trip
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2
Adventure touring
Activities
  • Adventure Touring
  • Photography
Accommodation
  • 14 nights, 3.5-5 star hotels
Meals
  • 14 Dinners
  • 13 Lunches
  • 14 Breakfasts

15 Days$14290USD

Hit the trails with confidence

Flexible Cancellations
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COVID-19 safety measures
Read our Covid-19 travel policy and what we're doing to keep you safe

Remote adventures
means social distancing comes naturally


 
 
Trip Code: BRI

Trip highlights


  • Absorb the natural beauty and diverse Buddhist traditions across Bhutan
  • Visit Punakha Dzong and hike to the famous Takstang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery
  • Explore Paro Valley, wander the bazaars and take in the main sights of the town
  • Attend the remote and colourful Wangdue Tshechu and Tamshing Phala Chhoepa festivals
  • Experience an auspicious Butter Lamp Ceremony at a 7th Century temple in Paro
  • Exclusive access to a soothing Drum Ceremony at Pema Choling Nunnery in Bumthang
  • Immerse yourself in Thimphu's exotic weekend market
  • Stay in well appointed and heritage accommodation
  • Unique opportunities for photography travelling in the company of acclaimed photographer, Canon Master, and Australian Himalayan Foundation Ambassador, Richard I'Anson

The remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is well known for its untouched wilderness, rich Buddhist culture and a history steeped in mystic and legend. On this unique all inclusive journey with Photographer, Canon Master and Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF) Ambassador Richard I'Anson, this cultural journey encompasses all that Bhutan has to offer, including the colourful festivals in Wangdi and Bumthang as well as the 'must see' highlights. We spend 2 days photographing the Wangdue Tshechu in Wangdi before crossing into Bumthang in central Bhutan. It is widely regarded that Bhutanese Buddhism first took hold here and the legacies are the many ancient and magnificent monasteries in and around the area. We spend 3 days exploring Bumthang and its surrounds and witness the auspicious Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Festival. We fly to the picturesque Paro Valley, home to the Tigers Nest (Taktsang) monastery. We visit the weekend market in Thimphu before travelling across the country and returning via a short flight to Paro where our trip concludes.

We hope you can join Richard I'Anson on this incredible photographic and cultural journey.


Enjoy spectacular views as you fly over the Himalayas and make a dramatic descent into Paro Airport. Bhutan's holy mountain, Jhomolhari at 7,300m, looms above the runway, with the glacial Paro Chhu River running down its slopes. Once on the ground, you'll receive a big Kuzuzangpo la! (Hello and welcome!) from your Bhutanese guides and local drivers, before driving directly to the hotel. Before dinner, meet Richard and your guide to discuss the days ahead. Overnight Zhiwa Ling Heritage, Paro

Meals:  D

Today we spend the day exploring Paro Valley, starting at Paro Dzong (16th century fort) that is home to about 500 monks. In the past, Dzongs acted as strongholds, protecting the vale’s inhabitants in times of war against Tibetans and internal rebellions. Today, it serves as the centre for administrative and monastic life and also houses the offices of the local government and the resident monk body. Below the Dzong, we'll walk across a traditional wooden- cantilevered bridge that spans the Paro Chhu. The day also includes a visit to the National Museum of Bhutan, the Tashi Gongphel Paper Workshop and the Dungtse Lhakhang temple. Overnight Zhiwa Ling Heritage, Paro

Meals:  B,L,D

Drive for an hour to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital and largest city. Home to the Government, Royal Family, and the head offices of international organizations, Thimphu is a mix of Himalayan and Western sensibilities. On arrival we'll visit the Memorial Chorten, built by the royal grandmother Ashi Phuntsho Choden in 1974 in memory of the 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who died in 1972. Bhutanese from around the country visit and circumambulate this auspicious stupa for merit and to liberate sentient beings from suffering. Nearby is the large Centenary Farmer's Market where we can wander and photograph before continuing up to Buddha Point to see the tallest seated Buddha statue in the world at 51m high. The statue fulfills an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. The massive three-storey base houses a large chapel, while the body itself is filled with 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. Overnight Le Meridien, Thimphu

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we further explore and photograph Thimphu. Visit Changangkha Lhakhang, the oldest surviving temple in Thimphu. The temple is frequented by parents with small children seeking to obtain blessings from the protective deity of the temple, who is considered to be the birth deity and protector of children born in Thimphu. We also visit the Royal Textile Museum, a handcrafts emporium run by the National Women's Association of Bhutan (NWAB), a traditional paper "Desho" making factory and the Motithang Takin Preserve - to witness the elusive national animal. Overnight Le Meridien, Thimphu

