Day 1: Arrival from Bangkok/ Singapore/Delhi/ Kathmandu.
As your Druk Air flight weaves through the valley, arrival in Bhutan is like no other. As you touch down, keep your camera at the ready, as we have noticed how passengers slowly disembark and then stand on the tarmac totally bewildered. Then move through to immigration where you will present your Visa Approval letter and Passport for the official stamp. As you clear the Immigration check, please make your way to the baggage delivery area and here you will meet your Guide for the first time. The transfer to Thimphu is approximately 1 ½ hours and upon arrival and after settling in; you will have the choice of the National Memorial Chorten, National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, National Library to visit, and perhaps time to stroll the Main Street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles. (Overnight: Amankora Thimphu)
Day 2: Explore Thimphu Valley.
This morning you will head to the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and Royal offices, and pay a visit to Pangri Zampa, two 16th century buildings that now house a monastic training school for astrologers. At the head of the valley, should you wish to stretch your legs; a short hike will take you to Cheri Goemba, the monastery where the first monastic body was established in the Kingdom. Back in town you should be able to visit a few of the capital’s cottage industries ranging from traditional paper making to hand rolled incense. (Overnight: Amankora Thimphu)
Day 3: Thimphu to Gangtey.
Early departures for a dramatic drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La and on to the Phobjika Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery. The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass where on a clear day, towering Himalayan peaks are clearly visible. The descent down thru the Punakha Valley along the Kingdom’s only east-west highway continues on through the scenic village of Wangdi. Carrying on the highway follows the scenic Dang Chhu before climbing thru forests of bamboo and oak, and just before crossing the Pele La pass, a small side road splinters off to the hidden Phobjika Valley. On arrival you will have time to visit the striking Gangtey Goemba, sitting at the head of the valley, and perhaps strolling thru the quaint Gangtey village. (Overnight: Amankora Gangtey)
Day 4: Explore Gangtey Valley.
This morning will start with a visit to the Black Neck Crane Center and dependent on the season, time spent in the Center’s nearby hide is a must to view the breeding cranes. Various walks or a mountain bike ride thru this magnificent valley can be arranged. Soaking up the beauty of the valley from the Lodge or returning to the revered Goemba for an audience with the Tulkul may be attractive, relaxing alternatives for the day. (Overnight: Amankora Gangtey) Day 5: Gangtey to Punakha Today’s journey back to Punakha will be brief and upon arrival you will have time to take lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon you will explore the hidden village of Talo, home of the Queens’ and the valley’s protective deity lhakhang. Later in the afternoon a hike to an ancient monastery on the hilltop behind the lodge can be organized or time given to enjoy the farmhouse and spa of the lodge. (Overnight: Amankora Punakha)
Day 5: Gangtey to Punakha
Today’s journey back to Punakha will be brief and upon arrival you will have time to take lunch at the lodge. Later in the afternoon a hike to an ancient monastery on the hilltop behind the lodge can be organized or time given to enjoy the farmhouse and spa of the lodge. (Overnight: Amankora Punakha).
Day 6: Explore Punakha Valley.
The day in Punakha Valley begins with a beautiful hike from the Punakha Lodge along the Mo Chhu thru terraces of rice, chillies and cabbage, takes to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a monument recently built by the four queens of Bhutan. Following the hike you will drive back up the valley towards Khuruthang passing Punthsho Pelri Palace and several other winter homes of the royal family before reaching the impressive Punakha Dzong. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. A picnic lunch is served on the banks of the Punak Chu, before visiting the village of Lobesa where a short walk ends at Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499. (Overnight: Amankora Punakha)
Day 7: Punakha to Paro.
After descending back down from Dochu La, you will follow your way back up the dramatic Wang Chu and Paro Chu river valleys, before crossing thru Paro Town towards the north end of the valley. Here, set in a pine forest, you will find the Amankora lodge and its spa. In the afternoon, there is an opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, a visit to some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments or a ramble down Paro’s main street. Evenings at Amankora may include informative lectures on the history, religion, flora and fauna of the region or a intriguing movie on the Himalayas. (Overnight: Amankora Paro)
Day 8: Tiger’s Nest Hike.
This morning will begin with a hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four to five hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. The balance of the day can be spend browsing shops in town, enjoying the spa around the lodge or taking on another hike into the rich forests that rise up behind the lodge. (Overnight: Amankora Paro)
Day 9: Departure Day Paro to Bangkok/ Singapore/Delhi/ Kathmandu.
A car will be ready to take you to Paro Airport. Transfer time is approximately 30 minutes and you are advised to arrive at the airport an hour before your international flight departure.
Due to the basic nature of Bhutan’s roads and the ongoing up-gradation of the same, the national highway on which guests will travel can at times have short closures for road works. During inter-lodge transfers and while on excursions, guests will encounter areas of degraded roads that require slow vehicle speeds to reduce the bumpiness and bouncing of the vehicle and passengers, which may create some inconveniences and delays in anticipated travel times.
Note: This is very much a guideline for the travels across the Kingdom and the overall program is subject to travel conditions, and may be amended to cater to particular interests and desired experiences along the way.