On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest and Kangchenjunga, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. Although you are at the mercy of the airline computer, if possible try to sit on the left hand side of the plane for the most spectacular views. In Paro you will be met by your Bhutanese guide and taken to your hotel. There is usually time to wander around Paro township.
Sightseeing including Taksang Monastery
This morning you’ll take the walk to Taksang Monastery – the Tiger’s Nest. The monastery is perched some 2,000ft up on a cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. It’s a steep uphill walk through woods, of about 1½-2hrs, to reach a tea house (an ascent of 340m/1,125ft.) Apart from offering welcome refreshment this teahouse is one of the principle viewpoints of the monastery, and those that prefer not to climb any further can relax here whilst others have the option to continue on. If there is a particular religious gathering or VIP visit in progress, you will not be able to enter the monastery but a further half an hour’s ascent is well worth it, as it brings you to another viewpoint directly across from the monastery. If you are able to make a visit, the final section of the walk takes you from here steeply down 100m/330ft into the gorge that separates you from the monastery and then climbs back up again to reach the monastery gate. Return back to the Lodge.
Paro Valley at 7,500ft is one of Bhutan’s most beautiful and most fertile valley. Numerous shrines, fortresses and farmhouses dot the landscape and graceful willow trees grow along the edge of Pachhu river, which passes through paddy fields and farmlands. During our time here, visit the ruins of Drugyal Dzong, a fortress that protected the valley against invaders from north. Visit the beautiful 7th century Kichu Lhakhang temple, see many beautiful Buddhist wall paintings and iconography inside Dungtse Lhakhang, built in 1421. Among others you will also visit Bhutan National museum, housed in an ancient watchtower and visit Paro Rimphung Dzong, one of the most beautiful fortress /Monastery in Bhutan.
Drive to Haa (3hrs)
Today we drive to Haa valley (75 kms) via Chele La Pass, which offers magnificent views of the Himalayan Range. Overnight will be spent at the Lechuna Heritage Lodge, at 2960m. The lodge is located nearby a local temple, where you can relax and catch a glimpse of beautiful fields and the various typical farm Houses.
After breakfast, between 830 am and 9 am, begin your day by walking through the lower village of Lechuna and continue on down to the Haa Chhu (river) before crossing a quaint wooden bridge. From here the walk to the Jamte Gompa is a gradual ascent of not more than 1.5 hours through pristine forest which later opens up to the village. Visit the 300 year old plus monastery, which is presently undergoing renovation work due to earthquake damage. This is followed by a visit to a local farmers house for a cup of tea and 'zau'. The views of the southern Haa valley can be enjoyed best from here. After the tea break we will take a seldom-used animal track that connects onto to the main trail after about half an hour and continue on to the Chumpa Bridge to stop for a picnic lunch beside the river. After lunch we walk slowly through the beautiful Chuma village taking time to see the villagers at work and even have some interaction. Walking along the village path we continue on to our lodge in time for high tea. For those who are interested in looking around the Lechuna village our local guide can accompany them. The option of having a hot stone bath is open and can be arranged for before or after dinner.
Drive to Shengana (5 -6hrs)
After breakfast we shall take the lower road along first the Haa Chhu and after the confluence with the Wang Chhu, along the latter towards the capital at Thimphu, 115kms to the East a drive of about 3-4 hrs. Enroute we may stop at Dogar Dobji Dzong, a 16th century structure, built by the brother of the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kinley. Legend has it that the statue of the Guru Landrachen housed here, complained when the apostate Tibetan monarch Langdharma tried to smash it with a hammer. This dzong became Bhutan’s first jail in 1976 but has since returned to its monastic origins. Lunch at Thimpu and another 3 hours drive to Punakha, the old winter capital. Leaving Thimphu, the road climbs via a series of zigzags over the Dochu La Pass, 3,140m/10,302ft. On a clear day panoramic views can be had of the eastern Himalaya, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Puensum, 7,550m/24,770ft. The road drops down through varied forest finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley. Drive a further 12 km to the pristine village of Shengana.
The lush valley of Shengana that is nestled along the upper stretches of the Pho-chu river in Punakha. Walk through chir pine forest, rhododendron bushes and myriad of diverse flora and fauna. Visit the school nearby and the Talo Monastery.
Today’s excursion takes you to a vantage point where on a clear day you can catch a glimpse of Jhomolari and Kang Bum in the distance, picnic lunch and make your way back to the lodge.
Drive to Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu, Stopping by the impressive Punakha Dzong situated on the confluence of the Mo and Po Chuu rivers, you’ll visit Drukpa Kunley’s temple built in the centre of the Punakha Valley and called Chimi Lhakhang. It is just a short walk across the paddy field to reach this temple, built by the “Divine Madman” to celebrate his victory over the demoness of the Dochu La. Later In Thimpu In the afternoon you might choose to visit the Takin Reserve, and the late King’s Memorial Chorten, the Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, the silversmiths’ workshops, or just the farmers market.
Transfer to airport for Departure
Your guide will pick you up at the your hotel and drive you to the airport in time for your home bound flight.