Hiking and spirituality in Bhutan

There is nothing ordinary about Bhutan, a land of mystery, tradition, spirituality and jaw-dropping landscapes. Renowned for their approach in sustainable tourism, Bhutan is perhaps one of the rare countries in the world that seems to have not been affected by the outside world.

During this 10 day holiday, you will experience superb hiking and trekking and get a better understand of the Bhutanese way of life.

Day 1: Arrival in Paro

Upon arrival into Paro Aiport you will be transferred to Punakha Valley via Thimphu and Dochu La. If time permits to visit Thimphu, the kingdom’s capital, the sightseeing begins with a tour which may include some of the following: National Memorial Chorten, Trashi Chhoe Dzong, local market, and Folk Heritage Museum. The drive onto Punakha is truly awe-inspiring as it zigzags up to the 3,140m-high mountain pass of Dochu La with its forests of fluttering prayer flags, maze of memorial chortens and, on a clear day, sweeping views of the main Himalayan range.

The drive takes approximately 4.5 hours, and upon arrival you will have time to relax in your hotel, Uma Punakha.

Stay: Uma Punakha

Day 2: Cultural excursion

You will start off your day with a gentle walk up through fields of paddies, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to the upper end of the valley to Khamsum Yuelly Namgayel, a delightful 3-storey chorten that looks down on the upper Punakhan Valley where you will have stunning views. On your way down, you will explore Punakha Dzong, a massive architectural structure erected in the 17th century and where you will hear resident monks during their daily prayers.

After lunch, take a quick drive to the village of Talo for a walk in the beautiful village. Later hike down to Nobgang “The village on Treasure Hill” visiting farm houses and meeting families. The concept of the Village Walks is to facilitate an authentic ‘underfoot’ experience and provide a ‘snapshot’ of rural life in the Himalayan Mountains of Bhutan. You will also learn about the lives of the locals. On your way back from Nobgang village to Punakha you have an option to pay a visit to Nalanda Buddhist College.

Stay: Uma Punakha

Day 3: Choten Nibu and Khabasa village

After breakfast, you will be driven to Chorten Nibu. Dating back to the 18th century, this is a little known treasure with its magnificent statue of Maitreya – the future Budha – and fine images of the great lamas of the Drukpa lineage.

In 2005 the Monastery started housing poor orphans from the nearby village and founded a small Buddhist educational institution for these little monks, a place where the children can study both traditional Buddhist scriptures and texts, and also learning Western subjects. You will hike back to hotel, which is 45 minutes away, passing through a Khabasa village with a traditional house.

Stay: Uma Punakha

Day 4: From Punakha to Gangtey

Today, you will depart Punakha to make your way towards the East, passing through villages, deep ravines with dizzying drops to the little visited Phobjikha Valley, home to the quaint rural settlement of Gangtey. Located at 3,000 metres above sea level, this glacial valley is home to the endangered black-necked cranes.

The drive is approximately 3.5 hours long

Stay: Gangtey Lodge

Day 5: Phobjikha Valley hike

This pleasurable walk will start from the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba. You head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang, the trail ends at the local community school. The Nature Trail can be combined with a visit to Gangtey Goemba and the local school. You can also choose options according to your energy level and interest.

Stay: Gangtey Lodge

Day 6: From Phobjikha to Thimpu

Today, you’ll head back to Thimphu backtracking through Punakha. It will be a full day of travelling and the journey will take about 7-8h depending on traffic. En route, you will have a lunch stop and breaks.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Stay: Taj Tashi Hotel Thimphu

Day 7: From Thimphu to Paro

You will depart in the morning and make your way to Paro. Once you’ve checked into your hotel, you will be taken on a day walk which will take you to Zurig Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong and the National Museum. You will also cross the Paro Chhu via the traditional covered bridge, Nyamai Zam, and then past the main archery ground, Ugyen Pelri Palace, and into Paro town.

Stay: Amankora Paro

Day 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest

Today we hike toward one of Bhutan’s most sacred places-the site of a Cliffside monastery and an important pilgrimage destination. Taksang (meaning Tiger’s Nest) Monastery was built atop the cave where Guru Rimpoche, the father of Mahayana Buddhism, meditated for three months after arriving in the Paro Valley on the back of a legendary tigress.

Although not an ordeal, the climb is demanding. The trail rises slowly above the valley, passing through fields, forests and by large prayer wheels turned by a stream. We continue hiking across an open meadow and up a steep trail to a ridge where prayer flags rustle in the wind. Just beyond is the Taktsang teahouse, at 9,200 feet, where we stop to enjoy a hot drink and striking views of the monastery across the valley.

Stay: Amankora Paro

Day 9: Chele La Pass and hike to Kila Nunnery

Start early for the drive to Chele La Pass which, at 3,988m is the highest road pass in Bhutan, snaking upwards through blue pine and rhododendron forests for 35 km. The two-hour hike will take you through a dense rhodendron forest and to Kila Goemba, an ancient nunnery nestled on the mountainside below, one of the seven oldest nunneries in the Kingdom.

Having made your offerings and perhaps been blessed, it is time to descend further. An hour later and you are back at the road where you can saddle up on a mountain bike and freewheel down to Paro Valley.

Stay: Amankora Paro

Day 10: Departure

Today, arrangements have been made for your transfer to the airport, in time for your return flight.

Itinerary

Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival in Paro Uma Punakha
Day 2: Cultural excursion Uma Punakha
Day 3: Choten Nibu and Khabasa village Uma Punakha
Day 4: From Punakha to Gangtey Gangtey Lodge
Day 5: Phobjikha Valley hike Gangtey Lodge
Day 6: From Phobjikha to Thimpu Taj Tashi Hotel Thimphu
Day 7: From Thimphu to Paro Amankora Paro
Day 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Amankora Paro
Day 9: Chele La Pass and hike to Kila Nunnery Amankora Paro
Day 10: Departure

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation as per itinerary
  • All meals with water, beverages on consumption
  • Daily excursions and activities
  • All museum and visitor centre entry fees and road permits
  • The services of an experienced English-speaking Bhutanese guide
  • Private airport transfers and transport in Bhutan
  • Inclusive of 10% service charge and 10% sales tax
  • All Bhutanese Government visa fees and royalties

Not Included

  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance (Compulsory)
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Accommodation early check in / Late check out
  • Personal expenses
  • All other items and travel components not mentioned in inclusions

Map

1- Punakha 2- Gangtey 3- Thimpu 4- Paro

From USD 7300 per person based on two guests travelling

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant