This tour will bring you to the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It follows a similar cultural itinerary to the tour entitled “Enchanted Bhutan” but gives you a few extra days in Bumthang in order to take some day hikes into the countryside. Walk along well-trodden paths used by the locals and experience the daily life of the 90% of the Bhutanese population who live by subsistence farming.
Your tour starts with a leisurely stop in Paro, giving you time to acclimatize and enjoy the many colourful cultural sites of Paro. In addition to a full cultural tour of Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdi, you will travel to Tongsa and, the cultural heartland of Bhutan, the Bumtha valley. In November you can plan your trip to coincide with the annual festival in Bumtha. You will be driving through some of the most spectacular scenery in Bhutan, as you traverse the Black mountain range and cross several high passes. The Pele-la pass, at 3,300 metres, is often covered in mist. It marks the boundary between East and West and not only the landscape changes but also the climate, the houses and the customs differ as you descend towards Tongsa, the base of the first king of Bhutan. The road winds around the mountain and the yellow roofs and white walls of Tongsa Dzong appear and disappear again and again before you finally arrive in the small town.
Two hours from Tongsa is the town of Jakar, the main town in the Bumtha valley (2700 metres) where you will spend a few days touring the sites linked to so many of Bhutan’s religious and historical legends. Stories abound of the actions of Guru Rimpoche and Pema Lingpa in these parts. Additional attractions include the weaving centers and the supplies of Swiss-style cheeses, apple juice and honey that are produced here. The farms of the expansive, high-altitude Bumtha plateau produce buckwheat and potatoes rather than the Bhutanese red rice so you can try a different menu here.
The area is ideal for gentle treks and day walks into the countryside, passing through villages where the farmers are going about their daily lives, ploughing with oxen, sifting wheat, grinding flour or weaving.
This trip can be planned to coincide with the Punakha Festival in February, the Paro Festival in April, the Thimphu Festival in September or the Bumtha Festival in November.