After arriving in Paro enjoy an included transfer to your hotel in Thimphu where you will meet the rest of the group and your local tour leader. If time permits, head out in the afternoon to Buddha Point, home to Thimphu's most recognized landmark, the Buddha Dordenma. Then, visit the Memorial Chorten, a Tibetan-style stupa built in 1974 and one of Thimphu's most impressive religious sites. This evening gather as a group at a local restaurant for a welcome dinner and your first chance to sample Bhutanese cuisine. With elevations ranging between 2,248 meters (7,375 feet) and 2,648 meters (8,688 feet) above sea level, Thimphu is the fifth highest capital city in the world by altitude. It is also the only capital city in the world without any traffic lights. The city offers a unique blend of the modern world with Bhutanese tradition.
Today will be your first day trekking on the Trans Bhutan Trail. The group will transfer eastwards to Pelela for the start of the hike at 3,407 metres (11,177 feet) above sea level. As you descend through the meadows below Pelela, keep an eye out for the yak herder camps which can be seen scattered around the valley. For lunch you'll stop in at a traditional farmhouse in the village of Rukubji to enjoy a hot lunch, before visiting Rukubji's village Lhakhang (temple), also known as Kuenzang Choling. Rukubji is also famous for its unique local language, and you will have the chance to learn about it from the villagers over tea.
After lunch, rejoin the trail for a gentle climb out of the valley, through the forest, and back down to the village of Chendebi, where the group will camp for the night. Once there, visit the Chorten (stupa), which is believed to have been built on the point on which the three ridges and the three edges of the sky meet. A delicious organic, locally sourced dinner will be served at the campsite in the evening. This ancient route, which runs 403 kilometres from Haa in the West of Bhutan to Trashigang in the East, dates back at least as far as the 16th century, when it would have been the only means of communication between the strategically located dzongs (fortresses) along the route. The Trail's Garps (messengers) were quite legendary, travelling with vital messages between Dzongs at great speeds with little food or rest. Over time, the Trail came to play a major role in uniting the region's many kingdoms, culminating in the birth of Bhutan as a nation in 1907. With the advent of Bhutan's National Highway in the 1960s, the Trail fell into disrepair but was restored in 2019 thanks to a partnership between the Royal Bhutanese Government, the Tourism Council of Bhutan, and the Bhutan Canada Foundation. The Trail now receives visitors from across Bhutan and the world. When stopping the the village of Rukubji learn more about the local language from the locals. The dialect, called Ngyen-Kye, is a mix of other dialects from across Bhutan and even some English words, and is now only spoken by a dozen or so households.
Eat breakfast at your camp before rejoining the Trans Bhutan trail at the Chendebi Chorten (stupa). Follow the trail along the old East-West National Highway and then trek back into the countryside towards the village of Tangsibji. Fill those stomachs with a farmhouse lunch in the village before continuing further along the trail passing several hydroelectric project sites. These clean, renewable energy projects are one of the ways in which Bhutan has achieved its status as the only carbon negative country in the world. In the afternoon, visit the Trashi Choeling Lhakhang (temple), located in Trashiling village. Once the group arrives in Tsangkha you will visit the Tshangkha Lhakhang (temple) before heading to your campsite where you will enjoy a hot shower and a locally-sourced organic dinner with the group.
Head back to the Trans Bhutan Trail after breakfast at your camp. Today's trek includes a short, but steep climb out of Tsangkha passing the Ugyen Choling and Tsangkha Sheydra. Then, the trail drops back down to cross the National Highway at the Trongsa viewpoint which is considered to be the geographical center point of Bhutan. Recreate the experience of past royals as you descend as a group into the steep valley below. See spectacular views of the Dzong (fortress) and cross the old cantilever bridge over the Mangde River before climbing the other side of the valley to reach Trongsa Dzong via the Western gate. After arriving to our hotel, the rest of the day is yours to relax and explore before joining back together for dinner at a local restaurant in the early evening. Trongsa is Bhutan's geographical center point and is very closely linked to the Bhutanese Royal Family: the first two hereditary Kings ruled from Trongsa Dzong (fortress) and the crown prince still traditionally serves as the Penlop (Governor) of Trongsa before acceding to the throne. The Trans Bhutan Trail still passes directly through the middle of the city of Trongsa and, in centuries gone by, the trail would actually have passed right through Trongsa Dzong itself.
