Bhutan at the height of the festival season, in the glorious days of autumn – this is Shangri La in its most awe-inspiring and beautiful season. In fall’s golden days, the mountains echo with the boom of highland horns, accompanied by bells, drums, gongs and conch shells. In an atmosphere of mystical power unchanged for centuries, silk-robed masked dancers leap, twirl and whirl in a kaleidoscope of color as they celebrate the ancient Himalayan Buddhist rituals. The festivals in Bhutan are pure and genuine, representing a tradition that dates back thousands of years. This favorite fall tour combines two religious festivals in the remote valley of Bumthang. One at the famous Jambay Lhakang temple and the other at the Prakhar– a small mountain temple up in the hills. Then your discovery trip will also celebrate the arrival of the Sacred Black-Necked cranes into the isolated Phobjhika valley which come to Bhutan each year from Tibet and the Qinghai Plateau and are renowned in songs, poems and Bhutanese legend for their beauty and mystery. The people of the valley, mostly farmers, hold an annual celebration of the Crane Festival in honor of these revered cranes at the courtyard of the 16th century Nyingmapa Gompa, with a procession, religious ceremony, folk and masked dances, and archery contests. The black-necked crane is the least known, most difficult to see and last to be discovered of the cranes, the largest flying birds in the world, and according to Peter Matthiessen, “magnificent and stirring creatures, heralds and symbols of all that is being lost.”
On this special festival tour, you will visit weekend markets, cross the spectacular Dochu La pass into the balmy Punakha valley, then cross high passes into central Bhutan and explore the beautiful and historic Bumthang Valleys. You will stop at Trongsa and the see the largest fortress Dzong of the kingdom. Then you will visit Gangtey, the high, remote and the beautiful village surrounded by the mysterious Black Mountains and see the beautiful Cranes. The exploration ends with a hike up to the Tiger’s Nest– the most revered of all temples in the kingdom. Intensive sightseeing, day hikes, and a wealth of visual and cultural experiences create an exhilarating visit to one of the world’s most untouched and fascinating places during a fascinating time.