As our name suggests, we like big panoramic vistas and encounters that give one a new perspective on life – Bhutan boasts a few of these of Himalyan proportions. We have made a name designing journeys that allow our clients to get “under the surface” of a country – to meet the people and get off the tourist route. In designing your itinerary, we have allowed time to meet local people, to walk in rural valleys, and really get to know this beautiful country, as well as taking in the most important historical and religious sights that define Bhutan.
Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, is an extraordinary place. Vast and impressive fortresses, known as Dzongs, dominate Bhutan’s landscape – from the wide subtropical valleys in the south to the Himalayan mountain ranges of the north. One of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Bhutan’s national animal is the Takin – legend says it is half goat, half cow. This is a country where selling cigarettes or plastic bags is illegal, where giant protective penises are painted on the walls, where chillies and cheese with red rice is the national dish, and where Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product.
Day 1: Arrive Paro, to Thimphu
Day 2: Thimphu
Day 3: To Gangtey
Day 4: Gangtey
Day 5: To Punakha
Day 6: Punakha
Day 7: Punakha
Day 8: To Paro
Day 9: Paro
Day 10: Paro
Day 11: Depart
Situated in a blue pine forest, benefit from being close to the capital’s sights and shopping while taking advantage of a quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the Kingdom’s main commercial centre. The spa, living and dining room offer ample opportunity to relax and unwind before retreating to the outdoor deck for views of the nearby stream and surrounding forest.
Gangtey Goenpa Lodge
Offering visitors a unique and special insight into the beautiful Gangtey Valley, the lodge, with its spectacular setting and sweeping views over the whole valley, acts as a luxurious base for your stay. Each room beautifully designed with the stone floors, exposed brick walls, dark wooden beams and furniture dressed in earthy tones. Sit under the stars in the evening with cashmere blankets, outdoor fireplaces and delicious warm cider.
An intimate, luxury lodge located at the far western end of the lush Punakha Valley, ideally located for those who wish to explore this remote area while enjoying true luxury in the wilderness. The wonderful Shambala Retreat spa is nestled in the hush of a woodland glade and provides soul-stirring views of the forest, mountains and surrounding valley from its treatment rooms. There are a variety of dining options and all modern conveniences available, including WiFi.
Exclusive private villas and luxury rooms with an enviable location in the Paro Valley, the resort combines local artisanship with contemporary style, while activities range from yoga to Himalayan camping adventures. The Bukhari restaurant is a royal favourite and you may enjoy the delights of the Shambhala Retreat spa.
This small city was established as the capital in 1961. The juxtaposition of old and new is one of its appealing qualities. Robed monks texting on their mobile phones, college students in traditional dress with the latest trainers and hairstyles; even the beautifully hand painted petrol station! Famous for being the only capital in the world without traffic lights, 2008 saw many new structures built including the stadium where the King’s Coronation was. Best explored on foot, decorated shop fronts and intriguing ‘grocery-cum-bar’ signs reveal friendly shopkeepers and a surprising array of goods.
Spend time at Thimphu art school, watch painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, blacksmith, bamboo and cane craft, gold smithing & silversmithing, weaving, embroidery, masonry, leather works and paper making. Visit the National textile museum, providing an insight into the living national art of weaving .Visit the Mothithang Takin Reserve to learn about the semystical creatures and the legend of how they came to be.
The picturesque village of Gangtey overlooks Phobjikha Valley. During the summer months it is home to about 140 gomchen who follow the teachings of Guru Rimpoche. These lay practitioners are permitted to be married & during the winter months, they and their families move to a warmer village and monastery, leaving Gangtey almost empty. It is a stunning valley. Gangtey Valley is also home to the endangered Black necked Crane. These elegant and shy birds are considered sacred. It is said that killing one could be punishable with a death sentence.
Set out into the landscape on a bracing hike or maybe more of a meditative stroll. Join the monks at the 16th century Gangtey Monastery for morning prayers which means a 5am start for the peaceful dawn stroll to the monastery. Learn about the cranes at the black-necked crane centre and see if you can spot any other wildlife through their telescope
Punakha was the winter capital of Bhutan for over 300 years before it was moved to Thimphu. Despite its historical significance-the first king of Bhutan was crowned in Punakha Dzong in 1907- Punakha is now a small village-and most of the land in Punakha valley is used for cultivation. Damaged by fires, floods and earthquake over the centuries, the Dzong has recently been fully restored to its original glory.
Take mountain bikes through Punakha valley to visit the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyalchorten. 45 minute hike upto the chorten over a suspension bridge. Raft down the valley for a picnic lunch and to visit the spectacular Punakha Dzong- arguably the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan, where you can take time to explore some of the magnificent temples.
Paro is a very attractive valley. Only metres from the runway- you get a taste for many aspects of Bhutan and her people. Beside the road, farmers plant crops, a water wheel turns a prayer wheel that rings a bell; oxen plough fields and children walk to school. Otherwise known as the ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’, Paro Dzong is guarded by a Mongol holding a tiger on a leash.
Visit the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery perched spectacularly on a rocky ledge above Paro valley at 3,200m elevation. Take a 2 day, 1 night trek to Taktsang Monastery. Camping above clouds and below the magical Bumdra Monastery your approach to the Tiger’s Nest is from above, and arriving early, you can explore with no-one else around.
Enjoy a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath.