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Bhutan Explorer

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Flugmiðar eru ekki innifaldir í verði nema annað sé tekið fram. Við munum með glöðu geði aðstoða þig við að finna ódýrustu flugmiðana.
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Welcome to Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon. A mesmerising place in the clouds, with lush valleys, tiered rice paddy fields, rich forests and rushing rivers. A place that measures the success of the country, not on outputs or financials, but on the Gross National Happiness of the people who live there.
Here, culture and spirituality are at the core of everyday life. People wear traditional dress, colourful prayer flags adorn the hills, monasteries perch precariously on cliff faces, and monks in crimson coloured robes wander the streets.

This forward-thinking little country has already banned plastic bags and tobacco. Their strong focus on education and protecting the environment means that many endemic species of animals still thrive in the Himalayan forests (including bears, clouded leopards and even tigers) and children are taught that keeping the country beautiful and clean is part of national pride.

In some ways Bhutan is a country lost in time, in other ways it is so far ahead. A trip to Bhutan is an eye-opening, life changing experience.

Highlights:
- Half day trek to climb up to the sacred Tiger's Nest
- Guided tours through some of the most treasured and elaborately decorated temples
- Explore ancient fortresses rich in history and legend
- Multiple hikes (2-4 hours) through rice paddies, countryside and local villages
- Farm-style homestay experience, including a traditional family cooked meal
- Meet the national animal at the Takin Sanctuary
- Spend time exploring local craft workshops
- Meet local Buddhist monks at the Nalanda Institute
- Learn about the endangered Black Necked Crane and its migration
- Get fascinating insights into the fertility rituals of the Bhutanese people
Ferðaáætlun

Bhutan Explorer

Day 1: Arrive Paro - Transfer to Thimphu

When you arrive at Paro Airport, you'll be greeted by your guide and welcomed to the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Once the group is all together, we'll travel to the capital city of Thimphu. We'll discover local life in Thimphu, see people playing archery (the national sport of Bhutan), explore the farmer's market, speak to the local stallholders and taste some of their produce before we cross the bridge to the handicraft market. After a delicious Bhutanese style lunch, we'll head up into the hills to see Bhutan's national animal, the Takin. On the way back into town well visit Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress built in traditional Bhutanese style, surrounded by beautiful gardens, now used as the local Government offices and the residence of the King of Bhutan.

Accommodation: Centrally located hotel
Included Activities: Thimpu City Tour, guided visits to Takin Sanctuary, Tashichho Dzong
Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2: Thimphu

We start the Day with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, an important religious monument popular with elderly Bhutanese people who come to walk around the Chorten and spin the prayer wheels to build their karma for the next life. We'll then head up to visit Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddha statues in the world made of bronze, gilded in gold, and filled with 125,000 little copper Buddha statues! Bhutan's cultural heritage is zealously protected, and art and handicrafts are important professions. We visit a textile workshop, a traditional paper making factory, an art gallery and woodcarving workshop where the intricate creations will leave you amazed. Next, we'll visit Changangkha Lhakhang, an important temple where parents take newborns to get auspicious names for their babies and blessings for their children. After this we'll head further up into the hills above Thimphu to hike the Wangditse Trail, a fairly flat track which the young and active King is known to frequent! It's a good chance to stretch our legs, get used to hiking at altitude and enjoy the view over the valley. Tonight your Guide will take you to one of their favourite restaurants/bars in Thimphu city.

Accommodation: Centrally located hotel
Included Activities: Guided visits to the National Memorial Chorten, the Buddha Dordenma, local craft workshops, Changangkha Lhakhang, Wangditse trail hike
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Thimpu to Punakha

It's a scenic drive towards Punakha, up into the mountains, above the clouds, to Dochula Pass, 3050m above sea level. If the Day is clear, you'll be able to see the snow-capped Himalayas, if it's misty, that holds a certain magic too. Winding down the other side of the pass, watch the forest and landscape change as you descend into Punakha. We'll enjoy a lunch from organic, locally sourced produce before taking a walk through the rice paddy fields and the small village to Chime Lhakang, the temple of the Divine Madman. The phallic symbols and pictures of phalluses painted on the buildings will begin to make sense as you hear the story of the Divine Madman and walk towards what is known as the fertility temple. Inside the temple, look for the album of postcards and letters from couples who have successfully conceived after visiting the temple. Next, we'll visit Bhutan's most beautiful fortress, Punakha Dzong, located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers.

