Bhutan | The Healing Waters
October 20 - November 2, 2017
Cost: $6,300 (double occupancy)
Cross Cultural Journeys is partnering on a new series of sacred journeys to Bhutan with Maui-based Kahua Hawaiian Institute and trip leader Kutira Decosterd. She is the co-founder of the Kahua Hawaiian Institute established in 1985. The institute is dedicated to personal and global transformation. Kutira has a decade of travel experience and personal connections in Bhutan. Meet like-minded new friends and explore the magical and mystical land of the Thunder Dragon, also known as the last jewel of the Himalayas.
This journey is dedicated to the Healing Waters of Bhutan. We will be exploring the Hot Springs in Gaza and enjoy the many medicinal hot stone bath. This adventures brings many opportunities for stunning, unique photos and experiences that you will share with friends and family and treasure forever.
The Healing Waters of Bhutan: Exploring your authentic self while riding the tiger of joy in the valley of happiness.
by Kutira Decosterd
Let me introduce you to a country that has captured my heart a long time ago ~ lifetimes ago. Bhutan is nestled in the Himalayas between the two giants, China and India, and is also often described as a jewel in the Himalayas. It is roughly the size of Switzerland, with altitudes starting at 150m and rising to its tallest mountain at over 7000m. It is home to the snow leopard and the musk deer, as well as many other species, and even tigers have been seen at 4000 meters.
While most countries assess their wealth by measuring the Gross National Product (the total value of all financial goods and services), Bhutan instead counts its wealth by measuring Gross National Happiness. GNH means the creation of an enlightened society in which the happiness and well-being of all people and sentient beings is the ultimate purpose of governance, including a sustainable environment. Bhutan’s social and cultural fabrics are woven closely with the spiritual traditions. The majority of the population are either Buddhist or Hindu. Animist tradition has subtly influenced these two faiths. Spiritual activities are a day-to-day living culture in this kingdom. This expression dots the kingdom in the form of monuments and prayer flags.
The small country of Bhutan is undergoing a rapid transformation. Since 2008, the world’s youngest democracy continues to be guided by the vision of Gross National Happiness. Founded by the wise lineage of kings and spiritual compassionate leaders, honoring all living forms.
Journey with Kutira, who for over a decade has been traveling to Bhutan. In fact, if you add together all the time she has spent there it would equal over 2 years of her life (not including past lives). Meet like-minded friends and explore the magical and mystical land of the Thunder Dragon and National Gross Happiess. This is truly the last jewel of the Himalayas and if spirit is calling you, then you will be immersed in the beauty of Bhutan.
Day 1 | Friday, October 20 | Paro to Thimphu The flights to Bhutan provide one of the best views of the Himalayas including Mount Everest (8848m), the highest peak in the World. It is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills and hill top villages into the kingdom of Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, gathering all the participants coming from different destinations, after comp letion of immigration and custom formalities, we will be met by our Bhutanese guide.We will then take an hour bus drive to Thimphu. After checking into our hotel, there will be time to explore some of the beautiful shops in Thimphu.Evening dinner at our hosts’ place. Thimphu Hotel Peddling
Day 2 | Saturday, October 21 | Thimphu This is a day of cultural experiences and souvenir shopping. We will visit the site of the largest Buddha statue, overlooking the Thimphu Valley. We will also visit the National Textile Museum of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck. Bhutan’s weavings and brocades are considered spiritual expressions and are admired for their diversity and sophistication. We will visit the Traditional School of Painting and the Arts to capture close-ups of students practicing the ancient arts of Bhutanese thanka painting, mask making, and wood carving. In the evening going to Kutira’s special bar. The order of this schedule will be defined at a later point. Overnight in Thimphu Hotel Peddling
Day 3 | Sunday, October 22 | Thimphu This is a day we will going with the flow, and put the program together at our leisure and interest. I can insure you this town and it’s surrounding are amazing.…Perhaps some of the previous day’s sites some of you will want to spend more time enjoying. Overnight in Thimphu Hotel Peddling
Day 4 | Monday, October 23 | Thimphu to Punkahka We will have a lunch stop at scenic Dochula pass (3150m) with a breathtaking view of Himalayas range. This place holds many favorite memories for me and I am especially excited to guide you to this place and enjoy the beautiful temple built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangchuk. We will spend some time at this auspicious place. After the Dochula pass the road descends through beautiful farm villages and fields. We will have several stops to take photos. Overnight in Punakha in the beautiful Khuru Resort.
