Exploring Bhutan’s central valleys, rich with ancient historical and sacred Buddhist sites
Visiting many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums
Trekking up to the stunningly located Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Learning about the unique history, customs, and traditions of Bhutan
Admiring the incredible scenery of the valleys below the Himalayan peaks
Day 1 – October 14: Arrival in Paro
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some
of the highest mountains on earth. Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Before your plane even touches down
in Paro, you will know you have arrived somewhere special.
On arrival we will be met by our Bhutanese guide and driver. After lunch we will visit the National Museum which provides an
excellent overview of Bhutanese history and culture. Shaped like a conch shell, it was completed in 1656. The museum holds
the largest collection of artifacts, textiles, and antiques in Bhutan.
Overnight: Tenzinling Resort
Day 2 – October 15: Paro to Thimphu
A land of high mountains and lush forested valleys, Bhutan is dotted with dzongs, imposing fortresses built to protect the
valleys and also serve as administrative and religious centres for each region. Each dzong is unique and stands as testament to
the nation’s enduring independence and devotion to Buddhism. Tourism in Bhutan is closely regulated to limit its impact on
the local culture and environment, and national styles of architecture and dress have been carefully preserved. Even the
airport is built in distinctive Bhutanese style.
After breakfast we will drive to Northern Paro to see Drugyel Dzong, which was built in the 17th century. Afterwards we will
visit Paro’s Rinpung Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do currently
all the dzongs (forts). We will also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country.
In the afternoon we will drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The drive is along a winding road following the Paro and
Thimphu rivers. Thimphu is a unique blend of modern and traditional and one of very few capitals in the world with no traffic
Overnight: Hotel Phuntsho Pelri
Day 3 – October 16: Thimpu – Sightseeing
After breakfast, we will take a tour of Thimphu and visit the highlights of this charming capital city including: the King’s
Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan), the Chang Gangkha Monastery (purchase of Prayer Flags),
Buddha Point (for a great view of the Thimphu Valley), the Takin Reserve (which contains the Takin, the national animal of
Bhutan), a paper factory, an art school, and then free time in town for shopping and taking in the essence of the city.
Overnight stay in Thimphu.
Overnight: Hotel Phuntsho Pelri
Day 4 – October 17: Thimpu – Cheri Monastery
After breakfast we will drive 12km north of Thimphu. We will then hike up to the Cheri Monastery and have a picnic lunch. At
the monastery we will have the opportunity to meditate in one of the temples.
In the early evening we will visit Tashichho Dzong.
Overnight: Hotel Phuntsho Pelri
Day 5 – October 18: Thimpu to Wangdue (Punakha)
Picturesque and quaint villages dot the Bhutanese hillsides. After breakfast we will drive to Punakha, the former capital of
Bhutan. The drive takes us across the Dochula Pass (3,118 meters) which is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten (Buddhist
monument) and prayer flags. We will stop on the pass for tea, and take in the beautiful views of the high peaks of the eastern
The drive will give you an insight into a medieval way of life that has changed little over the centuries. Modern development
has brought better education, health care and electricity to these remote areas but the local small farm-based economy that
has kept the local people self sufficient over the years is largely unchanged.
After lunch, when we reach Metsina, we begin our walk through ride paddies to hike up to a 16th century temple where you
can seek blessing from a lord of fertility. This temple was initiated by the “Divine Madman”, famed for the Bhutanese version
of erotic stories or Kamasutra. Here we find replicas of phalluses to bless you with fertility. Listen to unceasing rotation of
prayer wheels making repeated sounds of bells in the temple.
Overnight: Hotel Kingaling
Day 6 – October 19: Punakha
After breakfast we will hike through fields, villages and rice paddies to the spectacular Khamsum Yuelay Chroten. The roundtrip
hike is approximately 2-3 hours and the views of the valley below are amazing.
In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Punakha Dzong, the ‘Palace of Great Happiness’ built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier
of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). 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 Thumphu 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, on 17th December 1907, where Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
Overnight: Hotel Kingaling
Day 7 – October 20: Punakha to Paro
After breakfast we will drive back to Thimphu where we will visit a bustling vegetable market to break up the drive, and then
continue on to Paro in the late afternoon.
Overnight: Hotel Olathang
Day 8 – October 21: Hike to Taktsang Tiger’s Nest Monastery
This morning we depart early for Bhutan’s most famous monastery, Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang) Monastery. A hike of approximately
1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro Valley floor through alpine forests. It is perched on the edge
of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley (3,000 meters). We will have a tea stop half way up the mountain for
spectacular views of Taktsang. This is also a time when hikers can decide if they want to continue on or remain at the tea
house and await our return when we will all share lunch on the mountain side.
The astonishing view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an
important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) is said to have flown here on the back of
a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century.
