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13 Days

Wander The Drukyul

Wander The Drukyul starts from the beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty, and tales of hundreds of myths and legends and towards central Bhutan, Bumthang.

The Bumthang region, spanning from 2,600-4,500m is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. It is distinguished in history as the first place Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan by Guru Rimpoche. Tales of Guru Rimpoche and the Terton (“religious treasure-discoverers”) still linger in this sacred region. Riding back to the heart of Bhutan, Thimphu the Kingdom’s capital city is home to approximately 100,000 inhabitants including the Royal family.

This bustling little city is the main center of commerce, religion, and government in the country. And ending the tour with a hike to Taktsang Monastery which was built around a cave in which Guru Rimpoche (also known as Guru Padmasambhava) meditated. The monastery clings seemingly impossible to a cliff of rock at 914m above the valley floor. For the local people, it is a place of pilgrimage, but for a tourist, a hike up to the viewpoint opposite the monastery is exhausting, thrilling, and mystical.

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Detailed Program

Arrive by flight into Paro. Upon arrival, you are met by Truly Bhutan Team and transferred to the Emerald green Paro Valley at 7,500ft, which is one of Bhutan’s most beautiful and most fertile valleys. Numerous shrines, fortresses, and farmhouses dot the landscape and graceful willow trees grow along the edge of the Pachu River, which passes through paddy fields and farmlands.

During our time here, we will do many short easy walks in the valley and cover visit local villages, farmhouses, and also some of the popular monuments and attractions such as the Rinpung Dzong, Dzongdrakha, Kichu Lhakhang, Dungtse Lhakhang and the ruins of Drukyul Dzong. We also have two evenings to stroll the charming small town of Paro, lined with colorfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants.

Overnight in hotel.

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In the morning take a short 20 min flight east into the central heartland of the Bumthang district. Meet your guide and driver and drive for about half an hour to the hilltop Padselling monastery. After exploring the monastery, and interacting with the monks, begin a 2-3hr walk over the hill and descend into Bapzur village in Tang, where we can visit Pema Tekchok Choeling Shedra a large nunnery.

Meet your vehicle and drive further north, passing through several villages for about 1hr along the rough road deep into Tang valley. En route, we stop to visit Rimochen Lhakhang and walk to visit the local village. We have Horse Ranch here and if they are free, you can ride in the valley and tour the villages/ local school, etc. Tang is the most remote of Bumthang’s four valleys. There is a dairy and sheep farm and not so long ago, locals were yak herders.

Overnight in a simple village lodge.

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In the morning we walk to visit Ogyen Choling Manor and the museum. Explore the area further and drive to Jakar which takes about 2hrs. Along the way, we stop to take a peek at Membartsho gorge. In the afternoon, visit Jakar Dzong and walk downhill into the town area, passing through the local village, and visiting some hidden shrines/temples along the way. In the evening, visit Kharchu Dratshang monastery, possibly during their evening debate and prayers.

Visit the Swiss Farm area. Stroll through the township.

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Jakar, Bumthang or Chokhor valley is the cultural heartland of the Kingdom, dotted with many ancient monasteries and UNESCO heritage sites. After breakfast, we begin our valley walking tour, visiting 7th-century Jambay Lhakhang, followed by a shortstop at Chakar Lhakhang, and then visiting the Kurjey temple complex. Cross the river over the suspension bridge to Dorjibi village, where you should be able to see a local weaving center and a village temple.

Later walk to Tamshing monastery and meet your vehicle and visit the Wangdicholing Palace area, with its water-turned prayer wheels. In addition to visiting the village, we may have an opportunity to visit locals.

Overnight hotel in Jakar.

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Our agenda for today is to journey along a scenic forest trail for about a 3-hour hike, gradually climbing uphill to Tharpaling Monastery, one of the most important monasteries founded by Langchen Ramjamba, the famous saint in the Nyingmapa sect. Meet the vehicle and drive down to Chumey valley, and continue over Youtongla Pass to Trongsa (2hrs). Upon arrival in Trongsa, visit the imposing Trongsa Dzong and the Tower of Trongsa Museum. In the evening stroll around the town.

Overnight hotel in Trongsa.

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Drive till Pelela pass, from where we take a side diversion road into the hidden and beautiful Phobjikha valley, a protected wildlife conservation area within Jigme Singye National Park. From mid-October to March, this beautiful valley is also winter home for rare black-necked cranes that migrate from Tibetan Plateau.

