Expert-Led Group Tour

Bhutan group tour - Festivals and photography with Sue Flood

10 days

from £8,995pp
  • Traverse the Dochula pass, offering a 360 degree vista of the Himalayas
  • Visit the Phobjika Valley, home to threatened Black necked Cranes
  • Witness Paro Tshechu, performed by colourful clad monks
  • Hike to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous symbol of Bhutan
  • Visit Haa Valley, the most picturesque place in Bhutan with great views
  • Hone your photography skills in the company of Sue Flood

Journey to the Land of the Peaceful Dragon with photographer, Sue Flood, and discover one of Bhutan’s' most colourful and famous festivals, Paro Tsechu. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen, wearing incredible masks and costumes, Tsechu’s (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. Join locals in a colourful celebration of Bhutanese culture and faith.

Why should I travel to Bhutan?

Setting it apart and adding to its intrigue is Bhutan’s exceptional determination to preserve its culture and tradition and protect its natural environment above all else, in a world where everywhere is changing so fast.

Major annual Buddhist festivals are hugely impressive and take place in most towns across Bhutan. Dance ceremonies are performed by monks in spectacular costumes and are watched by the local people, who dress up in their finest clothes.

Impressive and vast, Bhutan is strewn with huge, imposing structures housing political and administrative centres, the Royal Family and the Buddhist monk communities. Some of the most rewarding to visit are; Tiger’s Nest (Taksang), located in the cliffside of the Paro Valley

Without a doubt, Bhutan offers some of the most spectacular scenery and trekking terrain on earth.

Why should I join this Bhutan group tour?

A unique opportunity to witness and photograph the vibrant Paro festival alongside Sue Flood and with like-minded fellow travellers.  Benefit from expert photographic guidance from start to finish.

What happens during Paro Tsechu?

One of the many highlights of the Paro Tsechu festival is the unfurling of the silk Thangka, a Buddhist painting so large it covers the face of an entire building and is considered one of the most sacred blessings in the whole of Bhutan. The ‘Thangka, known in Bhutan as a ‘thongdroel’ is a religious picture scroll and is only exhibited for a few hours at daybreak on the final day of the festival enabling the people to obtain its blessing. This holy scroll “confers liberation by the mere sight of it” (the meaning of the word ‘thongdroel’ in Bhutanese).

For centuries Bhutan has been isolated from the forces of change by its inaccessibility and is the last surviving kingdom in the Himalayas.

Is this tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Lecturer.

We have a no mandatory single supplement policy on most of our group tours, meaning that we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

What is the accommodation like in Bhutan?

This tour has been put together with a key focus on the high standard of accommodation, showcasing some of Bhutan's true gems. Gangtey Lodge is exquisite with commanding views over the valley, comfortable rooms, and plenty of space to relax. Uma Paro, located in a pine forest above the Paro Valley, wonderfully combines luxury with simplicity and it's heated indoor swimming pool and spa are the perfect places to relax and unwind after a day exploring.

How fit should I be to enjoy this tour?

An average level of fitness is enough to get the best out of this tour. Rather than the walks being the challenge, it is more likely the altitude, however, we have built in enough time for the group to acclimatise properly so the chance of this is minimal. If you enjoy walking and the great outdoors then this is the perfect trip for you. There are several walks during the tour where you will be able to walk at your own pace and we incorporate plenty of rest stops.

What is the food like in Bhutan?

Meals in Bhutan typically tend to include a big plate of red rice, several different fresh locally grown vegetable dishes, and a meat dish. Alongside this, for the daring, you will find ema datse, the fiery national dish of chillies covered in cheese. Apart from ema datse the food is lightly spiced when compared to food found elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent.

What will the weather be like in Bhutan in March?

During the month of March, you should expect mostly warm sunny days and cool/cold nights. Whereas rain or snow is not usual at this time, it is a possibility. The air is usually crisp and clear.



