Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People’s Republic of China. Bhutan is separated from the nearby country of Nepal to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim, and from Bangladesh to the south by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.
Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms until the early 17th century, when the area was unified by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who fled religious persecution in Tibet and cultivated a separate Bhutanese identity. In the early 20th century, Bhutan came into contact with the British Empire, after which Bhutan continued strong bilateral relations with India upon its independence. In 2006, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey.
Bhutan’s landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of 691,141 is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism the second-largest religion. The capital and largest city is Thimphu. In 2008, Bhutan made the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, holding its first general election. Bhutan is a member of the United Nations and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); it hosted the sixteenth SAARC summit in April 2010. The total area of the country has been reported as 38,394 square kilometres (14,824 sq mi) since 2002. The area had previously been reported as approximately 46,500 km2 (18,000 sq mi) in 1997.
Day 1 Arrive in Paro
During the flight, on a clear day you can see breathtaking views of the Himalaya Mountains including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions do all the dzongs (forts) currently. You will cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the dzong. You can then tour the National Museum, formerly the watchtower for the dzong. It’s now houses of a collection of a fine arts, paintings, thankas, statues and antiques. Afterwards you will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. In the evening you can explore Paro town.
Overnight in Paro.
Day 2 Acclimating day
After breakfast you will hike to Taktsang Monastery, which is perched on a cliff 900 m above Paro Valley. It is one of the most famous monasteries in Bhutan. It is said that Guru Rimpoche flew to the sit of this monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated there for 3 months. In the afternoon you can explore the Paro town.
Overnight in Paro.
Day 3 Trek begins, Paro – Shana
You will begin the day by driving up to Drugyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), where the road ends. You will the dzong, which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. The trek begins, following the Paro River gently uphill through rice paddy terraces, apple orchad and forest, passing the village houses.
Overnight at camp. Altitude 2,800 m.
Day 4 Shana – Soi Thangthangkha
The trial continues to gradually climb along the side of the Paro River. The valley narrows and closes and the path then winds along the stream. This day’s trek is not difficult, but it’s long and there are many short ups and downs. Nearby where you will stop for lunch, you can see the route to Tremo La, which is paved in stone and served as the main invasion route of the Tibetans ages ago. The camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. On a clear day you will see Jumolhari Mountain.
Overnight at camp. Altitude 3,630 m.
Day 5 Soi Thangthangkha – Jangothang
This day’s trek is not long but there is an altitude gain of 450 m. The path continues up the Paro River, past a small army post, where the valley begins to widen again. Here you will have a view of the high ridges and snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. You may see the winter homes of the yak herders as well as some yaks. Along the way there is a village where you can visit the yak herders and share a cup of yak butter tea with them. You can also buy yak cheese “chugo” which is dried cheese. The camp is below a ruined fortress at the base of Jumolhari and it is one of the most beautiful camps in Bhutan.
Day 6 Jangothang halt
Today is a day of acclimatization. You may choose from 4 day hikes: a 3-4 hour hike up to a ridge that gives a good view of Jichu Drake ; or a hike up to the head of the valley, toward Jumolhari ; a trek up the main valley toward Jichu Drake ; or a hike to Tsophu for fishing, or you can relax at the camp.
Altitude 4,090 m.
Day 7 Jangothang – Lingshi
This day’s trek will take you over Nyile La (pass), which is at 4,890 m. It tends to be windy at the pass. You can see yak pasture on the way. Depending on the time of year, you may encounter some nomads. You will have a great view of Lingshi Dzong further along the trial. It’s also possible to see blue Sheppard musk deer. Tserim Gang Mountain and glaciers are at the north end of the Lingshi valley.
Overnight at camp. Altitude 4,010 m.
Day 8 Lingshi halt
Explore Lingshi valley and relax after the previous day’s vigorous trek.
Day 9 Lingshi – Shodu
The trial ascends up to Yeli La (pass) at 4,820 m, where on a clear day; you will see Jumohari, Tserim Gang and Masagang mountains. The trial descends, following a stream.
Overnight at camp, altitude 4,110 m.
Day 10 Shodu – Barshong
The trial crosses the Thimphu River several times and winds gently up and down alongside the river. At one section of the trial you will notice a massive steep canyon on one side and a cypress forest on the other. You will then ascend up to the ruins of the Barshong Dzong. The camp is just below the ruins.
Overnight at camp, altitude 3,680 m.
Day 11 Barshong – Dolam Kencho
The trial descends gradually through a forest of conifers and rhododendron and then begins a steep descent to the Thimphu River.
You will ascend again into meadow, where the camp is located. Altitude 3,430 m.
Day 12 Trek ends, Dolam Kencho – Thimphu
The trial winds in and out of the valley above the Thimphu River and then makes a long climb through a forest of conifers and high altitude broad leaf species up to a 3,510 m pass. The trial then begins a steep descant to the river, following it southward to the road in the town of Dodina. At Dodina, you will be met by your transportation for the drive to your hotel in Thimphu. In the late afternoon you can stroll through the town.
Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 13 Thimphu – Paro
After breakfast you will visit the National Library (which is houses ancient manuscripts), the School of Arts and Crafts, the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Simtokha Dzong (the oldest fortress in the kingdom), Changgangkha Monastery, a traditional paper factory and the zoo. In the afternoon you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972) and the majestic Tashichodzong, tour the Textile Museum and the Folk Museum and explore the interesting handicraft shops. In the late afternoon you will drive back to Paro.
Overnight in Paro.
Day 14 Paro Departure Own destination
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