December 2-15, 2018 (14 Days/13 Nights)

Day 1 (December 2) – Arrive Paro

As we approach Bhutan, we see the massive peaks of the eastern Himalaya, including Kanchenjunga, the
world’s third highest peak, and Jhomolhari, Bhutan’s holy mountain. Upon arrival in the Paro Valley and
after completing visa formalities, your Bhutanese guide and driver will be waiting outside of the terminal to
receive and escort you to our accommodations for the evening.
We begin our spiritual journey with a powerful butter lamp lighting ceremony at the 8th Century Kyichu
Temple. The ceremony is performed to embark on a journeys with safe passage throughout the kingdom.
We will then stretch our legs on a short walk/hike back to our hotel following a farm road.
In the evening we will have an orientation and Welcome Dinner.

Overnight Paro (7,832 ft.)
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Day 2 (December 3) – Explore Paro Valley

Paro lies on the banks of the Pa Chhu (chhu means “river”), which winds through the bucolic Paro Valley,
once the hub for trade with Tibet. Our first stop is the Paro Rimpung Dzong. We’ll ascend a short hill behind
the dzong to reach the Ta Dzong, a circular fortress that once protected this valley from Tibetan invasion.
The impressive watchtower commands sweeping views of the valley below. It used to house Bhutan’s
National Museum, which, since 1968, has been the home of the country’s most cherished relics.
We will also hike to the less travelled Zuri Dzong which dates back to the 14th Century and houses the
temples to the local protective deities. This temple complex originally served as a fortress, perched high on
a hill, protected by sheer cliffs and extensive high walls. It has a semblance to a moat with legends of holy
water. There are accounts of this being used as armory and granary for the main dzong after the 17th
Century. Presently, it houses hermits and scholars that specialize in indigenous medicine. Our hike is
relatively easy and will be rewarded with great views of the town below.
Towards the evening, we explore Paro town and its various handicraft and souvenir shops.

Overnight Paro (7,832 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 3 (December 4) – Fly Paro to Bumthang, Spiritual Heartland of Bhutan

This morning we take a short mountain flight to Bumthang. This flight offers spectacular views of the
Himalayas and the valleys beneath crafted by the rivers that flow from the glaciers forming rich and fertile
lands for settlements. To the right of the plain, the Black Mountain range is prominent. At the foothills of it
lies the Monpa land that we shall visit in the next few days.
Once in Jakar Valley, we check into our hotel and freshen up. We then explore the 7th Century Jampa
Temple and onwards to Kurje Lhakhang, where three temples are surrounded by 108 stupas. From Kurje
we set off on foot to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa, a blacksmith from Bumthang
who became one of Bhutan’s most revered Buddhist saints and teachers. Our walk wraps up at the Swiss
Farm, a development project started in the 1960s when Swiss cheese-maker Fritz Maurer brought his skills
to Bhutan.

Overnight Bumthang (9,185 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 4 (December 5) – Explore Bumthang, Spiritual Heartland of Bhutan

After a delicious breakfast, we drive a couple of hours to arrive in the buckwheat growing valley of Tang,
one of the four valleys of Bumthang. Tang combines immense natural beauty with a history of hosting the
greatest collection of eminent spiritual practitioners. One such spiritual leader, Longchen Rabjam, and his
descendants have built the Ogyenchholing, the palace of bliss. We will take a tour of this now private
museum.
En route we visit the Pemachholing Nunnery, home to ~300 Buddhist nuns and practitioners of the
powerful drum ceremony. The hymns from the Buddhist text are sang in tune with the hand-held drum and
bell. We may interact with some of the few English-speaking nuns to understand their ordained lives and
their choice to live in celibacy.
We have an opportunity for a short hike to the Burning lake, or Mebartsho, where the king of treasure
revealers, Pema Lingpa, is said to have performed his first miracle.

