Wonders of Bhutan
Anyone with an interest in Buddhist culture will be fascinated by this 10-day adventure into the heart of Bhutan, the only country in the world that measures its productivity in GNH Gross National Happiness. Explore remote villages and shrines in the mountains. Climb magnificent heights to the cliff-side Taktsang Monastery, 900m (2,953 ft) above the valley floor. Discover your own capacity for happiness within Bhutan's ancient culture.
Visit one of the most remote countries in the world, enjoy a meeting and lecture with a monk about Buddhist culture in Bhutan, learn how to cook ema datshi (chili cheese) with a local farm family, hike along peaceful nature trails and thrilling cliffs, experience the pristine and peaceful nature of the "Dragon Kingdom"
Private vehicle, walking, hiking.
Hotel/lodges (9 nts).
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Meet a Buddhist Monk, Thimphu National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Family Farm Meal, Gangtey Gonpa National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Lecture on Gross National Happiness, Thimphu. Arrival and departure transfer. Visit the Rimpung Dzong. Hike to Punakha Dzong monastery and fertility shrine. Visit the town of Wangdue and walk to Khamsum Yueley Chorten shrine. Visit the village of Khewa. Hike to the monastery of Gangtey Goempa. Walk across Phobjikha and Khewa valleys. Visit the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (arts and crafts) and the Thimphu Chorten. Hike to Kila Goempa nunnery. Explore shrines and temples of the Haa Valley. Visit the fortress of Drukgyal Dzong and hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest). Visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Day 1 Paro/Thimphu (1D)
Arrive at any time and transfer to Thimphu. In Thimphu, time permitting, take an orientation walk in town and get settled in.
Day 2 Thimphu/PunÄkha (1B, 1L, 1D)
In the morning, meet a Buddhist Monk and scholar to discuss Buddhist beliefs and way of life, as well as values in Bhutan. Drive to Punakha, crossing the Dochula Pass and enjoying stunning views of the Himalayas through flickering prayer flags. In the afternoon, drive to Lobeysa and hike 20 minutes to Chime Lhakhang, temple of the "Divine Madman", built in 1499. Today, it is mostly visited by women, as it is known as a temple of fertility.
Day 3 PunÄkha (1B, 1L, 1D)
Enjoy a full day of exploration including a visit to Punakha Dzong, Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery, and Wangdue Phodrang. In the afternoon, hike through rice terraces and forests to Khamsum Yueley Chorten.
Day 4 PunÄkha/Gangtey Gonpa (1B, 1L, 1D)
Travel to Gangtey and visit the Black-Necked Crane Centre, one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in Bhutan.
Day 5 Gangtey Gonpa (1B, 1L, 1D)
Walk to the monastery of Gangtey Goempa, known to hold the most sacred relics in Bhutan. After, walk across Phobjikha Valley to Khewa Valley, where we'll visit an old temple and make an offering. This evening, stop at the village of Khewa and visit a local family's farm for a cooking demonstration and a home cooked dinner.
Day 6 Gangtey Gonpa/Thimphu (1B, 1L, 1D)
Drive to the capital to visit the Big Buddha and the Institute for Zorig Chusum, an arts and crafts school where we can watch students practicing traditional arts such as woodworking, painting, and ceramics. Receive a lecture on the Gross National Happiness, an index used by Bhutan to measure the nation's progress.
Day 7 Thimphu/Haa Dzongkhag (1B, 1L, 1D)
In the morning, visit Memorial Chorten. Drive to the valley and visit Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple). In the afternoon, spend time exploring Haa town.
Day 8 Haa Dzongkhag/Paro (1B, 1L, 1D)
Drive to the Haa Valley, one of the most remote and sacred valleys in Bhutan via the Cheela Mountain Pass, at 12,500 feet. Hike to Kila Goempa Nunnery which clings to a rocky cliff. Later, visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple and the local archery grounds.
Day 9 Paro (1B, 1L, 1D)
Embark on a vigorous hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger's Nest), the most venerated pilgrim site of the Himalayan world. The view is absolutely stunning, with the monastery clinging to a cliff face towering 2,953m above the valley. Return to Paro and visit the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong fortress.
Day 10 Paro (1B)
Depart at any time. Airport transfer included.