Dragon Heart Tour
In addition to the interesting places in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, another fascinating destination is the sacred valley of Bumtang. The picturesque drive to Bumtang takes you through regions profuse in flora and fauna, several magnificent mountain passes and places of great historic sites and ancient palaces. The Tongsa Dzong is a prime example, it is the largest Dzong in the country and was in olden times the seats of the dominate power in feudal Bhutan. A three hour drive from Tongsa takes you up to a height of 12500 feet – The Yotola Pass and then down to 9500 feet to the valley of Bumtang. Considered the most secred valley, Bumtang as a rich variety of religious-Historical sites and ancient palaces of ruling family of the valley.
Day 01: Fly to Paro from Kathmandu and Drive to Thimpu,
The flight into the Himalayas is truly a memorable experience. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, look down and you will see the Paro Dzong overlooking the Paro chu (river) with Ta Dzong (National Museum) above it. On arrival and after visa formalities you will be received by your Bhutanese guide. You will be driven to Thimphu. In the evening you visit the Tashicho Dzong, the head seat of the King and the Je Khenpo, the highest abbot of Bhutan. Upon arrival, you check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Thimpu
After breakfast we drive up to 12 kms above and hike for about 45 minutes to Tango Monastery. Tango Monastery is a Buddhist college and is the residence of Desi Tenzin Rabgye, reincarnation of the 16th century monk who built the Tango. You will also visit Cheri Monastery which lies15 km north of Thimphu. It was built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan native and a holy man. It is situated on a steep mountain slope on the southern boundary of the 4,200 sq km Jigme Dorji National Park, and is in the transition zone between broad-leaved forests of oak, rhododendron, maple, walnut and conifer forests with species such as spruce, fir, hemlock and the Himalayan yew.
A visit to the Memorial Chorten, Folk Heritage Museum and the Arts & Crafts centre is also included. The Memorial Chorten is a stupa built in memory of Bhutan’s third king, the late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, popularly regarded as the Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument offer a deep insight into Bhuddhist philosophy. The Folk Heritage Museum was established in the year 2001.This museum houses some original and ancient artefacts used in the Bhutanese rural areas.
Arts & Crafts School teaches the techniques of traditional thangkha paintings. One can see students at work producing intricate designs on cloth. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha (70 km & 03 hrs)
After breakfast, you visit the oldest Dzong in Bhutan, Simtokha Dzong. After the visit continue the drive to Dochu La Pass (3050m). If the weather is clear, you can see a range of high peaks toward the north east. The recently built 108 chortens gives the ridge a very beautiful and charming presence. On the way is Chhimi Lhakhang, the temple of the ‘divine monk’, Drukpa Kuenley. The approach to the temple is an easy walk through the village. Continue the drive to Punakha and check in at the hotel.
Later you visit Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 by Shabdrung, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan prior to the present dynasty. It is an old capital which still serves as the winter residence of the monks. The first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. It has withstood damages by fire, earthquake and flood. The latest flood of Oct’ 94 caused great damage to the fortress but miraculously the statue of the Buddha Jojampa remained untouched.
Day 04: Punakha – Trongsa (146 km/ 05 hrs)
After breakfast depart towards Trongsa. Enroute you will visit the Wangdue Dzong.The drive is taken via the Pele La Pass (3300m) to reach Chendebji Chorten where we will stop for our picnic lunch. Further continue the drive to Trongsa and enjoy the beautiful view of Trongsa Dzong, while approaching Trongsa. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Trongsa – Bumthang (68 km/ 03 hrs)
After breakfast you will visit the beautiful Trongsa Dzong and Ta Dzong. You will also visit the Kuenga Rabten Palace located 22 kms from Trongsa. This ancient palace is the palace of the second king of Bhutan. Further continue the drive over Yuto La Pass (3400m) to reach the most beautiful valley in Bhutan, Bumthang. We will stop briefly at the line of shops selling Bhutanese handicrafts before entering Bumthang. Upon arrival, you check in at the hotel. Later on you will visit the Jakar Dzong in the late afternoon. After breakfast visit Ugyencholing Dzong which has been converted into a museum now.
Day 06: Bumthang
After breakfast you visit Jampey Lhakhang, Kuje Lhakhang, and Tamsing Monastery.
Jampey Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. Built in the 7thcentury, Kuje Lhakhang is where Guru Rinpoche left the imprint of his body in the cave he was meditating. Tamsing Monastery is the private monastery where we can wash our sins if we carry the coat made of nails thrice around the shrines. This coat of nails was made by Pemalingpa himself. If time permits we will take an excursion to Thangbi Lhakhang, where we will visit a very old Lhakhang.
Day 07: Bumthang
Today after breakfast, you take a full day excursion to Ura Valley. Just before reaching the Sheltang Pass, we will have a beautiful view of the highest peak in Bhutan, Gangkar Punsum (7541m). Explore this prosperous village including the village temple with the beautiful paintings. On the way back we will visit the Shingkhar Monastery and Shingkhar village. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 08: Bumthang – Gangtey (193 km & 07 hrs)
After breakfast depart for Gangtey. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Gangtey is a beautiful place of rolling hills and green meadows surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It is at an altitude of 3000m. From Gangtey, one can closely view the picturesque Black Mountain ranges as well as the beautiful Phobjikha valley. Gangtey Gompa is perched atop a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens (Lay Monks). The Gangtey Gompa is the only Nyingmapa Monastery on the western side of the Black mountains and is also the biggest of its kind. Gangtey is also the winter home for the famous Black Necked Cranes who migrate here from Tibet during the winter months. While the cranes reside in the valley for 4/5 months the village folks are not allowed to make loud noises or fish in the river that runs through the valley. At Gagtey, you get to visit the Gangtey Monastery and the Black Necked Crane centre. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 09: Gangtey – Paro (135 km & 5 hrs)
After breakfast, depart for Paro. Paro is a picturesque valley with quaint clusters of hamlets amid terraced paddy fields. Although the site of the nation’s first airport, Paro still retains its traditional charm in its traditional buildings and the simple way of life lead by the locals. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest of the time explore the town on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Paro
Today after breakfast you visit Rinpung Dzong, the administrative headquarters and the monastic unit of Paro district. Along the wooden galleries, lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong, are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as The Four Friends, The Old Man of Long Life, The Wheel of Life, Scenes from the Life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic mandalas. Also visit the ancient and holy Kyichu Temple (built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century).At the National Museum antique thangkhas, textiles, weapons and armours, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefact is exhibited. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast take a drive up the valley to Drukgyal Dzong or the fort of Drukpa victory. The dzong, although gutted by fire and in ruins now, still attracts visitors. It was used to repel Tibetan invasions throughout the course of early Bhutanese history. Looming above the smouldered ruins is the snow-capped peak of the Chomolhari.
We will stop at the view point of Taktsang (hike uphill for about two to three hours for a close up of the Taktsang or Tiger’s nest). This is the famed site where Guru Padmasambhava alighted upon the back of a tigress. Overnight at the hotel
Day 12: Paro – Final departure to Onwards destination.
Early morning transfer to the airport for your departure.
(The cost varies with the number of trekkers in the group. Please contact us with the number of trekkers for the exact quote)