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Bhutan


BHUTAN – THE HIMALAYAN WONDERLAND     [ top ]

Day 01: Arrive Paro

Fly into the Himalayas with Druk Air , Bhutan 's National Carrier. The green wall of hills known as duars, or gateways, into Bhutan from the plains of India rise ever higher as the plane flies north towards the Tibet border. Silvery rivers rush along the valleys, waterfalls plunge down forested mountainsides, and to the north, the great snowcapped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens. Farm houses dot the hillsides on either side of the plane.

As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, look down and you will see Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum , above it. Your Etho Metho escort, who will be with you throughout your visit, will be waiting for you at Paro airport. After completion of airport formalities, you will drive through the lovely Paro valley to your hotel.

Afternoon free for activities, or at leisure. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.

Day 02: Paro – Thimphu

After breakfast in the hotel, drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought off Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “mountain goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.

Along the way, see the 7 th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan .

After lunch visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower, which now houses Bhutan 's National Museum . The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.

Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (“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, such as the legend of the four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic mandalas.

Finally, proceed to Thimphu , the capital town of Bhutan . The road runs down through the Paro valley, to Chuzom (Confluence) at the entrance to the valley, where the Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. Three chortens on the riverbank at this place, each in a different style, mark the confluence of the two rivers. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tachogang Lhakhang, “the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in the 15 th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha. The road passes along a narrow valley with high, rocky cliffs on the left, then the valley opens out into farmland on the approach to Thimphu . Simtokha Dzong, “the place of profound tantric teaching”, stands sentinel on a hillock a few kilometers out of town. This dzong now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.

On arrival in Thimphu , check into the hotel. Free time in the early evening for a stroll around town before dinner.

Day 03: Thimphu – Paro

After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu valley, including visits to the following: the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) , where Bhutan's famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan's 13 traditional arts and crafts.

After lunch, visit Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of the monarch's throne room and seat of the Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan , Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans. Also visit the National Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by the faithful, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan 's third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the father of modern Bhutan ”) who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.

Then, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan 's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.

In the evening, drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 04: Depart Paro

After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Your Etho Metho escort will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.

KINGDOM IN THE SKY  [ top ]

 

Day 01: Arrive Paro, Paro - Thimphu

In clear weather, Druk Air's flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom.

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by an Etho Metho representative. On completion of airport formalities, there will be an interesting drive of about 2 hours' duration to Thimphu , the modern capital town of Bhutan . Evening free after dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 02: Thimphu - Punakha

Thimphu , perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan 's royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan . It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.

Morning visit to Tashichhodzong, the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King. Tashichhodzong is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body. Proceed to the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. Visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School ), where a six year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan . Also visit (outside only) the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed.

After lunch, visit the National Memorial Chorten. The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan 's third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had wanted to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan ”), and a monument to peace. Visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of handcrafted products, including the splendid thangkha paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous. Also visit the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums , opened in 2001.

In the early evening, drive over Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) to Punakha. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 03: Punakha – Wangduephodrang - Paro

Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955, when the seat of government moved to Thimphu . Originally situated on the riverbank and dominated by the towering walls of Punakha Dzong, the township was relocated to a safer site a few kilometers down the valley, consequent upon extensive flooding in the early 1990s. At the same time, extensive renovation work was undertaken on Punakha Dzong itself, which is now a breathtaking and glorious sight as you first glimpse it from the road. Although four catastrophic fires and an earthquake in past times destroyed many historic documents, Punakha Dzong still houses many sacred and historic artifacts and also the embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

Later drive to Wangduephodrang, the last town on the highway before entering central Bhutan . Situated on a ridge overlooking a river junction, the formidable Wangduephodrang Dzong is the town's most visible feature. In the 17 th century, Wangdue played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern regions of the country. Also visit the local market.

After lunch drive to Paro, visiting Simtokha Dzong en route. This dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan . It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.

Arrive Paro and check into the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 04: Paro

The valley of Paro contains a wealth of attractions. In the morning, visit Ta Dzong. Once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17 th century, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan 's National Museum in 1968. Afterwards, walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history.

After lunch, drive up the valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 18 km. from Paro town on the north side of the valley. It was from here that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17 th century. Also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the kingdom.

In the evening, visit a traditional farm house for an opportunity to interact with a local family and learn something of their lifestyle. Later on, take an evening stroll along the main street, and perhaps visit a few handicrafts shops, or take refreshments at a local café or bar. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 05: Depart Paro

After breakfast drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.

HIMALAYAN SPLENDOR  [ top ]

Day 01: Arrive Paro, Paro - Thimphu

The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas , offering dazzling scenic views of some of world's highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley below. Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hills above the town will be a fine sight. Our Etho Metho representative will meet you at Paro airport, and after completion of arrival formalities you will be transferred to Bhutan 's capital, Thimphu , an exciting blend of tradition and modernity.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu .

Day 02:Thimphu

Today's full day of sightseeing in Thimphu valley includes visits to:

* National Library, which holds a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion;

* Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School ) where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan ;

* National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) , where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners are trained;

* National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan ”) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy;

* Tashichhodzong: This impressive fortress/monastery houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and central monk body;

* Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums : These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life.

* Handicrafts Emporium: This government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan , Buddhism and Himalayan culture.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 03: Thimphu - Tongsa

After early breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the north east will be revealed in all their glory. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

Then continue onwards, reaching Wangduephodrang town in time for lunch. From here, it is a long, winding descent into the Wangduephodrang valley, which is about 1,700m below the pass. Take lunch at Wangduephodrang town, then continue on to Tongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830ft), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large white chorten and prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.

Stop e n route at Chendebji Chorten, patterned on Kathmandu 's Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet , to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.

Arrive at Tongsa late afternoon and check into the lodge for the night.

Day 04: Tongsa – Bumthang

After breakfast, walk by Tongsa Dzong (built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1647) and climb up a steep path to visit the Ta Dzong (watchtower), dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling.

Then drive to Bumthang, 68 km. from Tongsa, a journey of about 3 hours, over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155ft). The road winds steeply up to the pass, 28 km. from Tongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open, cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley.

On arrival in Bumthang, check in at your lodge. After lunch, visit Kurje Lhakhang (“where the saint's body is imprinted on a rock”), Jambey Lhakhang (7 th century), Tamshing Monastery (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan ), and Jakar Dzong (administrative center of the region). Stroll in the village, visit the little handicrafts shop at the entrance to the town, and perhaps take refreshments at a local restaurant. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

Day 05: Bumthang – Punakha

After breakfast, explore further the fascinating valley of Bumthang . Then proceed to Punakha, stopping along the way at Tongsa for lunch, which will be served in a local restaurant famous for its cuisine.

Visit Wangduephodrang Dzong and town en route to Punakha, which we will reach late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 06: Punakha – Paro

Morning visit to Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. Punakha was Bhutan 's capital until 1955, and Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan 's first king, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood damage from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. The latest flood, in October, 1994, caused great damage to the fortress but miraculously spared its most holy statue.

After lunch, proceed to Paro, en route visiting a traditional Bhutanese farm house, to gain an insight into the lifestyle and culture of the local people.

On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 07: Paro

Today's full day of sightseeing in Paro valley includes morning visits to Ta Dzong, which in the past served as watchtower for Paro Dzong and now houses the National Museum, and Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong), built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

After lunch, we drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1647 by the Shabdrung to commemorate the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetans in the war of 1644. En route, we also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in the 7 th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 08: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

BHUTAN – THE LAST SHANGRILA   [ top ]

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On a clear day, the flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. You will see major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu , and then on the final approach to Paro Bhutan 's own snowy peaks, Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang will come into view. Bhutan 's first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. You will be met by your Etho Metho representative, and after completion of arrival formalities will be taken to your hotel.

Afternoon free for activities or at leisure.

In the evening, take a stroll around Paro market after dinner. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Paro is a most picturesque valley, with quaint hamlets clustered amidst terraced paddy fields. The town still maintains tradition by way of its architecture and simple way of life.

In the morning, visit Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower but now housing the National Museum . Ta Dzong holds unique and varied collections, ranging from ancient armor to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins, and natural history. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro's monk body and the offices of the civil administration. Rinpung Dzong is the venue for the famous Paro Tsechu, held annually in the spring.

After lunch, drive up valley to Drukgyel Dzong or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”. In former times, the Bhutanese repelled invasions by Tibetans from this fortress. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins still present an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a splendid view of Bhutan 's sacred mountain, Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Also visit a traditional Bhutanese house in the village nestled below the dzong. Then head back towards Paro town, en route visiting Kyichu Lhakhang, established in the 7 th century, and one of the two oldest shrines in the kingdom (the other is in Bumthang), reflecting the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan .

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro –Thimphu

After breakfast drive to Thimphu , the capital town, passing through idyllic countryside, with villages and paddy fields on either side of the road. En route visit Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses of the country, which now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.

Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu valley, visiting: Tashichhodzong, the seat of the government; the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; and the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of the traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is renowned. You may also be able to catch a game of archery in progress at the Changlimethang sports ground, just below the town.

Take an early evening stroll around the market area before dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha

In the morning, visit the following: the National Library, with its extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan's 13 traditional arts and crafts; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) , where Bhutan's famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed.

After lunch, proceed to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft). The highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese chorten and prayer flags fluttering on the hill. On a clear day, there is a breathtaking view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot.

Check into the hotel on reaching Punakha. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Visit Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17 th century and situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 05: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha)

After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. Wangdue district is famous for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate which is mined up a valley a few kilometers from the town.

Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan . Phobjikha is one of Bhutan 's few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan .

Stay overnight at the guest house, or camp under the stars.

Day 06: Gangtey (Phobjikha) – Tongsa

In the morning explore Phobjikha valley, hopefully sighting some black necked cranes, if you are there at the right time of year. Later, drive to Tongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830ft). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan . Further down the road, stop to visit Chendebji Chorten erected in the 18 th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.

The landscape around Tongsa is spectacular and its impressive dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. On arrival, check into the lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Tongsa.

Day 07: Tongsa – Bumthang (Jakar)

Morning visit to Tongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan . Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town, built as a watchtower to guard Tongsa.

After lunch proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km. journey takes about 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155ft), then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley. From here it is about an hour to Bumthang, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light.

Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 08: Bumthang

Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m/8,530 to 13,125ft.

In the morning we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan 's “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7 th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).

After lunch, we will visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”, then take a stroll through Bumthang's market area before returning to the lodge.

Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 09: Bumthang – Mongar

The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 6 hours, with spectacular views en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan 's motorable road network, Thrumsing-la pass (4,000m/13,125ft).

From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor , with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kuri Chu (river). We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley.

Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar.

We visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan 's newest dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails. Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.

Day 10: Mongar – Tashigang

This trip of about 96 km. takes only 3 hours. The first part of journey is through leafy forest filled with ferns. After driving through the Kori-la pass (2,450m/8,040ft), marked by a pretty chorten and a mani wall, we descend rapidly through corn fields and banana groves to reach the famous road zigzags just below Yadi, a fairly recent and now fast-growing settlement.

After zigzagging down the hillside, the road east runs along the Gamri river. A turnoff on the left leads up to Drametse. The temple, perched on top of a steep hill above the village, was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan . This is the place of origin of the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with drums. About 30 km. onwards lies Tashigang (1,100m/3,610ft), which clings to a steep hillside above the Gamri river. Tashigang is the principal township of the biggest and most populated district in the country.

After lunch, we will visit Tashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river gorge. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the dzong is occupied by the local monastic community.

