Bhutan – The Last Shangri-La

Days

18

Style

Accommodated & Camping

Ex

Bangkok – Bangkok

From

AUD$8,345.00

This comprehensive, 18 day, escorted tour of this relatively isolated country will take you through the prime botanical and wildlife sites in Bhutan. Discover the natural richness of this eastern Himalayan region.
The Land of the Dragon, as Bhutan is known to its inhabitants, has always been the most fiercely independent Himalayan kingdom. It’s a hidden kingdom, where it seems time has stood still. Bhutan carefully refrains from allowing mass tourism, in order to preserve its unique environment and heritage.

Taxes and royalties to maintain the country’s infrastructure and sustain its progress constitutes a large portion of the cost of visiting Bhutan, making it one of the most expensive destinations in the region. We can assure you that the cost is well worth it! A country that few have visited, Bhutan is one of the last strongholds of Tibetan Buddhism, and its peaceful and fun-loving people are proud and elegant, with a timeless culture and dress.
Vast Dzongs (beautiful medieval buildings that incorporate a monastery, village and fort in one) dot the countryside, along with Chortens (shrines) and Ihakhans (temples). A highlight of the tour will be a visit to the magnificent Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) near Paro.

Bhutan has been rated as one of the top ten global hot spots of the world due to its pristine forests, that provides a habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna.
It is estimated that over 600 bird species inhabit the unspoiled forests. The trees are clothed in beautiful epiphytic orchids, lichens, ferns and mosses. The forest also harbours some of the the most exotic plant species of the eastern Himalayas, with over 50 species of Rhododendron, Magnolias and an amazing variety of medicinal plants.
Home to snow leopards, blue sheep, red pandas, Asian elephants and tigers, Bhutan’s environment is strictly protected. The result will provide you with a rare encounter with a lost kingdom, a unique land and its wonderful people.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Sunday 4th Nov – Bangkok to Paro
Our very early morning flight to Paro departs Bangkok at 6.30am (meet Martin Curtis for group check in at 4.00am). We arrive in Paro around 10.30 a.m. (Sunday is a great day to arrive as there are always archery matches in progress on the way from the airport – also the weekly Paro vegetable market.) Drive out to our hotel resort for lunch, then 4kms back to Paro to look at the imposing dzong and visit the excellent museum, which has a brilliant natural history section.
Accommodation: Kichu Resort, Paro – LD

Day 2 – Monday 5th Nov – Paro – Tiger’s Nest – Paro
Drive 10 kms to the car park below famous Taktshang ( Tiger’s Nest) monastery. Walk up through the forest to monastery (3 hours). Lunch at the viewpoint restaurant. Descend to bus, drive further 15 minutes to small village of Drugyel Dzong. If time permits, we can drive a short way further up the Paro valley to the end of the road for short walk into the forest (birding opportunities.)
Accommodation: Kichu Resort, Paro – BLD

Day 3 – Tuesday 6th Nov – Paro – Tjimpu
This morning we leave Paro behind as we head to Thimpu, the small capital “city” of Bhutan. We will be there by mid- morning, and can visit the giant seated Buddha which is on the edge of the forest above the town. Optional short walk through the forest before lunch for birds, plants and trees. After lunch, various unique sights to visit in this fascinating city.
Accommodation: Riverview Hotel – BLD

Day 4 – Wednesday 7th Nov – Tjimpu
Spend the whole day in Thimpu. Options include the reserve of Bhutan’s national animal the takin, from where we will take another walk (optional) through the forest above the town. Also visits to the traditional paper-making factory, the school of traditional arts (great for paintings & traditional souvenirs) and many other options. Also shopping (especially for bird and flower books, for those who need them.)
Accommodation: Riverview Hotel – BLD

Day 5 – Thursday 8th Nov – Thimpu to Wangdue Phrodrang
Drive from Thimpu to Wangdue Phrodrang (3 hours). On the way, we stop on top of the Dochu La (3400m) for views of the Himalayas and of the 108 chortens. Down the other side we will visit the Royal Botanical gardens which are a haven for bird and animal life, as well as having a great display of native plants and trees. We will lunch here, before dropping down to the Punakha valley for a visit to the famous and magnificent Punakha Dzong. Then drive a short way up the Dang Chhu valley to the idyllic accommodation on the banks of the rushing river (birding and animal opportunities).
Accommodation: Kichu Resort, Chuzomza – BLD

Day 6 – Friday 9th Nov – Wangdue Phrodrang
Using this lovely resort as a base, we drive up the newly constructed (rough) road above the Mo Chhu river, through Tashigang towards the alpine settlement of Gasa deep in the heart of the Jingme Dorji National Park. Hopefully we will get some good views of Himalayan peaks. This is a great birding area. Return to the Kichu resort.
Accommodation: Kichu Resort, Chuzomza – BLD

Day 7 – Saturday 10th Nov – Wangdue Phrodrang to Gangtey
We will drive up towards the Pele La pass (3400m) looking for wildlife on the way. Just before the pass we turn off south into the Phobjika valley and to the small village of Gangtey. We will lunch here and check into the newly constructed Kichu Resort Hotel. After lunch we will visit the small information centre set up about the endangered black-necked cranes, which should have arrived here a few days ago. We will do a short walk (optional) through the valley to see the cranes, which we hope have arrived on time.
Accommodation: Kichu Resort, Phobjika – BLD

