Dates 17 Sep '10 to 24 Sep '10
Est. Cost 20,000 - 25,000 USD (USD United States Dollars)
Type Travel Partners Wanted
Name Bhutan Ultra Luxury Private Jet Trip
Day 1 - Paro
Depart from Bangkok, Dhaka, Calcutta or Kathmandu on Druk Air, the only airline flying into Bhutan, for the spectacular flight into Paro. On clear days, stupendous views of Everest, Chomolhari or other magnificent peaks of the Himalayas are visible depending on your route. It is also possible to fly in on one's own private jet if permission is obtained in advance. Your private car, driver and guide meet you at the airport, and take you to the luxurious Amankora, Zhiwa Ling or Uma hotel in the lovely Paro Valley.
After a delicious lunch at the hotel, drive to the nearby National Museum of Bhutan for a private tour with the museum's director. The Ta Dzong, a former watchtower, became a museum in 1967 and now houses costumes from the various ethnic groups in the kingdom, Buddhist thangka paintings, and other Bhutanese treasures.
Near the museum you will also visit the Rimpung Dzong, a massive complex that is home to several hundred monks as well as being the seat of the local government. Buddhism permeates all aspects of Bhutanese life, and in the evening a reincarnate lama (Rinpoche) will dine with you and give you an introduction to Buddhism and its place in Bhutan.
Day 2 - Bumthang
Fly to Bumthang via helicopter (or drive if you prefer). The Bumthang region is the religious heartland of Bhutan, famed for its lovely temples, monasteries and forested hills. The journey from Paro by car normally takes over ten hours, but can be accomplished by helicopter in about an hour. En route, there are impressive views of the Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan's largest fortress, formerly used to repel Tibetan invaders. In clear weather, there are also sweeping views of many Himalayan summits, including Gangkhar Puensum (24,836 feet), Bhutan's tallest and also the world's highest unclimbed peak.
Upon arrival at the Swan Temple of Ngalakhang, you will be greeted by villagers performing a traditional Chipdrel ceremony, where everyone in the village honors the arrival of guests by carrying butter candles, prayer flags, and incense, while dancing in a continuous procession en route to meeting the village headman, his wife, and other members of importance in the community. After being received by the village elders, there will be a Marchang ceremony (offerings to local deities) and prayers made to the Guru statue inside of the Swan Temple. From the temple, proceed to your deluxe tented camp, where a sumptuous lunch awaits. It is also possible to stay at the newest Amankora lodge while in Bumthang.
Spend the afternoon with the villagers doing various daily activities such as pounding rice, threshing wheat, spinning and weaving. Visit the local school and spend time with the children teaching them English (as in India, English is taught in all Bhutanese schools).
In the evening, enjoy a traditional hot-stone bath made from heated river stones, the traditional mode of bathing throughout Bhutan. Hot stones are heated over a hot fire, and then rolled into wooden tubs filled with water and various natural herbs, which are excellent for one's health.
End the day with dinner at the home of the kind and hospitable village headman and his family, where they will expound on their lives, their culture and their faith.
Day 3 - Bumthang
The day will begin with a group of singing women arriving in your camp after breakfast to invite you for a tsechu, which is a traditional Bhutanese religious festival featuring colorful costumes and dances performed by monks and trained artists (this depends on the timing of your visit).
The highlight of the day will be a traditional Bhutanese marriage ceremony (or wedding-vow renewal) with red-robed monks chanting, playing bells and six-foot trumpets, and serving exotic food and libations, such as yak-butter tea, rice-fermented arra liquor, to the guests in this lively yet highly spiritual event.
Stay one more night in the tented camp, and spend the evening singing, dancing and feasting with the warm and friendly people of Bumthang.
Day 4 - Gangtey
In the morning, fly by helicopter (or drive) to picturesque Gangtey in the Phobjika Valley, where a large population of five-foot tall black-necked cranes from Tibet live in the winter.
Wander through the quaint little town of Gangtey and visit the Goemba (monastery) which is undergoing a major renovation. Visit the private chambers of one of the senior monks, and have lunch or tea and snacks with him, while chatting with him about his life in the monastery.
Spend the afternoon hiking or mountain biking through the valley to see the statuesque cranes and other wildlife such as barking deer, fox and Himalayan black bear.
