Tergo Travels, Bhutan

Tergo Travels, Bhutan

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Who says that senior citizen cannot visit Bhutan. Eleonora Kastner visited Bhutan in 2011 and she was 101 years old. Bhutan is proud to say that family values still exist and we have a lot of respect for our elders and senior citizens. It is not common to see three  generation living together. This itinerary is a mixture of cultural, historical and religious experience with some walks through the beautiful forests of Bhutan. You can also include festivals if you are around festival time or visit Phobjikha to see the rare black necked cranes during the season. This itinerary also has short driving distance since we are covering only the western Bhutan to prevent long tiring drives through Bhutan’s winding roads.

9 nights 10 days

US$ 5,120 for 2 (twin sharing accommodation)

US$ 5,660 for 2 (separate accommodation)

Day 1                                     Arrival at the Paro International Airport

Druk Air flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills, each flight is a mesmerizing feat and offers exciting descent into the Kingdom. On arrival at the airport, you will be received by our guide and the driver with a car.

Visit the Ta Dzong

Located in a former tower (Ta Dzong means Watch Tower in Dzongkha) above the Rinpung Dzong, the museum displays artifacts from Bhutan’s history as well as examples of indigenous flora and fauna.

Visit the Rinpung Dzong

This fortress is also known as the “fortress of the heap of jewels”. It was built in 1646. The approach to this Dzong is through a traditional covered cantilever bridge. A walk through the bridge to the Dzong, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it.

Visit Druk Choeding Monastery

This town temple was built in 1525 with the seated Jampa (Future Buddha) as its main statue. One of Bhutan’s protector deities, Gyenyen, is also present with a collection of old Bhutanese shields and weapons.

Night halt in Paro

Day 2 Visit the Kichu Lhakhang

This is one of the oldest monasteries built in the 7th century to subdue the ogress that lay across the whole of the Himalayas. There is another monastery which is said to be built on the same day called Jambay Monastery in Bumthang. It is believed that Kichu was built over her left foot.

Visit the Drugyel Dzong

This Dzong, with a delightful village, nestling at its foot was built in 1646. The Dzong caught fire in 1951 and now it remains only as a ruin. This Dzong was built at a strategic point where the route from Tibet enters the Paro valley. On a clear day, one can see the beautiful view of the majestic mountain from the village below the Dzong.

Visit Dumtse Lhakhang

Dumtse Lhakhang was built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. Its three floors represent hell, earth and heaven and the murals inside are said to be some of the finest in Bhutan. Thangtong Gyalpo was a Tibetan saint who was believed to make use of iron in making suspension bridges. He built 108 bridges in Tibet and Bhutan. Unfortunately the last iron bridge built by him in the eastern Bhutan was washed away in 2004.

Visit the Ugyen Pelri Palace

Built in 1930, this Palace used to be on wheels and was known as Palace on Wheels

Night halt in Paro

Day 3 Trek to Taktsang (Tiger’s nest) – 3 hours walk one way

Please note that one cannot/doesn’t leave Bhutan doing the Tiger’s nest. We can provide riding ponies (up to a certain level and thereon it is not safe to be on a horse. If you find the walk arduous you can hike up to the viewpoint.

Constructed in 1692, Taktsang is one of Bhutan’s most famous monasteries.  It is perched on the mountainside at an elevation of 3,120 metres (10,200 feet).  Taktsang meaning “Tiger’s Nest” was named after the legend where Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tigress before finally landing at the very spot that Taktsang was built.

Witness archery match (if tournament is on)

Archery is the national game of Bhutan. Nearly all villages in the kingdom have an archery range. The game consists of two teams in traditional dress shooting at small wooden targets placed 140m apart. Tradition has it that women are not allowed to touch an archer’s bow, and it is believed to decrease performance if an archer sleeps with a woman the night before a contest. The traditional Bhutanese archery equipment is a long bamboo bow. Most archers nowadays use a state-of-the-art carbonite Hoyt brand bow with a complicated-looking pulley system that releases the arrows with tremendous speed.

Stroll in Paro Town

Hot stone bath and dinner in a farmhouse

Hot-stone-bath is a popular form of medication practiced in Bhutan since time immemorial. There is no recorded history of its origin. Bhutanese believe that hot stone bath cures illness related to muscular disorders and joint pains. It is also considered a luxury and a treat in the modern times.

Night halt in Paro

Day 4                                                 Drive to Thimphu (1 hour drive)

Thimphu became a town in 1961 and is the capital of Bhutan. Today the city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chuu river valley, with several government offices located around Trashichho Dzong.

Enroute visit Tamchhog Lhakhang and Iron Bridge, Chuzom

This monastery is next to the Parochhu (Paro river) and you will need to cross a traditional bridge to get to this monastery. The traditional bridge was re-constructed 2005 using some iron from the last bridge (in Eastern Bhutan and washed away in 2004) and some iron ore from the nearby place. His descendents maintains this monastery.

Enroute visit the Botanical Garden in Babesa

This garden is located overlooking Babesa village. This place is a gathering place for many local residents for either picnicking or for enjoying the garden.

Visit the Weekend Market

Every Friday to Sunday many farmers and small business vendors gather on the bank of the river Thimchu where the weekend market is located (now known as the Centenary Farmers’ Market). It is an interesting place to visit and mingle with the locals. You can also walk across the river over a bridge to buy souvenirs from the vendors.

