PRISTINE SRI LANKA

Duration: 09 Nights / 10 Days
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  • Trip Itinerary
Trip Itinerary

  • 1 Day 1 : Paro – Thimphu
  • 2 Day 2 : Thimphu
  • 3 Days 3-4 : Gangtey
  • 4 Days 5-8 : Bumthang
  • 5 Days 9-10 : Punakha
  • 6 Days 11-13 : Paro
1 Day 1 : Paro – Thimphu
Day 1 – Arrival in Paro – Thimphu

Enjoy one of the world’s most spectacular descents as your early-morning flight arrives into Paro amid breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks. On arrival you will be greeted by your local Amankora guide, who will remain with you throughout your journey through Bhutan. Your itinerary will be tailored to remain as flexible as possible, and you will be able discuss it in advance.

 

 

A 1.5 hour drive away, Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, lies in a steep valley at an altitude of 2,350m (7,709ft). Upon arrival at Amankora Thimphu, you will have time to settle in before exploring the area, including the Institute of Traditional Medicines, the School of Arts and Crafts, the Folk Heritage Museum and Simply Bhutan – museums depicting Bhutan’s ancient cultural heritage. Other sights include the National Library, the Textile Museum, the Weaving Center, Buddha Point and the National Memorial Chorten.

 

Alternatively, opt for a mild hike with a good view, such as the Wangditse Leisure Forest trail.

 

 

End the day with an Ayurvedic hot-oil head massage, Amankora Thimphu’s signature spa treatment.

 

Overnight – Amankora Thimphu

2 Day 2 : Thimphu
Day 2 – Thimphu

A short morning hike will take you to Cheri Goemba monastery. On the way back, pay a visit to the 16th- century Pangri Zampa, which now houses a monastic training school for astrologers. Back in town, explore the capital’s cottage industries, from traditional paper making to hand rolled incense; browse Himalayan artefacts along the main street; and make your own stamp at the post office. At weekends you can visit the Craft Bazaar or Vegetable markets.

 

 

After lunch, head to the north end of the valley to visit the Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and royal offices. As the sun sets, take a stroll past the Takin animal sanctuary for a beautiful view over the Thimphu valley. According to local legend, the takins are believed to be part cow and part goat.

 

Alternatively, you can play a round of nine holes at Thimphu Golf Club, set among chortens and beautiful scenery. The course’s altitude – 2,350m (7,700ft) – causes the balls to fly further in the thin mountain air (chargeable activity).

 

In the evening, enjoy a private meeting at the lodge with the Mynak Trulku, who will answer all your Buddhism questions. He is the 12th reincarnate lama of the famous Mynak Rinpoche (chargeable activity).

 

Overnight – Amankora Thimphu

3 Days 3-4 : Gangtey
Day 3 – Journey to Gangtey

 

An early departure will be necessary for the dramatic drive over the 3,050m mountain pass Dochu La, from where towering Himalayan peaks are visible on clear days. Sights on the way to Phobjikha Valley include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th- century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery. The descent into the tropical Punakha Valley, along the Kingdom’s only east-west highway, continues through the scenic villages of Wangdi. The highway follows the scenic Dang Chhu River, before climbing through forests of bamboo and oak. Just before reaching the Pele La pass, a small side road leads to the hidden Phobjikha (Gangtey) Valley. Gangtey has an altitude of 3,000m (9,842ft) and is a serene place of natural beauty, untouched scenery and local traditions and culture.

 

 

On arrival you will have time for a stroll through Gangtey village before visiting the ancient altars and ramparts of the vast Gangtey Goemba, which overlooks the valley. Should the Gangtey Trulku be in residence then an audience for a revered blessing may be arranged.

 

Overnight – Amankora Gangtey.

 

Day 4 – Gangtey Valley

 

The morning begins with a pleasant walk along the Nature Trail, through flower meadows, pine forests and into the open valley. If you would prefer a more challenging hike, consider the majestic Langtey Hike, which affords breathtaking views and winds through a rhododendron forest. You can also visit the Black Neck Crane Center and, depending on the season, spend time in the centre’s hide to spot these rare birds, which migrate from Tibet in winter to breed.

 

 

Back at Gangtey lodge, enjoy an open-air Hot Stone Bath. Set in a candlelit stone hut, the traditional wooden tub has wonderful views of the majestic Phobjikha Valley. Your body will benefit from the minerals in the heated stones and the soothing powers of local herbs (chargeable activity).

