Black-Necked Crane Festival Program (10 Nights 11 Days)

 

Day 1: Arrive in Paro

During the flight, on a clear day, you can see breathtaking views of the Himalaya Mountains, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight in Paro.

Day 2: Paro

After breakfast in Paro, you’ll go on a hike to Taktsang Monastery, which is perched on a cliff 900 meters above Paro valley. It is one of the most famous monasteries in Bhutan. It is said that Guru Rinpoche flew to the site of this monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated there for three months. You will stop for lunch at a restaurant that affords a great view of Taktsang. In the afternoon you can visit Drugyel Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight in Paro.

Day 3: Paro – Thimphu

After breakfast, you will proceed to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. En route you’ll stop at the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers. Nearby Thimphu, you’ll visit the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the kingdom. You’ll spend the afternoon in Thimphu, visiting the King’s Memorial Chorten and the majestic Tashichodzong, touring the Textile Museum and the Folk Heritage Museum, and exploring the interesting handicraft shops. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 4: Thimphu – Punakha

The morning will be spent sightseeing in Thimphu, including visits to the National Library, the School of Arts and Crafts, and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. After lunch you will drive to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan, with a stop en route for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. In the evening you will visit Punakha Dzong, which is noteworthy both for being one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built by the first Shabdrung in 1637. Later you can take a stroll around the market area in Punakha town. Overnight in Punakha.

Day 5: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gantey

After breakfast you’ll drive to Gantey via Wangduephodrang. You’ll visit the remarkable Wangdue Dzong and a local village house, which offers good insight into the lifestyle of the people. Further ahead you’ll pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gantey village, where you’ll visit Gantey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. Overnight in Gantey.

Day 6: Gantey

Attend the Black-Necked Crane festival in Phobjika Valley, which is the winter habitat for black-necked cranes!! In addition, you can visit the Crane Observation and Education Centre. Activities within the center include early-morning crane observation and information on the cranes–their roosting habits, feeding habits, and their behavior in general. You can also visit the nature club and the carpet factory. Overnight in Gantey.

Day 7: Gantey – Bumthang

After breakfast you’ll drive to Trongsa, the ancestral home of the royal family. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La, and at this time of year it’s possible to see yaks. You’ll have lunch at your hotel in Trongsa and then you’ll proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yethra (textile weaving) factory, where the yethras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. The afternoon will be spent sightseeing in the area, including Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; the Udee woodcarving factory in Jakar; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places, because Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town. Overnight in Bumthang.

Day 8: Bumthang

Bumthang consists of four valleys–Chumey, Choekhar, Tang, and Ura–with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000 meters. It is home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. In the morning you can take an easy hike through the rolling hills to Thangbi Monastery, which was founded in 1470. In the afternoon, you can tour Tamshing Lhakhang, a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. Overnight in Bumthang.

Day 9: Bumthang – Wangduephodrang

You’ll begin the day at the Bumthang market, and then drive to Wangduephodrang, where you can stroll through the town and visit the shops. The nearby villages are known for their slate and stone carvings and bamboo work. Overnight in Wangduephodrang.

Day 10: Wangduephodrang – Paro

After breakfast you’ll drive to Paro. In the afternoon you will visit the National Museum, Paro Dzong, and a typical farmhouse. Overnight in Paro.

Day 11: Depart Paro.