Bhutan tailor made tour, 12 days
Description of Bhutan tailor made tour, 12 days
Bhutan boasts a picturesque landscape of high mountain passes and expansive valleys dotted with temples and monasteries ripe for exploration. Explore the country on this private 12-day tailor-made holiday and discover a country with a foot strongly in its traditional roots but also striving to move forward in a responsible way.
Stroll the streets of the sleepy capital, Thimphu and discover a harmony of old and new. Marvel at the valley view from the hilltop Buddha Dordenma, visit the National Memorial Chorten to watch Bhutanese people circumambulate the chorten and discover bargains in the weekend market. Pass over the Dochula Pass for sweeping mountain vistas and visit Punakha Dzong which sits at the confluence of two major rivers. Hike the lowland Phobjikha Valley and travel to the remote Bumthang Valleys to discover the spiritual heartland of the country. And no trip to Bhutan would be complete without the rewarding hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery. Officially called Taktshang Goemba, the temple seems to cling precariously to the cliff side and offers spectacular views of the valley below.
|Day 1||Fly to Kathmandu.|
|Day 2||Land Kathmandu and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.|
|Day 3||Return to the airport and fly to Paro. The flight itself offers fantastic views of soaring mountain ranges before landing on the small airstrip at Paro. Land and pass through immigration formalities before driving to the capital, Thimphu. Enjoy exploring the city for the remainder of the day. (B/L/D)|
|Day 4||Spend the day in the city and visit sights of interest to you. These may include the national library, the King's Memorial chorten, the handmade paper factory, Changangkha Lhakhang temple and monastic school and Buddha Point which offers excellent views of the valley below. (B/L/D)|
|Day 5||Today depart the city and head up over the picturesque Dochula Pass which is home to the 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens. Enjoy a hot drink and views of the mountains before descending into the Punakha Valley. Stop at Messina and take a stroll through paddy fields and farmhouses to Chimi Lhakhang before ending the day at Punakha. Explore the dzong which is regarded by many as the prettiest in Bhutan. Overnight Punakha. (B/L/D) explore the Punakha region further|
|Day 6||This morning drive to the stunning Phobjikha Valley which is home to dense forest and an abundance of rhododendrons. Enjoy an easy hike to stretch the legs taking in Gangtey Goemba and various small villages. Overnight Phobjikha. (B/L/D)|
|Day 7||Today you will drive to Jakar in the Bumthang Valleys. The drive climbs up to another scenic pass, the Pele La which sits at 3300 metres. Descend to Trongsa and visit Trongsa Dzong before continuing on to the Bumthang Valleys via the Yotong La Pass. Overnight Jakar. (B/L/D)|
|Day 8||Spend the day exploring Jakar and the surrounding valley. This area is regarded as one of the most sacred in Bhutan as it is the location for the cremation of the kings. Visit Jambey Lhakhang and Jakar Dzong, also known as the 'castle of the white bird'. Other sites available to explore include Kurjey Lhakhang Tamshing Goemba, also known as the 'temple of the good message'. Overnight Jakar. (B/L/D)|
|Day 9||Depending on flight time there may e time to explore the region further before driving to Bumthang airport for the short flight back to Paro. Land and visit the National Museum which sits high above Paro Dzong. Overnight Paro. (B/L/D)|
|Day 10||For many visitors today is the highlight of any visit to Bhutan: the hike to Tiger's Nest, or Taktshang, Monastery. Built in 1692 and restored after fire damage in 1998, the monastery seems to sit precariously on the edge of the mountainside. Rise early to avoid the crowds and marvel at the views of the Paro valley from the top. Return to Paro and visit Kyichu Lhakhang which dates back to 7th century AD. The rest of the day is free to stroll around Paro town and maybe enjoy some last minute souvenir shopping. Overnight Paro. (B/L/D)|
|Day 11||Say goodbye to the peace of Bhutan and take the flight from Paro to bustling Kathmandu. Arrive and enjoy a half-day tour of the city with visits to Durbar Square and Swayambhunath. Overnight Kathmandu. (B)|
|Day 12||Return to the airport and fly back to the UK. (B)|
PlanetWhilst on the road, our local drivers are required to turn off vehicles when idling to minimise unnecessary emissions. This not only helps minimise emissions but also helps keep the cost down for the drivers in a country where fuel is relatively expensive.
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 holiday is locally sourced thus supporting local producers and the community - for example, we have dinner at a local Bhutanese farmhouse. Most of the hotels we use grow local vegetables in their own compound which cuts down on transport and emissions and also the cost of going to the market. A very good example could be Dhumra Farm Resort in Punakha which is privately owned by a local family. 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.
The tour also visits local markets and workshops such as the handmade paper factory in Thimphu to allow clients to learn about the local processes involved in making the items but also to contribute to the local economy with their purchases.
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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