 

Most guests combine the Hot Stone Bath with the romantic Potato-Shed Dinner to round off a truly authentic Bhutanese evening. After the relaxing bath you will enjoy a delicious Bhutanese meal surrounded by hundreds of flickering candles and warmed by a traditional bhukari wood-burning stove (chargeable activity). Due to the popularity of the Hot Stone Bath and the Potato-Shed Dinner, pre-booking is strongly recommended.

 

Overnight – Amankora Gangtey

4 Days 5-8 : Bumthang
Day 5 – Journey to Bumthang

Today guests embark on the five-hour drive to Bumthang – a journey filled with memorable and dramatic landscapes of terraced farmland, deep river gorges and precariously perched farmhouses, viewed from the country’s only east-west highway. Following a brief stop at Chendebji Chorten which according to legend was built to cover the remains of a demon spirit, you will carry on to Trongsa, the original home of the royal family. Here, you can stroll the village, and  perhaps visit the large Trongsa Dzong. The drive onward to Bumthang takes you over the picturesque Yotong
La pass and down into the Chhume Valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yathra weaving. Here you will have a chance to browse the traditional textiles and perhaps see the weavers creating their intricate handiwork.

 

 

At 2,580m (8,464ft), Bumthang Valley is covered with fields of buckwheat, millet and potato, with apple orchards climbing up the slopes to mix with the deep pine forest. Across the valley lie many of the Kingdom’s most auspicious and revered houses of worship and ancient monasteries, many still decorated with vibrant wall paintings and richly adorned altars, all suffused with a mystical history. Upon arrival at the lodge, you will have time to explore our neighbouring palace, Wangdichhoeling, previously home to the second King, and the auspicious prayer wheels.

 

Overnight – Amankora Bumthang.

 

Day 6 – Bumthang Valley

Heading up the valley, today you will visit Jambay Lhakhang, home to the early-winter festivals that draw thousands of Bhutanese for their annual blessings; and then the grand Kurjey Lhakhang, once the resting place of Guru Rinpoche and considered one of the country’s most auspicious monuments.

 

 

A short walk away, enjoy a Bumthap Farmhouse Lunch where you can experience traditional food in authentic surroundings, and sample Bumthang delicacies made from local products. Heading back into town and across the Bumthang Chhu, guests can enjoy a visit to the sin- alleviating Tamzhing Monastery.

 

Don’t miss the chance to explore the valley’s unique cottage industries – the Red Panda Brewery, the Cheese/Dairy Facility and the Distillery, home to a number of distinctive spirits. Red Panda’s local beer and cheese tasting session is highly recommended (chargeable activity).

 

To unwind, relax with a Zen Massage, Bumthang signature spa treatment, using dynamic stretches and pressure-point stimulation followed by a soothing oil massage (chargeable activity).

 

Overnight – Amankora Bumthang.

 

Day 7 – Bumthang, Tang Valley

Today you will further explore the Bumthang district with an excursion to the incredible Tang Valley, a seldom-visited area of temples and monasteries that are truly off the beaten path. En route, stop off at the Burning Lake (Membartsho), where the story goes that Pema Lingpa (a famous Buddhist saint from Tang) had a dream that he dove into the river pool carrying a burning butter lamp in his hand and returned with treasures and the lamp still burning. Guests can also visit the nunnery as well as Ta Rimochen Lhakhang, built by Pema Lingpa in the 14th century, its temple dominated by an enormous rock at which Guru Rinpoche meditated.

 

 

Continue to the wonderful museum at Ugen Chhoeling Palace. The exhibits offer a rare insight into Bhutanese culture, lifestyle, history and religion. The palace is reached by a short hike, stopping along the way for
a traditional picnic with breathtaking views of the pristine surroundings.

 

Alternatively, for those who would like to explore the valley on foot, Tang Valley offers plenty of hiking trails.

Overnight – Amankora Bumthang.

 

Day 8 – Bumthang, Ura Valley

 

This full-day excursion to the Ura Valley offers an excellent mix of sightseeing, village life and temple visits, along with hiking and/or biking. The 48 km paved drive to Ura ascends through a beautiful conifer landscape; farms, cows and sheep pastures line the road. Reaching the Shelthang La pass (3,600m), on clear days you will enjoy a magnificent view of Mount Gangkhar Puensum, the highest unclimbed mountain in Bhutan. From here, we recommend that you descend into Ura village by foot. The path meanders slowly through meadows with a clear view of the village the whole way.

