Photograph Bhutan (14 days)

special(Departure October & November )
Every moment in this itinerary has been precisely crafted through the personal experience of a Bhutanese photographer to create a unique experience in Bhutan for fellow photographers visiting this remote and magical land. Places you visit on this tour have been personally chosen keeping in mind the wants and needs of a photographer to get that perfect shot. Included is access to panoramic views of the Himalayas, fortresses and monasteries, farmhouses and local villagers. The prayer flags fluttering in the wind and prayer wheels continually turning offer you signature shots of Bhutan. Photograph Bhutan is a tour for you travelers who want to create your own photographic masterpieces.

Day 1 – Paro
On your journey to Paro, the panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational, including the Everest and other famous Himalayan Peaks. The approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro becomes more exciting as you enter Bhutan.

On arrival you will be met by your Bhutanese Guide and escorted to your hotel.

This first day in Bhutan is a leisure day; you may either take rest or go around the Paro town and valley with your camera. Your guide is always nearby to answer questions or assist you.

Your First Photography Session: After dusk, as soon as the lights are on, we shall prepare for your first photograph. Everything ready, drive to a location near the Paro Rinpung dzong to take its perfect shots. The night view of this dzong (fortress) with the lights around it makes a perfect creation to capture. You may take your shot from different possible location so that you have your perfect shot.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 2 – Paro
Today is the day for a new experience; your morning starts with a 15 minutes drive to the base of the Taktshang Monastery. From here we will hike for about 1.5 hours up hill. Hiking uphill is difficult but the prize that awaits in reaching the top is just unimaginable.

Your Second Photography Session: In reaching the top, you shall be preparing yourself for your second photography after a short rest. The views downhill, the fluttering prayer flags, the rocky hill and the Taktshang Monastery everything awaits you here longing to be captured. Take your perfect shots precisely selecting your location and choosing what you want to photograph. After the photography session visit the Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s nest Monastery).

Taktshang Monastery: The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rimpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress.

Walk back to the base. After lunch, drive to the ruins of Drukgyal and then visit the ruins.

Ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong: It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. The peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (alt. 7,329 meters /24,029 feet).

After the sightseeing you shall be capturing the following:

-Mountain Jumolhari
-Farm Houses and villages
-Village People
-Ruins of Drukgyal Dzong
-Prayer wheels and Prayer Flags

On your way back, visit:

Kyichu Lhakhang: This temple is one of the oldest buddhist temple in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo, to consecrate the entire region of Himalaya, in the 7th century miraculously built 108 temples. Kyichu Lhakhang is considered to be one of them. This also gives you opportunities for photography.

The evening ends exploring Paro town and valley. Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 3 – Paro/Chelala Pass/Paro (one way- 35 kms, approx 30 minutes drive)
After breakfast, sightseeing includes:

Rinpung Dzong: Meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. The dzong now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of Paro district and residence for around 200 monks of Paro and was built at the same time of Drukgyel Dzong. The famous Paro tshechhu (festival) is held here in spring.

Ta Dzong: It overlooks the Rimpung Dzong and was built in 1951 as a watch tower. This dzong is Round, more like parts of the European castle. The Dzong was established as the National Museum of Bhutan since 1967 and holds fascinating collection of arts, relics and religious thangkhas.

Dungtse Lhakhang: This is a little three storied chorten-shaped temple. Built in 1421 by Thangtong Gyelpo on the top of head an ogress. The temple restored in 1841 by the 25th Head Abbot of Bhutan, Sherab Gyeltshen. This temple is unique in Bhutan and shows the progressive stages of tantric Buddhism. You shall have ample opportunities for photography in visiting the above monuments.

After lunch, drive to Chelala Pass for another destination of photography among the diverse flora and fauna.

Chelala Pass is the highest point between the Haa valley and Paro valley at an altitude of 3810 m. This place gives a very good view of the Himalayan Mountains, including the mountain Jumolhari. The place also gives good view down towards the Haa valley. A lots of prayer flags flutter in the place.

