Marieke recently returned from Bhutan after a hiatus of four years, to reacquaint with old friends, to assess the changes and to assure you this will be the best ever version of her many previous tours and not just because Bhutan has been voted one of the most desirable destinations in 2020 for those passionate about sustainability, zero carbon, the world’s first totally organic destination and Gross National Happiness. Road infrastructure has immeasurably improved, shortening some of the once arduous, winding mountain journeys. Flights to Bumthang, the heartland of the country are now more reliable, meaning you only travel in one direction but get to touch the ‘soul’ of the country. Sumptuous properties have established, not least, the exceptional and luxurious Six Senses lodges with their emphasis on holistic well-being and local immersion – we stay at two in glorious environments. Eating used to be the least highlight, unless she sourced greens from the markets and cajoled young boys to fish – no longer the case as an intelligent sophistication emerges. The erstwhile sleepy capital Thimpu has lost much of its charm so we only pass through to pay homage to their wondrous textile traditions.
Bhutan is a country like nowhere else and a still relatively unexplored destination. For centuries, Bhutan has remained shrouded in a veil of mist and very little about it was known to the outside world until the 1970’s. This isolation has given the proud people of this country the opportunity to view the world in a unique and still spiritual way. Many consider it the last Shangri-La: an exciting, soulful, soothing and wondrously beautiful destination. This is a country that mixes tradition, myths and legends with new learning with comfortable ease. The people are inquisitive, well-educated, vibrant, fun-loving and the overall mood within the country is very relaxed, happy and welcoming. Moreover, arts and crafts are exuberantly and widely practised. Ancient skills in bronze, wood, clay, iron and silver have been preserved. Festivals, religious ceremonies, and folk traditions are represented in dance. Painting, sculpture, weaving and embroidery continue in high order. Bhutan also boasts one of the most vibrant remaining textile traditions of any country in the world.
• astounding natural beauty from high mountain passes to verdant fertile valleys
• exquisite dzongs that embody the sacred and the secular under one roof
• the last unspoiled remnants of a quickly disappearing Himalayan culture.
• gentle treks to holy sites in glorious countryside +
sumptuous, elegant lodges in beautiful environs
AT A GLANCE
LENGTH: 10 Days
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate to Active
TYPE: Bespoke | Small Groups | AoL Escorted Tours are sometimes offered
Local support: fully escorted by local English speaking guides
STYLE: Culture | Arts | Spirituality | Adventure
START | FINISH: DELHI | PARO | DELHI or
BANGKOK | PARO | BANGKOK
All meals, guides, activities, domestic flights
5* | to 6*luxury | deluxe lodges | fully equipped treks in any combination
Luxury A/C SUV | Minivan
TRAVELLING TO BHUTAN:
Druk Air flies via Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok and Singapore
March to May and September to November are the ideal times to visit Bhutan. October to December the air is clear and fresh with sunny skies. April for the famed rhododendrons. Late October and mid-February to spot the migratory, rare black-necked cranes, in the Phobjikha Valley.
Peak times are around the many Tsechu festivals when hotels are in high demand, requiring advance planning of at least 6 months
from USD4000 per person based on twin | double share
AoL Escorted tours based on a minimum of 6 guests From USD 12000 per person twin | double share
- DAY 1
Today take the flight to Paro. A fertile valley, this is the market garden of Bhutan where Buddhism first took hold. Tonight stay in the first five-star Bhutanese-owned hotel, in the hills outside Paro – an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts.
Of the many fascinating sites in Thimpu you will certainly visit the marvellous National Museum of Textiles, the National Institute for Zorig Chusum that educates young students in the thirteen traditional arts including sculpture, painting, metal work, silversmithing, the Memorial Chorten and the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre.
Enjoy the beauty and charms of Paro, easily Bhutan’s most delightful town that evokes an exotic film set. Western Bhutan boasts a most beautiful valley where nature and man consulted to create their dearest image. Mt. Chomoihari reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial waters plunge through deep gorges to form the Pa-Chu (Paro River)
Visit the Rinpung Dzong, with its cantilever bridge, the National Museum, and wander along Paro’s main streets that offer good shopping for handicrafts and local jewellery.
