Explore the mystical Kingdom of Bhutan and be enthralled by the rich pageantry of the Jambay Lhakhang Festival
Cross over spectacular mountain ranges that separate central and western Bhutan, explore the grandest dzongs (fortresses) and temples, await the arrival of the rare black-necked crane and celebrate one of the most dramatic festivals in the spiritual heartland of the country. We travel from Thimphu to Punakha Dzong, through the marshlands of Phobjikha Valley, cross Pele La in the Black Mountains to arrive in the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang. Here we discover the rich pageantry and festive atmosphere of the Jambay Lhakhang Festival, with unique masked performances, fire ceremony and ritualistic naked man dance.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Paro – Bhutan|
9 November 2019 – 21 November 2019
Similar date in 2020
|DURATION||13 days/12 nights|
|PRICES per person|
AU$5,990 twin share rate
AU$7,940 single rate
|GROUP SIZE||2-12 Guests|
Join Paro, transfer to Thimphu (54km drive approx. 1hr)
Tashi Delek! Welcome to Bhutan! The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas, and on a clear day you may be rewarded with views of Mount Everest (8848m), and Mount Kanchenjunga (8586m). Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean, fresh mountain air. Thimphu is the center of government, religion and commerce in Bhutan. It is a unique city with an unusual mix of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With a population of about 90,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.
Overnight Thimphu. (L,D)
Sightseeing in Thimphu
Today we plan to explore the grand spectacles of Thimphu.
Our first stop will be the Textile Museum, where exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and colourful textiles made by women and men.
National Library: The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.
Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
Simply Bhutan Museum: This newly commissioned museum depicts the ancient Bhutanese architecture. The uniqueness of the structure is in its composition of the materials used. The structure is built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from traditional and old demolished houses. The best part is the portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people.
We break for lunch and afterwards visit the Memorial Chorten. This stupa was built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang), is located a short drive from Thimphu city center, and provides a lovely viewpoint of the Thimphu valley.
Overnight Thimphu. (B,L,D)
Drive Thimphu to the Pobjikha Valley via Dochu La (drive approx. 5hrs)
Leaving Thimphu we drive towards the east, crossing the pituresque Dochu La pass and descending into the broad and beautiful Phobjikha Valley. (B,L,D)
Explore Phobjikha Valley
The Phobjikha Valley serves as the winter home to the rare Black-necked crane that migrastes from Tibet. The brids usually arrive in October, escaping the colder months in Tibet, and returning in March/April.
The arrival of the cranes is celebrated each year by the villagers, and the birds are deeply revered as a heavenly bird (lhab-bja), co-existing harmoniously with the residents due to strong Buddhist beliefs. The lhab bja appears in Bhutanese folklore, songs, dances and historical references. We hope to witness the cranes feeding in the marshy meadow. We also visit the Gangtey Monastery today. Later, Ashi Wangmo, the younger sister of the second king of Bhutan built the Chorten Lhakhang.
Overnight Phobjikha. (B,L,D)
To Bumthang (drive approx. 5/6hrs)
Bumthang is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It is also well known for its ancient monasteries and pretty scenery. Time permitting we may visit some of the highlights of the valley which include Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the holiest temples in the kingdom, Padmasambhava Lhakhang, and Tamshing Lhakhang.
Overnight Bumthang. (B,L,D)
In Bumthang, attend Jambay Lhakhang Festival
Jambay Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Founded by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo in the 7th century AD. According to legend, Guru Rimpoche visited the site several times and deemed it as highly sacred. The first king of Bhutan, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck constructed the Dus Kyi Khorlo (Kala Chakra – wheel of time), inside the temple to commemorate his victory over his rivals from Punakha and Thimphu. Later, Ashi Wangmo, the younger sister of the second king of Bhutan built the Chorten Lhakhang. The most important relics include the future Buddha, Jowo Jampa (Maitreya). The lhakhang also houses more than one hundred statues of the gods of Kalachakra, built by the first king in 1887.
The Jambay Lhakhang Drup is one of the most spectacular fetivals in Bhutan and is held at the Lhakhang. The highlight of the festival is the ritualistic naked dance, held each evening of the 5 day event, when crowds gather to view the spectacle. (B,L,D)
To Trongsa (2.5hrs)
As we enter the Trongsa Valley, the huge fortress of the Trongsa dominates the entire landscape. It is the largest dzong in the kingdom, and like all other Dzongs was constructed in a very strategic location. The dzong commands stunning views across many miles and it is little wonder that invading forces were so well detected from its vantage point.
