Join us for a unique one of kind adventure through the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, the last known location of the mythical Shangri La. Bhutan has earned it’s place among top adventure and cultural travel destinations in the world, and owes its success to its unique approach in preserving its Buddhist heritage and reputation of being the happiest country on the planet. Our journey takes on a full circle tour of this tiny kingdom, beginning in Paro where we will visit many ancient sites and buddhist monasteries, including the famed Tiger’s Nest Monastery. From here we venture into the high mountains on the Laya-Gasa trek, considered the most scenic trail in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in the Himalayas. We will travel through dense sub-tropical jungle and then up through alpine forests and meadows and then higher to remote mountain passes within sight of some of the highest mountains on earth. As we travel through the protected Jigme Singye National Park we will be rewarded with spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, passing through snow leopard, blue sheep and takin habitat and visiting remote mountain villages and buddhist temples. Our ultimate destination is the remote region of Laya, where we will have the chance to get a first hand look traditional Bhutanese way of life. At the end of our 217-kilometer journey, we will descend to Gasa and rejuvenate ourselves in its famous hot springs and visit more of the kingdom’s ancient sites and monasteries in Thimphu on our return to Paro.
Come with us on one of the most mythical adventures in the world as we explore the Kingdom of Bhutan, it’s people, landscape and legends. Bhutan is known throughout the world as one of the last locations of the famed Shangri La, and has preserved its culturally rich Buddhist heritage through its unique form of government which is rooted in the concept of Gross National Happiness. After Tibet lost its independence with China, Bhutan became the last true remaining Buddhist nation in the world. Throughout the country there are many temples, shrines, monuments and places of worship that date back many centuries, and are still in use today by the country’s nearly 12,000 monks. Tourism in this tiny country has been limited by the government in order to preserve its environment and cultural heritage, and it is still a very unique time to visit the country, reminiscent to traveling in Nepal before tourism exploded there. Our journey will take us on what is known as the most beautiful trek in Bhutan, through Jigme Dorje National Park along the Jomolhari route, and then northwards to the Laya region, traveling in the footsteps of local herders, tribesmen and monks ending in the village of Gasa.
Our journey begins in the Nepali capital of Katmandu, where we’ll spend a day visiting the city and it’s sacred sites. Upon arrival we’ll check into our first class hotel, and have an opportunity to visit the Boudhanath Temple, Pashupatinath Temple and Swayambhunath (known as the Monkey Temple), as well as an optional trip to the Tibetan refuge camp. The following day we’ll board our plane for a spectacular scenic flight across the Himalayas to Bhutan, passing in sight of Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga. There we will spend three nights in a luxury hotel, and tour this ancient city, along with the famed Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which is built into the side of a mountain at over 10,000 feet. The temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Padmasambhava, known widely as the second Buddha, is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen taktsang or “tiger lair” caves in which he meditated.
The following day will have the opportunity to visit the Jowo Temple of Kyichu where we will have a 1-day meditation retreat and receive a teaching from one of the esteemed local lamas. This will be a rare opportunity and will allow us to get a deeper sense of how Buddhism is integrated into daily life throughout the areas we will be traveling through. The next day we will begin our trek through Jigme Dorje National Park, which is the largest protected area in Bhutan (4,350 sq km).
We begin in the lowlands, ascending semi-tropical valleys, which change quickly into tall thick forests, comprising a variety of oaks, maple, birch, and allders that will be replaced by rhododendron and pines as we trek even higher. We will pass through several microclimates, and encounter an enormous diversity of birds and wildlife including the Fire-Tailed Sunbird, Ibis Bill, White-Throated Dipper, Yellow-Billed Chough, Rosy Pipit, Snow Partridge and Blue-fronted Redstart. In the lowland forests we may spot Grey Langurs Tigers, Leopards, Gorals and Seras. As we ascend higher we may catch a glimpse of Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Sambar, Wild Pig and Barking Deer. The alpine zone in Bhutan is home to the highest concentration of Snow Leopards in the world, and is also habitat for Blue Sheep, Tibetan Wolf, Antelope, Himalayan Musk Deer, and herds of Takin (national animal).
On day three we will reach Jagothang, and stop for a rest in order to acclimatize for the higher altitude to come. Today we will hike up towards Chomolhari glacier and have spectacular views of Jomolhari (24,035 feet) and Jichu Drake (22,930 feet). Both mountains are considered sacred, and we will see Buddhist practitioners making pilgrimage to the many temples sited along the mountain’s lower ramparts. The next day we will climb up Nye La pass at 16,000 feet where we will have some of the most spectacular views of the entire trek looking out across the Himalayan range.
From here we will descend into a pristine valley with many small villages and have an opportunity to hike up to Linshi Dzong which sits atop a ridge looking out among the majestic snow capped mountains. Upon reaching Chebisa we will camp near a beautiful waterfall behind the village, and will have time to visit the village houses. The following day we will hike through a large valley with pasturelands and herds of blue sheep and blue poppies on our way up to Gobu La (14,468 feet) and then descending to our camp along a beautiful river near Shomuthang village.
