(12 days/11 nights)
Festival date: 11 November, 2016
Venu: Phobgikha Valley, Wangdue
The festival is organized by the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), a local group composed of elected local leaders (with a strong female component), Government representatives, business community representatives, monks and Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) representative. The festival has become a part of the local culture in Phobjikha valley ever since it was first initiated by the RSPN in 1998.
The festival includes cultural programs such as folk songs and dances (some with black-necked crane themes) and mask dances performed by the local people, crane dances and environmental conservation-themed dramas and songs by the school children.
Day 01: Arrive Paro (2280 m) – Thimphu (2320 m) (Driving distance: 54 km, 1 ½ hrs.)
On arrival, you will be met by our representative and transfer you to your hotel in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The first stop is at the 14th century Tamchog Lhakhang on the base of a mountain across the Pa Chhu River on the Paro-Thimphu highway, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s great architect Thangtong Gyalpo (builder of iron chain bridges). The evening is free to stroll in the Thimphu town. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (L, D)
Day 02: Thimphu – Wangdue Phodrang (1310 m) – Gangtey (3100 m) (Driving distance: 137 km, 6 hrs.)
After breakfast, today we travel to Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang for a distance of 135-km. The first stop is at Dochula pass (3150 m). If weather is clear, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the snow capped eastern Himalaya ranges and also a magnificent distant view of the Gasa Dzong from this spot. Continue on the journey to Gangtey in Phobjikha. Along the highway, you’ll photo stops as there are loads of breathtaking views during the journey. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 03: Crane Festival in Gangtey, Phobjikha (3100 m)
Attend the Crane Festival this morning, held by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) in the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa in Phobjikha valley. The main objective of this festival is to generate awareness and understanding among the local communities and visitors on the importance of conserving the endangered Black‐necked cranes.
Afternoon visit includes visit to the Black-necked Crane Information Center and explore the Phobjikha valley. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 04: Gangtey –Trongsa – Bumthang (2600 m) (Driving distance: 135 km, 6 hrs)
After breakfast, drive to the cultural heartland of Bumthang. While at Trongsa, visit the Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower) or the impressive Trongsa Dzong.
After lunch, continue the journey to Bumthang.
Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 05: Sightseeing in Bumthang (2600 m)
After breakfast, visit Jakar Dzong, the Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songsen Gampo of Tibet, the Kurjey Lhakhang, built in 1652 and named after the body imprint of Guru Rinpoche who introduced the Buddhism in Bhutan, the Tamshing Lhakhang, built in 1501 which is the most important Nyingma temple in Bhutan.
Afternoon visit includes visit the famous Swiss Cheese Factory and Diary Farm in Bumthang. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 06: Bumthang – Ura.
This morning you’ll visit the Mebar Tsho (flaming lake) located on the way to Tang village, where the renowned treasure reveller, Terton Pema Lingpa, discovered treasures from the lake in the late 15th century.
In the afternoon, enjoy some sightseeing and visit a temple in the Ura valley and drive back to Bumthang. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 07: Bumthang – Wangdue Phodrang – Punakha (1310 m) (Driving distance: 197 km, 7 hrs.)
Today is a day-long journey heading back to Punakha via Trongsa and Wangdue Phodrang. The journey passes through the awe-inspiring mountains and lush vegetation along the highway and will photo stops during the journey. Enjoy some leisure time in Punakha in the evening, the old capital of Bhutan. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 08: Punakha – Thimphu (2320 m) (Driving distance: 76 km, 3 hrs.)
Visit the Punakha Dzong which is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers. Now the dzong serves as the administrative centre of Punakha district and the central monastic body.
Drive to Thimphu. En route visit the Chime Lhakhang, located near Lobesa on a round hillock. The temple is popularly known as the “fertility symbol,” built by Lama Drukpa Kinley (the Divine Madman).
Lunch in Dochula. In the evening, explore the town. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 09: Sightseeing in Thimphu (2320 m) – Paro (2280 m) (Driving distance: 54 km, 1 ½ hrs.).
Visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Next, visit the tallest and the largest statue of sitting Buddha in the world followed by a visit to the 13th century Changangkha Monastery, Takin Preserve Centre and the Folk Heritage Museum.
After lunch, visit Painting School, Royal Textile Academy & Centenary Farmer’s Market. In the evening, drive to Paro. Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Paro: Hike to Taktsang.
Take a short drive and hike to Paro Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), a highlight of any visit to Bhutan. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900m above the Paro valley and takes about a 3 hours climb on a well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags.
Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche flew to Paro Taktsang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 8th century.
After lunch, drive to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong (fortress), built in 1647 to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders. And on your way back, visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan (7th century). Dinner and O/N in Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 12: Paro: Departure:
Early morning, drive to the airport and farewell.