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TEMPLES & TRAILS THROUGH BHUTAN

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Paro
  • Thimphu
  • Punakha
  • Tiger's Nest
  • Paro

8 Days Walking Journey
  • Departing:
  • 18 Mar 2023 New release

Trek your way along the peaks and valleys of this astonishing Himalayan kingdom. Our journey comprises five hikes, placing us amid verdant forests thriving with a rich biodiversity. After each leg of our exploration, we unwind at the sublime Six Senses lodges. This rare and remote journey is available to just 24 guests.

Map
Tiger's Nest
Tiger's Nest

Rise to Meet Tiger’s Nest

Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche made his ascent to Taktsang on the back of a flying tiger, continuing his meditations in its nearby caves. While our arrival won’t be quite so easy, the views are certainly worth it, as we peer into Paro’s valley below.

 

Six Senses
Six Senses

Breathtaking Stays at Six Senses

Come to where tranquillity meets indulgence. During the course of our journey, we stay in three of the country’s finest residences: Six Senses Thimphu, Six Senses Punakha and Six Senses Paro. All boast unrivalled views of their surrounding landscapes, while inspired design and hospitality enhances the experience.

Thimphu
Thimphu

A Measure of Happiness in the Himalayas

In Thimphu, we’re granted an audience with the Venerable Mynak R. Tulku Rinpoche, who conveys Bhutan’s philosophy of ‘Gross National Happiness’, the standard by which the country’s wealth is measured. We also hear of the many experiences and life lessons he has accumulated during his time as a Buddhist monk.

 

Itinerary

Hike

This journey features five hikes, incorporating some of Bhutan's most spectacular scenery. While not overly strenuous, they do require you to have a reasonable level of fitness. The days with hikes are denoted by the Captain's Choice star at the beginning of the day. Please note each hike is entirely optional.

We begin our adventure as we travel from Paro International Airport to Six Senses Thimphu. Overlooking the vast Himalayan valley below, this residence brings our understanding of luxury to new heights. Take the afternoon to enjoy the facilities of our accommodation or head out on a relaxing stroll through its peaceful grounds. A Welcome Dinner gives us the opportunity to get to know our fellow travellers and Tour Hosts a little better.

Hike

6.5km at approximately 2.5 hours


After breakfast this morning, we greet the imposing white façade of the Trashi Chhoe Dzong. Thimphu’s most impressive building was once the site of Bhutan’s National Assembly. Offices here now include those for the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, as well as the Ministry for Finance. One is also reserved for the king himself. 

We then turn our attention to the Buddha Dordenma. Seated atop a hill within Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, this large buddha statue is surrounded by a series of smaller statues. While, housed within the main statue itself, there are more than one hundred thousand, even smaller, likenesses of the buddha. 

Afterwards, Thimphu’s main sites draw our attention. The National Memorial Chorten, honouring Bhutan’s third king, is the focal point of daily worship for many Bhutanese people. We linger here a while, soaking up the atmosphere as worshippers approach the distinctive white stupa. 

Our explorations continue as we set off on a hike to Cheri Goemba, a serene monastery perched on the edge of a cliff. Our walk begins from Dodena, with a crossing of the Thimphu Chhu river. The path from here is steady and offers us peaceful perspectives of the region’s verdant mountain landscape. A succession of prayer flags furnishes the forest as we make our approach to the monastery. After taking time to absorb the spectacular scenery, we return to our Six Senses hotel.

This evening, we hear from the Venerable Mynak R. Tulku Rinpoche on Bhutan’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness.

Hike

10.5km at approximately 3 hours


Our transport brings us to the Dochula Pass this morning. If the weather is clear, look north-east to see the eastern Himalayas and Gangkhar Puensum mountain. At 7,570 metres, it is Bhutan’s highest mountain, while also holding the distinction of being the world’s highest unclimbed mountain. 

The Dochula Pass is graced with 108 stupas, built to honour the memory of fallen Bhutanese soldiers. From here, we join the Divine Madman Trail, gradually descending a path through lush green vegetation. Our walk brings us to Thinleygang Temple, where we enjoy a picnic lunch in serene and forested surrounds. 

We then drive toward Punakha, along the way finding Punakha Dzong sitting resplendent at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. As we draw nearer the town, a brief detour sees us arriving at the Chimi Lhakhang temple. The site is seen as a wellspring of fertility, where blessings are offered by a 15th-century Tibetan saint. The nearby settlement of Pana offers us a further glimpse into local life, as we spy its villagers tending the plentiful rice paddies. 

Afterwards, we continue to Six Senses Punakha, also known as the ‘Flying Farmhouse Amidst the Rice Fields’.  