Devour a quick breakfast this morning before heading out for a tour of Trongsa Dzong (fortress), first built as a small meditation room in 1541. Visit a selection of the Dzong's 23 lhakhangs (temples), before heading to the Trongsa Ta Dzong (watchtower), which now houses the interesting Royal Heritage Museum. The remainder of the day will be at leisure to explore Trongsa at your own pace.
Wave farewell to Trongsa today and head back out on the Trail for some more hiking. The trail between Trongsa and Gyetsa begins with a gradual climb upwards to Kewathang. Trek through a stretch of dense forest as the group continues through Yotongla where you'll stop to enjoy a picnic lunch. Cross through meadows and through open forest until the trail reaches the Gyetsa River. Once the group arrives at camp in Gyetsa you'll be able to enjoy a hot shower and a locally-sourced organic dinner at the campsite.
Today after breakfast the group will trek through the most historic section of the trail. This section was used by the royal family when they travelled between their winter and summer residences. You'll travel through Kikila Pass before descending into the Bumthang Valley. We'll stop along the way for a picnic lunch, enjoying the scenery.
Once you arrive in Bumthang, visit the majestic Jakar Dzong (fortress), also known as the ??Castle of the White Bird'. Observe unique features like its fifty-meter utse (tower) and a sheltered passage with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which guaranteed the fortress's inhabitants access to water during a siege. This evening, enjoy a special experience as you settle into your local homestay accommodation. Spend the evening with a few of your fellow travelers in the home of a local Bhutanese family who will be your hosts for the evening. Share a meal and exchange stories while learning about what life is like for your local hosts.
Enjoy breakfast at your homestay before transferring back to the charming town of Punakha for a day of exploring. You'll stop for lunch en route and then visit the Bazam (bridge) just across the river from Punakha Dzong (fortress). In order to cross the bridge on foot you must be wearing formal Bhutanese dress, including a gho for men and a kora for women. On the other side head out on a tour of the Dzong (fortress).
In the evening, enjoy another homestay experience with local Bhutanese families. Tuck into a delicious homemade meal and rest up for another incredible day ahead
Today after breakfast, the group will transfer to Paro where you'll check into the hotel and have lunch. Then , it's time to head out and see some of Paro's most popular sites. Visit the Ta Dzong or ??watchtower' which is now Bhutan's National Museum, home to a number of exhibitions including sculpture, painting and artifacts depicting Bhutan's magical past. Then, continue to the stunning Paro Rinpung Dzong (fortress), meaning ??Fortress on a Heap of Jewels', This evening indulge in some delicious dinner with your CEO and fellow travellers.
Fill up on breakfast before heading northwest out of Paro for a visit to the iconic Taktshang Goemba, more commonly known as the ??Tiger's Nest Monastery'. Precariously perched on a sheer cliff face 900 metres (2,950 feet) above the Paro Valley floor, the Tiger's Nest is undoubtedly Bhutan's most famous religious building. The trek offers spectacular views from the ridge and passes a small chorten, a basic monastery, and a waterfall on its way. Once you have reached the Tiger's Nest, you will have a chance to visit the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated, as well as the extensive network of Lhakhangs (chapels) which house images, murals, chortens, and a holy spring.
If time allows, make a quick trip to Machig-phu Lhakhang (temple) on the way back down to the access road. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to relax at your hotel or to explore Paro on your own, before enjoying a last dinner with your group at a local restaurant to celebrate the trip!
Enjoy one last breakfast before being transferred from your hotel to the airport for your flight home.