THE ROYAL HIGHLANDER – LAYA FESTIVAL
Travel Consultant – Deanne Scanlan, 0411682577, Enchanting Bhutan
11 DAYS 10 NIGHTS TOUR AND HIKE
OCTOBER 19 TO 28 2019 – Departs Thimphu
“The Royal Highlander Festival” is held in the mountain town of Laya, one of the most beautiful regions in Bhutan. The festival was initiated to encourage and revive the age-old tradition of Yak raring tradition of the highlanders of Bhutan, which has in recent years been declining due to the increase in the other forms of economic activities amongst them.
Climate at Laya:
Laya sits at an altitude of 3800m and the festival venue is at 4000m. It can be fairly cold in October, with daytime temperatures ranging between 1-12 C, and night time temperatures dipping below 0 C. Light drizzles and snowfall may be also expected. Afternoons are windy, with an average relative humidity of 48%. The walk to Laya from Gasa can be challenging especially if the weather is wet. Extra war, wind/rain proof clothes and good walking shoes are advised.
Day 1 ARRIVAL- THIMPHU: Saturday- 19th October, 2019
Elevation 2,334 m
Welcome to Bhutan.
You will be met at the airport before taking a short drive to your hotel in Thimphu where you will enjoy a Bhutanese lunch before visiting a few local sights of the capital such as Buddha Point which boasts the largest statue of Buddha overlooking the valley below. The scenery is breathtaking so have your camera ready.
Motithang Takin Preserve home to Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin will be followed by the story of how the half goat half cow came into being. Sometimes referred to as the goat with attitude, this bold animal is protected along with just about all of the animals in the small Kingdom.
Return to your hotel for dinner.
DAY 2 -THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA: Sunday – 20th October, 2019
Elevation 1,242 m
On our way to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan, we will stop at Dochula Pass. Providing stunning 360-degree views of the Himalayan Mountains, it is also the location of the 108 stupas built by the oldest Queen mother commemorating the reign of Druk Gyalpo (head of state in Bhutan).
We will stop for morning tea for photo opportunities before continuing our journey through the mountains into Punakha.
DAY 3 -PUNAKHA TO GASA AND TONGCHU ZAM CAMP: Monday 21st October, 2019
Elevation 2850 m
Early Morning leave your hotel for an approx. 4 hour drive to Gasa where the road ends, from there start your 4 hours trek to Koina your destination for tonight.
The trek is a gradual one with a mix of descending and gradual climbs.
DAY 4 -TONGCHU ZAM TO LAYA: Tuesday- 22nd October, 2019
Elevation 3800 m with the festival at 4000m
After breakfast, start trekking to your destination, the beautiful highland village of Laya. The trail winds up gradually and at times becomes steep until you reach Laya.
We will arrive early to the camp providing enough time to enjoy the scenic beauty of the landscape and interact with the locals. Overnight camp.
DAY 5- LAYA (FESTIVAL): Wednesday- 23rd October, 2019
Elevation 4000 m
2 DAY LAYA FESTIVAL
The Royal Highlander festival was introduced in 2016 and shares the beauty, the authenticity and the simplicity of Highlanders life in Bhutan.
During the festival, visitors can witness the 17th century tradition of offering of Buelwa (Gift offering) and Auley (traditional epic poem/song recitation).
Varieties of cultural programs will be performed by Layaps. The various competitions on highland animals including the Yaks, horses and Mastiffs will be held.
If you chose to, you may purchase local produce.
DAY 6- LAYA TO THONGCHU ZAM: Thursday- 24th October, 2019
Elevation 3850 m
After the festival, we will trace our way back to Thongchu Zam
Overnight at Thongchu Zam.
DAY 7- THONGCHU ZAM TO GASA: Friday-25th October, 2019
Elevation 3850 m
After a day of hiking you will be treated to a warm spring bath to soak away the aches and pains.
Overnight at Gasa Camp.
DAY 8- GASA TO PUNAKHA: Saturday- 26th October, 2019
Elevation 1242 m
Punakha is a town in the Himalayas of Bhutan. It’s known for the Punakha Dzong, a 17th-century fortress at the juncture of the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers. The fortress hosts the Punakha Tshechu, a religious festival featuring masked dances and music. In the surrounding Punakha Valley, temples include the fertility-focused Chimi Lhakhang and the hilltop Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which has river and mountain views.
We will visit the dzong before having a leisurely lunch. We will then visit Chimi Lhakang and the. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight Hotel
DAY 9- PUNAKHA TO PARO: Sunday – 27th October 2019
We head back to scenic Paro Valley, home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and the country’s only airport. This mixture of old and new makes Paro an important part of Bhutan’s past, present, and future.
The valley is home to Jomolhari Mountain, located on the north western border of Bhutan and Tibet. Often called the wife of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, Jomolhari is Bhutan’s third tallest mountain at 7326 metres. The glacier waters flowing from the mountain feed the rivers of the Paro Valley.
Paro (Rinpung) Dzong means Fortress on Jewels because it was built using stones rather than clay. It is an excellent example of 15th-century architecture and one of the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. It currently serves as the government centre of Paro. A cantilever bridge that crossed the river was damaged by fire in 1907 and later washed away by floods, so the original construction was lost.
Located on a hill above Paro Dzong is Ta Dzong. This cylindrical watchtower which was built in 1649 and converted into the National Museum of Bhutan in 1968. The spiral-shaped building holds antiques, art, textiles, weapons, and household items that tell the history of Bhutan.
DAY 10- PARO: Monday – 28th October, 2019 TIGERS NEST HIKE
Elevation 2,280 m
We will take a two-hour hike to Taktsang Monastery, arguably one of the most photographed monasteries in Bhutan. Accessible only by foot, this sacred site was built precariously on the cliff’s edge, more than 3048 metres above sea level. This is where Guru (Rinpoche) Padmasambhav, is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave for three years. An exhilarating climb to the cafeteria- the half way point- you have your first glimpse of your destination. Colourful prayer flags and breathtaking views of the Himalayas make the trek a special moment in your Bhutan journey.
DAY 11- PARO- Tuesday -29th October, 2019
Today we say Tashi Delek- farewell from Bhutan. Depending on your onward flight we will try and squeeze in a little shopping in Paro town where you will find great small gifts to remind you of your incredible stay.
For Further Enquires, please contact: Deanne Scanlan, 0411682577, Enchanting Bhutan