TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT FOR THIS MAGICAL ADVENTURE
East Bhutan Nomad Journey and Sacred Dance Festivals
The Twin Jewels of the East | Bhutan’s Best Kept Secret
Nov. 12th to 28th
Join Kutira on a 17-day exploration of Bhutan’s best kept secret the Twin Jewels of the East. We will explore the Eastern and central part of Bhutan and visiting where the Nomadic people live. Long closed to outsiders, the beautiful far flung regions of Merak and Sakteng present Bhutan travelers with the unique opportunity to see two of the least known valleys in the kingdom. Experience the stark wilderness and the simple generosity of the Brokpa people, learn how their traditional garb is still fashioned from yak skin and listen to timeless tales of the yeti which form an inseparable part of Brokpa lore. This journey into the hidden valley lets us discover the exquisite eastern wilderness of Bhutan.
On the way from the East to Central Bhutan we will have the opportunity to participate in several “Tshechu” religious festival in honor of Guru Padmansambhava “One who was born from the Lotus”, popularly know as “Guru Rinpoche”. We will visit cultural places, small villages, temples, including the famous Tiger’s Lair, monasteries, nunneries, dzongs (fortress) and Kutira’s special projects. The timing is perfect as we will have the great honor to partake on several famous dance festivals, held annually only.
This will be a once in a lifetime experience that you don’t want to miss. On this journey you will meet like-minded friends and explore the magical and mystical land of the Thunder Dragon and National Gross Happiness as we also get to sample delicious and diverse local cuisine from fine dining to family prepared traditional food. This is truly the last jewel of the Himalayas and if spirit is calling you, then you will be immersed in the beauty of Bhutan.
Monday | November 12 – Arrival in Paro:
Day 1. See Flight Information.
On arrival at Paro Airport, you will be welcomed by Kutira and friends and our representative. After checking into the hotel we will have lunch in Paro at her old friend’s restaurant. She makes the best fried ginger potatoes and is also known for her delicious momos. You are in for a culinary first Bhutan treat! After lunch we will visit the Kyichu Lhakhang Temple.
Kyichu Lhakhang Temple: This is one of Bhutan’s oldest temples, dating back centuries. If time permits we will also be exploring the small village of Paro during our short time in the afternoon or when we are back in this town again.
Evening: We gather and get to know each other and prepare for exploring East Bhutan, where the Nomadic people reside. We will spend overnight at the famous historical Olatung hotel built for the coronation of the 4th King in the late 70’s .
Tuesday | November 13 – Paro to Radhi:
Day 2. In the morning we will fly to Yangphula near Trashigang via domestic flight and drive to Radhi (Altitude 1000 – 1500 m). On the way we will stop at the beautiful Rangjung Woesel Chholing Monastery, founded by Garab Rinpochhe in 1990.
The village of Radhi is famous for its rice fields and the skill of its weavers. It is often known as the ‘Rice Bowl of the East’ because of its verdant rice fields that supply most of the grain to the eastern parts of the country and the people make a living from fine raw silk or bura textiles during the off-agricultural seasons. All textiles produced in Radhi are made using the traditional back-strap loom and traditional dyes.
We will have an overnight stay at farm house/home stay. A “home stay” is an excellent glimpse into the day-to-day life of a typical Bhutanese family. You will enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the unparalleled hospitality of a Bhutanese host.
Wednesday | November 14 – Radhi to Merak ( Altitude 3500m):
Day 3. We will leave Radhi early in the morning and drive to Merak. Here will visit the local community, temples and mingle with locals. We will witness native dances of Merak and Sakteng known as Ache Lhamo. Ache Lhamo is a classical secular theatre of Tibet with music and dance that has been performed for centuries, whose nearest western equivalent is opera. Performances have a narrative and simple dialogue interspersed with comedy and satire; characters wear colorful masks. The core stories of these theatrical plays are drawn mostly from ancient Indian Buddhist folk tales, lives of important people, and historical events from Tibetan civilization. However, the ceremonial dance and ritual spectacles strongly reflects the Tibetan Royal Dynastic period. These rare dances are exclusive to the Brokpas and will be specially organized from our host for our group.
Overnight at local guest house/Farm house in Merak.
Thursday | November 15 – Merak to Radhi:
Day 4. We will explore the surrounding landscape and have a leisurely morning in the village. In the early afternoon we will return back to Radhi and complete our visit in this lovely village of so many wonderful artisans. We will witness the art of weaving and have the opportunity to take some home to treasure.
Overnight in home stay Radhi
Friday | November 16 – Radhi to Trashigang:
Day 5. As we depart in the morning we will take a last stroll in the village of Radhi and drive to the main city of the East Trashigang. If time permits we will explore the beautiful town of Trashigang before we check in at our new accommodation.
Overnight stay at Lingkhar Lodge
Saturday | November 17 – Trashigang:
Day 6. We will be joining the annual opening of the Tschechu, the Sacred Dance Festival.
The festival is held in the mighty Dzong where the locals from near and far gather to receive the blessed merits by simply observing the rituals held by the monks, lay people and students.
Sunday | November 18 – Trashigang:
Day 7. We will be attending the second day of the festival the Bardo Chham, which represents the intermediate state of our body, mind and speech. During the performance we will be witnessing dances of different masks.
Overnight stay at the Lingkhar Lodge.
Monday | November 19 – Trashigang to Morgan:
Day 8. We will participate in the last day of the Thongdrel festival which means liberation at sight.
The famous hanging of the Thongdrel, a huge thanka with the image of Guru Rinpoche will conclude this remarkable time. The thanka will be placed by hundreds of monks in the early morning hours and the blessing will be given to the participants before the sun will rise. The thanka will not be exposed to the sun rays and ritualistically stored away in the temple till next year. We spend the early morning in Trashing and have a last stroll through the town.