Check into the intimate Amankora lodge (one of five Amans in Bhutan) with sweeping views over the breathtaking valley; the hotel has no electricity because of the harm it might do the crane habitat. Have a delicious dinner at the hotel at a communal table where you will meet like-minded travelers who just might become lifelong friends.
Day 5 - Punakha
In the morning, fly by helicopter (or drive) to Punakha, agricultural breadbasket of Bhutan, and site of the impressive Punakha Dzong. This grand fortress was the capital of Bhutan until 1966, and is the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (head abbott) who will give you a private blessing if he is in town (otherwise one of the senior lamas will take his place).
After visiting the Dzong, hike to the nearby Chimi Lakhang, a temple dedicated to the "Divine Madman", an eccentric monk from the 16th century famous for many his many amusing, Rabelaisian folklore stories. Pilgrims come from all over the country to receive fertility blessings from the avant garde Lama Drukpa Kunley thunderbolt.
In the afternoon, visit a farmhouse and join the family for a cooking demonstration and tasting. Enjoy a delicious lunch of fresh yak-butter tea, and home brewed liquor - fiery arra or sweet sinchang. Help them make ema datsi (cheese chili), buckwheat noodles, and pancakes with red rice, served along with hot chili curries. After lunch help the family with their daily chores such as taking care of the livestock and crops. Over 85% of Bhutanese still practice subsistence farming and this afternoon affords an authentic encounter with the Bhutanese traditional way of life.
Spend the night in the deluxe Amankora hotel in Punakha, where the main building is an old farmhouse, and dine with your fellow travelers at a large farmhouse table.
Day 6 - Thimphu
After breakfast overlooking the terraced farms and rice paddies of Punakha, begin the gorgeous drive over the Dochu La Pass to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan (2.5 hours). Thimphu is a small but energetic city of 80,000, populated by royalty, bureaucrats, businesspeople and merchants, and home to the Memorial Chorten of the Late Jigme Wangchuck, the 3rd king of Bhutan. Visit this landmark, designed and dedicated to the Nyingmapa tantric teachings.
In the afternoon, visit an orphanage or one of the programs run by the Tarayana Foundation, an organization set up by Her Majesty The Queen of Bhutan to alleviate poverty through training education. Meet the children and the adults teach and care for them; sit down for tea and learn about their lives and how we can help them.
In the evening, have cocktails and dinner at the home of a high-ranking government official or member of parliament. Stay at the Amankora lodge in Thimphu, the fourth in this hotel group which is known for its very high-end, but elegantly simple accommodations, and outstanding service and food.
Day 7 - Thimphu
Participate in a wide variety of interesting activities which represent many diverse aspects of Bhutanese culture. Choices include a lesson in Bhutan's national sport, archery, at the Changlimithang Archery grounds, a medical checkup at the Institute of Traditional Medicine, or a lesson on Bhutanese woodcarving and painting at the Institute of Zorig Chusum, a school of thirteen traditional arts. Make handmade paper pressed with real flowers at a traditional paper factory, or have a private tour of the National Library, the Heritage Museum, and Tashichho Dzong, the "fortress of glorious religion," and seat of the national government.
In the evening, have dinner at the home of a prominent local family and engage in an informal discussion with local intellectuals about the King's concept of "Gross National Happiness".
Day 8 - Paro
Spend the morning shopping at the markets for local handicrafts, textiles and Buddhist items.
Drive to Paro, stopping en route to see the Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th-century temple built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, who built more than 100 temples across the Himalayas. The Buddha statue housed in the temple's interior has the same significance as the one in the holy Jokhang in Lhasa.
Take part in a Himalayan singing bowl meditation. The copper bowls produce vibrations that are harmonious with the body and listening to them with the proper practice produces restfulness and peace of mind.
Accommodations are again at the Amankora, Zhiwa Ling or Uma hotel. Relax in the evening with a Bhutanese hot-stone bath.
Day 9 - Paro
Ride a horse or hike up to the astounding and awe-inspiring Takstang, or Tiger's Nest Monastery clinging to a granite cliff thousands of feet above the valley floor, and have a private blessing with the top lama. The legend of Takstang is that Guru Rimpoche arrived here in the 8th century atop the back of a tiger to meditate and subdue evil spirits in the region.
Celebrate your last night in Bhutan with a multi-course traditional dinner accompanied by Bhutanese singing and dancing.
Fly home, via Bangkok, Dhaka, Calcutta or Kathmandu.
Bhutan Ultra Luxury Private Jet Trip
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