Departing on:
  • 12th March 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
12th Mar 2019 21st Mar 2019 £ 8,995 £ 1,000 £ 2,595 Sue Flood Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 9 nights accommodation
  • All activities as shown
  • Bhutan Visa Fee
  • Domestic Flight tickets in economy class
  • English speaking guide throughout
  • Entrance fee for Bhutan and Tourism Development Fee
  • Full board basis except on days of arrival and departure
  • Photographic tuition from Sue Flood throughout
  • Transportation in a private air conditioned vehicle
  • Travel insurance

what is excluded

  • Drinks
  • International flights
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Arrival flights
There are no direct flights into Bhutan. To reach Paro you need to fly via Kathmandu, Delhi or Bangkok. Druk Air flights normally arrive into Paro in the late afternoon. For further information please speak to Joe or Charlotte.


Paro arrival
On arriving into Paro International Airport you will be met by our local team, who will escort you to the hotel in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The drive of approximately one and a half hours takes you through winding roads and beautiful villages.

En route visit Simtokha Dzong. Simtokha is believed to be the first dzong built in Bhutan and is the gateway to Thimphu valley.

Bordered by forested mountain peaks, Paro Valley is the entry point for all travel to Bhutan. The small town of Paro, which was established in the 1980s, sits at an elevation of 2,250 metres and consists of just one main street.

One of the most beautiful arrival points for any country, this quiet town consists of just a handful of colourful buildings and captures the essence of provincial Bhutanese life. The surrounding valley is a mix of small villages, historic buildings, monuments and wonderfully terraced fields.


Welcome dinner included.


You will be staying at Taj Tashi, half board

Day 2

Explore Thimphu
After a good sleep, explore the city in the company of Sue Flood. Visit many historic monuments and places of interest including the National Library, the Memorial Chorten and the Folk Heritage Museum.

This evening, visit Tashichho Dzong - Bhutan's most stately and impressive building.

Little over half a century old, Bhutan's young capital was barely more than a small village before its meteoric rise to prominence in 1961. Chosen by the King to be the new face of a reformed Bhutan, and to replace the ancient capital of Punakha, the city is still developing at a rapid pace.

Despite its relatively large size by Bhutanese standards, the city retains a friendly feel and relaxed small town vibe. Little shops and colourful marketplaces fill the city, squeezed between growing signs of modernity and constant reminders of Bhutan's steadfastly traditional way of life.


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included this day


You will be staying at Taj Tashi, half board

Day 3

Thimphu to Gangtey
After an early breakfast, drive to Gangtey, a journey that will take approximately six hours. Just 30 kilometres from Thimphu is the Dochula Pass offering a 360-degree view of the Himalaya mountain range.

The Gangteng Valley is named after the monastery found in this glacial landscape. Quiet and remote, this region is home to 13 threatened species including the migratory black necked cranes who arrive for the winter from the colder Tibetan plateau.


You will be staying at Gangtey Lodge, full board

Day 4

Gangtey Nature Trails
Time to explore the Gangtey Nature Trails, leading through beautiful, broad glacial valleys, one of the most beautiful nature trails in Bhutan. Starting from the hillock overlooking Gangtey Goemba, heading downhill through flower meadows to Semchbara village and then passing by forests.

Later, visit the Black Necked Crane Information Centre in the Phobjikha Valley. Learn about these rare birds, and observe and photograph them.

Otherwise known as Phojikha Valley, this wide glacial vale sits in altitudinous central Bhutan. Free of trees and contrasting strongly with the narrow valleys that are synonymous with Bhutan, this idyllic expanse boasts a pair of beautiful winding rivers.

Overlooked by the impressive Gangte Gompa, the area is renowned for its Black-Necked Cranes. These rare birds escape the cold Tibetan winters by sheltering in this lush valley.


You will be staying at Gangtey Lodge, full board

Day 5

Drive to Punakha
Today drive back towards Punakha, situated approximately six hours from Gangtey. After checking into the hotel visit Punakha Dzong. The second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, the name translates as "the place of great happiness or bliss".


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included this day


You will be staying at Dhensa Resort & Spa, full board

Day 6

Punakha to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
After breakfast, drive north of Punakha and hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a wonderful example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. The hike to the Chorten will take around one hour, through a moderately inclined trail. Surrounded by pine trees, this site offers beautiful views of the Punakha Valley. The Chorten, a Buddhist shrine was built to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. Later, visit the village of Talo which is scattered along the hill slopes.