Overnight Bumthang (9,185 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 5 (December 6) – Bumthang to Trongsa to Jangbi’s Monpa Community

We drive from Bumthang to Trongsa across the Yutong La (la means “pass”) of 11,300 ft. Our 2-hour
journey on the newly constructed road is scenic and may have some wildlife sightings. Reaching the
bustling village of Trongsa, we proceed further south for about 3 hours, taking a farm road to the village of
Jangbi. Jangbi is where the Monpa reside and is our home for the next two nights.
Our Bhutanes guide will present a camp orientation. We will be welcomed by the local community of
Monpa people, led by the resident Buddhist monk. The Monpas practiced Bon or Shamanism long before
the advent of Buddhism. The resident monk has been appointed by the government, due to the scarcity of
the shamans and bon masters, to benefit the people in their spiritual pursuit of happiness. The few shaman
masters do visit this village, reach out to the spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into
the lives of the Monpas.

Overnight Jangbi Camp (3,500 ft.)
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Day 6 (December 7) – Explore Jangbi’s Monpa village & Monpa Daily Life

Today is an exciting day for us in the Monpa community! We peek into the lives of the Monpa people
through firsthand experience. Our activities include visiting homes, participating in various farm tasks and
interacting with the Monpa people.
In gratitude for sharing their lives with us, we will cook a dinner for them. Our camp cooks will guide you
through hand-written recipes to prepare local dishes such as the ema datse, butter tea and other local
favorites. We will all participate in preparing food for the Monpas to enjoy this evening. After a sumptuous
meal, the Monpas will proudly demonstrate their traditional Monpa tribal dance.

Overnight Jangbi Camp (3,500 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 7 (December 8) – Jangbi to Trongsa, Birthplace of Bhutanese Monarchy

We bid farewell to our newfound Monpa family in Jangbi and retrace our journey back to Trongsa. In
Trongsa, we visit the Monarchy Museum housed in the Trongsa Taa Dzong, or watchtower. This
watchtower stands on a promontory above the town and once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal
rebellion. Built in the 17th Century, it houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. The
watchtower was converted into a museum dedicated to the monarchies of Bhutan and provides an insight
into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history.

Overnight Trongsa (7,215 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 8 (December 9) – Trongsa to Gangtey & Phobjikha Valley

We depart for the stunning Phobjikha Valley. Our route of ~ three (3) hours climbs from the subtropical
greenery of Trongsa to alpine regions featuring vast hemlock and rhododendron forests. This valley is
home to the endangered black-necked cranes and the conservation efforts of Bhutan and WWF have
created a safe haven for these beautiful birds which flock the marshy wetlands in winter for roosting.
After arriving and a delectable lunch, we will undertake a short hike around the valley observing the beauty
of the glacial valley, its inhabitants and the black-necked cranes.

Overnight Gangtey (9,510 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 9 (December 10) – Gangtey to Punakha, Ancient Capital of Bhutan

Our drive to Punakha, the ancient Capital of Bhutan, is quite scenic. You will notice the change in
vegetation from alpine highland to cactus-growing rich vallies of Wangdi and Punakha. En route to
Punakha, we will enjoy a short hike to the Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the Divine Mad MonkDrukpa
Kuenley. Your guide will impart how this Buddhist monk taught people the words of Buddha
through unconventional and peculiar methods.
In the afternoon, we will visit the breathtaking Punakha Dzong, dominating the confluence of two rivers.
Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Rinpoche, Unifier of Bhutan, this massive fortress is one of the holiest in
Bhutan, holding some of the most sacred relics including the preserved remains of Zhabdrung himself. The
central monk body of Bhutan moves from Thimphu to Punakha every winter to take advantage of
Punakha’s temperate climate.

Overnight Punakha (4,300 ft.)
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Day 10 (December 11) – Explore Punakha, Ancient Capital of Bhutan

We begin our morning with a short walk through rice, chili and cabbage fields to the Khamsum Yuley
Namgyal Chorten, a monument dedicated to the King of Bhutan. Our reward is commanding views of the
valley floor, up to the high mountains of Gasa.
Lunchtime welcomes a picnic lunch near the Mo Chhu (Mo means mother or female) at our private picnic
area. Here a few villagers will meet us for an archery lesson followed by a “friendly” contest. Of course the
Bhutanese are friendly and we should be mindful that their national sport of archery is taken very seriously.
We will have a few practice sessions before a competitive game will commence. Match points and bets will
be decided before the commencement of the game.
Afterward, we will enjoy leisurely rafting on the Mo Chhu from our lunch spot to the Punakha town, slowly
drifting past landmarks including the Sonagasa, Third King’s palace, and the Punakha Dzong. The Mo Chhu
is rich with birdlife and will be pointed out to you by our guide.

