Day 01: Arrive Paro
On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Bhutan tour guide from Follow Bhutan Tours & Treks and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Paro
Full day of sightseeing in Paro. We drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering walls and central keep are still an impressive sight. There is a good view of Bhutan’s second highest peak, Chomolhari (7,300m), from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong.
Next we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang (7th century), one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan. After lunch, we drive up to Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong). It was re-established as the National Museum in 1968, and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.
We then walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (built in 1646), center of the district administration and home of Paro’s monk body. It is also the venue of the Paro Tsechu, held annually in the springtime. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast we drive to Thimphu, the present capital of Bhutan. Just before reaching Thimphu, we pass Simtokha Dzong on the hillside above the road. This dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, is the oldest in Bhutan and now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies. On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel.
After lunch, we visit the imposing Tashichhodzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”, built in 1641 by the first Shabdrung and reconstructed in the 1960s during the reign of the third king. We also visit the National Memorial Chorten, completed in 1974, which serves as a memorial to Bhutan’s revered third king, His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“father of modern Bhutan”), and as a monument to peace. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04: Thimphu- Tongsa
Our journey to central Bhutan begins this morning. A 45 min. drive takes us up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m) from which there are enchanting views of high Himalayan peaks, wooded hills, and villages and farmland in the valleys below. After another two hours’ drive, we reach Wangduephodrang, where we stop for lunch. We then continue on into the hinterland, crossing Pele-la pass (3,300m) and descending to Tongsa with a short stop at Chendebji Chorten en route.
Overnight at the lodge in Tongsa, which we will reach in the late afternoon. In the evening we will visit Ta Dzong and Tongsa town.
Day 05: Tongsa – Jakar (Bumthang)
Morning visit to Tongsa Dzong, the largest fortress in Bhutan. The foundations of this imposing edifice were laid down in 1543 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s great grandfather, and the Shabdrung himself completed the work in 1648. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan.
We then proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. Our journey of about 3 hours takes us up over a high mountain pass and then down through coniferous forest to our destination. After lunch we walk around the town and also visit some of the holy temples for which Bumthang is famous, including the 7th century Jambey Lhakhang, and Kurje Lhakhang, highly revered as a meditation place of Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 06: Bumthang – Gorsum 18km, 6-7 hours
After breakfast Access Bhutan transport will take us up to the starting point for our trek, just beyond Kurje Lhakhang. Our trail runs upstream along the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for its richness in trout. We camp overnight at 3,120m.
Day 07: Gorsum – Lungsum 12km, 5 hours
Today’s walk takes us through dense forests of spruce, hemlock, cypress, juniper and maple trees. The trail is rather muddy and ascends gradually to our campsite at 3,160m.
Day 08: Lungsum – Tshochenchen 15km, 6-7 hours
The path ascends gradually through dense vegetation to Tshochenchen (3,400m) where we camp overnight.
Day 09: Tshochenchen – Dhur Tshachu 17km, 7 hours
We trek uphill from Tshochenchen to Juli-la pass (4,400m). On a clear day, there is a good view of the surrounding mountains from here. After crossing the pass, we walk downhill till reaching our campsite at 3,300m. Musk deer, Himalayan bears and blue sheep may be seen en route.
Day 10: Dhur Tshachu rest day
After late breakfast relax in the hot springs or hike around the camp area.
Day 11: Dhur Tshachu – Tshochenchen 17km, 7 hours
Start early on the trek back up to Juli-la pass, from which we descend gradually to the campsite at Tshochenchen (3,400m).
Day 12: Tshochenchen – Gorsum 18km, 6 hours
Another early start, as we walk right through to Gorsum today. The path descends gradually through dense forest, and may be rather muddy in places after Lungsum. We camp overnight at Gorsum (3,120m).
Day 13: Gorsum – Dhur (motor road) – Bumthang 9km, 3 hours
The trail follows the Chamkhar Chu, descending gradually to Dhur village, where Access Bhutan transport will meet us and drive us to our Bumthang lodge. Leisure time after lunch. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 14: Bumthang – Wangduephodrang
In the morning we explore Bumthang valley, visiting Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang. Later we drive to Wangduephodrang . Overnight at the hotel in Wangdue.
Day 15: Wangduephodrang/Punakha – Thimphu
After breakfast, visit the impressive Wangdue Dzong, situated at the junction of the Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers, and also take a stroll around the market area visiting local shops.
Then drive to Bhutan’s old capital Punakha to see Punakha Dzong (1637), a superb example of Bhutanese architecture. Damaged over the centuries by fire, earthquake and floods, the dzong has in recent years been superbly restored.
Drive to Thimphu in the late afternoon, and after dinner take an evening stroll around the town. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 16: Thimphu – Paro
Morning sightseeing in Thimphu. We will visit handicrafts shops which stock a wide range of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts and crafts, including hand-woven textiles in silk and cotton, dance masks, ceramics, basketware, silver jewellery, and delicately executed thangkha paintings. We will also visit the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan, and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only).
After lunch we drive to Paro, where we will have time for sightseeing in town and also a visit to a traditional Bhutanese farm house, to gain an insight into the lifestyle of the local people. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 17: Depart Paro
After early breakfast,your Bhutan travel guide from Follow Bhutan Tours & Treks will see you off at the Paro airport for onward journey.