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The clean and clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom’s best kept open secrets. Fed by the Eastern Himalayas, the six rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries) have been scouted for kayaking and rafting. They cut through high valleys and low plains to meet up with the Brahmaputra River in India. The natural setting and the sheer variety of the rivers’ courses makes up for a unique opportunity to explore Bhutan’s beautiful wilderness. It is more than a teaser and an invitation to anyone interested in adventure travels. The rivers are plentiful with high currents and depths reaching a maximum of about five meters; at places it passes gently on and in others the rivers rage through loudly, dominating the environs. Although adventure sports and tourism are relatively recent introductions, it is gaining on in popularity.
2 Hours Before Flight Time
Welcome greeting at the airport by your guide & driver. You will be escorted to hotel for refreshment and briefing on your tour program. (Please note; your itinerary shall be flexible and your guide shall give you options based on your interest)
Paro Sights & Acclimatization Day!
Overnight stay at hotel, Paro.
After breakfast, one-hour drive brings to capital Thimphu. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.
Other sites to visit include: the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.
If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and 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.
If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday).
Overnight stay at hotel in Thimphu.
Today you will drive to Punakha en route stop over Dochu La pass at 3,050 meters. The snow-capped eastern Himalayan range can be seen on a clear day. You could also circumambulate the 108 stupas of the Druk Wangyal Chorten. The birds found in Punakha and Wangduephodrang valleys are Himalayan Cutia, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Collared Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, White-browed Fulvetta, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Plain Mountain Finch, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, Black-throated Parrotbill, Himalayan Bluetail, White-browed Bush Robin, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Brown Bullfinch, Red-headed Bullfinch, Chestnut-tailed Minla (Bar-throated Siva) , Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Little Bunting, White-bellied Heron, Common Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Crested Kingfisher, Grey Treepie, Spotted Nutcracker, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Slaty-backed Forktail, Spotted Forktail, Eurasian Jay, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler,etc.
Overnight stay at hotel, Punakha.
After breakfast visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
Day 5 is scheduled for Kayaking/Rafting. Starting from Gasa Dzongkhag district near Tibet and Bhutan border, the Mo Chhu(River) flows towards Punakha in the central region of Bhutan. It then joins the Po Chhu from the northeast of Bhutan. Although there are two rivers named Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) in Punakha, the latter one is widely preferred for the first-timers, kids and elderly people. Mo Chu River is considered to be calmer, gentle with few currents and rapids becoming the most used one to raft on compared to Pho Chu as it is said to be violent where only professionals and experienced rafters are allowed.
Rafting starts at the bridge that leads to Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and ends below Punakha Dzong. The Rafting stretch is 5.6 miles comprising of 10 rapids, 1.5 hours. The difficulty level considers I – II.
Overnight stay at hotel, Punakha.
Morning drive towards Trongsa. Enroute visit beautiful Chendebji Chorten. The Chorten was erected in the 18th century.
Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty.
After breakfast visit Trongsa Dzong. The dzong was built in its present form in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal because of its strategic central location to control the trade and power between the east and west Bhutan.
The stunning Dzong was built in an impressive position above the Mangde River and it is visible from any corner of Trongsa.
Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
After breakfast transfer to Phobjikha Valley. Drive down the winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. The valley is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary with an opportunity to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century and the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
Morning visit to the Black-Necked Crane Centre before departing for Paro (approx 4 hrs). From Gangtey the road gradually descends into the balmy Punakha valley, then Thimphu and finally Paro.
Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Breakfast in the hotel then our representative will bid you farewell at the airport. Tashi Delek!
We had a great time in Bhutan and all thanks to the tour agency. Hotels were not too bad at all and meals provided were of good standard. Most grateful for meeting our guide, as she was the most pleasant one i have met. I really liked the fact that she really listened to our needs and tried her best to tailor the itinerary to our liking. She was also very informative and that allowed us to leave so much about Bhutan, its people and their culture. I would definitely recommend my friends to them !