The next two days are the most difficult and rewarding days, as we climb Jhari La (15,584 feet) and then Sinche La (16,420 feet). Along the way we will have incredible alpine views of Kang Bum (21,410 feet) and Gangchenta (22,440 feet), which is also known as “Great Tiger Mountain”. The prayer flags and chorten at the top of Sinche La will be a welcome sight for your weary legs, and you are rewarded with incredible panoramic views looking out from the highest point along our trek.
From here we descend into Laya, which is well known for its incredible weavings and distinctive Bhutanese costumes involving long pointed bamboo hats that signify fertility. Here we will have the unique opportunity to stay with a local family in a stone house, and get a first hand look into the traditional way of life of these proud mountain people. The next day we will have an opportunity to explore the town, experience traditional dance and song and visit any house in the village without invitation and share in a cup of yak butter tea or chang.
From here we descend sharply towards Gasa, traveling through bamboo forests with fabulous views of Gasa Dzong in the distance. Once in town we will have our first stay in a local farmhouse, and explore the local monastery and feel the Shagri La quality of this quaint mountain village. The next day we will descend several hours to the hot springs where we will spend the afternoon soaking in the historic stone laiden baths and rejuvenate ourselves after our long trek through the mountains.
With the trekking behind us we can now fully relax as we make our way to Punakha traveling by private motor coach through a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and the sight of an occasional monkey. After lunch we will climb up and over Dochula Pass (10,200 feet) and visit the extensive grounds, which include 108 stupas, a monastery and the Royal Botanical Park. From here we descend towards the capital city of Bhutan – Thimphu. Here we will stay in a first class hotel and tour the many ancient sites and monasteries, including the Tashichho Dzong, Tango Goempa, the Memorial Chorten and Dechen Phodrang (world’s largest statue of Buddha -169 feet).
The following day we will make our way back to Paro for our final night stay, and celebrate with a closing dinner at one of the many fine restaurants. The next day we depart Bhutan for our return flight to Kathmandu and home.
Our trip begins and ends in Kathmandu where our local guide will meet you and transfer to your hotel. We will have 1-nights accommodation and have opportunity to explore this culturally rich city. The next day we will fly out to Paro, and stay 3-nights in a luxury hotel, as we take in the sites of ancient city in the foothills of the Himalayas. We will spend a few days doing some initial acclimatization visiting the famed Tiger’s Nest Monastery and a day sitting will an an esteemed lama up in the foothills overlooking the Paro valley.
We will then drive to the army post of Gunitsawa at the entrance of Jigme Dorje National Park where we will begin our 14-day trek. We will be met by our horsemen, cooks and porters who take care of every logistical detail during our trek. Participants will only need to carry their day packs, with extra food, water and clothing for the entire trek.
The first several days will be moderate hiking as we ascend through sub-tropical valleys on our way up to higher altitude. Once reaching Jangothang near 14,000 feet we will have an acclimatization day before heading higher towards Nye La Pass at 16,000 feet the following day. Due to the altitude we will have an extra mule, bottled oxygen and potable Gamov bag to address any altitude issues. All camps along the trek are situated below 14,000 feet and acclimatization should not pose a problem after the initial ascent.
Upon reaching Laya we will have a 1-night home stay with a local family, and spend the next day touring this mountain village, known for it’s unique culture. We will be with our crew until reaching Gasa the following, where we’ll have a chance to rejuvenate ourselves in the famous Hot Springs. From there we will make our way back to part via private motor coach, visiting several ancient sites and monasteries along the way. We will have a 1-night stay in Thimphu and tour this culturally rich city, before returning to Paro the following day. In Paro we will have one more night stay, and celebrate with a closing dinner at one of the many fine restaurants. The next day we depart Bhutan for our return flight from Kathmandu.
Since 1993 Rob has traveled to over 20 countries leading people on climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and multi-sport adventures. He has experience as a certified Mountain Guide and Search and Rescue Practitioner, climbing mountains on five continents and is a veteran of over fifty expedition adventure races and ultra running events. Rob now enjoys developing one of a kind adventures that create opportunities for people to explore the world through conscious travel. Through bridging the gap between ancient wisdom and modern knowledge he offers transformative experiences that explore the land, culture and mythology of each destination, supporting people in stepping beyond their comfort zones, expanding their perspectives and learning universal wisdom that can be applied in overcoming perceived challenges in any area of life.
As a Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Rob has completed studies in Meditation, Eastern Philosophy, Western Psychology, Energy & Sound Healing and Shamanic Practices. He has also coached individuals in the areas of Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Rob holds a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Health from Illinois State University and has 20 years experience in Environmental Sustainability.
We have designed this trip to be completed by anybody with a good level of physical fitness and good mental preparation. As this program is all about helping people break through barriers and achieving goals, we offer a coaching program to anyone wishing to improve their conditioning and skills prior to the trip. As such we will be offering a short pre-trip to Colorado where we will get out into the mountains and do altitude training. An added independent coaching program is also available for those wishing to do one-on-one personal transformation work in connection with trip.
Fixed Departure Dates:
Single Occupancy Add On, Upgrades & Group Pricing Available.
Group Size: 8-24