Day 1 – Kathmandu Arrival
On your arrival at Kathmandu, Tribhuvan Airport, you will be met by a representative of Sacred Himalaya and taken to your hotel in the Thamel district of Kathmandu.
Day 2 – Swayambhunath Temple - Kathmandu Durbar Square
This will be the first of your sightseeing days in Kathmandu. In the morning we will head for Swayambhunath (Monkey) Temple. Swayambhunath is a UNESCO, World Heritage and one of the must see sights of the Valley. We will walk the 365 steps up to the Stupa. There is much to see, not least the three large Buddha statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, Chenrezig and Guru Rinpoche. in the park to the rear. In the afternoon we visit the Durbar square in Kathmandu
Day 3 – Kopan Monastery - Bouddhanath Stupa - Pashupatinath Temple
Our second sightseeing day in Kathmandu starts at Kopan Monastery perched majestically overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. Kopan is a little haven of serenity amongst the chaos of the Valley. We will then head for Bouddhanath, the Tibetan area of Kathmandu where the mightily impressive Bouddhanath Stupa is situated. The Stupa is the second largest Stupa in the world. In the afternoon we will make our way to Pashupatinath Hindu Temple.
Day 4 - Kathmandu - Paro (2280m)
You will be taken back to Tribhuvan airport where we will take the flight to Paro. This flight is one of the most spectacular flights you could undertake. The route takes you right by Mount Everest and includes four of the five highest Mountains in the world. After Everest (1) we see next to it Lhotse (4), next is Makalu (5) and to the east of Nepal Kangchenjunga. On arrival you will be greeted by our Bhutanese representatives who will transfer you to the hotel. In the evening, you can stroll freely in Paro town. Walking around the market and meeting with the people will be an enjoyable experience. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 5 - Paro - Thimphu (2320m)
After breakfast, you will visit the Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower that is now the National Museum. The museum has wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic display and “field of Buddhas”, which helps one to visualize while meditating. Then walk down the trail to visit the Rinpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels". It has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. You will walk downhill till the road point crossing the wooden bridge. From here you will be taken to Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest and most sacred temple in the country. After lunch, you will drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Check into hotel on arrival. Later in the evening, you can stroll in Thimphu city and absorb the lifestyle of the people. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 6 - Thimphu
After breakfast, you will visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Nunnery temple, National Institute of Traditional Medicine and Folk Heritage Museum. After relaxing lunch, you will visit Kuensel Phodrang overlooking Thimphu valley and where the Giant Buddha Dordenma statue is. This 169 feet statue is reputed to be the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world. You will then visit the majestic Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the national government. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 7 - Thimphu - Punakha (1250 m)
After breakfast this morning, enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at the 108 Stupas of the Dochu La pass (10,170 feet), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass we drive downhill through forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive in Punakha after traveling through rice fields and along the bank of Punakha River. After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
Day 8 - Punakha – Wangdue – Gangtey
After breakfast it’s a 45 min drive to Wangdue, a small town located on a ridge. Here we visit the impressive Wangdue Phodrang Dzong and the interesting local market.
After a high pass we trundle down into the beautiful Phobjikha valley, which opens before us. We enter the large courtyard and shrine hall of the restored Gantey monastery (only Nyngma monastery in western Bhutan).
Day 9 – Gantey – Trongsa
In season we visit the viewing area for a sight of the rare black cranes, which take refuge in this valley each winter.
Driving onto Trongsa we go over the high Pele-la pass with many prayers flags (it marks the boundary between western and central Bhutan). Our last stop is the huge Chendebji stupa, which sits alone on a riverside warding off evil spirits and keeping passers by safe. Here we pay our respects, absorbing it’s good wishes and protection and proceed for the final miles to Trongsa, our evenings destination.
Day 10 – Trongsa – Bumthang
This morning in the pure air we visit the Trongsa dzong, which sits along the high ridge above the town, much like a lion watching over her cubs. After crossing the small bridge leading to this fortress you climb into a new world, which you can quite freely explore.