The monastery was partially destroyed in a forest though restoration works are almost complete. The local people have
provided the labour for restoration as the Bhutanese believe that participating in the restoration of holy places helps in the
accumulation of good merit.
We will then head back to Paro for our farewell dinner at a traditional farmhouse where we will also be served butter tea.
There will be an optional Bhutanese hot stone bath before dinner.
Overnight: Hotel Olathang
Day 9 – October 22: Departure
Today is departure day; it’s time to say farewell to the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
END OF TOUR
Thank you for travelling with Finisterra & Yoga Travels!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ITINERARY IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Bhutan’s tourism sector is regarded as one of the most exclusive travel destinations in the world. Bhutan enjoys a reputation for authenticity, remoteness and a well-protected cultural heritage and natural environment.
In order to process the visa we require a clear readable colour copy of passport(page containing passport number and face picture in JPEG or PDF format) at least 30 days prior to date of entry into Bhutan. Remaining validity of passport should be at least 6 months from the date of exit from Bhutan.
Your visa clearance letter will be issued to you along with your air ticket prior to your departure. At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.
Please note: All passengers must enter on the same day from DELHI. The price is approximately $650-750 USD per person.
The natural environment is mostly in an undisturbed and pristine form. Bhutan’s high, rugged mountains and deep valleys are rich with spectacular biodiversity, making it one of the world’s ten most important biodiversity ‘hotspots’.
The Royal Government of Bhutan has committed to maintaining a 60 percent forest cover for the future. Currently the total land under forest cover is 65 percent and more than 26 percent of the land is under the protected areas, comprising of four national parks and about 9 percent of the land fall under biological corridors so that the wild life sanctuaries and nature reserves connect protected areas.
The people of Bhutan can be divided into three main ethnic groups: The “Sharchops”, who live in the east of the country and are believed to be the original inhabitants. The “Ngalongs”, who live mostly in western Bhutan and are the descendants of Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Bhutan from the 9th century, The “Lhotshampas”, settled in the south of Bhutan in the late 19th century. The Lhotshampa (meaning Southern Bhutanese) represent Nepali-speaking groups.
Bhutan is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with 79 percent of the people living in rural areas.
Religion – Buddhism
Buddhism is practiced throughout the country. Most of the Bhutanese are Buddhist. In the south, most Bhutanese people of Nepali and Indian origin practiced Hinduism.
The official state religion of Bhutan belongs to the Drukpa sect of Kagyudpa, school of tantric Mahayana Buddhism, the Great Vehicle. It is similar to the Tibetan Buddhism, yet it has its own set of unique beliefs and practices.
The religion in Bhutan is strongly supported by all walks of life. Monks, nuns and gomchens (lay priest) play a very important role in the people’s daily lives. Bhutanese people are very pious and the importance of Buddhism is evident in every aspect of life in the Bhutanese people.
Bhutanese art reflects major Tibetan influences, though it has developed many of its own derivations. It has three main characteristics: it is anonymous, religious, and performs no independent aesthetic function. Intricate wall paintings and thankas (wall hangings), most historical writing and fine sculpted images all have a religious theme.
There is an overall style of tradition which permeates most aspects of the Bhutanese lifestyle. This is most overtly reflected in the style of dress and architecture. All Bhutanese continue to wear the traditional dress: the gho for men and the kira for women. Generally colourful apparel, the fabrics used range from simple cotton checks and stripes to the most intricate designs in woven silk.
The Bhutanese architectural landscape is made up of chortens, stonewalls, temples, monasteries, fortresses, mansions and houses. Associated with a number of clear-cut architectural concepts and building types rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, there is a strong association between state, religious and secular forms. What makes it quite unique is the degree of uniformity, with all structures corresponding to traditional designs. Thus ancient monasteries and fortresses appear to merge with more modern popular dwellings to create a setting that is consistent.
Bhutanese traditional dress is called the gho (men’s robes) and kira (women’s dress). The women’s dress is a length of woven material (kira) that is draped across the body over a blouse, and held in place over the shoulders with silver clasps. A toego (or jacket) is usually worn over the dress.
The man’s gho is a stitched robe, which reaches the ground when first worn. This is then pulled up to knee length and tied in place at the waist with a hand-woven belt. Long socks and shoes, or traditional hand made boots complete the attire. Traditional dress is worn for all formal occasions including working in the office. The Bhutanese wear their best hand-woven ghos and kiras on formal occasions while machine milled traditional clothing is also popular for daily wear.
Food And Drink
Traditional Bhutanese food always features spicy red and green chillies, either dried or fresh. Most Bhutanese love eating spicy food. The national dish, ema datsi, a dish of ema (chilli) cooked in datsi (cheese), is a favourite among Bhutanese. For vegetarians, there are restaurants who serve vegetarian meals and almost all the restaurants have a vegetarian option in their menu. Red Rice is another speciality grown in Bhutan with a sweet nutty flavour. For a culinary change Indian meals are easily available in most eating places.
