Bhutan Owl Trek With Nature & Cultural Tour
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💎 Why we love it ?
The whole trip covers the western part of Bhutan from Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha valley, Trongsa, and finally Bumthang where the trekking takes place. You will return to Paro by 30-minute mountain flight offering a grand view of the mountains and valleys of Bhutan. The actual trekking is just 2 days around Bumthang in central Bhutan offering both fantastic views of an unspoiled natural environment endowed with a diverse array of flora and fauna as well as an opportunity to visit ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries. The trekking trail takes you through forests of blue pine, birch, maple, spruce, juniper, bamboo, and a beautiful, rugged landscape draped in countless varieties of rhododendrons.
🏁 Tour Itinerary: Bhutan Owl Trek With Nature & Cultural Tour
Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport / Transfer to Thimphu (2334m)
On your arrival at Paro, the only International Airport in Bhutan, our guide and the driver will receive and take you to visit the National Museum of Bhutan before transferring to the capital city Thimphu.
Note: The coverage of sightseeing on the first day depends on your flight arrival time. If you arrive in the morning, you should be able to visit all of the sights listed below.
Visit National Museum of Bhutan – Ta Dzong
The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of the Paro district) was established in 1968. It is housed in an ancient watchtower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watchtower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armor, weaponry, and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. After this, we will visit Paro Dzong.
Drive to the capital city, Thimphu
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and it is home to approximately 115,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main center of commerce, religion, and government in the country. It is the only capital city in the world without traffic lights and even commercial billboards. On arrival in Thimphu, check into your hotel and then see some of the popular attractions in the capital city.
Distance 55 km | Time 1.5 hours | Paro Altitude 2,195m/7,200ft | Thimphu Altitude 2,334m/7,655ft
Buddha Dordhenma Statue
The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop, Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and was completed in 2015 over a period of 10 years. The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of the same type.
Leisure time in Thimphu town.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.
Day 2: Hike to Tango Monastery / Transfer to Punakha valley (1200m)
Today, you will hike to one of the important Buddhist centers in the Kingdom, Tango Monastery, and then after lunch, transfer to Punakha valley via Dochula, the sacred mountain pass.
Hike to Tango Monastery
Located at about 14km north of Thimphu on a pristine mountainside, Tango Monastery was originally founded in the 13th century by the Tibetan saint Phajo Drugom Zhigpo who first established the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan and subsequently became the state religion. The return hike takes about 2-3 hours for most visitors.
Drive back to Thimphu town where a traditional lunch will be served at the Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant. If interested, you can also visit the Folk Heritage Museum.
After lunch, visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum (Institute of Traditional Arts & Crafts) where 13 traditional arts & crafts of Bhutan are taught. If the class is in session, you can hop in and observe while the students get hands-on training. Opens during working weekdays & on Saturdays 10 am -noon. Located just nearby is the National Library of Bhutan considered a national treasure and fundamental source of Bhutanese history, religion, medicine, arts, and culture. Opens during working weekdays & on Saturdays 10 am -noon. We then drive to Punakha valley via Dochula Pass.
Distance 74 km | Time 3 hours | Punakha Altitude 1,200m/3,935ft.
En route stop briefly at Dochula – a sacred mountain pass at an elevation of 3150m and enjoy a grand view of some of the highest mountains of Bhutan on a clear day. Good opportunity for photos! From there continue driving towards Punakha and gradually descend to a warmer valley within an hour.
Just about 11km before reaching Punakha town, visit the famous 15th-century Chimi Lhakhang popularly known among tourists as “Temple of Fertility”. A gentle walk through the terraced rice fields and traditional farmhouses painted with phalluses will give you a unique experience. Walk and explore the nearby village.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Hotel Lobesa or Meri Puensum Resort.
Day 3: Punakha / Phobjikha Valley (3000m)
Today, before we drive to Phobjikha valley, you will hike to the picturesque Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Chorten and visit the historic Punakha Dzong.
