True Travel Times
Meditate with monks, hike to temples & find peace in spiritual valleys
Transport yourself to Bhutan and feel the full force of the country’s magic, where the misty morning dew clears to reveal the towering Himalayas, majestic temples and enchanting villages. Katie Kennard, Head of Asia travel writes: “Visiting this peaceful country, I couldn’t help but adapt to the locals’ gentle pace of life. With this trip I have created a rare chance to discover their true culture,from archery tournaments with local villagers, to meditative chanting with monks in high places, dinner with members of Parliament, private festivals and even a night sleeping under the stars.”
Day 1-2 Thimpu
Begin your journey in the capital, with a night in Six Senses Thimphu, offering sweeping views of Thimphu Valley and the majestic Buddha statue. There’s no greater welcome to local culture than a meeting with a Member of Parliament, learning the philosophies of the Gross National Happiness and the history of this unique kingdom, Spend your first day exploring the plethora of monasteries behind the scenes with a local guide, before retiring to your Bhutanese bolthole in the shadow of the Himalayas, with freestanding tubs poised to soak in the views.
Wind through breathtaking scenery to Punakha, stopping at the Temple of fertility and Dochula Pass. Your destination is Amankora Punakha – an elegant riverfront hideaway set within traditional farmland. From here, enjoy the exclusive honor of joining the Chief Abbot for meditation in the inner sanctum of a 17th centuryDzong palace. The next day, hike along the Butterfly Train to a riverside barbecue lunch and exchange stories with monks learning English. I remember a magically peaceful day meandering along the river, greeting locals having hay in the farmlands.
Day 4-5 Khotokha
Journey far from the tourist trail to the large glacial Khotokha Valley, an area of few inhabitants that very few travellers are able to visit, and many sacred sights. Join a traditional community of self-sustaining farmers, who rarely leave the village. Here you’ll experience an exclusive performance of a ceremonial masked dance, created just for you. Local villagers will gather and celebrate with you, adorned in bright colours, and receive blessings from the monks. Joining your hosts for a candlelit dinner, before retiring to comfortable beds laid under canvas.
Day 5-6 Gangtey
Rise in your camp and trek to Phobijkha Valley – the land of the majestic black-necked cranes which migrate every year from the Tibetan Plateau. Pass through pines, meadows, and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia, and rhododendrons. Hop aboard the off-road vehicles to reach Gangtey Lodge, one of the most remote locations in the world. Set in a protected reserve nestled high in the mountains, the lodge is home to both adventure and comfort, with the most welcome massage on arrival, after a long day’s hike.
Join a senior monk in the early hours to be blessed and remove the bad spirits in the traditional spirit cleansing ceremony. Along the journey to the country’s spiritual heart of Bumthang, conduct a private prayer flag hoisting, visit black-necked cranes, and wind through dramatic landscapes and gorges. Spend the next two nights at Amankora Bumthang, a stately lodge fit for royalty. Visit will weavers and a traditional farmhouse for buttermilk tea and liquors – my personal highlight!
Day 8-10 Paro
A scenic flight lands you in Paro, where a stay in the Six Senses Paro begins with traditional lighting of 108 butter lamps in the Kyichu Temple. Battle it out in an archery tournament against a local team, then explore Paro by bicycle. Conclude your adventure with a pilgrimage hike to Bhutan’s most iconic sight: the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ monastery, perched on a vertical cliffside at 3,000m altitude. Celebrate your last night with a feast fit for Bhutanese royalty, in an enchanting setting and surrounded by live music and dancing.
Experience this 10-day Bhutan itinerary from £12,000 per person
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