Festivals and Hikes in the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Overview

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.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
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.

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Days 6-12
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.

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Highlights

Highlights

Hike and explore the ethereal Bumthang region, the spiritual center of Bhutan
Attend a wildly colorful Buddhist festival
Meet artisans, farmers, Buddhist pilgrims, and red-robed monks
Overnights in a combination of deluxe hotels and welcoming lodges

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $5795  
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 4 nights deluxe hotels, 7 nights lodges
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

7 hiking days on moderate trails, 2-6 hours a day, altitudes between 4,100-12,000 feet