BEYOND THE CLOUDS WALKING TOUR (10 DAYS/09 NIGHTS)
Kindly be at the check-in counter at least 2 hours ahead of your flight departure time. Your check-in luggage limit is 30kg on Economy Class / 40kg on Business Class, and hand luggage must not exceed 5kg.
DAY 1: PARO – THIMPHU (-/L/D) (Drive= 1hr 30 min)
On arrival at Paro international airport you will be received by a representative of Bhutan Raewa Travels who will be waiting outside the arrival terminal of the Airport holding a placard with your name on it. The representative will be your guide for the duration of the tour and will welcome you in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).
After that, drive towards Thimphu valley, at an elevation of 2,350 m / 7700 ft. Urbanization began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built at this time. Even today the city retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Yet unlike other capital cities in the world, Thimphu remains essentially pastoral in character and changes its demeanor with the seasons.
On arrival, check into the hotel.
Begin local sightseeing of the following places:
- Visit Changangkha temple, built in the 15 century by Lama Phajo Drogom. It lies on a hilltop commanding the Thimpu valley. The temple has very old scriptures and Thankas. The main deity of the temple is Avalokiteshvara, God of compassion.
- Walk around Memorial Chhorten in Thimphu built in 1974 in memory of the Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. The Memorial Chhorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.
- Visit Buddha point popularly known as Kuensel Phodrang which has a 160 feet statue of The Present Buddha- Buddha Sakya Muni (Sha cha Thupa). This is one of the biggest statues of Buddha in the World. From here on can get a beautiful view of the Capital city, Thimphu.
- Then drive to see the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, the Takin. Further, drive up to BBS tower to get a view of the Thimphu valley.
- Visit Centenary Market one of the biggest structures in Bhutan, Centenarary Farmers market was built in 2008 to mark the coronation of fifth King of Bhutan and 100 years of monarchy. The two storied building has 458 stalls for sale of the vegetables, fruits, meats and other farm products. It also houses cafeteria and separate stalls for non wood forest products. Vendors throughout the country come here to sell their farm produces. The market is open six days in a week except Wednesday.
- Visit Tashichhodzong, whose history dates back to the 13th century, wherein houses His Majesty’s Throne Room and is the summer home to the Monastic Body.
Evening free time to walk around Thimphu town.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu
DAY 2: THIMPHU DAY EXCURSIONS (B/L/D)
Morning drive through the countryside surrounding Thimphu to Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the Bhutan. The park is home to several endangered species including the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. More than 300 species of birds have been cataloged within the park.
Our walk begins from the small village of Dodena. Our trail starts by crossing a covered bridge over the Thim chhu and we climb steadily to Cheri Goemba, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view over the Thimphu Valley. Shabdrung built the monastery in 1620, and is the location where the first community of monks in Bhutan was established. The monastery is considered very sacred as it contains the ashes of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints. Shabdrung also spent three years in retreat here and it’s a renowned meditation place even today.
After our visit to the monastery, we descend back the way we came, keeping our eyes open for the goral (wild goat) that are often spotted on the cliffs nearby. Back at the village of Dodena we will have picnic lunch along the clean and unpolluted Thimphu River. After lunch, we follow a riverside trail via Begana to Cabesa, home to the Choki School of Arts. The Choki School is private and provides free skills-related education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to Bhutanese children who are unable to attend or complete their formal education. After visiting the school we continue along the riverside trail and pass through small rural villages before returning to Thimphu.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu
DAY 3: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
(HIKE: TASHIGANG GOENPA/LUNGCHOTSE LHAKHANG/DOCHU LA)
Depart Thimphu, driving for about 45 minutes before beginning our hike to Tashigang goenpa (3200m). This monastery was built in 1786 by the 12th Je Khenpo. From Tashigang monastery you will enjoy a gradual uphill climb of about 2 hours to 18th century Lungchutse Lhakhang. The picturesque route passes through forests of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, firs, hemlocks and bamboos, and occasionally meadows that are being used as yak pastures. The view from Lungchutse Lhakhang over the entire Bhutan Himalaya and its snow covered peaks is amazing. We will walk down hill for about an hour until we reach Dochula pass, a wonderful sight marked by 108 chortens (Stupa), and on a clear day an incredible view of Himalayan peaks. Here will be meet our waiting vehicle and driver.
