Luxuries of Amankora
- Transfer to Thimphu
- following lunch in the hotel, visit your choice – National Memorial Chorten, Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum and the National Library; then stroll the main street browsing for interesting Himalayan artifacts and textiles.
- Dinner & overnight: Amankora Thimphu
DAY 2: TOUR OF THIMPHU
- In the morning, visit the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and Royal offices, and Pangri Zampa, two 16th-century buildings that now house a monastic training school for astrologers
- At the head of the valley, should you wish to stretch your legs, a short hike will take you to Cheri Goemba, the monastery where the first monastic body was established in the Kingdom.
- Back in town, visit a few of the capital’s cottage industries ranging from traditional paper making to hand-rolled incense.
- Dinner & Overnight: Amankora Thimphu
DAY 3: FROM THIMPHU TO GANGTEY
- An early departure leads to a dramatic drive over the 3,050m mountain pass of Dochu La and on to Phobjika Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th-century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery.
- The journey continues over the pass where on a clear day, towering Himalayan peaks are easily visible. The descent through Punakha Valley along the Kingdom’s only east-west highway passes the scenic village of Wangdi, then climbs through forests of bamboo and oak. Just before crossing the Pele La Pass, a small side road splinters off to the hidden Phobjika Valley.
- On arrival, visit the striking Gangtey Goemba, sitting at the head of the valley, and stroll through quaint Gangtey Village. (Overnight: Amankora Gangtey).
DAY 4: EXPLORING PHOBJIKA VALLEY
- Spend the morning visiting the Black Neck Crane Centre where, depending on the season, you will have the chance to view breeding cranes.
- Various walks or mountain bike rides through this magnificent valley can then be arranged. Soak up the beauty of the valley from the lodge or return to the revered Goemba for a possible audience with the Trulkul, should he be in residence. (Overnight: Amankora Gangtey)
DAY 5: GANGTEY TO PUNAKHA
- The morning’s journey back to Punakha is swift. Upon arrival, enjoy a leisurely lunch at the lodge.
- In the afternoon, explore the hidden village of Talo, home to the Queen’s and the valley’s protective deity, lhakhang.
- Later in the afternoon, hike to an ancient monastery on the hilltop behind the lodge or take time to relax in the lodge’s farmhouse and spa. (Overnight: Amankora Punakha).
DAY 6: EXPLORING PUNAKHA VALLEY
- Begin the day with a hike from Punakha Lodge through terraces of rice, chillies and cabbage to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten – a monument recently built by the Queen of Bhutan.
- Afterwards, drive back up the valley towards Khuruthang, passing Punthsho Pelri Palace and several other winter homes of the royal family before reaching the impressive Punakha Dzong. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s leadership and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region.
- A picnic lunch is served on the banks of the Punak Chu, prior to visiting the village of Lobesa. From there, enjoy a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499. (Overnight: Amankora Punakha).
DAY 7: FROM PUNAKHA TO PARO
- After descending from Dochu La Pass, the road will lead back up the dramatic Wang Chu and Paro Chu river valleys before crossing through Paro towards the north end of the valley. Here, set in a pine forest, is the Amankora Paro lodge and spa.
- In the afternoon, stroll to the nearby ruins, visit some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments or amble down Paro’s main street.
- Evenings at Amankora Paro may include informative lectures on the history, religion, flora and fauna of the region, or a film on the Himalayas. (Overnight: Amankora Paro).
DAY 8: EXPLORING PARO VALLEY
- The day starts with a visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here, a collection of artifacts provides a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom.
- Just a short walk downhill lies the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. From the Dzong, cross Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilevered bridge, to reach the town temple built in 1525. Enjoy a picturesque picnic or a visit to a traditional farmhouse for lunch with a local family.
- In the afternoon, hike to one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four to five-hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face almost 1,000m above the valley floor. (Overnight: Amankora Paro).
DAY 9: DEPARTURE
- Early morning transfer to airport.