Meals:  B,L,D

From Thimphu we gradually wind our way across the spectacular Dochu La Pass at just over 3,000m. In good weather the pass offers 360-degree vistas across 300 kilometres of Himalayan peaks including Bhutan’s tallest peak Mt. Gangkar Puensum and some of the highest unclimbed mountains in the world! There are 108 stupas adorning the pass and the scenic spot here offers plenty of opportunities for photography. We drive down through forests of rhododendrons and magnolias, before the road descends into the warmer lowlands around Sopsokha village just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy an easy hike to Chimi Lhakhang, also referred to as the Temple of Fertility. The temple is dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, affectionately called the Divine Madman. He is one of Bhutan’s favourite holy men and the valley is peppered with traces of his influence. Villagers still enthusiastically recount the legends of his exploits. Women who are having trouble conceiving come here to pray and receive the resident lama’s blessings with a wooden phallus. There are about 25 young monks undergoing monastic education here. Overnight Dhensa Boutique, Punakha

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we explore Punakha Valley, beginning with a gentle hike to the Khamsum Yuelley Chorten, built by the Queen Mother for the wellbeing of sentient beings and world peace. A nearby farmhouse provides an opportunity to interact with the local villagers. Later, we drive to Punakha Dzong, one of the most magnificent fortresses in the world. This remarkable fortress was built in 1637 between two rivers and once served as the old capital of Bhutan. It has survived many glacial floods and fire. The Central Monk Body from Thimphu, including the head abbot, occupy the Dzong during the winter months taking advantage of its warm weather, returning to Thimphu for summer. Overnight Dhensa Boutique, Punakha

Meals:  B,L,D

Drive to Wangdi (45 mins) where we have two full days to photograph and take in the festivities around Wangdue Tshechu. This is a three-day festival of mask and folk dances to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhave. The Tshechu features dance by monks and laymen. Overnight Chuzom Sa Resort, Wangdi

Meals:  B,L,D

Full day to photograph the festivities around Wangdue Tshechu. Overnight Chuzom Sa Resort, Wangdi

Meals:  B,L,D

One last visit to the festival before we continue our journey to Trongsa. Here lies the largest fortress in the kingdom, the Trongsa Dzong, powerhouse of ancient Bhutan. Strategically located on the east-west mule tracks, the governors of Trongsa were the most powerful leaders in the medieval age that gave birth to the monarchial systems in Bhutan, which shaped the history of the country. We visit the precious watch tower known as the Ta Dzong, now converted into a museum. Inside there is a small chapel dedicated to King Gesar, an epic hero of Tibetan history, as well as an excellent museum dedicated to the monarchs of Bhutan. Overnight Druk Willing Resort, Trongsa

Meals:  B,L,D

Early morning take the two hour drive to Bumthang, the most beautiful valley and cultural heartland in the Kingdom. En-route we will visit the Yathra Weaving Centre at Chumey, where they use yak and sheep wool for their Yathra products with designs unique to Bumthang. Bumthang is a place of special spiritual significance. Legend has it that throughout the Buddhist Himalayas there exist valleys hidden from the outside world. Sheltered and protected, together these regions could become the last bastions of traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Shangri-La in James Hilton's Lost Horizons is based on this very idea. There remain few places more suited than Bumthang, Bhutan's spiritual heartland, to stand as symbols of such ideals. Overnight Rinchenling Lodge, Bumthang

Meals:  B,L,D

We begin the day at Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in the country built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gembo. We continue to Kurje Lhakhang, dedicated to the saint Guru Padhasambhava who meditated there in the 8th century and left his body imprint on the rock. One of the most holy of Bhutan's religious sites. From Kurje we begin our walk to Tamshing Lhakhang on the other side of the river. This temple is dedicated to Terton Pema Lingpa, the only Black Smith saint who lived in the 15th century. We can see some of the oldest murals preserved inside this temple. There is a beautiful Kenchosum Lhakhang with stories of Lord Buddha painted on the walls of the shrine inside. We'll end the walk with a visit to the Swiss Brewery to try the panda beer and cheese. This afternoon, drive to Tang, one of the four valleys of Bumthang. The buckwheat-growing valley combines immense natural beauty with historical importance: Bhutan’s greatest spiritual figures came from here. The route will take us to "Burning Lake." The saint Pema Lingpa jumped into the lake holding a butter lamp, and reemerged with the lamp still burning bright, proving himself the son of the great Guru. The lake remains a place of pilgrimage. We continue to the Pema Choling Nunnery. This nunnery is home to 300 Buddhist nuns who are practitioners of a soothing drum ceremony, which we will witness. The nuns perform this impressive and emotional drum ceremony for the wellbeing of all sentient beings and world peace. Overnight Rinchenling Lodge, Bumthang

