Bhutan Culture and Haa Trek

Bhutan Sampler Trek & Cultural


Day 1 ~ Paro (7,500') – Thimphu (7,600'), Bhutan
Fly to Paro, Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If you get a seat on the left side of the plane and if the weather cooperates, you might have spectacular views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalaya, including Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga—five of the highest peaks in the world—and peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. After passing through customs at the Paro airport, we drive into town for lunch. Afterward, we drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, set at 7,725 feet in the Wang Chu Valley. The remainder of the day is free to rest and relax. Hotel

Day 2 ~ Thimphu (7,600')
After breakfast we’ll drive to the north end of the road to Dodina (8,600') and hike an hour up a steep hill to visit Cheri Monastery, or Goemba, built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and established with an original staff of 30 monks. Nowadays the monastery serves as the main meditation center of the country and has more than 70 monks undergoing their three-year, three month retreat. Inside is a silver chorten holding the ashes of the Shabdrung’s father. On our return we’ll visit Tango Goemba (another steep one-hour climb), founded in the 12th century (the present building was constructed in the 15th century). It is now a Buddhist institute for higher learning. Time permitting; we’ll visit Tashichho Dzong upon our return from the hike. Tashichho Dzong is the seat of the royal government and central monastic body in Bhutan. (1 hour driving; 4 hours hiking) Hotel

Day 3 ~ Thimphu – Paro
Our morning tour will include a visit to the School of Arts and Crafts (or “painting school”), where Bhutanese children can follow a six-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. We’ll also visit the Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and Folk Heritage Museum. We drive back to Paro in the afternoon. In the afternoon we’ll visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum’s collections include displays of spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, and Bhutan’s beautiful stamps. Time permitting; we will also visit the Paro Dzong itself, built in 1644 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Hotel

Day 4 ~ Hike to Taktsang Monastery (10,300')
Today we’ll take a steep, two-hour hike to a teahouse, where we enjoy a great view of Taktsang Monastery (its name means “tiger’s nest”), perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the floor of the Paro Valley. Taktsang is the most spiritual place for the Bhutanese and a major pilgrimage spot. Our hike follows a steep switchback trail through the forest. After breaking for tea and cookies, you have the option to sit outside the building and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, to continue another hour to a closer viewpoint. Much of Taktsang was destroyed by a fire in April 1998, but it is now completely rebuilt. We’ll have some time in the afternoon to explore Paro on our own. (5 hours hiking) Hotel

Day 5 ~ Haa Valley (9,400')
Today, we’ll drive for about three hours to our lodge in the Haa Valley, lying along the western border of Bhutan. Haa was closed to all visitors until 2001. Our lodge for the night is in a beautiful setting at the edge of a blue pine forest overlooking Haa La, and we may be able to visit a local family. Afternoon visit to Lhakhang Karpo (“temple of the white dove”), a monastery believed to have been built in the 8th century by a Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, after he sent two doves (one black and one white) to find a sacred place to build a monastery. Hotel

Day 6 ~ Begin trek – camp below Saga La (11,800')
We’ll begin our trek by walking gradually uphill through a blue pine forest and farmland. As we climb, the terrain gets a little steeper and we’ll walk along streams past rhododendron, juniper, spruce, and birch trees. We’ll lunch in a grassy meadow at about 11,200' then continue to our camp at 11,800', about 45 minutes below Saga La (pass). Weather permitting; we’ll take an afternoon hike up to Saga La for views of sacred Chomolhari (24,000') and several other peaks. We’ll also have panoramic views of the Haa Valley. (4½-5 hours hiking) Hotel

Day 7 ~ Ningula (12,300')
In the morning, we’ll hike up to Saga La once again and then follow the ridge up and down to 13,200' (where we may be able to catch a glimpse of Taktsang Monastery from here). We will continue steeply up through dwarf rhododendron to 13,700' and down through narrow grazing paths. Camp is set up for us at Ningula in a rhododendron forest from where you’ll have a beautiful view of the peaks of Chomolhari and Jichu Drakye. (5-6 hours hiking) Hotel

Day 8 ~ Kung Karpo (13,500')
We will climb steeply back up to the ridge and cross the Kale La at 12,900', with its views of Paro and the Haa Valley. Weather permitting; we’ll have a terrific view of the Paro Dzong and surrounding peaks including Kanchenjunga (28,208'), the third highest peak in the world. We ascend up to Kung Karpo at 13,500', with views of the mountains and both valleys again (weather permitting). We then descend and traverse toward the Chele La (13,080'). Along the way, we pass a place where Mahayana Buddhists offer their newborn child to God; the Bhutanese do not participate in cremation and believe that if they offer their child to God after their death, they will be born again very soon. All day today we will have clear views of the mountains and the Paro and Haa Valleys (weather permitting). Once at the Chele La, we meet our bus and drive two hours to Paro. (6-7 hours hiking, 2-hour drive) Hotel

Day 9 ~ Departure
Very early morning transfer to the Paro airport for departure on your flight.



welcome to the land of happiness


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