This beautiful tour around Bhutan’s most scenic places takes us to the country’s finest locations with an unparalleled diversity. This is one of our signature trips that we started first in 1999. Along the way, we have made few necessary and recommended changes. This is the perfect trip to experience the delight of crossing high hills as well as the wide windswept meadows filled with wildflowers, across sleepy hamlets, through fragrance filled forests, rice fields and orchards.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DRUKYUL WALKING TOUR
There is no real trekking that requires outdoor camping with exhaustive long day walks; but it has moderate hikes and excursions to villages from the comforts of your Hotel. An active vacation without roughing it! The itinerary covers the regular tourists’ sites, as well as some off- the-beaten places. Walk out to visit villages, farms, and monasteries and ancient temples from the towns of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue phodrang and travel as far interior to Bumthang District. Between the drives, we shall make unplanned stops at local villages. All of our small group departures are scheduled to attend the local festivals and therefore some parts of the itinerary may be revised slightly to incorporate these colorful events.
We sincerely believe that walking is the best way to enjoy and experience Bhutan and this itinerary has been tried and tested over the years.
- Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
- Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
- Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
- Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
- Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
- Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.
Day 1 & 2: Arrive & tour Paro valley.
Arrive by flight into Paro. Upon arrival you are met by Bhutanese Guide and driver and transferred to the Emerald green Paro Valley at 7,500ft, is one of Bhutan’s most beautiful and most fertile valley. Numerous shrines, fortresses and farm houses dot the landscape and graceful willow trees grow along the edge of Pachhu river, which passes through paddy fields and farmlands. During our time here, we will do many short easy walks in the valley and cover visit to local villages, farm houses and also some of the popular monuments and attractions such as the Rinphung Dzong, Dzongdrakha, Kichu Lhakhang. Dungtse Lhakhang and the ruins of Drugyal Dzong. We also have two evenings to stroll the charming small town of Paro, lined with colorfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 3 : Fly to Bumthang – Tang.
In the morning take a short 20 min flight east into the central heartland of Bumthang district. Meet your guide and driver and drive for about half hour to the hilltop Padselling monastery. After exploring the monastery, interacting with the monks, begin 2-3hr walk over the hill and descend into Bapzur village in Tang, where we can visit Pema Tekchok Choeling Shedra a large nunnery. Meet your vehicle and drive further north, passing through several villages for about 1hr along the rough road deep into Tang valley. En-route we stop to visit Rimochen Lhakhang and walk to visit local village. We have Horse Ranch here and if they are free, you can ride in the valley and tour the villages/ local school etc.
Tang is the most remote of Bumthang’s four valleys. There is a dairy and sheep farm and not so long ago, locals were yak herders.
Overnight in a simple village lodge.
Day 4: Tang – Jakar, Bumthang.
In the morning we walk to visit Ogyencholing Manor and museum. Explore the area further and drive to Jakar which takes about 2hrs. Along the way we stop to take a peek at Membartsho gorge. In the afternoon, visit Jakar Dzong and walk downhill into the town area, passing through local village, visiting some hidden shrines/temples along the way. In the evening, visit Kharchu Drastang monastery, possibly during their evening debate and prayers. Visit Swiss Farm area. Stroll through the township.
Overnight hotel in Jakar.
Day 5: In Jakar, Bumthang.
Jakar, Bumthang or Chokhor valley is the cultural heartland of the Kingdom, dotted with many ancient monasteries and UNESCO heritage sites. After breakfast we begin our valley walking tour, visiting 7th century Jambay Lhakhang, followed by short stop at Chakar Lhakhang and then visit Kurjey temple complex. Cross the river over the suspension bridge to Dorjibi village, where you should be able to see a local weaving center and a village temple. Later walk Tamshing monastery and meet your vehicle and visit Wangduecholing Palace area, with its water turned prayer wheels. In addition to visiting village, we may have an opportunity to visit local
Overnight hotel in Jakar.
Day 6: Jakar – Tharpaling -Trongsa.
Our agenda for today is to journey along a scenic forest trail for about 3-hour hike, gradually climbing uphill to Tharpaling Monastery, one of the most important monasteries founded by Longchen Ramjamba, the famous saint in the Nyingmapa sect. Meet the vehicle and drive down to Chumey valley, and continue over Youtongla Pass to Trongsa (2hrs).
