Rustik Travel

Bhutan Experience

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  • Bhutan_Rustik Travel
  • Bhutan_Rustik Travel
  • Bhutan_Rustik Travel

Bhutan has been much in news. It is not because of its effort to measure its performance in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than GNP. It is also not because of the natural beauty of the place - the monasteries, fortresses (dzongs) and the amazing topography ranging from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. The big news is that Bhutan has become carbon negative. Yes, exactly that. Led by the dynamic Prime Minister Tshering Togbay, Bhutan has been working hard to protect the environment and reduce pollution and the results are showing. But this is not the only reason to visit the land of Thunder Dragon. The Himalayan kingdom offers a plethora of experiences ranging from adventure, trekking, climbing to culture and heritage, from nature and wildlife to calm and peaceful environs of a Buddhist monastery. In line with our philosophy, Rustik Travel has curated a range of travel experiences that are rustic, offbeat and sustainable. Here goes.

Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product.

His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk

Overview

  • Destination: Bhutan
  • Nearest City (Airport): Paro
  • Entry from India (by Road): Phuentsholing
  • Dates: 20-25 Sep, On request
  • Duration: 6D/5N, 8D/7N (customisable on request)
  • Months: September to May
  • Level: Easy to Difficult
  • Guide: Available
  • Price: On request

Experience

The dragon kingdom nestled in the greater Himalayas is an epitome of adventure, nature, wildlife, culture, food, religion and more. The Bhutan experience will give a peek into just that.


TREKKING & HIKING

The Himalayan kingdom is endowed with natural beauty, amazingly green landscapes, high altitude peaks and beautiful mountain trails. Therefore, trekking and hiking comes naturally to any traveler here after experiencing the fresh Bhutanese carbon negative air.
There are quite a few treks in Bhutan that will help experience the country.

Following are some of the popular treks in Bhutan.

Bumthang Owl Trek
This 3 day is a great option if you have limited time and want to get a feel of local culture and take in some great mountain views on the way. The bamboo forests are interspersed with a large variety of Rhododendrons that can be seen flowering during April and May. The forest cover makes for excellent bird watching and you might even see a black bear which are common in the region. The trail starts near Dhur village a traditional village with a large population of nomadic herdsmen. The second day brings you to Drangela Pass 3600m (11,800 feet) the high point on the trek from where you can have great views of Gangkar Puensum 7570m (24,836 feet) Bhutan’s tallest peak. Coming down from the pass you will have a chance to visit several monasteries including the Chuedak monastery which features over 100 stoned carvings of Avalokiteśvara one of the most honored bodhisattvas.

Druk Path Trek
At six days this trek is fairly short and offers a good introduction to Trekking in Bhutan. The trek starts near Paro and takes you over the mountains to Thimphu which lies in the adjacent valley. The trek ascends nearly 2000m with a high point of 4200m (13776 ft). The trek goes through alpine forests which are a mix of pine and dwarf rhododendrons and crosses passes several alpine lakes famous for their large trout. On the way back down towards Thimphu Valley you can have excellent views of Mount Gangkar Puensum 7570m (24,836 feet) which is Bhutan tallest peak and is likely the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.

Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek
A challenging 6 day trek that takes you to some fabulous alpine lakes famous for local trout fishing and has great views of the high peaks of the Himalayas, including Everest and Kanchenjunga, in the distance. The high point on the trek is about 4500m but part of the difficulty lies in several ascents and descents of intervening ridges which are over 1000m (3300 feet) in relief. The trek passes several traditional villages as well as camps of yak herders and imparts you with a feel of traditional life in the Himalayas.

The Jhomolhari Trek
This 8 day trek is one of the most popular in Bhutan. It’s a moderately challenging trek that crosses over both Bhonte La pass 4,890m (16000 feet) and Takhung La pass 4,520m and attracts visitors for its spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari 7,326m (24000 feet). Mount Jomolhari, straddles the border between Bhutan and Tibet, is sometimes known as the “Bride of Kangchenjunga” and is famous for its northern face which juts abruptly from the highlands with a vertical relief of 2700m (9000 feet).

