The World’s Last Shangri La

Overview

In the serene, secluded Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, spirituality permeates every aspect of daily life, traditional festivals are living manifestations of a national faith, and the king decrees “Gross National Happiness” as the standard by which to measure the country’s wealth. On this lodge-based Private Journey with your own private guide, hike to tiny villages of whitewashed homes, through magical forests, and up to mountainside chortens (shrines) bedecked with colorful prayer flags. Along the way from Thimphu, the capital, to the beautiful Paro, Punakha, and Haa valleys, meet villagers, farmers, and red-robed monks, explore colorful markets, and marvel at the Shangri La setting of sublime fortress monasteries reigning over wooded valleys.

Short on time? We also offer an 8-day journey, please call for details.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Thimphu Valley (7,600’)

Bhutan possesses a vibrant traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture and a stunning Himalayan setting. Spirituality permeates every aspect of daily life, time-honored festivals are living manifestations of a national faith, and the king decrees “Gross National Happiness” as the standard by which to measure the country’s wealth. In this magical and mountainous land of demons and deities, explore the serene retreat of Tango Monastery, with views of the valley and a beautiful inner courtyard, and enjoy an afternoon hike through riverside villages of traditional architecture, with a picnic lunch. Overnights in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu.

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Days 3-5
Punakha Valley (4,300’) / Chimi Lhakhang

A spectacular road journey across the Dochu La Pass, with its summit shrines festooned with prayer flags, brings you to the subtropical Punakha Valley. Hike forested riverside trails to Lobsakha village and to the Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, walk across rice fields to the fascinating Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Bhutan’s renegade saint, Lama Drupka Kinley, a nd explore the magnificent Punakha Dzong, 17th century seat of Bhutan’s kings, set at the confluence of two rushing rivers. On Day 5, visit the Chimi Lhakhang temple.

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Days 6-8
Haa Valley (8,900’) / Paro

Haa Valley is one of the most deeply traditional regions in Bhutan. Visit the ruins of the old fortress of Dobji Dzong and hike a footpath contouring along the Haa Chu River through small villages, with stops at a local farmhouse and the Chundu Lhakhang temple. On our way to Paro, hike to Killa Gompa, one of Bhutan’s largest retreat centers for Buddhist nuns (about 40 to 50 women reside here), and in Paro, explore the National Museum, whose collection includes ancient artifacts, weapons, and Bhutan’s beautiful stamps, and the 15th century Paro Dzong.

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Days 9-10
Paro and Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest (10,200’)

For a grand finale, hike up through forests to the striking monastic retreat of Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest,” built in the 17th century into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro Valley. Taktsang is the most famous temple in Bhutan, with one of the most spectacular settings in the world. Depart on Day 10.

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Highlights

Highlights

Experience a mystical Himalayan kingdom
Magical Taktsang, Bhutan’s legendary cliff-perched monastery
Meet Bhutanese villagers, explore colorful markets

Details

Length: 10 days
Cost From: $4195  
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 9 nights in lodges
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Moderate to steep trails, 3 hours a day, altitudes averaging 7,000-10,000 feet