Bhutan’s commitment to maintain a forest cover of 70% of its total area as one of the four pillars of what is now known globally as the Gross National Happiness, where environmental and spiritual values are placed before material development to measure the country's economy. This created a fishing haven of pristine environment with clear rivers and streams, habitat to around 50 species of fish that include the brown trout (Salmo trutta), snow trout (Schizothorax progastus, asla) highly sought after sporting fishes (The Golden Mahseer).
Brown trout was not native to Bhutan. Introduced in 1930’s from the hatcheries in Kashmir valley of India, the brown trout thrived and created a sought after destination to the anglers. The rivers and streams of Haa, Paro, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Bumthang and the Southern rivers offer opportunities to fish for fun. With demands increasing, the government relaxed restrictions to open these rivers for fly fishing but strictly practiced “catch and release”. In some areas - Special Permission is required.
Board the flight bound for Bhutan and weather permitting, one can view some spectacular mountains, such as the Everest, Kanchenjunga and Bhutan's holy mountain Chomolhari. After arrival in the Airport and upon completion of immigration and customs, you will be received by your fishing guide and private car. After lunch at the hotel, head to the Paro Chhu (river) for the first experience of fly fishing in Bhutan.
In the evening, your guide will conduct a trip orientation before your welcome dinner.
After breakfast, continue fishing along the stretches of Paro Chhu from the confluence of Thimphu Chhu upstream. Lunch will be catered at the river side. The fishing will be a mixture of hiking to holding spots and driving occasionally to cover a good amount of stretch for the best spots. Alternatively, we will also drive to the Thimphu Chhu to provide more options. In the evening, visit the 7th Century Kyichu temple - teh wishfulfiing temple.
In the morning we drive to Punakha via the beautiful Dochula pass at 3,150m/10,334ft. The view is especially scenic on clear days with snow-capped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens (stupas) gracing the mountain pass. We spend some time over the pass and after tea, continue drive downhill towards warmer valley of Punakha. En route stop by the village of Sopsokha to hike and visit Chimi Lhakhang, dedicated to the Divine Mad Monk - Drukpa Kuenley- an hour round trip hike.
After Lunch, we change into our fishing gears and head to the beautiful Mo (female) Chhu. The fishing guide will take you to some very promising places to land in what would be the biggest fish on the whole tour; the wild brown trout and the ground feeder snow trout exist together in a single pool and both species will put up a good fight for the anglers.
Today we continue our fishing expedition in the valley. We drive upstream and fish the areas not covered under the park. Bhutan has over 10 national parks and 42% of the forest are covered in these parks. We will enjoy a picnic lunch by the riverside (if weather permits).
Towards late afternoon, we have the option to visit the Majestic Punakha Dzong tucked between the two rivers called as Pho “male” and Mo “female” or undertake some beautiful hikes the valley has to offer. Option includes Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Hike, farmhouse visit, rafting, Chorten Ngingpo temple.
After breakfast, we drive to Phobjikha valley. The valley is home and roosting ground for the endangered black necked cranes which flies over from Tibetan plateaus during winter every year and from Crane Centre you will get to learn about these revered birds and their habitats. Option to hike along the ridgeline of Phobjikha valley which is home to the biggest wetland in the country.
Gangtey is a holy site and preserved by eh Royal Society for the protetion of Nature - hence we will not be permitted to fish here unless we land a special permission. But this place is great for hiking and walking. One can also expereince the visit to the 15th Century Monastery dedicated to Gangtey Trulku - the body reincarnation of Pema Lingpa.
The broad valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan, is popular for its scenic splendour and cultural uniqueness. The valley is rich in faunal biodiversity and has, apart from the globally threatened black-necked cranes Grus nigricollis, 13 other globally threatened species. Within the ambit of the valley, an area of about 163 square kilometres (63 sq mi) has been declared a protected area, which is managed by the (RSPN), for the protection of nature, authorized to manage, on lease basis, by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Today we drive back to Thimphu. On the way, various sightseeing options will be provided including the visit to the newly rebuilt Wangduephodrang Dzong. Here you will notice the uniqueness of how the Dzongs (fortress) of Bhutan are built where over hundreds of masons and carpenters were deputed at work to demonstrate the art of Bhutanese architecture. Wangduephodrang Dzong was destroyed by fire in June 2012 and currently the government has restored the structure to its former glory.
We then drive back across Dochula and enter Thimphu city which is home to about 1,20,000 population residing. In the evening, we have leisure time to stroll around Thimphu City to shop for souvenirs from the handicraft shops.
The drive to Haa is about four hours. Midway through the drive in the conifer forests, we stop to fish in the Haa chhu. After lunch, we visit the National Centre for Riverine and Lake Fishery. Here you will have the opportunity to see the slow introduction of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to the rivers and fisheries of Bhutan. This is an initiative of the government to promote the local economy through such fisheries. We will interact with the officials to understand the different fish species in Bhutan and their challenges in understanding the aquatic ecosystem in Bhutan.
The Haa valley offers various secluded spots for fishing. We drive downstream and take a diversion from a farm road to fish the day in these areas. Lunch will be catered at the fishing spots. After a hard day of fishing, we soak ourselves in the comfort of local hospitality at the lodge and try the local delicacy Dumplings known as “Hoentey”. Option to stroll around quaint little town of Haa where people spend their time in liesure during off agruculture seasons. During plantation and harvest seasons, all family members have to give hands to help each other in the farmlands.
We drive to Paro over Chelela Pass, the highest motorable road in Bhutan at 3,988m/13,084ft above sea level. The pass is adorned with hundreds of colorful prayer flags; you may want to take a walk around the pass before continuing on to Paro. Enroute we hike to Dzongdrakha, a village and temple that some mistake for the famous tigers nest of Bhutan.
Afternoon at leisure or visit the Paro town to choose more souvenirs from the market.
This is a big day for any tourist in Bhutan. After breakfast we start our hike to The Tiger's Nest monastery perched precariously over a cliff at 10,300ft. This serene monastery stands about 800 m/2,624ft above the valley floor. Legend has it that the Guru Padmasambhava flew to this rocky Craig in the early 8th century Taktsang, who having tamed and converted the local spirit into a protective deity, meditated here and introduced Buddhism in the valley that later spread across the country.
He flew here on the back of a tigress and later the tigress was seen by people around the cave, hence the name (tigress lair). Being one of the most revered Buddhist sites, thousands of pilgrims travel here each year from all over the World. Lunch can be served at the cafeteria, from where one can get a most spectacular view of the monastery. It takes about 2 and half hours to get there and about 2 hours to return down.
Afternoon at leisure to unravel the trip and try out the hot stone bath and spa facilities at the Zhiwa Ling Heritage Hotel www.zhiwaling.com
Time: 5 - 6Hrs round trip
Elevation gain: 600m/1,980ft
Elevation loss: 600m/1,980ft
Most flights are in the mornings. Your guide will escort you to the airport and your Adventure and Fishing journey to this magical land of Gross National Happiness comes to an end. We wish you a safe journey home along with wonderful memories from the Kingdom of Bhutan.