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Bhutan Ura Yakchoe – 12 Days

Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan ranks among the top ten hot spots in the world for biodiversity, in the month of May, nature spreads a feast to delight your senses. Bhutan hosts 600 species of wild orchids, 50 different types of Rhododendrons, Blue Poppy (the national flower), medicinal plants, high-altitude plants and tropical trees.

OVERVIEW OF THE TRIP

Trip:
Tour Type: Festival Tours
Trip Duration: 12 Days
Max Altitude: 3400 m /11152 ft
Trip Starts From: Paro
Trip Ends At: Paro
Trip Region: Bhutan
Best Season:
Trip Level: Easy
Just about anyone can participate in one of these holidays. Minimum walking time is 2 hours and maximum walking time is approximately 5 hours a day. By the time you walk around a number of historical sites you’ll be surprised at how quickly the time passes. You do have the chance to take your time and there are plenty of places where you can rest if needed.
Trip Route: Paro-Thimpu-Punakha-Bumthang-wangdue-Gangtey-Thimpu-paro

Trip Information

Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan ranks among the top ten hot spots in the world for biodiversity, in the month of May, nature spreads a feast to delight your senses. Bhutan hosts 600 species of wild orchids, 50 different types of Rhododendrons, Blue Poppy (the national flower), medicinal plants, high-altitude plants and tropical trees. Over 70% of Bhutan is blanketed in virgin forests of richly diverse flora, with rippling pristine rivers meandering alongside terraced rice fields. Land-locked and surrounded by high Himalayan Mountains the essence of Bhutan is serenity and beauty distilled through the ages of time. This unique and custom itinerary gives you the best of Bhutan. Cultural hikes to ancient century-old dzongs, (forts), Temple and Buddhist monasteries. Week-end markets, remote villages and Bhutanese hospitality at its finest.

Highlighting this tour is the Ura Yakchoe Festival; invocations of local blessing and religious purification. Tsechus are spiritual, exotic arrays of color, medieval and breathtaking. The four valleys of Punakha, Bumthang, Ura, Wangdue defy words with their beauty.


    ITINERARY

  • April 15 – Arrival at Paro (by Druk Air) then transfer to Thimphu. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 16 – Sightseeing around Thimpu. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 17 – Thimphu to Punakha. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 18 – Punakha to Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 19 – Bumthang excursion and sightseeing. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 20 – Bumthang to Ura. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 21 – Ura to Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 22 – Bumthang – Trongsa – Wangdue. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 23 – Wangdue to Gangtey. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 24 – Gangtey to Thimphu to Paro. Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 25 – Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest) . Overnight at a hotel.

  • April 26 – Departure from Paro (by Druk Air)


    TRIP DETAILS

  • April 15 - Arrival at Paro (by Druk Air) then transfer to Thimphu

    You can take flight to Paro from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Dhaka etc. We recommend you to fly from Bangkok because Druk air offer everyday flight from Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok whereas Druk air do not operate everyday flights from other sectors.

    The flight into Paro on Bhutan’s national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of the country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. After clearing customs and visa control you will drive you to Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan. The drive will take around 1 hour. Thimphu has a population of about 98,000. The town is made up of just three lines of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 16- Sightseeing in and around Thimpu

    In the morning we first stop at Bhutan’s National Bank to exchange currency as well as visit the post office to view and purchase elaborate and exquisite Bhutanese collector item stamps. We then will visit the National Memorial Chorten which was built in 1974 in memory of the third king. Also, the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved and the Takin Reserve which protects the national animal of Bhutan. After lunch visit the Textile Museum and the Arts and Crafts School. A visit to the House of Incense and House of Paper are always favorites as well. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 17- Thimphu to Punakha

    After breakfast depart to Punakha, an ancient capital of Bhutan. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and drive to your hotel for lunch and check in. After lunch visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. If time permits take a hike to Khamsum Yueley Chorten (45 minutes one way) through the terraced rice fields and overlooking the village to kabina. Dinner and overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 18- Punakha to Bumthang

    Today we start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. The drive to Bumthang via Trongsa is approximately 7 hours crossing over Pele La pass (3,300m) and Yotongla pass (3,400m). “The Central Road”, across the Black Mountains, was completed 30 years ago, and it brought about great changes to the people in central Bhutan. We pass Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan. We climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass (3,300m) with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. If the weather is clear the Himalayan ranges can be seen, particularly the peak of Chomulhari (7,314m),to the west. En route we cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. In Trongsa we visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In olden days the dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We then drive to Bumthang valley (described as “one of the most beautiful spot in the Himalayas” across the Yotongla pass (3,400m). Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 19- Bumthang excursion and sightseeing