Visit the National Memorial Chorten

This chorten or stupa serves as a gathering for the young and old. This stupa was built in 1974 by Her Majesty Ashi Puntsho Choden Wangchuck in memory of her late son, Bhutan’s third King, who is popularly regarded as the Father of Modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the stupa provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Night halt in Hotel Druk , Thimphu

Day 5                                     Hike Tango Monastery (1 hour walk)

The Tango Monastery was founded in 12th century and is dedicated to the body, mind and speech of one of the founders of Buddhism in Bhutan. Situated to the north of Thimphu, it is about 30 minutes drive and then an hour walk through a beautiful forest. You can get to see families of monkeys as you walk uphill.

Visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum

“Zorig Chusum” means the Thirteen Crafts. To preserve Bhutan’s invaluable heritage and to promote arts, the Government initiated this institute in 1971.The thirteen arts and crafts comprises of: painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, black-smiting, bamboo work, gold and silver-smiting, weaving, embroidery, masonry, leather-work and paper-making. The institute teaches students the Thirteen Crafts. They also learn to understand the traditional meaning and spiritual values enshrined in Buddhist art.

Visit the Folk Heritage Museum

This museum is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programmes and documentations of Bhutanese rural life. The principal exhibit in the museum is a restored three-storey traditional building rammed with mud and timber which dates back to the mid 19th century. In order to present a typical Bhutanese rural setting and flavor, paddy, wheat and millet fields, a traditional watermill (with mill stones that date back to more than 150 years), traditional style kitchen gardens with vegetables that were grown and consumed over hundreds of years, and the famous traditional hot stone bath complement the museum building and the exhibitions within.

Stroll in Thimphu town (handicrafts shops, goldsmith’s workshops and visit to the incense factory)

Night halt in Thimphu

Day 6                         A short hike to the Wangditse Goempa and nunnery from Sangaygang (Telecommunication Tower)

This short hike of about 3.7 km for about 1.5 to 2 hours. You will get excellent views of the Dzong and the Thimphu valley.

Visit the Trashichho  Dzong

Trashichho Dzong is the centre of government and religion, site of King’s throne room and the seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1961 in traditional Bhutanese manner, without any nails or architectural plans.

Visit the National Library

The National Library is a major scriptural repository with a number of important functions dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rich and religious heritage in the country. The national scriptures and documents are fundamental sources for Bhutanese history, religion and culture. The National Library was established in 1967 with the primary objective of collecting and preserving mainly ancient Bhutanese written and printed resources. It accommodates a sizeable and a steadily growing stock of book, scriptures and written documents as well as a huge amount of wood printing blocks for religious books.

Visit the Textile Museum

The textile museum showcases the vibrant and beautiful textiles of Bhutan. Apart from the textiles, the museum also showcases the crowns of Bhutan’s kings, dresses and other accessories which were used by the members of the Royal Family.

Night halt in Thimphu

Day 7                         Travel to Wangdue

Enroute stop at the Dochula Pass

La” means pass in Bhutanese.  The mountain pass of Dochula offers you a view of the chain of Himalayan Mountains ranges on a clear sunny day. The 108 chortens were built under the initiative of Her Majesty the Queen Mother to honor His Majesty the 4th King’s and his people for their victory in the war fought in the southern Bhutan in 2003 and for the benefit of all sentient beings. This pass is at a height of 3,140 metres and is the first pass in the western region.

Enroute visit the Royal Botanical Garden, Lamperi

This Botanic Park with 125 acre forms one of the critical biological corridors connecting the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park. This park boasts of 46 species of rhododendrons and some rare species of monal pheasants, blood pheasants, musk deer, tiger, leopard, red panda and the leopard cat. The Lamperi area was declared a botanical park on April 13, 2005, because of its rich ecosystem diversity. It has cool broad leaf forests, mixed conifer forests, fir and sub-alpine forests and the temperate rain forest with hundreds of species of fauna.

Short walk to the Chimi Lhakhang (Shrine of Fertility) – 40 minutes’ walk

Chimi Lhakhang is a small 15th century temple famous for its fertility endowments due to the blessings of lam Drukpa Kinley, the divine mad man. A wooded effigy of Drukpa Kinley’s male organ is used to bless pilgrims, particularly childless couples.

Visit the Khamsum Yuellay Chorten (1/2 an hour walk)

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha valley. Built over a period of 9 years, it is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. Built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, this temple is dedicated for the well being of the kingdom and the benefit of all sentient beings

Night halt in Wangdue

Day 8                         Visit the Wangdue Dzong

The Wangdue Dzong sits atop a high ridge between 2 rivers, the Punatsang Chhu and the Dangchhu. Legend says while people were searching for a site for the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying in four directions. This was considered an auspicious sign representing the spread of Buddhism in four directions.

Travel to Phobjikha (3 hours drive)

Phobjikha is a glacial valley. This place is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country due to the Black Necked Cranes which migrate from Tibet to this place in the winter.

Visit the Gangtey Goempa

This Nyingmapa monastery was built in 1613. The monastery is looked after by 100 or so lay monks. The monastery consists of the central temple, monks’ quarter, meditation centres, schools and a guest house.

A 1.5 hours hike on Gangtey Nature Trail

Visit the Black Crane and Information Centre (if you are lucky the cranes might be still around).

Night halt in Phobjikha

OR

Witness a festival (Drubchen /Tshechus)

Drubchens are Buddhist religious festivals where masked dances depicting events from the life of Padmasambhava, the eighth century Nyingmapa Buddhist teacher (second to Buddha), and stories of other saints are staged. In Bhutan, Padmasambhava is known as ‘Guru Rimpoche’. The dances are performed by trained monks and laymen wearing costumes that depict the creatures that you can expect to meet after death.

Day 9                         Travel to Paro

There will be some sightseeing arranged for this day depending on the travel duration.

Night halt in Paro

Day 10                       Departure