Late morning we will embark on route to Mongar towards the central valley of Bhutan, we stop to visit the famous, mystical Gom Kora or Gomphu Kora about 23 km away from Tashigang. Mongar Gomphu means meditation cave and kora means circumambulation. The sight dates back to the century when Guru Padmasambava came from Samye (Tibet) to subjugate Myongkhapa who escaped from Tibet. Later Guru mediated for three days and transformed the negative force into the protector of the Buddha dharma.
Overnight at the Wangchuck Hotel
Tuesday | November 20 – Mongar:
Day 9. A beautiful day trip to Lhuentse village and to the Ladrong Lhakang (temple). The Lhuentse Dzong (fortress) is the ancestral home of the royal family of Bhutan, therefore historically very rich and significant. The valley is home to some of country’s most sacred pilgrimage sites. Located at an altitude of 800m – 5700m, it is approximately 3 hours’ drive from Mongar. Undoubtedly one of the most remote areas in Bhutan, it is popular for trekking, rich biodiversity and also amazing textiles. The landscape is impressive with towering cliffs, deep river gorges and dense coniferous forest. Some of the best handmade textile comes from the valley of Kurtoe, the Kurtoep women are known to be a connoisseur of traditional textile weaving; the famous Kushuthara textile originates from here.
Overnight stay at Hotel Wangchuk
Wednesday | November 21 – Mongar to Tang Valley:
Day 10. We will embark over the highest pass in Bhutan to the heartland of this mountainous Kingdom. We will drive through the majestic landscape which provides us with plenty of beautiful photography opportunities towards Tang valley near Bumthang. We will overnight at the Ogyen Choling Palace Museum, the only private museum in Bhutan. Ashi Kunzang Choden (20th generation in the family that has lived here) does an excellent narration of the history of the place and her ancestors. The museum portrays the life and style of the people that lived there. Apparel and implements are displayed along with many priceless ancient writings. It truly gives an insight into life in Bhutan over the centuries.
Ashi Kunzang is also an accomplished and established writer – the first woman in Bhutan to have published a book in English. Kutira’s favorite book from Ashi is “Dawa the Dog”. Ashi Kuezang and her Swiss husband are friends of Kutira.
Overnight: Ogyen Choling Palace
Thursday | November 22 – Tang Valley to Bumthang:
Day 11. We will continue our journey into the Bhumthang town, the heart of central Bhutan. We will take our time and stop wherever we feel called for.
Overnight at Kaila’s Guesthouse one of Kutira’s favored places in Bumthang.
Friday | November 23 – Bumthang:
Day 12. We are blessed to witness more then one festival:
1. The Ngaa Lhakhang festival is three-day festival and one of the more popular festivals in the Choekhor valley. This festival is celebrated to bring happiness and prosperity to the village and the country as a whole. It is also a symbolic prayer for good harvest and for the well being of everyone.
2. The 1-day Jambay Lhakhang Singye Cham takes place in the renowned and revered 17th century Jambay Lhakhang . One of the most important features of the festival is the performance of Singye Cham or alternatively the Lion dance. The Cham or the dance is conducted to appease all the sentient beings and considered to wash away sins of people who witness it.
Overnight stay at Kaila’s Guesthouse.
Saturday | November 24 – Bumthang:
Day 13. We will partake in a monastery tour of some of the most spiritual places of Bhutan – including the Pema Linka lake, which is called “burning lake”.
Our neighboring palace, Wangdichhoeling, a past home to the 2nd King, and now home to the auspicious prayer wheels next door. Heading up valley, we will take in the grand Kurjey Lhakhang, considered one of Bhutan’s most grand monuments, that was once the resting place of Guru Rimpoche, and Jambay Lhakhang, home to the early winter festivals that draw thousands of Bhutanese for their annual blessings.
Heading back into town and across the Bumthang Chhu, we will enjoy a visit to the sin alleviating Tamshing Monastery followed by quick visits to the valleys unique cottage industries – Red Panda Brewery, Bumthang Cheese/Dairy Facility and the Bumthang Distillery, home to numerous distinctive spirits. We also will enjoy a Swiss Raclette dinner made from a combination of Yak cheese and others with Kutira’s personal friend, Fritz Maurer.
Overnight at Kaila’s Guest house
Sunday | November 25 – Bumthang:
Day 14. A day of rest and open to find out what else this region will provide us.
Monday | November 26 – Paro:
Day 15. We will embark to the lovely small airport and fly to Paro early in the morning. If we are lucky and the sky is blue you will experience an amazing flight from the heartland the west of Bhutan. Upon arriving in Paro we have different option to explore, including a visit to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu for shopping or in the town of Paro.
Overnight stay Olatung Hotel.
Tuesday | November 27 – Paro:
Excursion to Taktsang (Tiger nest): We will drive up to the Ramthangka and then hike up to the most famous monastery Taktsang, the Tiger’s nest. We will enjoy tea/coffee at the cafeteria and continue to walk to the Taktsang Monastery. This magical monastery clings to the vertical granite cliff of 3,000 above the valley floor. It is believed that Guru meditated here in the 8th century. The disciples of Guru built the temple, which was later enlarged by Zhabdrung in the 17th century. We will have lunch near the monastery and then walk leisurely back to the base. At the hotel you can book a massage and a well deserved hot stone bath and prepare for the farewell party.
Overnight at Olatung Hotel.
Wednesday | November 28 – Paro Departure:
Day 17. After breakfast, drive to Paro international airport for your onward flight.
Please Note: Schedule is subject to change