    In the morning we hike to visit Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa) and Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock). We also visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in 7th century) and Jakar Dzong (seat of the district administration) In the afternoon drive towards east of Bumthang valley to visit Membar Tsho (burning lake) where Pema Lingpa found some Dharma and then visit Swiss Cheese farm where you can taste the cheese along with some cider juices and wines produced locally. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 20- Bumthang to Ura

    After breakfast drive to Ura Valley. Today we will witness URA Yakchoe in Bumthang. Ura is considered one of the holiest valleys in Bhutan. Today Bhutanese from many different areas will gather to pay respect and to be blessed at this social gathering. Bhutanese dressed in their finest clothes and jewelry attends this celebration of purification and religious blessings. Here we can truly appreciate the essence of Bhutanese people and a preserved steadfast culture. Arrays of colorful brocades whirl through the air as the dancers spin and dance the “thunderbolt step”. Masks of glorious demonic demons and animals arouse your senses as you watch the purification take place. The intensity goes on. Overnight at a hotel in village of Ura.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 21- Ura to Bumthang

    Returning to Ura Festival meet with Ura Head Lama. Watch for the Atsara (clown) this dancer, unique in his own style, mimics dancers and entertains onlookers. Festival deities are invoked through benediction and luck is increased and misfortunate gone. Drive back to Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 22- Bumthang – Trongsa – Wangdue

    After an early breakfast drive to Wangdue via Trongsa. The drive to Wangdue over the Pelela pass. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 23- Wangdue to Gangtey

    Morning drive to Gangtey enroute visit Wangdue Dzong and continue your drive to Gangtey which lies towards the east of Punakha and Wangdue on the flanks of the Black Mountains. There is an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. A few kilometers past the Gompa on the valley floor are the fascinating valley of Phobjikha. The gentle sloping hill side of Phobjikha is described as “the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas”. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains of Tibetan Plateau in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Afternoon walk through the valley and observe the rare “Black Necked Crane” and its habitats. One can get good information about this bird from its observation center in the valley, it is worth a visit. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 24- Gangtey to Thimphu to Paro

    After breakfast drive back to Paro with lunch stop at Thimphu. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 25- Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest)

    After breakfast drive the winding road to Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Mount Chomolhari, can be seen the on a clear day from Drukgyal village. We then drive to Ramthangka to hike upto the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The hike to the cafeteria will take around one and half hour. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After lunch at the café walk back to the road point. On your way back visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in 7th century. Overnight at a hotel.
    (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included)

  • April 26- Departure from Paro (by Druk Air)

    After breakfast at your hotel, your local Bhutanese guide will escort you to Paro airport for your onward flight and bid you farewell and happy journey back home.
    (Breakfast Included)


    COST INCLUDES

  • Pick up from and drop off at the hotel and the airport on a tourist car / van /minibus.

  • Standard government-approved accommodation (in twin sharing rooms) for the duration of the tour.

  • Full-board meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea & snacks - for the duration of your stay.

  • Drinking water for the duration of the tour.

  • Country presentation and tour Briefing on the evening of Day 01 with welcome drinks.

  • Licensed English-speaking Bhutanese tour guides.

  • Private transportation and a designated driver within Bhutan. Toyota 4WD luggage vans and light trucks for group travel. Luggage will be hauled by horses, mules or yaks at higher elevations, if required.

  • Monument and museums entrance fees at all sightseeing locations detailed in the itinerary.

  • Cultural afternoon/evening sessions with traditional mask and folk dances (with beverages). Only for group tours.

  • Bhutan visa fees and processing assistance.

  • Government royalty (35% of $200), which goes to the country's health and education projects.

  • All route access and monument entry permits and fees.

  • All government taxes, official expenses and tourist service charges.


    COST DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • International airfare and airport departure tax. (Please see the Druk Air flight info below)

  • Your travel insurance (mandatory for the trip, see the travel insurance page).

  • Expenses of personal nature, such as laundry.

  • Alcoholic and cold drinks.

  • Personal clothing and equipment.(See the equipment tab for detail information)

  • Tips for tour guides, porters, driver, hotel lobby and in restaurants. (Tipping is expected)

  • Other expenses not mentioned in the Price Includes section.


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