Bhutan West to East, April 2018
Wild Light Photography Tour Across Bhutan with Steve Walton in Association with Sha Adventure
A Wild Light Photography Tour from 31st March-13th April 2018. This two-week authentic adventure travel itinerary is packed with jaw-dropping landscapes, friendly local Buddhist people, colourful festivals and culture. Exploration and adventures west to east, a full traverse of the beautiful Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan with professional local guides and professional photography tutoring by Steve Walton throughout the tour.
Wild Light Phototours and Sha Adventure have joined forces to take you on genuine photographic journeys from Paro in the west to Gauhati (India) in the east. Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet and our tour itinerary has been carefully timed, designed and researched to take you on an amazing travel experience. Sha Adventure is a long-established tour operator (25+ years) based in Bhutan. Founder and owner, Sha Phurba, was the first to be trained as a professional guide by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and is ranked as one of the top five Bhutanese guides as a Licensed Senior Tour Leader. Sha has led groups from the Smithsonian and Harvard Museums, the National Geographic team and Hollywood stars Uma Thurman and her father, Robert Thurman and Michael Dell and his family.
We will take you to villages where you can experience colourful and vibrant festivals, the culture and traditions of Bhutan and you will return with a new perspective on life and the purpose of living it. You will be immersed in amazing landscapes throughout and you will discover a happy and welcoming population whose values are based on respect, consideration and the celebration of tradition.
Individuals and private groups
Wild Light Phototours in association with Sha Advanture can also arrange private individual and group tours in Bhutan with bespoke itineraries. Whether you are a solo traveller, an exclusive private group travelling together or independently exploring Bhutan as a family, please contact us to discuss your personal guided tour itinerary. Additional costs apply to bespoke itineraries for individual solo or private groups.
What is the tour across Bhutan intended for?
To enable participants to experience a genuine authentic adventure with the security of established professionally accredited local guides. The itinerary has been carefully planned with expert local knowledge by a professional Bhutanese guide and a professional UK landscape photographer. The group will be guided throughout by professional Bhutanese guide, Sha Phurba. Photography tutoring during the tour will be personally undertaken by renowned UK based professional landscape and travel photographer, Steve Walton.
Who is the tour intended for?
Adventure-hungry intrepid travellers, landscape, travel and social documentary photographers of all ages, abilities, nationalities and personal orientation are all welcome to join us!
Bhutan Tour Itinerary
West to East Across Bhutan
Day 1: 31st March 2017
Arrival at PARO International Airport. Your first glimpse of Bhutan.
On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be met by your tutor, guide and driver. Check into your hotel and after a brief rest, start your magical experience of Bhutan by first visiting the impressive Rinpung Dzong: Fortress of Heaped Jewels, a fine example of Bhutanese art and architecture. Located above the Dzong is the National Museum, showcasing various artifacts and relics of ancient Bhutan. The Paro Dzong offers a wealth of photography opportunities. Walk across the traditional cantilever bridge and stroll through downtown Paro. Before dinner in the evening, we will meet for introductions and a presentation about the tour and our adventures ahead.
Day 2, 1st April 2017
Paro Hike to the Tiger’s Nest:
5-6 hour’s walk.
Today, your journey culminates at the Kingdom’s most iconic site: Taktshang Lhakhang Monastery, (the Tiger’s Nest). This majestic structure is poised high above the Paro valley, built on the ledge of a granite cliff face. Make the steep and strenuous trek to the temple or hike to a nearby viewpoint, taking in a landscape dotted with pine trees, prayer flags, and ancient shrines. We will climb approximately 1500ft from the valley to the summit. we recommend to start early to avoid crowds and heat as the temperature rises during the day.
We will aim to return for lunch at the resort, depending on the group’s walking pace which will be dictated by the slowest walker. It is strenuous but for those who make the climb, it is incredibly rewarding to arrive at the Monastery.
Day 3, 2nd April 2017
Paro – Thimphu:
1.5 hrs drive.
After a leisurely breakfast, we will drive for an hour to Thimphu through the beautiful Bhutan landscape and during holidays you can stop over and watch an archery competition in progress. Thimphu is one of the few capital cities in the world without traffic lights and the traffic is still controlled by policemen.
Take in the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley from the site of the gigantic Buddha Shakyamuni, one of the largest statues of Buddha at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters).