Day 5 | Tuesday, October 24 | Punkaha We will see the Punakha Dzong that was built in 1637. This dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbot, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship. We will visit the Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Pagoda built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. This Pagoda is a splendid example of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture. After an invigorating hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, we will have a picnic at this spectacularly situated temple. You will be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the valley below. We will have a late picnic lunch at the Chorten.
For additional cost the courageous ones can at their own cost take a river rafting trip back to the hotel. Part of our journey will include a Hot Stone bath at the river where the divine madman Drukpa Kinley, the patron saint of Bhutan used to bath. We will then visit the nearby cave where he meditated. Overnight Punkakha at Khuru Resort.
Day 6 | Wednesday, October 25 | Gaza From Punkakha we are driving approx. 3 hours. Once we arrive we set up camp and have lunch and make ourselves familiar with the surrounding. The hot springs are situated close to the banks of the Mo Chu River. This is one of the most popular springs in the country. There are three bath houses at the Gasa Tshachu. One of the bath houses contains a large bathing pool and the remaining two each have two smaller pools. The water temperature varies in each of the pool so you can choose the one you like best. There is also an outdoor pool close to the facilities that are frequently used by both domestic and wild animals such as Takins. Overnight at Camp
Day 7 | Thursday, October 26 | Gaza We will have day hikes, sight see the Gaza Dzong. Locally known as the Tashi Thongmon Dzong, the fortress served as a defending barrack in the seventeenth century to protect against invasion from Tibet. This fortress is different from the other nineteen historical Dzong’s in Bhutan. The design here has a circular shape and three watch towers that are placed at strategic points to overlook the valley. The whole Gasa District is an environmentally protected area of Bhutan, with the Jigme Dorji National Park being the jewel if the region.mThe park holds a high variety of rare wild animals like: Snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, red panda, sambar, barking deer, Indian leopards, and marmot. Overnight at camp.
Day 8 | Friday, October 27 | Gaza / Punkakha We will drive back to at the beautiful place of Ashi Sonam and her family in Punakha. We’ll relax and enjoy the magical setting and celebrate the healing waters of Bhutan by having a hot stone bath, a dip in the river and gazing up into the night stars. Latter we’ll enjoy a camp fire with good company. Overnight at Khuru or Damche Resort right by the river
Day 9 | Saturday, October 28 | Pobjiikha After leaving Punkakha town we will visit Chimi Lakhang, a small but famous temple in the center of the golden Punakha Valley, also known as the temple of the Divine Mad Man Drukpa Kinely. This temple is famous for its fertility blessings for childless families in Bhutan. Chimi Lhakhang was founded in the 15th century by Lam Ngawang Chogyal in honour of Divine mad monk, commonly known as Lam Drukpa Kinley, after he subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochula pass with his magic thunderbolt of wisdom. A wooden effigy of Lam Drukpa Kinley’s thunderbolt is preserved in the temple, where childless women receive an empowerment from this wooden effigy to have a child. Newborn children are also brought to this temple to receive their names and to seek refuge to Lam Drukpa Kinley. Overnight Hotel in Pobjiikha
Day 10 | Sunday, October 29 | Pobjiikha to Thimphu We will have a morning hike in the valley of the black necked cranes and visit the Gangtey Monastery. Overnight in Thimphu Hotel Peddlin
Day 11 | Monday, October 30 | Paro Early morning-Transferring to Paro. On the way we will visit the Nuns Porject in Thimphu. We will also visit the century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest temples. We will then see a Nunery or Museum and have a possible audience with a Rinpoche. Overnight in Paro at the Metta Resort and Spa
Day 12 | Tuesday, October 31 | Paro Our journey in the kingdom culminates with a 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. I have been visiting Tigers Nest for many years and each time it is a new breathtaking experience. It will stay with you for rest of your life. For those who would like to ride up we can hire ponies, for those who walk we will get you hiking sticks. Overnight in Paro with the option to get hot stone bath to relax the body. Metta Resort and Spa
Day 13 | Wednesday, November 1 | Paro Exploring the Paro Valley and possible audience with Khenpo Tashi, a long time friends and director of the National Museum. This day we leave open to let spirit move us to explore this region. Possible farewell dinner at the culinary school. Metta Resort and Spa
Day 14 | Thursday, November 2 | Paro/Home – We will be leaving for the Paro Airport to return either to Bangkok or Kathmandu.