Snowman Trek
This is one of the most famous treks in Bhutan and might be the most difficult trekking route in the world. The trek takes approximately 25 days depending on the starting point and basically traverses the mountains border region between Bhutan and Tibet starting from Paro and ending in Lunana in northern Bhutan. It crosses 11 passes the tallest of them being Gangla Karchung La at 5230m, Jaze La, 5251m, Loju La, 5155m and Rinchenzoe La, 5332m. One of the challenges of the trek is the isolation of the country being visited as there are few villages and the chances for helicopter evacuation are slim. This is truly one of the few places you are on your for an extended duration while trekking in the Himalayas. The best chance for good weather is during October before the snows come to the high passes and just after the monsoon ends.


HERITAGE & CULTURE

There are multiple itineraries through which you could discover Bhutan. However, try to visit during a festival to get an up and close experience of the local culture.
We have two itineraries for you. The first one is more offbeat and involves lot of day hikes. The second one is the classical Bhutan experience covering all the popular places and activities. The number of days for both the itineraries could be customised based on request.

Itinerary

Itinerary 1 (Offbeat and Hiking based): 8D/7N
Day 1 / Arrival, Paro (2,250m /7,382ft) to Thimphu (2,320m/7,656ft): 55km,1.5 hrs
As we fly into Bhutan we get spectacular views of the Himalayas. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative. We will drive to Thimphu. In the afternoon, we will visit Tashichoee Dzong(a fortress of Glorious Religion). We will then stroll down the main street. Overnight stay in Thimphu.
Day 2 / Thimphu - Tango Hike (1hr)
After breakfast, we will drive for about 15 min to the base of Tango Monastery. And then we will start our hike to Tango Monastery (a University for Buddhist studies). Along the foot path we can see many phases written on the rocks, trees by the monks of Tango monastery. After lunch, we will visit Buddha point (a giant statue - 169ft, on the hill), traditional medicine centre, School of Arts and craft, Folk heritage museum, Takin Zoo. If time permits, a visit to the archery stadium (archery is Bhutan's national game), and trying hands on the sport or catching a tournament could be added to the itinerary as an offbeat activity. Overnight stay in Thimphu.
Day 3 / Thimphu to Punakha (1,250m/4,125ft): 75 km, 2-3 hrs
After breakfast drive to Punakha, the old capital town of Bhutan. Stop enroute at Dochula pass (3,150m) where we can see the Himalayan Range, if the sky is clear. After the hike we will drive to Punakha. We will then visit Punakha Dzong, the second oldest fortress of 17th century. We will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20- minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to the Devine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. The barren couples will be blessed with child, if they visit the temple and pray from their heart. Overnight stay in Punakha.
Day 4 / Punakha to Haa (2,600m/8,580ft) Via Thimphu, 184 km, 6hrs
After breakfast we will drive to Haa. we will take a scenic drive through Rhododendron, Oak, Pine forest to Dochula before we arrive Thimphu. We drive en-route confluence traversing  on the slope of the mountain. We can take a scenic picture of Dobji DZong and we further drive passing through many villages along the road to Haa. On reaching Haa, we will stroll around the main street of Haa town. Overnight at homestay in Haa.
Day 5 / Haa valley excursion with hike (2.5 hrs) to Jamtoe Goenpa (3,230m/10,659ft)
After breakfast we will hike to Jamtoe Goenpa for about two and half  hours. We will cross the Haa chu (river) and climb up through the Pine and oak forest. As we  ascend we will get an amazing view of Haa valley. We will visit Jamtoe Goenpa and drive down to the valley. If time permits, we can take a walk through Yangto Village. Overnight at homestay in Haa.
Day 6 / Haa to Paro: 2.5 hrs, 63 km - Kila Goemba hike
After breakfast we will drive to Haa through the Pine, Rhododendrons and coniferous forest. We will host prayer flag at Chele la(3898m/12863ft) Pass, with an amazing view of Paro valley on one side and Haa valley on other. We will hike to Kila Goemba ascending for first 15 mins to the chorten and then the trails takes us through the oak and Pine forest. We can get a spectacular views of Paro valley, Mt. Jhomolhari (73,14m) and Mt. Jichu Drakey (6,898m). Kila Goemba is the oldest nunnery in country and presently  about 40 nuns lives there. Then we drive to Paro for an overnight stay in hotel. If time permits, we can stroll around the main street of the town.