The Memorial Chorten/stupa in town is another favourite spot for tourists and elderly citizens as they circle around the Chorten, chanting prayers and pulling at their beads. The main statue of the Buddha inside the Chorten is said to grant wishes for the earnest and honest hearted!
You will want to mingle with the Bhutanese people and jostle with local farmers amongst the aroma of organic fruits and vegetables, the Centenary Farmers Market is the place to be. Smiling tourists watch in awe as locals bargain with the vendors and you can stock up on your fresh fruit for the coming days.
In the evening visit the Tashichho Dzong, Fortress of the Auspicious Religion and Office of the Golden Throne of the Dragon King of Bhutan.
Day 4, 3rd April 2017
Thimphu – Punakha:
3 hours drive.
After breakfast check out of the hotel and drive to Punkaha & Wangdi valleys. En-route stop over at the Dochulaa Pass (3150m) and enjoy the spectacular views of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains. The 108 small stupas built over a small hill close by is also a beautiful sight.
The road from the Pass winds down to the warm and fertile valleys and after a brief rest we will visit the Fertility Temple, Chime Lhakhang. It is a pleasant 30 minutes walk through mustard and paddy fields. Standing on a picturesque hilltop, the Lhakhang is famous for granting fertility wishes. Inside the walls of the Lhakhang are beautiful frescoes depicting the colourful life of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman regarded for his unconventional methods of teaching, including the blessing of women in the form of copulation! We will visit the massive Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 and the second oldest dong in Bhutan.
Day 5, 4th April 2017
Full day festival at Talo
1 hour drive
The Talo festival takes place in the quaint village of Talo at Talo Monastery, approximately one hour’s drive from Punakha and situated at an elevation of 2800m. The three-day festival is particularly popular for its mask and atsara dances. Indigenous to this festival is the classical dance ( Zungdra) by Talo dance group. The three songs of Mani sum, which includes the Zungdra set is performed at the end of each day. The festival, besides its religious significance, is an opportunity for villagers and families to come together and celebrate.
Day 6, 5th April 2017
Punakha – Gangtey
3-4 hours drive
Today the drive is fairly short and beautiful. We follow the Wangdi valley and its river and we will be gaining the altitude very rapidly, from 1500m to 3700m via the Lawa La Pass. From here this valley opens up and it is the most spectacular valley of the tour. We will check in and lunch at the hotel. After lunch, we will head out to attend the Long Life Prayer Ceremony at the Monastery.
Day 7, 6th April 2017
Explore the Wangdi Valley.
This valley is popularly known for it’s population of over 400 black necked cranes, which overwinter here. We can stroll by the side of the valley to get closer for photography. Later in the afternoon we will drive further down the valley for more photography.
Day 8, 7th April 2017
Gangtey – Bumthang Jakar
6 – 7 hrs drive
After breakfast, drive to the beautiful valley of Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and also known as ‘mini-Switzerland’! The drive is scenic via the Pelela Pass at 3420 meters and through the quaint little highland villages of Sephu, Rukubjee, Chendebjee, Tangsibjee and many other small rural settlements along the way. At the Trongsa viewpoint, enjoy the view of the majestic Trongsa Dzong, Fortress of the Vanguard of Warriors and the neighbouring valleys.
From Trongsa it is another 2 hours to Bumthang via the Yotongla Pass at 3400 meters. Enroute stop over at the Yathra weaving centre in Chumey village where you can watch men and women weavers at their looms weaving yak wool products.
Check into the hotel and if you wish, go for a stroll through the marketplace.
Day 9, 8th April 2017
Explore the valley
After a typical Bumthang breakfast, walk at a leisurely pace to the three temples of Jambay Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamzhing Lhakhang. All the monasteries are ancient with unique history and beauty.
After lunch visit the Jakar Dzong, Fortress of the White Bird and the Swiss farmhouse where you can taste and buy local beer, honey wine, Swiss cheese, clover honey, apple cider, apple brandy and other products.
In the evening stroll through the town and have dinner at a local restaurant serving local Bumthang cuisine which is very individual compared to other parts of the country.
