Duration: 13 Days, 12 Nights
Location: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Phobjikha, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar, Trashi Yangtse, Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar
Chorten Kora Festival (also known as Dakpa Kora) is dedicated to a young girl from Tawang, believed to have been a Khando (Dakini) agreed to be buried alive inside the stupa. For this reason a ritual known as Dakpa Kora is organized every year where hundreds of people from Arunachal Pradesh known as the Dakpas make it to Chorten Kora to circumambulate during the festival organised by the community of Tashiyangtse. So plan your visit to Bhutan to coincide with this festival held in late February and March (spring season) annually. This tour gives you a real appreciation of both the Buddhist faith and the preservation of an age-old tradition in this far corner of the eastern Bhutan but also included in the package are other places of interest.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
On arrival in Paro, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel in Thimphu, the Capital of Bhutan for two nights. Spend rest of the day at leisure to allow for acclimatization.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Thimphu
Today you’ll explore a fascinating full day tour to see the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,300m. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Next, visit the Changgangkha Monastery, the Folk Heritage Museum, a showcase of the Bhutanese artifacts used in rural households, the National Library, which houses ancient manuscripts or the Painting School. This afternoon, head out of town to explore the Simtokha Dzong, which is the oldest fortress in Bhutan, built in 1629 or visit the National Textile Musuem. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang
After breakfast, today we travel to Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang for a distance of 135-km for about 5-6 hours journey and en route stop off at Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 3,050m. If weather is clear, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the snow capped eastern Himalaya ranges and also a magnificent distant view of the Gasa Dzong from this spot. After lunch, visit the ruined site of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong by fire in late June 2012, which is perched on a ridge overlooking the Punatshangchhu and Dangchhu Rivers. Continue on the journey to Gangtey in Phobjikha, which is one of the winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrate to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter – they arrive in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. Along the highway, you’ll photo stops as there are loads of breathtaking views during the journey. Overnight in Gangtey.
Day 4: Gangtey – Trongsa
The altitude of Gangtey in Phobjikha valley is 3,000m. This morning you will visit the picturesque Gangtey Gonpa (monastery). Enjoy the views of the remote Phobjikha glacial valley and the black mountain ranges. After lunch we travel a distance of 120-km for about 5 hours to Trongsa via Pele La Pass at an altitude of 3,300m. This pass is an important dividing range that separates the western from central and eastern Bhutan. En route stop off at Chendebji Chorten (stupa) located just below the road. Spend the night in Trongsa.
Day 5: Trongsa – Bumthang
Today morning you’ll visit the Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the present Royal Family where the first two Kings ruled from this dzong and also visit the Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower). After lunch, you’ll continue the journey for a distance of 68-km for about 2 hours to Bumthang, the most beautiful valley and cultural heartland of Bhutan. En route we will stop for a quick visit to the Yathra Weaving Factory at Chumey, where they use yak and sheep wools for yathra products with patterns unique to Bumthang. The evening is at leisure to relax and enjoy, we have allowed some time for this and also to explore the delightful surroundings of Bumthang valley at 2,600m. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 6: Sightseeing in Bumthang
After breakfast, we set out for a full day sightseeing to experience more of this spiritual heartland of Bhutan. You will visit the following legendary monasteries, temples and dzong: the Jakar Dzong, the Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songsen Gampo of Tibet, the Kurjey Lhakhang, built in 1652 and named after the body imprint of Guru Rinpoche who introduced the Buddhism in Bhutan and visit the Tamshing Lhakhang, built in 1501 and the most important Nyingma temple in Bhutan. If time permits, visit the famous Swiss Cheese Factory and Diary Farm in Bumthang. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 7: Bumthang – Mongar
This morning takes you through a scenic journey for a distance of 198km for about 7-8 hours journey to Mongar at an altitude of 1,600m. Along the journey you will cross the two villages called Ura and Sengor passing through the highest point on Bhutan’s lateral road via Thrumsing La Pass at an altitude of 3,800m. En route stop at Ura Shelthang La, where you will enjoy a magnificent view of the Bhutan’s highest peak, Mt Gangkar Puensum at 7,500m. Next, stop at Sengor village and Namling where you can view the breathtaking landscapes of the cascading waterfalls and admire the diverse flora and fauna in these places. Descending down the road will take you to Lingmithang at an altitude of 700m and cross the Kurichhu River, where the largest hydroelectric power in the eastern region is commissioned over the river. Spend the night in Mongar.
Day 8: Mongar – Trashiyangtse via Trashigang
After breakfast, we depart Mongar after a quick visit to the Mongar Dzong and head to Trashiyangtse for a distance of 146-km for about 5 hours journey via Kori La Pass at an altitude of 2,450m. Afterwards, road descends and passes through the famous zigzag turns of Yadi and en route you will see the temple, perched on top of a steep hill above the village which is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place of origin of the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with drums. Visit the Trashigang Dzong before having lunch at Trashigang. Continue into Trashiyangtse at altitude of at altitude of 1,850m, a fairly new district that was separated from Trashigang. You will spend three nights here.
Day 9: Chorten Kora Festival, Trashiyangtse
Attend Chorten Kora Festival. The sanctity of the three day religious festival draws the Dakpa tribe in neighboring Arunachael Pradesh (India) who endures days of travel on foot amid rugged environs with entire families. Some say the Dakpas have done this for more than a millennium, beginning shortly after Guru Padmasambhava sanctified the place in the 8th century. Overnight in Trashiyangtse.
Day 10: Trashiyangtse – Bumdeling
This morning you will be taken to visit Bumdeling, a wonderful plain alongside the Kholongchhu River. Bumdeling is also one of the winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrate to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter – they arrive in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. Back to Trashiyangtse and lunch at your hotel. Later visit the new Trashiyangtse Dzong. We will also visit the dazzling white Chorten Kora (stupa) on the Kholongchhu riverbank below the town and the Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students are trained in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Overnight in Trashiyangtse.
Day 11: Trashiyangtse – Trashigang
Today’s return journey is a distance of 55-km for about 2 hours to Trashigang at an altitude of 1,150m, the largest and most populated district in Bhutan. En route visit the Gomkora Lhakhang and its surroundings, which is 23-km before reaching Trashigang. Later visit the Tashigang Dzong, which serves as the civil administrative centre and the local monastic body, situated on a steep hillside above the Gamri River.Overnight in Trashigang.
Day 12: Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar
After breakfast, your day begins with 180km journey for about 7 hours to Samdrup Jongkhar at elevation of 215m. En route you’ll see the Bhutan’s first and premier Sherubtse College in Kanglung, founded in 1978. Visit the Khaling Handloom supported by the National Woman Association of Bhutan, where you will observe the traditional style of weaving and past by the only National Institute for Visually Impaired, located below the road. Stop at Wamrong for lunch, a 27-km drive from Khaling. After lunch, continue into Samdrup Jongkhar and then encounter a stretch of road called Melong Bra, where the road is cut through sheer cliffs before reaching Narphung. Descending the road gradually will take you to Deothang, which is the historical site of a famous 19th century battle fought during the Duar Wars. Overnight in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 13: Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhutan
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Guwahati International Airport, Assam in the northeastern state of India to connect with your onward flight. The travelling distance is 110-km for about 3 hours. Goodbye and Good luck!