Bhutan Photography Tour planned in The Buddhist Kingdom that lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas, bordered by China (Tibet) to the north and northwest, and by the Indian states in, south and west respectively.
Opened for tourism in 1974, after the coronation of the present King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The country still retains all the charm of the old world, and travelers experience the full glory of this ancient land as embodied in the monastic fortresses, ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags fluttering above farmhouses and on the hillsides, lush forests, rushing glacial rivers, and – perhaps most important of all – the warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people.
Bhutan Photography Tour is the world’s most exclusive tourist offer.
Itinerary of Bhutan Photo Tour
Day 1: Arrival at Paro Airport (2,200m/7,218ft)
Bhutan Photography Tour starts with a Flight to the Himalayas with Druk Air, Bhutan’s National Carrier. The green wall of hills known as ‘Dooars’ or gateways to Bhutan rise ever higher as the plane flies north towards the Tibet border. Silvery rivers rush along the valleys, waterfalls plunge down forested mountainside, and to the north, the great snow-capped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens. Farm houses dot the hillsides on either side of the plane. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, look down and you will see Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum, above it. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport, and after completion of arrival formalities you will be transferred to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, an exciting blend of tradition and modernity.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2: Full day exploration in Thimpu
On 2nd day of Bhutan Photography Tour, we will explore the Thimpu City. Thimphu sightseeing will include visit to National Memorial Chorten: The building of this chorten was originally the idea of Bhutan’s third king, H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the father of modern Bhutan”), who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity, but was unable to give shape to his idea in his lifetime due to pressures of state.
Tashichhodzong: The “fortress of the glorious religion”, was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. It is open to visitors during the Thimphu Tsechu (held in autumn) and while the monk body is resident in its winter quarters in Punakha.
We will take you to the local traditional market where all village people assemble to sale their products – vegetable, fruits etc.
We will have lunch at a local town restaurant with typical Bhutanese red rice and curry. Later we take you to the city center to have your own time to explore. There are several Handicrafts shops: A wide assortment of colorful, hand woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and many smaller crafts shops around the town.
Back to hotel for freshen up and later in the evening we take you to a Bhutanese farm house where you can interact with the local host and experience a traditional folk show. After Dinner drive back to hotel and enroute see the beautiful illuminated Dzong of Thimpu from a distance. It is a good opportunity to take some nice night shot with a tripod.
Day 3: Thimpu To Punakha -2.5hrs
Morning, in Thimphu visit to local farmer’s market. Then proceed to Punakha across Dochula pass (3, O8Om). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flag. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. Have lunch at the Druk Wangyel Cafeteria. Later will be enjoying the beautiful easy hike from this location. It is called as the “ The Royal Botanical Trail”.
The Royal Botanical Trail takes you along the important religious route the clergy used since the 17th century. They shifted their headquarters biannually between their winter residence in Thimphu and their summer residence in Punakha. The entire entourage of the central monastic institution would travel this trail on foot, taking about a week to reach each seasonal residence. The practice continues to this day, however, now the entourage travels by vehicle on Bhutan’s major Highway”. The trail begins at Dochula Pass, near the spectacular sight of 108 stupas framed by distant Himalayan peaks. On a clear day, these include Masang gang, Table Mountain, and Tiger Mountain, which lies on the northern border with Tibet. It takes about 45 minutes of easy downhill hiking immersed in a pristine natural environment that features a wide variety of Rhododendron, magnolia, oak and birch trees. Clear streams tumble down the hillside and bursts of melodious birdsong occasionally ring through the forest. A highlight of the Royal Botanical Trail is that 28 of 46 different species of Rhododendron line the trail. As a tribute to this gift of nature, an annual Rhododendron Festival is held at the Royal Botanical Garden sometime between April and May, at the height of Rhododendrons in full bloom. After a walking tour of features of the Botanical Garden, such as a visitor center and rhododendron demonstration garden, such as a visitor center and rhododendron demonstration garden, scenic little Baritso lake provides a perfect spot for a picnic. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to spot some rare Himalayan birds, such as monal and blood pheasant. You might be lucky enough to see rare species like musk deer and leopards are always a possibility. Speaking of big cats, the park has even recorded the presence of Bengal tigers via a camera trap.
