Bhutan

10-Day Beyond the Clouds Walking Tour

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Tour type

Tour Level: High Level

Tour Comfort: Standard

Tour Period: 10 Days

Tour Highlight

  • Watch traditional Bhutanese cooking and farming demonstrations
  • Explore the stunning Phobjikha Valley, winter home of the black-necked crane
  • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900 metres above the valley floor
  • Cross the scenic Dochula, Pelela and Kaychela Mountain Passes
  • Visit the Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, home to several endangered species

tour details

This unique 10-day walking experience will take you to historical sites and natural wonders in Bhutan only accessible on foot. Visit stunning, isolated wilderness, rarely visited monasteries, remote and peaceful villages as well as high passes offering breathtaking mountain scenery. Gain a true experience of traditional life with an afternoon spent as a guest in a village. Additionally, throughout the journey, you’ll also explore the highlights of Bhutan’s culturally rich western valleys of Paro, Punakha and Thimphu and the glacial Phobjikha Valley.

After arriving at the Paro International Airport, a representative of Diethelm Travel Bhutan will welcome you in a traditional Bhutanese manner by offering you a 'khadar' or greeting scarf. The tour commences with a drive to Thimphu Valley, home to the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Urbanisation began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built and yet it still maintains its ethnic architectural style.Check into your hotel, enjoy lunch and then begin your sightseeing tour with a visit to Changangkha Temple. Built in the 15th century by Lama Phajo Drigom, this temple lies on a hilltop commanding the Thimpu Valley and contains ancient scriptures and thankas. Next, visit Memorial Chorten, one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu and a centre of worship for religious people. Continue to Kuensel Phodrang, which has the world's tallest Buddha statue. From the viewpoint, enjoy a beautiful view of the capital city of Thimphu. Then, visit the Takin Preserve to see Bhutan's national animal, a rare bovid mammal that only lives in Bhutan followed by a drive up to the BBS Tower for a magnificent aerial view of Thimphu Valley. In the early evening, go to the buzzing Centenary Farmer's Market. Built in 2008, the two-storey market structure has more than 450 stalls selling vegetables, fruits, meats and other farm products. Vendors from all over the country come here to sell their produce. The market is open six days a week except for Wednesday. Across the Wangchu, over a traditional ‘Bazam’ cantilever bridge, vendors also sell handicraft items. In the evening, visit the 13th-century Tashichho Dzong, which houses His Majesty’s Throne Room and is the summer home to the Monastic Body. Then enjoy free time to visit Thimphu before settling down for the rest of the night.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
Enjoy a morning drive through Thimphu's countryside to the Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in Bhutan. The park is home to several endangered species including the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. More than 300 species of birds have been catalogued within the park, too. Then, begin a walk from the small village of Dodena, crossing a covered bridge over the Thim River and steadily climbing to Cheri Goemba, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view over the Thimphu Valley. Built in 1620, the monastery is sacred because it contains the ashes of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan. It is also where the first community of monks in Bhutan was established and it contains beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints.Afterwards, descend back the way we came, keeping our eyes open for the 'goral' wild goat that are often spotted on the cliffs nearby. Back at the village of Dodena, have a picnic lunch along the scenic Thimphu River. After lunch, follow a riverside trail via Begana to Cabesa, home to the Choki School of Arts. This private school provides free education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to Bhutanese children who are unable to attend or complete their formal education. After visiting the school, continue along the riverside trail and pass through small rural villages before returning to Thimphu.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
Depart Thimphu and drive roughly 45 minutes to the Tashigang Monastery, which was built in 1786 by the twelfth Je Khenpo. The hike begins with a two-hour gradual uphill climb to the 18th-century Lungchutse Lhakhang. The picturesque route passes through forests of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, firs, hemlocks and bamboos and occasionally meadows used as yak pastures. The view from Lungchutse Lhakhang over the entire Bhutan Himalaya and its snow-covered peaks is amazing. Then, walk downhill for about an hour until reaching the Dochula Pass, a wonderful sight marked by 108 chortens. On a clear day, experience an incredible view of Himalayan peaks. Then, meet your van and drive for about an hour and a half down into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley before checking into the hotel.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Punakha.
