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With ancient temples perched on cliffs and hilltops, yak-herders’ villages nestled in lush valleys, and a constant backdrop of breathtaking Himalayan peaks, Bhutan is effortlessly photogenic. Exploring this hard-to-reach country on foot affords unparalleled photographic opportunities, whether you’re taking portraits of herders you meet in the meadows, documenting daily life during lunch at a family farm, or framing a temple-studded vista from a high mountain pass. From historic dzongs to sacred peaks to the exquisite landscapes of Paro and Punakha, capture the beauty and tranquility of Bhutan from its winding trails.
Fly to Bhutan's Paro Valley (7,300 feet). If weather permits, capture aerial shots of some of the highest peaks of the eastern Himalaya, including Mount Everest, from your window. Our guide will receive you at the Paro Airport and check you into your luxury resort Uma Paro. After lunch set out on a photo walk to the Paro Dzong, a medieval fortress perched picturesquely on a hillside overlooking the town. A lovely stroll downhill from there over an old cantilever bridge (backdrop for films such as Little Buddha and Travellers and Magicians, will wrap up an eventful first day in this magical kingdom. Overnight at Uma Paro resort.
Journey to Punakha, Bhutan’s ancient capital, via capital city Thimphu. En route to Punakha, stop at the Dochu La pass (10,000 feet) and train your lens on the 200-mile panorama of Himalayan peaks (weather permitting) or on the 108 chortens set against a panoramic backdrop of majestic mountains. Upon arrival in Punakha, set out on a hike through the surrounding rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang—a temple blessed by Drukpa Kuenley, known as the “Mad Saint”. It is also called the fertility temple where childless couples go to get blessed by the main relic of the temple- a wooden phallus. Overnight at Uma Punakha resort.
Hike through terraced fields to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a hilltop shrine with sweeping views of the fertile valley below. After lunch, explore the elaborately designed fortress of Punakha Dzong; its positioning at the confluence of the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) Rivers helps make this dzong one of the most beautiful in the country. Wander through a nearby village, photographing typical homes and village life, and visit a school. Overnight at Uma Punakha resort.
Return to Paro and journey through the emerald rice paddies and quaint farming villages of the Paro valley, and visit Tamchog Lhakhang built by Thangtong Gyalpo. Also known as the ‘Iron Bridge Builder’, this former saint from the 14th century introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains in Bhutan. The only way to reach the temple is by one of these photogenic bridges. We then check into Uma Paro resort. Hike to a family farm where we’ll have a chance to photograph everyday life at lunch in their home. In the evening we’ll partake in a traditional Bhutanese dinner at our friendly Farmer Dorji’s home. Overnight at Uma Paro resort.
Drive to Chele La (pass) which at 3,988 m is the highest road pass in the kingdom, snaking upwards through blue pine and rhododendron forests. On a clear day the view sweeps away to the snow-dome of Bhutan’s second highest peak Mt Jomolhari (7,314m). This sacred prayer flag-bedecked pass has appeared in several Bhutanese films plus many fashion shoots in the past. Once we have captured our images, we walk down through the rhododendron forest to Kila Goemba, an ancient nunnery, before driving further down the mountain where we walk out to the Dzongdrakha Goemba complex. Both locations are rarely visited by foreigners. Overnight at Uma Paro resort.
Spend the day discovering Paro. Explore the ruins of the Drukgyel Dzong fortress, which once also defended this valley from invasions. Visit the seventh-century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest temples, with its magic orange tree which bears fruit all year round, and walk the archery grounds. Stroll through Paro Valley or relax at the your luxury lodge. Overnight at Uma Paro resort.
Your journey through Bhutan culminates at the kingdom’s most iconic site: Taktsang Lhakhang, famously called the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This majestic structure is poised high above the Paro valley, built dramatically on the ledge of a granite cliff face. Legend has it that the eight century Buddhist Tantric master, Guru Padmasambhava, came to this place riding on a flaming tigress to subdue the demons wreaking havoc on the valley below. Make the steep, strenuous trek to the temple or hike to a nearby viewpoint, taking in a landscape dotted with pine trees, prayer flags, and ancient shrines. Enjoy lunch at the home of a local farmer. Return to Uma Paro to relax and enjoy among many facilities a Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath followed by a soothing massage. Overnight at Uma Paro resort.
Your guide and driver will accompany you to the airport and on behalf of Bhutan Spicy Shangri-La will bid you farewell with a fervent prayer that your life may be filled happiness and success! And that we look forward to seeing you again in this lovely land of endless enchantments! Have a safe flight home!
This trip has an activity rating of moderate. Travelers should be physically fit and prepared for multiple hours of hiking over several days on high mountains. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents and descents.
Throughout the trip, we stay at the world renowned COMO Uma luxury resorts. https://www.comohotels.com/en/umaparo/about
A Bhutan Spicy Shangri-La expert/guide will accompany you for the entire journey.
|March-May/September-November (High season) December-February/June-August (Low season)||ONE PERSON TRAVELLER||Contact us for pricing|
|TWO-THREE PERSON TRAVELLER||Contact us for pricing|
|FAMILY||Contact us for pricing|
Prices are per person based and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change.