Overnight Trongsa. (B,L,D)
To Punakha (drive approx. 2.5hrs) Explore the Punakha Valley, Punakha Dzong & Chimi Lhakhang
Punakha Dzong is also known as the ‘Palace of Happiness’. It is a massive structure built where two rivers, the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu, converge. Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyak, it is 600 feet long and 249 feet wide, with a sprawling six-storey rectangular tower. It is the most beautiful and well known fortress connected with Bhutan’s historical traditions. The valley and Dzong was once the seat of power and politics in medieval Bhutan, and continues to be the winter residence of the central monastic body. A visit to the Punakha Dzong is most certainly a highlight of our journey, have your camera at the ready, as there are some lovely photo opportunities to be had. Later in the day we take a beautiful one-hour hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chhorten.
The chhorten was built to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world, and dominates the upper
Punakha Valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu and up towards the mountainous peaks of Ghasa and beyond.
Time permitting we will also visit the Chimi Lhakhang. Situated on a hillock in the center of the valley, Chimi Lhakhang is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that childless couples who pray at this temple, may be blessed with children. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will afford rare glimpses into the daily life of the villagers.
Overnight Punakha. (B,L,D)
Return to Paro (Approx. 125km / 4hrs) via Simtokha Dzong & National Museum
After breakfast we embark on our return journey to Paro, re-crossing the Dochu La, we trace the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro town towards the northern end of the valley. En-route we take time to visit Simtokha Dzong. A place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. The Dzong is built on a ridge surrounded by deep gullies. Its impressive and strategic position overlooks and commands the entire Thimphu valley. Simtokha Dzong has a great historical significance – Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal was one of the greatest builders of Dzongs in Bhutan. To consolidate his newly acquired domain in western Bhutan and to defend himself from both the internal foes and external enemies he started constructing Dzongs, beginning with the Simtokha Dzong. The present place where the Dzong stands is at the boundary common to three prominent western regions: Sha (Wangduephodrang), Wang (Thimphu) and Pa (Paro).
In the afternoon we visit Ta Dzong. Originally built as a watchtower, Ta Dzong houses the fascinating National Museum. Opened in 1968, its collection of fine arts, paintings and bronzes are famous. There are also textiles, jewellery, and handicrafts sections as well as galleries of stuffed animals and butterflies from Bhutan. Bhutan is famous for its postage stamps, and the stamps’ hall is always very popular with displays of 3-D stamps, record stamps, silken stamps, embossed stamps and the famous triangular stamp depicting the yeti. The top
floor of the Museum is a chapel containing a “tree” depicting the main figures of the four religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Lower down we find the Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. The fortress houses the office of the district administration and the court including the monk body. The courtyard inside the fortress is used for the Paro Tshechu, a festival conducted in the first day of spring, and another important festival in Bhutan.
Overnight Paro. (B,L,D)
In Paro, hike to Taktshang Monastery (5hrs return) & visit Drugkyel Dzong
After breakfast we take a pleasant hike up to Taktshang Monastery. The monastery is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, built into the cliff face 900 meters above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. This site has
been recognized as a most sacred place, and to be visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of the building, a not uncommon occurance in the old monasteries, however today the Dzong has been rebuilt and restored to it’s original condition.
On the return to town we visit the ruined fortress of Drukgyel Dzong, where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. In clear weather we may be rewarded with views of sacred Mount Chomolhari (7326m), known to the Bhutanese as “mountain of goddess”. Evening an exploratory walk around main street and market area. Time permitting we will also visit the, Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Overnight Paro (B,L,D)
Trip concludes in Paro
Breakfast will be served early this morning before our transfer to the airport for onward arrangements. (B)
How to Book
To ensure your place on this exciting adventure, please contact us to reserve a place 02 6355 2022 or , then complete the Adventure Associates Booking Form and return to us with your AUD 500 per person deposit.
|Deposit required per person:||AU$500 per person|
|Balance due:||75 days prior to departure|
|If booking within 74 days of departure:||Full payment must be made.|
Reservations are established when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit and Booking Form. Travel insurance is strongly recommended at the time of booking.
Cancellations must be advised in writing to Adventure Associates. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations of airlines, coach and tour operators, hotels and other principals involved. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable charges will apply.
|More than 100 days prior to departure||Full loss of deposit per person|
|Between 74 and 31 days prior to departure||75% of tour cost per person|
|On or within 30 days prior to departure||No Refund|
If the cancellation charge is more than your advance payment you remain liable for the difference. For these and other reasons mentioned above you are strongly recommended to take out Travel Insurance. Once the Land Tour has departed there will be no refund for any unused portions of the trip.