*The land cost is $3380 per person, on a twin-sharing occupancy basis. For single occupancy, add $450 per person

The cost of the expedition includes photo shoots, sightseeing and transfer services as per the itinerary, accommodations, all meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), Bhutan government tariff, entry visa of $20, a licensed English-speaking guide, a driver and vehicle, BUT does not include a kitty (per person) of $140 for tips, tsechu donations and model fees.. It also does not include any expenses of personal nature, laundry or any beverages which you are directly responsible for.


The cost of international and Druk Air flights from the USA (or elsewhere) to and from Bhutan are not included, and must be arranged so that you arrive in Bhutan on September 23, 2009. Only Druk Air flies in and out of Bhutan, and has flights from/to Bangkok, Calcutta and Delhi. Druk Air flights can only be booked through a Bhutan travel agent and are not included in the price of the photo expedition.

The Druk Air fare for Bangkok-Paro-Bangkok in 2009 is $794.


A deposit of $300 is required to secure a place on the Land of the Druk Yul photo expedition. This down payment is fully refundable if notice is given 60 days prior to the departure date. The balance of the cost is due 60 days prior to departure date.

Important Notice
We will be traveling to areas that are 8000-10,000 feet high. You may experience altitude sickness on some occasions, so please take appropriate medical advice before travel.

The Travel Agent
Our travel agent is Jachung Travel, a Bhutanese-owned tour company based in the Bay Area of California in the United States. This is the same company that arranged the 2006 and 2008 photo expeditions to Bhutan.

A Note On Our Hotel Accommodations:
Tourist infrastructure in Bhutan is still in its infancy, and some hotel accommodations may be rustic. We shall be mostly staying in small Bhutanese-owned hotel and guesthouses, and while many of the accommodations are modern, comfortable and clean, the quality will be uneven from one hotel to the other. All rooms will have private bathrooms.

I assume no responsibility for accidents or injury to individuals participating in the Land of the Druk Yul Photo Expedition 2009. You will be requested to read, accept and sign an agreement which releases me from any responsibility of liability in the event of any of the situations mentioned below.

I also assume no responsibility if a traveler is refused entry into a country for any reason. It is the traveler's sole responsibility to ensure all travel documents are valid and effective. A passport, valid for six months after the intended date of return is required in many cases for travel overseas. Some countries may require visas for US or non-US citizens. Please check with the corresponding consulates prior to leaving. This is the traveler's responsibility.

I cannot assume any liability whatsoever for injury, sickness, damage, death, loss, accident or delay to person or property due to an act of negligence of or default of any travel agent, hotel, carrier, restaurant, company, airline, or person rendering any of the services included in Land of the Druk Yul Photo Expedition 2009, or by act of God, act of war or terrorism. Further, no responsibilities are accepted for any damage, changes or delays due to sickness, pilferage, labor disputes, machinery breakdown, quarantine, government restraints, weather or other causes beyond my personal control. No responsibility is accepted for any additional expense, omissions and schedule changes, forced stopovers, rerouting or acts of any governments or authority. I reserve the right to decline or accept any person as a member of any tour or to cancel or alter the tour without notice. It is also the responsibility of the traveler to keep informed on deposit and payment date requirements. It is highly recommended that all individuals obtain adequate travel insurance.




Bhutan, Land of the Druk Yul, is a land wrapped in myth and legend, hidden from the rest of the world by its mountains. Its legends swirl around supernatural beings, around ancient monastery fortresses and around its Tibetan Buddhist culture. Bhutan's festivals, or Tsechus, offer colorful mask dances and religious performances depicting the unparalleled cultural heritage of this enigmatic country.

For a preview of what participants will see and photograph at these festivals, here is my 2008 photographic
gallery of Tsechus of Tamashing & Thangbi Mani .

We will travel to the valleys of Bumthang in central Bhutan; the holiest and most spectacular in the country, where our principal destination is to attend and photograph festivals in the valleys. Our route will take us from Paro in western Bhutan all the way to its heartland, and we will photograph its villages, ancient monasteries, temples and fortresses along our route. Our agents are currently setting various interesting cultural events (such as a shaman ritual) as further add-ons to the itinerary. Some will materialize, others will not. These will be announced once details are firmed up.