Day 7 / Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (5 hrs)
After breakfast, we hike for 4 -5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. In 8th century Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley. Later in the evening, we will visit farm house for a typical Bhutanese dinner and a traditional hot-stone bath. Overnight stay in Paro.
Day 8 / Final departure
After breakfast, you will be driven to the airport. Or drive to Phuentsholing and then Bagdogra.
Itinerary 2 (Classical Jeep Safari): 8D/7N
Day 1 / Arrival, Paro (2,250m /7,382ft) to Thimphu (2,320m/7,656ft): 55km,1.5 hrs
The flight into Bhutan takes you the great Himalayas, offering you the most scintillating scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the silvery Pa-chu (Paro river ) meandering down the valley, the Paro Dzong (fortress) and the Ta Dzong. Assistance upon arrival at Paro airport and drive to Thimphu. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest of the time at leisure to discover the Capital on your own. 
Overnight stay in Thimpu.
Day 2 / Thimpu
After breakfast visit the Memorable Chorten dedicated to the 3rd King of Bhutan, The Textile Museum & Folk Heritage Museum that provides a fascinating insight into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Drive to the 15th century Changakha Lhakhang spectacularly localted on the spur. The Takin Sanctuary near the lhakhang will give the visitor a chance to glance at the National animal of Bhutan, Takin. Also visit the school of Arts and Crafts and the National Library which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Evening visit the Tashichho Dzong; the main secretarial building which houses the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan and also the head seat of Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Overnight stay in Thimpu.
Day 3 / Thimphu to Punakha (1,250m/4,125ft): 75 km, 2-3 hrs
After breakfast depart for Punakha. The view over the Himalayan panoply at Dorchula Pass at 10,500 feet is one of the most spectacular sights in all Bhutan. Added is the 108 chortens (small stupas) making it a visual delight. Retrace back towards Punakha and visit Chimi Lhakhang. Take the picturesque walk through the paddy field to reach the Chhimi Lhakhang, the Temple of the Devine Mad Man, Drukpa Kuenley. Further drive to Punakha, and visit the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan built in 1637 by Shabdrung, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan prior to the present dynasty. It is an old capital, which still serves as the winter residence of the monk body. The first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. It is now the winter residence of the Central Monastic Community and administrative headquarters of Punakha district. Overnight stay in Punakha.
Day 4 / Punakha to Haa (2,600m/8,580ft) Via Thimphu, 184 km, 6hrs
After breakfast we will drive to Haa. we will take a scenic drive through Rhododendron, Oak, Pine forest to Dochula before we arrive Thimphu. We drive en-route confluence traversing  on the slope of the mountain. We can take a scenic picture of Dobji DZong and we further drive passing through many villages along the road to Haa. On reaching Haa, we will stroll around the main street of Haa town. Overnight at homestay in Haa.
Day 5 / Haa valley excursion with hike (2.5 hrs) to Jamtoe Goenpa (3,230m/10,659ft)
After breakfast we will hike to Jamtoe Goenpa for about two and half  hours. We will cross the Haa chu (river) and climb up through the Pine and oak forest. As we  ascend we will get an amazing view of Haa valley. We will visit Jamtoe Goenpa and drive down to the valley. If time permits, we can take a walk through Yangto Village. Overnight at homestay in Haa.
Day 6 / Haa to Paro: 2.5 hrs, 63 km