The establishment of monarchy in 1907 was the watershed event in the history of modern Bhutan. The country enjoyed peace and progress under successive reformist monarchs. The third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck reformed the old pseudo-feudal systems by abolishing serfdom, redistributing land, and reforming taxation. He also introduced many executive, legislative, and judiciary reforms. The fourth king, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, took decentralization to the people, and devolved all executive powers to a council of ministers elected by the people in 1998, besides introducing a system of voting no confidence in the king, which empowered the parliament to remove the monarch.
The national Constitution Committee started drafting the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan in 2001. The Draft Constitution was distributed to the people in 2005, which was followed by public consultation initiated by the 4th and 5th Kings. Its implementation will establish parliamentary democracy in the country.
The people in different villages of the gewog in turn elect the chimis (people’s representatives). The king is now the head of the state. The government is elected by the parliament for a five-year term, with the head of the government or post of prime minister rotating amongst the ministers. At the district level, Dzongda functions as the chief executive officer and the gup (gewog head man) elected by the people is the chief executive officer at gewog level.
Under the policy of greater decentralization and empowerment of the people, the Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu and the Geog Yargye Tshogchung have been given full administrative, policy making and financial powers in their respective Dzongkhags. Therefore, the success of development programmes will now be determined by the decisions taken by the people and the quality of their participation in implementing them.
It is difficult to accurately generalize the climate of Bhutan because of the variations in elevations and seasons. Southern Bhutan has a tropical climate with hot humid monsoons. Spring in the higher valleys (mid-March to May) has warm days (20 °C) and cool nights. June marks the beginning of summer when day temperatures warm up to 27 – 29 °C. By July, the rainy season starts and continues until mid-September. The autumn months of September to November are ideal for trekking with clear skies and mild weather. In December temperatures fall, but the days are warm and the clear, azure winter skies serve a striking background to the snow-capped peaks. On a sunny day, temperatures reach about 16-18 ° C. The nights, however, are cold with temperatures falling below freezing.
2 daily yoga/meditation classes (some tours include a yoga workshop) with Anne of Kalyana Yoga Shala
Hotel accommodation on a twin share basis (single supplement, where available $390.00 USD tour)
All meals as per itinerary (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Yoga teacher/guide, English-speaking Bhutanese guide and a Bhutanese driver
Visits to tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary
Bhutan Visa fee
International Flights (Flights to Bhutan MUST be booked through us as a group $600-720USD)
Services not specified
Mandatory Travel Insurance
Optional trip cancellation insurance
Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
Date: Oct 14-22nd, 2018
+ FLIGHT FROM DELHI ($650-750USD to be booked as a group)
A 20% non-refundable (unless cancelled by us) deposit is required at time of booking to reserve your place. Please contact email@example.com for more booking information, Terms & Conditions and an invoice.
Address: Finisterra Travel, 106-550 E 6th Ave, Vancouver, BC, V5T 4H2, Canada
Full payment is due 60 prior to departure
A path of Karma yoga was found early on in life. Anne’s yoga practice expanded when she was introduced to Hatha yoga. It was a melding of paths that began the journey. The yogic journey is one that brings balance, simple abundance, passion, compassion, flexibility, focus, creativity and spirituality. Coming to the mat was like coming home to a place and a space that Anne has always known. Upon completing an intensive yoga teacher training program under the tutelage of experienced gurus of the Sivananda School of Yoga Anne knew that she had found her calling.
Experiences of studying psychology, teaching ESL, childcare, pregnancy and parenthood made for a natural passage into teaching prenatal yoga. Inspired by teaching prenatal, and the acquisition of greater insights Anne’s teaching practice evolved to further serve. Her teaching practice grew to include Hatha, Dynamic Hot (power), Gentle hatha, Yin yoga as well as children’s yoga. When not teaching at a yoga centre Anne could be found leading community classes, corporate classes, and classes in various schools within the Ottawa region. Anne is truly grateful for the many wonderful opportunities to share the joyful, soulful, experience of the traditions. Anne believes that yoga is accessible to all regardless of age, build, physical abilities, or religious backgrounds. Through the practice we not only evolve and grow in our strength, flexibility and the opening of our bodies but also our minds, our hearts and our lives. Coming to the mat we let joy trickle through. Anne very much looks forward to sharing the gifts of the practice with you.
Anne is the owner of Kalyana Yoga Shala
JANICE VARUNA (Group Leader)
Janice Varuna is an experienced traveller, yoga teacher, and tour leader. Janice Varuna’s philosophy is that there are no age or physical limitations that should stop anyone from benefiting from yoga’s incredible power to improve physical wellness and bring emotional peace and clarity. Janice Varuna’s purpose is to guide students as they explore their physical and mental abilities through yoga. Janice Varuna makes her home in Ottawa, Canada and runs Yoga Travels