Bhutan Pilgrimage with Susan Hopkinson
28 September to 9 October 2019
On this 12-day trip of a lifetime, connect your mind, body & spirit following Susan to the mystical and ancient Kingdom of Bhutan, where tradition is fiercely honoured and Gross National Happiness is integrated into society.
Bask in spectacular views of the Himalayas as our journey takes us through enchanted valleys and pristine forests to sacred temples and mountainside monasteries.
Each day we will be practising yoga, relaxation & meditation as the sun peeks through the early morning mist and again as our day draws to a close.
We will enjoy the hypnotic rhythms and colours of traditional festive cymbals and drums, discover Bhutanese cuisine, and be immersed in the local culture while staying at private farms.
Day 1 – Saturday 28 September
Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, we will be met by the Samsara Asia team’s driver and guide.
We’ll enjoy our first lunch together in Paro, before taking the one-hour drive to the capital city, Thimphu.
After settling in, we will meet for a tour introduction and a session of relaxation to freshen up before dinner.
Day 2 – Sunday 29 September
National Textile Museum: Bhutan’s living art of thagzo (weaving) is one of the 13 arts and crafts practiced to this day. Learn to wear the national dress (gho for men and kira for women). The museum exhibits live weaving with major weaving techniques, styles and textiles made by different regions of Bhutan.
Institute of traditional medicine: The Institute provides medical services, trains traditional doctors, and conducts research on Bhutan’s medicinal plants to identify the ingredients in centuries-old remedies and help develop new health products. The Institute has a library of recipes dating back to the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism around 1616.
Visit the Bhutan Postal museum, an introduction to Bhutan’s evolution through the communication and postal systems conveyed through anecdotes, artifacts and a rich assortment of stamps.
Craft Bazaar: The bazaar is specially dedicated to authentic arts and crafts from all over Bhutan. Browse through many hand crafted products from the 13 Bhutanese arts and crafts including colorful scrolls, textiles, and masks.
Day 3 – Monday 30 September
Buddha Dordenma: The massive statue of Shakyamuni measures 51.5 metres, making it one of the largest statues of the Buddha in the world. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue.
Drolma Zhingkham (Tara Abode) Lhakhang: we will drive toward Pangrizam to the 21 Tara Monastery, make offerings to the Goddess and sit in meditation under the giant cypress tree or in the Tara Room (depending on the weather).
Optional: Visit the School of Astrology and for an astrological consultation.
Day 4 – Tuesday 1 October
Dochula: Get the cameras ready! Today we will take in the very dramatic views along the drive over the mountain pass of Dochu La (3050 m.) with its 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens (stupa) and meditation caves. Depending on the weather, the view of the Himalayan ranges is spectacular from this point.
Lamperi Botanical Park: A short drive down to Lamperi Botanical Park for a session of yoga and mediation at the park (weather permitting!).
Day 5 – Wednesday 2 October
Wolakha Nunnery: Above Wolakha on the way to Drolay Goemba is this thriving nunnery, which was financed by the fourth king’s father-in-law to serve as a Buddhist college for 120 resident anim (nuns). The ridgetop chorten is visible from as far away as the Dochu La to Metshina road.
Punakha Dzong and Iron Bridge: This 17th century monument is considered the most beautiful dzong (fortress) in the country. The formal capital of Bhutan, home to the relics of Bhutan’s first ruler, Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal, and the winter residence of the monastic order of Bhutan, Punakha Dzong sits on an island between the male and female glacial fed rivers.
Day 6 – Thursday 3 October
We’ll hike through paddy fields to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal, a beautiful temple recently built by the Bhutanese King’s mother as an act of devotion.
Chime Lhakhang: The legendary Chime Lhakhang is a sacred temple built in honour of the Divine Mad Man, Drukpa Kuenley. On a more profound level, the temple and its legendary icon exposes mediocrity and the hypocrisies of the mind which are often disguised as religious sanctity.
Day 7 – Friday 4 October
Visit Sha Rinchengang, a traditional village or Nobgang the heritage village of the Royal Family.
Drive to Gangtey and visit Gantey Goenba. On the periphery of the massive Jigme Singye Wangchuck National park, named after the previous king of Bhutan (from 1972 to his abdication/retirement in 2006), and father of the current king.
Here we will stay with various local families in their Farm House for two nights!
Day 8 – Saturday 5 October
Visit Gangtey Goenba dating back to 17th Century and the official seat of an ancient sect of Buddhism in Bhutan. The monastery was recently renovated and displays one of Bhutan’s most ornate woodcarvings and paintings.
From the heritage village of Gangtey, take a short hike down to the valley via Gangtey Nature Trail, through blue pine forests and meadows until the trail ends at the Black-necked Crane Centre for a brief introduction to the valley and its conservation efforts.
Day 9 – Sunday 6 October
Travel day – get the cameras out for the 5-hour drive to Paro!
Day 10 – Monday 7 October
We’ll bring our picnic breakfast along on the hike to the Tiger’s Nest Temple Complex (approximately 3 hours ascent and 2 hours descent), which is perched high on a cliff overlooking the picturesque Paro Valley. First built in 1692 at the site of a meditation cave, legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (the historical Padmasambhava, meaning lotus born) flew here on the back of a tigress.
Visit the Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Memorial House and Guru lhakhang (1652) at the Kyichu Monastery complex, the site of an original temple established by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in 659 CE.
Optional: Sink into a traditional hot stone bath at the end of the day, or relax in Tshongdue’s many cafeterias and browse the handicraft shops
Day 11 – Tuesday 8 October
Thimphu Tsechu: Join the locals of Thimphu in ghos and kiras (like the ones you tried on the first day!) to witness the annual Thimphu Tsechu festival (established in 1670 by the 4th Temporal Ruler, Tenzing Rabgye) with masked and folk dances at the Tshichhodzong complex.
A special meditation session and teachings in the afternoon.
Day 12 – Wednesday 9 October
Homebound! After breakfast we will be dropped off at the airport and say farewell to our new friends.
Group Size: Maximum 12
Tour Duration: 12 Days / 11 Nights
Tour Price: USD 3.100 (shared accommodation) (approx. € 2.800) USD 3.475 (single accommodation)
EARLY BIRD RATE until 30 April 2019:
USD 2.995 (shared) USD 3.300 (Euro rates to be confirmed)
The tour price includes:
• Arrival and departure transfers within Bhutan
• English-speaking guide
• Comfortable mid-range resort, home stay and lodge accommodations
• All meals with cold and hot beverages
• Visa charges and administration
• Tour vehicle with a special licensed driver
• Taxes, royalties and service charges
• Bottled water
• Yoga mats/folding chairs to sit
The tour price does not include:
• International airfare
• Tips and gratuities for guide and driver
• Expenses of personal nature (spa, laundry, souvenirs etc.)
• Optional activities (stone baths, astrology, etc.)
• Alcoholic beverages
• Travel insurance
More than 3 months before arrival date = 100 % refund
Less than 3 months before arrival date = 50 % refund
Less than 2 months before arrival date = 25 % refund
Less than 1 month before arrival date = no refund
For detailed itinerary and tour cost, click here