|03 Oct - 16 Oct|
Bhutan sits at the eastern end of the Himalayas sandwiched between India and the Tibetan Plateau, boasting soaring views of rugged, snow-capped mountain ranges decorated with fluttering prayer flags and dotted with ancient monasteries that cling to the rock face.
Travel on our Regent exclusive small group tour and discover an untouched mountain paradise. Crystal clear glacier-fed rivers, jaw-dropping mountain passes and soaring Buddhist temples festoon this remote Himalayan country.
Discover the laidback capital of Thimphu, stroll rural villages and trek to the symbol of Bhutan, the stunning Tigers Nest Monastery. The tour is arranged to coincide with two colourful and fast-paced festivals, or tsechus: Thimphu Tsechu located in the bustling capital of the country and the Thangbi Mani Tsechu located in the remote Bumthang Valley. Enjoy the freedom to experience a fascinating Bhutanese tradition and experience all the wonders of this little known Himalayan paradise.
Fly Druk Air to Paro, Bhutan. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest. Meet on arrival and transfer to Thimphu passing through spectacular mountain scenery. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city in the heart of the Himalayas—all the houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style. This evening enjoy a lecture from a guest speaker on the Bhutanese concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) after which there is free time to stroll around the capital city and explore the popular night markets. (B/D)
Drive to Punakha, the former winter capital. This drive takes you over the fantastic Dochula Pass which on a clear day boasts spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan mountain range. Visit the 108 Namgyel Khangzang Chortens and further on stop at Messinha: stretch those legs with a walk through paddy fields and farm houses to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple dedicated to Bhutan’s popular saint Drukpa Kuenley. After lunch drive further to visit Punakha dzong. There will also be a visit to Nalanda Buddhist College providing the opportunity to meet and interact with local monks. (B/L/D)
This morning drive to the scenic Phobjikha Valley, passing through forests of oak trees and rhododendrons. Arrive and head out for a walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, an easy walk through flower meadows and past imposing Gangtey Goemba emerging from a forest to a viewpoint of the black necked crane feeding ground. There is also the chance to visit the black necked crane information centre. Overnight Phobjikha. (B/L/D)
The scenic drive crosses the Black Mountains via the Pele la Pass before entering the broad, heavily cultivated Mangde Chhu Valley. Stop for a picnic lunch at Chendebji Chorten before continuing to Trongsa - from a distance the Dzong seems to tease you so that you wonder if you will ever reach it. Spend some time wandering around this pleasant township and late afternoon, drive to Bumthang. The journey takes about 3 hrs and crosses one of the most scenically beautiful routes in Bhutan. (B/L/D)
After breakfast drive to Thangbi Mani to attend this most colourful and sacred of festivals. Thangbi Mani festival is one of the most popular festivals held in Chhoekhor Gewog in Bumthang. The highlight of the festival is the fire blessing (Mewang) ceremony, performed in an open ground. The lay monks perform purification rituals while people jump over flames to purify themselves. Several mask dances are also performed. It is believed that the festival would bring peace and prosperity and ensure better harvest for the entire community. Remainder of the day can be spent strolling around Jakar town. (B/L/D)
Further touring will be done to any sights missed before taking the short flight back to Paro. This afternoon can be spent exploring Paro town, visit a traditional farmhouse or try out the national sport, archery. (B/L/D)
An early start today! Start the hike to Takstang, or iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery, which sits perched high on a cliff overlooking the Paro Valley. The hike is a steep walk taking 2-2 ½ hours climbing through beautiful pine forests with many trees festooned with fluttering prayer flags. Stop for light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you gain an incredible view of the Monastery perched precariously on the edge of the sheer 800m cliff!
Continue the hike up to the monastery itself from which you see fabulous views of the Paro Valley below. The hike is not technically difficult so take your time and enjoy the splendid views as you climb higher passing prayer wheels and prayer flags. From the highest point you get superb views of the monastery sitting serenely across the opposite side of the gorge. The final stretch of the hike is via the stone staircase which leads to the site itself. After lunch take a short drive to visit Drugyal Dzong which was built in a location chosen for its control over the route to Tibet. The remainder of today is at leisure. (B/L/D)
Transfer to the airport and take the short flight to Kathmandu and transfer to the hotel. This afternoon proceed for a half day sightseeing tour. Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square located in the heart of the old city Kathmandu and Swoyambhunath Stupa, also known as Monkey Temple. Also explore 17th Century Durbar complex, Hanuman Dhoka, Paravati temple, great Bell and Drum, Bhairav and Taleju Temple. These historical monuments are surrounded by the hustle & bustle of the market place. Enjoy a farewell Nepali dinner at a local restaurant followed by a cultural show. (B/L/D)
The final day will be spent exploring Pashupatinath Temple and Changu Narayan Temple, both important historical and religious sites in the city. Pashupatinath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and attracts thousands of pilgrims during the annual festival of Mahashivaratri. Changu Narayan dates back to the 4th Century and sits atop a hillside on the edge of the city. After a tasty local lunch continue to Bhaktapur for a stroll along the cobbled streets to visit the Lion Gate and the Palace of Fifty Five Windows. This evening depart on the overnight flight back to the UK. (B/L)
03 Oct 2022
16 Oct 2022