Bhutan Karma Trails

Happiness Kingdom - 7Days

Day1: Arrive at Paro; Transfer to Thimphu (1hrs, 43miles distance, Altitude 7136ft)
(Highlights: School visits and interaction with students and teachers)

Your Bhutan visa is part of the tour cost that will be arranged by your tour operators. A copy of your Bhutan visa approval document will be emailed to you in advance which you will need while boarding flight to Paro, Bhutan. After completing immigration and custom formalities, you will exit the airport and meet your guide and driver outside the terminal. After brief introduction, you will drive to a neat tourist standard restaurant for welcome tea and then discuss briefly about the programs for the trip. Next to the National Museum.

Kyichu Lhakhang (temple) which is one of the 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet miraculously built in a single night in the 7th century in order to subdue a demoness!

Later visit the Karma Lekshey Jugney Nursery and meet the students. Activities here include; Teaching basic nursery rhymes and student’s interactions are some of the. Enjoy a warm cup of tea with the students and Ani (nun) Kencho and other volunteer teachers who looks after these students selflessly. Most of the students here are 4-12yrs old and come from poor family background and some without parents. These are private schools therefore receive very less support from the governments as a result during your visit a small contribution will build a brighter future of this underprivileged students. (Note: when you visit a family or any schools, it is customary to give some presents such as school supplies for school, groceries for the hostel or anything handy that is useful for the student education).

Evening drive to the capital city, Thimphu (1hrs, 44miles). Home to over 90,000 residents is one of the two capitals in the world without traffic lights. En-route, stop to walk the ancient Iron Bridge at Tamchog Lakhang maintained by his descendants. The King’s Memorial Chorten which was dedicated to the third king of Bhutan. This is an impressive shrine, with shining gold spires, tinkling bells, and an endless procession of devotees around it. Next drive to Buddha Dodenma at Kuensel Phodrang overlooking Thimphu valley sits a 61m tall statue probably the largest statue of its kind in the world.
Late evening, you will visit the impressive Trasichoe Dzong. This fortress of the glorious religion is the administrative and religious center of Bhutan. The fortress houses the Royal Throne, National Assembly, and the seat of the Chief Abbot of the central monastic body.

Note: Schools, Arts and crafts store and some Institute will remain closed in the month of July, December, January to first week of February as a result chances for school visits are less)

Organic dinner will be arranged at a Folk Heritage restaurant outside the hotel. On your way back to the hotel you will have a chance to click the spectacular Tashichoe Dzong all lighted up at nighttime.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu
Meals: Lunch/Dinner

Day2: Thimphu City Capital Tours and Hiking

After morning breakfast, visit the Weekends Market(Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday), is probably the largest domestic market in the country. Next to the market is the Changlimithang Archery Stadium, on government holidays or weekends you will normally find people playing archery as leisure among friends or even tournaments as well. Takin Preservation Centre(closed on Monday), at Motithang followed by Zilukha Nunnery which is a residence of 40-65 nuns. The main shrine at the Nunnery is dedicated to the famous saint, Drubthob Thang Thong Gyalpo, popularly known as the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas. The Painting School a.k.a Zorig Choesum, operates four- to six-year courses that provide instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts. Students specialize in painting (furniture, thangkas – painted religious pictures, usually on canvas), woodcarving (masks, statues, and bowls), embroidery (hangings, boots, clothes) or statue-making (clay). The craft demonstrations are a photographers’ dream and it’s hard not to be impressed with the skill and discipline of the young students. The showroom sells good-value pieces made by students. Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory etc. You may or may not visit all the attractions depending on your interest and the available time today.

Tango Goemba hiking takes about 45 minutes. The trails are well paved with stone starting from the parking lot till the Goemba. Once on the top, we will be delighted to see the impressive monastery. Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there. If the monks are at recess, we will have opportunity to chat with them and learn about their monastic lifestyle. Depending on available time and interest, we may or not visit all the sights.
Note: Please discuss the itinerary with the guide before executing the next day program cause due to unavailability of time chances are you may not be able to visit all sites (as mentioned above) in just one day.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day3: Drive to Punakha/ Sightseeing (Altitude 1850m/5925ft, 76km/51miles, 3hrs drive)

Following breakfast, we begin a scenic drive to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. As we leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually winds up through villages and pine forests to Dochula Pass(3100m/10168ft), marked by 108 Buddhist Chortens(Stupa), surrounded with the East-west highway. On a clear day, the pass offers superb panorama of the snow-capped mountains and the valleys. The descend after the pass is very interesting as you can see the road drops slowly through the changing vegetation to the sub-tropical lowlands of the Punakha and Wangdue Valleys.

