Bhutan Thimphu Festival & Trek

Bhutan

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Trek from Paro to Thimphu and take in the colourful Thimphu Festival

Details

Duration: 11 Days
Starts in: Bhutan
Group Size: 3-16

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.

Itinerary

Join Paro

Arrive Paro by Druk Air flight which, if the weather is clear, will offer you great views of Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari, Tsrim gang and Jichu Drake. The moment you step out of the plane you will see the difference. Bhutan welcomes you with cool, clean fresh air. Peace and quietness is just another bonus. This afternoon we ascend a short hill up to the most obvious landmarks in the valley, 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 also houses Bhutan’s National Museum, which, since 1968, has been the home of the country’s most cherished relics. Later we drive down to visit Paro Rinpung Dzong. Bhutan’s dzongs originally served three purposes: they were fortresses, administrative to the most obvious centers for local government, and a residence for the monks and place for their religious activities. In days of yore—during Tibetan invasion or wars between the valleys— dzongs also acted as strongholds, protecting their vale’s inhabitants. Explore inside the Dzong and walk down towards the cantilevered bridge spanning over the Pachhu River where your car will pick you up and head straight to your lodge. Later in the evening, there will be a pre-trip briefing.

Taktsang Monastery hike

In the morning, we drive up to the base of Taktsang, famously known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched on a vertical granite cliff 2000 feet above the valley floor of pine, oak and rhododendrons forests. The legend of Taktsang dates from 747 CE, when Guru Rinpoche, in the wrathful form of Guru Dorji Droloe, arrived here on the back of a tiger and subdued the evil spirits of the region. After about one hour of rather steep hiking, you can rest for a while at a small teahouse with wonderful views of the monastery. If you choose to walk another hour, you can get an even closer look from the small chorten directly opposite. The final stretch climbs down—and then back up—700 steps, crossing a gorge over-laced with prayer flags to arrive at the incredible destination. Enjoy the walk and the experience. You will walk back the same route you followed this morning. Later in the evening if time permits, we visit one of the oldest Kyichu temple built in 7th century. This is one temple that truly feels ancient in the Himalayas.Tiger’s Nest Monastery Hike;Hike Length: 13.2Km/8.2Miles Hike Time: 5-6 Hours ReturnHike Elevation Gain: 1,200m/3,960ft Hike Elevation Loss: 1,200m/3,960ft

Commence trek to Jele Dzong (3,870m/12,770ft), walk approx 4-5hrs.

We rise early and after breakfast drive to Ta-Dzong and through village of Damchena from your hotel for about 1.5 Hours. And then start your trek from here bypassing a lone Mani walls, gradually climbing up for about 2 ½ hours through a forest of blue pine and silver birch. Just above the tree line we reach an alpine glade and the Jili La (3580m) and gain fine views back down the Paro Valley. We will visit the Jili Dzong, an impressive fort cum monastery with panoramic views. In the vicinity of the Dzong there are many prayer flags hung from commemorative poles that reflect the ancient Buddhist beliefs that extend across the ridge tops of Bhutan. The whole trail leads you gradually uphill through pine forest. Camp will be below the Dzong.

Trek to Jangchulakha (3,770m/12,440ft), walk approx. 3-4 hrs.

We continue walking along the wooded crest high above the Paro Valley through conifer and rhododendron forest while numerous orchids, ferns and wildflowers line the trail. To the north we will sight the snow capped peak of Chomolhari in the distance. On this stage we also pass through a number of yak herders settlements. Our camp at Jangchulakha which is also used as the grazing grounds by yak herders is in a fine location overlooking the intermediary valley between the Paro and Thimphu Valleys.

Trek to Jigmelangtsho (3600m), walk approx. 5-6 hrs.

Today morning is a strenuous climb up for about 2 hours until we reach the top and continue north along tanned alpine ridge. En route we cross a series of small passes in the vicinity of 4050m with each marked by a stone memorial and an abundance of prayer flags. From the passes there are also fine views of many of the peaks that form the border with Tibet. We keep walking along the ridge rest of the afternoon until Jigmelangtsho comes into view. To reach the lake involves a long and gradual descent taking an hour or so, at first across alpine meadows and then through rhododendron and conifer forest to this wonderful campsite by the side of the lake below, famous for the brown trout.

To Phajoding camp (3650m/12045f), walk approx 6-7hrs.

We trek through forests of dwarf rhododendron shrubs passing two lakes. After passing the second lake we begin to ascend gradually. From the top of the ridge at Pumola (4,100m/13,530ft), we enjoy the majestic view of Mt.Gangkar Punsum (7520m), the highest mountain in Bhutan. We then descent to a campsite near Phajoding Goemba. It is one of the remotest, beautiful Buddhist monastery and an important pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese people. There are about 150 monks around and you can interact with them and learning from their pursuits of Buddha-hood and enlightenment. At night, you can have a good view of the Thimphu city with lights!

Trek to Thimphu (2,400m/8,000ft) walk approx. 2-3hrs

Today is the easiest day of trekking. We make our way for three hours downhill through pine forest. Upon reaching Motithang on the outskirt of Thimphu, we will be met by our WEX Bhutan office group to receive you with sumptuous lunch and drinks. Thimphu is Bhutan’s capital and largest city. Home to the government, royal family, and the head offices of international organizations in the country, Thimphu is a mix of Himalayan and Western sensibilities. In the late afternoon, we visit the National Textile Museum, established in 2001, home to a substantial collection of antique textiles and other works including the royal robes on display. There is also a weaving center attached below the museum where women from all over the country has been employed to weave textiles and earn their livelihood. In the evening, stroll and explore the city on foot. Thimphu is one of the few capitals in the world without any traffic lights and you will observe the dancing policemen controlling traffics.