Overnight at the lodge in Tashigang.

Day 11: Tashigang (excursion to Tashiyangtse)

After breakfast we visit the temple of Gom Kora , set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river, 24 km. from Tashigang. Gom Kora is a famous place, as Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon here, trapping it in a rock. We continue on down the road to Doksum village, where you can see women busily weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric, and a chain-link swing bridge dating back to the 15 th century. The road turns into the hills here, running up the side of a winding river valley to Tashiyangtse.

In former times, Tashiyangtse was an important center because it lies on one of the caravan routes leading from western and central Bhutan . Tashiyangtse is now a rapidly growing town and the administrative center for this district. The area is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which make inexpensive, attractive and useful souvenirs of a visit to this remote region.

We will visit Tashiyangtse Dzong, which overlooks the town and was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created. If time permits, we will also visit the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora on the riverbank below the town, and the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students are trained in Bhutan 's 13 traditional arts and crafts.

In the evening we return to Tashigang. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Tashigang.

Day 12: Tashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar

The Tashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in 1965, and the journey down it to the Indian border takes about 6 hours. Along the way, we pass by Sherubtse College in Kanglung, which was founded in 1978 and is a degree-granting institution affiliated to the University of Delhi . We also visit the nearby Zangtho Pelri temple representing Guru Rinpoche's paradise, built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs. We then drive on to Khaling, home of the National Institute for the Disabled and the Weaving Centre. Visits to these may be arranged by prior request only, before leaving Thimphu. From here, it is a further 80 km. to Deothang, which is remembered in history as the site of a famous 19 th century battle fought during the Duar Wars, in which the forces of Jigme Namgyal defeated the British. The road then descends fairly rapidly to the plains through dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns. Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 13: Samdrup Jongkhar – Guwahati

After breakfast, drive to Guwahati, the capital town of the Indian north-eastern state of Assam , for flight to Delhi/Kolkata or onward program in that region.

Please be aware that, for security reasons, the route from Tashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar may sometimes be closed. Please check with Etho Metho before taking bookings for this tour.

MOUNTAIN JOURNEYS [ top ]

Day 01: Bagdogra/Siliguri – Phuentsholing

Our Etho Metho representative will meet you on arrival at either Siliguri or Bagdogra airport in the Indian state of West Bengal . After a drive of about three hours along a road lined with lush green tea gardens you will reach Phuentsholing, the gateway to Bhutan , which lies directly at the base of the Himalayan foothills. This rapidly growing town is Bhutan 's commercial center, with most commercial organizations headquartered here.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing.

Day 02: Phuentsholing – Thimphu

After breakfast, proceed to Thimphu , making our first stop about 5 km. up the road to visit Kharbandi Gompa. This beautiful monastery situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers, was built by Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedron in 1967. There is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and the Indian plains from the monastery garden.

From this point the road climbs steeply up into the hills, winding in innumerable bends, to an altitude of approximately 2,000m/6,560ft. We will make stops along the way from time to time, so as not to miss the magnificent view of the Indian plains and the Toorsa river below. After a two hour drive through light mountain jungle, displaying lianas and orchids, we pass over the first ridge and begin a long and gradual descent to the river which is the source of energy for the massive Chukha Hydel hydroelectric power project. We cross the river, and rise up the mountainside ever further into the hills, leaving Chukha and the small town of Chimakothi behind us. Lunch is served en route.

After passing through Chapcha the road reaches its highest point of about 2,800m/9,185ft, then descends steeply and runs along the banks of the Wang Chu (river) to Chuzom (meaning confluence), where the Paro Chu runs into the Wang Chu. From here it is only about 2 hours' drive up the valley to Thimphu . Shortly before reaching our destination, we will stop to visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the kingdom, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1627.

On arrival in Thimphu , check into the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 03: Thimphu

Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation's bustling capital. Today's full day of sightseeing in Thimphu includes visits to:

* Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”: Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan 's third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body;

* National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by Bhutan 's third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan ”) and a monument to world peace;

* Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School ) where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan ;

* National Library, which holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books, mainly on Himalayan culture and religion.

Other places of interest which may be visited if time permits include: the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) , where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained; the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide assortment of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products, and also a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture; the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums.

In the evening take a stroll through Thimphu 's market area, visiting local shops and mingling with the people. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha - Wangduephodrang

After breakfast proceed to Punakha, stopping briefly about 45 minutes' drive from Thimphu at Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft), which offers visitors their first glimpse of the eastern Himalayan ranges.

A low-lying subtropical valley, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and central monk body. Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, has played prominent role in civil and religious life of the kingdom. Damaged by fire, flood and earthquake over the centuries, it has now been fully restored in its original splendor.

Also visit the valley of Wangduephodrang situated at the junction of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha/Wangduephodrang.

Day 05: Punakha - Wangduephodrang – Paro

Morning sightseeing in Wangduephodrang, a typical small Bhutanese town, with bustling market and well-stocked shops. This area is also known for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, locally mined slate, and a yak dairy research station.

Wangduephodrang Dzong is the town's most visible feature, situated majestically on a spur above the junction of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers.

After lunch, we drive to Paro, visiting a village house en route to get an idea of the lifestyle of the local people. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 06: Paro

This beautiful valley is home to some of Bhutan 's oldest temples and monasteries, the National Museum and the country's only airport.

Situated strategically and commanding a spectacular view of the valley, Rinpung Dzong (“the fortress of the heap of jewels”) was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, and now houses Paro's monk body and the offices of the civil administration. It is also the venue for the annual springtime Paro Tsechu (festival). Above Rinpung Dzong (commonly referred to as Paro Dzong) is Ta Dzong, housing the National Museum , which holds unique and varied collections ranging from ancient armor, to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins and natural history.

A short drive north and overlooking the Paro river is Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan, dating back to the 7 th century, when Buddhism was first introduced into Bhutan. Further ahead, at the end of valley lies Drukgyel Dzong, or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders.

Evening at leisure to visit local shops. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 07: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

BHUTAN ODYSSEY  [ top ]

 

 

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On a clear day, the flight to Paro is breathtaking, with views of major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and on the final approach Bhutan's own snowy peaks, the sacred Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. You will be met by your Etho Metho representative, and after completion of arrival formalities you will be taken to your hotel.

Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

After breakfast, visit Ta Dzong ( National Museum ) and then walk down a hillside trail to Rinpung Dzong. Afternoon visits to Drukgyel Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro –Thimphu

After breakfast, set off for Thimphu , the modern capital town of Bhutan . Stop en route at Chuzom (Confluence) at the entrance to the Paro valley, where the Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. Three chortens on the riverbank at this place, each in a different style, mark the confluence of the two rivers. Visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the kingdom, shortly before reaching Thimphu .

Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu , visiting the National Memorial Chorten, majestic Tashichhodzong, the Handicrafts Emporium and the main shopping area.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha

Morning sightseeing in Thimphu includes visits to the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan), the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), and the National Textile Museum, as time permits.

After lunch drive to Bhutan 's former capital Punakha, stopping en route at Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) for refreshments. On a clear day you will enjoy breathtaking mountain views from this spot.

On arrival at Punakha, check into the hotel. In the evening visit Punakha Dzong, a 17 th century fortress. Afterwards take a stroll around the market area.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 05: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha)

After breakfast drive to Gangtey via Wangduephodrang, where we will stop to visit the remarkable Wangduephodrang Dzong, stretched along a spur at the confluence of two rivers. We will also visit a local village house, to gain insight into the lifestyle of the people.

Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley.

In the evening take a stroll around Gangtey village and visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in the kingdom. Overnight at guest house, or camp under the stars.

Day 06: Gangtey – Tongsa

In the morning, explore Phobjikha valley, chosen winter home of black necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan Plateau.

After lunch drive to Tongsa, crossing Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830ft). Evening visit to Tongsa market. Overnight at the lodge in Tongsa.

Day 07: Tongsa – Bumthang

Morning visit to Tongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Built in 1647, it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan . Also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong.

After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation. Evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 08: Bumthang

Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m (8,530-13,125ft). This area is home to many ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries.

We will visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa, which contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”, the administrative center of the region.

In the afternoon, we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche meditated here, and later on Jambey Lhakhang which was erected in the 7 th century, when Buddhism was first introduced into Bhutan .

Evening visit to local shops. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 09: Bumthang – Thimphu

After an early morning visit to Bumthang's market, we will set off on the 7 hour drive back to Thimphu , taking lunch en route at a famous restaurant in Tongsa town. We will then drive on through the mountains and down to Wangduephodrang, where we will take a short break for tea/coffee before proceeding on the final stage of our journey to Thimphu .

On arrival at Thimphu , check into the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 10: Thimphu– Paro

Morning free time in Thimphu for shopping and leisure, then after lunch drive to Paro for an overnight stay.

Day 11: Depart Paro

Early breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

HIMALAYAN HEARTLANDS    [ top ]

 

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On a clear day, the flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, the journey offers you wonderful views of the Himalayas and an exciting descent into the kingdom.

Your Etho Metho representative will greet you at Paro airport. After completion of arrival formalities, you will be transferred to your hotel.

Afternoon free or program may be arranged, according to choice. In the evening, take a stroll along the town's main street. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

In the morning, take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger's Nest. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 and at present restoration work is in progress. But tourists are still able to visit the lookout point.

After lunch, visit Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum . The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) situated at a commanding height overlooking Paro valley. Built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, this dzong now houses Paro's monk body and the offices of the civil administration and is symbolic as the religious and secular center of all affairs of the valley.

In the evening, visit a traditional farm house to get an idea of the lifestyle of local people. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro - Punakha

After breakfast drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, about 18 km. up the valley. From this fortress, built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17 th century. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred temples of the kingdom, reflecting the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan .

After that drive to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft), from which there is a breathtaking view of the high peaks on a clear day.

Until 1955 Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Visit Punakha Dzong built in the 17 th century at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Damaged by fires, floods and earthquakes over the centuries, the dzong has recently been fully restored to its original glory.

Evening visit to local market. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 04: Punakha - Wangduephodrang - Thimphu

After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang about 45 minutes from Punakha, and the last town on the highway before entering central Bhutan . Wangdue is a typical small Bhutanese town, and its formidable dzong is the town's most visible feature. In the 17 th century Wangdue played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern regions of the country.

After lunch drive to the nation's capital, Thimphu , a small, bustling city in the heart of the Himalayas . Thimphu 's charm comes not only from its wealth of museums or places of historic interest, but also from the strong national character of its architectural style. A stroll through this lively town and into its shops reveals an interesting combination of tradition and modernity.

Afternoon at leisure, and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 05: Thimphu

In the morning, visit Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion” situated on the banks of the Wang Chu. Initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by Bhutan 's third king, H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck during the 1960s, it now houses some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body. We will also visit the following, as time permits:

Bhutan 's National Library houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old. The country has its own brands of Himalayan medicines, compounded and dispensed at the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside visit only), which also trains traditional medicine practitioners. The National Memorial Chorten, completed in 1974, contains finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

We will also browse in the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide assortment of colorful hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, and other craft products, and smaller handicrafts shops along the main street if time permits.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 06: Thimphu - Phuentsholing

After breakfast drive down to Phuentsholing, en route visiting Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627 and the oldest fortress of the kingdom, which now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies. The Thimphu–Phuentsholing road was built in 1962 by Dantak, the Indian Border Roads organization. The drive on this route is very pleasant with numerous scenic spots en route. Just before arriving in Phuentsholing, we will stop to visit Kharbandi Gompa, a temple built in 1967. It houses large statues of Sakyamuni, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche.

Overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing.Your tour with Etho Metho ends this evening. You will be handed over to our Indian counterpart tomorrow morning for exit from Bhutan and onward travel to the Indian hill stations and Sikkim .

Day 07: Phuentsholing - Siliguri / Darjeeling

After breakfast drive to Siliguri, passing through lush green tea gardens en route. Siliguri is the gateway to north-eastern India , and the main transit point for visits to Darjeeling , Sikkim , Bhutan , Eastern Nepal and Assam .

After lunch in Siliguri, drive to Darjeeling via the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling .

Day 08: Darjeeling

In the early morning, enjoy the sunrise from Tiger Hill. The early start to the day is worth it, as the view from this place is indeed unforgettable, as the first rays of the sun touch the mountain peaks, and colors change from grey to pink to a luminous gold. Everest, the world's highest peak is visible from Tiger Hill, but being 170 km. away does not stand out as strikingly as the much closer Kanchenjunga .

Then visit Ghoom monastery, built in 1850 by Lama Sherub Gyatsho, a monk from Mongolia . It is a Tibetan monastery where ancient birch bark manuscripts are carefully preserved. Later visit the Himalayan Mountain Institute, the house of the late Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who with Edmund Hillary made the first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953.

In the evening, visit the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre, which produces and sells a wide range of Tibetan artifacts and curios. Here you can see Tibetan craftsman making traditional items such as carpets, woolen and leather boots, and woodcarvings. The Centre was established in 1954 to rehabilitate refugees who had fled Tibet with the Dalai Lama in the wake of the Chinese invasion.

Overnight at the hotel in Darjeeling .

Day 09: Darjeeling - Gangtok

After breakfast drive to Gangtok. Later sightseeing in Gangtok includes a visit to the beautiful Enchey Monastery, approached from an avenue lined by hundreds of multi-colored prayer flags. Then visit the Institute of Cottage Industries where you can watch young students being taught the traditional art of thangkha painting, and also weaving, wood carving and carpet making.

Also visit the Institute of Tibetology , which is housed in a beautiful building, constructed in traditional Tibetan style, with murals and decorated pillars.

Overnight at the hotel in Gangtok.

Day 10: Gangtok - Kalimpong

Morning excursion to the famous Rumtek Monastery, which was rebuilt in the 1960s as the headquarters of the Karma Kagyupa School of Buddhism, then drive to Kalimpong. In the evening, visit a Gelugpa monastery, and also visit the Bhutanese monastery and one of the flower nurseries for which Kalimpong is famous.

Overnight at the hotel in Kalimpong.

Day 11: Kalimpong / Bagdogra airport

After breakfast drive to Bagdogra airport for flight to onward destination.

TREKKING PROGRAMS  [ top ]

The scope for trekking in Bhutan is immense - from short walks to arduous treks. Trekkers are fortunate people, as they can experience the kingdom of Bhutan at its most magnificent. From the towering snow peaks of the inner Himalayas to the verdant forests which cloak the hills above its peaceful valleys, the trails are clean and unspoiled, and the wilderness still pristine in its beauty.

Here are a few of our trekking itineraries, each one offering you an enchanting journey amidst the Himalayas . Our trekking tours are planned in great detail, and we will send you on your way with a competent and resourceful team of Etho Metho guides, caterers etc. to take care of all the necessities, so that you can enjoy your trekking experience to the full.

GANTEY/GOGONA TREK    [ top ]

This trek is to the beautiful Phobjikha valley (3,000m), one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan , which lies in the mountains east of Wangduephodrang. After crossing over the pass you soon come to the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17 th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few kilometers down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quiet, remote valley is the chosen winter home of the rare black necked cranes, which migrate here annually from the Tibetan plateau. This moderate trek visits the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, passing through meadows and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia and rhododendrons in full bloom in April. It is one of the finest low level treks in Bhutan .

Season: The best times for this trek are March to May, and September to November. The best months are April and early May when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative, and transferred to Thimphu on completion of arrival formalities. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 02: Thimphu – Gangtey

After breakfast, morning tour of Thimphu, visiting National Memorial Chorten, Tashichhodzong, National Library and Institute for Zorig Chusum (generally known as the Painting School), where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.

After lunch drive for about 5 hours to Gangtey. En route cross Dochu-la pass (3,088m) and drive by Wangduephodrang Dzong. Overnight at camp/farm house, Gangtey.

Day 03: Gangtey Gompa - Gogona 15km, 6-7 hours

Trek commences today. The trail winds gradually upwards through meadows and fields, ascending to Tsele-la pass (3,400m) where we stop for lunch. The trail then descends gradually for some time through forests of junipers, bamboo, magnolias and rhododendrons. After a last short climb, we reach Gogona village. The people of Gogona were originally nomads and they speak a language called Bjopkha (language of nomads). Overnight camp.

Day 04: Gogona – Khotokha16km, 6-7 hours

The trail winds up gently above Gogona village, climbing into a forest of firs, oak, spruce, rhododendron, cypress and junipers. A long and gradual climb takes us up to Shobju-la pass (3,400m). The path leads down to the wide valley of Khotokha , where the people of Sha (a region of Wangduephodrang district) come in summer to graze their animals. Overnight camp.

Day 05: Khotokha – Chazam/Wangduephodrang 12km, 5 hours

A short ascent takes us to a pass, from which the path descends steeply through ever- changing vegetation till finally reaching the bridge at Wangduephodrang. The trek ends here. Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephodrang.

Day 06: Wangduephodrang – Thimphu

After exploring the attractive Wangduephodrang and Punakha valleys, we drive to Thimphu . Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu , including visits to the following as time permits: Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums ; Handicrafts Emporium; papermaking factory; market. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 07: Thimphu – Paro

Morning drive to Paro, en route visiting Simtokha Dzong. Today's sightseeing in Paro includes visits to: Ta Dzong ( National Museum ), Rinpung Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 08: Depart Paro

After early breakfast drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination, enjoying superb mountain views from the aircraft as you fly out of the valley. Soon you leave Bhutan shrouded in mist and surrounded by her guardian peaks.

DRUK PATH TREK  [ top ]

 

This is a short five day trek, which leads from Paro to Thimphu or vice versa, crossing the chain of mountains that separates the two valleys. Although the route is sparsely inhabited, there are wonderful lakes teeming with fish and the area is famous for its spectacular rhododendron forests, which bloom in May. In the clear weather of late autumn and winter there are great views of the Himalayas .

Season: This trek is usually possible from late February to June and from September to December.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative, and transferred to your Paro hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Drive northwest up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering walls are still an imposing sight. On a clear day there is a splendid view of Mt. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Visit one of the typical village houses clustered near the dzong. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan . In

the afternoon visit Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower and now the National Museum . Then walk down the hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), “the fortress of the heap of jewels”.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro – Jele Dzong 8km, 3 hours

Today is a short trekking day. The journey starts with a short climb up to Jele Dzong. The trek trail ascends gradually up to the camp, and if the weather is clear Paro valley can be seen with snow-capped mountains behind. Above the camp is Jele-la pass (3,400m) and Jele Dzong (mostly in ruins). There is also a lhakhang containing a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni. Overnight camp.

Day 04: Jele Dzong – Jangchulakha 10km, 3-4 hours

Begin with a one and a half hour climb and then ascend more gradually upwards. The trail takes you through thick alpine forests and rhododendrons. You will have fine views of Chomolhari and other snow capped peaks if the weather is right, and you may hear some monal pheasants calling during the day. You may see yak herders around your campsite. Overnight camp.

Day 05: Jangchulakha – Jimilangtsho 11km, 4 hours

The trail follows the ridge, and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valley are sensational. You will enjoy a great view of Jichu Drake (6,989m), the peak representing the protective deity of Paro. Our camp is close to the Jimilangtsho lakes, which are famous for their giant sized trout. Overnight camp.

Day 06: Jimilangtsho - Simkota 11km, 4 hours

The trail takes you through dwarf rhododendron trees and passes by the lake of Janetsho . Today you may come across some yak herders' camps and get an idea of how these people live. We camp overnight close to Simkota Lake , and if you are lucky you can catch a lake trout for your dinner.

Day 07: Simkota – Phajoding 10km, 4 hours

Today begins with a gradual climb, and if the weather permits you will enjoy majestic views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, and a host of other peaks. The trail slowly descends through juniper trees to a campsite beside a community hall near Phajoding cafeteria. Overnight in cafeteria or camp, depending on weather conditions.

Day 08: Phajoding –Thimphu 5km, 3 hours

The trek to Thimphu is downhill all the way, passing through a forested area of mostly blue pine. Taking a leisurely pace, you reach Thimphu in about 3 hours. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 09: Excursion to Punakha/Wangduephodrang

After breakfast, full day excursion to the Punakha and Wangdue valleys. The drive from Thimphu crosses Dochu-la pass (3,088m) from which there are the most enchanting mountain views. In Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong situated at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Built in the 17 th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this dzong has played important role in Bhutan 's history. Then drive to Wangduephodrang, to visit 17 th century Wangduephodrang Dzong and the local market.

In the evening drive back to Thimphu . Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 10: Thimphu – Paro

Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu , including visits to the following, as time permits:

* National Memorial Chorten – built as a memorial to Bhutan 's third king (“the father of modern Bhutan ”) and as a monument to world peace;

*Tashichhodzong - the impressive fortress/monastery housing some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body;

* Handicrafts Emporium – a wide assortment of intricately hand-woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at this government-run outlet, and at many smaller handicrafts shops around town;

* National Library – established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan's cultural heritage, it now holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts;

*Institute for Zorig Chusum, more commonly known as the Painting School , where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan ;

* National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) – the rich herbal medicines made up from plants abundant in the kingdom are dispensed here, and traditional medicine practitioners trained.

In the evening drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 11: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

BUMTHANG CULTURAL TREK   [ top ]

The lovely Bumthang valley is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. This three day trek passes through several villages on its meandering route through Bumthang countryside, and provides an exceptional opportunity for contact with Bhutanese rural life.

Season: The trek is recommended from March to May and then again from September to November.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to the hotel on completion of arrival formalities. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Full day of sightseeing in Paro. In the morning, visit Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower for Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) and in 1968 inaugurated as the National Museum . The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection. Also visit Rinpung Dzong, built in 1646 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. It now houses the district administration offices and Paro's monastic community.

After lunch, drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over Tibetan invaders. We may also have time to visit the 7 th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries of the kingdom.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro – Thimphu

Drive to Thimphu , the modern capital of Bhutan . About 7 km. before Thimphu, pause briefly to admire Bhutan's most ancient fortress Simtokha Dzong (built in 1627), rising up from a small hilltop on the right side of the road.

After lunch, visit as time permits: the National Memorial Chorten (built as a memorial to Bhutan's third king and as a monument to world peace); the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) where herbal medicines are made up and dispensed and traditional medicine practitioners are trained; the Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan; the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature including many ancient Buddhist texts in block-printed format; Tashichhodzong, (“the fortress of the glorious religion”), which houses some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu – Tongsa

Drive to Tongsa via Dochu-la pass (3,088m). On a clear day there is a superb view from here of Bhutan 's highest peaks. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

Continue on to Wangduephodrang town, which is also our lunch stop. Then proceed to Tongsa over Pele-la pass (3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west. Overnight at the lodge in Tongsa.

