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Travel and Photography tour in Bhutan

Bhutan Photography Tour

Photography tour is an interesting way to experience the temples, monasteries, mountains, landscape, villages, people and culture in some of the most beautiful brightest parts of the world, that is Bhutan. The Happiness Kingdom is full of gorgeous photo opportunities - from bustling market of Thimphu, to the serenity of Phobjikha valley, to the breathtaking Himalayas, there are so many magical moments. Travelling around Bhutan is truly amazing, full of surprises, happiness and absolutely exceptional photography opportunities.

Day 01: Arrive Paro & transfer to Thimphu (55km, approx. 1 hour & 15 minutes’ drive)
On your journey to Paro via Delhi or Kathmandu flight, photography-tour-bhutanthe panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational, including the Everest and other famous Himalayan Peaks. The approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro becomes more exciting as you enter Bhutan.

Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan.

On arrival in Thimphu, check-into the hotel.

The first day in Bhutan is a leisure day, you may either take rest or go around the town with your camera. Your guide is always nearby to answer questions or assist you.

The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 1,00,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)

Day 02: Thimphu
After breakfast, visit:

Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang): A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuensel Phodrang. The area also offers an excellent view of the Thimphu valley from the west. You will be busy capturing the huge statue of Buddha and surrounding view of the Thimphu valley. You also have the shots of Simtokha Dzong from here which is one of the oldest fortresses in the country, built in 1627.

Sangaygang viewpoint (2685 meters): To have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley.

Takin Reserve Centre: Takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.

Changangkha Monastery: This monastery is built on a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built in 15th Century by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. Many parents of Thimphu take their new born babies to this monastery to be blessed by a high lama.photography-tour-bhutan

Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten was built in 1974 in typical Tibetan style, in honour of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as ‘The Father of Modern Bhutan’. Memorial chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues.

Trashichhoedzong (fortress of the glorious religion): This is  the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.

Another photography session after the dusk after lights are on capturing the night view of the following:

Night view of Tashichhodzong: We shall be taking photographs of the night view of the dzong (Fortress). It indeed looks fascinating with the lights surrounding it.

Night view of the National Memorial Chorten: The memorial chorten shall give you another different and beautiful shot due to lights around it in the night.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)

Day 03: Thimphu – Phobjikha (Gangtey) (150km, approx. 5-hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha. On the way, stop for a photography session at Dochula pass.

Dochula pass is the most known passes in Bhutan, about 24 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang/Punakha. It is at 3,088 meters height. On a clear day, spectacular views of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen from Dochula. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens which is believed to bring multi fold merit to all sentient beings, and it makes the pass a must visit place.

Interests for photography:
-The Dochula Passphotography-tour-bhutan
-The Drukgyal Wangyal Chortens
-The Himalayan Ranges
-Prayer Flags
-Flora and Fauna.
-The Dochula Temple

Then continue on to Phobjikha with stop at places for photography and to view scenery.

Another Photography session en route at Wangduephodrang, the Rinchengang Village. It is a small and clustered village located opposite to Wangduephodrang dzong (currently under renovation after it caught fire in 2012). It is about 20 minutes hike uphill from the near road.

The slopes en route Phobjikha (Gangtey) covered in dwarf bamboo and rhododendron is just fascinating. Photography is must here. During winter, Yak herders bring their Yaks in this place.

The valley of Phobjikha (Gangtey) is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate.

Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha. (Altitude 3,000m)

Day 04: Phobjikha
A real day for photography of the one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas. This is also the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes. You have all the time in the world to get your best shots possible here.

You also have the opportunity to meet and photograph local villagers and interact with them to get an insight into the Bhutanese way of life. You also visit villages.

In the afternoon visit:

Gangtey Gompa: Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the shrine. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation.

Then a walking excursion to Gangtey Nature Trail, to capture beautiful nature. This pleasurable walk will give you a nice feel of Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. The trail ends at local community school after passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. (approx. 5.5km, 2 hours walk).
Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha. (Altitude 3,000m)

Day 05: Phobjikha – Trongsa – Bumthang (153km, approx. 6-hour drive)
The journey to Bumthang is another day of new experiences and of course of new addition to your collections of perfect pictures.

The valleys, the winding roads, the simple villages and villagers, the monuments and the fascinating views pose for you on the way.

The drive to Trongsa crosses Pelela pass (3,300 m), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large prayer flag and the ground is covered with high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop en route at Chendbji Chorten, the stupa built in 18th century by a Lama named Shida. It is Nepalese in style with eyes painted at four cardinal points. Pelela pass & Chendbji Chorten offers interesting photo opportunity.

While in Trongsa, visit:

Trongsa Dzong: This most impressive Dzong in Bhutan, was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify Eastern Bhutan and later enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Please remember, Trongsa Dzong is one of the most impressive dzongs in Bhutan. Photography is must.

Ta Dzong: An ancient watch tower. The chapel inside is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyal.

photography-tour-bhutanFurther 68 km drive across the Yutong-la pass (3,400m/ 11,155 ft) finally brings you to wide open cultivated Bumthang valley.

 

Overnight at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2,600m)

Day 06: Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples, monasteries and landscape in and around Bumthang is spectacular so plenty of photo opportunities are here.

Apart from capturing nature in your lens, some of the prominent sites for photography are:

Jakar Dzong: Literally meaning the Castle of White Bird. The current structure was built in 1667.

Lamey Goemba: A large palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi.

