(11 nights 12 days)
For those who love walking in the hills this is a great 'active vacation' without roughing it out and it is one of the best ways to discover Bhutan. There are several moderate hiking excursions & short but sweet walks to villages, temples, gompas and dzongs. This plan covers known destinations and sites as well as exotic off beat places across Bhutan.
- Day 1: Delhi/Kolkata - Paro - Thimphu (2350 M) 65 kms/ 1 ½ hrs Reach Paro in the morning by air from Kolkata / Delhi. Short but beautiful drive to reach Thimphu by 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 Leave after an early breakfast on a beautiful 5 kms / 5 – 6 hrs return hike through forests of Chirpine & Rhododendron to Phojoding 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 - Trongsa (2316 M) 189 km / 6 hrs Leave early on the drive over Dochu La – stop here to see the exquisite 108 Memorial Chortens and stunning views of snow clad Himalayan ranges. Carry on over another high pass Pele La to reach Trongsa in Central Bhutan. Later drive a short distance to the Kuenga Rabten Palace and walk around in the local village nearby. Overnight stay in a hotel at Trongsa
- Day 4: Trongsa - Bumthang Valley at Jakar (2800 M) 70 kms/ 2 hrs Visit the imposing dzong in Trongsa and drive further to Jakar in Bumthang Valley. En route we visit the weavers of Zugney and Chumey. Reach Jakar and post lunch we explore this culturally rich region by short walks between villages, temples, monasteries & dzongs. Overnight in a hotel.
- Day 5: Jakar Visit Ura village, lying in the highest of Bumthang's valleys, at around 3100 M. Ura leads into the eastern most regions of Bhutan and is located immediately below the Thrumshing La at 3800m. On your return, stop at the Flaming Lake (Membartsho). Here a wooden bridge adorned with prayer flags crosses the Tang Chhu (river) where the 16th century religious leader Pema Lingpa discovered sacred artifacts hidden by the saint Guru Rinpoche. Later walk back along the road to Jakar – a pleasant 2 hr walk.
- Day 6: Jakar - Gangtey (3000 M) 152 kms/ 5 hrs Drive back over Pele La and then take a detour into the hidden & pristine Phobjika Valley – home to the rare & endangered Black Neck Cranes. It is also a protected wildlife conservation area within Jigme Singye Mountains National Park. Later visit the imposing Gangtey Gompa, located atop a hilltop this is the largest and only monastery of the Nyingmapa sect in western Bhutan. Overnight in a hotel.
- Day 7: Gangtey Full day of walking in the valley, visiting typical Bhutanese farm houses and meeting more locals and students.
- Day 8: Gangtey - Punakha (1260 M) 78 kms/ 3 hrs Leave early and drive back towards Thimphu at Lobeysa take a detour of 22 km to reach Punakha – the winter capital of Bhutan. After freshening up visit the Punakha Dzong - 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. enjoy a day walk that includes the scenic Khamsum Yul-le Namgyal Chorten and also see the - The Chorten lies at the other end of the valley to Punakha Dzong and the walk along the river to this point is lovely. You can take the walk at your own pace, stopping to admire the scenery as often as you like. Overnight stay in a hotel room.
- Day 9: Punakha - Paro (2200 M) 124 km / 4 - 5 hrs Check out hotel and drive towards Thimphu; en route stop to do a short but sweet 1 hour return hike to Chimi Lhakhang – Temple of Fertility. That done, drive up to Dochu La and leave on a beautiful hike of about (7 km return / 4 hrs) 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 ½ hrs to reach Paro by late evening. Overnight in a hotel in Paro.
- Day 10: Paro Visit the National Museum - the first of its kind it has a collection that covers everything from natural history to religious paintings and then leave on a great hike to the awe inspiringly located Taktsang – Tiger’s Nest and beyond to Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo.
- Day 11: Paro Drive over Chele La into the pristine & incredibly beautiful Haa valley and walk to the secluded Kila Gompa Nunnery. Late afternoon 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 12: Paro - Delhi/ Kolkata - Fly back Morning transfer in time to board a flight back to Kolkata/Delhi.
• If you do not have so much time and would like a shorter walking holiday please see Essence of Bhutan (7 nights 8 days)
• The same trip can also be done with lesser or no hiking/walking and instead you would do other sightseeing in the region.