The flight to Paro is an experience like no other. During the journey, you will get inspiring beautiful glimpses of some of the worlds most famous Himalayan peaks. At the airport, Sakten staff will welcome you and escort you to your hotel. Drive up to your hotel, check in and begin the sightseeing with Ta-Dzong, the National Museum (closed on Sundays and Mondays), which was originally the watch tower of the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan. Ramble down to visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the 'fortress of the heap of jewels' and on to Dungtse Lhakhang by crossing Namai zampa (a traditional cantilever bridge). This Lhakhang is conceived as a 'mandala' with the different storeys corresponding to different levels of initiation and has a remarkable collection of some of Bhutan's most interesting paintings. Overnight: Hotel in Paro.
The main highlight of the day is the hike to one of Bhutan's most venerated pilgrimage sites, the Taktsang Goemba, commonly referred to as the 'Tiger's Nest'. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 m above the valley, Taktsang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever. On the way back, stop at one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the Kyichu Lhakhang built in the 13th century by the famous BuddhistBhutanan king, Songtsen Gampo . Evening: Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Paro town. Overnight: Hotel in Paro.
Drive up to the road end at Drugyel Dzong where the trek begins. Drugyel Dzong (the ruined fortress -17 km from the town), built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Bhutanans in 1644 lies at an altitude of 2580m. Drukgyel means 'fortress of the victorious Drukpas'. The first three days of the trek follow the Paro river valley climbing gently with only a few short, steep climbs over side ridges. The trail follows the river gently uphill through narrowing valley and agricultural fields. The night's camp is just beyond an army outpost. O/n Camp.
The trail continues its gradual climb along side the Paro Chhu through conifers and rhododendron. In places it is quite close to the river; if the water is high you might have to climb over a few small hills to get around places where the water has flowed onto the trail. About 15mins beyond Shana Zampa are the remnants of an old bridge with a house and a chorten on the other side. At this point the route enters Jigme Dorji National Park. The trail makes a continuous, but gentle, climb on a rocky trail through oaks, rhododendron and ferns, crossing several small streams. About two hours from camp is Shing Karap, a stone house and a clearing at 3110 m. This is where most guides choose to serve lunch. After a few gradual climbs, you will cross a bridge across which lies a lovely meadow with Jhomolhari looming at the head of the valley.There is a small stone shelter and a Bhutanese-style house in a cedar grove at the edge of the meadow O/n Camp.
The trek starts up the Pa Chu. An army outpost is crossed along the way. The valley begins to widen again. All around high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks come into view. Yaks and yak herders' winter homes become a regular feature of the landscape. The night camp is beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mt. Chomolhari O/n Camp.
Trek upto Tsophu or hike around the area. There are good hiking trails in three directions. Jumolhari and it subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jitchu Drake to the north and a number of uncalled peaks to the east. O/n Camp.
The remainder of this trek crosses two high passes. If you are having problems with the altitude at Jangothang, don't go to Lingzhi. Trek through wide yak pastures and up and down passes. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on a clear day. Tsarim Kang and its glaciers rise at the north end of the valley. Night halt is a choise between a stone hut or the tent. O/n Camp.
The trail climbs up to the Yalila pass at an altitude of 4820 m. From the pass, you can get an excellent view of Mt. Chomolhari, Tserim Gang and masagang on a clear day. The trek from the pass to camp site at Shodu is steep down hill. Camp can be made in a stone shelter or in tent. O/n Camp.
The trail winds up and down gently along the Thimphu chu through a steep - walled canyon with cliffs to the north and a cypress forest to the south. The route crosses the river six times on bridges built of huge logs, eventually ending up on the left bank. It makes a gradual climb for one hour to Barshong, where there is a community hall and the ruins of a small Dzong. The designated camp is just below the ruins at 3680 Mts, but it is in a swampy meadow and most groups select to continue down to an another meadow on a lower ridge. O/n Camp.
The trail descends gently through a dense forest of Rhododendrons, Brich and Conifers, and then drops steeply to meet the Thimphu chu. It stays on river left, climbing over ridges and descending to side streams. It traverses steep cliffs to Dolam Kencho, a camp among pasture land at 3430 m. O/n Camp.
The trail goes in and out of side valleys above the Thimphu chu, making a long ascent through a forest of conifers and high altitude broad leaf species to a pass at 3510 m. Langurs (monkeys) can be seen along the way. The trail then drops steeply to the river and follows it southward to the road ahead at Dodina, elevation 2600 Mts, just opposite to the bridge that leads to Chari Gompa. Drive to the hotel in Thimphu. Hot shower and dinner at the hotel. O/n Hotel in Thimphu.
Morning, visit the Memorial Chorten, the Changangkha temple, the Institute of Traditional Medicine and the Thimphu Hospital. Also visit the post office town to see/buy a wondrous collection of Bhutanese stamps and postcards. In the afternoon visit the Folk Heritage Museum, the Institute of Arts and Crafts, the National Library and the Paper factory. Drive up to the BBS tower view point and enjoy the stunning view of the entire Thimphu town. On the drive back, stop at the mini Takin zoo (Takin is the national animal of Bhutan). Visit "the fortress of the glorious religion", TashichhoeDzong. It's a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan's government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of his majesty the king and the ministries of home affairs and finance. On the drive back, you will pass the only golf course in the country. Ramble along the numerous handicraft stores in town in the evening to check out intricately woven Bhutanese textiles and exclusive handicrafts which you can take back with you as a souvenir of your trip to Bhutan. Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu.
Drive on to the beautiful valley of Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. After a dramatic one hour drive, the zigzag course of the road brings you to Dochula, a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) with its fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens. On a clear fine day, you will also get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around. The remaining part of the drive is mostly a gradual descent into Punakha valley. Check in to your hotel in Punakha and begin the sightseeing. Start with the Punakha Dzong, strategically built between the two rivers, the Phochu (male river) and the Mochu (female river), the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo (the religious leader of Bhutan). This is followed by an evening hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten, a three- storey shrine built by the Queen of Bhutan. It's a brief 30-40 min walk uphill through terraces of paddy fields, chilly plantations etc. Drive to the small town of Wangduephodrang. Right before arriving Wangduephodrang you will catch a glimpse of the very distinctive Rinchengang village whose inhabitants are all celebrated stonemasons. Visit the impressive Wangduephodrang Dzong built in 1638 A.D. On the way back stop at the bride and take a short hike(45 min walk) to the Rinchengang village.This is a very unique and interesting village with all the houses clustered together like a Bhutanan village. Here you can visit some village houses to see how the people live here. Return back to Punakha. Overnight: Hotel in Punakha.
Visit Chimi Lhakhang in the village of Lobesa (20 mins from Punakha), the auspicious fertility temple built by the famous divine madman. It's a beautiful 30 min walk amidst paddy fields and typical Bhutanese houses. Stop at some of the local village homes here to get a feel of the traditional Bhutanese way of living. The temple is beautifully perched on a small hill top overlooking the entire village. On the way back, stop for picnic lunch. In Paro, check in to the hotel and some last minute shopping. Evening: Enjoy a relaxing traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath at the hotel. Overnight: Hotel in Paro.
END OF THE TOUR.