Bhutan small group tours
Description of Bhutan small group tours
This Bhutan small group tour, over two weeks, offers every opportunity to discover a largely overlooked destination seemingly tucked away in the foothills of the mountains. Bhutan is a pristine Himalayan country with much to offer the curious traveller. Discover a country awash with beautiful temples peopled by Buddhist monks in maroon robes, high mountain passes festooned with colourful prayer flags and friendly locals happy in traditional dress.
Trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery which seems to perch precariously on the edge of a cliff, stroll through rural villages to discover traditional Bhutanese life and enjoy a tipple (or two) at the Red Panda Microbrewery. The highlight of this Bhutan holiday, however, is attending the colourful tsechus (festivals), the popular Thimphu tsechu and the smaller Thangbi Mani tsechu in the remote Bumthang Valley. Get into the spirit of things by donning traditional dress and watch the colourful and energetic masked dances to discover the true culture of Bhutan.
|Day 1||Fly to Kathmandu.|
|Day 2||Land Kathmandu and transfer to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax after the flight or explore the city before dinner as a group in the evening. (D)|
|Day 3||Return to the airport and fly to Paro in Bhutan where you will meet your driver and guide. Drive to Thimphu a short journey which introduces you to the scenic delights which await. This evening enjoy a lecture from a local guest speaker on the Bhutanese subject of GNH, Gross National Happiness after which there may be time to explore the night markets. (B/L/D)|
|Day 4||Spend the morning enjoying the unique Thimphu Tsechu. Enjoy watching monks and laymen partaking in masked dances and performances, the festival is an important Bhutanese social event. This afternoon discover the city sights. Visits include the King's Memorial Chorten, the colourful National Textile Museum and Simply Bhutan, an interactive living museum. Visit the impressive Tashichhodzong and the handmade paper factory and if time permits the day will end at the Buddha Dordenma for panoramic views of the valley below. (B/L/D)|
|Day 5||This morning embark on a 3-hour drive to Punakha passing over the wonderful Dochula Pass which stands at 3150 metres. Stop for tea/coffee and to explore the 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens. Further along the journey stop and take a short walk through rural villages to Chimi Lhakhang which is dedicated to the 'divine madman' Drukpa Kuenley. Enjoy a picnic lunch with imposing Punakha Dzong as backdrop before exploring the dzong and the Nalinda Buddhist College. Overnight in Punakha. (B/L/D)|
|Day 6||Enjoy another scenic drive to the Phobjika Valley passing oak forests and rhododendrons. This valley was formed by glaciers and black-neck cranes can be found here in winter. Hike the Gangtey Nature Trail through the valley before visiting the monastery and, if time allows, the Crane Information Centre. (B/L/D)|
|Day 7||A long but memorable drive from Gangtey crosses the Pele La Pass at 3,300m where at the highest point is a large chorten and prayer flags. Visit Trongsa where after lunch you can visit the Dzong and museum. The road then climbs to 3,400m before dropping through forests to the Chumey Valley to the town of Bumthang. (B/L/D)|
|Day 8||This morning attend festival number two, the Thingbi Mani tsechu which is famed in the region for its fire blessing ceremony. The remainder of the day can be spent exploring Jakar town. (B/L/D)|
|Day 9||Spend the morning exploring the region further before flying back to Paro. The afternoon can be spent exploring the town or maybe enjoy the national sport, archery. (B/L/D)|
|Day 10||Enjoy spectacular views from the Cheli La Pass which stands at 3,810m where you can make an offering of prayer flags to aid you in your next life. Visit Bhutan's oldest nunnery at Kila Goemba before retuning to Paro for lunch. The afternoon will include a visit to the national museum housed a tower overlooking Paro Dzong and Paro Rinpung Dzong whose woodwork makes this one of the most stunning towers in the country. (B/L/D)|
|Day 11||Rise early for the best experience of the trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery. Perched high on a cliff it is one of the most important places in Bhutan and a symbol of the country. The views from the trek are ever changing as you pass through pine forests festooned with prayer flags. Stop along the way for refreshments at a fantastic viewpoint before arriving at the monastery and exploring the site: the views from the monastery are exceptional. Return to Paro for the afternoon at leisure to enjoy some last minute shopping. This evening enjoy a traditional hot stone bath to soak your limbs after the hike. (B/L/D)|
|Day 12||Return to Paro airport and fly to Kathmandu. Enjoy a full-day sightseeing tour, visits include Durbar Square and UNESCO-registered Swoyambhunath Square. Lunch will be enjoyed in the popular Nyatapola Café. Tonight dinner is at a local Nepalese restaurant while enjoying a traditional cultural show. (B/L/D)|
|Day 13||Today will be spent exploring Kathmandu further. Visit Pashupatinath Temple and Changu Narayan Temple before lunch at popular Nyatapola Café. This afternoon visit Bhaktapur, home to an abundance of medieval art and architecture, and this evening return to the airport for your flight home. (B/L)|
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PlanetWhilst on the road, our local drivers are required to turn off vehicles when idling to minimise unnecessary emissions. As this is a group tour this helps minimise traffic and thus pollution when compared to private travellers.
Environmentally, Bhutan is incredibly clean and green with locals and authorities alike taking a keen interest in the preservation of their pristine mountain landscapes. All visitors are encouraged to avoid littering and to be as environmentally friendly as possible when travelling through its fragile landscapes.
Small things like re-using towels in hotels all add up to make a big difference. The hotels try and use local produce year-round thus keeping food ‘air miles’ down and the money in the local community.
On this trip we visit rural communities and natural landscapes such as the glacial Phobjikha Valley, home to the migratory Black-Necked Cranes. We visit the Black-Necked Crane information centre to provide our guests with more information on conservation, indigenous wildlife and how to behave when viewing it.
PeopleAll food served on the tour is locally sourced thus supporting local producers and the community - for example, we have dinner at a local Bhutanese farmhouse. We go out of our way to support local business through our visits - for example, to the Tashichhodzong and the handmade paper factory in Thimphu and the Nimalung Festival (tsechu) held at nearby Nimalung Goemba. Visitors are encouraged to respect cultural differences and to leave a donation in temples they visit.
Our local Bhutanese agents employ only local guides and drivers and pay fair salaries to all employees and regular training is provided to support future career development. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals.
They also support the local charity, Draktsho, a Vocational Centre working to help disabled and disadvantaged youth towards independence. Draktsho strongly believes that everybody has the right to be independent and equal, the power to choose and to live their lives to its full potential. Disability is prevalent in Bhutan and affects all age groups and although attitudes towards disabled people and other minority groups within the country are changing and becoming more positive, there still seems to be an immense lack of understanding about disabilities and the difficulties they impose. Draktsho is the first of its kind in the country, a service-oriented civil society organisation (CSO) which aspires to enhance the living standards of disabled youths through empowerment. One of the greatest challenges for Draktsho is to erase the deeply embedded stigma that the disabled cannot learn and earn a living. So through training and eventual integration into the mainstream population, Draktsho aims to equip disadvantaged youths with the tools to help themselves. For every booking we make to Bhutan a financial contribution is made to Draktsho to help with the important work they are doing at the centre.
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