings, and ?°spirit-catchers?± are sometimes found along the path.   From Laya, the route begins a descent, past ethereal Gasa Dzong, high on a mountaintop, and the warm luxury of Gasa Hot Springs.  The end of the trail contours the ridges of deeply forested mountainsides above the Punakha valley.  This magnificent and challenging trek offers a wealth of outdoor adventure in one of the world??s most beautiful places.  On this departure, witness the Thimphu Tshechu festival, the gloriously colorful annual festival held in the capital, and hence one of Bhutan??s most important celebrations.  The trek is a challenging wilderness adventure along a spectacularly beautiful route.

  • THE GANGKAR PUENSUM TREK

The magnificent Gangkar Puensum trek brings you to the base of the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, the triple-peaked 24,000 ft White Mountain of the Three Brothers.  The trail begins above the beautiful Bumthang valley and climbs north along the Dhur Chu river through a pristine forest of firs, juniper, rhododendron and bamboo.  We then diverge to the Lamthang Chu valley, where blue and yellow poppies bloom in profusion in summer. Follow the Toli Chu river, passing some yak herders?? camps, then climb steeply up over the Toli La pass (about 15,510 ft) with stunning views of Monlakarchung and its surrounding peaks.  The trail over Monlakarchung has for centuries been a traditional caravan route between Bhutan and Tibet.  On the other side of the Toli La is a luminous mountain lake, where you might see the rare Himalayan Barred Goose and other species which avoid settled areas.  The descent to the Chamkhar Chu is filled with magnificent mountain vistas.  You can scramble up to the ridge tops for even better views of the high peaks.  As you ascend the Chamkhar Chu valley, pass more yak herders?? camps where you??ll likely be invited inside the black yak hair tents for a cup of butter tea; and finally, the first glimpse of the majestic peaks of Gangkar Puensum, radiant in snow-cloaked glory, the highest mountain in Bhutan. Climb above treeline at 13-14,000 ft, and again have the opportunity for some high ridge scrambles.  At base camp, enjoy a day of hiking at the base of the mountain, right at the edge of the terminal moraine, and an optional hike to the ridge top above the base where all three of Gangkar Puensum??s magnificent peaks can be seen at one time. You will be hiking in an area of pristine beauty, where only a handful of adventurers have ever walked before (Bhutan Travel was the first, in June 1996).

  • THE AUTUMN GANGKAR PUENSUM TREK

The magnificent Gangkar Puensum trek brings you to the base of the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, the triple-peaked 24,000 ft White Mountain of the Three Brothers.  The trail begins above the beautiful Bumthang valley and climbs north along the Dhur Chu river through a pristine forest of firs, juniper, rhododendron and bamboo.  We then diverge to the Lamthang Chu valley, where blue and yellow poppies bloom in profusion in summer. Follow the Toli Chu river, passing some yak herders?? camps, then climb steeply up over the Toli La pass (about 15,510 ft) with stunning views of Monlakarchung and its surrounding peaks.  The trail over Monlakarchung has for centuries been a traditional caravan route between Bhutan and Tibet.  On the other side of the Toli La is a luminous mountain lake, where you might see the rare Himalayan Barred Goose and other species which avoid settled areas.  The descent to the Chamkhar Chu is filled with magnificent mountain vistas.  You can scramble up to the ridge tops for even better views of the high peaks.  As you ascend the Chamkhar Chu valley, pass more yak herders?? camps where you??ll likely be invited inside the black yak hair tents for a cup of butter tea; and finally, the first glimpse of the majestic peaks of Gangkar Puensum, radiant in snow-cloaked glory, the highest mountain in Bhutan. Climb above treeline at 13-14,000 ft, and again have the opportunity for some high ridge scrambles.  At base camp, enjoy a day of hiking at the base of the mountain, right at the edge of the terminal moraine, and an optional hike to the ridge top above the base where all three of Gangkar Puensum??s magnificent peaks can be seen at one time. You will be hiking in an area of pristine beauty , where only a handful of adventurers have ever walked before (Bhutan Travel was the first, in June 1996).