Arrival to Paro, Bhutan – Hotel check-in and Welcome Briefing by your host / guide, followed by lunch either at the hotel or at a restaurant in town. Afternoon visit to Kyichu Lakhang followed by an evening exploration of Paro town for sightseeing, shopping, and cultural learning.
Following breakfast, we’ll set off for Thimphu (the nation’s capital) driving through breath-taking mountain scenery. There will be time for a walk across a traditional suspension bridge and a visit to Thamchoe Lakhang(also founded by the famous saint Thangtong Gyalpo). Our route will take us past the auspicious confluence of the Pa Chuu (Paro Water) and Wang Chuu (Thimphu Water) rivers which merge together and flow south toward the Indian border. One we reach Thimphu, we’ll complete our hotel check in and have lunch.
In the afternoon will visit the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) for a quick briefing on Black Necked Crane conservation activities. Following our meeting with staff there we’ll visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and/or the Nado Poisakhang Incense Factory where Bhutan’s best incense (including its famous “Happiness” incense) is manufactured by hand. If there is time, we may also make a quick stop at the Takin Preserve to get up close and personal with Bhutan’s unique national animal that is said to have been created by Drukpa Kunley while demonstrating his magical powers and combined a goat’s head with the body of a cow!
An early morning departure will put us on the road headed for the scenic Darchula Pass (3,140 m). This pass provides Himalayan panorama views and a break to stretch one’s legs walking amongst the many protective stupas, chortens, and fluttering prayer flags. We will also make a visit to the newly consecrated Druk Wangyal Lhakhang dedicated to His Majesty the 4thKing of Bhutan which features beautiful detailed wall murals depicting the historical legacy of the country’s Kings.
We’ll then carry on to Wangdi Phoedrang and stop for lunch at the “Black Necked Crane Café” and a visit the small district Dzong which was built in 1638 by the unifier of Bhutan, Nawang Namgyel Shabdrung. Resuming our journey we’ll cross a 3,140 m pass and then drop into the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjekha which is located on the slopes of the Black Mountains. Upon arrival we’ll check in to our guest house or traditional farm house hotel and enjoy a delicious evening meal.Day 4 On this day we’ll fully immerse ourselves in the pristine nature that the Phobjekha Valley has to offer. Following breakfast we’ll visit the RSPN Black Necked Crane Center and begin our crane watching adventures! Exploring the valley, we’ll also take time to experience traditional Bhutanese culture with a farm house visit and go for an evening walk amongst the calling of the cranes.
Rising early in the morning, we’ll be able to get in one more round of “crane viewing” and then pack up and move forward to visit the famed Gantey Gompa(monastery) founded in 1613 which the cranes circle three times on their arrival from Tibet back home to Phobjeka for the winter. This monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa School of Buddhism and has recently been renovated under the guidance of Gantey Tulku. We’ll continue back through Wangdi up over the Darchu La and have a second opportunity to catch Himalayan views and arrive in Thimphu that evening to check in to our cozy hotel rooms.
Departing early from Thimphu will get us back to Paro where we’ll start our pilgrimage walk up to the famous Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest” monastery – a treasured landmark and prime spiritual destination for Buddhist pilgrims. We’ll have lunch along the way amongst the whispering blue pines and upon return will be treated to either a traditional hot stone bath or cultural performance prior to a sumptuous Farewell Dinner.
Depart Bhutan via the Paro International Airport for journey the home. If return flight is scheduled for later in the afternoon, an additional visit to town or location will be scheduled for continued sightseeing and exploration.
All trips include guide, driver, transport, hotel, meals, entry fees to dzongs and
museumsand required travel / route permits.