Jambay Lhakhang: Built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet. In October-November, one of the most spectacular festival, ‘Jambay Lhakhang Drup’ is staged here.

Chakhar Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Iron Castle, the original palace was made of Iron and hence the name ‘Chakhar’.

Kurjey Lhakhang: Named after body print of Guru Rimpoche.

Tamshing Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Temple of the good message, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa.

Membarstho: Literally meaning, ‘The burning Lake’.

The evening ends with a walk around the Bumthang town and valley, photographic local market and town.

Overnight at hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2,600m)

Day 07: Bumthang – Punakha (215km, approx. 7-hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha, on the way photographing beautiful landscape and Black Mountains. Another photo session at Yutong la pass (3,400m) en route between Trongsa & Bumthang.

As you near Punakha, you shall have a fascinating view of the Punatshangchhu River and the Wangdue valley for photography. All along this drive, you shall also come across simple villagers, villages and unique farmhouses for which you won’t hesitate to stop a while for a shot.

In the evening, leisure time for exploring the Punakha town, valley and capturing amazing photos of magnificent Punakha Dzong at dusk and in light.

Overnight at hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1,300m)

Day 08: Punakha
After breakfast, a beautiful hike takes one to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, which was built to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. The Chorten dominates the upper Punakha Valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond. This trail provides amazing photo opportunity capturing terraced rice fields, village houses, picturesque stupa and mountain ranges. photography-tour-bhutan

Picnic lunch at riverside to enjoy the nature and further strengthen your photo gallery.

Afternoon photography session of the Punakha Dzong and the surroundings. This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tsechhu(Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this dzong in winter.

Later visit Chimi Lhakhang and Photograph charming village houses on the way. Located on the way to Punakha, this lhakhang is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15th century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman.

Overnight at hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1,300m)

Day 09: Punakha – Paro (125km, approx. 4-hour drive)
After breakfast drive back to Paro descending back down from Dochu La, following the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley.

Driving from Punakha to Paro offers you a unique experience for photography. The winding roads are fascinating. The villages and Buddhist chortens (stupas) add to your collection of perfect shots. Your guide gives importance to stopping along the way for photography.

En route stop at Simtokha Dzong for another short photo session, the place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.

Later in the day after checking into hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.

Proceed on to next destination nearby, imposing Rinpung Dzong, (‘fortress of the heap of jewels’). Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore – the perfect shots for your photography collection!

Evening take a stroll around lovey Paro main street photographing colourful shops, friendly and every smiling people and life in general at charming little valley.

Night shooting - Later in the dusk as soon as the lights are on, drive to a location near the Rinpung Dzong to take its perfect shots. The night view of this Dzong (fortress) with the lights around it makes a perfect creation to capture. You may take your shot from different possible location so that you have your perfect shot.

Overnight at hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 10: Paro
Today is the day for a new experience; your morning starts with a 15-minute drive to the base of the Taktshang Monastery. From here we will hike for about 3 hours up hill. Hiking uphill is difficult but the prize that awaits in reaching the top is just unimaginable.

Your Second Photography Session: In reaching the top, you shall be preparing yourself for your second photography after a short rest. The views downhill, the fluttering prayer flags, the rocky hill and the Taktshang Monastery everything awaits you here longing to be captured. Take your perfect shots precisely selecting your location and choosing what you want to photograph. After the photography session visit the Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s nest Monastery).

Taktshang Monastery: The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rimpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress.

Lunch at Taktsang cafeteria overlooking the Tiger’s nest monastery, walk back mostly downhill to the base for approx 2 hours and drive to base of Drukgyal Dzong, which is currently under renovation.
 
Drukgyel Dzong: It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. The peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (alt. 7,329 meters /24,029 feet).

On the way back you shall be capturing the following:
-Mountain Jumolhari & mountains on the eastern Himalayan range
-Farm Houses and villages
-Village People
-Prayer wheels and Prayer Flags
-Scenery

On your way back, visit:
Kyichu Lhakhang: This temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo, to consecrate the entire region of Himalaya, in the 7th century miraculously built 108 temples. Kyichu Lhakhang is considered to be one of them. This also gives you opportunities for photography.photography-tour-bhutan

The evening ends exploring Paro town and valley.

Overnight at hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 11: Paro – Haa Valley – Paro (140km, approx. 5-hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to Chelala Pass for another destination of photography among the diverse flora and fauna.

Chelala Pass is the highest point between the Haa valley and Paro valley at an altitude of 3810 m. This place offers an excellent view of the Himalayan Mountains, including the mountain Jumolhari. Prayer flags fluttering in the wind at the pass, presents wonderful views and immense opportunity for photographers to capture Himalayan ranges amidst colourful flags.

Then drive onward to exotic Haa valley. The Haa valley was opened for the first time to foreign tourists in 2002. Also known as the ‘Hidden-Land Rice Valley’, Haa is culturally rich valley and some of famous sites in this region are: 7th century Lhakhang Karpo (White temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo  (Black temple) at the foothills of a venerated three brotherly mountains known as Meri Puensum. The Valley of Haa lies on the western most edge of Bhutan, its northern boundaries with the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, dividing it from the Indian province of Sikkim. Haa is one of the 20 districts or dzongkhags of Bhutan and one of the least populated. Most of its landmass is covered by dense forest and the remainder under fields of wheat and barley, with a little rice towards its lower reaches and the accessible side valleys. Meadows support the raising of yak, cattle, chicken, pigs and horses.
After an interesting photo session at picturesque and charming Haa valley, drive back to Paro.
Overnight at hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 12: Depart Paro
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.





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