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Bhutan by Horseback
7 days/6 nights

Introduction:
This is an ideal way to experience the glory and the myth of this Himalayan Kingdom at its most magnificent – a perfect blend of culture and nature exploration. It gives you a chance to meet people, enjoy the pristine forest with rare glimpse of wildlife and observe the ancient old traditions of arts and crafts while traveling through the less frequented areas of Bhutan on horseback.


Day 01: Bangkok – Paro
Flying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.

On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Remote Asia Travel for the trip will receive you and transfer you to the hotel.  While it is possible to skip the day around Paro, it is an early flight from Bangkok and most clients are best served getting used to the altitude instead of setting off right away.  The arrival from Delhi and Calcutta is too late in the afternoon to start riding this day and again, acclimation to the area is important.

This beautiful valley encapsulates a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, the country’s only airport, and the National Museum. Mt. Jomolhari (7,300m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley, its glacial waters plunging through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro River). The Paro valley is one of the kingdom’s most fertile, producing the bulk of Bhutan’s famous red rice from its terraced fields.

What to see in Paro?
Ta Dzong: On a ridge immediately above Rinpung Dzong is Ta Dzong, built as a watchtower to protect Rinpung Dzong.  (“Ta” means “to see” in Dzongkha, so the watchtower of a Dzong is always called a “Ta Dzong”).   On account of their function, watchtowers are always round in shape.  In 1968 Paro’s Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the National Museum, and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.

Rinpung Dzong: Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the “fortress of the heap of jewels” stands on a hill above Paro Township. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge (called the Nemi Zam) and then up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls. The valley’s annual springtime religious festival, the Paro Tsechu, takes place in the courtyard of the Dzong and on the dance ground on the hillside above.

Kyichu Lhakhang: The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emporer Songtsen Gampo. It is considered to be one of the 108 border taming temples he built.

In 1971 HM Kesang Choden Wangchuck, the Queen of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, built a Guru Temple next to the old Jowo Temple which was consecrated by HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Since then, the annual rites of great accomplishment for the deities Vajrasattva, Palchen Heruka, and Vajrakilava have been held in this temple for the well being of the country under the patronage of HM Kesang Choden Wangchuck.

There is a belief that the two orange trees in the courtyard of Kyichu Lhakhang bear fruit throughout the year.

Altitude at Paro
: 2300m
Overnight- Tandinling Resort in Paro or similar

Day 02: Horseback riding to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Today, we will have horse riding to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.

After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hill tops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top, be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for the rest of their lives!


Altitude at Paro - 2300m
Overnight- Tandinling Resort in Paro or similar
Ride Time: 3 hours riding – return trip is too steep to ride – Trek time on foot 1.5 hours on a different path.

 

Day 03: Chuzomtoe – Dongle La (05-06 hours)
We will take a drive to Chuzomtoe (3310m) taking about 02 hours, the starting point of our horse riding trek – The Juniper Trail from where there is a superb view of Bhutan’s Himalaya on a clear day.

The trail runs gradually up along the ridge for over two hours till the base of a treeless peak, occasionally passing by beautiful meadows that are being used by the yak herders to keep their yaks in winter. The trail then traverses for sometime before you make your way up through the thick alpine forest of firs, rhododendrons and junipers to Tsendu La (3775m), a beautiful meadow on top of the ridge with breath taking views, be it of mountains or of valleys underneath.

It’s then downhill from here through a beautiful forest of fir, hemlock and rhododendron to our campsite in the yak pasture at Dongle La.

Overnight - Camp at Dongle La
Altitude of campsite: 3565m
Riding Time: 5 – 6 hours riding time


Day 04:
Dongle La – Chele La (06 - 07 hours)
Soon after we start riding, we will pass by Dongle La pass which is marked by an old two legged Chorten. This pass is along the forsaken ancient mule track between Paro and Ha valleys. This route was like the present day highway not so long ago, with traffic of mules and people being the beast of burden in the same way. From here, the trail goes gradually up through the conifer forest till you get above the tree line in the vicinity of huge meadow of Pangka La (4150m). The view from here is stunning! Here, you may have some time to experience the solitude of this heaven like place on earth and enjoy its beauty to the fullest.

Continuing our scenic horseback riding, we will head downhill along the wide and well-used yak trail for a while till it gets level. It’s then a series of ups and downs till we get to Chele  La (3750m), the highest motor able pass in the country which is marked with grove of fluttering prayer flag. This is where we will finish off our fabulous segment of horseback riding, and this is where our car will be waiting for us to be transferred down to Ha Valley.

Altitude at Ha - 2700m
Overnight- Rigsum Hotel in Ha or similar
Riding Time: 6 - 7 hours riding time


Day 05:
Ha – Khadey Gom (02 hours)
We will take a short drive to Talung village and ride along the Ha planter’s trail, harking back to the time when it was used by rice planters from Ha on their way to help people in Paro who relied heavily on their labor during the planting season (mainly May-June). In return, the people of Ha received red rice after the autumn harvest.

This riding is easy but beautiful, passing through villages in the Ha valley on good trails through forest and meadows.

After having lunch at the campsite, we will have riding excursion up to Chosho La Pass (4294m) which is high up on the ridge along the trade route to Tibet which will be about another 02 hours of riding.

Overnight - Camp at Khadey Gom
Altitude at Khadey Gom - 3235m
Riding Time:
3 - 5 hours riding time if stretched


Day 06:
Khadey Gom – Ha - Paro (02 hours)
Today, we will ride back to Ha following the same path and drive to Paro up and over Chele La Pass.

Approximate driving time – 02 hours.
Altitude at Paro - 2300m
Overnight- Tandinling Resort in Paro or similar

Riding Time: 2 - 3 hours riding time

Day 07: Paro – Bangkok
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort from Remote Asia Travel will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.