Bhutan - Land of the peaceful dragon

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Day 1: Arrive in Calcutta, India

Upon arrival in Calcutta you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore on your own before meeting with the group for dinner and our orientation meeting. Overnight in Calcutta.


Day 2: Calcutta - Kalighat Kali Temple

A full day exploring the ancient sights of Calcutta. We visit Kalighat Kali Temple, Sir Stuart Hogg Market, Victoria Memorial hall and Indian Museum, one of the most significant and the first museum to be founded in India. Overnight in Calcutta.


Day 3: Fly to Bagdogra, India - Tea Factory

Today, we fly from Calcutta to Bagdogra in India. Our adventure to Darjeeling (West Bengal), Sikkim, and Bhutan begins with a scenic drive to Darjeeling where we will have time to explore and relax. We will visit a tea factory and a Tibetan refugee center. Overnight in Darjeeling.


Day 4: Darjeeling - Mt. Kanchenjunga

This morning we take a trip to Tiger Hill for a view of the sunrise over the mountains in hopes of seeing Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. After breakfast we ride a Raj-era train where we will visit the Railway Museum and then continue on to visit the Ghoom Monastery. Overnight in Darjeeling.


Day 5: Darjeeling - Mountaineering Institute

Today we drive to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The Institute was established in 1954 following the mountaineering success of Hilary and Tenzing. After the museum, we walk through the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park as they protect endangered species, including some of the most unusual animals in the world. Amongst these are Red Pandas, Siberian Tigers, Yaks, Snow Leopards and Himalayan bears. Overnight in Darjeeling.


Day 6: Gangtok, Sikkim

In the morning, we drive and cross the boarder into Sikkim. After lunch, we continue to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Until 1965, Sikkim was a separate state ruled by a Chogyal (a Sikkim king) whose history dates back to the 16th century. Today, the monarchy has been abolished and Sikkim is part of Indian.

We visit a handicraft center to see the beautiful fabrics of Sikkim. Overnight in Gangtok.


Day 7: Gangtok Sites & Institute of Tibetology

We start off our day with a visit to the Ganesh Tok temple which is also a view point. We then visit the Flower Exhibition Center that was once the Loop Garden in North Sikkim during 1963 and then inaugurated by the Gyalmo Hope Namgyal. The most beautiful Himalayan flowers can be seen here including Orchids.

After lunch we will visit the Institute of Tibetology. The Institute was established in 1958 to promote research on the language, culture and religion of Tibet. It houses an impressive collection of over 3,000 books, containing some of the earliest translations of Buddha's teachings. In the evening we walk through the Lal Bazzar Market, the main attraction for the locals in Gangtok town. Overnight in Gangtok.


Day 8: Rumtek Monastery, to Kalimpong

Today we drive to Kalimpong, first stopping to visit the Rumtek Monastery. Rumtek Monastery was the seat of the Kagypa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The first monastery was built here in 1717, but crumbled to ruins and the present monastery dates from 1960.

We return back to the Sikkim boarder to drive to Kalimpong. Overnight in Kalimpong.


Day 9: Phuntsoling, Bhutan

An early start to the morning so we can visit Durpin Dara Monastery also known as Thongsa Monastery. We continue to Phuntsoling, just inside the Bhutan border. Today is a long day so we will have a box lunch to save time. On our first night in Bhutan, we have a short walk through the streets of Phuntsoling and savour being among the few who have traveled to this remote and exotic land. Overnight in Phuntsoling.


Day 10: Thimphu - Rinchending Monastery

We have a full day drive through the spectacular countryside to Thimphu, the nation's capital. Enroute, we visit Rinchending Monastery also known to some as the Kharbandi Monastery. It is widely known today that most of the thousands of people who visit the Lhakhang do so to pray for children. We will have lunch at the start of the 15 minute walk that leads up to this mystical monastery. We visit the Thimphu post office where we can make our own stamp and send a post card home with your own made stamp. Overnight in Thimphu.


Day 11: Thimphu Festival

Today we enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the biggest festivals in the country, the Thimphu Tshechu. The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). Enjoy the many colourful dances that are performed through out the city. Overnight in Thmiphu.


Day 12: Thimphu Festival

Sightseeing of the nation's capital. Bhutan is the only country whose government is officially Buddhist, and as such, a walk through the streets of Thimphu is a walk unlike any other in the world. We visit the Chorten Memorial Temple before we see a real life Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Overnight in Thimphu.


Day 13: To Punakha via Dochula Pass, Punakha Dzong

We depart Thimphu and drive over the Dochula Pass which is approximately 10,170 ft/3100 m and walk around the Chortens of the fallen soldiers and get lost in the prayer flags that cover this high pass.

After lunch we visit the Punakha Dzong, which served as an old capital of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is built between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods as well as fire. Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal, it serves as a winter residence for the chief abbot and the monks of the Central Monastic Body. Overnight in Punahka.


Day 14: Punakha to Trongsa

After breakfast we drive to Trongsa via Wangue Phodrang Dzong, a peaceful monastery set on top of a hill overlooking the Wangdi river. Today the drive will take us up towards the Pele La Pass (3,300m/10,820ft) where there is a great chance of spotting some yaks as we pass the magnificent Stupa of Chendebji enroute. Upon arrival into the Trongsa valley, we see the Trongsa Dzong built in 1646. This is one of the most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan and also the ancient home of the royal family, where the first and second Kings ruled and a true masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Overnight in Trongsa


Day 15: Trongsa to Bumthang - Yathra weaving

This morning we visit Trongsa Dzong and then drive towards Jakar crossing the Yotong La Pass (3,440m/11,285ft) and descend into Chumey valley, the first of the four Bumthang valleys. We continue on to Bumthang with it's lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Overnight in Bumthang.


Day 16: Bumthang - Jakar Dzong, Jambey Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang

Today we explore Bumthang with visits to Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places, because Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating.

After lunch, we will visit the Tamshing Lhakhang temple that houses religious Buddhist paintings and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in Bhutan. Overnight in Bumthang.


Day 17: Bumthang - Wangdi

After breakfast, we start our travel day back to Wangdi via Trongsa, passing the Kikila Pass, Yotongla Pass and Pele La Pass where we stop for lunch. Our journey today has us pass by beautiful rural areas and landscapes, seeing some of the most unspoiled nature Bhutan has to offer. Overnight in Wangdi.


Day 18: Wangdi - Paro

Today we head to Paro via the Dochula Pass once more. After lunch, we visit the Nunnery School and painting school in Thimphu before heading to Paro.

This afternoon, we visit the Paro Dzong. Built in the mid 17th century, it now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of the Paro district. If time permits, we have some free time this evening to explore Paro on our own. Overnight in Paro.


Day 19: Paro - Hike to Taktsang Monastery

Today we start early to hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery. Marvel in the history of this holy place and see the holy cave where it is said to be the origin of Bhuddism in Bhutan. The views over the Paro Valley will take your breath away. For those who do not want to hike the full way you can hike to the tea shop where the famous view of Tigers Nest can be seen and wait for the hikers that go to Tigers Nest and return. Before returning to our hotel we will visit the Drukgyel Dzong which was built in the 16th century to commemorate a victory over the invading Tibetan forces. The fortress today lies in ruins, the elements and a fire in the 1950s having taken a toll on the site. Overnight in Paro.


Day 20: Fly to Calcutta, Farewell Dinner

Today we say 'good-bye' to Bhutan and fly to Calcutta, where we will have a free afternoon before we have our farewell dinner.
Overnight in Calcutta.


Day 21: Depart Calcutta

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departing flights.

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