Hike to Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Choeten
Drive about 20 minutes from the main town of Punakha to the road head from where you cross a suspension bridge over the Punakha Mochu River (female river) and the trail takes you through paddy fields. The round-trip hike takes less than 3 hours. The view below is stunning with the glacial-fed Mochu river snaking through the fertile valley of Punakha. Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Chorten is located on a ridge overlooking the picturesque Punakha valley. This wonderful Buddhist structure is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture used in building temples, monasteries, and temples. We retrace our steps back to the road head and drive back to Punakha town to visit the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan.
Punakha Dzong – The Fortress of Great Bliss
Originally known as Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang Dzong which means ‘Fortress of Great Bliss’, was built in 1637 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to guard the region against Tibetan forces. It is the second oldest, second largest, and certainly the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. The sacred wall paintings and main artifacts inside the dzong, the intricate woodwork, and the architectural structure of the dzong display fine examples of Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture even today. If interested, walk to Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge that runs over Phochu (male) river. After lunch transfer to Phobjikha valley.
Distance 80 km | Time 3 hours | Phobjikha Altitude 3,000m/9,842ft
The drive to Phobjikha will be about 3 hours under normal road conditions and takes you through the lateral national highway connecting the western, central, and eastern region gradually ascending up the pristine mountains of Bhutan and eventually enter the most beautiful valley in Bhutan.
Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000 meters (9,840 ft) and it is a winter home for endangered Black Necked Crane from November to March and migrates back to Tibet by the beginning of the spring season. Every year on the 11th of November, Black Necked Crane Festival is held to celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part in the lives of the local people during the winter months.
On arrival at Phobjikha valley, check into the hotel. You can take a leisure walk visiting Black Necked Crane Information Center, which has a lot of information on the migratory bird and about the valley and its role in the conservation of Black Necked Crane.
For nature enthusiasts and those who enjoy a long walk through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, taking up Gangtey Nature Trail is highly recommended. The trail is about 5km and takes approximately 2.5 hours. The nature trail begins from the Gangtey monastery and takes you through wonderful meadows, forests, beautiful traditional village houses, farmlands, and crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and an understanding of the community living there. If you arrive at Phobjikha a little late, you can do the hike tomorrow morning.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Yueloki Guest House or Dewachen Hotel & Spa.
Day 4: Phobjikha / Trongsa / Bumthang Valley (2700m)
After breakfast, visit Gangtey Monastery which is one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan, and then transfer to Bumthang valley in central Bhutan via Trongsa where you will stop for lunch.
One very famous landmark in Phobjikha valley is the 17th-century Gangtey Monastery popularly know as Gangtey Goenpa (goenpa literally means “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance). The monastery was founded in 1613 by Pema Thinley, the grandson of Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer from the valley of Bumthang in central Bhutan. The name Gangtey is derived from the fact that the goenpa is built on a peak (Tey) of a hillock (Gang). The monastery has a monastic college where hundreds of monks study Buddhist philosophy for 9 years.
Distance 150 km | Time 4.5 hours | Bumthang Altitude 2,800m/9,185ft.
After visiting the Gangtey Monastery, drive to Bumthang. En route, stop at Pele La Pass (3,390m/11,120ft) to enjoy the views of stunning snow-clad Himalayan peaks (weather permitting) and take some moment appreciating the pristine environment. You will pass through Chendebji Chorten, an 18th-century stupa built following the same structural pattern as Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa to subdue the malevolent spirit that was said to inhabit the area in the form of a giant snake. From there continue driving for about 2 hours and stop at Trongsa for lunch.
After lunch, visit the largest fortress in Bhutan, 17th-century Trongsa Dzong (Optional as it will be the same as any other fortress). From there walk up to the promontory on which the Royal Heritage Museum housed in the 17th-century watchtower is located. The Royal Heritage Museum provides an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history and showcases the religious and artistic traditions of Bhutan.
Continue driving to Bumthang. En route, stop briefly at the highest motorable pass between Trongsa and Bumthang, Yotong La at 3,425m/11,235ft to enjoy the pristine environment and fresh air at this altitude. Then gradually descend down to the village of Chumey. At Chumey stop by the roadside Yathra Weaving Center (Yathra is the hand of the colorful textile woven out of sheep and yak hair) at Chumey village and get insights on traditional attires and weaving culture of the people of Bumthang. Continue driving towards Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang. The valley of Bumthang is considered the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in the country.