Today is the day for photography of the Himalayan Ranges as seen from the Chelala Pass. One local person describes it “if sky is the limit what is heaven for”.

Another good shot is the fluttering prayer flags with the Himalayan ranges. Photographers love the valley as seen from the point.

After taking your perfect shots return to Paro. Overnight in hotel

Day 4 – Paro/Thimphu (65 kms, 1.5 – 2 hours drive)
Driving from Paro to Thimphu gives you a unique experience for photography. The winding roads are fascinating. Another attraction is the treeless mountains that you shall come across as you travel. The villages and Buddhist chortens (stupas) adds to your collection of perfect shots. Your guide gives importance to stopping along the way for photography.

You visit:

Tamchog lhakhang (between Paro and Thimphu): built in the 13th century by Thangthong Gyalpo. He is also known as the Iron bridge builder. Situated on a hill top, we have to cross an ancient style bridge to reach the temple. It is owned by the descendants of Thangthong Gyalpo.
The ancient bridge here shall take at least an hour adding another shot to your collection.

Lunch at Thimphu.

After lunch, visit:

Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuenselphodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

You will be busy capturing the huge statue of Buddha and surrounding view of the Thimphu valley. You also have the shots of Simtokha dzong from here.

National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten was built in the honour of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues.

Another photography session after the dusk capturing the night view of the following:

Night view of Tashichhodzong: We shall be taking photographs of the night view of the dzong (Fortress). It indeed looks fascinating with the lights surrounding it.

Night view of the National Memorial Chorten: The memorial chorten shall give you another different and beautiful shot due to lights around it in the night.

Overnight in hotel

Day 5 – Thimphu
Today you will be sightseeing along with photography.

After breakfast, visit:

Changangkha Monastery: This monastery is built on a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built in 15th Century by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. Many parents of Thimphu take their new born babies to this monastery to be blessed by a high lama.

Sangaygang view point: (2685 meters) to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley.

Takin Reserve Centre: The takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.

The Folk Heritage Museum: Founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck the museum is one of a kind that portrays the lifestyle of a family in the Thimphu valley in the olden days. You have a typical Bhutanese lunch at the Folk Heritage Restaurant today.

After lunch, visit:

The Institute of Traditional medicine: Here Medicines are prepared according to the Tradition practices.

The Institute for Zorig Chusum: Students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan in this institute.

Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion): A Doom (Blue Stone) Dzong was built on the hill above Thimphu in 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanampa. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took over Dohon Dzong.

Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (The one who unified the country) acquired the Dzong in 1641 from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it as Trashi Chhoe Dzong. The Dzong is the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) at present.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 6 – Thimphu/Punakha (76 kms, approx 2-2.5 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha. On the way, stop for a photography session in Dochula pass.

Dochula pass is the most known pass in Bhutan, about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang/Punakha. It is at 3150 meters height. On a clear day, spectacular views of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens which is believed to bring multi fold merit to all sentient beings and which make the pass a must visit place.

Interests for photography:

-The Dochula Pass
-The Drukgyal Wangyal Chortens
-The Himalayan Ranges
-Prayer Flags
-Flora and Fauna.
-The Dochula Temple

Drive to Punakha. As you near Punakha, you shall have a fascinating view of the Punatshangchhu River and the Wangdue valley for photography. You shall also come across simple villagers, villages and unique farm houses for which you won’t hesitate to stop a while for a shot.

Visit Chimi Lhakhang: This temple is located on the way to Punakha. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15th century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman.

In the evening, leisure time for exploring the Punakha town and valley, however I am pretty sure a photographer shall not be able to be at leisure trying not to miss the moments and interests he/she shall come across. For an artist, everything is beautiful, from the faces of innocent children to the uniquely dressed monks. Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 7 – Punakha/Wangduephodra/Phobjikha (81 kms, approx 2 – 2.5 hours drive)
After breakfast, photography session of the Punakha Dzong and the surroundings.

