WOMEN'S EASTERN RETREAT
Visit Bhutan's far-east where nomadic yak herders celebrate the annual Trashigang tsechu (festival). Day hike to ancient monasteries, meet local weavers, explore the migratory habitat of the Black-Necked Cranes & raft the gentle river of Mo (Mother River) in Punakha.
19 November - 3 December 2020
from USD $3,410
Single supplement USD$560
Group of 2 supplement USD$420 each
Individual room tariff USD$490
Depart Bangkok on morning flight by Druk Air to arrive at Paro international airport in the morning. After completion of immigration and Customs formalities you will be received by your local guide.
Domestic flight to Trashigang
Take domestic flight to Yongphula airport in eastern Bhutan. Although it is only a 30 minute flight it will take over an hour since it goes via Gaylephu domestic airport in the south. Arrive at Yongphula airport to be received by your car and guide. Drive down to Trashigang which will take about 40 minutes. Explore this quaint town for the rest of the day.
Witness the 3 day annual festival (tsechu) of Trashigang. Tsechu's are cultural festivals performed by local people and lay monks annually in all parts of the country, at different times of the year, celebrating the advent and spread of the Buddhist dharma through ancient dance. This is the perfect opportunity for cultural immersion, engaging with Bhutanese people from all sectors of the community dressed in their finest traditional gho and kira.
We start the day with the option of witnessing more of the tsechu's last day before proceeding to Mongar which is about a 2.5 hour drive. Enroute stop at Korilla pass and do a short nature hike to see birds and plants.
Day trip to Luhntse which is the neighbouring district. Drive time is about 2 hours. Visit the ancient dzong perched on a mount. Later go to Khoma village. This village with about 40 clustered houses is a traditional weaving village and famous for its silk weaving in particular. This is a beautiful opportunity to interact with village women and see their weaving techniques and products which are also for sale. Lunch could be arranged in one of the farm houses. Later drive towards Mongar and continue onto Yonkola to a beautiful resort close to village houses.
Drive to Ura village, taking approximately 3 hours. Your time here can be spent taking day hikes and immersing with village folk at our kindly farm stay. Meditation in the local monastery can also be arranged upon request. An opportunity exists to visit the Park head office of Phrumshingla (former Thrumshingla) and interact with Park officials gaining insight to park management in Bhutan if interested.
Continue to Tang Valley (approximately 2.5 hours). Once you reach Tang you will be spending the night at the lodge Ogyen Choling local museum. The museum was historiaclly a palace once owned by a powerful family. It has been preserved to show how people lived in an earlier era. The family owned thousands of acres of land and all the tenants and villages on their property were required to give a sizeable percentage of their crops and goods to the family each year as tax. However, during the fourth king's reign when he abolished serfdom, many wealthy families found it difficult to maintain their property with many falling into ruin. Through the determination of one of the family members, Ogyen Choling has been saved for posterity and showcases many ancient items all excellently displayed and interpreted.
Further explore the Tang Valley and drive to Bumthang (2 hours). Visit monastery and immerse in prayer session with monks.
Witness local religious festival at ancient monastery Jambay Lhakhang. Sightseeing option to later drive to Chummey Valley (1.5 hours) to make the next day drive shorter or option to stay in Bumthang.
Phobjikha Valley via Trongsa
Drive to Phobjikha via Trongsa for sightseeing. Trongsa lies at the heart of Bhutan and bears historical significance to the monarchy. Similar to the monarchy system in England where the next heir to the throne must first hold the title of Prince of Wales, likewise the crown Prince of Bhutan must first become knighted as Trongsa Penlop (sir) before ascending the throne. This is held in the majestic Trongsa dzong. Option to visit the dzong and the Tower museum to get more insights to the history of Bhutan. Stroll the town of Trongsa which is relatively still in its traditional style.
Continue to explore Phobjikha Valley and get insights to community development and conservation efforts. VIsit the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature's (RSPN) Crane Observation and Education Centre.
Visit Punakha Dzong. Dzongs, or fortresses, are massive castle-like historical structures built in the 17th century. There are several dzongs in the country and these structures were historically used both as military fortress and administrative centres. All the dzongs are still vibrant with the presence of monks and government offices. Punakha Dzong is one of Bhutan's most impressive displays of intricate architecture and is still the winter home of the Je Khenpo (Bhutan's Chief Abbot) and Bhutan's Central Monastic Body.
Hike to ancient monastery or option to do other things of interest in Thimphu, the choice is yours.
Departure Paro - Bangkok
Depart for Bangkok onward to Australia.
Option to hike to Taktsang Lhakhang, the Tiger's Nest Monastery if not done in the first day or do the alpine skyline walk at Chelela Pass.