Day 8 – Sunday 11th Nov – Gangtey to Trongsa
Today is the date of the annual tshechu (festival) celebrating the return of the cranes for the winter. Lots of traditional Bhutanese dances and singing in the grounds of the small monastery, with all the local people in their national dress. We will spend several hours here, before we carry on driving East over the Pele La (3400m) and down to the small town of Trongsa, which has the most amazing dzong in Bhutan. Lots of opportunities for looking at birds and plants on the way. If we have time, visit to the dzong (or we can do it on our return.)
Accommodation at the Yangkhill resort, Trongsa – BLD

Day 9 – Monday 12th Nov – Trongsa to Tingtinbi
We drive down a minor road above the true left bank of the Mangde Chhu river, which lies at the bottom of a deep gorge, and into a sub-tropical region of the country, close to the Royal Manas National Park, an area rich in birdlife and sub-tropical vegetation. About 5 hours driving in total and the road can be very rough.
Accommodation: Tented camp at Tingtinbi – BLD

Day 10 – Tuesday 13th Nov – Tingtinbi
Stay a second night at Tingtinbi. Walking, birding and wildlife opportunities abound in this bio-diversity hotspot at the crossroads of the Royal Manas, Black Mountain and Thrumshing La National Parks.
Accommodation: Camp at Tingtinbi – BLD

Day 11 – Wednesday 14th Nov – Tingtinbi to Trongsa
Slow scenic drive back up the deep gorge alongside the Mangde Chhu. About 5 hours driving in total. Reasonably early arrival back at our luxurious hotel at Trongsa.
Accommodation: Yangkhill Resort Hotel, Trongsa – BLD

Day 12 – Thursday 15th Nov – Trongsa to Yonkala
Early departure to drive over the Yotang La into the region of Bumthang, past excellent textile factory at Chhumney (good souvenirs) By-pass Jakar and drive the new road over the scenic Shertang La to Ura. On the way we will hopefully get spectacular views of Gangkar Punesum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain (7546m).
We then drive what has been called the most scenic road in Bhutan over two more high Passes (La’s) including the Thrumshing La, a hotspot for red pandas and other rare wildlife. We camp below here at Yonkala, in the heart of the Thrumshing La National Park. Lots of time for walking through the forest to look for birds and flowers. The Yonkala Forest area is said to be the best birding region in Bhutan.
Accommodation: Tented Camp at Yonkala – BLD

Day 13 – Friday 16th Nov – Yonkala
We stay at Yonkala. We can descend further down the valley towards the sub- tropical area around the small town of Mongar and the spectacular gorge of the Puri Chuu river.
Accommodation: Tented Camp at Yonkala – BLD

Day 14 – Saturday 17th Nov – Yonkala to Jakar
We begin making our way back across the country to the west of Bhutan. We will do some short walks through the forest on our way, looking for more birds. We then return over the Thrumshing La to the Bumthang region. Stay the night in the chief town of this region, Jakar, where there is a royal palace.
Accommodation: Kichu resort at Jakar – BLD

Day 15 – Sunday 18th Nov – Jakar to Wangdue Phrodrang
Drive back via Trongsa to Wangdue Phrodrang where we will stay for another night at the lovely Kichu resort on the banks of the Dang Chhu river – a bird sanctuary in itself. Optional short walk in the forest above the village.
Accommodation: Kichu Resort, Chhuzomsa – BLD

Day 16 – Monday 19th Nov – Wangdue Phrodrang to Paro
In the morning, drive back up towards the Dochu La. We then descend to Thimpu for lunch and last minute shopping and on to Paro.
Accommodation: Kichu resort, Paro – BLD

Day 17 – Tuesday 20th Nov – Paro
A free day in the Paro region. (Essential in case of road delays etc.) If customers want, we can visit the Haa valley and the Chele La pass – Bhutan’s highest main road- or just a quiet day shopping and visiting. In the evening we have our special last night at this lovely resort.
Accommodation: Kichu resort, Paro – BD

Day 18 – Wednesday 21st Nov – Paro to Bangkok
Free time in paro this morning until we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Bangkok and home.– B

NB: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.

Itinerary Notes
A total of 17 nights are include in the itinerary, divided among 4 nights camping and 13 nights hotels / lodges / resorts accomodation.
The itinerary above is a guide. Hopefully we can keep to it. However it is important to stress that although the Bhutanese are very well organised, we are travelling in a very little visited country, and things don’t always go to plan. Travelling in Bhutan requires a certain amount of adaptability – but they are such friendly people it will always be fun. Our guide is very adept and improvising if we strike bad road or weather conditions.

4th Nov – 21st Nov 2018

  • All transfers and transportation.
  • 2 crew members – Coates Wildlife Tours escort and a local English speaking guide.
  • Bhutan visa fees, taxes and permits.
  • Accommodation with all meals as per itinerary.
  • Sightseeing with entrance fees
  • 2 person tents for camping
  • Tips and Gratuities for our Bus Driver and Local Bhutanese Guide.

View Trip Dossier(PDF)

To make a booking download a booking form and return it to us via email/post or by clicking here to fill out the form online.