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Venue Reporter

Behold The Travel Yogi’s Amazing Adventure At The Ultimate Yoga Retreat in Bhutan
Jake Kilroy
REPORT
No. 27044
VENUE:
Amankora
LOCATION:
Jakar, Bumthang
TYPE
STYLE
SETTINGS
Group Getaway
Yoga Retreat
Bhutan
REPORTER: Jake Kilroy

 

To many, the ideal vacation is one of both exploration and relaxation. Most of us aren’t round-the-clock thrill-seekers or constant nappers. Instead, we like to go big and then take it easy. We want to see the big, beautiful world, but we also want to stop to smell the roses—and you need energy to do all the things you want. So, naturally, there’s a good chance you’ll feel better and be way more psyched on adventure if you start and end your day with delicious food and healthy yoga sessions. Get your blood pumping, loose up your muscles, fill your stomach with healthy treats, and prepare to take on the world around you!

This week’s #BirthdayBucketList comes courtesy of The Travel Yogi, who had a downright incredible time while staying at a Bhutanese wellness and yoga retreat. Since Bhutan limits its total availability of annual tourists visas, the country is able more easily maintain as well as sustain their colorful, wondrous culture. Luckily, The Travel Yogi went and, in turn, laid out a terrific 10-day adventure of fun and rest, based on the team’s journey as well as venue deets (yes, Amankora always has us drooling) and some insider's information providing everything you need to know before booking the ultimate yoga retreat.

 


 

Tell us about how The Travel Yogi was started... 

The Travel Yogi started at the crossroads of experience and right place, right time. In 2010 TTY’s founder, Jen, had 10 years of travel industry experience under her belt. The same can be said for her yoga practice; there was a solid decade of Los Angeles asana clocked on her mat but there was always a hesitancy to take her practice on the road. The trips that were offered lacked that adventure-travel flair. Quite simply, there was a need for The Travel Yogi to exist; a need for a company with the adventure travel background to step in and curate some amazing trips. So, POOF… The Travel Yogi was born!
 

What should one expect when going on a trip with The Travel Yogi? We imagine the experiance is totally life changing!

There are three things you should expect when traveling with The Travel Yogi...

Transformational Travel: The Travel Yogi is founded on the principle that both yoga and travel are transformational experiences. Think making lunch in a Mayan village where no one speaks English will change you? Or coming out of savasana to see a Giant Galapagos Tortoise lumbering by our studio? How about an impromptu meeting with a Minister of Happiness in Bhutan? Check, check, check…  Our magic formula is E=yt2, or “experience = yoga-travel-squared”. By bringing the best teachers to the best wellness itineraries, we’ve got ‘transformation’ in the bag.  

Amazing Yoga: The same dedication that goes in to each of our travel experiences also applies to how we choose our teachers. Our handpicked crew have the trifecta distinction of:

1) Inspiring Yoga Classes – Boundary pushing and individually responsive classes designed to speak to each unique group

2) Travel-Savvy Leader Skills – Our teacher-leaders are with you all the way. They love to travel, explore and experience with all of you!

3) Infectious Personalities – Trust us, you’ll love these guys as much as we do. Our teachers are the kind of folks you want to travel with.

Kick-ass Communication: You’re going someplace new and you’re going to have lots of questions! Whether you have a how-to, how-will-it-be or a is-this-for-me question, we’re here for you. We know our destinations and we’re always plugged in and available. Communication is key when calming travel jitters or pumping up the excitement volume and we get that. It starts with an inquiry and ends when you deplane, and we’re with you all the way.




The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
 

Tell us about the Bhutan yoga retreat...

Bhutan is one of those locations that we just can’t do justice to in words, photos or videos. Lord knows we try, but there’s a specialness to Bhutan that you just have to be there to fully appreciate. The vibe of the country emanates from the people, inspires an intangible ‘something’, and is wholly unique among our travel destinations. The openness of the locals, yoga-ing amid centuries old stupas and being enveloped by the culture is intoxicating, but the essence of experiencing Bhutan is greater than the sum of these parts. Bhutan, simply put, must be experienced, not described.