(Final itinerary will be sent before journey, however this is going to be as close as possible, changes may apply)
Throughout the journey I will provide “check in” circles, meditations, and inspirational talks, either while visiting the power places, or in the hotels. Of course some things will happen that we cannot foresee, but will magically occur on our journey. This itinerary is subject to change.
INCLUDED: In country transportation per itinerary; Bhutan visa, best available accommodations in Bhutan (double occupancy); three meals daily; English speaking local guide, all entrance fees on itinerary; Embodied Spirituality and Sustainability teaching by Kutira
NOT INCLUDED: International airfare to and from Bhutan, taxi fee from Guahati airport to the Bhutan boarder, any airport visa fees and any extra days spent outside Bhutan prior to or beyond the dates of the tour, cost of obtaining passport, excess baggage on the flights, phone calls/internet usage fees and faxes during the tour, optional gratuities to your guide and driver, monastery donations, items of a personal nature, laundry, medical and travel protection coverage. Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip is confirmed with the minimum number of participants required to operate to see if there is an additional surcharge due to a low number of participants.
TRIP DIFFICULTY: The trip consists of a mix of hiking, cultural and culinary touring. Anyone in good physical condition who is comfortable walking 2-3 hours on a hilly, rocky terrain should have no difficulty on the hikes. Some of the hikes begin at approximately 11,000 feet elevation and descend. It is important to view the trip as a group activity where the needs of the group may outweigh those of the individual. An open attitude and respect for the culture are important attributes that enhance participant’s enjoyment of the trip. Please feel free to call Kutira and discuss if this would be the perfect journey of your life. It is much easier then you think!
For more information on the recommended travel protection plans or to enroll, contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 47-0272.
Please advise Travelex that Cross Cultural Journeys is the travel company for this trip.
For a summary of plan details on benefits, coverages, limitations and exclusions, please refer to the applicable Description of Coverage. Travel Insurance is underwritten by Transamerica Casualty Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio; NAIC #10952. 1308294
Dates: October 20 – November 2, 2017
Cost: $ 6,300 (double occupancy)
Add: $ 630 (single supplement if availible)
NOTE: This price is based on 16 participants, if the group is below 16 people there will be an additional surcharge of $300.
For more information and to ensure this journey is for you, write to Kutira@KahuaInstitute.com or call her at 808-572-6006.
Click here for more detailed itinerary (route subject to change).
Trip Leader: Kutira Decosterd
My Work, My Passion, My Love, My Karma
All of the above ingredients create the base of my magical life. My love is made visible in what I stand for and what I am creating.
I am an author, musician, spiritual environmental activist, social entrepreneur, a teacher and creator of Embodied Spirituality and founder of the Kahua Hawaiian Institute. I have been a mentor to many students and teachers around the world. I dedicate a big part of my life empowering women and organizations which support ecological awareness and health education. My groundbreaking work in sustainable living is globally acknowledged and I am honored to share my knowledge with the Bhutanese Government, the Royal Family and other wonderful Bhutanese friends.
When I met Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangchuck for the first time I said: “I am Swiss, I live in Hawaii and in my heart I am Bhutanese”. Since then I have been invited back many times. I enjoyed the coronation of the 5th King, weddings, rituals, sacred dances and teachings.
Occasionally I lead small groups or individual friends to Bhutan. I introduce them to the projects I am involved with and of course show them the beauty of the country and its people. It is my honor to create a Sacred Journey to the Hidden Treasures of Bhutan for you.
My Host and Guides in Bhutan: Through the years I have developed a special relationship with my hosts. They are awesome people and enjoy the company of my friends. Truly a cultural exchange. Also, the drivers and the official Bhutanese guides will be with us around the clock. As you come to know them, you will weave a bond with them. Get to know them and find out what it means to live in the country of National Gross Happiness. They are specially trained to navigate a bus through the windy roads over high passes or explain to you the meaning of a painting on a wall in a beautiful sacred place. Each time I learn more and I personally believe you will be in the best hands of a wonderful team.