Day 05: Tongsa – Bumthang

Morning visit to striking Tongsa Dzong, ancestral abode of Bhutan 's royal family. Then visit the Ta Dzong, built as a watchtower to guard Tongsa Dzong. Proceed to Bumthang and in the afternoon visit the 17 th century Jakar Dzong and then Kurje monastery, built in the 17 th century to mark the place where Guru Padmasambhava had meditated in the 8 th century, leaving his body imprint on the rock. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 06: Bumthang – Ngang Lhakhang 14km, 6 hours

The trek begins today. The trek route follows the Chamkhar Chu (river), taking us through meadows, forests of blue pine and scrub bamboo. We will pass by many villages and temples, on this very relaxing and easy day. Camp overnight at village (2,900m).

Day 07: Ngang Lhakhang – Ugyenchholing 19km, 7-8 hours

The trail ascends gradually through juniper forest towards Phephe-la pass (3,340m). From there, the path descends to Tang valley, finally arriving at Ugyenchholing village (2,850m). Camp overnight by the side of the river near the village.

Day 08: Ugyenchholing – Bumthang 11km, 4 hours

In the morning, walk up to Ugyenchholing Palace, a beautiful private mansion which also houses a small eco-museum, then drive to Jakar (Bumthang) following the Tang Chu until arriving at the main road. On the way visit the Mebar Tso Lake , where Terton Pema Lingpa is said to have discovered religious treasures in the 15 th century. This lake is very sacred, and on auspicious days many Bhutanese people go there to offer butter lamps. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 09: Bumthang – Punakha

Morning visit to Jambey Lhakhang, built in the 7 th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, who is believed to be the reincarnation of Jambey (Avalokitesvara), the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Tamshing Lhakhang, across the river, is also an important place to visit, as it houses old and interesting religious paintings. Drive to Punakha with lunch en route. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 10: Punakha – Paro

Today we drive to Paro. It will be a relaxing day, as we reach Paro by lunch time. Free time for leisure or last minute shopping in the afternoon. Take a stroll around Paro market in the evening. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 11: Paro depart

Early breakfast in the hotel and drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

DAGALA THOUSAND LAKES TREK<   [ top ]

This is a short trek near Thimphu , passing by picturesque high altitude lakes. It is a moderate trek with mostly short trekking days, but includes a few steep climbs.

season: The best months for this trek are April, September and October.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Morning drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong (1646), which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering outer walls are still an imposing sight. On a fine day, there is a grand view of Mt. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Drive back along the valley to visit a traditional farm house and then the 7 th Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan 's oldest and most sacred shrines.

In the afternoon, visit Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower and in 1968 inaugurated as Bhutan 's National Museum . The collection includes art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, as well as a small natural history collection. Then walk down a short hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), built in 1646, and now housing the offices of the district administration and Paro's monk body. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro - Thimphu

This morning drive down the valley following the Pa Chu (Paro river) to its confluence with the Wang Chu ( Thimphu river). Turn left up the valley leading to the nation's capital, Thimphu . En route visit Simtokha Dzong (1627), the kingdom's oldest fortress which now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.

After lunch, visit the National Memorial Chorten, built as a memorial to Bhutan 's third king (“the father of modern Bhutan ”) and also as a monument to world peace. Then visit Tashichhodzong, Thimphu 's most impressive building situated by the Wang Chu. It houses His Majesty's secretariat, some ministries, and also the central monk body during the summer months. In the evening, take a stroll through Thimphu market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu

After breakfast, visit the following as time permits: Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan; the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, including some manuscripts dating back several hundred years; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) , where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medicine practitioners are trained; and the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums, for fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life.

After lunch, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium, which carries a wide range of hand-woven textiles and craft products, and browse in the bookshops and many smaller handicrafts shops around the town. Take an early evening drive up to a lookout festooned with prayer flags, for a fine view of Thimphu and the valley. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 05: Thimphu – Genekha 14km, 4 hours

Drive for 45 minutes to reach the starting point for the trek. The first day's walk is along a mule path, passing by terraced fields and coniferous forest, and ending at the signboard of Genekha School. Overnight camp at Genekha (2,800m) alongside a stream.

Day 06: Genekha – Gur 15km, 4 hours

On today's trek the true communion with nature begins, and you will see many varieties of alpine flora and also some animals and many birds. After two hours of walking gradually uphill, rest at a huge rock platform, from which there is a picturesque view of the valley below. After another two hours the trek ends for the day. Camp at Gur, where flowers are abundant in spring.

Day 07: Gur – Labatama 12km, 5 hours

While trekking across the ridges, one enjoys the beauty of the rugged mountain vegetation. Today's trek takes us across meadows where wild asparagus and other small plants grow, and if taking this trek in the spring, you will feel you are walking over carpets of flowers. The first pass, marked by a large cairn gives a spectacular view of the whole Dagala range, alpine meadows and yak herders' camps. We will lunch at a nearby yak herder's camp. After lunch we will walk across hills and over meadows, ending the third day of our trek at Yutsho Lake, where golden trout abound. Overnight camp near the lake.

Day 08: Labatama halt

This day is for an excursion to any one of three lakes: Relitsho, Hentsho and Jamatsho. Your trekking leader will tell you mystical stories about these lakes. This would also be an ideal time and place for some trout fishing. Overnight camp.

Day 09: Labatama halt

Extension to Setsho and nearby lakes. The hike to Setsho lake is easy and interesting. You could spend the whole day trout fishing here, with packed lunch. Alternatively, after reaching Setsho you could then cross over a small ridge and go down to Jagetsho lake. Or you could try climbing Jomo, a 5,050m peak. Lunch at the summit, with spectacular views all around, can be memorable experience. Return to camp by dusk and prepare for the next day.

Day 10: Labatama – Panka 8km, 4 hours

Walk for 20 minutes upwards before beginning the descent at around 4,460m. There will be splendid views of the Himalayas on the descent. Your escort will help you in identifying individual peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari, Jichu Drake, Tserimgang, Khangbum, Masagang, Tsendegang and Gangchenta. Himalayan monal pheasants are a common sight, due to the vegetation in this area. Overnight camp on a grassy meadow at Panka.

Day 11: Panka – Talekha 8km, 4 hours

This day entails the crossing of several increasingly impressive passes. You will see several varieties of the blue poppy (if trekking June-July) and also many mountain birds along the way. Lunch at the point where the trail divides into two paths leading to Talekha and to Wangduephodrang respectively. After lunch, an hour's gradual climb brings us to the top of the last ridge on the Dagala range from where there is a spectacular view of Thimphu valley below. Another hour's walk and you are at the last camp, a little above Talekha monastery.

Day 12: Talekha – Thimphu – Paro 6km, 2 hours

Passing through alpine and mixed vegetation (bamboo thickets and wild flowers) one reaches Talekha monastery and village and once again the view of Thimphu is superb. We walk through mixed vegetation and apple orchards, finally reaching the main motorable road to Thimphu where our transport is waiting for us. Drive to Thimphu in time for lunch, and in the evening drive back to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 13: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

CHOMOLHARI TREK   [ top ]

Starting at Drukgyel Dzong, Paro this trek passes through scattered hamlets and farmland into a deep and richly forested valley, which leads to a high alpine pastureland where yak herders graze their animals. The trek offers a taste of the great variety of Bhutanese landscape.

Season: The ideal time for this trek is April to June and September to November.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Morning visit to Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower and in 1968 inaugurated as Bhutan's National Museum. The collection includes art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, as well as a small natural history collection. Below Ta Dzong is Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), “the fortress of the heap of jewels”, built in 1646, and now housing the offices of the district administration and Paro's monk body.

In the afternoon, visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo in the 7 th century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro – Shana 17km, 5-6 hours

The trek starts from Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail then climbs gently through well maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. Later on we come to apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens, and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m). This is the last stop before Tibet. We continue upwards to just beyond Sharma Zampa (2,870m), where there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.

Day 04: Shana – Soi Thangthangkha 20km, 7-8 hours

The trail again follows the Pa Chu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, we stop for a hot lunch. Then we continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests, and crossing the river once more before reaching our campsite (3,750m).

Day 05: Soi Thangthangkha – Jangothang 19km, 7-8 hours

The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line, enjoying stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch is served at a yak herder's camp. A short walk from here into the valley takes us to our campsite at Jangothang (4,040 m). From here, the views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.

Day 06: Jangothang – Lingshi 18km, 7-8 hours

The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right bank. We now start our climb up to the first ridge, enjoying breathtaking views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The trail then takes us across a fairly level valley floor until the climb up to Nyele-la pass (4,700m) . We descend gradually from the pass to our campsite at Lingshi (4,000m), enjoying a panoramic view of the mountain peaks and Lingshi Dzong as we walk.

Day 07: Lingshi – Shodu 22km, 8-9 hours

The Laya-Gasa route leaves the Chomolhari trek route here. Our trail climbs up towards a small white chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chu valley. The trail stays on the west side of this largely treeless valley, climbing steadily a short distance above the Mo Chu. It then crosses the river, and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli-la (4,820m). On a clear day you can see Chomolhari, Gangchenta, Tserimgang and Masagang from this pass. Descend alongside a stream to a rock shelter in the cliff face, and then continue on downstream till reaching Shodu (4,100m), where we will camp in a meadow with a chorten in it.

Day 08: Shodu – Barshong 16km, 6/-7 hours

We are now back at the tree line, and our path follows the course of the Thimphu Chu, descending through rhododendron, juniper and mixed alpine forests. There are stunning views of rocky cliff faces and waterfalls along the way. We stop at the riverside for a hot lunch. Then the trail takes us gradually upwards to the ruins of Barshong Dzong (3,600m), near which we camp for the night.

Day 09: Barshong – Dolam Kencho 15km, 5-6 hours

The trail descends gently through a dense forest of rhododendron, birch and conifers, then drops steeply to meet the Thimphu Chu. The trail runs along the left bank of the river, climbing over ridges and descending into gullies where side streams run down into the river. The final stage of the trail climbs around a cliff face high above the Thimphu Chu, coming out onto pastureland where we camp for the night at 3,600m.

Day 10: Dolam Kencho – Dodena – Thimphu 8km, 3 hours

The trail winds in and out of side valleys above the Thimphu Chu, making a long ascent through a forest of conifers and high altitude broadleaf species to a pass at 3,510m. The trail then drops steeply down to the river, following it southward to the road head at Dodena (2,600m). Etho Metho transport meets us here, and we drive to Thimphu. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 11: Thimphu – Paro

Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu valley visiting the following, as time permits:

National Memorial Chorten; Tashichhodzong (“the fortress of the glorious religion”); National Library; Institute for Zorig Chusum (Bhutanese arts and crafts school); National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) Handicrafts Emporium.

Evening drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 12: Depart Paro

After breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.

LAYA TREK  [ top ]

This route offers a great variety of trekking conditions, from picturesque farmland and forests to alpine pastureland and high passes. Spectacular campsites, beneath some of Bhutan's most impressive peaks, of which the most notable are Chomolhari and Jichu Drake, are also features of this trekking route. Numerous isolated dzongs and scattered settlements, including the extraordinary village of Laya, provide a great deal of cultural interest en route.

Season: This trek is generally open from April to June and mid-September to mid-November. However, April is the best trekking month for the Laya region.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Today's full day sightseeing in Paro valley includes visits to Ta Dzong (National Museum), Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) and Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro - Shana 17km, 5-6 hours

The trek starts from Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently through well maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens, and you reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m). This is the last stop before Tibet. The trail continues up to 2,870m, just beyond Sharma Zampa, where there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.

Day 04: Shana – Soi Thangthangkha 20km, 7-8 hours

The trail again follows the Pa Chu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, we stop for a hot lunch. Then we continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests, and crossing the river once more before reaching our campsite (3,750m).

