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Bhutan Photography Expedition

Alternate Itinerary
February 24 - March 06, 2018 (11 Days)

Day 1 — Bangkok, Thailand

Arrive in Bangkok this evening and check in to our hotel.
Novotel Suvarnabhumi Hotel

Day 2 — Bangkok/Paro, Bhutan

From Bangkok, fly to the Paro Valley (7,300 feet) in Bhutan. Transfer to our hotel—a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection—and enjoy time to relax, or capture dramatic images of the valley from Ta Dzong before walking down to Paro’s traditional center, Paro Rinpung Dzong. After a late-afternoon photo shoot with the monks in the courtyard of the dzong, return to the hotel and gather for a welcome dinner.
Zhiwa Ling Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Paro/Punakha

In the early-morning light, photograph the traditional decorative details of the seventh-century Kyichu Lakhang. Kyichu is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan, and is believed to be holding the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. Following a special Buddhist blessing ceremony for the safe passage of the group, journey to Punakha, Bhutan’s ancient capital. En route to Punakha, stop at the Dochu La pass (10,000 feet) and train your lens on the 200-mile panorama of Himalayan peaks (weather permitting).
RKPO Green Resort or Zhingkham Resort (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Punakha

Today, enjoy an opportunity to photograph the boisterous and colorful Punakha Tsechu (festival). Villagers, dressed in their finest and most vibrant garments and jewelry, flock from the surrounding valleys to attend this important celebration. The festival is not only a significant religious event but also an opportunity for friends and family from near and far to socialize. Late this afternoon, hike through terraced fields to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a hilltop shrine with sweeping views of the fertile valley below.
RKPO Green Resort or Zhingkham Resort (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Punakha/Phobjikha

Travel to the alpine valley of Phobjikha (10,000 feet), considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. Along the way, stop to photograph the changing landscape as it transitions from semi tropical to pine forest, and then to an alpine environment where rhododendron, dwarf bamboo, and Grey Langur monkeys can be found.
Dewachen Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Phobjikha

Against a backdrop of forest-clad mountains, the Gangtey Goemba temple complex rises dramatically from a cluster of hilltop cottages. One of the oldest Nyingma monasteries in Bhutan, Gangtey Goemba has recently been renovated, and the fine workmanship of Bhutan’s best woodcarvers, sculptors, and painters here makes for fantastic photography. Set off on a half-day hike, stopping to meet a family at a local farmhouse along the way.
Dewachen Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Phobjikha/Thimphu

Travel to Thimphu (7,900 feet), the capital of Bhutan and home to the royal family. Tonight, get a behind-the-scenes perspective on contemporary Bhutan during a lively Bhutanese banquet with members of the government, local dignitaries, and respected professionals.
Taj Tashi Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Thimphu/Paro

After a morning exploring the country’s more modern side in Thimphu, photograph local vendors and shoppers amidst the colorful produce stalls of the capital’s vibrant weekend market. Late this afternoon, return to Paro for the night.
Zhiwa Ling Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Paro

Our journey in the kingdom culminates with an early-morning photo hike to the most famous pilgrimage site in Bhutan: Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger’s Nest Temple (9,300 feet). Visible from afar, this stunning monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor. This evening, celebrate your Bhutanese adventure at a festive farewell dinner. As the sun sets behind the surrounding mountains, enjoy a rare opportunity to photograph some of the country's finest dancers close up at a private masked dance performance.
Zhiwa Ling Hotel (B,L,D)

Days 10 & 11 — Paro/Bangkok, Thailand

Fly to Bangkok and check in to our hotel. The following morning, transfer to the airport for your return flight via Bangkok, arriving home the same day.
Novotel Suvarnabhumi Hotel (B,L; B)