19 - 28 NOVEMBER 2017
Join us on this small group tour of Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, the last remaining great Himalayan Kingdom. Be awed by snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys; admire the fabulous monasteries and incredible fortress-like dzongs; appreciate the beauty of traditional clothing and religious dance spectacles; learn about the deeply held Buddhist beliefs; and best of all, meet the charming, fun-loving people of Bhutan where Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.
Please note: There are optional walking/hiking opportunities during this tour which require a moderate degree of fitness.
Sunday 19 November 2017
Travel from Australia, via Bangkok, staying overnight in Novotel, Bangkok Airport.
Monday 20 November 2017
The morning flight into Bhutan takes you close to the Himalayas and offers dazzling views. Your first glimpse of Bhutan will be breathtaking - As you enter the Paro valley, you will pass forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) meandering down the valley below with the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower) on the hill above the town. Transfer to the modern capital, Thimphu, an exciting blend of new and old. This afternoon you may wish to take the walk up to the Golden Buddha to enjoy spectacular views of the city. (3km, 1 hour, Easy to moderate - short steep parts)
Tuesday 21 November 2017
This morning visit The National Memorial Chorten, a memorial to peace, and watch as people walk around the richly decorated temple whirling their red prayer wheels and praying at the shrine.
Hike through a gorgeous rhododendron forest to reach the picturesque Tango Gompa monastery. ( 1.5 hours easy to moderate). After lunch at a local restaurant we inspect some block printed Buddhist manuscripts at the National Library . Then learn about the unique traditional Himalayan practice of medicine.
Later you will be able to admire the work of students at the Institute for Zorig Chusum, where they are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Afternoon conference session
Wednesday 22 November 2017
Today we have a spectacular drive through dense pine and cedar forest to reach Dochula Pass (at 10,000 feet) where you can see the 108 stupas dedicated to those who lost their lives in a border dispute with India. On a clear day you will have breath-taking views of the Himalayas.
Descend in to the fertile sub-tropical valley of Punakha, the capital of Bhutan till 1955. Take a 20 minute walk across paddy fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery where women journey to be blessed to cure their infertility. After lunch proceed to your hotel.
Afternoon conference session.
Thursday 23 November 2017
Today hike up to the marvellous 4 storey Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple. It is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. The temple is dedicated to the wellbeing of the Kingdom, its people and all sentient beings. ( 1.5 hours easy).
Conditions permitting you will have the option of doing a gentle white water rafting excursion on the Mo Chhu ( Mother River) ( Grade 1 & 2 rapids).
Enjoy a riverside picnic lunch before proceeding to the picturesque village of Talo, on the ridge overlooking the Punakha valley. Gain an understanding of rural life and see if you agree that the women of Talo are exceptionally beautiful.
Afternoon clinic visit before you return to the hotel.
Friday 24 November 2017
This morning visit Semtokhas Dzong, one of Bhutan's oldest fortresses, placed strategically at the crossroads of three regions. Hear of the myths of the vanquished demon associated with the site. After a farmhouse lunch proceed to the National Museum in Paro, to examine the wonderful collection of ancient art, artefacts and weapons.
Enjoy an orientation tour of Paro including the famous cantilevered bridge, the Kichu Lhakhang Temple which boasts an orange tree that bears fruit perpetually and the Drukgyel Dzong. Proceed to your hotel.
Afternoon conference session.
Saturday 25 November 2017
Today is your chance to be in the thick of Bhutanese culture. This morning you will participate in a Tsewang Ceremony, with a monk reciting prayers and making food offerings to the Buddha of Longevity to bestow blessings upon you. Explore the twin temples of Kyichu Lhakhang, said to be built on the head of a demoness, who was causing illness in the inhabitants. After lunch at an historic palace, experience a traditional Bhutanese archery match. Join the cheer leaders who dance and sing their support for their own team while trying to distract the opposition. Marvel at the dexterity of the archers and gasp at the fearlessness of their team mates who stand near the targets and deftly sidestep the flying arrows.
Afternoon conference session.
Sunday 26 November 2017
Today we visit the renowned Tiger's Nest monastery, perched spectacularly on the side of a cliff towering over the Paro valley. It is said that in the 8th Century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months, hence the name Tiger's Nest. There is an option to do the full 5 hour hike OR you will ride part of the way on ponies to a cafeteria where you can stop and just admire the view). Or you can continue along the narrow trail on foot for about one hour for spectacular views. To reach the temple you must walk up and then down 850 steps. You will descend the whole way on foot (about 1 hour). The pain will well and truly be worth it and we can offer you a Traditional hot stone bath to recover in the evening. (2.5-3 hours Difficult).
Enjoy a final special evening with your fellow travellers.
Monday 27 November 2017
Fly to Bangok this afternoon for an overnight stay at Novotel, Bangkok Airport Hotel
Tuesday 28 November 2017
Depart Bangkok in the morning and arrive in Australia at night.
or stay on for a few extra days of hiking.
End of arrangements or Join optional post conference tour
Please note that this itinerary and costs may be subject to change.