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River Rafting in Punakha Valley
Rafting in Punakha valley is the most popular soft adventure in Bhutan. The stunning view of the picturesque Punakha valley dotted with quaint villages and the Punakha Dzong anchored like a majestic ship between the Mo (female) and Pho (male) Chhu Rivers is why it is a must-try activity in Bhutan. Each second on the raft will serve your eyes with beautiful snippets of Punakha.
The trip is set in west Bhutan, visiting the most prime locations – Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha. You will explore the majestic fortresses, famous monasteries, unique textiles, and handicrafts and learn about the fun-loving Bhutanese people. The highlight of the trip will be rafting in Punakha on the male and female rivers with class II and IV rapids. What’s more, the drive through the villages and crossing the suspension bridge to Samdingkha put-in area, is a lovely start to the adventure.
The flight to Paro is an adventure, to say the least. Catch glimpses of the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks as the plane nears the Paro airport. Before landing, the plane zigzags between mountains surrounding the Paro Valley offering serene views of the charming town. You will be greeted by your guide. If time permits, visit the Paro Dzong built in 1646 which currently houses government offices and religious institutions, much like all other Dzongs (fortresses) presently. To get to the Dzong you will cross a traditional picturesque cantilever wooden bridge. Kichu Lhakhang, your next sight, is the oldest temple of Bhutan. As evening comes take a stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
Morning drive to Thimphu and the first sightseeing on the list is the King’s Memorial Chorten, dedicated to world peace and prosperity. This structure holds great religious significance and is the most visible landmark in Thimphu. Then drive to Kuenselphodrang where the169ft bronze Buddha statue is located overlooking Thimphu valley. Next visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as Painting School) and the Traditional Medicinal Institute. In the afternoon, if it is the weekend, visit the weekend market where farmers gather to sell their farm produce. You can see the colorful display of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as local cheese and butter. The people mingling here is a scene not to be missed. In the evening, head Tashichhodzong, the beautiful medieval fortress-monastery which houses most of the Government’s office and Kings’ Throne Room. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at the Dochu La pass at 3140m, where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayan giants. From the pass, we drive downhill through forests of rhododendron, fir, and hemlock. You will arrive at Punakha after traveling through rice fields and along the banks of the 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, a man who was known for his earthly sense of humor and non-conventional methods of imparting teachings. 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.
Today is the day you have been waiting for, rafting in the rivers of Bhutan. The Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers in Punakha are perfect for rafting activities. We will take a short hike and walk up to Samdingkha, the put-in point. The hike is only 2 hrs, through the serene villages crossing the suspension bridge to the left. We will then climb a ridge and descend walking through villages again continuing upstream the Pho Chhu river to the put-in.
After a safety briefing and getting geared up, you will be ready to raft. Rafting in the Pho Chhu river is not only an adventure but also a unique mode of sightseeing. As you raft on class II and IV rapids of the river you will pass by the majestic Punakha Dzong, anchored like a massive ship as the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers meander around this architecture. Rafting experiences differ with the seasons, the summer rivers are larger and tides are stronger. Where the river in the winter is calm and clear. As you continue on your rafting adventure you will see villages and people going about their daily lives from your raft. Staggering cliffs, forested valleys, and exotic birdlife surround the river banks. You will also raft under the longest suspension bridge in the country. It is an amazing experience with breathtaking panoramic views of the valley around you. Take out is at the River Confluence marking the end of your rafting trip. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
After breakfast today we will drive back to Paro with a lunch stop in Thimphu. In Thimphu, visit the Takin Preserve in Motithang. Takin, a rare member of the goat family, is the national animal of Bhutan and is endemic to Bhutan. Later continue to drive to Paro. Check in to the hotel on arrival. In the evening you can visit some handicrafts and souvenir shops to do some shopping on your own. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Today you have an exciting full-day excursion to Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. It is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3100m. Guru Rinpoche, the great spiritual master is said to have miraculously flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria, located about halfway up on the mountain. Explore the monastery and hike down to the valley floor. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, you will drive to the airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.
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