Accommodation: Mountainside hotel with stunning views across Punakha
Included Activities: Hike through local countryside to Chime Lhakang, guided visit to Punakha Dzong
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Punakha

This morning we’ll hike to the Khamsum, Yalley Monastery. Crossing over the suspension bridge covered in prayer flags, we’ll walk alongside a small river, through crop fields of chilies, eggplants and potatoes, through rice paddy fields, uphill towards the monastery (approx. 4-hour walk). This is our second practice hike for Tiger’s Nest on Day 9! The beautiful temple and views from the top are worth the climb. After lunch, we’ll visit the Nalanda Institute, an important place of learning for Buddhist monks. The monks here are learning English and we might get the chance to speak with them or sit in on a class. After that we’ll visit a nunnery in time to hear the evening prayer chants before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Accommodation: Mountainside hotel with stunning views across Punakha
Included Activities: Hike to the Khamsum, Yalley Monastery, guided visit to the Nalanda Institut
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Drive to Bumthang

One of the best ways to experience Bhutan is to go on a cross-country road trip! Eastern Bhutan is distinctly different to Western Bhutan and most tourists don’t venture this far off the beaten track. It is a long Day, but an incredibly beautiful journey. Driving out of Punakha, you’ll wind through the valley alongside a gushing river, see historic forts and beautiful villages perched high on the hills. Drive through lush rainforest, see little farm houses seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We’ll travel slowly as the roads are windy and basic. We’ll stop for refreshments in Nubding, a little village in the clouds and at a traditional Bhutanese restaurant for lunch. Bumthang is one of the most spectacular valleys, and the name translates to "beautiful field". As we drive into Bumthang Valley, you’ll notice a distinctly different style of architecture almost reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland. When we arrive in Bumthang, we’ll stretch our legs and familiarise ourselves with the town before settling into our hotel for the evening.

Accommodation: Small family owned hotel on the outskirts of town
Included Activities: Town orientation walk
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Bumthan

Today, we’ll visit a sacred site known as Burning Lake before continuing towards Ura Valley. Here our driver will drop us above the valley so we’re able to hike down, through alpine-style flora and fields of wild strawberries. When we get to the bottom, we’ll have some time to explore this picturesque little village, with its cluster of traditional houses. You’re unlikely to see any other tourists here. We’ll either have a picnic lunch, or a lunch prepared for us by the villagers in the monastery. Heading back to Bumthang, we’ll visit Jampay Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Bhutan dating back to the 7th century. From here we’ll take a short hike over the bridge, alongside a stream, where you’ll be surprised to see copious amounts of wild marijuana growing (you can look, but you can’t touch!) alongside the banks. With a visit to Tamshing Monastery and Kunchosum temple, you can claim to have experienced three of the most sacred sites in Bumthang.

Accommodation: Small family owned hotel on the outskirts of town
Included Activities: Day visit to Burning Lake and Ura Valley, visit Jampay Lhakhang, hike to Tamshing Monastery and Kunchosum temple
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Bumthan to Gangtey Valley

After breakfast we’ll depart for Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley, a broad valley with marshland through the middle, famous as the winter home of the endangered Black Necked Crane, which migrates between Bhutan and Tibet every year. We’ll stop en route to visit the Trongsa Fortress, the biggest fortress in Bhutan. When we arrive in Gangtey, we’ll stop at the monastery, located on a ridge overlooking the valley. It’s said the Cranes bless the monastery by circling it three times each as they arrive, before landing in the valley. We’ll walk from the monastery through the village, and down a nature trail, which runs alongside Phobjikha Valley. Tonight, we’ll stay in a traditional farmhouse with a local family where you can observe local traditions and way of life. Most houses have an old-fashioned stove/fireplace in the middle of the living room used for both cooking and heating. Take a walk around the small village, enjoy a delicious home cooked meal and relax and enjoy the family atmosphere. There are no showers here, instead, take the opportunity to experience a traditional hot stone bath - this is a true, off-the-beat-track experience.

