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You will arrive in Paro either by private jet or in Druk Air/ Bhutan Airlines Business Class. 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. This beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples, and the country’s only International airport. After being welcomed with "Khadar" (traditional scarf), a Bhutan Aries representative will provide you with the necessary assistance for completion of all immigration and customs formalities. You will then be transferred by your deluxe to Uma Paro Resort for lunch at their Restaurant ‘Bukhara’.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro transported by luxury 4WD, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centers, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours). On arrival check into Hotel Taj Tashi, situated in the center of the capital city. It adopts age-old Bhutanese traditions in its architecture, and offers panoramic views of neighboring mountain peaks. Inside, you will find every modern convenience including a spa, swimming pool and multi-cuisine dining. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at Taj Tashi in Thimphu.
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial Stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang and Zilukha Nunnery. If there is time, you may visit Tashichho Dzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ housing ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. Return to Taj Tashi Thimphu for dinner and overnight.
Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (5.5-6 hrs). Drive by luxury 4WD over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters) which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms.
Continue on through the bustling market town of Wangdue Phodrang, and up winding mountain roads through mixed forests and over high passes before descending down into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November - March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. On arrival check into Gangtey Gonepa Lodge.
Dinner and overnight at Gangtey Gonepa Lodge.
Following breakfast visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century. Afterwards drive by luxury 4WD over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range towards Trongsa (4.5 hrs). Enroute visit the beautiful 18th century Chendebji Chorten. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. Visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the Ta Dzong museum housing a collection of historical artifacts of the Royal Family.
Continue driving towards Bumthang (2.5 hrs), the spiritual of the kingdom. Bumthang is home to some of Bhutan’s oldest Palaces, Buddhist temples and monasteries. On arrival transfer to the luxurious Amankora Bumthang. The Resort is located between the First and Second King’s palace amongst orchards of apples and pears and a glorious aged peach tree planted by the late Queen Mother. After checking in, you will be accompanied to your exquisite, wood Panelled guest suites. Enjoy an optional Spa Treatment before dinner. Overnight at Amankora Resort Bumthang.
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples. Return to Amankora Resort for lunch before continuing sightseeing including Jakar Dzong and Tamzhing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Overnight at Amankora Resort Bumthang.
Depart for Punakha stopping along the way at Trongsa for lunch. On arrival, check into to luxurious Uma Punakha. Overnight and dinner at Uma Punakha.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness" built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu 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 in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
Afterwards return to Uma Punakha for lunch, followed by an excursion by 4WD or on foot to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. In the afternoon you have an option of returning to Uma Punakha for time at leisure, or a short excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of Drukpa Kuenly. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. Overnight and dinner at Uma Punakha.
Drive back to Thimphu by luxury 4WD where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores, and enjoy lunch at Taj Tashi. Afterwards proceed to Paro and check into the 5 star Zhiwa Ling Resort Paro, featuring elaborate hand carved wooden cornices and masterful stonework along with Swedish underfloor heating. Guest rooms are beautifully appointed with oak floors, hand-knotted rugs and rich furnishings reflecting the heritage of the country. All rooms afford incredible views over the forests and mountain ranges of Paro. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure with the option of relaxing at The Menlha Spa, the Tea House or Meditation House. Enjoy dinner at the Zhiwa Ling Restaurant, with the remainder of the evening at leisure. Overnight at Zhiwa Ling Resort, Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great 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. Refreshments and lunch will be arranged in the tent specifically pitched on the path to Taktsang Monastery.
On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight at Zhiwa Ling Resort Paro.
Enjoy breakfast at Zhiwa Ling before driving to the airport for flight to your onward destination.To be informed all the charges for luxury hotels will be charged differently.
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