Day 1: Arrival in Paro, Paro to Thimphu
Arrive in Paro by druk air, the only national carrier. The flight offers you beautiful view of mountains and landscapes. Upon arriving the Paro Valley and after completing visa formalities, you will be met by Gawaling Tours & Treks’ representative at the airport. We will then drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The journey would take us one and half hours.
Upon arriving Thimphu, we will visit the National Painting school to see the young men and women at work in the production of handicraft items. Some specialize in mask making, some in wood curving, some in slate curving, and others in embroidery & scroll painting. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 2: Thimphu to Punakha
We drive to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan over the DochuLa pass in the morning. If the weather is clear, we will be able to see around 200 miles of Himalayan summits bordering northern Bhutan through a binocular donated by the Japanese expedition, which climbed Masagang, on the Tibetan border.
As we descend from the pass, we will notice that the vegetation changes from sub-alpine to sub-tropical. At the lower elevation, we can see banana plants, cactus and other semi-tropical plants and the green terraced rice fields of Punakha. We begin our explorations of Punakha valley with a visit to Punakha Dzong, located between two rivers. It serves as the winter residence for the central monastic body of Thimphu, as the area provides with more comfortable temperatures. The Punakha Dzong contains the body remains of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is considered as one of the holiest of the dzongs in the country. Night halt at hotel.
Day 3: Punakha to Phobjikha
We will have early breakfast and drive to Gangtey Gonpa, the seat of the Ngyingmapa Buddhism, one of the religious sects in Bhutan. The present reincarnate is the 9th descendant of Terton Pemalingpa. Next, visit Gangtey Gompa monastery and take a walk around the place. This place serves as the wintering place for endangered black-necked cranes migrating from Tibet from November to February. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Phobjikha to Paro
We will have early breakfast and drive to Paro. Stop for lunch at Thimphu and continue our journey to Paro. Upon arriving Paro, we will start exploring the Paro valley by vehicle and on foot. We will visit Ta Dzong (watch tower) which houses the National Museum. Next, drive towards the north to see the Drukgyel Dzong.
On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the two oldest monasteries built in Bhutan by the King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.
Day 5: Tiger’s Nest hike
Paro is a valley of religion and myth. The most famous landmark, the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), stands on a granite cliff about 800m above the valley. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist saint, flew to Paro on a tigress and meditated at Taktsang. The monastery is considered as a national treasure of Bhutan.
The hike to Taktsang would take us around two and half hours. To reach a cafeteria, a point from where one can enjoy a great view of the monastery is more than an hour walk from the road-head uphill. Those interested can walk further 45 minutes uphill to get a closer view of the monastery and return to the cafeteria for lunch. The journey downward to the road-head would take us less than one and half hours.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast drive to the airport for departure.