Visit ancient Gangtey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingmapa monasteries, located atop the hill. Then walk along the nature trail, a footpath encircling the winter roosting grounds of the crane, for about 2hrs. When the crane is not in residence, walk to the local villages, and also visit the Nature Info center.

Overnight in hotel.

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A short scenic drive through ever-changing vegetation brings us to Punakha and Wangdue valley. Visit Richengang, a unique village with houses clustered together. Later walk the short distance to visit Chimi Lhakhang temple, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley (1455 – 1529), popularly known as ‘the divine madman, a folk hero and a cultural icon around whom countless yarns of facts and fiction, stories and legends have been spun.

Overnight hotel in Punakha valley.

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Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are administrative centers of their respective district. Located close to each other and being in the same valley, they are often described together. Compared to Thimphu, Paro, or valleys of central Bhutan, Punakha-Wangdue valley is at a lower elevation of about 1250 m above sea level. Therefore it enjoys a semi-tropical climate. The valley boasts two crops a year, along with the growth of oranges, bananas, and other subtropical fruits.

Punakha was also the former winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still followed by the central monastic body. The head of the clergy with his entourage of monks spend the winter in Punakha Dzong and summer in Thimphu. Drive to the idyllic countryside north of Punakha, and start a forty-minute walk up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten on Nyinzergang hill.

Upon return, drive back to visit the architectural wonders of the 17th century Punakha Dzong, straddling the confluence of Pho and Mo rivers (male & female). From Punakha Dzong walk across the bridge, and gradually climb up the hill for about 2-3hr to Limukha village. Meet your vehicle near Limukha and drive to the hotel.

Overnight hotel, in Punakha valley.

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Drive from the subtropical Punakha valley to 10,500ft at Dochula pass in two hours. After enjoying the spectacular panoramic views of Bhutan’s snow-capped peaks along the Tibet border over cuppa and snacks at Dochula, begin 2hr ridge top walk to Lungchuzekha temple/ retreat center. The trail is through rich vegetation of moss-laden birch, hemlock, and rhododendrons trees, with excellent views of peaks and valleys. Wind Horse adopts this trail in 2009. Our Host cleans and maintains this trail & Picnic at the monastery.

The views are astounding and the walk is through rich fir and rhododendron forests. Instead of returning to Dochula, walk 1 hr downhill to another retreat and monastic center of Trashigang located on a hilltop, from where we meet our vehicle and drive the short distance to Thimphu, where we visit the great Tashichho Dzong, and the giant Buddha statue as the sunsets in the valley.

Overnight hotel in Thimphu.

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We have a full day to tour and visit the capital of Bhutan as per your interests.  You can visit Memorial Chorten, Takin Preserve, Zulikha nunnery, Traditional Art School, Hospital for traditional medicine, National Library, Textile Academy and Museum, Changlimithang ground where you may see Archery, Centennial farmers’ market, which is more vibrant over the weekend (Fri-Sun) or you can spend half day hiking to Cheri or Tango Monastery north of Thimphu. 

You can decide on these activities with your Host when you are here.

Overnight hotel in Thimphu.

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After breakfast, drive for about an hour to Paro and continue north to the trailhead. As you will have covered more grounds on foot and are well acclimated by now, we hope to take you a bit beyond what regular tourists generally cover; that is to hike to the legendary Taktsang (tiger’s nest) monastery and also visit some of the temples higher-ups like Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo.

This special hike beyond Taktshang provides a rare view and a look at the Taktsang monastery and also its surrounding temples, monasteries, and hermitages. Return to Paro for farewell dinner.

Overnight hotel in Paro.

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Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.
  • Inclusions
  • Exclusions
  • Insurance
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
  • 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium update).
  • Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
  • Route Permit
  • Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
  • All land transportation by private vehicle
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Monuments entrance fees where applicable
  • Drinking water
  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable development fee of $200. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)

 

  • Airfare & Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
  • Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Package does not include insurance of any kinds, and that you are required to obtain separate coverage from your home country before your trip begins.

Our Host

Bhutan is one of the most unusual and beautiful countries in the world. You’ll find a land that is blessed with abundance, a deep connection to the past, and a unique culture. Truly Bhutan’s Host is second to none. Handpicked, highly experienced, and scrupulously trained, they bring a wealth of skill and knowledge to each trip. They are fun and friendly, whose aim is to ensure that each trip remains an unforgettable experience. Creating colorful, discovery-oriented tours in a combination of safety and comfort is the mission of our guides. All Host have earned the tour guide’s certificate from the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Damchoe Lhendrup

Damchoe Lhendrup | Culture & Trekking Expert

Dechen Dema

Dechen Dema | Culture & Trekking Expert

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