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Dragon Festival – 11N

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Day 1: Arrive in Paro – Thimphu
Arrive by flight into Paro, Bhutan. Upon arrival, you met our representatives. Transfer to capital Thimphu, where spend two nights. Depending on available time, you will tour Thimphu for rest of the afternoon. Overnight in Thimphu.
Autumn trip attends Thimphu Tsechu festival and tour Thimphu based on your arrival time.

Day 2: Thimphu
Thimphu is a seat of government and commerce with a harmonious mix of modern development and ancient traditions, and the only national capital without traffic lights. We spend the whole day touring its’ many attractions, monuments, museums, viewpoints, and local markets. Overnight in Thimphu.
Autumn trip will attend colorful Thimphu Tsechu festival in the morning, and after lunch members can choose to continue with the festival or tour some of local attractions.

Day 3: Gangtey, Phobjikha valley
This morning drive across Dochu La, a 10,000-foot pass marked by 108 chortens, fluttering prayer flags and a panoramic view of the eastern Himalayan peaks. From the pass, the road descends dramatically to the village of Wangdue phodrang, and again begins climb up the black mountains, through ever-changing vegetation to arrive in wide and beautiful Phobjikha valley. Winter home of endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau and stay here from late October till mid-March. This afternoon visit the ancient Gangteng Gompa monastery and the walk down the hill, along nature trail (easy walk) for about 1 ½ hr. Visit local village and Nature Information center.
Overnight in Phobjikha

Day 4: Gangtey -Trongsa -Jakar, Bumthang
In the morning, you have an opportunity to take a self-guided walks in the valley. After breakfast, traverse 11,300-foot Pele La, and descend to Trongsa, where we visit the sprawling Dzong. This huge many-level fortress with its intricate wood carvings has a maze of courtyards and covered passages that follow the contour of the ridge. After lunch in Trongsa, continue to drive for another 2 ½ hrs toward Jakar in Bumthang district, across Yotong La pass. Just before arriving in Jakar, we stop to visit the weavers in Chumey valley.
Overnight in hotel (Jakar).

Day 5: In Jakar, Bumthang Valley
Bumthang is considered the cultural heartland of Bhutan. It was here that Buddhism was introduced by Padmasambhava in A.D 746, and the area continues to thrive as a spiritual center. The wide valleys with fields of buckwheat, apple orchards, and chalet-like houses, surrounded by pine forested hills, make Bumthang extremely beautiful. Our full day tour by short drives and some easy walks will access ancient temples and monasteries. As per available time, we can visit local village near the town.
Overnight in hotel (Jakar).

Day 6: In Jakar or Tang Valley
Drive along the dirt road for about two hours to Tang valley. Along the way, we will visit Membertso (Burning Lake), a nunnery and Tang Rimochen temple. Once in Tang, walk up to the hilltop village to visit Ogyencholing Palace, a 16th century country manor, which is also turned into a museum. Lunch in the guest house and return to Jakar.
Overnight in hotel (Jakar).
Autumn trip attends either Thangbi Mani festival or Jakar Tsechu festival, instead of going to Tang Valley.

Day 7: Bumthang – Punakha / Wangdue
Head back to western Bhutan, re-crossing Yotong La Pass into Tongsa, where we stop to visit the tower of Trongsa, which has been recently converted into a fine museum. Traverse Pele La pass and descend into semi-tropical valley of Wangdue-Punakha. Along the way we will make several short stop to take pictures, pause to stretch legs, enjoying the views of landscapes along this spectacular journey through ever-changing vegetation. In Wangdue phodrang, visit its interesting township that is made up of clusters of small shops tightly packed, surrounding a truck stop and arrive in the evening.
Overnight in Punakha valley.

Day 8: Punakha & Wangdue Valley
Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are two different districts, but they are located in one valley and their town centers are near each other. Compared to Thimphu, Paro or valleys of central Bhutan, Punakha-Wangdue valley is at much lower elevation of about 1250m/4500ft above sea level. Therefore it enjoys subtropical climate with warm summers and pleasant winters. Drive to the idyllic countryside north of Punakha, and start forty-minute walk up to Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten on Nyinzergang hill, a shrine built in early 1990’s for the present King. One can get good views from the top. (Those who are not into hiking can skip this portion). Upon return, drive back to visit the architectural wonders of the 17th century Punakha Dzong, straddling at the confluence of Pho and Mo rivers (male & female). In the evening, take a short- easy walk into village to visit Chimi Lhakhang temple, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley popularly known as ‘the divine madman.
Overnight in Punakha valley.

Day 9: Punakha – Thimphu – Paro
After breakfast, head back to Thimphu, re-crossing the magnificent Dochu La Pass, with one more opportunity to see the panoramic views of the Eastern Himalayan peaks. At the pass, we stop to savour tea at the cafeteria with views of the snow-capped peaks. Lunch may be in Thimphu or Paro depending on arrival time. We will tour in Paro valley for the rest of the afternoon.
Spring trip will continue to Paro and attend Paro Tsechu festival for rest of the afternoon, followed by visit of Paro Rinphung Dzong and stroll around the town.
Thimphu Tsechu festival group will visit Thimphu’s missed out attractions, due to festival program during your previous stay, and then in the evening, drive short distance to Paro for overnight.

Day 10: Paro Valley
Paro valley is one of the loveliest in Bhutan. The willow trees and apple orchards line many of the roads. We’ll tour by short drives and walks to see its many attractions such the Ta Dzong watchtower, which houses National Museum. Visit Rinphung Dzong, which houses the local district office and regional monastic body. We’ll visit the beautiful 7th century Kichu Lhakhang and also cover Dumtse Lhakhang temple, known to hold some of the finest murals in the kingdom. We will walk into a village; arrange a tea with local farmers and see how they live. At the north-end of the valley, visit the ruins of Drugyal Dzong fortress, which once protected the valley against invaders from north.
Overnight in the hotel, in Paro valley.
Spring trip (April 4) will attend Paro Tsechu festival for most of the day and find time to cover National Museum during the course of the day and Kichu Lhakhang and others as per available time in the evening, after the festival.

Day 11: Paro (Hike to Takstang)
Our journey in Kingdom culminates with a hike to the most famous pilgrimage site in Bhutan: Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger’s Nest Temple (at about 3100m/10,100ft). Visible from afar, this magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 1,000 feet above the valley floor, defying logic, gravity, and reason in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. If for some reason, some of the members wish to skip hike to Taktsang, our Guide and driver can arrange other interesting alternatives for them. You can request to arrange pony ride for the uphill part, till the first view point & cafeteria but you must be able to walk back or to go uphill to the monastery itself. The steep hike to the first view point or cafeteria (at 2940m/9,650ft) takes between 1-2hrs (ascending about 300m/1,000ft) from the starting point. From this vantage point, Takstang seems close enough to touch but it is on the far side of deep chasm and takes a knee breaking descent and ascending of another 40 minutes or so to the monastery. Return to Paro, where we may have more time for stroll or other interesting tour. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner.
Overnight in the hotel, in Paro valley.
Spring trip will provided option to wake up early (at dawn) to see the unfurling of giant Thongdrol Thangka and thereafter transfer for hike to Taktsang.

Day 12: Departure
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Paro airport according to your flight times.


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