The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All

 

Where will your group stay during the Bhutan retreat? 

Our Bhutan yoga adventure is a moveable feast. If you want to really experience the country you have to be willing to journey through time and out into the wild. You have to take your practice to new heights (literally) and have a lot of storage space on your digital camera (ha).  Our yogis get to revel in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, and yup, it’s luxury hotels all the way.  We partner with Densa, Zhwia Ling and Terma Linca to ensure that each crazy-amazing day ends with lux-amazing sleep and cultural flair. 


The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All

 

Tell us a little bit about the venues. 

Think “lux” the entire time… 

In Paro we stay at Zhiwa Ling; the only Bhutanese owned property in the country to receive a 5-star rating. The 45 room hotel is culture/comfort in a perfect meld. You’ve got to go to the temple built on the 2nd floor of the hotel.  Made with the wood from a monastery, it is gorgeous and not to be missed. National Geographic designated Zhiwa Ling one of the “Unique Lodges of the World” for their commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.

Thimphu takes us to Terma Linca and the river that runs right through the property. The rooms are sleek, clean and spacious. Surrounded by green and blue (mountains and water), it is a gorgeous place to relax and practice.  

Punakha is Densa beauty. Located a short hike below the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery and with views of the Punakha River, Densa is a tranquil paradise.  The hotel lines are contemporary, clean and welcoming while the artistry is local thoroughly ingrained in every room and public space.  

 

What has been your favorite take-away from these trips? 

Our travelers come back with the best stories! There was the group that lunched two tables away from the crown prince of Bhutan and the group that had the surprise lunch with a government minister.  There was the visit to the school that inspired contagious giggles across all age ranges and crystal clear blue-sky day that showed up just in time for white water rafting down the Po chu River. We build these trips so we know them inside and out, but there’s nothing like hearing the itinerary from one of our travel yogis. Our favorite piece of the Bhutan adventure is the ear-to-ear, can’t-tell-stories-fast-enough, soul-soaked experience that gets relayed to us by our travel yogis after each trip. 

 

The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All

 

So for all you inspired yogi's out there ready to book that ticket. Here's a little bit more information about what your day to day will look like. You can find each destination's full iteniary on The Travel Yogi as well. If Bhutan doesn't seem like the perfect fit for you, you have a have plenty of other options including the Mayan Riviera, Bali, France, Iceland and more! 

 

Day 1

  • Fly into Bhutan through the Paro Valley and spy the Pa Chu (Paro River) and Ta Dzong (Watchtower).
  • Exit the arrivals at the airport to meet up with our guide and head out for the one-hour drive to Thimphu.
  • Stop to visit Tamchog Lhakhang, one of the 108 chain-link bridges built in the 14th Century.
  • Check in and unwind and relax for a little bit.
  • Head to Thimpu to explore the king’s throne room at the nation’s largest monastery, Tashichho Dzong, which is also a fortress.
  • Attend opening yoga circle and class.
  • Enjoy a group dinner and welcome to Bhutan!

 

Day 2

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Take a morning hike across the Thimphu River to the Cheri Goemba Monastery.
  • Meet and learn from the monastery’s Buddhist monks and receive a special blessing.
  • Transfer back to town for a lunch sampling the local cuisine.
  • Explore the oldest monastery in Bhutan, Pangri Zampa, which is still in use today as a school of astrology.
  • Return to the hotel for the evening yoga class.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
  • Optional: If you have the energy, head out to one of Thimphu’s dance clubs. Electronic beats, anyone?