Meals:  B,L,D

The annual Tamshing Phala Choepa Festival is held around the ancient Tamzhing Lhündrup Monastery which is currently home for around 100 Nyingma monks. The festival is particularly significant as it is set within the spiritual heart of Bhutan and centres on a temple with direct links to the saint of the oldest form of Tibetan Buddhism, Péma Lingpa. Traditional mask and folk dances nearly always include the ‘Dance of the Three kinds of Ging’ and the ‘Dance of the Four Stags’ both of which are said to bring good luck and banish misfortune for all who watch. Overnight Rinchenling Lodge, Bumthang

Meals:  B,L,D

Morning flight to Paro. On arrival visit the auspicious 7th Century temple near the hotel to be treated to a ritual butter lamp ceremony that instills peace to one's disturbed mind and wards off evil. This afternoon drive to Drukgyel Dzong which translates to ‘Victorious Fortress’, owing to the several victories over marauding Tibetan invaders. It is considered the most beautiful archaeological site in Bhutan. The Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951. After maintaining the magnificent ruin for almost 6 decades, the country is investing in restoring the site to its original grandeur. The area is still under renovation but expected to be completed by early 2023. We spend time enjoying the sensational view of Mt Jomolhari. Overnight Zhiwa Ling Heritage, Paro

Meals:  B,L,D

Morning in Paro. In the afternoon drive to the foot of the Taktsang - the famous 'Tigers Nest' Monastery, said to have been one of the divine resting places of the Guru Ringpoche. We'll ascend the walking trail to appreciate the breathtaking location of the monastery which sits on a cliff edge about 800 metres above the valley floor. The walk is approximately 2 hours. Return to Zhiwa Ling Heritage for a farewell dinner to celebrate an unforgettable journey!

Meals:  B,L,D

Your trip concludes after breakfast. You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. Tashi Delek!

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 14 dinners
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and Day 15
  • Expert bilingual guide in Bhutan
  • Group medical kit
  • 3.5 - 5 star accommodation
  • Private transportation
  • Domestic flight Bumthang to Paro
  • Sightseeing and site entry fees as listed
  • Bhutan Government visa and sustainability fees
  • Trip escorted by acclaimed photographer, Richard I'Anson

  • International flights
  • Meals not outlined in the itinerary
  • Bottled water, aerated and alcoholic drinks
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.
  • Tips
  • Airport and departure taxes
  • Travel Insurance

About Your Leader

Renowned photographer Richard I'Anson&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Richard I'Anson</i>

This photography adventure will be led by one of the world’s most acclaimed travel photographers, and a good friend of ours for over 25 years, Richard I’Anson. Richard represents Canon Australia as a Canon Master Photographer, has published thirteen books, including five editions of the best-selling Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Photography, and is featured in the first series of the documentary series Tales by Light, now screening on Netflix. He has built an enviable career on his twin passions for travel and photography and over the past 35 years has travelled the world, amassing a substantial and compelling collection of images of people and places – in more than 90 countries on all seven continents. Richard has a Master of Photography awarded by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), is an Ambassador for the Australian Himalayan Foundation and we’re honoured to have his amazing images featuring in our brochures since the early 90’s. For more inspiration, visit www.richardianson.com, head to his Instagram page @richianson or watch the videos on this page to gain an insight into the knowledge you will tap into if you join him on this fantastic trip.


Departure dates

* Guaranteed status denotes minimum trip numbers have been met, however the trips operation will be subject to there being no COVID-19 restrictions or other government travel advisories. Please contact us for further information.


Notes

1
With 10 participants trip cost reduces to AUD$16,990 per person

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Total Priceper person from

$14290USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Single SupplementUSD$2040
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Bhutan with Richard I'Anson trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.


Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

Thoughtful Travel

Responsible travel is at the heart of every program we offer as a fundamental and long held philosophy. When you book one of our 100% carbon offset adventures you’re supporting true sustainability in the protection of local communities, natural environments and wildlife.

Ultimate Value

 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.

Videos

Travel Photography with Richard I'Anson

Positive Impact Travel

By joining this trip you are directly supporting positive impact projects in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We’ve offset the carbon emitted by this trip by purchasing credits that support important projects that address the UN’s seventeen SDGs, like reducing poverty, affordable and clean energy, reducing hunger, clean water and climate action.

Proceeds from this adventure purchase carbon credits through the world’s largest and most awarded carbon project developer, South Pole, which are invested into projects accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources in developing countries.

Supported projects are based on internationally recognised standards and are third-party audited. They entail a series of positive impacts on the ground, which benefit local communities and ecosystems, that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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