Amankora Journey7 Nights 8 Days
Our Short Loop Journey of 7 nights allows you to experience four valleys with 1 night at first lodge followed by two nights at each lodge. The loop starts in Thimphu, then takes you to Gangtey and from there back to Punakha and finally to Paro where you will end your journey.On the following pages we have compiled the most popular activities and hikes in each valley. For some of them we recommend that you pre-book them to ensure you can enjoy them on your preferred date and time.
- Amankora Journey Highlights ~ The Short LoopThe name is derived from two words, “Aman” from the Sanskrit for “peace” and Kora in Dzongkha, the Bhutanese language meaning “circular pilgrimage”. Aman Kora Resorts has several lodges mainly in western part of Bhutan and one in central part, which will be operational within the end of 2007. Every lodge has its own natural settings in harmony with Bhutan’s pristine environment, culture, ambience, excellent services and best views of the mountains, monasteries and valleys.
- 1 Arrival ParoEnjoy one of the world’s most spectacular descents as your early-morning flight arrives into Paro amid breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks. On arrival you will be greeted by your local Amankora guide, who will remain with you throughout your journey across Bhutan. Your itinerary will be tailored to remain as flexible as possible, and you will be able to discuss it in advance. A 1.5 hour drive away, Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital,lies in a steep valley at an altitude of 2,350m (7,709ft). Upon arrival at Amankora Thimphu, you will have time to settle in before exploring the area, including the Institute of Traditional Medicines, the School of Arts and Crafts, the Folk Heritage Museum and Simply Bhutan – museums depicting Bhutan’s ancient cultural heritage. Other sights include the National Library, the Textile Museum, the Weaving Center, Buddha Point and the National Memorial Chorten. Alternatively, opt for a mild hike with a good view, such as the Wangditse Leisure Forest trail. End the day with an Ayurvedic hot-oil head massage, Amankora Thimphu’s signature spa treatment (chargeable activity). Overnight – Amankora Thimphu
- 2 ThimphuA short morning hike will take you to Cheri Goemba monastery. On the way back, pay a visit to the 16th- century Pangri Zampa, which now houses a monastic training school for astrologers. Back in town, explore the capital’s cottage industries, from traditional paper making to hand rolled incense; browse Himalayan artefacts along the main street; and make your own stamp at the post office. The Craft Bazaar or Vegetable markets are open at weekends. After lunch, head to the north end of the valley to visit the Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and royal offices. As the sun sets, take a stroll past the Takin animal sanctuary for a beautiful view over the Thimphu valley. According to local legend, the takins are believed to be part cow and part goat. Alternatively, you can play a round of nine holes at Thimphu Golf Club, set among chortens and beautiful scenery. The course’s altitude – 2,350m (7,700ft) – causes the balls to fly further in the thin mountain air (chargeable activity). In the evening, enjoy a private meeting at the lodge with the Mynak Trulku, who will answer all your Buddhism questions. He is the 12th reincarnate lama of the famous Mynak Rinpoche (chargeable activity). Overnight – Amankora Thimphu
- 3 Journey to PunakhaAn early departure is necessary for the dramatic drive over the mountain pass of Dochu La, and on to the Punakha Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th-century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery. The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass, from where towering Himalayan peaks are visible on clear days. After a picnic lunch we continue on to Punakha, which lies at an altitude of 1,250m (4,100ft) in a warm, fertile valley at the junction of the Mo Chhu (Female River) and the Pho Chhu (Male River). The subtropical environment allows the cultivation of rice and numerous fruits. On entering Punakha valley, guests can visit Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499, which couples traditionally visit to pray for a pregnancy and receive a wang (blessing) from the saint with the ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’. Enjoy the evening in the courtyard of Punakha lodge or unwind with a massage or a facial, Punakha’s signature spa treatment (chargeable activity). Overnight – Amankora Punakha
- 4 PunakhaStart the morning with a hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument built by the Bhutanese Queen Mother and consecrated in 1999. Following the hike you can visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, home to the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler and the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks. A popular option for lunch or dinner is the Private Riverside BBQ. Just below the lodge, guests sit in the shade of pine trees and enjoy the sounds of the river, views of rice fields and mountain peaks, and the aromas of food sizzling on the charcoal grill. Dinner is especially romantic, lit by candles and lanterns and warmed by a bonfire (chargeable activity – pre-booking advised). In the afternoon, try your hand at archery, Bhutan’s national sport, or sign up for a cooking class to learn how to make momos, traditional dumplings, and the famous ema datse (chargeable activity). Overnight – Amankora Punakha
- 5 Journey to ParoThe four-hour journey to Paro takes you back across the impressive Dochu La pass. For lunch you can either stop at Thimphu lodge or enjoy a picnic at any beautiful spot on the route back along the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu valleys. Outside the town, Amankora Paro lies hidden in pine forest towards the north end of the valley. In the afternoon, there is time for a short stroll across open fields and past village houses. Before the sun sets, sit down by the big prayer wheel below the ruins of the Drukgyel Dzong, and relax amid the rural scenery and changing sky. Alternatively, enjoy an archery session using a set of traditional bows and arrows. Evenings at Amankora Paro may include informative lectures on Gross National Happiness, traditional cultural performances, prayer flag printing or an intriguing movie on the Himalayas. Overnight – Amankora Paro
- 6 ParoBegin the day with a visit to the National Museum. Here, an intriguing collection of artefacts provides a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lies the imposing Paro Dzong, a fine example of historic Bhutanese architecture. From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge, from where you will be driven to the town temple, built in 1525, to view ancient wall paintings. Paro lunch options include picturesque picnic spots or, perhaps, a visit to a traditional farmhouse. After lunch guests can visit the uniquely shaped Dumtse Lhakhang to view the beautifully preserved wall paintings there. Later, stroll the main street in Paro and shop for Himalayan artefacts or textiles to take home. Overnight – Amankora Paro
- 7 ParoIn the morning, hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most dramatic monuments, the Taktsang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the Tiger’s Nest, built on a sheer cliff face at an altitude of 2,950m (9,678ft). The four-hour trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on the rocks, 900m above the valley floor. After lunch in the lodge, you can drive to the outskirts of Paro town where you will find the 7th-century twin temples of Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the first Buddhist temples built in the country. Spend time lighting 108 butter lamps (chargeable activity) and learn about the ancient Buddhist traditions that are still practised today. On the final evening of your journey, soak in ourHot Stone Bath and enjoy a relaxing Tibetan Ku Nye massage, where warm oil is applied to specific points to release energy blockages (chargeable activity). Overnight – Amankora Paro
- 8 International departureThis morning you bid farewell to Bhutan. Your driver will take you to Paro International Airport, a journey of around 30 minutes from the lodge. We recommend you arrive two hours before the flight is scheduled to depart. We hope to welcome you back soon to the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
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What our clients say
Our ten day trip through Bhutan was a truly amazing experience. Bhutan is a beautiful kingdom and thanks to our excellent guide Tsheten, we could explore it thoroughly.
Tine Raeymaekers & Cis Verbeeck
I visited Bhutan in January/February 2007 for 11 days, and it was an incredible experience. Tsheten took very good care of me and introduced me at easy pace to Bhutan culture, customs, history and people.
It was clear that Bhutan had captured everyone's attention when my fellow taking photos the minute they stepped off the plane - and we hadn't even entered the airport yet! I was met at the airport by Tsheten himself, and from start to finish, he was organized, charming and attentive.