Day 10, 9th April 2017
Bumthang Jakar – Tang valley explore
6 – 7 hrs drive
Today we will drive to this beautiful Tang valley, on the way we will check out the sacred Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake). later will continue our drive and then visit the Tang temple located by the giant rock face overlooking the Tang river down below. From here we will drive up on the hilltop to visit the beautiful Palace, now converted into a museum by the family. After the museum will enjoy our picnic lunch by the riverside. Later, we will drive back to Jakar
Day 11, 10th April 2017
Bumthang – Monger
6 – 7hrs drive
Today we will leave the central part region and continue our journey to the eastern side of Bhutan. We will continue via Ura La Pass (3230m), through Ura village and climb over Thrumshing La, at 3760m this is the highest altitude road in the country. The drive is really beautiful with many photography opportunities. We descend down through beautiful Sangor village, where we will stop for lunch. As we leave Sangor, we will be able to see Mongar district in the far distance, pass by a beautiful, high waterfall and through lush vegetation as we drop down to 1400m at Limithang. From here, we have another half hour to our destination. Check in at the hotel and later we will stroll through around the small town of Mongar.
Day 12, 11th April 2017
Mongar – Tashigang
We will carry on our venture to Tashigang, which has the largest population in the country. We will go over the Kori La Pass (2910m). Every corner and every curve has a photography opportunity until and unless you become exhausted! As we drive down to the Tashigang Valley, we can visit the sacred site Gom Kora, where Guru Rinpoche meditated right by this giant rock. Then after we will drive back to Tashigang for the night.
Day 13, 12th April 2017
Explore Radhi Valley.
40 minutes drive
Today we will explore to Radhi village. This valley is famous for raw silk weaving. Beside their farming and agriculture work, every woman here is a weaver. We will have an opportunity to visit each and every home if you wish! We can also visit the beautiful Rangjung Monastery and stroll through Ranjung town. Later in the evening will visit the Tashigang Dzong and check out the biggest business centre for eastern Bhutan.
Day 14, 13th April 2017
Tashigang – Samdrupdzongkhar
5-6 hours drive
Today is our last drive through the Land of the Thunder Dragon. The drive to the border town of Samdrup Dzongkhar is approximately 5 to 6 hours, depending on how many photo opportunities we take advantage of along the way. The drive again is very beautiful with stunning views and villages and changing vegetation. This town is the business hub for the eastern Bhutan people. If you are a bird lover this is where you will find a lot of different species. In the evening you can stroll through down town and later we will all celebrate the adventures of the past two weeks at dinner.
Day 15, 14th April
2017Samdrup Dzongkhar – Gauhati Airport
3-4 hours drive
Today we will leave for Gauhati in India for your flights to Bangkok or Delhi and your connecting flights home. Have a safe journey home and Tashi delek!
Bhutan Tour details
Cost per person:
- These costs include supplements and surcharges as detailed below. Discounts will be applied when more than three people have booked to join the tour. Please contact us for discount details.
What is included in the Bhutan Tour:
- Transfers to and from hotels at the start and end of the tour
- Transport to locations and itinerary destinations on the tour
- Single or double occupancy accommodation, at least 3* (single supplements are $20-30 per night)
- Meals where stated
- Daily bottled water
- Professional local guides, licenced by the Tourism Council of Bhutan
- Photography tutoring by professional landscape photographer Steve Walton FMPA FBIPP with image reviews and post processing tuition
- Land costs, including visa fees
What is not included:
- Your return travel
- Connecting flights: from Delhi or Bangkok to Paro to begin the tour and from Gauhati to Delhi or Bangkok at the end of the tour
- Photographic and other associated equipment
- Travel insurances
- Costs incurred due to natural calamities
- Intrepid travellers and photographers of all ages and abilities who wish to join a group of like-minded fellow travellers. Solo travellers and private groups or families who wish experience genuine photographic journeys with an ethical ethos in consideration for local people and their customs are welcome.
You will need:
- Your camera equipment
- laptop or tablet and charger
- Although there is no strenuous walking or climbing on the tour, for your complete enjoyment a reasonable level of fitness and a few days’ aclimatisation to the altitude is advisable
- Individuals or groups of any size up to 20 people can be accommodated with additional Bhutanese licenced guides and vehicles as required
- Bespoke itineraries for individuals and private groups
- Minimum of 8 nights for a private tour
- Single person cost is $290 per night (min. 8 nights, including single supplement) with discounts for additional group members as follows: 2 people $280 per night, 3 people or more $250 per person per night.
- For a bespoke 14 night private tour the cost is discounted to $250 per person per night (including supplements) and applies to individuals travelling alone or travelling as part of a group of any size up to 20 people maximum.
Please contact us for more information and BOOKING DETAILS HERE
Bhutan Tour Gallery