Upon arrival in Trongsa, visit the imposing Trongsa Dzong and the Tower of Trongsa Museum. In the evening stroll around the town.
Overnight hotel in Trongsa.
Day 7: Gangtey, Phobjikha Valley.
Drive till Pelela pass, from where we take a side diversion road into the hidden and beautiful Phobjikha valley, a protected wildlife conservation area within Jigme Singye National Park. From mid October till March, this beautiful valley is also winter home for rare black necked cranes that migrate from Tibetan Plateau. Visit ancient Gangtey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingma monastery, located atop the hill. Then walk along the nature trail, a footpath encircling the winter roosting grounds of the crane, for about 2hrs. When the crane is not in residence, walk to the local villages, and also visit Nature Info center.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 8: Gangtey – Punakha.
A short scenic drive through ever changing vegetation brings us to Punakha and Wangdue valley. Visit Richengang, a unique village with houses clustered together. Later walk short distance to visit Chimi Lhakhang temple, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley (1455 – 1529), popularly known as ‘the divine madman, a folk hero and a cultural icon around whom countless yarns of facts and fiction, stories and legends have been spun.
Overnight hotel in Punakha valley.
Day 9: In Punakha & Wangdue.
Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are administrative centers of their respective district. Located close to each other and being in the same valley, they are often described together. Compared to Thimphu, Paro or valleys of central Bhutan, Punakha-Wangdue valley is at a lower elevation of about 1250m above-sea-level. Therefore it enjoys semitropical climate. The valley boasts two crops a year, along with growth of oranges, bananas and other subtropical fruits. Punakha was also the former winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still followed by central monastic body. The head of the clergy with his entourage of monks spend the winter in Punakha Dzong and summer in Thimphu. Drive to the idyllic countryside north of Punakha, and start forty-minute walk up to Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten on Nyinzergang hill. Upon return, drive back to visit the architectural wonders of the 17th century Punakha Dzong, straddling at the confluence of Pho and Mo rivers (male & female). From Punakha Dzong walk across the bridge, and gradually climb up the hill for about 2-3hr to Limukha village. Meet your vehicle near Limukha and drive to the hotel.
Overnight hotel, in Punakha valley.
Day 10: Punakha- Dochula – Thimphu.
Drive from the sub-tropical Punakha valley to 10,500ft at Dochula pass in two hours. After enjoying the spectacular panoramic views of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks along the Tibet border over cuppa and snacks at Dochula, begin 2hr ridge top walk to Lungchuzekha temple/ retreat center. The trail is through rich vegetation of moss laden birch, hemlock and rhododendrons trees, with excellent views of peaks and the valleys. This trail is adopted by Wind Horse since 2009. Our guides clean and maintain this trail. Picnic at the monastery. The views are astounding and the walk is through rich fir and rhododendron forests. Instead of returning to Dochula, walk 1hr downhill to another retreat and monastic center of Trashigang located on a hilltop, from where we meet our vehicle and drive short distance to Thimphu, where we visit the great Tashicho Dzong, and the giant Buddha statue as the sunsets in the valley.
Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 11: In Thimphu.
We have a full day to tour and visit the capital of Bhutan as per interests. You can visit Memorial Chorten, Takin Preserve, Zilukha nunnery, Traditional Art School, Hospital for traditional medicine, National Library, Textile Academy and Museum, Changlimithang ground where you may see Archery, Centennial farmers’ market, which is more vibrant over the weekend (Fri-Sun) or you can spend half day hiking to Cheri or Tango Monastery north of Thimphu. You can decide these activities with you guide when you are here.
Overnight hotel in Thimphu
Day 12: Paro (Hike to Takstang).
After breakfast, drive for about an hour to Paro and continue north to the trail head. As you will have covered more grounds on foot and well acclimated by now, we hope to take you bit beyond what regular tourist generally cover; that is to hike to the legendary Takstang (tiger’s nest) monastery and also to visit some of the temples higher-up like Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo. This special hike beyond Taktshang provides a rare view and look at the Takstang monastery and also its surrounding temples, monasteries and hermitages. Return to Paro for farewell dinner.
Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 13: Departure.
Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.
- Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
- Experienced driver.
- Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard goverment approved hotels & guesthouses.
- All meals in Bhutan.
- All entrance fees and permits.
- All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
- Medical / Travel Insurance.