This Royal Botanical Trail and Garden is a botanist’s dream, but you certainly don’t have to be an expert to appreciate all that is has to offer.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Punakha.
Day 4: Full day exploration in Punakha:
Today we will drive you to the base of the suspension bridge from where you will begin your hike. ( Total time required is around 4-5 hours).
The first step of Jiligang hike – the off the beaten Bhutan Adventure in Punakha, western Bhutan begins from the suspension bridge over Mo chu. The female river which meanders along the valley until it meets her partner Phochu ( male river ) forming a confluence below the Pumakha Fortress, Palace of Great Bliss. The breeze of the splashing glacier river and the swinging bridge will give you a prior taste of adventure in Bhutan of the beautiful hike ahead. Amongst the Himalayan river breeze to the sight of wavering paddy fields enjoy a relaxed hike through traditional Bhutanese houses replete with Bhutanese farm life And you can experience a unique Bhutan Holiday. Hike uphill till you reach about 1,800 meters on the hilltop through the chirping forest. The moderately strenuous hike is through the cool shades of pine trees and serene environment with peeping views of the Punakha Dzong and valley below. As you hike up, the aesthetic view of the meandering river and the melodic chirping of the birds will welcome you all the way. During summer, numerous species tropical birds can be spotted including the Himalayan water birds.
As you climb a little higher, the view of Jiligang Monastery will wash away your weariness and a gush of newfound energy will greet you along with the warm smiles of the caretakers of the temple.
Legend has it that to challenge and to prove the power of his meditation Ngawang Chogyal the valley got its name Jiligang which literally means the ‘Cat Peak’ when Ngawang Chogyal to prove the power of his meditation to his brother Lama Drukpa Kuenley the Divine Madman threw a cat through a hole in the hill in Sonagasa which lies at the bottom of the valley. The cat came flying through the hole in a tree just below where Jiligang is now located. Hence the name Jiligang – The Cat Peak. The monastery was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the mid 15th Century and the current caretakers’ ancestors had been taking care of it ever since. From the hilltop, you can enjoy 360 degrees of the nearby mountains in the distance. Jiligang Monastery is believed to have the same values and blessings as Chimi Lhakhag , the Temple of fertility located in Punakha as well. Interact and experience the hospitality of the caretaker and family at the monastery. Have lunch at the restaurant in Khuruthang town. Later visit the astonishing Punakha fortress.
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutanese state, built Punakha Dzong in 1637. It was originally named Punthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, which means the Palace of Great Bliss.
Punakha Dzong was built on the 8th day and 8th month of the Fire Ox year in 1637. The Tibetan attacked the dzong in 1639 and 1644. The defenders successfully repelled the attacks. To commemorate the victory, a New Year festival was introduced, and Yu Gyal Gonkhang Chen Mo, “the great shrine of the protective and victorious Lord” was built. The first King of modern Bhutan was crowned in Punakha Dzong ,. Punakha Dzong remained the center of government until it was relocated to Thimphu. In 2011, the wedding of the 5th King was held in this fortress. Back to the hotel for freshening up.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Punakha.
Read more (Day 5 - 14)
Day 05: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey ( Phobjikha) ( 70 Km, 3 Hours Drive)
After breakfast drive to Gangtey ( Phobjikha) crossing Wangdiphodrang District and the Beautiful Wangdiphodrang Fortress which was severely damaged by the recent fire the reconstruction work is still going on. The position of the Fort is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view over both the north-south and east- west . Wangdue district is also famous for its bamboo work, slate & stone carving. The approach to Phobjikha valley is through a forest oak and rhododendron. Phobjikha is one of the few central Asiatic Plateau to escape it winter. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey monastery; the only Nyingma monastery in Western Bhutan. Later your another beautiful Gangtey Nature Hike begins from here. The Gangtey Valley, also known as Phobjikha Valley, is a breathtaking glacial valley in mystical Bhutan. Taking on the easy two-hour trek know as the Gangtey Nature Trail is the best way to see Phobjikha Valley, a vast U – shaped valley surrounded by irregularly formed Himalayan mountain range carved by glacial activity. The Nature Trail starts from the Gangtey Goempa and ends in Khewang Lhakhang, passing by grass planes, farmhouses and dense forest of pine trees, then finally reaching a vast open space of the wide and flat valley. Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Gangtey/Phobjikha.