Hike

10km at approximately 3 hours


Today, we continue our trek along the striking Trans Bhutan Trail, our walk providing us with one more mesmerising perspective of the sublime Punakha Dzong. Dramatic scenery is best appreciated from extraordinary vantage points, and Punakha suspension bridge delivers on both counts. The country’s longest bridge grants us a safe crossing over the Pho Chhu River, before we are led through a forest of pine on our gradual approach to the village of Shengana. We pass by vast terraced fields, whose rice crops are diligently cultivated by their farmers. A final brief ascent sees us reach a string of prayer flags, heralding our arrival at the chorten which marks the end of our trek.

Our efforts are rewarded upon our return to Six Senses, where a nourishing lunch of seasonal produce awaits. Thoroughly revitalised, we are drawn back to the majestic Punakha Dzong. The monastery stands as a landmark to persistence, having been rebuilt several times due to the ravages of fire, earthquakes and flood. After a day full of exploration, we return to our mountain retreat for a peaceful night’s sleep. 

We depart our hotel this morning and set out on a drive to Paro. Winding our way along the Dochula Pass, we drive on near-deserted roads, high above steep valleys brimming with pine forests. On more than a few occasions, we’re presented with prime photographic opportunities of the eastern Himalayas and the surrounding nature. 

Arriving in the town of Paro, we proceed along its main street, passing a long row of shops and buildings designed in the traditional style. Soon, the imposing façade of Rinpung Dzong comes into view. Comprising several buildings, the ancient fortress is renowned as one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. 

Enveloped in forest-clad mountains, Six Senses Paro welcomes us warmly, its old-world stone walls belying the opulence awaiting within. After setting aside some time for lunch, we head out to see the Ta Dzong watchtower, which today serves as the National Museum of Bhutan, housing some of the finest examples of Bhutanese art. 

A short walk then brings us before the grand Rinpung Dzong. Having been built in 1644, the dzong has fulfilled many administrative and monastic purposes over successive centuries. Today, the district’s monks take residence within the dzong’s monastic quarter, while its other buildings house government offices and the courts. 

This evening, take the opportunity to explore Paro further. Perhaps visit the market area, where warmly lit interiors of clothing and craft shops invite us to peruse, and perhaps to purchase. On our return, Six Senses restores our vitality with its array of dining options.

Hike

10km at approximately 4 hours


After rising early, we set out for Upper Dopshari, on the opposite ridge of Paro’s valley. From here, we trek further along the Trans Bhutan Trail, absorbing the pristine surrounds of the world’s only carbon-negative country. On arriving at a clearing within Dopshari’s village, we’re granted the rare opportunity to try our hand at two of Bhutan’s traditional and much-loved sports. Our hosts offer us a run-through of the respective tactics and techniques of archery and khuru – a game that involves throwing darts at a small target from a distance of around 20 metres. We then indulge in some good-natured competition with the locals.

Afterwards, we continue on to the northern ridge of the Paro Valley. Lush vegetation surrounds us as we descend further along the trail, a sprawling patchwork of rice paddies eventually signalling our arrival into Lamgong Village. Here, villagers grow red rice, apples and chillies. On our gradual return to Paro, we pass by the Kyichu Lhakhang temple, one of the country’s oldest religious sites. Our morning’s efforts arouse a hunger within us, and we retreat to our accommodation for sustenance and, perhaps, some slumber. 

Take the afternoon at leisure; you may like to treat yourself to some relaxation in the hotel’s spa or pool. This evening, we have arranged to call in at the home of a local family for tea and coffee.

Hike

9km at approximately 5 hours


The sacred Taktsang monastery, or Tiger’s Nest, is built into vertical cliffs 900 metres above Paro Valley. To visit, we must hike up from the valley floor. While the high altitude certainly makes for a strenuous advance, the walk offers spectacular views of the monastery and the valley below. For those fit enough to make the full ascent, the rewards are unmatched. 

Afterwards, we have the option of visiting Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 to commemorate military victory over Tibetan invaders. Tonight, celebrate our journey with a Bhutanese-themed dinner. Over the course of the evening, we find ourselves beneficiaries of a complete Bhutanese cultural experience, as dancers in traditional dress perform around a bonfire. Time-honoured melodies fill the air, while artefacts significant to the local way of life furnish the courtyard where our celebration takes place. Calling it a day, we savour our final evening within the luxurious interiors of Six Senses Paro. 

Reflect upon what we have witnessed during our exploration of Bhutan’s enchanting kingdom. We say farewell as we depart for the airport.

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