Prayer wheels, Bhutan

BHUTAN

In Short

  • Day 1: Bangkok to Thimpu (8000 feet)
  • Day 2: Thimpu
  • Day 3: Thimpu
  • Day 4: Gangtey
  • Day 5: Gangtey
  • Day 6: Gangtey
  • Day 7: Punakha
  • Day 8: Punakha
  • Day 9: Paro
  • Day 10: Paro

An Overview

Our itinerary takes you through the main centres of Paro and Thimpu but also further into the interior of the country where you will meet locals and explore villages and the countryside. Over the course of several days, our guides and drivers will open a door to Bhutan's incredible culture and the magic of this remote Himalayan kingdom. Our picnics are on white linen, we mix the luxury resorts to give you a great experience, the archery demonstration is exclusive, we travel in SUV's not vans or buses and our access to some of the temples and dzongs (fortresses) is unique.

Cost

Contact us for a quote based on time of year and number of travelers.

The Boutique Itinerary

The first 3 nights are spent in Thimpu, Bhutan's largest city with a current population of 35,000. Our first few days in the capital will offer time to get acclimatized slowly to the altitude while enjoying morning hikes in the country side with gorgeous views over the city and a visit to the Bhutan Heritage Museum. If your arrival coincides with the week-end, a visit to the public market is not to be missed. There will be opportunities to look at the Royal Goldsmiths and the Gompa Nunnery. Come night time, you will enjoy incredible food at local restaurants and a specially organised event where government dignitaries will host you for a highly memorable evening.

The only way to explore Bhutan is by road. There is only one airport so far and no helicopter services. Even though the distances are short between two points, one has to consider there is an average of 11 bends per kilometre of road, and there is only one road....However the scenery is truly spectacular with views of the Himalayas, rhododendrons in full bloom, pine forests and steep valleys. The journey is relaxed, with plenty of stops for photography and picnics along the way. One wonders if you are in Switzerland or Austria at times. 

From Thimpu, our journey takes us to the remote Phobjikha Valley in western Bhutan. The drive takes about 5 - 6 hours, depending on the number of stops we make to soak in the scenery.   The Black Mountain National Park (of which Phobjikha Valley is part) incorporates alpine, temperate and subtropical ecosystems alike because it links up with Royal Manas National Park to the south.  The combined reserve provides a pristine habitat for various species such as tiger, red panda, Himalayan black bear, gaur, leopard cat and several bird species, including monal pheasant and four sub-species of hornbills.   We have two full days to explore the pristine environment of the valley, starting with a visit to the Crane Center to view some interesting exhibits put together by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) and to watch a brief film about the black-necked cranes. Powerful telescopes have been set up at the Center, which allow us to watch the birds without disturbing them.  Another memorable highlight is a chance to explore the impressive Gangteng Gompa and some of the local villages around the valley.

We leave Phobjikha Valley for Punakha. En route we stop at the market town of Wangdiphodrang for lunch and a look around.  The rest of the day will be spent hiking in the Punakha Valley with dramatic views of terraced paddy fields and snow-capped peaks.  The next morning is reserved to visit the incredible Punakha dzong.  This dzong was the national capital until 1966 and one of the holiest throughout Bhutan. Built in 1647, the fortress is in the final stages of renovation and it will be possible for us to visit the inner courtyards and see some of the restoration work in progress.

An early morning departure leads us to our final stop, Paro. The drive will take a good portion of the day with stops along the way for picnics and to explore villages. On our final day in Bhutan, many options are offered, f rom an energetic dawn hike to the incredible Tiger's Nest Monastery built on a narrow ledge, to a more sedate inspection of the National Museum. We will have lunch in one of the local restaurants in Paro town followed by a hike to the 7th century Kichu Lakhang (temple) and visit the very sacred Kichu temple (special permits will be obtained) where we will undergo the water purification ceremony by the head lama (monk) of the temple. Our farewell dinner is one full of surprises including a private demonstration of archery, the national sport in Bhutan, and ceremonial dances.

The final day involves packing and catching your return flight to Bangkok. This allows you time to revel in the vast amount of special memories that can be collected in what seems now, like such a short amount of time. Si Fang strives to ensure that your trip will be of the kind you never forget, and always look back on with a smile.

Please note that the Bhutanese calendar offers a wide range of ceremonial festivals across the country.  In order to witness these incredible pageants, we need to completely change the itinerary and we will discuss with you a possible Couture Trip departure based upon your selected dates.

Some Couture Trip Ideas

  • Add a two night trek across valleys and forests, escorted by guides and a complete support crew and horses including chef, tents complete with beds and hardwood floors, hot shower at end of each night and chilled sauvignon served by the camp fire.
  • A photographic expedition across the country mixing 5 star resorts and more basic accommodation lasting over 13 days with your own professional photographer as a guide.
  • A journey across the country incorporating some of the best religious festivals high in pageantry and music.

Contact Us

Email: info@sifangexpeditions.com

24 Matariki St, Dunedin 9014, New Zealand
Fax: (+0064) 3-4478-0085
Cell: (0064) 27-223-0364

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Find out more about Denis Pagé by visiting his photographic website: www.denispage.com

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