Day 6 : Gangtey ( Phobjikha / Phojikha) – Trongsa – Bumthang ( 196 Kms, 8 hrs drive)
Morning explores Phobjikha valley for Black Neck Crane and later drive to Bumthang across Pelela Pass ( 3,300m). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and Central Bhutan. Further ahead stop en route at Chendebji Chorten, built in 18th Century in Nepalese style. Have lunch at Chendebji Resort. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and for miles on end, the Fort of Trongsa seems to tease you so that you wonder if you will ever reach it. Upon reaching Trongsa visit Trongsa Dzong, situated at the altitude of 2,200m and built in 1647 by the Zhabdrung, it is the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. Then proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism, 29 Kms ahead of Trongsa cross Yutongla Pass ( 3,400m) and from here again the landscape looks different and dense forests of conifers stretches. The arrival of Bumthang begins with wide, open cultivated Chumey valley. Dinner and Overnight at the hotel at Bumthang.
Day 07: Full day exploration in Bumthang: ( Here there is 2 options and both are equally interesting but it is not possible to complete both the options in 1 day) Bumthang is the general name given to a complex of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m.
Day Excursion to Tang Valley:
Tang is one of the four valleys of Bumthang district and it is higher than Choskhor ( Jakar). From Jakar, following the west-east road towards Ura for about 10 Km, unpaved road on the left ( north) branches off climbing uphill, leading to narrow gorge of Tang. Almost immediately after the turn-off, there is a parking lot for a short walk to Mebartsho. The road climbs above the river and reaches Drangchel village after 7 Km. Perched o a high cliff above the road, you will notice the monastic hermitage of Kunzangdrak Goemba, founded in 1488 by Pema Lingpa. This is a side excursion which takes around 2hrs of a steep uphill climb. Continuing along the feeder road for about 3Km, you will pass through Jamzhong village and then after a short descent of 2Km or so, you will arrive at Mesethang with a school and few shops. A short distance away from Mesethang, is Tang Rimochen Lhankhang, located below an enormous rock. Tang Rimochen Lhakhang marks a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche meditated. A rock in front of the lhakhang has a body-print of the Guru and his two consorts. The name Tag Rimoche ( An impression of tiger’s stripes) is derived from the tiger stripes that appear on a rock cliff behind the building. The temple was founded in 14th Century by Dorji Lingpa. After Rimochen, the road is rougher as it approaches Kizum, 3KM away. Beyond Kizum, cross the bridge over Tang Chhu river and climb up to the hilltop Ugyencholing manor. At the time of print, it was not possible to drive and the walk uphill takes about 45 minutes. Ugyen Chholing Palace was originally built by Deb Tshokey Doje, a descendant of Dorji Lingpa in 16th Century. The present structure, including the temple, servants quarters and a massive residential building, was rebuilt after their collapse in the 1897 earthquake. The complex has been turned into a museum of sorts for religious studies, research, and solitude. Its exhibits in the main building are captioned with descriptions of the lifestyle and artworks of a Bhutanese noble family. Have a picnic lunch at Tang Valley. Later in the evening drive back to Bumthang. Dinner and Overnight at the Hotel in Bumthang.
Drive to Padselling Monastery and hike downhill. After breakfast proceeds for sightseeing: It includes the drive to Padselling monastery for about 45 minutes. Here you can interact with the monks and it also offers a beautiful view of the whole of Chamkhar town. Spend some time here at the monastery and later hike downhill towards the Swiss Farm. The hike will take about 2 hours maximum downhill and it is an easy hike and at the same time, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the valley. Have lunch at the restaurant in town. Later in the afternoon visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of most sacred places in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche meditated here. From Kurjey; a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to the Jambay Lhakhang. Like Kichu Lhakhang in the Paro valley, this temple is said to be the first that King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet constructed in the 7th Century. Later visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by the treasure discoverer, Terton Pema Lingpa. Later visit the Jakar Dzong, “ castle of white bird”. The evening takes a stroll through Bumthang market area. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 08: Bumthang – Mongar ( 198 Km, 7hrs)
The journey continues eastwards winding through more rugged terrain. The drive with spectacular views will take about 7 hours. Pass through Ura village in Bumthang before climbing sharply to the highest motorable pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshingla Pass- 4000m. Here we will stop for a while and try to spot some high altitude birds.
