- Capture images of daily life in Bhutan on hikes to local villages and excursions to lively markets.
- Hike to Bhutan's most famous pilgrimage site, Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger's Nest Temple.
- Photograph the exquisite carvings and sculptures of the newly renovated Gangtey Gonpa temple.
- Mingle with community leaders and government dignitaries at a banquet dinner and gain insight into modern Bhutan.
Set out into the mountains of Bhutan to shoot images of exquisite temples, timeless farming villages, and the towering Himalaya. Capture scenes of lively markets and crimson-robed monks set against a backdrop of whitewashed dzongs. Hike into forests where wild moss creates an otherworldly atmosphere, and photograph breathtaking panoramas of snow-clad peaks.
Arrive in Bangkok this evening and check in to our hotel.
From Bangkok, fly to Bhutan's Paro Valley (7,300 feet). Settle into our stunning hotel—a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection—and capture dramatic images of the valley from Ta Dzong before walking down to Paro’s traditional center, Paro Rinpung Dzong. After a late-afternoon photo shoot with the monks in the courtyard of the dzong, return to the hotel and gather for a welcome dinner.
In the early-morning light, photograph the traditional decorative details of the seventh-century Kyichu Lakhang. Kyichu is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan, and is believed to be holding the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. Following a special Buddhist blessing ceremony, journey to Punakha, Bhutan’s ancient capital. En route to Punakha, stop at the Dochu La pass (10,000 feet) and train your lens on the 200-mile panorama of Himalayan peaks (weather permitting).
Enjoy a full day to photograph the golden Punakha Valley, beginning with the impressive Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 to guard the northern and southern approaches to the valley, the dzong served as the national capital until 1966. Late this afternoon, hike through terraced fields to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a hilltop shrine with sweeping views of the fertile valley below.
Travel to the alpine valley of Phobjikha (10,000 feet), considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. Along the way, stop to photograph the changing landscape as it transitions from semi tropical to pine forest, and then to an alpine environment where rhododendron, dwarf bamboo, and gray langur monkeys can be found.
Against a backdrop of forest-clad mountains, the Gangtey Goemba temple complex rises dramatically from a cluster of hilltop cottages. One of the oldest Nyingma monasteries in Bhutan, Gangtey Goemba has recently been renovated, and the fine workmanship of Bhutan’s best woodcarvers, sculptors, and painters here makes for fantastic photography. Set off on a half-day hike, stopping to meet a family at a local farmhouse along the way.
Travel to Thimphu (7,900 feet), the capital of Bhutan and home to the royal family. As the kingdom’s only true city, as well as the center for government and much of the country’s commerce, Thimphu features a unique mix of Bhutanese and Western traditions. Time permitting, spend the afternoon photographing scenes of contemporary Bhutanese life in the capital. Tonight, get a behind-the-scenes perspective on the forces shaping the country’s future during a lively Bhutanese banquet with members of the government, local dignitaries, and respected professionals.
After a morning exploring the country’s more modern side in Thimphu, visit the capital's colorful outdoor produce market. Late this afternoon, return to Paro for the night.
Our journey in the kingdom culminates with an early-morning photo hike to the most famous pilgrimage site in Bhutan: Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger’s Nest Temple (9,300 feet). Visible from afar, this stunning monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor. This evening, celebrate your Bhutanese adventure at a festive farewell dinner. As the sun sets behind the surrounding mountains, enjoy a rare opportunity to photograph some of the country's finest dancers close-up at a private masked dance performance.
Fly to Bangkok and check in to our hotel. The following morning, transfer to the airport for your return flight via Bangkok, arriving home the same day.