Hiker's Journey to Bhutan

Festivals and Hikes in the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Overview

Gold-spired temples, exuberant festivals to honor the guardian deities, even a guiding philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”—Bhutan is truly one of the world’s last Shangri-Las. With our great combination of hiking and cultural exploration, we transport you into this rare world, hiking the trails and taking time to experience local life as we make a private visit to a nunnery, dine with a family in their 500-year-old-home, and attend a tsechu—a colorful Tibetan Buddhist celebration with elaborate dance-dramas. Our journey includes three days in the ethereal Bumthang region, spiritual center of the kingdom. Lovely hotels and mountain lodges welcome us each night, and our Bhutanese Trip Leaders share their passion for their extraordinary country.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
Paro / Thimphu / Punakha and Phobjikha Valleys

After flying to Bhutan’s Paro Valley, we head across mountainous countryside to Thimphu, the tiny capital. We stretch our legs on a hike to a 17th century Buddhist teaching university where monks study. From the Dochu La (10,000'), with its summit festooned with fluttering prayer flags, we hike up through spruce and rhododendron forests to isolated Lungchuzekha Monastery (11,800'), where views stretch across snow-capped peaks. Driving down into the lush Punakha Valley, we explore the breathtaking Punakha Dzong, an architectural masterpiece built in 1637. A hike through riverside villages brings us to Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the Tibetan Buddhist saint known as “the Divine Madman” for his unconventional ways. We’ll explore the peaceful Phobjikha Valley, with its grazing yaks and alpine setting on the western slope of the Black Mountains.

Le Méridien Hotel
Thimphu, Bhutan
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
Hotel Lobesa
Punakha, Bhutan
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
Zhingkham Resort
Punakha, Bhutan
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
Khuru Resort
Punakha, Bhutan
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
Yue Loki Guest House
Phobjikha, Bhutan
Day 5 (1 night)
Days 6-12
Bumthang / Paro

The Bumthang region, where Buddhism was introduced to the country in the 7th century, has an extraordinary concentration of sacred monasteries. In a setting of tidy farmhouses, orchards, and fields, we hike to some of the region’s holiest sites, including 17th century Kurjey Lhakhang, whose temples are the resting place of Bhutan’s first three kings. We’ll watch monks at their morning prayers, be welcomed in local homes, and make a special visit to a fascinating nunnery not usually open to visitors. Back in Paro, our final hike is a spectacular one—the pilgrim trail to Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest, one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world. Depart on Day 12 via Paro, or join one of our extensions.

Yangkhil Resort
Trongsa, Bhutan
Day 6 (1 night)
Zhiwa Ling Hotel
Paro, Bhutan
Days 10 to 11 (2 nights)
Le Meridien
Paro, Bhutan
Days 10 to 11 (2 nights)

Highlights

Highlights

Attend a wildly colorful Buddhist tsechu festival
Explore the peaceful Bumthang region, spiritual center of this Himalayan kingdom
Hike the pilgrim trail to the striking monastic retreat of Tiger’s Nest monastery
Private welcome at a remote nunnery, with the opportunity to join a guided meditation
Dine with a local family in their farmhouse and learn about traditional Bhutan

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $6295  
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 4 nights hotels, 7 nights lodges
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

7 hiking days on moderate trails, 2-6 hours a day, altitudes between 4,100-12,900 feet

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