Attend the Thimphu Festival

In the morning we drive to Tashichho Dzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ which also houses the office of the King. But today you will be joining thousands of locales flocking inside the ceremonial ground to witness and observe the Thimphu Tshechu. No single event captures the prevailing Bhutanese culture better than the Buddhist festival known as tshechus, occasions honoring the significant accomplishments of Guru Rinpoche, the 8th Century figure widely revered across the Himalayas as the Second Buddha. Their focal point is a series of prayers and dances inspired by certain religious themes. Dancers in spectacular costumes perform tightly choreographed moves to a cacophony of drums, horns and cymbals. Constant chanting drifts in waves, a solemn base rising to vivid peaks. What makes such occasions particularly remarkable is the manner in which performance merges with the overall setting. The larger festivals take place in the shadows of imposing fortress-monasteries, attracting large crowds from the surrounding region. For Bhutanese, they represent both the opportunity to concentrate on their religion and as major social occasions. People appear in their finery, eating, drinking and making merry. The overall atmosphere is a rarified blend of devotion, conviviality and slight bawdiness. On show is the holistic, integrated and down-to-earth nature of unaffected popular Himalayan Buddhist culture. Enjoy the experience and be spiritually immersed and be captivated with the lively culture and traditions of the world’s only Vajrayana Buddhist country. This day will also be kept flexible for you to explore on your own around.

Drive to Punakaha (1,300m/4,500ft) via Simtokha Dzong and Dochu La

In the morning we drive up to see the tallest seated Buddha statue in the world at 51m/169ft height, initiated and built on a prophecy made, facing towards the East, bestowing infinite love and compassion to all sentient beings in the spheres. The statue houses enormous meditational house in the base and two storied chapels on the top floors. You will be fascinated at fine art works crafted by the local artisans. We then drive past Simtokha Dzong, gradually winding up across 10,223-foot Dochu La, which in good weather offers 360-degree vistas across 200 miles of Himalayan peaks including Bhutan’s tallest peak Mt. Gangkar Puensum and some of the highest unclimbed mountains in the world! There are 108 stupas adorning the pass and the scenic spot here offers plenty of opportunities for photography and walks around. We drive down through forests of rhododendrons and magnolias, before the road descends into the warmer lowlands around Sopsokha village just in time for lunch. Afternoon, enjoy an easy hike to Chimi Lhakhang, or also referred to as the Temple of Fertility. The temple is dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, affectionately called the Divine Madman. He is one of Bhutan’s favorite holy men and the valley is peppered with traces of his influence. Villagers still enthusiastically recount the legends of his exploits. Women who are having trouble conceiving come here to pray and receive the resident lama’s blessings with a wooden phallus. There are about 25 young monks undergoing monastic education. They will be happy to come out and play soccer with you if they are free! Later we drive up to Wolakha Nunnery, mounted over a hilltop with a good view of the surrounding valleys below. The nuns, apart from their daily Buddhist studies and meditation also work on appliqué and thangka painting. The shrine inside is dedicated mainly to the God of Compassion, Chenrizig or in Sanskrit known as Avolokiteshvara. Meet some of the nuns and interact with them.Chimi Lhakhang Hike;Hike Length: 2Kms/1.2Miles Hike Time: 1.5 Hours return easyElevation gain: 20m/66ft Elevation Loss: 20m/66ft

Visit Punakha Dzong and transfer to Paro (2,300m/7,600ft)

In the morning we visit Punakha Dzong, one of the magnificent fortresses in the world. This remarkable fortress was built in 1637 between two rivers and once served as the old capital of Bhutan. It has survived many glacial floods and fire. Every February there is a procession known as the Punakha Serda to commemorate the victory over the Tibetans. The Central Monk Body, taking advantage of it’s warm weather, shifts their residence here every winter and goes back to Thimphu in summers. We spend some time exploring inside and if we see a chance, we may be able to meet a senior monk and Q&A session with him in regard to Buddhism and way of life followed by water purification ceremony to bless you with longevity. This afternoon we drive back again towards Dochula Pass and to Paro valley for the night. Evening time on your own, strolling around this minute town for souvenir and last minute shopping.

Trip concludes in Paro

This morning drive to Paro and exit through Bhutan Immigration office and bid you farewell today. We hope you had a wonderful time in Bhutan. Tashi Delek & Bon Voyage!

Additional Information

Commencing our trip in the beautiful alpine valley of Paro, we take time to explore the areas rich cultural history and stunning scenery, including a day walk to the famous Taktsang Monastery. This prepares us for our trek, which winds through old growth forest to the capital of Thimphu, where the annual festival takes place. Bhutan is host to many cultural and religious festivals, and the Thimphu Tshechu is a spectacle of colourful celebration where onlookers are believed to be blessed with good fortune. Taking place over three days, there are a number of culturally and religiously significant dances. It is an exciting time to be in Bhutan, and the local people turn out in their best traditional dress and jewelry for the occasion. At the conclusion of the festival, we return to Paro via the Simtokha Dzong.

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  • Starting From

    $3,499/person

    Book Now

    Add your business today to reach The Outbound's audience of adventurous travelers.