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Bhutan: West Bhutan with Paro Festival

The Paro Festival (Teschu) in the Bhutan Himalaya is a time of great beauty, and cultural intensity. After nearly two decade of sending travellers to Bhutan, we can say with confidence - this is one great trip! 


Highlights
Teschu dance performances, spectacular scenery, up front and personal interactions with local communities, connections to authentic Mahayana Buddhism, natural history exploration, guided by company owner Catherine Evans and local Bhutanese guides.


2017 Departure Date and Cost

West Bhutan with PARO FESTIVAL: April 8 to 19, 2017 (12 days) 
Escorted by Catherine Evans

Other departures:  Punakha Teschu February 28 to March 9, 2017

Tour cost from Paro: $ 2,950 USD per person
Single supplement: $ 540 USD
All meals included
Early bookings are essential

Airfare to Paro from Bangkok or Delhi is approx. $ 395 (additional)
Airfare from Guwahati to Delhi or Calcutta approx. $ 135 (additional)

Pre-tour or post-tour activities in Thailand, India and other neighbouring countries are possible and can be added on an individual basis. Kaziranga National Park in Assam makes a nice 3-day extension


WEST BHUTAN WITH PARO FESTIVAL: April 8 to 19, 2017

April 08 : Arrive in PARO
DRUK AIR: Flight from Bangkok. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Day at leisure and time to rest and acclimate to altitude.  3 nights accommodation at Tashi Namgay Resort. Welcome dinner.

April 09 : Paro Teschu (D)
Enjoy full day watching the most popular Paro festival of Mask and Folk Dances. Meet with the locals and make friends. Great opportunity for those who like to take pictures.

April 10 : Paro Teschu (B,L,D)
Paro’s sightseeing is full of gems such as the 200-year-old Watch Tower, which has been renovated and converted into National Museum in 1968. It houses a fine collection of national costumes and fabrics, gallery of thangkas, an impressive stamp gallery with three-dimensional stamps issued as early as 1960. Visit Drugyel Dzong, although mostly now in ruins. Visit Drugyel High School and Kychu Lhakhang, the oldest monastery in the valley built in 7th Century. Take a look at the shops in Paro town. A return to the Paro Dzong can be included to watch more of the dances

April 11 : Paro  / Thimpu (B,L,D)
Morning arise early to see the unfurling of the great Thangka (the biggest embroidered sacred scroll).  Breakfast at the hotel and depart to Thimpu (2 hours) along a scenic highway. Thimpu, the capital and largest city of Bhutan. 2 nights at Gyelsa Boutique Inn. After an orientation to the town, some free time.

April 12:  Thimpu (B,L,D)
Full day cultural sightseeing in and around Thimpu. Some of the activities you will enjoy include:  Visit to the Takin Reserve (Bhutan’s National animal)
Purchase world’s most beautiful postage stamps, collector’s items and postcards at face value from general post office which is right next to Bhutan National Bank
Visit Arts and Crafts school where one can see young children at work
Visit Memorial Chorten built in 1974 to honour the memory of Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, popularly known as the Father of Modern Bhutan. A multi-storied stupa will introduce you to the vitality of Tantric Buddhism.
Observe traditional paper making from Daphnia and Edgeworthia shrub to the finished product and purchase some beautiful writing sets from the factory
Visit the Giant Buddha
Drive up to a viewpoint and take a hike beyond to see the clear picture of Thimphu Valley

April 13 : Thimpu – Dochula Pass – Punakha (B,L,D)
Morning, sightseeing in and around Thimpu. Afternoon transfer to Punakha via the Dochula Pass. Enjoy great views of the Bhutanese Himalayas and 108 Buddhist stupas at the high pass. Punakha is the winter capital for over 300 years until the time of second King. The town is located at the confluence of two rivers. Overnight at Hotel Vara

April 14 : Punakha – Phobjikha Valley Gantey (B,L,D)
Sightseeing in and around Punakha including the magnificent Punakha Dzong. After lunch drive to Gangtey and Phobjikha Valley. The valley falls under the Black Mountain Natural Park. We will search for any black-necked cranes that have not yet flown to their summer homes in Tibet and China. There is lots of other wildlife in the surrounding valleys like wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan black bear, red fox, leopard and many species of birds. Overnight Gakling Guest House.

April 15 : Phobjikha Valley Gantey (B,L,D)
Nature walks in the Phobjika Valley.  Also included are visits to the Nature Education center, a local school and the Sacred Gangtey Monastery.

April 16 : Return to Paro (B,L,D)
Enjoy views of the Himalayas, the yak herders and magnificent scenery on the return to Paro. 

April 17 : Haa Valley (B,L,D)
We embark on a journey West to Chelala Pass, the highest pass in the country.  Continue into the scenic Haa Valley. Lunch in a Farm House in Haa. 

