Even before you have landed in the remote kingdom of Bhutan you know you are arriving at a very special destination.
As you peek out the window of the plane you find yourself surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Himalayas, descending into a valley, that even from the air, has the mystical quality of existing in an era that the rest of the world has long forgotten. Our tour will take you to highlights of Western, Central and remote Eastern Bhutan.
Tours of Exploration has just returned from leading two overland expeditions in 2016. Let our experience help make this a trip of a lifetime for you.
2019 Departure Dates & Cost
Departure date: November 6 - 21, 2019 (16 days)
Jambay Lhakhang Teschu Festival: Overland West to East
Ask about Fall Festivals in 2020
Tour cost: $ 3,900 USD
A deposit of $ 800 is required to secure your trip
Single Supplement $ 50 USD per night
$ 40 USD Visa fee additional
Airfare to Paro additional
Spring departures include: Punakha Teschu - February 28 to March & Paro Teschu - April 9 to 24 (with Tours of Exploration owner Catherine Evans)
Let us know if you require airfare from your home city to Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi or Kolkata and we will apply for low promotional fares
November 6: Arrive Paro (D)
You will be transferred to the airport for the early morning flight to Paro, Bhutan. Please arrive at the Druk Airline Counter 2 hours prior to departure. Baggage limit 30 kg per person check-in and 1 carry-on bag. After completing arrival formalities meet with your guide. Check in at Tashi Namgay Hotel for for 2 nights. Some afternoon sightseeing in the town of Paro.
November 7: Paro (B,L,D)
The people of Paro are known for their hard work, which is displayed in their large traditional country houses. If you marry a girl from Paro, be prepared to put metal roofing over the traditional shingle roof in your wife's house and purchase farming machineries, to show that you are a capable and well-to-do husband. (So we joke among ourselves.) Paro's sightseeing is full of gems such as the 200-year-old Watch Tower that was renovated and converted into National Museum in 1968. It houses a fine collection of national costumes and fabrics, gallery of thangkas, and other galleries showcasing armour and silverware with the handsome Royal tea pots. Visit a 7thcentury temple. Lunch in town and drive to the Chelela Pass for a stunning view.
November 8: Tigers Nest / Thimpu (B,L,D)
Day to experience the Tigers Nest Monastery. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 800 meters. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava, the saint who converted Bhutan to Buddhism, enlighted here upon the back of a tigress. Those trekking further than the teahouse viewpoint shoul be in excellent physical condition. On return drive to Thimpu - 2 hours. 2 nights Bhutan Suites Hotel or similar.
November 9: Thimpu (B,L,D)
Enjoy a full day sightseeing in and around Thimphu Valley. Some of the activities you will enjoy include:
Purchase world's most beautiful postage stamps, collector's items and postcards at face value from general post office which is right next to Bhutan National Bank
Visit the textile centre
Visit the Large Buddha
Visit Memorial Chorten built in 1974 to honour memory of Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, popularly known as the Father of Modern Bhutan. A multi-storied stupa that will introduce you to the vitality of Tantric Buddhism.
Observe traditional paper making from Daphnia and Edgeworthia shrub to the finished product and purchase some beautiful writing sets from the factory
Visit the nature preserve where one can see Takin, the National wild animal of Bhutan. Several species of deer can also ve viewed in the natural pens.
Drive up to viewpoint and take a hike beyond to see the clear picture of Thimphu Valley, and the Thimpu Dzong
Downtown Thimphu on foot visiting Handicrafts Emporium and other Arts & Crafts stores.
Buy stunning kiras which can be used and bed covers or wall decoration, jewelleries and many more
November 10: Thimpu - Punakha (B,L,D)
Drive to Wangduephodrang (4 hour drive) across Dochula Pass (10,500ft). Prayer flags send prayers on the wind. Enjoy spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Stop at Lobesa for lunch. Early afternoon visit the Punakha Dong, "Palace of Great Happiness." The impressive Punakha Dzong is the former winter Capital and at present day hosts the administrative seat of the district. Also the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and female rivers - the location is strategic. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan's first king was crowned. We will visit the Fertility Temple Chimed Lhakhang and in the evening tour the Wangdu Dzong courtyard.Overnight at Hotel Vera or similar for 1 night.
Novermber 11: Valley Black-Necked Cranes (B,L,D)
We drive to Gangtey in Phobjikha, a glacial valley on the western slopes of Black Mountain national park. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders the Black Mountain National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winter here (from late October to late March), it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country Phobjikha Valley is circled by beautiful pine covered mountains. Along the way, look for nocturnal red pandas that sleep in the trees during the day. At the valley's center, rising dramatically from a small ridge, stands Gantey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingma Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan. If possible we will include a visit to the Gangtey monastery overlooks the large green expanse of Phobjikha Valley. The extensive complex consists of the gomba itself, the monks' quarters, meditation centers, and schools. Evening: Visit the Black-necked cranes roost in the swampy marshland from the Observatory overlooking the fields. Overnight Gakaling Guest House.
November 12: to Trongsa (B,L,D)
Some time in this special valley to watch the birds and enjoy peaceful village serenity and then depart for Trongsa in Central Bhutan. Trongsa is the ancestral home of the royal family. We will visit Tongsa Dzong (fort), one of the largest in the country. It was first built is 1648 by Chogyel Minjur Tempa, the Third Desi, and later enlarged many times. Because of being situated on a highly commanding position on the only connecting route between the eastern and western sectors (the trail actually runs through the Dzong), the Tongsa Penlop was able to control the whole of eastern region very effectively for many centuries. It is presently the administrative seat of the district and home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the Dzong spans a huge area. Views from here are extensive creating a truly strategic location of this Dzong. Overnight Trongsa.