Day 05: Soi Thangthangkha – Jangothang 19km, 7-8 hours

The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line, enjoying stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch is served at a yak herder's camp. A short walk from here into the valley takes us to our campsite at Jangothang (4,040m). From here, the views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.

Day 06: Rest day at Jangothang

Enjoy a leisurely day at this scenic spot, enjoying a superb view of the south face of Chomolhari and the ruined dzong.

Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi 8km, 7-8 hours

The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right bank. We now start our climb up to the first ridge, enjoying breathtaking views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The trail then takes us across a fairly level valley floor, until the climb up to Nyele-la pass (4,700m) We descend gradually from the pass to our campsite at Lingshi (4,000m), enjoying a panoramic view of the mountain peaks and Lingshi Dzong as we walk.

Day 08: Lingshi – Chebisa 10km, 5-6 hours

We continue on the trail past Lingshi Dzong, perched on its hilltop, enjoying exhilarating views of green hills, the winding river and magnificent peaks as we walk. It is an easy day, and a pleasant walk through villages and yak herders' camps. After lunch, a short walk takes us to Chebisa village, where we camp by the side of a stream (3,850m).

Day 09: Chebisa – Shoumuthang 17km, 6-7 hours

Today begins with a stiff climb of nearly four hours up a ridge to Gubu-la pass (4,500m). We descend from the pass through rhododendrons to our lunch place. We cross the stream after lunch, and continue along the up and down path, through rhododendron forests and yak herders' camps, occasionally sighting flocks of blue sheep as we walk. Tonight's campsite is at an altitude of 4,250m.

Day 10: Shoumuthang – Robluthang  18km, 6-7 hours

The trek starts with a climb up to Jari-la pass (4,700m). We descend from here to Tasharijathang valley, the summer grazing ground of the rare Himalayan takin (Bhutan's national animal). We may have to ford the stream here, as the footbridge is frequently washed away. After crossing to the left bank of the stream, the trail ascends to Robluthang (4,200m) where we set up our camp for the night.

Day 11: Robluthang – Limithang 19km, 7-8 hours

We start the day with a long climb up to Shinje-la pass (4,900m), enjoying stunning mountain views from the path. After crossing the pass we descend to Limithang. The path is quite narrow, and we may have to ford the stream again and get wet. The last part of today's trek is rather a scramble down a steep path, with the compensation of splendid views of Gangchenta peak (6,840m) along the way. Tonight we camp at 4,100m on flat ground above the river in a forested area, with Gangchenta towering directly above us to the north.

Day 12: Limithang – Laya  10km, 4-5 hours

In the morning we wake to a superb view of Gangchenta peak in front of our camp. The walk to Laya is very pleasant with wonderful views along the way. We pass through a damp forest, filled with moss and singing birds. We set up camp on arrival at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at 3,800m.

Day 13: Rest day at Laya

Today we explore the village and environs. You can go and visit any of the houses around. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended even to a perfect stranger, and a cup of tea and chang (an alcoholic drink) is always offered. The people in this village are very interesting, especially the women, whose plain black yak wool garments are set off by elaborate necklaces and conical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. In the evening, witness a cultural program of dances performed by village girls by the camp fire, and enjoy the local alcohol (ara and chang, brewed from barley) if you have a strong stomach.

Day 14: Laya – Chamsa  19km, 8-9 hours

We descend from Laya to the army camp at the side of the Mo Chu (Mother river of Punakha), and then walk alongside the river till reaching a bridge. After crossing the bridge, the track winds up and down through juniper and fir forests. We camp in the forest at Chamsa (3,800m).

Day 15: Chamsa – Gasa Tshachu 14km, 6-7 hours

After a 30 minute walk over flat land to Bele-la pass, it's downhill all the way to Gasa Tshachu. We take lunch at Gasa village (2700m), afterwards visiting the village and Gasa Dzong. The Dzong was built in the 17 th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. We then descend to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring), where we set up our camp (2,200m).

Day 16: Gasa Tshachu rest day

After a long trek, this is the place to relax! Enjoy a hot bath and try some of the local beer.

Day 17: Gasa Tshachu – Damji  18km, 5-6 hours

The path winds up and down through heavily forested areas where you can see many wild orchids. Take care, as there are leeches too! We camp overnight near Damji village (2,400m).

Day 18: Damji – Tashithang – Punakha  16km, 5-6 hours

This is our last trekking day. The trail descends through heavy forest, following the course of the Mo Chu, till reaching the road head at Tashithang (1,620m). Etho Metho transport will be waiting here to drive us along the valley to Punakha, 15 km. down the road. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 19: Punakha – Thimphu

Morning sightseeing in the Punakha and Wangduephodrang valleys, visiting Punakha Dzong and local market. Afternoon drive to Thimphu . Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 20: Thimphu

Today tour Thimphu, visiting the following as time permits: National Memorial Chorten, Tashichhodzong, National Library, Institute for Zorig Chusum (Bhutanese arts and crafts school), National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only ), Handicrafts Emporium, Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 21:Thimphu – Paro

Morning for shopping and at leisure. After lunch drive to Paro visiting Simtokha Dzong en route. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 22: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.

SNOWMAN TREK WITH GANGKAR PUENSUM   [ top ]

This trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be the most difficult trek in Bhutan . The circumstances which make this a tough trek are: distances, altitude, weather conditions and remoteness.

A very fit trekking group could tackle the final stage from Tshochenchen to Bumthang (Day 22: 21 km, 13 hours) in one day, but the less fit should allow two comfortable days, and either reduce time allotted for post-trek sightseeing or else add a day to the total length of the tour.

Season: The Snowman Trek is frequently closed because of snow and is almost impossible during winter. The recommended season for this trek is mid-June to mid-October.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to Thimphu . Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 02: Thimphu

Today tour Thimphu, visiting the following as time permits: National Memorial Chorten, Tashichhodzong, National Library, Institute for Zorig Chusum (Bhutanese arts and crafts school), National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only , Handicrafts Emporium, Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha/Tashithang

This morning we drive to Punakha via Dochu-la pass (3,088m), through magnificent forests of rhododendron and magnolia. From the pass there is a far-reaching view of the eastern Himalayan peaks and the Lunana trekking route. We have our picnic lunch by the riverside at Punakha. From here there is a splendid view of Punakha Dzong, built in 1637. It now houses the offices of the district administration, and is the winter residence of the central monk body. After lunch we drive up the valley, following the Mo Chu (river) to Tashithang, where we camp at the road head (1,600m).

Day 04: Tashithang – Damji 8km, 5-6 hours

The trek starts by the riverside, following a well marked path through subtropical forest. There are many wild orchids growing in this rather damp area, but be on the lookout for leeches also! Today's walk is a fairly gentle climb up to Damji village (2,400m), where we camp for the night.

Day 05: Damji – Gasa 15km, 6-7 hours

The path continues on through subtropical forested areas and villages up to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring). The Tshachu is famous for its curative powers, and people come from all over the country to bathe here. There are four pools, with temperatures ranging from warm to hot. After a hot lunch near the spring, we have a stiff climb of about two hours up to Gasa Dzong (2,900m) where we camp overnight.

Day 06: Gasa – Chamsa 13km, 6-7 hours

After breakfast, we visit the Dzong, which was built in the 17 th century to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. Today's trek begins with a steep climb up to Bele-la pass (3,700m) through bamboo, rhododendron, juniper and fir forests. We then descend for about half an hour to our forest camp at Chamsa (3,650m).

Day 07: Chamsa – Laya 22km, 8-9 hours

The trail descends to the bank of the Mo Chu. After crossing the river we have lunch by the bridge. From here it is a gradual climb up to Laya (3,800m), passing by an army camp en route. We camp at Laya.

Day 08: Rest day at Laya

One can go around the villages, visiting houses and the people. Laya people are very friendly and will happily pose for photographs. Women of Laya wear a special dress and typical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. There will be an evening cultural program by the camp fire, with dances performed by local girls.

Day 09: Laya – Rhodophu 19km, 8-9 hours

From Laya we descend to the army camp and continue following the trail along the river till the turn off point for Rhodophu. After lunch we continue climbing upwards through rhododendrons till we reach a hanging valley where there are yaks grazing (4,350m). We camp here by the river.

Day 10: Rhodophu – Tarina 25km, 10-11 hours

Today's trek is the longest of the trip and it is important to start early, around 5 am . We first climb up to Tsimo-la pass (4,700m). After crossing this first pass and the little summit, we can enjoy a superb view of Lunana, and the peaks of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. We walk over fairly level ground for the next four hours, before starting the climb up to Ganglakarchung-la pass (5,080m). The view from the pass is breathtaking, encompassing the whole mountain range, including the peaks of Masagang, Tsendegang and Terigang. After crossing the pass, it is a very long descent to the Tarina valley, where we camp at 3,980m.

Day 11: Tarina – Woche 17km, 6-7 hours

The path descends through coniferous forest, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chu. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche at 3,800m, the first village since Gasa. Camp at alt. 3,800m.

Day 12: Woche – Lhedi 7km, 6-7 hours

Today's trek begins with a walk through juniper and fir forests and further ahead through rhododendron bushes. We climb up to Keche-la pass (4,480m) and pause to enjoy the wonderful mountain views. After the pass, we descend to a river, with stunning views of Table Mountain and other peaks en route. We walk upstream along this river, which is one of the main tributaries of the Pho Chu, as far as Lhedi village (3,650m), where we camp overnight.

Day 13: Lhedi – Thanza 17km, 7-8 hours

The route continues to follow the river, rising gradually to Choejong village (the biggest village in Lunana) where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we visit the village temple, then walk for some time through a sandy area till meeting the river, which we cross by a suspension bridge. Soon we reach our campsite at Thanza (4,000m), the second biggest village in Lunana.

Day 14: Rest day at Thanza

A welcome day of leisure, for reading, catching up with the washing, or just strolling around. If you are feeling really energetic, you can climb up to the ridge for yet another splendid view of the mountains.

Day 15: Thanza – Tshorim 19km, 8-9 hours

Today's trek starts with a climb up to the ridge, from where there is a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. We cross the ridge, and enter a small valley with a stream running through it. We follow the stream up the valley, enjoying the view of snow-capped mountains, and have lunch near the bridge. We then climb up out of the valley, crossing some small ridges, to reach our campsite at Tshorim (5,125m).

Day 16: Tshorim – Gangkar Puensum Base Camp 16km, 6-7 hours

Today's trek is one of the highlights of the trip. The day starts with a short climb up to Tshorim Lake . We walk around the side of the lake, enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophula ranges. The final stretch up to Gophu-la pass (5,230m) is very short. After crossing the pass, we descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge and enjoying a great view of Gangkar Puensum. According to choice, you can detour left and climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view, or you can go directly down to the base camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chu, where we will set up camp.

Day 17: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp

Rest day at the base camp, enjoying the great view.

Day 18: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp – Geshe Woma 14km, 6-7 hours

The trek is not yet over! The trail follows along the Sha Chu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma (4,200m) where we camp.

Day 19: Geshe Woma – Warathang 8km, 8-9 hours

The path continues along the course of the Sha Chu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka-la pass begins. Visibility is poor along this part of the trail, so we must keep watching the top of the ridge in order to stay on course. We stop for lunch near a yak herder's camp, then climb up to Saka-la pass (4,800m). There are stunning views on the descent to the lakes and another short ascent, during which we see small lakes spread below towering mountain peaks. We camp at 4,000m.

