(7 nights 8 days)
The face of the higher altitude Himalayas takes on a new mask in perfect synchronicity with changing seasons. It is not just a change of looks but a change of the mountains very personality. Of the various transitions, it is in spring that this mask is at its most beautiful. The fresh green hues of the leaves, plants, blades of grass, interspersed with patches & swathes of wild blooms in vivid, vibrant colors and myriad hues. Visually one of the most stunning displays is that of the Rhododendrons. They grow pretty tall even up to 12 ft or and are fairly wide too. Come spring and at altitudes higher than 9500 ft there is virtually an eruption of magnificent blossoms at every possible point, soon the woody plant looks like a huge bouquet of flowers of a single kind in hues of orange, white, pink, red & yellow. The high altitude mountainside of Bhutan like you would find around passes like Dochu La, Chele La has a particularly high incidence of these plants. So you can very well imagine how pleasing the sights would be as you drive over these passes.
- Day 1: DELHI / KOLKATA - ARRIVAL IN PARO THIMPHU 65 km / 1 ½ hrs Board a Druk Air flight in the morning and reach Paro Airport. Meet up with your guide, board waiting vehicle and reach Thimphu around noon. Check into your hotel room. Freshen up, have a sumptuous meal, and post lunch visit the Memorial Chorten (temple) built in memory of the late 3rd King. Drive to the quaint Dodena Bridge – a typical Bhutanese wooden bridge; and do a 2.5 km return / 2 hr hike to the beautiful Tango Gompa. On return to the bridge, if time and an inclination are both there, a rigorous but rewarding hike of about an hour to Cheri Gompa is also possible.
- Day 2: THIMPHU hike to Phojoding Gompa Leave after an early breakfast on a beautiful 5 kms / 5 – 6 hrs return hike through forests of Chirpine & Rhododendron to this gompa. Enjoy great views of Thimphu valley and a picnic lunch. Be back at your hotel by late afternoon. Evening at leisure in Thimphu.
- Day 3: THIMPHU DOCHU LA 21 km / 1 hr drive - hike to Lungchuzekha Gompa & back 7 km return / 4 hrs walk - PUNAKHA 51 km / 2 hrs Post breakfast we leave on the drive towards Punakha (the Winter Capital during monarchial rule). Enjoy the exquisite views and leave on a beautiful hike to Lungchuzekha Gompa through dense forests of Hemlocks, Junipers, Birches and Rhododendron, interspersed with meadows. Once at the gompa enjoy superlative 360° views covering various ranges in the Bhutanese Himalayas crowned by 7000 M + giant peaks like Jhumolhari, Gangkar Puensum – the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, high peaks of the Lunana. Walk back to Dochu La and drive about 2 hrs to reach Punakha by evening and check into your hotel room.
- Day 4: PUNAKHA hike to Khansum Chorten, the Giligang Temple & Punakha Dzong 11 ½ kms / 5 hrs Post breakfast a short drive to the starting point of the day’s hike. The first part is a steep climb of about an hour on a twirling trail to reach this chorten – considered by many as one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Enjoy stunning views of the valley below towards both sides and a well earned rest. The hike from here to Giligang is a gradual climb over about 4 ½ km / 3 hrs all the way up to the temple. At several points you get awe inspiring views of sprawling forest covered mountainside with snow covered peaks for a backdrop. After an al fresco lunch here do the last part of the hike – a gradual downhill stretch of about 4 km that should not take more than an hour, and end at Changyul Bridge, just before Punakha Dzong. Built at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region, this Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. In its 300+ years of existence the building was devastated by four catastrophic fires & an earthquake, but it is now gloriously restored to its original glory. Drive back to be in your hotel by evening.
- Day 5: PUNAKHA PARO 124 km / 4 5 hrs Check out hotel and visit Chimi Lhakhang a 1 hour return hike from the parking - this temple of fertility is located amidst some stunning natural beauty. That done, drive over Dochu La to reach Paro in the afternoon. Check into your hotel room. Later leave for some sightseeing; the National Museum - the first of its kind it has a collection that covers everything from natural history to religious paintings. Visit the 17 century Paro Dzong on foot and continue walking through the oldest wooden bridge still in use followed by an evening stroll in old Paro town to take a peek into some local handicrafts stores.
- Day 6: PARO hike to Tigers Nest 8 km / 5 hrs return hike Morning hike up to Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang, the most revered temple in the country that literally hangs on a granite cliff overlooking Paro Valley. Late afternoon visit, Kichu Lhakhang, one of the two oldest temples in the country, and the historic Drukgyal Dzong. Evening at leisure
- Day 7: PARO - CHELE LA 35 km / 1 ½ hrs drive each way hike to Kila Nunnery & back 3 ½ hrs return Full day excursion to the stunning & pristine Haa Valley over Chele La; from this pass you get a panoramic view of the two valleys Paro & Haa and of course the beautiful Himalayan ranges of Bhutan. You then do a lovely hike through forests with lots of rhododendron clumps to the isolated Kila Nunnery, nestled high up on a ridge. Have an al fresco meal and hike back to your vehicle. Drive to be back in your hotel in the evening.
- Day 8: PARO FLY BACK Morning transfer to the airport in time to board your Druk Air flight back to Kolkata/ Delhi.