April 18 : Tiger’s Nest (B,L,D)
Full day hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery and sightseeing in and around Paro.  “Tiger's nest,” built around a cave in which Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhawa) meditated, clings seemingly impossible to a cliff of rock at 3,000 feet above the valley floor. For the local people it is a place of pilgrimage, but for a tourist, a hike up to the viewpoint opposite the monastery is exhausting, thrilling and mystical.  Provisions will be made for those not up to the hike.

April 19 : Departure (B)
Departure transfer to the airport for the flight to Bangkok.


More on the guides

Catherine Evans MA Tourism Management, PIDP Instructors Diploma, Bsc (honours) Zoology
Join Catherine when she returns to Bhutan on a fourth journey.  For over 25 years, Catherine Evans has applied a mission of “enriching lives through nature & cultural travel” achieving this by linking conscientious travelers to like-minded hosts in remote destinations on all seven continents. Catherine has been involved with many innovative projects that earned recognition including an Ecoliteracy Field School; a multi-disciplined arts retreat in the wilderness; volunteerism projects with whale researchers in both the Atlantic and Pacific waters; and ecotourism projects in rural communities. In 1998 CBC’s Marketplace awarded the company “10/10” for their “Ecotourism practices”. Catherine Evans is also Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University in the Tourism & Hospitality Department. She has guided numerous journeys to various parts of Asia. 

Duptho Rinzin - Before starting Shangri-La Bhutan Tours in 1996, Duptho served as in-flight manager with Royal Bhutan Airlines for 8 years. He has been guiding Cultural Tours and Trekking groups ever since. In addition to his national tourism expertise, Duptho has travelled to more than 25 countries showcasing Bhutan to the outside world. He has had the privilege of serving as Political Advisor to the previous ruling government and currently, serves as a member of the King’s “Guardian of Peace” program. Duptho is also the founder and member of the original Lions Club in Bhutan as well as other social volunteerism. Past Tours of Exploration travellers have enjoyed Duptho's behind the scenes exposure to the cultural sites, and his great sense of humour. 


What our clients say...

“ I felt well looked after…the food was better than I expected, I particularly liked the wonderful vegetable variety. This is unique country for anyone interested in visiting the Himalayas and learning how this small country enters the modern world and still retains it’s identity and the process.” - P. Charles, Vancouver, BC

“ All guides and drivers went above and beyond in making our stay a memorable one ....Tours of Exploration has done a wonderful job during our trip. After seeing the National History Museum in Paro I realized that we had first hand seeing with our own eyes most of the billboards on display. We did amazing things saw culture, nature, music, religion and most of the country from one end to the next. Everything was taken care of.” - M and B. Chesnik, Windsor, ON

“ The experience of this tour was due to the guides and drivers. The six of them all contributed to an amazing trip. The entire trip was an experience of a lifetime, thank you.” - P. Macdonald, San Francisco, CA

“ After our 1st day of looking down, I knew we were in good hands.” - K. Basher, Lancaster, NY

“ This trip was far above my expectations, I highly recommend Tours of Exploration to my friends.” - T. MacIntosh, Peterborough, ON

“ There was a good mix of cultural and sight seeing activities... Perhaps the food was a little too good, great that there were so many veggie options... You really look after us and all of your behind the scenes work is greatly appreciated. “ - K. Dawkins, Toronto, ON

“ I greatly appreciated having two buses so everyone could have a window seat. Felt it was a treasure to come here, and especially to visit eastern Bhutan.” - C. Longfield, Toronto, ON

“ I appreciated the driving skills that were apparent on those challenging roads. The bus was always clean and well taken care of mechanically.” - M. Leuschen

“ We first heard of Bhutan about ten years ago and it has been on our list of places to visit ever since... The people are all so friendly and curious... We did not experience the begging and peddlers so common in many of the other areas of Asia we have visited... The mountains are ablaze with colour, the red and whites are incredibly intense... At higher elevations we saw yaks and on occasion a pair of barking deer in the road.” - C and E. Jensen

“ Our guide was very good with respect to his language skills, knowledge and organisational ability... Our schedule was packed from dawn till dusk with sightseeing!. it was most stimulating and very interesting.” - J. Arnold, Christchurch, NZ

“ Thank you again for providing wonderful photo expierences in Bhutan. It is a beautiful, friendly destination.” - D and B. Wolf, Louisville Kentucky

“ Carmen, it was a delight to get to know you and to have you as a guiding light on our Bhutan trip, I loved it! Even though I was not a real photo buff, I did get hundreds of good shots. I have put them into an eleven minute show with music and zooming and panning. My post trips to Cambodia and Northern Thailand went well too.” - J. Johnson, Redondo Beach, CA