It is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasants and also holds other high altitude species like, Snow pigeons, Orange flanked Bush Robin, Golden and white-browed Bush Robin, Fire- tailed Myzornis, Spotted Nutcracker, Red- billed Chough, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Greats Parrotbills, Stripe-throated and Rufous- vented Yuhinas, Thrush, White- collared and Grey- winged Blackbird, Rusty-falnked Treecreeper Buff-barred, Ashy throated, Blyth’s and Large-billed Leaf Warbler. Have lunch at Restaurant in Sengor. Later we will stop at Sengor for a while and do the birding around Sengor looking for Satyr Tragopan. It is the known hotspot for Satyr Tragopan. Proceed towards Yongkola. This is again a perfect spot for Birding. Bird species such as Bay Woodpecker, Great and Golden- throated Barbets, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Maroon Oriole, Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets, White-gorgeted, Little Pied, Ultramarine and Verdieter Flycatchers, Little Forktail, Black-throated Prinia, Grey-hooded, Grey- cheeked and Chestnut-crowned Warblers and many more are spotted here. Later drive towards Mongar. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Mongar.
Day 9: Mongar – Trashigang ( 96Kms, 3 hours)
This trip is about 96Kms and it takes 3 hours passing through Korila Pass ( 2,450m). The place is marked by pretty chorten and a stone wall. The first part of the journey is through a leafy forest filled with ferns. Here at Korila Pass, there are some prime birding habitats. We will take a short hike downhill for birding opportunities. There should be enough birds to keep you busy such as Super Skuker, Red Faced Liocichla, few species of Laughing Thrushes, Black Eagle, Oriental Cuckoo, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Brown Parrot Bill, Darjeeling Woodpecker etc. Later drive to Tashigang, the road descends rapidly through corn fields and banana groves arriving the famous zigzags of Yadi, which is resettlement. Have lunch at the restaurant. After lunch drive towards Tashigang along the Gamri River until the bifurcation to Drametsi, this temple perched on the top of the steep hill was founded by Choden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place from where the famous Nag Chham, mask dance with drums originated. About 30Km onward lies Tashigang at 1000m. Tashigang is the center of the biggest and most populated district in the country. Visit Tashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of the spur, overhanging the Gamri River. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the dzong is occupied by the Drukpa monastic community. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Tashigang.
Day 10: Day Excursion to Tashiyangtse:
24 KM from Tashigang, visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river. Gom Kora is a famous place where Guru Rinpoche subdued a demon. Further ahead reach Doksum village where you can see women busy in weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric and a chain bridge dating of the 15th Century. Visit Trashiyangtse Dzong, situated at the altitude of 1,850m. In former times Trashiyangtse was important center because it lies on the caravan routes leading from western and central Bhutan. The Dzong is new and nearby are the Arts school and the famous Chorten Kora. Have lunch at the restaurant in Tashiyangtse. Evening return to Tashigang. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Tashigang.
Day 11: Full day In Trasigang
Today we will explore the Trasigang area – we have a lot of village walk and village visit opportunity. Meet Nomads people and visit school and Monasteries in this remote Eastern Village. Night at Hotel
Day 12 : Tashigang – Yonphula- Paro ( Druk Air Domestic Flight):
Fly to Paro from Yonphula Domestic Airport. The drive will take us about 1 and half hour to reach to the domestic airport. On arrival at Paro check in at the hotel. Later drive to town to have Lunch. After lunch proceed for afternoon sightseeing: It includes a visit to Kichu Lhakhang or Kichu Temple. It is located short distance north of Paro town. It is one of the oldest and the most beautiful temples. The temple is popularly believed to have been built in 659 AD by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, to pin down ‘the left foot of the supine Ogress’, which was thwarting the establishment of Buddhism in the Himalayas. Kichu is said to be one of the main 12 temples of the 108 temples that were built overnight across Tibet and borderlands. The temple was adopted by different sects and many important Buddhists teachers spent time here and unearthed concealed teachings (tertons). The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang shrine conceals the original 7th Century Jowo Jamba Statue. Its central image of Jowo Jamba is flanked by eight standing bodhisattvas and by the statue of Zhabdrung and Guru Rinpoche.