Overnight Punakha (4,300 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 11 (December 12) – Punakha to Thimphu, Capital City of Bhutan

After many days in the countryside, we finally embark on our “city” experience in the capital city of
Thimphu, the largest and most modernized town in Bhutan. Thimphu is home to the ministries,
international organizations and Royal Families of Bhutan, including His Majesty’s office. As we drive across
Dochula, or pass, at 10,000+ feet, we will be treated to panoramic views of the entire Himalayan Range.
We descend to Thimphu and commence with our exploration and sightseeing, including:
• Textile Museum: Under the Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, this museum showcases
the textile arts of Bhutan including the exquisite Royal robes donned by Their Majesties the King
and Queen at the Royal Wedding in 2012.
• Folk Heritage Museum: This is a traditional farmhouse in its original state. One gains insight into the
village life of a local farmer which remains unchanged in much of rural Bhutan.
• Memorial Chorten: This large stupa was built in memory of the Third King of Bhutan and is the site
of public religious activity. Young and old alike, at all hours, are seen circumambulating this stupa.
• Buddha Dordenma: A familiar site and known to be the largest Buddha statue in the World, it is
perched atop a hill protectively overlooking the Thimphu Valley below.
• Tashicho Dzong: This is the seat of the government and houses the offices of His Majesty. As are all
dzongs, this fortress was built without the use of a single nail. This is the summer home of the
central monk body that moves to Punakha in the winter months.

Overnight Thimpu (7,710 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 12 ( December 13) – Thimpu to Dochula Festival

We retrace our way back to Dochula, the pass and venue for the Dochula Druk Wangyel Tsehchu. This
annual festival was established in 2011 in commemoration of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the
Armed Forces’ victory in 2003 over Indian insurgents residing in southern Bhutan. The Druk Wangyal
Lhakhang was built over a period of four years, 2004-2008, under the vision and patronage of Her Majesty
the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo.
Set amidst a breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan peaks, the Dochula Druk Wangyal Tsehchu is an
experience unlike any other and truly exemplifies Bhutanese cultural traditions.
We return to the bustling city of Thimphu to explore and shop for souveniers and gifts for loved ones. In
the evening, we are honored to meet, dine and converse with Bhutanese dignitaries on topics of interest.

Overnight Thimpu (7,710 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 13 (December 14) – Thimpu to Paro, Tigers Nest

We embark on an invigorating morning hike to Taktsang Monastery, Tiger’s Nest, one of the most iconic
and venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas. Set into a cliff face 2,600 ft. above the Paro Valley,
the Tiger’s Nest takes its name from a mythical journey made by Lord Padmasambawa, Guru Rinpoche,
who flew there on a tigress’ back in order to meditate for three months and convert the valley to
Buddhism. Many of Buddhism’s most influential figures have paid homage to this site.
The hike is about 1.5 hours and well worth the effort! About halfway up, we stop at a teahouse and the
view from there alone is well worth the climb. Another 45 minutes brings you all the way to the gompa.
The main building of Taktsang was badly damaged in a fire, and underwent a major restoration in 2003.
In the afternoon, we soak in the luxury of the hotel and or explore and shop in Paro town.
In the evening, we celebrate our journey and new friends with a delectable farewell dinner at our beautiful
hotel.

Overnight Paro (7,382 ft.)
B, L, D

Day 14 (December 15) – Farewell Bhutan

We bid farewell to our newfound friends of Bhutan. Your guide and driver will accompany you to the
airport for your departure.

Day 15 – Plan your next trip with Neary Travel

TASHI DELEK!