Today make the exhilarating trek up to Tigers Nest. Takshang Monastery is one of thirteen of the most revered Buddhist pilgrim sites in the Himalayan world. You have the option of hiking 2 hours to reach the monastery viewpoint or tackling the entire challenging but very worthwhile return trip of 5/6 hours.
For the less hardy or eager, guides will show you some of the historical highlights of Paro.
This morning fly to Bumthang, This is highly recommended to avert the need for long arduous return drives as many of Bhutan’s roads are still under widening construction. Central Bhutan is the cultural and spiritual heart of the country. The beautiful valley with numerous apple orchards and crops boasts numerous villages and goembas and weaving traditions abound, especially the distinctive and brightly coloured yethra. Visit an antique collector and the Swiss cheese factory.
Stretch your legs with a wonderful walk across prayer flag decorated bridges to reach the spectacular Wangdichholing Palace built in 1857 and Lamey Goemba. It’s not unusual to find one of the lamas in residence who may give you a special blessing.
You may also choose to visit other monasteries and temples in the valley. Jambay & Kurjey Lhakhangs are the oldest two monasteries in the kingdom. The Tamshing Monastery is home to about 90 young monks, mostly from poorer families.
The drive to Trongsa is dramatically scenic. Visit the Trongsa Dzong. Perched on a strategic position above the Mangde Chu (river), this Dzong is the ancestral home of the Bhutanese royal family and one of the most exquisitely decorated, with wonderful paintings throughout.
Today’s drive over high mountains passes through forests of blood red rhododendrons and soaring magnolias, if it is Springtime is memorable. Arrive in the breathtaking glacial valley of Phobjika on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, a designated conservation area bordering the Black Mountain National Park where large flocks of black-necked cranes come to winter. It is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the Country, and described as “the most beautiful spot in the most beautiful country in the Himalayas”. The valley boasts two meandering rivers, where you can enjoy an exhilarating walk through forests and vast meadows. The restored Goemba at Gangtey is outstanding.
Today set out for Punakha the old Capital of Bhutan till 1955 that is still the winter residence of the Monk body and the Je-Khenpo. Visit the Punakha Dzong, the second oldest Dzong built by Lama Drukpa Kunley who subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his Magic Thunderbolt of Wisdom. Punakha is possibly one of the most exquisite Buddhist monuments to be found anywhere in the world and it’s wonderful to wander amongst the monk-hood through the beautiful courtyards. If it’s festival time you’ll see the monks preparing decorations.
After a leisurely start this morning return to Paro via Dochu La (pass) at 3018 m where there are the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen.
After you check into your hotel there is time for last minute shopping, additional sightseeing or a leisurely afternoon back at your luxury hotel where a traditional hot stone bath might be the order of the day.
Your will be transferred to the airport in time for your international departure. Most flights leave in the morning. Druk Air flies via Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok and Singapore.
SUGGESTED TOUR EXTENSIONS:
Kashmir via Delhi
Your Tour Leader, Marieke Brugman. Marieke first travelled to and fell in love with Bhutan in 2003 and has led many small groups there and will again in the future.
We tailor bespoke tours for individuals and small private groups that can be as luxurious as your heart desires, might incorporate ambient lodges, or take you off on a wondrous trek for a few days. Allow at least six days to gain a taste, and up to twelve/fourteen days for a real immersion in this rewarding Buddhist destination.
With outstanding connections, Art of Living can introduce you to expert lecturers, high lamas to bestow their blessings, musicians to perform for you and excellent guides who unravel this Kingdom’s many mysteries.
We work with very professional operators who have the best vehicles, excellent drivers, and most professional guides.
GUIDES in Bhutan are professionally trained and licensed by the Royal Government of Bhutan. We work with experienced guides who speak excellent English, who are proud of their culture and able to share that in the most knowledgeable ways. They are alert to clients’ needs and will go out of their way to share their personal connections. Guides who speak other languages can also be engaged with prior notice at additional expense.
A once remote and wondrous Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan is steeped in heritage, rich ancient cultural and spiritual traditions, stunning landscapes from high snow clad mountain passes to verdant meadows and dramatic glacial valleys, warm and welcoming people and a marvellous array of arts, crafts and textiles. It also has never-ending festivals.
BOOKINGS & ENQUIRIES
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