|Group size:||1-12 people||Max-Altitude:||3500m/11482ft|
|Arrival on:||Paro, Bhutan||Departure from:||Paro, Bhutan|
|Accommodation:||Hotels in Paro and Thimphu, homestay in Punakha and camps during the trek|
Bhutan City Tours with Bumdra Trek and Homestay is a trip which combines sightseeing tours in Paro, Punakha and Thimphu with one-day homestay experience and a short Bumdra Trek. The 7-day trip begins with sightseeing of popular landmarks in Paro and Punakha. In Punakha we experience the rich Bhutanese culture first-hand through a homestay. This will open us up to a different lifestyle. Then we travel to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan and tour several beautiful landmarks including various dzongs (fortresses), traditional painting school and others. The final portion of the trip is the Bumdra trek which will familiarize us with the beautiful Bhutanese landscape. During the trek we also visit the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which is probably the most popular landmark in Bhutan.
After we land at the international airport in Paro, a Himalayan Glacier representative will pick us up from the airport and drop us off at our hotel. We then freshen up at the hotel and have lunch. Afterwards, we visit Rinpung Dzong followed by Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From here we will go to the Drugyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day we can see Mount Chomolhari, Bhutan's second-highest mountain, at 7,314 meters. Overnight in Paro.
We drive to Punakha via Dochu La Pass. From the pass, we see amazing views of the Himalayas on a clear day. Next, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. On the way, we visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to the Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. After reaching Punakha, we visit the Punakha Dzong built in the local architectural style. While here we also enjoy a collection of Buddhist items. After the tour, we also visit the suspension bridge nearby which is in fact the longest bridge in Bhutan. Today we stay at a home of a local resident. This will let us experience the everyday lives of the Bhutanese people. Overnight homestay in Punakha.
We begin our scenic drive to Thimphu after breakfast and pass through Dochu La pass and forests. After reaching Thimphu, we visit the ‘Bhutan Post Office Headquarters’ which showcases Bhutan’s postal history and houses a museum. We can even make our own personalized stamp! Next, we tour the Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) which has the tallest Buddha statue in the world at 51 m. The sheer beauty of the statue and the location is magnificent. We can spend some time here in quiet solitude before returning to our hotel. Overnight in Thimphu.
We tour a lot of Thimphu’s landmarks today beginning with the Memorial Chorten. Today we also visit the nunnery temple for Buddhist monks, the mini-zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. We also tour the Changangkha Monastery and the Thimphu Dzong. After lunch, we visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a Bhutanese traditional painting school, a folk-heritage museum, Tashichho Dzong and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed on the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimphu during the weekends, we explore the Weekend Market instead. Overnight in Thimphu.
We drive to to Sang Choekor Buddhist University via Paro. We meet our ponies here before ascending for around two hours on a forested ridge which will bring us to a clearing. From here, we get good views of both Paro and Do Chhu valleys below. We continue on our trail and reach Chhoe Tse Lhakhang (temple) which boasts commanding views of the snow-capped Himalayas. Next, we climb through ruins, prayer flags and a forest before reaching a meadow dotted with sacred chortens and prayer flags. We set our camp on a location just under the Bumdra Monastery (Cave of a Thousand Prayers) and enjoy unhindered views of the Himalayan range. Overnight camp in Bumdra.
After breakfast we start our trek on a winding trail that takes us to an ancient pine and rhododendron forest. As we are descending for some time, we see begin to see the golden roofs of the monasteries below. Our path snakes across the mountainside between these monasteries before reaching the gardens of Zangto Pelri (Heaven on Earth). From here we can peer over the edge, straight down onto the ornate rooftops of Taktsang Monastery perched against the cliff-face far below. We descend on a steep trail to a waterfall then ascend to the most venerated Bhutanese monastery, the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). After touring the monastery, we descend to Paro Valley floor. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Our 'Bhutan City Tours with Bumdra Trek and Homestay' ends today. A Himalayan Glacier representative will drop us off at the airport after breakfast for our early morning flight out of Bhutan as Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions.
Your safety is of paramount concern while traveling with Himalayan Glacier. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary; however, since this adventure entails travelling in remote mountainous regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not deviate from it. Weather conditions, health condition of a group member, unexpected natural disasters, etc., can all contribute to changes in the itinerary. The leader will try to ensure that the trip runs according to plan, but please be prepared to be flexible if required.
Hotels in Bhutan are approved and classified by the government as grade A, B and C. These government approved hotels are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels elsewhere. We will be accommodated in A category hotels in Paro and Thimpu, homestay in a local house hold in Punakha and camps during trekking. We use Hotel Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro and Hotel Migmar in Thimpu. All accommodations are on a twin-shared basis. Single supplement will be served on request and will cost USD 370.