On arrival in Bumthang, check into the hotel and later visit the Swiss Cheese and Wine factory which was established by Mr. Fritz Maurer, a Swiss volunteer who came to Bhutan in the early 1960s and made Bumthang his home. After that visit the sacred Tamzhing temple built in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa who is considered the patron saint of Bhutan. Among the many treasures and religious artifacts handcrafted by the Pema Lingpa himself, there is an armory that stood the test of time for five centuries bearing no rust or any sign of deterioration. It is believed that you will be cleansed of all your past sins and defilement if you circumambulate the inner sanctum of the temple 3 rounds carrying that sacred armory. This is one activity enjoyed by all visitors with fun and a sense of veneration.
Leisure time in Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang district.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Overnight at Kaila Guest House or Mountain Lodge.
Day 5: Bumthang / Transfer to Dhur Village (2850m)
After breakfast, you will visit one or two important landmarks in Bumthang valley. Later after lunch, transfer to Dhur Village from where the trek will begin tomorrow.
Visit Kurjey Lhakhang which is built on the sacred site blessed by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Guru Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Bhutan and is revered as the second Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. If you wish, visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the 7th century Jambay Lhakhang believed to have been built overnight by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
One of the oldest Lhakhangs in the Kingdom, Jampa Lhakhang was founded by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century AD. The King was destined to build 108 Lhakhang to subdue the spirit of the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. Jampa Lhakhang is one of the two which were built in Bhutan. The other one is Kichu Lhakhang in Paro, both believed to have been built on the same day.
After lunch at the hotel, drive to Dhur village for overnight camping. You may explore the Dhur village which lies at an altitude of about 2900m and interact with the local people who are known as Brokpa. The people of Dhur village speak two languages, the Bumthang Kha which is the main language spoken in the Bumthang region and the Brokke spoke only by the inhabitants of Dhur village.
Distance 13 km| Time 1 hour | Camp Altitude 2,850m/11,319ft.
🏚️ Accommodation: Full-service outdoor camping at Dhur village.
Day 6: Dhur Village / Drangela Pass (3870m)
The first day of the 2-day trek is mainly through lush forests of hemlock, fir, spruce, and many species of rhododendrons which are in full bloom during the months of April and May. The trail also takes you through the forests of bamboo which is the main undergrowth in this area.
After a few hours of walking, you will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m). Climbing up the Kitiphu ridge brings you to the campsite for the night at an altitude of about 3870m. From this point, you can have a fresh view of snow-capped mountains and valleys underneath. This is also when you can view the mount Gangkar Puensum (7570m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world.
Distance 8 km | Time 4-5 hours | Camp Altitude 3,870m/12,696ft.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight outdoor camping at Drangela Pass.
Day 7: Drangela Pass / Tharpaling Monastery / Bumthang
Today, you descend towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chudak, and Tharpaling overlooking the Chumey village far below. Chudak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) where you may pray for yourself and all living beings.
Towards the afternoon the trek will take you along the ridge of Kikila and following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) through scenic hills and forests. This trail was used in the 1950s by the second hereditary King of Bhutan when he moved from his summer residence in Bumthang to the winter residence in Trongsa. As you hike along the ridge, you will have the best view of Jakar Dzong and come to the end of the trek at Bumthang.
Distance 7 km | Time 4-5 hours | Camp Altitude 3,870m/12,696ft.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Kaila Guest House of Mountian Lodge.
Day 8: Mountain Flight to Paro
Today, you will return back to Paro by 30-min mountain flight. This domestic flight service has helped visitors to cut short traveling time from 12 hours strenuous drive to under 30-min flight and presents you with stunning aerial views of the mountainous and valleys of Bhutan. On arrival in Paro, check into your hotel and visit Kyichu Lhakhang.