After lunch, we visit the stunning Punakha Dzong, probably the most impressive of all the Dzong (fortress) architectures of Bhutan. Today it serve as the winter residence of the Central monk bodies led by the chief abbot moves there from the capital. Next, we proceed for a pleasant hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – about 45minutes up, but only 30 minutes down. The Chorten (stupa) shaped temple is situated atop a beautiful hillock overlooking the valley dipped into beautiful rice paddy fields. Built by the Queen Mother, and is an example of Bhutan’s finest traditional architecture.
(Optional; Evening walk to Metsina farmers market at Lobesa)

Overnight at hotel in Punakha
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day4: Drive to Phobjikha Valley (Altitude 2980m/9536ft, 64km/43miles, 2hrs drive)

Early morning, visit the Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility. Later drive to the isolated Phobjikha Valley, a.k.a Gangtey.
From the lowlands of Punakha the road gradually climbs up through to dense oak, magnolia and rhododendron forests up to the most revered Black Mountain Range that once stood as a barrier separating the Eastern and Western regions of Bhutan in ancient times. You may take a short time-out with some tea and snacks at Nubding while appreciating the panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains including Mount Jumolhari (7326m/23443ft), on a clear sky. Onwards, continue 45mins drive to Phobjikha Valley from here.
The valley and its wet-lands provide natural habitat of the endangered species of Black-Necked Cranes that fly all the way from Tibetan plateau during winter in search of their roosting grounds. It’s only been a couple of years since the first electricity arrived here and the only reason being it could be vulnerable to reducing the no. of cranes arriving into the valley.
Sights to be visit; the Sarus Crane Information Center which has informative displays about the cranes and the local environment. Phobjikha Valley which is known as a sacred valley. One of the reason for this designation is, before arriving and leaving each year the Black Neck Cranes circle the local monastery three times.
Gangtey Goemba (monastery) enjoys the valley’s prime real estate, on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the entire Phobjikha valley. The extensive complex consists of the central goemba, monks’ quarters, a small guesthouse and outlying meditation centres. Much of the interior and exterior woodwork of the 450-year-old goemba was replaced between 2001 and 2008 due to a beetle-larvae infestation.
Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day5: Drive to Paro (138miles, 6hrs drive)
(Hike around the roosting grounds of the cranes/ trails hike/ Fun activities like playing archery wearing the national dress)
Pack your bags for drive to Paro. Hike start just below Dewachen hotel and from here you can walk to BetaVillage past Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen (known as old man’s beard). You will meet your transport nearby the Gantey monastery from where you will drive straight to Paro.
Afternoon in Paro, you will be wearing the Bhutanese attire for the Traditional Archery (national sport of Bhutan) match among yourself accompanied by your guide and the driver for a 30min friendly tournaments. (Optional: $20 per person to play archery as supplements)

Overnight at hotel in Paro

Day6: Tigers Nest Hike (2hrs hike, 3miles approx.)
(Highlights: Prayer flag hoisting for world peace/ Optional hot stone bath)

Breakfast at 7am, start hike 0730am to the famous Takstang Monastery, a.k.a the Tiger’s Nest. The Monastery is theatrically perched on the edge at 10000 ft high cliff above the valley floor, creating an impressive sight. Tiger’s Nest, undoubtedly is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan and a must visit place during your trip to Bhutan. The total trip up and down will take about 4 hours. It’s also possible to take pony ride about half the journey up but for the balance of the trail and return trip down, pony ride is not advisable. Self-guided tour around the traditional Paro town for souvenirs.

OPTIONAL: Traditional Herbal Bath: With advance notice, you can experience a traditional Hot Stone Bath in a farmhouse. Hot stone bath is purely a Bhutanese traditional method of curing arthritis, skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other minor diseases. Even you don’t have any of these issues, after a laborious hike of the day, you will feel relaxation from the hot stone bath. It costs around US$ 30 per person and an advance notice is required.

Overnight at hotel in Paro
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Day7: Depart