Day 20: Warathang – Dhur Tshachu 14km, 5 hours

A short half-hour climb takes us up to Juli-la pass (4,400m). After crossing the pass, we descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb reach Dhur Tshachu hot spring, where legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava bathed in the 8 th century.

Day 21: Dhur Tshachu – Tshochenchen 16km, 8-9 hours

From the spring, it is a long and steady climb upwards, with great views of the mountains in Lunana. Eventually the ground levels out, and we see several beautiful deep blue lakes, yaks grazing on the surrounding pastures, and yak herders' camps (3,850m).

Day 22: Tshochenchen – Dhur (motor road) – Bumthang (Jakar) 21km, 13 hours

This is the last day of the trek, where we change from yak to pack ponies. We must set off very early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chu, descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach Dhur village, where Etho Metho transport will meet us and drive us to the lodge in Bumthang (Jakar).

Note: Unless very fit, it is best to spread this final stage over two days: Tshochenchen-Gorsum (7 hours); Gorsum-Dhur-Bumthang (6 hours).

Day 23: Bumthang

The Bumthang valley is the cultural heartland of the nation. The hills around the valley are dotted with monasteries dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. The valley is also the ancestral home of one of the great Buddhist teachers, Pema Lingpa, from whose descendants the present monarchy traces its origin.

Today we explore the valley, visiting Jakar Dzong, Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 24: Bumthang – Tongsa

Our journey to Tongsa takes about three hours. Tongsa Dzong, built in 1648, was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan . Both the first and second kings ruled the country from this ancient seat. All four monarchs were invested as Tongsa Penlop (“governor”) prior to ascending the throne, and the present Crown Prince now holds the post. The dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built. Standing above this fortress is Ta Dzong, a watchtower, which once guarded this place from internal rebellion. A visit to Ta Dzong gives further insights into the significance of Tongsa in Bhutan 's history. Overnight at the lodge in Tongsa, from which there is a breathtaking early morning view of Tongsa Dzong and the blue hills and valleys beyond.

Day 25: Tongsa – Paro

After breakfast drive to Paro. Evening at leisure or visit a traditional farm house. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 26: Paro

Full day sightseeing in Paro valley, visiting Drukgyel Dzong, Ta Dzong (National Museum), Rinpung Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 27: Depart Paro

After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to Paro airport for onward journey.

DHUR HOT SPRINGS TREK  [ top ]

 

This trek follows an old expedition route to Gangkar Puensum.

season: The recommended seasons are March to April and September to early November.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Full day of sightseeing in Paro. We drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering walls and central keep are still an impressive sight. There is a good view of Bhutan 's second highest peak, Chomolhari (7,300m), from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong.

Next we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang (7 th century), one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan . After lunch, we drive up to Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong). It was re-established as the National Museum in 1968, and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan 's exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.

We then walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (built in 1646), center of the district administration and home of Paro's monk body. It is also the venue of the Paro Tsechu, held annually in the springtime. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro – Thimphu

After breakfast we drive to Thimphu , the present capital of Bhutan . Just before reaching Thimphu , we pass Simtokha Dzong on the hillside above the road. This dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, is the oldest in Bhutan and now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies. On arrival in Thimphu , check into the hotel.

After lunch, we visit the imposing Tashichhodzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”, built in 1641 by the first Shabdrung and reconstructed in the 1960s during the reign of the third king. We also visit the National Memorial Chorten, completed in 1974, which serves as a memorial to Bhutan's revered third king, His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“father of modern Bhutan”), and as a monument to peace. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu- Tongsa

Our journey to central Bhutan begins this morning. A 45 min. drive takes us up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m) from which there are enchanting views of high Himalayan peaks, wooded hills, and villages and farmland in the valleys below. After another two hours' drive, we reach Wangduephodrang, where we stop for lunch. We then continue on into the hinterland, crossing Pele-la pass (3,300m) and descending to Tongsa with a short stop at Chendebji Chorten en route.

Overnight at the lodge in Tongsa, which we will reach in the late afternoon. In the evening we will visit Ta Dzong and Tongsa town.

Day 05: Tongsa – Jakar (Bumthang)

Morning visit to Tongsa Dzong, the largest fortress in Bhutan . The foundations of this imposing edifice were laid down in 1543 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's great grandfather, and the Shabdrung himself completed the work in 1648. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan .

We then proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. Our journey of about 3 hours takes us up over a high mountain pass and then down through coniferous forest to our destination. After lunch we walk around the town and also visit some of the holy temples for which Bumthang is famous, including the 7 th century Jambey Lhakhang, and Kurje Lhakhang, highly revered as a meditation place of Bhutan 's “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche.

Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 06: Bumthang – Gorsum 18km, 6-7 hours

After breakfast Etho Metho transport will take us up to the starting point for our trek, just beyond Kurje Lhakhang. Our trail runs upstream along the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for its richness in trout. We camp overnight at 3,120m.

Day 07: Gorsum – Lungsum 12km, 5 hours

Today's walk takes us through dense forests of spruce, hemlock, cypress, juniper and maple trees. The trail is rather muddy and ascends gradually to our campsite at 3,160m.

Day 08: Lungsum – Tshochenchen 15km, 6-7 hours

The path ascends gradually through dense vegetation to Tshochenchen (3,400m) where we camp overnight.

Day 09: Tshochenchen – Dhur Tshachu 17km, 7 hours

We trek uphill from Tshochenchen to Juli-la pass (4,400m). On a clear day, there is a good view of the surrounding mountains from here. After crossing the pass, we walk downhill till reaching our campsite at 3,300m. Musk deer, Himalayan bears and blue sheep may be seen en route.

Day 10: Dhur Tshachu rest day

After late breakfast relax in the hot springs or hike around the camp area.

Day 11: Dhur Tshachu – Tshochenchen 17km, 7 hours

Start early on the trek back up to Juli-la pass, from which we descend gradually to the campsite at Tshochenchen (3,400m).

Day 12: Tshochenchen – Gorsum 18km, 6 hours

Another early start, as we walk right through to Gorsum today. The path descends gradually through dense forest, and may be rather muddy in places after Lungsum. We camp overnight at Gorsum (3,120m).

Day 13: Gorsum – Dhur (motor road) - Bumthang 9km, 3 hours

The trail follows the Chamkhar Chu, descending gradually to Dhur village, where Etho Metho transport will meet us and drive us to our Bumthang lodge. Leisure time after lunch. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 14: Bumthang – Wangduephodrang

In the morning we explore Bumthang valley, visiting Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang. Later we drive to Wangduephodrang. Overnight at the hotel in Wangdue.

Day 15: Wangduephodrang/Punakha – Thimphu

After breakfast, visit the impressive Wangdue Dzong, situated at the junction of the Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers, and also take a stroll around the market area visiting local shops.

Then drive to Bhutan 's old capital Punakha to see Punakha Dzong (1637), a superb example of Bhutanese architecture. Damaged over the centuries by fire, earthquake and floods, the dzong has in recent years been superbly restored.

Drive to Thimphu in the late afternoon, and after dinner take an evening stroll around the town. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 16: Thimphu – Paro

Morning sightseeing in Thimphu . We will visit handicrafts shops which stock a wide range of Bhutan 's fine traditional arts and crafts, including hand-woven textiles in silk and cotton, dance masks, ceramics, basketware, silver jewellery, and delicately executed thangkha paintings. We will also visit the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School ) where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan , and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only)

After lunch we drive to Paro, where we will have time for sightseeing in town and also a visit to a traditional Bhutanese farm house, to gain an insight into the lifestyle of the local people. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 17: Depart Paro

After early breakfast, drive to Paro airport for onward journey.

WILD EAST RODUNG-LA TREK    [ top ]

 

This journey across the top of eastern Bhutan follows what used to be an important trade route before completion of the national highway. The trek is tough, and involves a tremendously long, steep descent. Few groups take up the challenge which this long and demanding journey presents.

Season: The recommended season for this trek is October, early November and late spring.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative, and transferred to your hotel on completion of arrival formalities. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro – Thimphu

This morning we visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a fortified watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong, and in 1968 inaugurated as the National Museum . We then follow a trail down the hillside to Rinpung Dzong, a fortress/monastery which has a long and fascinating history.

After lunch we drive up to the end of Paro valley to visit Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate victory over Tibetan invaders. We then visit 7 th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest shrines in the country, and afterwards call at a traditional Bhutanese farm house to get an idea of the lifestyle of local people.

In the evening we drive to Thimphu , the capital. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 03:Thimphu

Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu , including visits to the following, as time permits:

* National Memorial Chorten – built as a memorial to Bhutan 's third king (“the father of modern Bhutan ”) and as a monument to peace;

* Tashichhodzong – the impressive fortress/monastery housing some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body;

* National Library – established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan's cultural heritage, it now holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts;

* Institute for Zorig Chusum, more commonly known as the Painting School , where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan ;

* National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) – herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed here, and traditional medicine practitioners trained.

In the evening visit the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide assortment of intricately hand-woven textiles and other craft products. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu – Tongsa

After breakfast, we set off for Tongsa, crossing Dochu-la pass (3,088m) about 45 min. after leaving Thimphu . On a clear day the view from the pass is superb. We then descend to the valley, reaching the former capital Punakha about two hours later. After visiting Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17 th century and recently restored to its original splendor, we drive south to Wangduephodrang town where lunch will be served. After lunch we visit Wangdue Dzong then continue on to Tongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west. Stop briefly en route at Chendebji Chorten, an 18 th century stupa built in the Nepalese style with eyes painted at the four cardinal points.

In the evening, visit Ta Dzong (watchtower above Tongsa Dzong) and the town of Tongsa . Overnight at the lodge in Tongsa.

Day 05: Tongsa – Bumthang

Morning visit to Tongsa Dzong, the largest fortress in the country. The foundations of this imposing edifice were laid down in 1543 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's great grandfather, and the Shabdrung himself completed the work in 1648. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan .

We then drive to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. After lunch we walk around the town and also visit some of the holy temples for which Bumthang is famous, including the 7 th century Jambey Lhakhang, and Kurje Lhakhang, highly revered as a meditation place of Bhutan 's “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche. We also visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 06: Bumthang – Tang - Ugyenchholing

We spend the morning sightseeing in the valley, then have lunch at the lodge before departure for Tang, or else a picnic lunch along the way. We drive out of town along the main highway east for about 20 minutes, then turn left onto a rough road which winds up the hillside through coniferous forest and into the Tang valley. It is only about 20 km. to Tang village, but due to the condition of the road the drive takes 2-3 hours. We begin our trek at Tang, with a 30 minute walk up to Ugyenchholing Manor, situated on a hillock above the village, where we spend the night. Overnight in the manor guesthouse or camp in the courtyard (2,850m).

Day 07: Ugyenchholing – Phokpey 17km, 5-6 hours

Today's walk takes us through bamboos, hemlock and finally up into the alpine forest. Overnight camp at 3,600m.

Day 08: Phokpey – Ungaar 20km, 7-8 hours

The trail takes us up for half an hour to reach Rodung-la (4,160m), then continues steadily downhill through rhododendrons, conifers and broadleafed forest, patches of dwarf bamboo and finally ferns and more tropical species to the village of Ungaar at the head of the valley below. We camp overnight near Ungaar (1,770m) just beyond some pine trees.

Today's steady descent of 2,390 meters is quite tough on the knees, so for those trekkers with knee problems we would recommend halting overnight at a campsite by a ruined stone building (a grain storehouse during the times of the first and second kings) about half way down the trail (2,950m).