Following this we travel to the open and relaxing mountain village of Bumthang. It is now 68 kms and we rise steeply to the Yutong-la-la Pass (3,400m), where the scenery changes to spruce and fir slopes. At Zugney we pause to watch the ladies weaving yatras, the speciality of the region. On arrival in Bumthang we check in to our hotel then explore at leisure the town or take an easy afternoon walk to Memba Tso (lake) or a longer one to the hill top where Pema Lingpa meditated.
Day 11 – Sightsee in Bumthang
Bumthang is the name generally given to a group of four valleys which lie at an altitude from 2,600 – 4,000 metres. This valley is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It is home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples – some of which, listed below, we visit today. The quiet and solace of these holy places will bring joy to your heart and rest your mind. Kurje Lhakhang : the Guru Rinpoche holy site which comprises three temples and is surrounded by 108 chortens. Jambey Lhakang : In the 7th century King Songtsen Gampo subdued a giant demoness who was trying to prevent the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. This is one of 108 temples he erected all over his kingdom. This site pins the left knee of the demoness preventing her from causing more trouble. Tamshing Lhakhang : Founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple. Jakar Dzong : Constructed in 1549 by the great grandfather of the first Shabdrung, the dzong was initially built as a monastery. Upgraded in 1646, after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power.
Jakar Dzong is now used as the administrative center for Bumthang valley, and also houses the regional monk body.
Day 12 - Bumthang – Mongar
This drive will introduce you to the more dramatic scenery of Eastern Bhutan. With spectacular views, it will take about seven hours. We first pass through beautiful Ura village then climb sharply to the highest motor road pass in Bhutan, Thrumshingla (4000m). We then descend to the alpine valley of Sengor where bamboos and ferns overhang the roadway as we drop to the valley floor. The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. We climb again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets till we reach Mongar town.
Day 13 - Mongar – Tashiyangste
After a leisurely breakfast we visit Mongar Dzong, Yagang Lahkang and the Community Farming Centre. We may even see the brewing of wine from corn.
After lunch we head for Tashiyangtse. En-route we visit the historical Gom Kora Chorten (stupa) - a popular pilgrimage site where Guru Rimpoche meditated and subdued a massive demon. Every spring the Gom Kora Festival is held here. On arrival in the quiet and lovely town of Trashiyangtse we visit the local dzong and Chorten Kora (stupa).
Chorten Kora was constructed in 1740 and it is said to be a replica of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandhu, Nepal. There are only two other replicas – one in Tibet and one in Arunachal Pradesh. Gom Kora also has an annual masked dance festival that is well worth a visit. Tashiyangtse is famous for woodcarving. There is an area where the black cranes may fly in annually from Tibet. We may, if time permits, visit the Institute for training in traditional arts and crafts.
Day 14 - Tashiyangtse – Trashigang
Trashigang is about a 3 hour drive. It is the second largest district in Bhutan and the main market place for the East, including people from Merak & Sakten. You will recognize them by their unique little yak hair hats and yak leather coat.
From Trashigang we take an excursion to the village of Radi and visit the weavers. We travel back to Trashigang and visit its impressive dzong - a 17th century fortress standing at the extreme end of the spur, overhanging the Gamri River.
Day 15 - Trashigang – Samdrup Jongha
Early morning breakfast, drive out of the high ranges into the thick jungles to Samdrup Jonghar (6 hours). Along the way we pass by Sherubste, the first college of the country in Kanglung, then we go on to Khaling to the National Institute for the Disabled and the Weaving Centre. (we need to have made application in Thimphu to visit) From here, it is a further 80 km. to Deothang, which is the site of a famous 19th century battle in which the forces of Jigme Namgyal defeated the British. The road then descends to the plains.
Day 16 – Leave
After breakfast we transfer to the Indian border and Guwahati, capital of India’s Assam, for your flight to onward destination.