 

 

Ura has nearly 40 houses, clustered together and typical of only a few communities in Bhutan. You will first reach the new temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, where the annual Ura festival is held in late spring.


It has a huge statue of Guru Rinpoche and beautiful frescoes. From here, walk through the small village towards the local secondary school and get a feel of the village atmosphere. After exploring the village, you will have the option of climbing on mountain bikes for an exhilarating ride back down into the Jakar Valley.

 

For your final evening in Bumthang, we can arrange a private BBQ by the firepit – a unique and romantic dining experience. The chef will meet with you beforehand to discuss and create a personal menu (chargeable activity).

 

Overnight – Amankora Bumthang.

5 Days 9-10 : Punakha
Day 9 – Journey to Punakha

 

The day begins with an early departure for the 6.5-hour drive to Punakha. Following the same route as the drive to Bumthang from Gangtey, on the way we will stop to visit the Ta Dzong (watchtower), which was converted into a museum in 2008 and showcases some of the rare and priceless artefacts belonging to the monarchy. After a stop for a picnic lunch, we continue on to Punakha, which lies at an altitude of 1,250m (4,100ft) in a warm and fertile valley at the junction of the Mo Chhu (Female River) and Pho Chhu (Male River). The subtropical environment allows the cultivation of rice and exotic fruits.

 

 

On the way into the valley you can visit Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499, to which many couples come to pray for pregnancy and receive a wang (blessing) from the saint with the
‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’.

 

Enjoy the evening in our courtyard or unwind with a massage or a facial, Punakha’s signature spa treatment, using locally sourced ingredients.

 

Overnight – Amankora Punakha.

 

Day 10 – Punakha

Start the morning with a hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument built by the Bhutanese Queen Mother and consecrated in 1999. Following the hike you can visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, home to the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler and the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader
and his entourage of monks.

 

 

A popular option for lunch or dinner is the Private Riverside BBQ. Just below the lodge, guests sit in the shade of pine trees and enjoy the sounds of the river, views of rice fields and mountain peaks, and the aromas of food sizzling on the charcoal grill. Dinner is especially romantic, lit by candles and lanterns and warmed by a bonfire (chargeable activity – pre-booking advised).

 

In the afternoon, try your hand at archery, Bhutan’s national sport, or sign up for a cooking class to learn how to make momos, traditional dumplings, and the famous ema datse (chargeable activity).

 

Overnight – Amankora Punakha.

6 Days 11-13 : Paro
Day 11 – Journey to Paro

 

The four-hour journey to Paro takes you back across the impressive Dochu La pass. For lunch you can either stop at Thimphu lodge or enjoy a picnic at any beautiful spot on the route back along the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu valleys. Outside the town, Amankora Paro lies hidden in pine forest towards the north end of the valley.

 

 

In the afternoon, there is time for a short stroll across open fields and past village houses. Before the sun sets, sit down by the big prayer wheel below the ruins of the Drukgyel Dzong, and relax amid the rural scenery and changing sky. Alternatively, enjoy an archery session using a set of traditional bows and arrows.

 

Evenings at Amankora Paro may include informative lectures on Gross National Happiness, traditional cultural performances, prayer flag printing or an intriguing movie on the Himalayas.

 

Overnight – Amankora Paro.

 

Day 12 – Paro

In the morning, hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most dramatic monuments, the Taktsang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the Tiger’s Nest, built on a sheer cliff face at a height of 2,950m (9,678ft). The four-hour trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on the rocks, 900m above the valley floor.

 

After lunch in a local farmhouse or in the lodge, you can drive to the outskirts of Paro town where you will find the 7th-century twin temples of Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the first Buddhist temples built in the country. Spend time lighting 108 butter lamps (chargeable activity) and learn about the ancient Buddhist traditions that are still practiced today.

 

 

Alternatively, take an excursion to Paro town. Visit the National Museum, previously the valley’s watchtower, which displays an intriguing collection of artefacts illustrating the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lies the imposing Paro Dzong, a fine exemplar of Bhutanese architecture.

 

On the final evening of your journey, soak in our Hot Stone Bath and enjoy a relaxing Tibetan Ku Nye massage, in which warm oil is applied to specific points to release energy blockages (chargeable activity).

 

Overnight – Amankora Paro.

 

Day 13 – International departure

 

This morning you bid farewell to Bhutan. Your driver will take you to Paro International Airport, a journey of around 30 minutes from the lodge. We recommend you to arrive two hours before the flight is scheduled to depart.

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