With its deep rhododendron forests, lush mountains, pilgrim trails, serene rural villages, and traditional way of life, Bhutan is a hiker’s paradise. We’ve created a journey of inspiring day hikes that explore this rare Himalayan world and reveal its unique cultural heritage, from the pilgrimage sites of Bumthang, Bhutan’s spiritual heartland, to the cliff-perched monastic retreat of Taktsang. Festivals are exuberant manifestations of the Tibetan Buddhist faith in this kingdom, and each trip will witness a colorful Tsechu festival, an event featuring an intricate Buddhist dance-drama retelling ancient tales of demons and deities. Our Bhutanese Trip Leaders add charm and expertise to the trip and are wonderful ambassadors for their extraordinary country.
Our trip leader was one reason we loved the trip so much. He introduced us to his culture, country, and religion and we appreciated every climb, every monastery, every van ride, and every experience. He was extremely knowledgable and interesting.
— Andy C., Carrboro, NC
Paro / Thimphu / Punakha and Phobjikha Valleys
From Paro, we head to Thimphu for a hike up to Cheri, a 17th century monastery and Buddhist university where we’ll see monks studying and carrying out their daily rituals. In the lush Punakha Valley, we hike through serene riverside villages and up to charming Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to the Tibetan Buddhist saint known as “the divine madman” for his unconventional ways. After exploring the magnificent 17th century Punakha Dzong, seat of the head abbot of Bhutan, we head to scenic Phobjikha, a remote glacial valley and winter home of migrating black-necked cranes. We hike in the pine-forested hills and visit gold-spired Gangtey, an important monastery of the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism.
Bumthang / Tsechu Festival / Paro
The Bumthang region of central Bhutan is renowned for its extraordinary concentration of venerated temples and monasteries. We hike to some of the country’s most sacred sites, including the 17th century Kurjey Lhakhang, whose three temples are the resting place of Bhutan’s first three kings. This peaceful place also holds the earliest Buddhist site in the country, associated with Guru Rinpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Flying back to Paro, we take the pilgrimage hike up to Taktsang, known as the Tiger’s Nest, a spectacular monastery clinging to a cliff at 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley. Depart on Day 12.