7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang
The auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang (temple) is located just a few minute’s drives from the main town of Paro and is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. According to the legend, the spirit of a giant demoness lay spread across Tibet and Bhutan causing obstruction to the propagation of Buddhism. In order to subdue this demoness, King Songtsen Gampo was required to build 108 temples across the affected region. Kichu Lhakhang, built to pin down the left foot of the giant demoness, is one of the two temples that were built in Bhutan. The other is Jampa Lhakhang located in the district of Bumthang in central Bhutan which was built to pin down the left knee. Both the temples were believed to have been built overnight.
Leisure time in Paro town.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.
✈️ One-way domestic flight from Paro to Bumthang INCLUDED.
Day 9: Hike to The Famed Paro Taktsang (3120m)
Today, on the last full day of your trip, you will hike to the famed Taktsang Monastery and in the late afternoon, visit a beautiful farmhouse for authentic home-cooked local cuisine.
Hike to Taktsang Monastery popularly known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’
Taktsang monastery is built on an 800-meter rocky cliff in Paro. The round-trip hike takes about 4-5-hours for most visitors but you can enjoy the hike at your own pace. It is better to start early before the sun gets stronger.
Oneway horse riding is available on your way up to the midpoint, Taktsang View Point Cafeteria for a fee of about USD20 per horse. Horse riding is not recommended on your way down.
Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Lair (people prefer to call Tiger’s Nest), is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the 8th century A.D. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew into the cave from Lhuentse Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress.
The trail takes you through the ancient path shaded by pine trees. After an hour of steep uphill hiking, you will reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see spectacular views of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff and the beautiful valley below. Hot tea and snacks will be served here. Those who are still energetic, can hike further up for 1 hour and visit the monastery, receive blessings from many sacred relics and artifacts and enjoy grand views of the Paro valley below.
After visiting Taktsang monastery and a sumptuous lunch at the Taktsang cafeteria, retrace your steps back to the road point where your driver will be waiting. From there drive to Paro town and spend some leisure time.
Towards the late afternoon, visit a beautiful farmhouse for home-cooked local cuisine. You may also participate and learn how to cook some of Bhutan’s popular dishes. If interested, you can take a revitalizing and therapeutic hot stone bath for an additional fee of US$15 per person charged by the owner.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.
Day 10: Departure from Paro International Airport
After breakfast, transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check in.
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Terms & Conditions
- Free cancellation for up to 30 days prior to departure date
- 20% will be charged if cancelled 16-29 days prior to departure date
- 30% will be charged if cancelled 08-15 days prior to departure date
- 50% will be charged if cancelled 03-07 days prior to departure date
- No refund will be available if No Show or cancelled 0-02 days prior to departure date
The flight tends to get fully booked months ahead especially during the peak season. We highly recommend you book flights a few months ahead of your departure date. We can help with the arrangement of flights to and from Bhutan. There are only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan:
- Drukair, the national flag carrier of Bhutan (www.drukair.com.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airports: Bangkok, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Delhi, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Singapore.
- Bhutan Airlines, a private airline introduced in 2011 (www.bhutanairlines.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airport: Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu
Other Important Information
- Airport pick-up and drop-off time will be coordinated depending on your flight timings
- For the purpose of processing a visa, you must send us a clear passport copy of all the participants after you book the tour. A whole biodata page including the machine-readable zone must be seen clearly. It can be either scanned or just a mobile photo shot as long as it is clear and legible. Passports should have a validity of at least SIX MONTHS from the day you depart from Bhutan.
- You’ll receive a copy of your approved e-Visa Clearance letter in PDF format within 3-4 business days from the day the visa application is submitted. You MUST print a copy of this letter and present it at the check-in counter of the airline flying into Bhutan. Without the proof of an e-Visa Clearance letter, you may be denied boarding the flight to Bhutan. The actual visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at the Paro International Airport.
- Child(ren) below 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult
- All participants between the age of 13 – 18 years old must send us a valid copy of the Student Photo ID Card/document after booking the tour.
- All our tour guides speak very fluent English. Guides speaking other major languages (Chinese, Japanese, French & German) can be arranged at an additional fee of $120 per day.
- You must let us know prior to your arrival if you have any dietary restrictions/preference.
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