November 13: To Bumthang (B,L,D)
The drive to Bumthang is approximately 4 hours with stops at the Yatong La Pass, and the Chummey Valley, famous for its weavers. Continue to the Chomkhar Valley, our home for the next 3 nights (River Lodge or similar).
November 14: Jambay Lhakhang Tsechu (B,L,D)
Day to enjoy the dances and festivities of this wonderful local festival. Sightseeing will also be included to the areas temples and attractions. Enjoy perhaps, a traditional stone bath at the resort.
November 15: Jambay Lhakhang Tsechu (B,L,D)
Spend full day in and around Bumthang Valley enjoying a local festival at Jambay Lhakhang (Monastery).
November 16: Bumthang - Yongkola (B,L,D)
After breakfast, leave Central Bhutan and continue our journey east across the Thrumshing-La Pass (Alt. 3.780 m/12,401 ft). Thrumshing-La is also a National Park and we will have time to walk in search of birds and other wildlife.Check-in to Trogan Guest House for the night. (Alt. 1700 m/5577 ft).
November 17: Yongkola - Mongar (B,L,D)
Do some walking, nature viewing and birding along the Lingmenthang Road. Breakfast in the field. Lunch in the town of Limenthang, and then continue for 90 minutes to Mongar. Overnight Wangchuck Hotel for the night (Alt. 1638 m/5372 ft).
November 18: Mongar - Trashigang (B,L,D)
Morning some leisure time in and around Mongar town. After lunch, depart for Tashigang, the largest district in Bhutan - although spread over several villages and valleys. On the journey to Trashigang we pass over the Koiri-La Pass 9Alt. 2400m/7874 ft). Check in to the Lingkhar Resort for 2 nights and enjoy the hospitality of Eastern Bhutan (Alt. 1126 m/3695 ft).
November 19: Trashigang (B,L,D)
A full day hike to Rangshikar Village. Visit the Rereat Centre and have lunch there.
November 20: Trashigang - Samdrup Jongkhar (B,L,D)
Leave Lingkhar Resort and journey southeast towards the town of Samdrup Jongkhar on the border with Assam, Inda. Overnight Hotel Menjong (basic accommodation).
November 21: Departure
Departure for airport in Guwahati.
Extensions to Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India are easily added. Flights out of Guwahait are available to Kolkata, Delhi and Jaipur.
Your tour cost includes
Road transportation in comfortable vans or micro-buses
Travel with a licensed professional guide
Sightseeing tours with entrance fees
Camping equipment and haulage for treks
Royalty paid to support educational and social programs
What our clients say...
“ I felt well looked after... the food was better than I expected, I particularly liked the wonderful vegetable variety. This is unique country for anyone interested in visiting the Himalayas and learning how this small country enters the modern world and still retains it’s identity and the process.” - P. Charles, Vancouver, BC
“ All guides and drivers went above and beyond in making our stay a memorable one.....Tours of Exploration has done a wonderful job during our trip. After seeing the National History Museum in Paro I realized that we had first hand seeing with our own eyes most of the billboards on display. We did amazing things saw culture, nature, music, religion and most of the country from one end to the next. Everything was taken care of.” - M and B. Chesnik, Windsor, ON
“ The experience of this tour was due to the guides and drivers. The six of them all contributed to an amazing trip. The entire trip was an experience of a lifetime, thank you.” - P. Macdonald, San Francisco, CA
“ After our 1st day of looking down, I knew we were in good hands.” K. Basher, Lancaster, NY
“ This trip was far above my expectations, I highly recommend Tours of Exploration to my friends.” - T. MacIntosh, Peterborough, ON
“ There was a good mix of cultural and sight seeing activities... Perhaps the food was a little too good, great that therewere so many veggie options... You really look after us and all of your behind the scenes work is greatly appreciated. “ - K. Dawkins, Toronto, ON
” I greatly appreciated having two buses so everyone could have a window seat. Felt it was a treasure to come here, and especially to visit eastern Bhutan.” - C. Longfield, Toronto, ON
” I appreciated the driving skills that were apparent of those challenging roads, the bus was always clean and well taken care of mechanically.” - M. Leuschen
“ We first heard of Bhutan about ten years ago and it has been on our list of places to visit ever since...The people are all so friendly and curious... We did not experience the begging and peddlers so common in many of the other areas of Asia we have visited... The mountains are ablaze with colour, the red and whites are incredibly intense...At higher elevations we saw yaks and on occasion a pair of barking deer in the road.” - C and E. Jensen
“ Our guide was very good with respect to his language skills, knowledge and organisational ability... our schedule was packed from dawn till dusk with sightseeing!.. it was most stimulating and very interesting.” - J. Arnold, Christchurch, NZ
“ Thank you again for providing wonderful photo experiences in Bhutan. It is a beautiful, friendly destination.” - D and B. Wolf
“ Carmen, It was a delight to get to know you and to have you as a guiding light on our Bhutan trip, I loved it! Even though I was not a real photo buff I did get hundreds of good shots, I have put them into an eleven minute show with music and zooming and panning... My post trips to Cambodia and northern Thailand went well too.” - J. Johnson