Step off the plane in India’s capital where you will be met by an A&K representative in the Arrivals hall. It’s only a ten-minute transfer to your hotel, a serene escape ideally located close to the airport. It’s the perfect place to recover from a flight with eight acres of gardens and the longest swimming pool in New Delhi. We recommend relaxing this afternoon before your flight to Bhutan tomorrow.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to the valley town of Paro and experience a thrilling plane journey over the Himalayas. A driver will be waiting on the other side to whisk you through the mountain kingdom to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. Your hotel sits strategically on the outskirts of the city, cradled by forest pine. In the evening, stroll down to Thimphu’s market area for a meander along its main street lined with eateries and souvenir shops.
Boot up for an hour’s hike to the 17th-century Cheri Goemba monastery tucked into the hillside. On the way down to Thimphu, duck into the Buddhist complex Pangri Zampa, a beautiful monastery dedicated to the teachings of traditional astrology. Back in the capital you can learn the art of handmade paper making and how to roll incense. If you’re there on the weekend, make sure to visit the Craft Bazaar, a vision of traditional bamboo shops as well as the bustling vegetable markets.
It’s an early start to the town of Punakha. Embark on a scenic journey taking you over the 3,050m-high Dochula Pass where on a clear day you can see the Himalayas in all their majesty. Along the way you can stop to see the Simtokha Dzong, one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries as well as ancient wall paintings at Hongtsho Goemba. Another highlight includes Chimi Lhakhang, a 15th-century fertility monastery. Descend the lush valley to Punakha where your hotel awaits.
Stretch your legs by hiking to the gold-tiered Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, best explored in the cool morning air. Its hillside location affords some beguiling panoramas of the lush valley below. Then it’s off to Punakha Dzong, arguably Bhutan’s most beautiful man-made structure where the present King married. Take a look around its intricate murals and elaborately carved wood. This afternoon you could try your hand at archery (Bhutan’s national sport) or take a cooking class learning to make momos (traditional dumplings). For dinner why not consider a lantern-lit barbeque.
Today, your driver will take you three hours east through rolling hillsides, past scenic rivers to the glacial valley of Gangtey where your lodge awaits. At 3,000 metres, it is the gateway to Himalayan adventure. There’s time for a stroll through the traditional village and a visit to the ancient altars of Gangtey Goemba, perched on the crest of the valley. You may even be treated to a sacred blessing.
This remote location offers the ultimate escape for hikers. Think flowering meadows, bamboo enclaves and clusters of traditional village houses – keep an eye out for red panda and if you’re lucky, a snow leopard. Those eager for a challenge should consider the Longtey Hike, a beautiful trail crossing rhododendron forests and sweeping valley scenery. Depending on the season (October-March), it’s worth a visit to the Black-necked Crane Centre to learn about the significance of this bird species. Use the powerful telescopes available to spot them in flight.
Today you’ll travel east to the small town of Bumthang. Make a brief stop at Chendebji Chorten, which according to legend was a shrine built to subdue anti-religious demons. Proceed to the town of Trongsa where you can see Trongza Dzong, the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan. Then journey through the Chhume Valley, known for its traditional textiles and intricate handiwork. Arrive in Bumthang, which literally translates as ‘beautiful field,’ a district covered in buckwheat and apple orchards. Unwind in this idyllic setting and perhaps request a signature zen massage.
After a hearty breakfast, start exploring a land speckled with monasteries, shrines and Buddhist prayer wheels. Hike to the temple of Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest in Bhutan founded by Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King in the 7th century A.D. Make a pit-stop at a nearby farmhouse for lunch, where you will sample local delicacies. The area is renown for its cottage industries such as the Red Panda Brewery and Cheese Factory, an authentic stop-off for a tasting.
Explore Bumthang’s lesser-trodden Tang Valley. Visit remote temples and monasteries such as the holy Membartsho, widely known as the Burning Lake, a holy site where Pema Lingpa, a famed terton (treasure finder) was said to have discovered underwater treasures. You can also visit the 14th century temple Ta Rimochen Lhakhang, marked by an enormous rock at which the Guru Rinpoche meditated. Continue on foot to the Ugyen Chholing Palace, one of Bhutan’s best museums. The Tang Valley is a haven for hikers who should make the most of the offbeat trails.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Paro. Situated half an hour from the airport, your hotel is an indulgent retreat, the perfect way to end your stay in Bhutan, overlooking spectacular mountain scenery.
After breakfast, a driver will take you to the airport for your flight to Delhi. Land in the afternoon and it’s straight out into the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city. Sweep through the city streets via a rickshaw ride. You’ll journey past Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques and stop off at colourful bazaars bursting with spices and textiles piled high. Arrive at your hotel and relax for the night.
Catch a flight to Jodhpur, India’s blue-hued city. Your hotel is an 18thcentury haveli (mansion). Check-in and amble down to the pool where you could spend the rest of the afternoon sipping cocktails while gazing up at the spectacularly impressive Mehrangarh Fort.
Your hotel is the best place to explore the labyrinthine walled city and the rose sandstone Mehrangarh Fort. Head out with your private guide (your secret weapon) who can unlock the history of this ancient city. Discover its crenellated ramparts, 15th century palaces and expansive courtyards. The lofty location affords some of the most spectacular views over Jodhpur’s sea of blue-washed buildings.
Although a six hour drive the destination is more than worth the long journey. Enter a desert kingdom swaddled in mystery with honey-coloured forts, elegant havelis and gold sandstone walls. For the next three nights, soak up the exotic luxury in this camp set on the indigenous desert scrub. Tonight, why not enjoy a candlelit dinner under the stars.
This morning is dedicated to discovering the Jaisalmer Fort, the city’s crowning glory and the most impressive sandcastle you have ever seen. Dating back to the 12th-century, its turrets and battlements appear rising out of the desert. Inside you’ll find a tangle of streets, superb palaces and temples as well as exquisite engravings. You then have the rest of the afternoon to yourself.
Spend the day at your leisure perhaps exploring the desert escape on a camel safari.
Unwind on a lounger by the infinity pool and request a massage in the pampering spa. Sunset on the dunes is a must for utterly spellbinding skyscapes. Enjoy with a gin and tonic in hand.
This morning, a driver will take you to the airport for your flight back to New Delhi. Upon arrival, it’s a short trip to your hotel where you’ll spend your last night relaxing in the lap of luxury.
A transfer will take you to the airport from where you will depart.