Continue to Talo Sangnacholing Dzong, built on a plateau and offering majestic views of the surrounding villages. The beautiful farm houses of the village have their own flower gardens and on the hill slopes corns and sweet peas are grown in abundance.

Bhutan's ancient capital for more than 300 years, the town of Punakha lies in a lush valley at the confluence of the Pho and Mo Rivers. Still scattered with treasures from its regal past, the town is best known for the commanding Punakha Dzong. This magnificent building is often said to be Bhutan's finest structure.

A pleasant town that makes the most of its scenic locale, Punakha is renowned for its fertile land. The surrounding valley sits at a lower altitude than most of Bhutan and produces an abundance of rice, oranges and bananas.


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included this day


You will be staying at Dhensa Resort & Spa, full board

Day 7

Punakha to Paro
Today you will be driven back to Paro - a short road journey of one hour. Visit the Chimi Lhakhang. This monastery sits on a round hill flanked by hundreds of prayer flags. Learn more about the alternative teachings of the Buddhist saint Lama Drukpa Kinley, to whom this monastery is dedicated to.


Chimi Lhakhang
Visit the monastery of Chimi Lhakhang which sits on a round hill flanked by hundreds of prayer flags. Learn more about the alternative teachings of the Buddhist saint Lama Drukpa Kinley, to whom this monastery is dedicated.


National Museum of Bhutan and Paro Dzong
After time to relax at the hotel in Paro, visit the National Museum of Bhutan and Paro Dzong before returning for dinner.


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included this day


You will be staying at Como Uma Paro, full board

Day 8

Paro Festival
After breakfast, attend the Paro Festival. The Paro Tshechu is colourful and vibrant with people dressed in their traditional attire, cultural masked dances and stalls selling delicious food and drinks.

Later, visit the National Museum of Bhutan, a unique circular building also known as Ta-dzong which is an ancient watchtower above the Paro Dzong. This unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell. The original building was constructed in 1656 but the building was converted into a museum in 1968.

Also visit, Paro Dzong, also known as Ringpung Dzong means ‘Fortess on a heap of jewels’. This impressive dzong is the finest example of Bhutanese architecture and is one of the most popular and well known dzongs in Bhutan.


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included in this day


You will be staying at Como Uma Paro, full board

Day 9

Paro to Taktsang Monastery Hike
Spend the day exploring the Haa Valley. Often known as the Rice Valley, it is home to some dramatic scenery.

Later drive back to the hotel.


You will be staying at Como Uma Paro, full board

Day 10

Spend the morning at leisure before being transferred to Paro Airport.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Gangtey Lodge

Gangtey Lodge

With its superb setting and sweeping views over the stunning Phobjika Valley, this lodge offers an excellent base to explore this beautiful area....

View Accommodation

Como Uma Paro

Como Uma Paro

Uma Paro offers 5-star comfort and a unique style in the wildly beautiful Himalayan region of Bhutan....

View Accommodation

Taj Tashi

Taj Tashi

The Taj Tashi reflects Bhutan's rich heritage and architecture with its interesting combination of traditional Bhutanese hand-painted design and modern design....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Bhutan

Charlotte Lawton, Sales Consultant

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Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

Read More

Kate Hitchen, Travel Expert

"Kate was calm and bent over backwards to accommodate my jitters about going to Kashmir in the light of tighter FCO guidelines just a few days before our departure. She was absolutely correct in advising against what I thought we should do. Several times during the holiday we said that, 'Kate was dead right about that!'."

"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Sue Flood

Sue Flood
Your guide on the trip is Sue Flood, a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Sue was an Associate Producer on the award winning BBC series 'The Blue Planet', and also more recently worked on Planet Earth. Both The Blue Planet and Planet Earth featured several animal behaviours which were filmed for the first time, and Sue obtained unique images for the series. Her photographic highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face-to-face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming polar bears in the Arctic, and photographing the wildlife of Zambia. But above all, Sue is great fun to be with - while your photographic prowess will improve under her tuition, you are also guaranteed a fun and rewarding time in her company.

Other tours by this lecturer:

Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 4 / Max 10

Tour Expert:

Sue Flood

Departure Date (S):

  • 12th March 2019

  • Moderate Activity - The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.


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