After breakfast retrace the steps back towards Dochula Pass and Simtokha to drive towards Paro. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Visit the National Museum, which houses and impressive collection of fine arts, paintings, bronzes, textiles, jewellery and handicrafts sections as well as galleries of stamps for which the Country is very popular. Also visit the Rinpung Dzong, the Fortress of the Heap of Jewels, built in 1645 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It is an imposing square fortress, representative of typical Dzong architecture, with a central tower and courtyards housing the administrative (Dzongkhag) and has a community of about 200 monks. A hike down the moderate slope to the cantilever bridge, one of the finest specimens in Bhutan with its shingle roof and two guard-houses at each end. Overnight stay in Paro.
Day 7 / Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (5 hrs)
After breakfast drive 20 minutes to the end of the valley to Drukgyel Dzong from where one can see the towering peak of Jomolhari (7,316m, 24,003 ft). This mountain, also revered as a powerful goddess, forms the border with Tibet and provides magnificent background to the ruined Drukgyel Dzong and village. Drive to Rumthangka and have the glorious view of Taktsang. The hike is optional. Taktsang Monastery, clinging on the steep rock, is one of the holiest temple in Bhutan. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew on the Tigress back and meditated here. The trek to the temple through the pine tree and sweet aroma of the air is indeed a very special and memorable event. The return hike will take about 05-06 hours. On the way back, visit Kyichu Temple (built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century). Rest of the time free for souvenir shopping in the small town of Paro. Overnight stay in Paro.
Day 8 / Final departure
After breakfast, you will be driven to the airport. Or drive to Phuentsholing and then Bagdogra.
Please Note:
Restricted Area Permit is required to visit Punakha / Wangdue from Home Ministry of Bhutan. No charge will be applicable for this permit. Please bring 2 passport size photographs and Voter ID card or Passport of each person, including children. This special permit is given only after guest has entered Bhutan. Permits are not issued on Saturday, Sunday & Govt. holidays. | Adults must carry original & valid Passport or original Voter ID card. Children must carry original & valid Passport or original birth certificate & school photo ID card. | Remember to carry sufficient woollens, including hand gloves. | Please check with your mobile service provider for charges related to Bhutan. | Indian can carry Indian Rs 100 and 500 currency notes, but not more than Rs. 25,000. Few ATMs in Thimpu and Paro. | Tobacco & Tobacco products are banned in Bhutan. | Do not bring any plant or agricultural product out of Bhutan. It is illegal. |Credit cards are accepted in selected establishments in Bhutan.
How to reach Bhutan from India? / 1. By Road
Drive from Bagdogra Airport or New Jalpaiguri Railway Station to Phuentsholing, the entry point for Bhutan. 166 km, 5 hours. You could stay here for the night or drive onwards towards Paro, which is another 160km or 5 hours drive.
How to reach Bhutan from India? / 2. By Air
You could fly in to Bhutan (Paro) from New Delhi or Kolkata in Druk Air or other airlines. These flight cannot be booked online and could be done so through some travel companies only. Please do let us know and we could book it for you.

Inclusions

Inclusions

  • Accommodation with breakfast (as specified in homestay, guest house, 3, 4 or 5 star hotels) with hot/ cold water and extra bed.
  • WiFi available upon request.
  • Exclusive Non-AC vehicle including toll, parking, fuel, permit fees and driver expenses for transfers & sightseeing as per itinerary.
  • Guide Services for itinerary 1

Exclusions

  • Air Tickets.
  • Personal Expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, tips & gratuity, mineral water, soft & hard drinks, rafting, rock climbing, paragliding, porterage.
  • Additional sightseeing or extra usage of vehicle, other than mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Entrance Fees for sightseeing spots, where applicable.
  • Any cost arising due to natural calamities like, landslides, road blockage, political disturbances etc. to be borne by the client, who is directly payable on the spot.
  • Any increase in taxes or fuel price, leading to increase in cost on surface transportation & land arrangements, which may come into effect prior to departure.
  • Service Tax & Travel Insurance.
  • Items not mentioned in inclusions.

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