Days 1-2: Arrive Paro, Bhutan
Arrive in Paro today, and set out for a visit of Rinpung Dzong (Fortress of the Heap of Jewels) that houses a community of lamas and a school for novice monks. Walk to the cantilevered bridge that links to the village. See some of the chortens (Buddhist monuments) and the royal palace of Ugyen Pelri decorated in traditional Bhutanese style with ornately painted wood.
On your second day, start off by mountain biking to Ta Dzong, once a multi-storied watchtower built in 1651 to look out for Rinpung Dzong and now the National Museum. This afternoon, you have a three and a half hour round-trip hike covering 2,500 vertical feet to the sacred pilgrimage site of Taktsang. Clinging to a cliff 3,000 feet above the valley, Taktsang is known for where the legendary tantric mystic Padma Sambhava flew on the back of a tiger to bring the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. Hang prayer flags, a Buddhist tradition, to remember people who are hungry and in pain. The downward journey, on paths known by guides as the “Cheating Trails,” is more difficult, as you navigate an 80 degree slope. When you arrive at your hotel, enjoy a hot-stone bath to nurse your sore muscles.
Day 3: Paro/Haa/Thimphu
This morning, take to the hills with a 3,000 vertical foot hike via Kila Gompa to Chelila Pass at 12,400 feet for views of the many snow-clad peaks. At the peak celebrate the ascent by hanging prayer flags. Later, bike the winding roads to Haa Valley Thimphu.
Day 4: Thimphu/Punakha
Explore the National Library in Thimphu, housing an extensive collection of Buddhist literature; the textile museum; and a traditional paper factory. Drive the high mountain roads toward Dochula Pass, with a chance to see the takin, the national animal (a goat-antelope) and a rare species found in the Himalaya, some parts of China and northern Burma. You spend the night in a sub-tropical campground.
Day 5: Punakha/Paro
Spend the day hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking through this mountainous region. Begin with a bike ride via Yebisa village, cross a suspension bridge, and then leave the bikes to hike briskly uphill to the Temple of Khamsum Yuelling, which commands a 360-degree view of Yebisa and Kebisa. Drive to the banks of the Mochhu River where you can raft or kayak. Afterward, pause for a picnic lunch amid the lush scenery, and then visit the grand dzong of Punakha.
Day 6: Depart Bhutan
Board your homebound flight.