Accommodation: Homestay in the local village (Note: There is no hot water or western style showers at the homestay, single/private upgrades do not apply at the Homestay)
Included Activities: Visit to Trongsa Fortress, village orientation walk and nature trail walk
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Gangtey to Paro

After waving goodbye to your host family, we’ll stop into the Black Necked Crane Centre to learn more about this intriguing bird and the other animals that live in the valley. The centre is home to Karma, a Black Necked Crane who is now a minor celebrity in Bhutan. Karma hurt its wing and is unable to fly. Standing 1.4 meters high, with an impressive wingspan of over two meters, it’s a rare opportunity to get up close to one of these incredible birds. After this, it’s an express trip back to Paro via Thimphu, where we’ll have the afternoon to relax and get ready for the Tiger’s Nest hike tomorrow!

Accommodation: Comfortable resort style hotel
Included Activities: Visit to the Black Crane Centre
Optional Activities: Walk around town
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Paro

Today we’ll make an early start on the hike up to the iconic Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest) one of the most sacred places in Bhutan. You’ll get glimpses of the beautiful monastery which clings to the rock face high above, as you climb up, spurring you to the end. The trek is challenging, but after nine days of regular hiking at altitude in Bhutan you’ll find it a lot easier to achieve. This is a true highlight of the tour and of any visit to Bhutan. You’ll also see many Bhutanese people on the track, as it is believed that all Bhutanese people must visit this sacred monastery at least once in their lifetime. The Tiger’s Nest walk is a 5+ hour return walk. It has some challenging grades and is mostly uphill. You need a reasonable level of fitness to do this walk. The Tiger’s Nest sits at 3,800m so some travellers may be affected by altitude. After the hike, we’ll return to town for some well-earned homemade ice cream before heading back to the hotel to relax. This afternoon you’ll have to option to experience a traditional stone bath, the perfect way to soothe your muscles after the hike! we’ll head into Paro town for the last night of the tour. Take a look around downtown, purchase any last-minute souvenirs and enjoy a final dinner together in the city.

Accommodation: Comfortable resort style hotel
Included Activities: Hike to Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest)
Optional Activities: Traditional stone bath, homemade ice cream
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Depart Paro

After breakfast, we’ll check out and head out to explore some of the sights around Paro. First, we’ll visit Kichu Lhakhang, a very old, peaceful monastery, famous for the orange trees in the courtyard that bear fruit all year round. Then we’ll visit the National Museum where you’ll see historical artifacts of Bhutanese civilization and traditions including a gallery of intriguing masks used in important ceremonies. We’ll finish the tour with a visit to the fortress of Paro which boasts beautiful views over Paro valley, before transferring you to the airport for your departure.

Included Activities: Visit to Kichu Lhakhang, the National Museum and the Paro Dzong.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Please note: Bhutan has many interesting religious festivals, and where your departure aligns with a festival, the festival will replace the itinerary on that Day.
Samantekt

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USD 50 for visa to be paid locally

Afþreyingar

Included:
- Experienced local Tour Leader and Driver
- Sights & entrance fees as per the itinerary
- Government Fees, Royalty & Taxes
- Bhutan Visa application service (Visa fee of USD 50 applies, and must be paid to Stray Asia)

What to bring:
- Camera or phone + plug converter (standard format is D, F or G)
- Good quality walking shoes or hiking boots
- A variety of clothing for hot and cold weather layered clothing is best
- Waterproof jacket
- Sunscreen & toiletries
- Earplugs
- Hat & Sunscreen
- Insect repellent
- Motion sickness tablets (for road travel)

Gisting

9 night's accommodation, in range of comfortable 3-star hotels and a homestay, is included.

Standard accommodation is twin-share, whereby travellers will be placed in a male/female designated room (unless booked as a couple/companion). Single upgrades are available on request for those wanting a private room.

Staðbundnar samgöngur

Transport: SUV Car, mini-van or bus (depending on the group size)

Máltíðir

Meals: Bottled water, 9x Breakfasts, 10x Lunches, 9x Dinners (all meals at a local restaurant or hotel)

Bhutan Explorer

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