This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tsechhu(Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this dzong in winter.

Drive to Wangduephodrang:
Another Photography session at Wangduephodrang, the Rinchengang Village: it is small and clustered village located opposite to Wangduephodrang dzong. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill from the near road.

Your photographs from here will be titled “The Unique Bhutanese Lifestyle”.

Drive to Phobjikha.

Stop at places for photography and to view scenery.

One local person’s recollection: I recall the year 1998 when I first visited the Phobjikha valley as a student (my parents were living there then), I had to walk from the highway diversion at Dungdungnyelsa as getting vehicle going to Phobjikha at the time was pretty difficult. Walking was becoming difficult till I reached the Lawala pass, the highest point between Nobding and Phobjikha where a small chorten stands. As I reached there, I was like “Wow!”. The slopes covered in dwarf bamboo and rhododendron is just fascinating. Photography is must here. During winter, Yak herders bring their Yaks in this place.”

Drive to Phobjikha valley. Overnight in hotel

Day 8 – Phobjikha
A real day for photography of the one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas. This is also the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes. You have all the time in the world to get your best shots possible here.

You also have the opportunity to meet and photograph local villagers and interact with them to get an insight into the Bhutanese way of life. You also visit villages.

In the evening visit:

Gangtey Gompa: Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 9 – Phobjikha/Trongsa/Bumthang (approx. 150 kms, 6 hours drive)
The journey to Bumthang is another day of new experiences and of course of new addition to your collections of perfect pictures.

The valleys, the winding roads, the simple villages and villagers, the monuments and the fascinating views pose for you on the way.

While in Trongsa, visit:

Trongsa Dzong: The most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify Eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.

Please remember, Trongsa Dzong is one of the most impressive dzongs in Bhutan. Photography is must.

Ta Dzong: An ancient watch tower. The chapel inside is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyal.

Drive to Bumthang. Overnight in hotel

Day 10 – Bumthang
Describing each photography site is almost impossible here. Every sight is magnificent.

After breakfast, sightseeing includes:

Jakar Dzong: Literally meaning the Castle of White Bird. The current structure was built in 1667.

Lamey Goemba: A large palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi.

Jambay Lhakhang: Built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.

Chakhar Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Iron Castle, the original palace was made of Iron and hence the name “Chakhar”.

Kurjey Lhakhang: Named after body print of Guru Rimpoche.

After lunch, signtseeing includes:

Tamshing Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Temple of the good message, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa .

Membarstho: Literally meaning, “The burning Lake”.

The evening ends with a walk around the Bumthang town and valley. Overnight in hotel

Day 11 – Bumthang/Wangdue (197 kms, 7 – 8 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Wangdue.

In the evening take a leisure walk around the Wangdue Valley. Overnight in hotel

DAY 12 – WANGDUE/THIMPHU (70 kms, 2-3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu.

Thimphu sightseeing gives you time to create your moments in your own ways with assistance from your guide. Dinner and overnight in hotel

Day 13 – Thimphu/Paro
After breakfast, is an excursion to Tango Monastery.

Tango Monastery: The monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 13th century and was built in its present form in 1688 by Tenzin rabgye, the 4th temporal ruler. After driving for about 20 minutes we have to steep hike about approx 1 – 1.5 hours to reach the monastery. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal meditated in its cave in the year 1616.

In the evening drive to Paro. Overnight in hotel

Day 14 – Depart Paro
After breakfast, you are driven to the airport for your departure flight onward or homebound.

Cost from $3999.00 per person, land only
Based on double occupancy
NOTE: Roundtrip DRUK AIR is additional

CALL NOW for more details 415-331-3791

– 3 meals a day
– Accommodation in twin sharing basis in Tourist certified Class A hotels — Transportation
– English speaking certified guide
– Museum and monument fees
– Government Royalty and taxes
– Visa fee

Does not include:
– International air ticket
– Druk Air internal airfares
– Bills of personal natures such as bar bills, laundry bills, telephone bills, and any kinds of bottled drinks.