Few countries in the world are so much surrounded with mystic and secrecy. To discover Bhutan you need to get on an organized tour. No escape. That is, apart of a few square kilometers across the border of Phuntsholing, which more or less by accident I once did. It was enough to make me hungry to go again.
The kingdom of today was in the previous centuries a land of warlords only united in the 17th century. With a bit more than a half million people it's a sparse populated country which leaves plenty of options for remote mountain trekking.
So, what does this Discover Bhutan tour offers?
Day 1 Paro
The first day has no activities planned except for meeting up, discuss the tour plan for the next 10 days and explore the town and the surrounding.
Day 2 Paro
The reason for flying to Paro is that it's the only international airport in Bhutan served by Druk Air from Nepal, India and South East Asia. The town is located in a lush valley. This day you will explore the valley and the Taktsang Monastery.
From here it goes to Ta Dzong and an ancient watchtower (now in use as National Museum).
Day 3 Camp)
On the third day you will trek to Jele Dzong, a trek that takes 4 to 5 hours. This is the start of 3 days trekking which starts with a trek to an altitude of 2300 meter (Jele Dzong). On the way you will have views to the Paro valley, Mount Jumolhari (7314 M) and the Himalaya mountains.
Day 4 Camp
After a night camping in the mountains a trek of 9 km follows. It will take about 6 hours to Tshaluna Walking.
You will see plenty of villages and people on the way.
Day 5 Thimpu
Another night camp and the trekking continues to Jemina, 9km's which will take about 3 hours. You will see the Tshaluna valley. Once reaching Jemina you will drive to Thimpu.
Although Thimpu is the capital, it's very different from many other cities in Asia. Think about it, until 1962 there were not even cars in town. The modern development of Thimpu only really took off in 1961, just over 50 years back.
Day 6 Punakha
The day in Thimpu starts with visiting the Chorten Memorial and the Zilukha Nunnery. The Chorten was built honoring the third ruler of Bhutan. It's the land mark for Bhutan with its Golden spires and bells standing out.
The ancient capital of Bhutan Punakha is on the schedule for the afternoon. It's a steep drive through a forest of Pine and Cedar up near Dochula pass (3050 m)
Day 7 Gangtey
Today you will drive north of Punakha valley until you are dropped at a suspension bridge. After an hour hike you will reach the stupa of Khamsum Yueley Chorten perched on a hill on the opposite bank of the river. It's a pleasant walk through the forest and fields. You will be picked up at Gangtey Gompa which is over 300 years old.
There's a lot to see on the way to the Phobjikha valley. Some consider this valley as the most beautiful valley of the Himalayas. It's full of colours and birds (cranes migrate here from the north because it's much milder climate)
Day 8 Haa
This day will bring you back to Thimpu via the Pelela pass before moving further to the Haa valley via Chunzom. More scenic views of the surrounding Himalaya mountains follow before you come in Haa. The is as far west in Bhutan you will travel because the next day the journey goes back to Paro.
Day 9 Paro
The temples of AAP Chhundy, Lhakhang Nagpo and Karpo will be visited on the way back to Paro. It goes over the Chelila pass (3,720 m) where you get some spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks. As usual in Buddhist countries like Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, on the pass there will be prayer flags.
The day closes with a hike through a forest of firs, rhododendrons and conifers forest and then to Kila Goempa Nunnery. This trail from the nunnery goes all the way down into a gorge after which a ascend follows to a road where you will be picked up and drive back to your hotel.
Day 10 Paro
End of the tour.
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Visit a part of Bhutan which is open for visit. It's only a few square kilometers but worth to explore. You start in Phuntsholing.
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