Biking & Hiking (Itinerary Two) Hikers Paradise

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01

DAY 01

Day 1: Paro the valley of un-surpassing beauty

  • Hike: Dzongdrakha Temple Complex
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Hike Elevation: 2250-2800-2250M
  • Time: 2.5 hrs
  • Lodging: Gangtey Palace Hotel (2250m)
  • Full Board Basis
  • Flight: Druk Air (Royal Bhutan Airlines) Bangkok – Paro

    Transfer for the flight by Druk Air, Bhutan’s national airline, to Paro.  NAT staff will welcome you at the airport to transfer to Gangtey Palace, your hotel, for the first night in Bhutan.

    This afternoon provides an opportunity to acclimatize to the rarefied air at this 2250m altitude and to get to know your guide, who will offer sightseeing options for the rest of the day depending on your interest and energy levels. Gentle hiking activities for the rest of the day may include:

    DZONGDRAKHA HIKE: Dzongdrakha is an unusual temple complex precariously built on a rock face stretching horizontally across huge rocks. The temples have a lot to see. Walk around in quiet contemplation. Enjoy the lovely valley view before descending 2 hrs across villages, apple orchards, and paddy fields to the pickup in Bondey Village.

    THE SMALL TOWNSHIP OF PARO: Paro’s town isn’t very large, but it has a more traditional feel than Thimphu’s city and is a fine introduction to some of Bhutan’s unique local products.

02

DAY 02

Day 2: Punakha the ancient capital

  • Hike: Zuri Dzong
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Hike Elevation: 2250M-3100M-1300M
  • Time: 3-4hrs (depending on time spent at Museum and Dzong)
  • Lodging: RKPO Green Resort (1300m) Full board basis

Before transferring to Punakha, we’ll make the most of the morning hiking to Zuri Dzong. From the town, we’ll walk up cobbled stone pathways across a traditional wooden bridge toward Rinpung Dzong, built in 1646 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, mainly for defense against frequent incursions. Historically, it was an important administrative center and the seat of many feudal lords and penlops. Today it houses the administrative offices, which include the legislative, executive, judicial and religious center for the people of Paro.

Next, we’ll hike to Ta Dzong National Museum, which was once the watchtower for the defense of Rinpung Dzong during the inter-valley wars of the 17th century. It was re-established as the National Museum in 1967 and has been rated among Asia’s best natural history museums. 

The museum’s circular shape augments its varied collection displayed over several floors. The visit will provide insight into Bhutan’s rich and unique cultural heritage and tradition.

After we’ve visited the national museum, we will traverse across forested hills to the pretty grounds of the fortress-like monastery of Zuri Dzong and finally downhill to the road where we have our vehicle waiting to transfer to Punakha after lunch.

From Paro its 4 hours drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass (3050m) through a magnificent forest of rhododendron and magnolia. 

 

03

DAY 03

Day 3: Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan

Day 3: Punakha Valley Hike

  • Hike: Chorten Nebu Monastic School
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Hike Elevation: 1300-1800-1300M
  • Time: 3 hrs upto the school & 1.5 hrs down villages, orange orchards and paddy feilds to the road head
  • Lodging: RKPO Green Resort (1300m) Full board basis

PUNA DZONG: We have a morning exploration of today’s massive architectural structure of the 17th-century Punakha Dzong. A visit to the Punakha Dzong also presents an opportunity to see or hear the resident monks during their daily prayers, see the impressive Punakha Dzong, home to the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, and the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks.

CHORTEN NEBU: 40 minutes shuttle to Kabjisa trailhead and 3 hour hike uphill will reach Chorten Nebu on a hilltop in the Punakha Valley. It is a beautiful walk from a lovely village surrounded by orange groves to a temple dating back to ‘The Divine Madman’ Drukpa Kunley.

The Monastery of Chorten Nebu, built in the eighteenth century, is a little-known treasure, with its magnificent statue of Maitreya (the future Buddha) and fine images of the great lamas of the Drukpa Lineage. 

In 2005 the Monastery started housing poor orphans from the nearby village and founded a small Buddhist educational institution for these little monks. A place where the children can study both traditional Buddhist scriptures and texts and also learn Western subjects such as English, math, and science to be equipped to survive in the modern world.

04

DAY 04

Day 4: Transfer to Phobjikha Valley

  • Hike: Gangtey Nature Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Hike Elevation: 4454 – 9200 FT
  • Time: 1-2 hrs
  • Lodging: Dewachen Hotel
  • Full Board Basis

CHHIMI LHAKHANG (DIVINE MAD MAN’S TEMPLE): En route to Gangtey a half an hour walk across a local village and rice fields from the road head, the temple was built in 1499 and is located on a hillock in the center of the valley. It is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs, and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings and is also known as the “Divine Madman.