Day 09: Ungaar – Taskila21km, 7-8 hours

Today's trail winds gently up and down through chirpine forests and across open hillsides covered in lemon grass. We pass through several villages then climb up to Khaine Lhakhang (2,010m), reputed to be one of the 108 temples which the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo built in 659 to subdue demons. The main protective deity is a ferocious god named Taxan, depicted on horseback. A two-day festival is celebrated here in mid-November. From Khaine Lhakhang to Taskila is a gentle descent of 2-3 hours. We camp overnight near Taskila village (1,800m).

Day 10: Taskila – Tangmachu 20km, 5-6 hours

We start our day with a leisurely walk down to Menjabi (sometimes spelt Minjibi) village, where beautiful houses and terraced fields are scattered across the gently sloping hillsides. Legend says that in the olden days many beautiful ladies could be found in Menjabi, but that outsiders did not marry them for fear of the leprosy which was prevalent in the area at that time (but is no longer, due to modern treatment methods). After passing Menjabi we have a short climb up to Tage-la (1,760m). From here the journey is all downhill till we reach Tangmachu village (2,200m), situated just above a major rice growing area. There is a big secondary school here. In autumn, we can camp in the fields, but if we are passing through during the cultivation season, we will carry on down the hill and camp by the side of the Kuri chu (2,000m).

Day 11: Tangmachu – Menji16km, 4-5 hour

The trail takes us down to the river crossing at Kuri Zam, then winds gradually up through paddy fields and villages to Menji, where we camp for the night above the village beside Darchu Pang Lhakhang (1,830m).

Day 12: Menji – Pemi 20km, 6-7 hours

We continue uphill on a steep, rough trail which passes through thick forest. We come out onto a ridge-top meadow after a couple of hours, but soon our trail takes us into the forest again. We finally reach some herders' huts at Pemi, in a narrow ridge-top clearing from which there is a view of a forested gorge and mountains beyond. Other than the huts, there is no sign of habitation, although Menji villagers use this area as a summer pasture. We camp overnight under forest shelter at 2,400m.

Day 13: Pemi –Taupang 21km, 6-7 hours

Continue up to Dong-la (3,900m) and pause at the pass to enjoy a splendid view of the surrounding snowy peaks. Then descend through thick evergreen forest to reach our camp site at Taupang (2,450m), a forest clearing with a wooden shelter in it.

Day 14: Taupang – Tashiyangtse 24km, 8-9 hours

We set off early as this is the longest day of the trek. The trail runs gradually downhill, passing through chirpine and sub-tropical hardwood forests. We camp overnight at Tashiyangtse (1,700m).

Day 15: Tashiyangtse – Tashigang

End of trek. Etho Metho transport takes us to Tashigang town, administrative center of Bhutan 's easternmost district, Tashigang. Overnight at the lodge in Tashigang.

Day 16: Tashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar

Morning visit to the 17 th century Tashigang Dzong, perched on the edge of a steep hillside and commanding a spectacular view of the valley far below. Then visit the town and take a stroll through the local market, where people from nearby places come to trade.

After that proceed to Samdrup Jongkhar. The road winds upwards around the contours of the hillside to Kanglung, home of Sherubtse College , then further ascends to Yongphu-la (2,190m). There are splendid views of the region through which you have traveled from the ascent up to this pass. The road then descends fairly rapidly, passing through cultivated areas and then dropping down into dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns on the approach to the Indian plains. Overnight at the hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 17: Samdrup Jongkhar – Guwahati

The drive to Guwahati in Assam takes about three hours. Your Etho Metho representative will drop you there at the hotel or airport for your onward program.

SAMTENGANG WINTER TREK   [ top ]

Season: It is possible to do this low altitude trek throughout the winter season.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by our representative, and transferred to the hotel in Paro. Afternoon free for sightseeing or leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

Full day of sightseeing in the Paro valley. After breakfast, we drive up to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646. Although largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and ruins within are still an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a fine view of Mt. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. On the way back, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in the 7 th century and one of the two oldest and most sacred shrines in the country.

After lunch, visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong, and in 1968 inaugurated as the National Museum . Also visit Rinpung Dzong (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), the center of district administration and home of the local monk body. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro – Thimphu

After breakfast drive to Thimphu , the present day capital of Bhutan . Shortly before reaching Thimphu , you will have a good view of Simtokha Dzong standing sentinel on a hillock above the road. Erected in 1627, this dzong built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is the oldest in the country.

In the afternoon we will visit Tashichhodzong, the impressive fortress/monastery built in 1641 by the first Shabdrung and reconstructed in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan 's third king. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body. We will also visit the National Memorial Chorten. Completed in 1974 after the untimely death of Bhutan 's third king, it is both a memorial to the Late King and a monument to world peace.

In the evening, we will browse in the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of handcrafted products, including the splendid thangkha paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous, and then perhaps take a stroll around the town. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha

After breakfast we drive to Bhutan's former capital Punakha, stopping briefly en route at Dochu-la pass (3,088m) to enjoy a panoramic view (weather permitting) of snowcapped, eastern Himalayan peaks. Punakha Dzong, dramatically situated at the confluence of two rivers, is a superb example of Bhutanese architecture. Built in 1637 and damaged over the centuries by fire, earthquake and floods, the dzong has in recent years been superbly restored.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 05: Punakha – Limukha 14km, 5-6 hours

We cross the suspension bridge over the river by Punakha Dzong and walk up to Shengana. Our trek begins from there with a gradual climb up through chirpine forest to Limukha, visiting Dompala village en route. Camp overnight near Limukha village at about 1,800m.

Day 06: Limukha - Chungsakha 14km, 5-6 hours

The trail takes us downhill through rhododendron and oak forested areas. En route we visit a famous temple used as a winter residence by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15 th century. Camp overnight near Chungsakha village.

Day 07: Chungsakha – Samtengang 13km, 5 hours

The trail leads us down and across the Pe Chu (river), then up the hillside to Sha village in the Sha region of Wangduephodrang district. We continue on upwards and camp overnight by the lakeside at Samtengang.

Day 08: Samtengang – Wangduephodrang – Thimphu

6km, 3 hours (if taking the shortcut)

15km, 5-6 hours (if taking the longer route)

We follow the trail downhill to the motor road near Chuzomsa, where we are met by Etho Metho transport and transferred to Wangdue. After lunch, we visit Wangdue Dzong and the local market before driving back to Thimphu . Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 09: Thimphu – Paro

After breakfast we visit the following as time permits: the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature including some manuscripts dating back several hundred years; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students are trained in Bhutan's 13 traditional arts and crafts; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) where Bhutan's famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medicine practitioners are trained; the Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Drive to Paro after lunch, visiting a village house en route to get an idea of the lifestyle of local people. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 10: Depart Paro

After breakfast in the hotel, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.

PUNAKHA WINTER TREK   [ top ]

 

Season: This is a pleasant and not too taxing low altitude walk over the hills from Dechenchholing to Punakha, and so is particularly suitable for the winter season.

Day 01: Arrive Paro

On arrival at Paro, you will be met by your Etho Metho representative and transferred to your Paro hotel. Afternoon free for leisure or sightseeing. Evening visit to Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02: Paro

After breakfast drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though now in ruins, its towering walls are still an imposing sight. On a clear day there is a splendid view of snow capped Mt. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Then visit 7 th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan .

In the afternoon visit Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong, and in 1968 inaugurated as the National Museum . The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, folk arts, relics, coins, postage stamps and a small natural history display. Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03: Paro-Thimphu

After breakfast drive to Thimphu, stopping briefly en route at Chuzom (Confluence) where the Paro river joins the Thimphu river, to observe the three chortens on the riverbank at this place, each in a different style, which mark the confluence of the two rivers. Shortly before reaching Thimphu , we stop to visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the kingdom, built in 1627. The complex now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.

After lunch in Thimphu, we visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of government and summer residence of the Chief Abbot and central monk body, and the National Memorial Chorten, completed in 1974, which serves both as a memorial to Bhutan's revered third king (“the father of modern Bhutan”) and as a monument to world peace. In the evening we take a stroll around the town. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 04: Thimphu

Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu valley, including visits to the following as time permits:

* National Library – established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan's cultural heritage, it now holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts;

* Institute for Zorig Chusum (more commonly known as the Painting School ) – students take a six year course here to learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan ;

* National Institute of Traditional Medicine(outside only) , where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed, and traditional practitioners are trained;

Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums , which provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life;

* Handicrafts Emporium, which stocks a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles, basketware, silver jewelry, thangkhas and other traditional crafts of the kingdom.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu .

Day 05: Thimphu – Dopshing Pang 17km, 5-6 hours

We drive north up the valley towards Dechenchholing Palace , following the Thimphu river. We drive along a logging road for about an hour, passing through Kabesa village en route to Shong Pang where the trek begins. The trek trail ascends gradually to Sinchu-la (3,200m). If the weather is clear, you can see Phajoding monastery from the pass. After walking another 2 km., you can view Thinleygang village, Talo monastery and the road to Bhutan 's former capital, Punakha. The trail descends gradually from the pass till we reach our overnight campsite at 2,800m.

Day 06: Dopshing Pang – Chorten Ningpo 18km, 6-7 hours

The trail to Chorten Ningpo descends rather gradually, passing mainly through densely forested areas. We pass through rice fields before reaching our campsite at 2,700m.

Day 07: Chorten Ningpo – Kabesa/Punakha 5km, 1 hour

The trek trail takes us through villages for an hour until we reach the motor road, where Etho Metho transport meets us to transfer us to Punakha. We stop about 7 km. out of Punakha to visit Chorten Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal, situated on a hilltop across the river. Consecrated in Dec. 1999, this chorten dedicated to Bhutan 's protective deity Mahakala contains exceptionally fine sculptures and mural paintings. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 08: Punakha - Limukha 15km, 5-6 hours

We follow the road to Punakha Dzong, and then cross the Pho Chu (river) which drains the remote Lunana region. After walking through rice fields for about 15 minutes, we start climbing gradually through scattered chirpine forest, and after about 3 hours enter deciduous forest. Further along the trail we will also enjoy a wonderful view of Punakha valley and Dzong, and if the weather is clear we will also see some of the snow-capped mountain peaks to the north. The campsite is near Limukha village at alt. 2,250m.

Day 09: Limukha – Chungsakha - Wangduephodrang 15km, 5-6 hours

The trek trail rises gradually up through oak and rhododendron forests, then descends gradually through thick forest to a small lhakhang dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who used it as a winter residence in the 15 th century. From Chungsakha, you can look across the valley to Samtengang. We walk downhill till we reach the road, where Etho Metho transport meets us for the 30 minute drive to Wangdue. Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephodrang.

Day 10: Wangduephodrang /Punakha – Paro

After breakfast, visit Wangdue Dzong, stretched along the hilltop above the confluence of the Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers. This fortress was built in the 17 th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Visitors may attend the Wangduephodrang Tsechu, an attractive festival held at the dzong in autumn each year. Then drive up the valley to Bhutan 's former capital, Punakha, and visit sacred Punakha Dzong. Damaged over the centuries by fire, flood and earthquake, this superb example of Bhutanese architecture has been fully restored in recent years. The Shabdrung died here, and his remains are preserved in a casket in Machen Lhakhang in the dzong.

After lunch, drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 11: Depart Paro

After early breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destinations.

MAP OF BHUTAN, showing main tourist destinations & trekking routes  [ top ]

I suggest just a single page map, with only major places marked. Preferably have it in colour.

Alternatively, have a double page map as centerfold. In this case, the order of Contents would need to be revised once layout has been done.