 

Day 3

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Visit the Memorial Chorten, set up for the man popularly thought of as “the Father of Modern Buddhism.”
  • Travel on to the beautiful Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddha statues in the world.
  • Sample authentic Bhutanese cuisine in a local restaurant.
  • Visit the Motithang Takin Preserve and learn the folklore and history of the takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
  • Enjoy a hike through the preserve among the prayer flags and small temples.
  • Do up an afternoon visit to the National Library and the superb examples of old and new Buddhist manuscripts.
  • Explore the Folk Heritage Museum and the school of Zorig Chusum.
  • Return to the hotel for the evening yoga class.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.

 

The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
 

Day 4

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Drive to Punakha up and down through the Dochula Pass in the gorgeous Himalayan Mountains.
  • Stop mid-drive to visit the 108 stupas at Dochula and the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang.
  • Hike to the Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to a great yogi known as the “Divine Madman.”
  • Have lunch at a local restaurant en route to Punakha.
  • Explore the Punakha Dzong, the religious and government center of Punakha between the Pho Chu River and the Mo Chu River.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel (with no evening yoga).

 

Day 5

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Head out for a big day on the river, rafting either the Mo Chu or the Po Chu.
  • Raft through the stunning Bhutanese backdrop and by the 17th Century Punakha Dzong. No experience is necessary; just a willingness to paddle and get wet!
  • Freshen up and have lunch at the hotel. Enjoy a small rest.
  • Drive to visit the Nalanda Buddhist College and walk down to Punakha Dzong on an ancient walking path.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel (with no evening yoga).

 

Day 6

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Drive to the suspension bridge and begin a hike to the gorgeous lhakhang of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch and stunning view of the valley after the hike.
  • Visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery.
  • Explore the beautiful statues of Avalokiteshvara, Gautama Buddha. The nunnery also acts as a center of meditation.
  • Walk back to the hotel and enjoy a breezy stroll through the pine trees and town.
  • Do up an evening yoga class.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.

 

The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All
The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All

 

Day 7

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Transfer to the historic town of Paro.
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in town.
  • Stroll to the National Museum.
  • Head down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong with its commanding view of the Paro Valley.
  • Visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom, dating back to the 7th Century.
  • Return to the hotel for the evening yoga class.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.

 

Day 8

  • Get an early start for breakfast (without morning yoga).
  • Take short drive to the north of Paro Valley to Ramthankha to begin your hike to the Taktsang monastery, Tiger’s Nest.
  • This most famous of Bhutan landmarks requires a hike of approximately five hours to reach the monastery.
  • Learn the history and significance of the monastery as one of the most sacred and venerated sites in Buddhism.
  • Hike down and head back to the hotel for a late afternoon rest.
  • Do up evening yoga to unwind hiking muscles.
  • Enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.

 

Day 9

  • Go for early morning yoga and eat a hearty breakfast.
  • Head out for a journey to Haa via the stunning scenery of the Chelela Pass.
  • Stop along the pass to enjoy the stunning roses, irises, rhododendrons, and prayer flags.
  • On a clear day, take in stunning views of the sacred mountain of Jomolhari.
  • Enjoy a relaxed lunch in Haa at a local restaurant.
  • Visit the main seat of Haa’s guardian deity, Ap Chundo, at Lhakhang Karpo (the White Temple).
  • Explore the duality of the region by following the White Temple with a visit to the Black Chapel, Lhakhang Karpo.
  • Interesting Fact: This chapel was built on a lake in the 7th Century by Tibetan King Gampo in his mission to build 108 monasteries in a day.
  • Head back to Paro for the adventure’s final yoga class.
  • Thoroughly enjoy a group farewell dinner and—*sniff*—packing

 

Day 10

  • Enjoy a group breakfast and say final Bhutan goodbyes.
  • Transfer to the Paro airport for your flight to Bangkok and onward back home.

 

The Ultimate Wellness Yoga Retreat For The Traveler and Yogi Inside Us All

 

 

Retreat info: The Travel Yogi | Photos: The Travel Yogi + Getty Images 

 

 

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