Later visit the National Museum of Bhutan. Perched above Paro Dzong is its Ta Dzong ( watchtower), built in 1649 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls. The Ta Dzong suffered damage in the 2011 earthquake but is due to reopen. Until then a sample of the exhibits is currently on display in an adjacent annex. Displays include an impressive collection of Thangkas, both ancient and modern, depicting Bhutan’s important saints and teachers, as well as fearsome festival masks grouped according to their tshechu daces. There’s a natural-history gallery with a 3D map of Bhutan, while the Heritage Gallery contains such additives as an egg laid by a mule and a horse horn attributed to Guru Rinpoche, plus a few original iron links from the iron bridge builder at Tamchog. An underground tunnel is said to lead the watchtower to the water supply below. Dinner and overnight at the hotel at Paro.
Day 13 : Excursion to the Famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery:
Clinging precariously to a sheer rock cliff overlooking the Paro Valley approximately 3000 feet below is a cluster of four temples, eight caves, and several buildings that make up Bhutan’s most famous monastery, Paro Taktshang, or Tiger’s Nest Monastery. For tourists, no tour or visit to Bhutan is truly complete without a trip to this iconic religious site.
Taktshang : 1300 Years of History
Legend has it Guru Rinpoche, flew to Taktshang back in 8th Century AD on the back of a pregnant tigress, the manifestation of the Guru’s consort, Yeshi Tshogyel. For three months, three days and three hours, Guru Rinpoche meditated in what is today called as the Taktshang Sengye Cave, before emerging in eight different incarnations. A statue of Guru Dorje Drolo guards the entrance to the cave. Over the centuries, famous Tibetan saints came to meditate at Tiger’s Nest Monastery including Milerapa, Thangthong Gyalpo ( Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder), and the Terton Pema Lingpa. Construction of the monastery began in the 1630s. During 1644-46 war with Tibet, the Zhabdrung prayed to Guru Rinpoche for success. Upon victory, he wanted to build the temple to honor the Guru at Taktshang. The monastery was finally completed in 1692. Have lunch at the Cafeteria on your way back. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 14: Depart form Bhutan
per person in double room
April – May, 2020
14 days/13 nights
- Landscape Photography
- Visiting typical Bhutanese Villages
- Walk to Tiger Nest
- Visit Farmhouse
- Experience local culture
- Interact with villagers
- Experience local
- Transfer from/to airport upon arrival and departure
- 13 nights in Bhutan
- Full board
- Transport for all days
- Accompanied English Speaking Guide
- All entrance
- Visa fees
- Tax and royalty to Bhutan Govt
- Domestic flight from Trasigang To Paro (one-way economy class).
- Professional photography instructor Tim Vollmer
- International airfares
- What is not mentioned as included
You will organise your own travel to and from Paro to join Bhutan Photography Tour
Tim has devoted his life to photography. Photography has been his long-held hobby and great passion. Tim has always felt himself drawn to the power and beauty he finds in nature. Tim has been leading photo tours and workshops in Iceland and many different countries over the years. He has had the world as his workplace. He is Photographing everything from the dramatic landscape in Iceland, to the native people in the remote corners of the world and the culture that are unique to each country. His journeys have taken him around the world in pursuit of memorable travel experiences and the creation of compelling images. His work has been featured in international publications. His images and stories are shared on various internet outlets. As a driven artist, professional, entrepreneur and an adventurer, Tim is eager to share his passion, knowledge in photography and travel through the tours he designed on his own, or through his partnership with professional photographers from around the globe. Tim and his family lived 11 years in Iceland. Now they are based in Czech Republic.