METRIC CONVERSION; DISTANCE DRIVING TIME; TEMPERATURE  [ top ]

Length/speed: To convert from metric, divide by the factor shown. To convert to metric, multiply by the factor shown.

miles : kilometers 1.6093 (1 km = five eighths of a mile; 5 miles = 8 km)

feet : meters 0.3048 (feet = meters x 3.3)

Celsius/Fahrenheit: 0/32; 5/41; 10/50; 15/59; 20/68; 25/78; 30/86

(figures only approximate)

Distances driving times between various places

From

To

Distance

Driving Time

Thimphu

Paro

54 km

2 hours

Thimphu

Phuentsholing

172 km

6 hours

Thimphu

Wangduephodrang

70 km

3 hours

Thimphu

Punakha

76 km

3 hours

Punakha

Wangduephodrang

17 km

40 min.

Wangduephodrang

Tongsa

129 km

5 hours

Tongsa

Bumthang

68 km

3 hours

Bumthang

Mongar

198 km

7 hours

Mongar

Lhuentse

76 km

3 hours

Mongar

Tashigang

91 km

3 hours

Tashigang

Chorten Kora

52 km

2 hours

Tashigang

Samdrup Jongkhar

180 km

7 hours

Samdrup Jongkhar

Guwahati ( Assam )

110 km

3 hours

Samdrup Jongkhar

Phuentsholing

380 km

10 hours

Phuentsholing

Bagdogra

170 km

4 hours

Phuentsholing

Siliguri

160 km

4 hours

Average temperature (in Celsius)

Places

January

April

July

October

Paro

-5.8 - 9.4

4.6 - 17.6

14.9 - 26.8

7.4 - 18.7

Thimphu

-2.6 - 12.3

7.1 - 20.0

13.4 - 28.9

10.4 - 21.9

Punakha

4.2 - 16.1

11.9 - 24.4

21.6 - 32

18.9 - 27.8

Wangdue

4.3 - 17.0

12.9 - 26.2

16.2 - 28.4

14.7 - 26.1

Tongsa

-0.2 - 13.0

6.6 - 20.1

15.3 - 25.3

11.7 - 21.8

Bumthang

-5.1 - 10.8

3.9 - 18.7

10.9 - 24.1

5.9 - 19.5

Mongar

8.2 - 15.5

14.0 - 22.8

15.8 - 26.1

15.8 - 22.7

Tashigang

10.5 - 20.4

17.0 - 28.3

23.1 - 31.5

17.7 - 29.1

ACCOMMODATION   [ top ]

 

Listed below for your reference are details of the hotels, lodges and guest houses which we use. Sufficient information has been included to give an indication of the standard to be expected in each of the accommodations listed. Although the best cannot be compared with international hotels, all offer the necessary facilities, and are properly maintained. Hotels in the towns of more economically developed western Bhutan ( Thimphu , Paro, Punakha) provide reasonably good accommodation and cuisine, but as one ventures further afield, into the central and eastern regions, the lodging becomes more rudimentary.

Even when you travel with Hi Flying Tours to remote areas of central and eastern Bhutan , you can be sure that your accommodation in lodges, guest houses, smaller hotels and tented camps will be up to the best available. Sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, and a very modest one at that but, in such cases, we feel that any minor inconveniences endured will be far outweighed by the unique experience of traveling in these more remote areas.

As our accommodations list is continuously under review, we would welcome feedback, especially concerning services, cuisine, and maintenance of facilities, on the various lodgings in which we have accommodated your clients on their visits to Bhutan . End-user feedback helps us ensure that our accommodations remain up to standard, and where feedback comes in the form of praise, this does a lot for hotel keepers' morale!

PHUENTSHOLING   [ top ]

HOTEL CENTRAL

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 23 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 65 & 20 persons respectively

Cuisine : Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-5-252172 / 252173

Fax : +975–5–252022

HOTEL DRUK

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 30 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 60 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–5–252426/252427/252428

Fax : +975–5-252929

Email : h-druk@druknet.bt

HOTEL NAMGAY

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 15 doubles, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 35 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–5–252374

Fax : +975-5-254147

HOTEL SINCHULA

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 15 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 35 persons

Cuisine : Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–5–252589

Fax : +975-5-252772

PARO  [ top ]

HOTEL GANGTEY PALACE

Location : Overlooking valley, 1 km. from town

Number of rooms : 23 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 55 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–8-271301

Fax : +975–5–271452

Email : hganteyp@druknet.bt

HOTEL OLATHANG

Location : Overlooking valley, about 2 km. from town

Number of rooms : 56 doubles in cottages, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 175 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–8–271304 /272305

Fax : +975-5-271454

Email : Ohotel@druknet.bt

HOTEL SAMDRUP CHOLING

Location : Near Olathangka

Number of rooms : 20 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 50 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-8-271449

Fax : +975-8-271826

LHODRAK LODGE

Location : Below Olathangka

Number of rooms : 18 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 45 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-8-271747

PELRI COTTAGES

Location : Olathangka

Number of rooms : 15 doubles in cottages, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 40 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-8-271683

Fax : +975-5-272472

PEMA LING VILLA

Location : Overlooking valley, about 2 km. from town

Number of rooms : 8 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 16 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Extra facilities : Traditional Bhutanese herbal bath on request

Tel. : +975-8-271473

Email : tantric@druknet.bt

TIGER'S NEST RESORT

Location : On hillside, about 3 km. up valley from town

Number of rooms : 11 doubles in cottages, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 40 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–8–271310

Fax : +975–5-271640

THIMPHU  [ top ]

HOTEL DRUK

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 53 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 100 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Extra facilities : Health Club, Business Lounge

Tel. : +975–2–322966/322977/323358/323359

Fax : +975–2–322677

Email : drukhotel@druknet.bt

HOTEL JUMOLHARI

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 17 doubles & 9 suites, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 60 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese, Continental,

Extra facilities : Business center, Steam bath & sauna, Hair salon

Tel. : +975–2–322747 / 325506 / 325253

Fax : +975–2–324412

Email : holeljumolhari@druknet.bt

HOTEL MOTITHANG

Location : About 4 km. above main town

Number of rooms : 14 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 30 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-2-322435

Fax : +975-2-328058

HOTEL PEDLING

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 39 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 80 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental, Japanese, Tibetan

Tel. : +975–2–325714 / 324451

Fax : +975–2–323592

Email : pedling@druknet.bt

HOTEL RIVERVIEW

Location : On hillside above river, 1 km. from town

Number of rooms : 50 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 100 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–2–325029/325030

Fax : +975–2–323496

HOTEL WANGCHUK

Location : City center

Number of rooms : 18 doubles & 2 singles, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 50 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–2–323532

Fax : +975–2–323222

YEEDZIN GUEST HOUSE

Location : 5 mins. walk from city center

Number of rooms : 12 doubles & 7 singles, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 30 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-2-325702/322932

Fax : +975-2-324995

Email : yeedzin@druknet.bt

PUNAKHA & WANGDUEPHODRANG [ top ]

HOTEL DRAGON'S NEST

Location : Above river, opposite Wangduephodrang town

Number of rooms : 17 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 50 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–2–481366

Fax : +975–2–481274

HOTEL MERIPUENSUM

Location : Walakha – on hillside about 4 km. from Punakha town

Number of rooms : 17 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 35 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975–2–584195

Fax : +975–2–584236

HOTEL Y.T.

Location : Lobesa (between Punakha and Wangduephodrang)

Number of rooms : 14 doubles & 2 singles, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 43 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–2–481331 / 481324

Fax : +975–2-481527

Email : hotelyt@druknet.bt

HOTEL ZANGDO PELRI

Location : High on hillside, about 5 km. before Punakha town

Number of rooms : 45 doubles, mainly cottages, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 80 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–2–584125

Fax : +975-2-584203

Email : hotzang@druknet.bt

TONGSA  [ top ]

NORLING LODGE

Location : In main town

Number of rooms : 9 doubles & 1 single, with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 40 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975–3-521171

Fax : +975–3-521178

PUENZHI GUEST HOUSE

Location : Above Ta Dzong, 2 km. from town

Number of rooms : 20 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 40 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. / Fax : +975–3-521197

SHERUBLING LODGE

Location : Above Tongsa town, with superb view of Dzong

Number of rooms : 14 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 30 persons

Cuisine : Indian, Bhutanese

Tel. : +975–3–521116

Fax : +975–3-521107

BUMTHANG  [ top ]

JAKAR VILLAGE LODGE

Location : Near Jakar Dzong

Number of rooms : 16 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 25 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese

Tel. : +975-3-631242

Fax : +975-3-631377

Email : gaseyjvl@druknet.bt

MOUNTAIN LODGE

Location : Wangdichholing

Number of rooms : 23 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 44 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975–3-631255

Fax : +975–3-631275

Email : mtlodge@druknet.bt

SWISS GUEST HOUSE

Location : On hillside, opposite Bumthang town

Number of rooms : 13 doubles, common bath

Restaurant capacity : 30 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese

Tel. : +975–3-631145

MONGAR  [ top ]

DRUK KUENDEN

Location : In main town

Number of rooms : 4 doubles with attached bath, 4 doubles with common bath

Restaurant capacity : 30 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975-4-641240

NEWLEE HOTEL

Location : In main town

Number of rooms : 4 doubles with attached bath, 4 doubles with common bath

Restaurant capacity : 30 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975–4-641240

SAMLING HOTEL

Location : In main town

Number of rooms : 4 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 15 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975-4-641111

SHONGAR LODGE

Location : In main town

Number of rooms : 7 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 25 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975–4-641107

Fax : +975–4-640999

TASHIGANG  [ top ]

DRUK DOEJUNG HOTEL

Location : In main town

Number of rooms : 8 doubles with attached bath, 4 doubles with common bath

Restaurant capacity : 20 persons inside, 30 outside

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Indian

Tel. : +975–4–521214

Fax : +975–4-521269

ULING RESORT

Location : Khaling

Number of rooms : 10

Restaurant capacity : 20 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Continental

Tel. : +975-4-581119

Email : ulingk@hotmail.com

SAMDRUP JONGKHAR  [ top ]

HOTEL DEKILING

Location : Near town center

Number of rooms : 9 doubles with attached bath, 1 single common bath

Restaurant capacity : 40 persons

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian

Tel. : +975–7–251306

HOTEL PELJORLING

Location : Near town center

Number of rooms : 14 doubles with attached bath

Restaurant capacity : 60, 30 persons in two restaurants

Cuisine : Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian, Continental

Tel. : +975-7-251094

Fax : +975–7-251377

GLOSSARY  [ top ]

Chu : River,Water

Chorten: Stupa (Buddhist monument)

Druk: Dragon

Druk Yul: Land of Dragon , the Dzongkha name for Bhutan

Drukpa Kagyupa: Official religious school of Bhutan

Dzong: Fortress-cum-Monastery

Dzongkha: National language of Bhutan

Gompa: Monastery

Guru Rinpoche: Tantric saint who converted Bhutan to Buddhism in the 8 th century, also called Guru Padmasambhava

Je Khenpo: Chief Abbot of Bhutan

La: Mountain pass

Lama: Religious master

Lhakhang: Temple

Nyingmapa: Important religious school in central and eastern Bhutan founded by Guru Rinpoche in the 8 th century

Shabdrung: Title given to the reincarnation lineage of the spiritual leaders of Bhutan

Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal: Religious and temporal ruler of Bhutan (1594-1651) who unified the country under Drukpa Kagyupa authority and established an administrative and judicial system

Thangkha: Religious banner, painted or embroidered

Tsechu: Religious festival held in honor of Guru Rinpoche

Thongdroel: Large religious banner that brings liberation by sight




 
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