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- 9 nights
- From $3199 AUD
- Departing 5 October 2013
- Gay men and Lesbians
Bhutan - The last Shangri-La
* Exclusive Small Group Tour hosted by Out Travel
The Kingdom of Bhutan which is also called Drukyul - meaning, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is one of the few unexplored tourist destinations in the world. It has been declared a global hot-spot by the UN organisation - World Wildlife Fund because of its pristine environment and rich bio-diversity. Straddling upon the eastern Himalayas with China to the north and India to the south; it is a land having immense natural beauty and rich ancient cultural, traditional and social values. It is often referred as the last Shangri-La.
Bhutan is a small landlocked Himalayan Kingdom, almost the size of HOLLAND in Europe and about half the size of state of INDIANA in the USA. It has an area of 38,394 sq km; and is sandwiched between two giant neighbours - China in the North and India in the South. Bhutan lies between 27 30 N longitude and 90 30 E latitude with a population of 691,141 (from the National Housing and Census Bureau of Bhutan statistics).
There are many local dialects in different regions of the central, south western, western and eastern regions of the country. Although Bhutan has a relatively small land mass, the wide geographical variation gives Bhutan its typical climatic character and four distinct seasonal patterns. The southern plain, close to the Indian border has a sub tropical climate with very pleasant in winter months, while the central valley has a mild temperature with cool environment. The alpine in the north has cooler weather throughout the seasons. The four climatic seasons vary from Winter in December to February, Spring from March to May, Summer in June to August, and Autumn from September to November.
The physical features stretch across all climatic zones - the sub-tropical vegetation in the south with an altitude of 200 to 300 meters to moderate height of 2,000 to 2,500 meters in the central region. There is also a much higher alpine zone with the towering Himalayan range and glacier. These give spectacular views to visitors.
The Bhutanese people are good natured, friendly and fun loving. The ruggedness of the terrain and remoteness of the valley have led to the settlement and formation of many scattered communities throughout Bhutan. The broad classification of local dialects are Dzongkha in south western region (also the national language of Bhutan), the people in the west central region speak Khengkha or Bumthapkha. The eastern region has Sarchopkha as local language and Nepali in the southern part of the country.
The capital city of Bhutan is THIMPHU which is located at north western part of the country, where all the Ministerial organisations and UN House are based.
Although the state religion of the Kingdom is Mahayana Buddhism, people in the eastern part of the country follow Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism. The Karmapa sect is widely practised in the western region. The Nepalese or Lhotshampas (southern Bhutanese) in the southern belt are predominantly Hindus.
The natural environment is mostly undisturbed and in pristine form. With a national goal of maintaining 60 percent of the country under forest cover at all times to come, the scope for Bhutan's rich bio-diversity is very secure. Currently, about 65 percent of the country is under forest cover and 26 percent as protected areas (National Parks and Biological Corridors), enabling harmonious existence of the Eco-system.
|Day 1||Arrival and Drive from Paro to Thimphu||Pick up from Paro International Airport (2280m). Depending on the arrival time of the Druk Air flight, you will either be served a meal in Paro or be driven straight to Thimphu, the capital city, which is about 53 kilometres away. The drive normally takes about an hour and a half. If Thimphu is reached early, you can go out in the town and mingle with the Bhutanese people. Dinner will be served in hotel.|
|Day 2||Thimphu Sightseeing||Sightseeing in Thimphu (2320m) includes visits to, National Library which was established in 1967 and has many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts); Painting School or the National Institute for Zorig Chusum (the 13 traditional arts and crafts like painting, woodcarving, embroidery and statue making; National Memorial Chorten which was built in 1974 in memory of the third King of Bhutan; Semtokha Dzong which is about five kilometres south of Thimphu. Semtokha Dzong was built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Today it houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.); Tashichhodzong the seat of the government of Bhutan. It houses the secretariat, the Throne Room, His Majesty's secretariat, the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. If the sightseeing falls on the weekend you can visit Thimphu's open vegetable market where farmers from the nearby regions gather to sell their produce.|
|Day 3||Thimphu to Punakha / Wangduephodrang||The first stop on this road journey is at Dochula pass at 3,140 meters. Dochula is about 23 kilometres from Thimphu and during a clear day it offers a clear view of the Himalayas. After refreshments in Dochula the journey continues to Punakha. Lunch will be served at the hotel. After lunch sightseeing in Punakha and Wangduephodrang. Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 and was the former capital of Bhutan. It lies at the confluence of the Mo Chu (female river) and the Pho Chu (male river). Punakha Dzong still serves at the winter residence as the winter residence of the Central Monk Body. Wangduephodrang is about 21 kilometres from Punakha and its dzong which sits on the top of the high ridge was built in 1638. The ridge provides a panoramic view of the valley. Return to hotel where dinner will be served.|
|Day 4||Wangduephodrang / Punakha to Trongsa||After the breakfast drive to Trongsa. Trongsa is 129 kilometers from Wangduephodrang. Check-in to hotel. Check-in to the hotel.|
|Day 5||Trongsa Sightseeing, Drive Trongsa to Bumthang||After breakfast visit Trongsa Dzong, one of Bhutan's oldest historical, political and religious monuments also known as Druk Minjur Chhoekhor Rabtentse Dzong. Built 463 years ago, Trongsa dzong sits on a high on ridge overlooking the Mangde Chhu (river) and represents an important link with Bhutan's precious institution of monarchy. It was the dzong where future Kings formalsed their ascension as Chhoetse Penlop before ascending the Golden Throne. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck's investiture ceremony as the Chhoetse Penlop in Trongsa Dzong took place on October 30, 2004. Visit Ta Dzong, the watchtower of the Trongsa Dzong. The chapel inside the tower is dedicated to the Jigme Namgyal, the 19th century Trongsa penlop (governor). After the Lunch Drive to Bumthang, 68 kilometres away. It is one of the easier and scenic drives as it passes through many villages and monasteries as the highway enters the Bumthang valley. Check in to Hotel.|
|Day 6||Bumthang Sightseeing||After the breakfast Visit Jakar Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan. It has a circumference of 1500 metres. Visit the Kurje Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang, Tamshing Monastry and the Swiss Farm. Check in to Hotel.|
|Day 7||Bumthang to Paro Via Thimphu||Drive to Paro after the breakfast. Lunch on the way in Thimphu. Overnight at Paro.|
|Day 8||Paro Sightseeing||After breakfast, visit the National Museum housed in the Ta-Dzong which was built in 1656 and served as the watch tower of Paro Dzong in the past. Visit Paro Dzong, also called the Rinchen Phug Dzong, which means fortress on a heap of Jewels. Paro Dzong is one of the most impressive and well-known dzongs of Bhutan and was built in 1644. After lunch in town, proceed towards Drukgyel Dzong, 14 kilometres from the Paro town. Also known as the fortress of victory Drukgyel Dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1649 to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644. Enroute to Drukgyel you can view the Taktshang monastery perched on a cliff about 900 metres above the valley floor. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the eighth century flew to a cave in Taktshang spot on a tigress and mediated for three months. Return to the hotel. Dinner in hotel.|
|Day 9||Taksang Excursion||After breakfast, drive for about eight kilometres north of Paro town to visit Bhutan's most well known monastery, Taktshang or Tiger's Lair perched on a cliff 900 metres above the valley floor. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the eighth century flew to a cave in Taktshang spot on a tigress and mediated for three months. The trek to the monastery and back takes about four hours. Drive back to the Hotel.|
|Day 10||Departure||After an early breakfast, our representative will see you off at the Paro International Airport.|