In the morning, visit the 1637 Punakha Dzong situated at the joining of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu Rivers. It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo as well as hundreds of monks who moved en masse from Thimphu in search of warmer weather. The three-storey main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture. Its most prominent characteristic is the four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver.Afterwards, drive to the village of Yabesa and hike through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a three-storey chorten that stands on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang roughly six miles from Punakha. It is home to incredibly complex images and symbols that belong to the Nyingmapa tradition. Next, take a picnic lunch along a picturesque riverside before driving to Lobesa for a pleasant walk through small hillside villages. Here you will visit a farmhouse and see traditional Bhutanese cooking and farming demonstrations. This includes milking a cow followed by churning milk and making cheese and butter. Additionally, brew local wine or 'ara' and prepare the national dish, 'Emadasti'. Afterwards, walk down through terraced rice fields to the main road where your vehicle awaits.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Punakha.
Eat breakfast and then take a morning drive towards Trongsa, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. On the way, visit the beautiful Chendebji Chorten, which was built in the 18th century. As you approach the town around a curving bend in the road, gaze upon the imposing Trongsa Dzong across a deep canyon.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Trongsa.
After breakfast, transfer to Phobjikha Valley, which is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valley and one of the most picturesque valleys in all of Bhutan. Along the winding mountain road to the valley, pass through oak and rhododendron forests. This is also the winter home of the black-necked cranes, which migrate from the Tibetan plateau. From November to March, there is the incredible opportunity to view the majestic black-necked cranes at the Phobjikha Sanctuary. Also visit Gangtey Gompa, which dates back to the 16th century and is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Phobjikha.
Drive to Longtey Village, which is located beyond the Pelela mountain pass and begin a gradual climb through the thickets of dwarf bamboos, birch, rhododendron, hemlock and fir that are rich with diverse birdlife. Reach the Kaychela Mountain Pass, which is marked with prayer flags. The other side of the pass is mostly meadows and it’s all downhill to Gangtey through the long and beautiful stretch of meadows and farms.ORHike the Shasila Trail, which is used by the people of Sha Ngawang and Chitokha to migrate between their summer and winter homes. It was also an important trail used by the Gangtey Truelku and his followers in the past For casual trekkers, it takes between three to four hours to walk from Phobjikha to Kheylaykha. Your driver will then meet you on the road and take you to Wangdue.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Wangdue.
Drive back to Paro over the Dochula mountain pass via Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Thimphu. Afterwards, drive back to Paro and visit Semtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan. Time permitting, include a visit to Tamchhu Lhakhang, which was built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the so-called Iron Bridge Builder.Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro.
After an early breakfast, take a short drive to a road point where the hike begins to the famous Taktsang Monastery. Also known as 'Tiger's Nest', Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and is built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around three hours. Lunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point.In the afternoon, visit Drukgyal Dzong. Now in ruins, it was once strategically built over the only passage into Paro Valley. It helped to prevent numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history, beginning in 1646. In clear weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari that marks the frontier with Tibet appears as a backdrop to Drukgyal Dzong. Then, visit a local farmhouse and see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical three-storey style. The ground floor is used for cattle and the top floor is used for drying hay whilst the family lives on the middle floor. Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro
Enjoy your last breakfast with your guide and then ride back to the Paro International Airport and board your onward flight. Tashi delek!

Includes

  • All private transfers, Hotel accomodation and transportation inclusive of taxes during the entire tour
  • Meals as stated in the programme B= Breakfast, L= Lunch & D= Dinner
  • Transfers and tours with English-speaking guides in private air conditioned vehicles
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the programme
  • Mineral water available in the vehicles
  • Visa fees at US$40 per person

Excludes

  • Domestic airfare (quoted separately, if requested)
  • International airfare to / from Lao (quoted separately, if requested)
  • Optional tours
  • Surcharges for other language guides
  • Surcharges for Lao Pimai (New Year)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal expenditures, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities, etc.
  • Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
  • Drinks with meals
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking or when available
  • Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the programme
Tour code: BCWT10

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