Bhutan’s Crown Jewel, the Manas National Park represents the largest example of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in Bhutan.
Like the Chitwan National Park of Nepal, the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan mirrors its grandeur and popularity. The Manas National Park covers 1057 sq km in south central Bhutan and shares the southern border with India’s Manas Tiger Reserve which is listed as a World Heritage Site. Manas is teeming with a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered Royal Bengal tiger, elephants, rhinoceroses, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, civets, gangetic dolphin, pangolin and the extremely rare golden langur. About 200 species of birds can be spotted and more than 365 species have been officially registered, few namely rufous-necked hornbill, blue-headed rock thrush and emerald cuckoo. Manas is also excessively rich in botany with exotic species of flora and fauna and more than 900 types of plants found making it one of the most diverse protected areas in Bhutan.
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. Our representative will receive you at the airport. Depending on the flight arrival time we can squeeze in a few sightseeing today. You will visit Rinpung Dzong also known as Paro Monastery. Built in 17th century, the dzong is a majestic fortress holding treasure artworks—murals, statues and carvings. Hence, the name literally translates to the ‘Fortress of heap of Jewels’. Next visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and sacred temples in the country dating back to 7th century. Elderly pilgrims can be seen chanting and circumambulating. It has a nice aura. Evening you can explore Paro town. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
In the morning you can hike to Tango Monastery, which was built by the “Divine Madman” in the 15th century. It’s a center of study for monks, and it affords a great view of the Thimphu Valley. On the grounds of the monastery is a “sin-testing” tunnel. It is said that if you have sinned, you will get stuck in the tunnel, and if not, you will go through with ease! Hike back to Thimphu. In the afternoon, you will catch a busy Weekend Market at the bank of Thimphu River where people from nearby villages come to sell their farm products. You can stroll through the market to see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and fruits. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to wander the aisle, taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market. Perhaps this market scene offers wonderful opportunities for photographs and to mingle with local people. In the evening, you can stroll through Thimphu town and absorb the lifestyle of the people. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Today you will enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), which is adorned by 108 chortens (stupas). On a clear day, you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas from here. From the pass, drive downhill through the forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive at Punakha after traversing through rice fields and along the bank of Punakha river. On the way, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to the Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. If you wish, receive blessings from the Lama’s wooden phallus! After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
After breakfast, you will drive to Gangtey, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes, through dense forests of fir, hemlock, oak trees and rhododendrons. On taking the diversion from the high-way, and crossing a small pass blanketed with dwarf bamboos, you will arrive at Gangtey. From Gangtey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range. You will visit Gangtey Goenpa, the only Nyingmapa Monastery in western Bhutan; RSPN Education Center and crane roosting places. Later in the day, you will drive back to Punakha. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
After early breakfast, you will drive to Gelephu, a border town and the gateway to south central Bhutan. The town is large but less hustle which makes it pleasant for a night halt. You will stop for lunch on the way. The road leads along the bank of Wangchu River meandering through sub tropical forests and crossing villages and small townships of Tsirang and Sarbang. Check-in on arrival. Overnight at a hotel in Gelephu.
Today you will drive north of Zhemgang through mandarin orchards and cardamom farm in Surey village. From this village you get views of the Dungshing peak, the highest peak in the Black Mountain range, on clear weather. After Surey village, continue on to the town of Tingtibi by the side of Mangdichu River and then to Gongphu, a place of flourishing sub-tropical ecosystem owing to the maximum rainfall it receives. Enroute you might spot unique birds such as Great Hornbill, yellow-throated Fulvetta and more common species like black eagle, blue-throated Barbet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, golden babble, nuthatch and rufous–bellied eagle. Gongphu is the northernmost tip of Royal Manas Park located at 1450m/4757ft. The place harbors a number of wildlife such as the golden langur, tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and sambar along with a number of bird species. Overnight in Eco-camp.
Drive to Panbang located near the confluence of Drangme Chhu and Mande Chhu River through picturesque villages and through forest of mixed broad-leaved with thick undergrowth. People here live a simple life in bamboo houses with thatched banana/grass roofs. It is perfect for a quiet time into nature and also leisure activities of bird watching and even butterfly tours. You might spot Pale-headed Woodpecker, White-hooded Babbler, White-breasted and Pale-billed parrotbills and Yellow–bellied Warbler. Overnight in Eco-camp.
Today you will finally head to the Manas National Park and spend two days engaging and exploring the park through various activities like – bird watching, river rafting, picnicking and walking through the Park’s Eco Trail. Take a scenic boat ride on the pristine river to Manas core area and spend some time birdwatching. You can also go on an elephant safari and even give them a bath. Other wildlife you can see are water buffalos, rhinoceroses, gorals, pygmy hog, and golden langurs. Clouded leopards and total bengal tigers are rare to spot. Overnight at Eco-Camp.
It is time to leave the park and drive to Trongsa. The first thing to notice is the change in vegetation from sub-tropical to broad-leaved evergreen forests. In Trongsa visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture built in 1644. Situated atop a steep ridge above Mangde Chhu (river), the dzong gives impressive views of the surrounding valleys. Check into your hotel on arrival. Overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.
Today you will drive back to Punakha. En route, you will stop for a while at Chendebji Chorten which was built in 18th century by Lama Shida in Nepalese style with eyes painted at four cardinal points. Lunch will be served at Nobding. After lunch, continue driving through dense forests and soon arrive at Wangdue. The nearby villages of Wangdue are known for their slate and stone carvings. Continue drive to Punakha. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Today you will return to Thimphu via Dochula pass. On the way, visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. Check into the hotel on arrival. Later in the afternoon, you will visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), majestic Tashichhodzong and the giant Buddha statue on a hill overlooking Thimphu which is reputed to be the largest bronze Buddha Shakymuni statue in the world. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Today you will drive to Paro and start your hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3180m/10433ft. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. After having explored the monastery, you will hike down to Paro. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, drive to the airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.
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