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Bhutan

 Bhutan is a small Buddhist country located in the eastern Himalayas surrounded by Tibet to the north and India to the east, west and south. Increasingly renowned as one of the Earth’s last precious unspoiled spots this magical place with a vibrant Buddhist culture is integrated into every aspect of daily life. Spectacular mountain scenery provides a backdrop to pristine forests and picturesque valleys. The breathtaking landscape is dotted with fluttering prayer flags, colourful farmhouses amidst the terraced fields, and impressive monasteries clinging to impossible cliffs.

The inhabitants themselves call this “Druk Yul”, the land of the peaceful dragon. The Kingdom’s low population and its wise and farsighted leadership have propelled Bhutan into the 21st Century with much of its natural and cultural heritage unique and intact.
(Bhutan Gayul)
 
A BRIEF HISTORY
Bhutan’s early history is steeped in the Buddhist tradition and mythology. Mystery surrounds Bhutan’s distant past, because books and papers were lost in consecutive fires at the national printing works and at Punakha Dzong in 1828 and 1832. Then a massive earthquake in 1896 and a fire in Paro Dzong destroyed all but a few of the records that outlasted the first disasters. Despite the loss of these records, we know that Bhutan’s history parallels the following of Buddhism in the Himalayas. To properly understand Bhutan’s history, one also needs to understand its religion, because Buddhism has occupied a predominant role in shaping the social, political, economic and cultural evolution of the country.

Although Bhutan was not unified under a central authority until the 17th century, the religious presence in the country had been acting as a spiritual cohesion for many years. In 747 A.D the Buddhist sage, Padmasambhava, popularly revered in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche or the precious Master, visited the country and introduced Buddhism. Since then, in the century that followed, Lamas or Buddhist teachers and local nobility established their own separate domains through out the country.

In 1616, another saint called the “Shabdrung,” meaning, “at whose feet one submits,” came from Tibet and unified Bhutan under a central authority. He is responsible for building all the Dzongs (fortresses) in the kingdom and also set up a dual system of government that intertwines the religious and secular authorities. To the present day, these Dzongs serve as a center for religious and civil authority.

The country’s recent history begins with the establishment of a hereditary monarchy in 1907. However, it was only during the reign of the third king (1952-1972), His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck also known as the Father of modern Bhutan that the nation emerged from its medieval past of serfdom and reclusion. Until the 1960s the country had no national currency, no telephones, schools, hospitals, postal services or tourists. Development efforts have now produced all these plus a national assembly, airport, roads, and a national system of health care. Despite the speed of modernization, Bhutan has maintained a policy of careful, controlled growth in an effort to preserve its national identity. Under the visionary leadership of the 4th King (1972-2007), His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck has promoted the development philosophy of ‘Gross National Happiness’. Further under his reign Bhutan withnessed the biggest political transformation when His Majesty abdicated the throne for his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and declared democracy as a form of government for Bhutan.
 
ITINERARIES CAN BE TAILORED FOR SMALL GROUPS & PRIVATE TOURS 
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BHUTAN - the land of happiness - small group and private tours

BHUTAN TOURIST MAP

BHUTAN - ALONG THE HERITAGE TRAIL - 10 days

 Take a journey of discovery into the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, experiencing its stunning Himalayan scenery, vibrant Buddhist culture and delightful people. Make a pilgrimage to the iconic Taktsang Monastery or “Tiger’s Nest” as it is commonly known, Bhutan’s most famous landmark and holy site. This incredible gravity-defying monastery clings to a sheer cliff face 900m above the Paro Valley. Travel to the remote Haa Valley, lined with pristine forest, and visit local villages. Explore the capital city, Thimphu, and learn more about the country’s history and culture, visiting museums and schools. Travel by road along the Dochula Pass, taking in sweeping views of the Himalayas, en route to Punakha. Here you will see what is considered by many to be the country’s most beautiful dzong, the Punakha dzong, set at the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. Contact Guidepost Tours for prices and more information (GPT-ICS)

BHUTAN THROUGH THE LENS - 12 days

 Bhutan is full of spectacular photo opportunities. From the bustling markets of Thimphu to the serenity of the Phobjikha Valley and the breathtaking Himalayas, there are so many magical moments. Travelling around Bhutan is truly inspiring, and is full of surprises, happiness and beauty in every direction. Contact Guidepost Tours for more information and prices. (GPT-ICS)

BHUTAN - MISTY MOUNTAINS & MONASTERIES - 11 days

 Set amidst the mighty Himalayas, and steeped in ancient traditions, the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” delivers true one-in-a-life time experiences. Make a pilgrimage to the iconic Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest as it is commonly known, which clings to a sheer cliff face 900m above the Paro Valley. Cycle through picturesque valleys and hike along rugged mountain passes, stopping in remote local villages and meeting the friendly Bhutanese. Take a thrilling rafting expedition on the Pho Chu River, with a backdrop of alpine landscapes and the stunning Punakha Dzong. Gain insight into Bhutan’s artistic heritage, discovering its 13 traditional arts, or “zorig chusum” on an urban adventure in its capital city, Thimphu. Contact Guidepost Tours for more information and prices. (GPT-ICS)

BHUTAN FIVE VALLEY TREK - 12 days

 Discover an ancient Himalayan kingdom, closed off from the world for centuries, shrouded in myths and legends. Walk to remote gold-roofed temples and monasteries, and hike up steep slopes across windswept meadows filled with wildflowers. Visit lively villages in emerald valleys surrounded by spectacular Himalayan scenery. Learn about local culture, enjoy local culinary delicacies, and take part in an evening of traditional song and dance. Contact Guidepost Tours for more information and prices (GPT-ICS)

TREKKING IN BHUTAN

 As Robert Frost says ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’ - that difference is what trekking in Bhutan offers - experiencing the trails less travelled. The trek routes are basically trails used by yak herders and, local communities - making your trek more special within this cultural mosaic. You will have a group of professional and experienced crew to handle your food, tents, guiding and you will be accompanied by a caravan of horses and pack animals. Trekking in Bhutan is an extraordinary experience. There is much to see-mountains, forests, alpine meadows, lakes, flowers, wildlife and - local communities and all, within the peaceful, tranquil and captivating landscape. Contact Guidepost Tours (Gpt-Gayul)


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Bhutan