Drive for about an hour & half down into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley.
After that check into hotel.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha
DAY 4: PUNAKHA DAY EXCURSION (B/L/D)
In the morning visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver.
Afterwards drive to Yabesa village and hike to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before driving to Lobesa for a pleasant walk through small hillside villages to visit a farm house. Here we will see a Traditional Bhutanese cooking and farming demonstration. This will include the milking of a cow, followed by the churning of milk and the production of cheese and butter. We will also experience the brewing of local wine (“Ara”) and preparation of the national dish, “Emadasti”. Afterwards walk down through terraced rice fields to the main road where your vehicle awaits.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha
DAY 5: PUNAKHA – TRONGSA (B/L/D)
Morning drive towards Trongsa. Enroute visit beautiful Chendebji Chorten. The Chorten was erected in the 18th century. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty.
Overnight at hotel – Trongsa.
DAY 6: TRONGSA – PHOBJIKHA (B/L/D)
After breakfast transfer to Phobjikha Valley. Drive down the winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. The valley is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan.
Visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary with an opportunity to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century and the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.
Overnight at hotel – Phobjikha.
DAY 7: PHOBJIKHA – WANGDUE (B/L/D)
Drive to Longtey Village located beyond Pele La pass (3,420m) for a hike across Kayche La (3700m) and back to Gangtey. We climb up gradually through the thickets of dwarf bamboos, birch, rhododendron, hemlock and fir rich with diverse birdlife to Kayche La, marked with some prayer flags. The other side of the pass is mostly meadows, and it’s all downhill to Gangtey through the long and beautiful stretch of meadows and farms.
(Shasila Hike) – The trail is used by the people of Sha Ngawang and Chitokha to migrate between their summer and winter home in Gangtey. It was also an important trail used by the Gangtey Truelku and his followers in the past while migrating between his winter residence in Sha Chitokha and Gangtey Gompa. It takes approximately 03-04 hours walk for casual trekkers to reach Kheylaykha from Phobjikha. Your driver will meet you at the road and take you to Wangdue.
Overnight at hotel – Wangdue.
DAY 8: WANGDUE – PARO (B/L/D)
Drive back to Paro over Dochu La via Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Thimphu. Afterwards, we drive back to Paro and en-route visit Semtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan. Time permitting the journey can be broken with a visit to Tamchhu Lhakhang built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the so-called Iron Bridge Builder.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 9: PARO DAY EXCURSION (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast take a short drive to road point from where the hike begins to the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which clings precariously to a cliff 800 m / 2,600 ft above the Paro valley. The climb up to the view point will take around three hours (depending on one’s fitness). In the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, alighted here upon the back of a tigress, and upon meditating for three months in a cave, assumed the form of Dorje Droloe, the Terrifying Thunderbolt and subjugated the Eight Evil Spirits who hindered the propagation of Buddhism. Thereafter, the Buddhist Dharma was introduced to Paro valley and soon spread to the rest of Bhutan. Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas.
Lunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point. The afternoon will comprise of a visit to Drugyal Dzong and a local farm house as detailed below:
- Drugyal Dzong, now in ruins, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early English visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. In fine weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari 7314 m high appears as a backdrop. This mountain which marks the frontier with Tibet is sacred and the dwelling place of goddess Jomo.
After that,in the evening visit a local Farmhouse: The visit to a Farmhouse is very interesting to get an idea of how Bhutanese people live. The Farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical style. The houses are normally three stories; the ground floor is used for cattle, the top floor is used as a store, while the family live in middle one.
Overnight at hotel – Paro
DAY 10: PARO – DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
After breakfast your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onward.