Bhutan’s glacial fed rivers that flow down narrow valleys in great fury are ideal for adventurous white river rafting and kayaking. In fact, these rivers are so unpredictable that even the best rafters experience an adrenaline rush, to say the least. The best rivers for rafting are Paro Chhu, Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu in Punakha and Mangde Chhu in Trongsa. The river rafting expeditions are mixed with cultural and hiking tours, allowing our guests to make the best of their stay in Bhutan.
Day 1: Arrival, Paro/Thimphu
Our tour executive will welcome you at the Paro International Airport and bring you to Thimphu. The two-hour drive till Thimphu is a pleasant one. Once in Thimphu, you will check in to your hotel and relax till lunchtime. In the afternoon, you will visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of the King, followed by a visit to the National Memorial Chorten in the heart of the city. In the evening, you can take a stroll around the city, visit local pubs and entertainment clubs.
Day 2: Drive to Punakha
After an early breakfast, we will drive to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan. On the way, we will briefly stop at Dochula (pass), the highest point on the road, which is decorated with 108 chortens, mani walls, and prayer flags. During clear skies, we can have a magnificent view of the high Himalayan peaks, (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
In Punakha, we will visit the Punakha Dzong. It is one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the country built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It stands between two rivers – the Pho Chhu (Male River) and Mo Chhu (Female River) where you will raft. Overnight halt at Punakha.
Day 3: Punakha/Wangdue
Following breakfast, we will drive to the north of Punakha valley along the Pho Chhu river. The rafting expedition begins here. It is a 7km stretch with class III and IV rapids. You can choose to continue further downstream, another 7km, till the end of Pho Chhu. Both rafting and kayaking can be done.
After lunch, we will visit the famous Chimi Lhakhang. Synonymous with the “Divine Madman” – Lam Drukpa Kunley who established it in the 16th century, it is also known as the “Temple of Fertility”. Childless couples visit the temple at Lobesa and the presiding monk blesses the couple with a silver handled phallus, which Drukpa Kuenley is said to have brought from Tibet. Overnight at Punakha
Day 4: Drive to Trongsa
After early lunch, we will take the journey to Trongsa, central Bhutan. On the way, before reaching Pelela (pass), we will take a detour to the scenic Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and winter home of the globally endangered black necked cranes, which migrate from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. We will explore Phobjikha and also visit Gangtey Monastery. Overnight at Trongsa.
Day 5: Trongsa
Today, we will visit Trongsa Dzong, high above the roaring Mangde Chhu. It is perhaps the most spectacularly located Dzong in Bhutan, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist. We will also visit the Trongsa Ta Dzong that houses a museum. Sightseeing will be followed by lunch at the hotel. We will then hit the rapids in the turbulent Mangde Chhu. Kayaking is possible in the river but rafting would require medium flow strong team. Overnight at Trongsa.
Day 6: Drive to Paro
Today, after early breakfast, we will drive back to Paro. Night halt at Paro.
Day 7: Rafting/Kayaking in Paro Chhu
After breakfast, we will head to Paro Chhu for the final rafting/kayaking expedition of the tour. It’s a 10km long stretch with Rapids of class III and IV difficulty. Normally, kayaking is recommended on this stretch.
Post lunch by the riverside, we will visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in the country and the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. The Dzong will be reconstructed to its former glory to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness the Prince of Bhutan on 5 February 2016. We will also visit the Paro Ta Dzong, the erstwhile watch tower which today houses the National Museum of Bhutan. Overnight at Paro.
Day 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest
Hanging from a sheer cliff of 3,000m above the valley, Taktsang or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is one of the most venerated sites in Bhutan. It is said that the country’ s patron saint Guru Rinpoche flew to the site on the back of a flaming tigress and subdued a malevolent spirit. Legend also has it that the Guru incarnated himself in his eight manifestations at this spot. Overnight at Paro.
Day 9: Departure
Our tour executive will see you off at the Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Bon voyage.