Day 01: Arrival and sightseeing in Paro (2,250m /7,382ft)
As our flight nears Bhutan, we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take us to our hotel. Today, we will visit Rinpung Dzong which was built in 1646 and now houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. We will also visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country and Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower but has now been changed into the National Museum. The museum has a wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic displays and a “field of Buddhas”, which helps one visualize while meditating. Overnight in Paro.
Day 02: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery then return to Paro
After breakfast, we hike for 4 -5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor and drive back to Paro. Overnight in Paro.
Day 03: Trek begins: Paro to Jele Dzong(3,480m/11,415ft): 10 km, 4-5 hours
First we will drive to the start of our trek to Jele Dzong. From there, we hike for a short while (around an hour) to the Dzong. The trail ascends gently through a forest before reaching our campsite. Above the camp on top of the hill is Jele Dzong. From here, the Paro valley can be seen with snow-capped mountains as its back drop. Built in the 15th century, Jele Dzong is mostly in ruins but there is a Lhakhang (Buddhist temple) with the statute of Buddha Sakyamuni. Overnight camping.
Day 04: Jele Dzong to Jangchulakha (3,770m/12,365ft): 10 km, 3-4 hours
Today we embark on about 2 hours of trekking. We begin with a gradual ascent (310m) then descend (50m). The trail passes through thick alpine and rhododendron forests and reaches Jangchulakha. We still walk for some time and arrive at the campsite, which offers scenic views of the amazing landscape below. Overnight camping.
Day 05: Jangchulakha to Tsaluna (2,700m/8,856ft): 17 km, 5-6 hours: Trek ends
After a short climb, the trail follows a ridge. On a clear day, the views of Mt. Chomolhari and other Himalayan ranges are sensational. After a short descent, we arrive at Jimilangtsho Lake (3,700m) where we have our lunch. Then the trail descends further down to Tsaluna alongside a stream and through fir and rhododendron forests. Further down, we reach Tsaluna Village, where we can see beautiful farms. In the evening, we explore nearby villages to experience the lifestyle of rural farmers. Overnight camping.
Day 06: Tsaluna to Thimphu (2,320m/7,610ft)
We walk along farm roads through the village. After a few hours walk, we drive to Thimphu for lunch. After lunch, we visit the King's Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the National Library which contains Bhutanese history in the form of religious and historical literature. Next, we drive to Kuenselphodrang where there is a giant Buddha statue on a plateau overlooking Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong. Also, we visit the traditional paper factory and the majestic Tashichhodzong. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 07: Thimphu to Punakha (1,250m/4,100ft): 76 km, 2-3 hours
After breakfast, we enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day we get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. We then pass through rice fields along river banks and reach Punakha. After lunch, we visit Punakha Dzong. Built between 1637-1638, it is the second oldest and the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Overnight in Punakha.
Biking Options: Downhill from Dochula Pass to Punakha valley and round Punakha valley including to and fro 12 km north till Gasa-Damji road head.
Day 08: Punakha to Bumthang (2,580m/9,350ft): 214 km, 8-9 hours
After an early breakfast, we drive to Bumthang which is the cultural heartland of Bhutan. The route is along a beautiful winding road. We cross Pele La Pass (3,300m) and stop at Trongsa for lunch. After lunch, we visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece in Bhutanese architecture. We continue to Bumthang and pass lush valleys and hills on the way. We also stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang. Overnight in Bumthang.
Biking options: The drop from Pele La Pass to Trongsa, a distance of 70km is said to be the longest downhill stretch in the world. Ride downhill from Yotong La Pass (3,425m) to Getsa. From Getsa valley we can bike along the valley till Jakar.
Day 09: Sightseeing in Bumthang
Today's sightseeing in Bumthang includes Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating back to the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurje Lhakhang, a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche is believed to have left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. After the tour, we have lunch then visit Tamshing Lhakhang, a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. In the evening, we can visit local shops. Overnight in Bumthang.
Biking options: Bumthang is the largest valley in Bhutan whose wide landscape offers very good opportunity for biking in Bhutan.You can bike in and around Bumthang.
Day 10: Bumthang to Phobjikha Valley (3,000m/9,840ft): 129km, 5-6 hours
We begin the day by driving to Gangtey with a stop for lunch at Chendebji. After lunch, we continue our drive through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gangtey village, the highest glacial valley in Bhutan. We visit Gangtey Monastery, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. It is located on a hill overlooking the entire Phobjikha valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes, who migrate from the Tibetan plateau to escape harsh winter conditions. Overnight camping.
Biking options: Downhill from Yotong La Pass to Trongsa and Pele La Pass to Gangtey.
Day 11: Phobjikha Valley to Thimphu (2,320m/7,610ft): 127 km, 4-5 hours
This morning, we return to Thimphu. We stop at Wangdue for lunch. On the way, we also visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is a unique with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. In the evening, we explore the streets of Thimpu. Overnight in Thimpu.
Biking options: Downhill from Lawa La Pass to Wangdue and Dochula La Pass to Thimphu.
Day 12: Final Departure
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom and her friendly people. After early breakfast, we leave Thimpu for Paro airport. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after taking breakfast, we will be taken to the airport in the morning for final departure.