GANGTEY NATURE TRAIL – Evening walk and the beautiful Black Necked Cranes. This pleasurable walk will give you a nice feeling of Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village, through beautiful forests, and into the open valley. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang, the trail ends at the local community school.

 

05

DAY 05

Day 5: Phobjikha Valley Hike

  • Hiking: Longtey Hike
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Hike Elevation: 9200-11200 FT
  • Time: 4-5 hours from Longtey village
  • Lodging: Dewachen Hotel
  • Full Board Basis

LONGTEY HIKE

Today we will shuttle for about 45 minutes from the lodge to the trailhead in Longtey village on the East-West highway. We will walk down through bush bamboo towards a small cluster of village houses and rhododendron forests. After two to two and half hours of gradual to steep climb through old-growth rhododendron forest, we reach Gyeche La Pass marked by a stone structure and multicolored prayer flags. The view from the pass of Phobjikha Valley and its monastery Gangtey Gompa is beautiful.

We then continue to descend quite steeply but with an option of switchbacks trails. Walking sticks will be highly recommended on this trail. Once we complete our descent to the bottom after about three-quarters of an hour, we make a stop at the Kumbu Monastery. 

It is possible to get picked up from here, or you may continue down to the Monastery or the lodge.

06

DAY 06

Day 6: Transfer to Thimphu

  • Lodging: Hotel Druk (2350m)
  • Full Board Basis

Unwinding from the long day on the road at Hotel Druk with a Bhutanese-style SPA treatment, any aches from the long day are quickly forgotten!

07 & 08

DAY 07 & 08

Day 7 & 8: Thimphu

  • Lodging: Druk Hotel (2350m)
  • Full Board Basis

BUDDHA DORDENMA

Let’s hike to the giant Buddha that towers above Wang Chhu. At 169’ feet, it is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world and houses an astonishing 100,000 smaller Buddhas inside. Buddha’s place is a major pilgrimage center and a focal point for Buddhists worldwide to get together, practice, and meditate.

There are numerous long and short, easy & hard hiking trails around the Buddha through beautiful meadows, pine trees, and rhododendron bushes with even more beautiful birds singing overhead. Join us here in our efforts to offer our prayers for world peace and happiness before we head back to your hotel.

NATIONAL MEMORIAL CHORTEN

Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten. Treat yourself to a fantastic depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures at this temple. As the name denotes, this National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974, in memory of the Third King.

 

 

TEMPLE OF COMPASSION

We have time early this evening today to explore the most respected and oldest Changangkha temple – The Temple of Compassion. Visiting here this evening gives us an opportunity for a meaningful insight into local faith and belief as local devotees gather to make offerings, and young couples visit with their newborn babies to name their children and receive blessings.

Next, visit Thimphu town. Walking in the chilly evening across Norzin Lam, you will come across several restaurants, cafes, and handicraft stores. 

Evening Archery: It’s not just a sport but a celebration of the way of life and an expression of Bhutan’s rich culture and heritage, where family members also join in, so it’s a kind of social event.

You also have to explore the busy city on foot. Interesting sightseeing and experiences may include:

  • Authentic Art & Craft in the local market
  • Homemade textiles
  • Local Craft Market
  • Live museums
  • Takins at the preserve
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Farmer’s Market

09

DAY 09

Day 9: Hike to Tiger's Nest

  • Hike: Tiger’s Nest Monastery
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Hike Elevation: 2350-3800-2250M
  • Time: 3-4 hrs vertical climb to Tiger’s nest & a host of other ancient buddhist temples
  • Lodging: Nemjo Heritage Lodge (2250M)
  • Full Board Basis

We have a difficult trek today; nevertheless, it’s one of Bhutan’s most admired and satisfying hiking destinations.

We will trek to the iconic Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest) perched on the face of a sheer cliff at the height of 3120 meters in Paro. The track is steep, gaining 1000m of altitude in 3 hours. From the tea house vintage point of view, see Tiger’s Nest clinging to the granite rock face above you. 

On the descent, we also have time to visit the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, which tell stories of invasions and how the small country defended itself from invaders in the seventeenth century. 

On the way back, paying your respects at the Kyichu twin temples, the oldest and one of the most revered and sacred worship places for Buddhist pilgrims, will be nice.

 

10

DAY 10

Day 10: Departure

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our departure flight.  We hope you have enjoyed your visit, have found it rewarding, and leave with new found understanding.

Tashi Delek !

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