Visit Bhutan 2017

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Bhutan’s unspoilt culture and traditions, Mahayana Buddhism, beautiful landscapes and mountains,

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2. BHUTAN BOTANICAL AND CULTURAL TOUR (11 days/10 nights)

BOTANICAL AND CULTURAL TOUR

Bhutan is a flora and fauna lover’s paradise with its rich biological diversity and the intact forest cover for about 72% of the country’s total land area. It is home to more than 60 percent of the common plant species found in the Eastern Himalayas and also boasts of about 46 species of rhododendrons and over 300 types of medicinal plants. Junipers, magnolias, orchids, blue poppy (the national flower), edelweiss, gentian, medicinal plants, Daphne, giant rhubarb, pine and oak are common sights that fill up the vegetation. This combined itinerary of botanical and cultural tour provides unique and exhilarating sights through beautiful forests to high mountains and across clean rivers.

Day 1: Arrive Paro

Upon your arrival, you will be received by our representative and transferred to your hotel for three nights in Paro. The rest of the day is yours to explore, take in some sightseeing, shopping, or just enjoy the idyllic atmosphere of the Paro town.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Paro

After breakfast, your tour today includes a visit to the Drukgyal Dzong (a ruined fortress), built in 1647 and destroyed by an accidental fire. On a clear day, enjoy splendid views of the Bhutan’s sacred mountain, Mt Jomolhari and Jichu Drake peak from this spot. Walk up the Paro Chu River, where Rosa sericea and Lonicera glabrata are found. Afterwards, visit the Kichu Lhakhang (temple) built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Gompo of Tibet, which is one of the oldest and holiest monasteries in Bhutan. Overnight in Paro.

Day 3: Hike to Paro Taktshang

This morning you’ll take a hike to Paro Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Taktshang. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 m above the Paro valley and takes about a 2-hour climb on a well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 8th century. Afterwards, there may also be time to visit Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower) which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan and continue to the Paro Dzong (also known as the Rinpung Dzong), built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Overnight in Paro.

Day 4: Paro – Punakha

This morning enjoy an exhilarating drive to Punakha via Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 3,088m through chir pine forest. On a clear day, you will see a breathtaking view of the snow capped eastern Himalayas and also a magnificent distant view of the Gasa Dzong from this spot. Here you’ll see the wild ginseng species along the old trading route and as we descend, discover the forest with Silk cotton trees and Jacaranda. Visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which is dedicated to the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The monastery is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting the temple – Japanese and several American couples visited this temple and were blessed miraculously with children. Overnight in Punakha.

Day 5: Punakha Valley

After breakfast, enjoy a tour on foot through the sub-tropical forests in the upper Mochhu valley to explore some of the 46 orchid species (including Coelogyne corymbosa, Dendrobium nobile and Dendrobium perardi) that are found in the vicinity of Punakha valley. Later, visit the Punakha Dzong with its flowering Jacaranda trees and sacred Bo tree, which is situated between the two rivers – the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) Rivers. If you like more, perhaps we’ll take a 45-minute excursion to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, which lies 7-km up the Punakha valley. The temple was built in 1999 to promote the health, happiness of the King and people. Overnight in Punakha.

Day 6: Punakha – Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang

After breakfast, drive a distance of 13-km for about 45-minutes to Wangdue Phodrang. En route visit the ruined site of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong by fire in late June 2012, which is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu Rivers. We then continue a scenic drive for a distance of further 65-km for about 3 hours to Gangtey in the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjikha at an altitude of 3,000m. Phobjikha valley is one of the winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrates to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter – they arrive in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. Admire splendid flora and trees, hopefully Dendrobiums along the highest motorable pass through dense spruce and larch forests. Afterwards, visit the picturesque Gangtey Gonpa (monastery) and take in breathtaking views of this beautiful upland plain, stroll through the village and along a nature trail of the Phobjikha valley. Overnight in Gangtey.

