Exotic Bhutan Tours and Treks

Exotic Orchid Tour Program

Best time for orchid tour: end of April/May/June/July

(17nights/18 days)

Day 01: Arrive Paro International Airport. (Alt. Of Paro: 2220m.)
In Paro, receive by your tour representative. Transfer to hotel. After lunch, visit the National Museum and the Paro Rinpong Dzong. The dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation. The Dzong was built in 1645 A.D. Overnight: Hotel/Paro

Day 02: Paro-Haa (2800m: 60km)
After breakfast drive/hike to Haa valley. The drive is a gentle uphill climb through forests of blue pine, fir, oak and rhodendrons till the Chelila Pass. The pass at an elevation of 3900 m. provides a panoramic view of the northern and western Himalayan mountain ranges as well as Haa and Paro Valleys. Explore the Chelela Pass area for orchids and alpine flowers. After picnic lunch at the pass, walk down towards Haa Valley through the ancient trail looking for orchids.

Haa is western-most valley in Bhutan bordering on the Tibet region of China. The valley is traversed by the Haa Chhu (river) and its characteristic features are the three almost conical shaped hillocks considered to be holy by the local people - the first hillock is dedicated to Ap Chhundu, the supreme local protective deity of Haa. The Haa valley opened to tourism only in year 2002.

Overnight: Guest House/Haa

Day 03: Haa-Thimphu (2320 : 100 km)
After breakfast start journey towards Thimphu through Haa Valley. Make stops along the way to explore for tree orchids. Picnic Lunch on the way. The Haa-Thimphu route provides opportunities to see many villages and farmers at work in their paddy fields.

Overnight: Hotel/Thimphu

Day 04: Thimphu
Morning: visit the Botanical Garden and meet with the in-charge to learn more about the botany in Bhutan. The Botany Garden also have an orchid green house. Drive back to Thimphu for lunch in local restaurant. After lunch visit the Textile Museum, National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved, Arts and Crafts School and in the evening visit Thimphu town.

Dinner: hosted at Sonam’s residence followed by a short presentation on Orchids and Botany in Bhutan by Mrs. Rebecca Pradhan who is an expert on orchids in Bhutan.

Overnight: Hotel/Thimphu

Day 05: Thimphu-Lobesa (1210m: 70Km)
After breakfast drive upto Dochula Pass (3150m). From Dochula you can see the Eastern Himalayan mountain ranges on a clear day and around the 108 spectacular stupas which adorn the pass. From the pass, walk through the ancient trail for orchids for a few hours. Meet vehicle on the main highway and drive down to Lobesa for the night.

Overnight: Guest House/Lobesa (Wangdue)

Day 06: Lobesa – Rimchu/Tashithang in Punakha ( 1210m: 25 km)

After breakfast drive for half an hour to to Rimchu and then on to Tashithang. Spend the day exploring the forests around Tashithang and Rinchu for orchids.

Evening: CAMP in Tashithang

Day 07: Tashithang – Kamichu (1240: 30 km)
After breakfast, drive to Kamichu for another camp. Kamichu area also has a wide variety of orchids. En route to Kamichu visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong. This is the winter residence of Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Head Abbot, and the Central Monastic Body. The Dzong was built in 1638 and it is situated between two rivers known as “Phochu” (Male River) and “Mochu”

Overnight: CAMP/Kamichu

Day 08: Kamichu – Phobjikha ( Alt. 2900m: 70 km)
After an early breakfast, drive to Phobjikha Valley. En route take side trips into the forests around Nobding area for orchids. This is a full day programme. Arrive Phobjikha valley in the evening for overnight at local guest house. Evening: embark on a one hour nature walk starting from Gangtey Gonpa hill to the main Phbjikha valley followed by visit to a farm house for local hospitality.

Overnight: local guest house

Information about Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley is a conservatoin area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. People sometimes refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. According to legend that the Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson (the mind incarnation) of Pema Lingpa, Gyalse Pema Thinley in 1613 and which was later expanded by Tenzin Legpai Dhendup.

The Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes (grus nigri collis) that migrate each year in winter from its nothern habitats in Tibet and Siberia to these grounds. Visit the Information Centre for the Black-necked cranes to learn more about this rare and endangered birds

Day 09: Phobjikha–Trongsa ( 2020m: 70 km)

Drive to Trongsa. Check in at guest house. Afterwards visit the Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the royal family. Built in 1648 A.D. by Chogyel Minjur Tempa the Third Druk Desi ( 'Desi' means Temporal Ruler), it is presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Trongsa Dzong represents Bhutan's link with its historical monarchy This is the investiture site for future kings ascending the Golden Throne of Bhutan. You can see its remarkable succession of street-like corridors, wide stone stairs and beautiful stone court-yards.

Trongsa Dzong represents the very best opportunity to capture the true essence of Bhutanese monastic and parliamentary architecture. Here, 25 lhakhangs (small temples, among which is one of the the oldest Lhakhangs in Bhutan - the Chorten Lhakhang, built by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk in 1543 A.D) house sacred images and religious relics. Intricate wood carvings and beautiful frescos are emblazoned on the walls and pillars. Visit the watch tower, located directly above the Dzong. the Watch Tower has ondisplay many interesting armors and other weapons of war used by ancient warriors. Overnight: Guest House/Trongsa

Day 10: Trongsa – Zhemgang (1960m: 90 km)

The drive from Trongsa to Zhemgang will take through subtropical areas with thick jungles. This route has one of the richest forests and has many varieties of tree orchids and other botanical plants.The district of Zhemgang was opened to tourism only in 2002. The only facility available is a government guest house. Overnight: government guest house

Day 11: Zhemgang

Spend the day exploring the Tingtibi forests for orchids, golden langur and other rich fauna and flora. Evening: visit Tingtibi town Overnight: guest house

Day 12: Zhemgang – Bumthang (2600m : 160km)

En route visit the Yatha Textile center in Chumi Valley, 50 km short of Jakar Valley in Bumthang. The drive will take about 7-8 hours. Lunch in Trongsa at local restaurant. Overnight: Lodge/Bumthang

Day 13: Bumthang

After breakfast visit the historic Jakar Dzong built in 1646 A.D. which now houses the district Administration offices as well as the monk body. Also visit ancient monasteries like Kenchosum Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang,Kurjey Lhakhang and Thangbi Monastery. Evening: free to stroll through Jakar town. Overnight: Lodge/Bumthang

Day 14: Bumthang–Ura Excursion (Ura Valley alt. 2900m: 50 km)

After an early breakfast drive to Ura Pass (3950m). Expore the area for high altitude orchids such as lady slipper etc. Evening: return to Jakar Valley for overnight at the Lodge.

Day 15: Bumthang – Wangdue Overnight: Hotel/Wangdue

Day 16: Wangdue–Thimphu-Paro

After breakfast drive to Thimphu for lunch and shopping. Afternoon: drive to Paro. En route visit Semokota Dzong. This is the oldest dzong in the country and it was built in 1629. Ths dzong now houses the monastic school. Overnight: Hotelo/Paro

Day 17: Paro

Sightseeing In the morning take a hike to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means "Tiger's Nest'. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 800 m. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambbava alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Picnic Lunch at Taktsang cafeteria. The round trip hike takes about 4 hrs. en route visit the Drugyel Dzong - ruined fortress. The dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions.

On a clear day this spot offers a magnificent vista of Mount Chomolhari, "Mountain of Goddess" (Alt. 7329 m). In the evening walk through Paro town and have dinner at a local restaurant. Evening: visit a farm house and experience traditional hot stone bath. Overnight: Hotel/Paro

Day 18: Paro departure

Tashi Delek!