Day 7: Phobjikha Valley

After breakfast, begin the day by walking 5-hours from Gangtey Gonpa through scattered forest of red, pink and white rhododendrons (Rhododendron hodgsonii, Rhododendron keysii, Rhododendron kesangiae & Rhododendron ciliatum) and also enjoy carpets of primulas. Explore this remote and beautiful valley, meet the local people and the nomads living in black yak-wool tents who rear yaks for their livelihood. Visit the Phobjikha Conservation Centre for the Black-necked Cranes, established in 2003 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN). Bhutan is an important winter roosting place to the rare Black-necked Crane, which breed in Tibet and then migrate over the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter during the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. They can be spotted in Phobjikha in Western Bhutan, Bumthang in Central Bhutan and Bomdeling in Eastern Bhutan. Overnight in Gangtey.

Day 8: Gangtey – Thimphu

Today morning we head back to Thimphu. En route visit the Royal Botanical Park at Lamperi, which is situated at an altitude range of 2,100m to 3,800m. The park is located within the Sinchula-Dochula-Helela zone under the Thimphu and Punakha Dzongkhags (districts), which covers an area of 47 sq. km having a rich biodiversity of high conservation value. It is a great learning destination for the students, researchers and nature lovers. The park features a variety of forest types: alpine, cool temperate broadleaf forest, old growth of broad leaf and conifer forests, etc. About 300 species of plants are found in the park including those species of plants and animals with conservation significance such as Himalayan yew (Taxus battaca), Panax pseudoginsend, Tetracentron sinensis, native Rhododendron, Royal Bengal Tiger, Red Panda, Musk Deer, Himalayan Monal and Blood Pheasants. The park is also host to Tetracentron, an ancient relic angiosperm with no vessel in its trunk. The park has 14.5 km of eco-trek trails that takes you through thick oak forest and mountain streams amidst the chirping of birds and the sound of leaves fluttering and falling in the gentle mountain breeze. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 9: Hike to Tango Monastery, Thimphu

This morning drive to the end of the road before climbing into the beautiful pine forest, where an incredible Tango monastery stands to the farthest north of Thimphu, which is about 14-km away. The present day monastery was built in the 13th century by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa and was later renovated in 1977 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck. The word ‘Tango’ in Bhutanese language means the ‘horse head’ and is derived from the local main deity Tandin (Hayagriva) that features the head of a horse. Enjoy the breathtaking landscapes of valleys and mountains from this spot. Picnic lunch at Tango. Then you’ll return to Thimphu for a visit to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, where traditional medicinal herbs are processed. The evening is at your leisure – so why not go out on your own since Bhutan is a safe place for everyone including tourists?

Day 10: Thimphu – Paro

Today we explore a fascinating tour to see the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,350m. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who was known as the ‘Father of Modern Bhutan.’ Next, visit the Paper Making Factory, a chance to witness the art of the Bhutanese paper making and then to the Painting School to discover a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Afterwards drive to Paro for your final overnight in Bhutan.

Day 11: End of Tour

You will be transferred to Paro Airport to connect with your onward flight. Goodbye and Good Luck (Tashi Delek)!

Services Included

  • Transfers to and from the airport
  • Twin-sharing accommodation in 3-star hotels
  • Upgrades to 5-star luxury accommodation available on request
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
  • Licensed Bhutanese English-speaking guided tours
  • All entrance fees to museums and other attractions
  • Comfortable transport within Bhutan
  • All applicable internal taxes and service fees (including royalty)
  • Mineral water
  • Visa fees

Services Not Included

  • International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
  • Travel insurance
  • Discretionary gratuities to guides and driver (we provide suggested guidelines)
  • Single room supplement
  • Other personal expenses such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls, etc.

Prices and Dates

ON REQUEST

Pricing Policy

Prices are quoted and payable only in (US$ dollars). All prices published on our websites, brochures and marketing materials are set as low as possible. The guide prices may vary at any time subject to government actions, changes in exchange rates, increase in transportation costs or fuel prices before we have accepted your booking, however, we guarantee our prices who have already signed up for your tour.

Departure Dates

March, April, May, June, July, August & September

[It’s always advisable to contact us 2 or 3 months in advance. You decide dates depending on your plan of travel, however, our festival dates have been indicated where applicable in order to help plan your journey accordingly]

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