Participants interested in multimedia will be helped to create such projects from their inventory of photographs, and learn how to control story length, intent, pace, use of music and ambient sound, narration, field recordings and interviews. Examples of such multimedia projects are The Dancing Monks of Prakhar and The Buddha's Apprentices

Click Here To Register Your Name


Day 1 Wednesday September 23, 2009      Arrival:Paro
We arrive in Paro midmorning and after clearing immigration we check in our hotel in time for lunch. This afternoon, we will photograph at the Paro Dzong and the Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. We will walk along some of the town's streets and get a flavor of Bhutanese lifestyle.
Dechen Hill Cottages Hotel or Namsay Choling Resort

Day 2 Thursday September 24, 2009       Paro
After an early breakfast, we hike (optional) up a path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic monastery. The hike will take about 4 hours round trip. After lunch we will visit Rinpung Dzong which houses the Paro monastic body. Also to be visited is the Ta Dzong. Subject to time, we drive to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong from where Bhutan repelled several invasions by Tibet. Dechen Hill Cottages Hotel or Namsay Choling Resort

Day 3 Friday September 25, 2009      Paro-Wangduephodrang
It's an early wake up for us to start our long drive to Wanduephodrang. There's a stop at the beautiful Dochu La pass (10,000 feet). On clear days there are spectacular views of the Himalayas, dozens of chortens, prayer stones and a multitude of prayer flags. We continue our drive to Wangduephodrang with short stops en route.
Dragon's Nest Hotel

Day 4 Saturday September 26, 2009       Wangduephodrang
It's another early departure from our hotel to attend the first day of the Wangdue festival held at its imposing dzong. We intend to spend as much time as possible at this festival, which is considered one of the most spectacular in the country. In the afternoon, and weather permitting, we will trek to the Chimi Lakhang traversing flat rice fields. Dragon's Nest

Day 5 Sunday September 27, 2009       Wangduephodrang - Bumthang
It's another early departure from our hotel for our long drive to Bumthang valley, the religious heartland of Bhutan. We will break our drive to visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. We the continue our drive towards Jakar and Tamshing. We will also stop for a quick visit at the yethra (textile weavers) cottage industry, for us to stretch our legs, photograph and buy weavings that are unique to the valley. Peling Hotel

Day 6 Monday September 28, 2009       Tamshingphala Tsechu- Bumthang
This is the first day of the exciting Tamshingphala festival, and is the first of the small provincial tsechus we will attend. Access to dancers and performers is usually much less restricted than at the larger festivals, so there's an immediacy which serves our photo needs very well. The festival includes ritualistic dances to commemorate the deeds of the Tantric master Pamasambhava.
Peling Hotel

Day 7 Tuesday September 29. 2009       Tamshingphala Tsechu- Bumthang
We will revisit and photograph for the second day at the Tamshing Lakhang, capturing more dances and their performers. This is well worth the extra day since it will allow us to photograph the inner lakhang, with circumbulating pilgrims wearing the coat of mail for penance. It's encouraged that you engage the local villagers, as this is the only time of year that families from the area gather together in a festival, all wearing their finest dress. Our past experience has always been wonderful, and we returned with many personal experiences. Peling Hotel

Day 8 Wednesday September 30, 2009      Ura Valley
oday we will photograph in the Ura area. Ura is the highest of Bumthang's Valleys and is believed by some to have been the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. Cobbled streets and a medieval feel give Ura villages an attractive atmosphere, and houses are unusually clustered The old women of Ura still wear sheepskin shawls which double as blankets and cushions, and distill ara (eau de vie spirits) in the olden ways.
Peling Hotel

Day 9 Thursday October 1, 2009      Bumthang Valley
After breakfast, we tour the area, and stop at the Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and the sacred Kurjey Lhakhang, where Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. Later, we stop at Tamshing Lhakhang, which houses interesting religious Buddhist paintings, and see Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake). Subject to time, we will stop by the Karchu monastery. Peling Hotel

Day 10 Friday October 2, 2009      Bumthang-Ugyencholing (Tang Valley)
Today we will drive away to the north east of Jakar, towards Ta-hung village and Ugyen-chholing Palace. It built by the great saint Longchen Rabjampa in the 14th century AD. and restored by Tongsa Penlop Tshokye Doriji in the 19th century, the palace now shelters the descendants of the saint. Peling Hotel

Day 11 Saturday October 3, 2009      Tangbi Mani festival
Today is the start of the Thangbi Mani Festival; the rural festival held in the courtyard of Thangbi monastery, built in 1470. The monastery courtyard becomes a stage for enactment of ancient Buddhist tales. Dancers clad in colorful costumes and masks act out themes – morality plays, purification rites, and the triumph of a virtuous life. Peling Hotel

Day 12 Sunday October 4, 2009      Bumthang-Wangduephodrang
Early morning, we retrace our route back and head for Wangduephodrang (minimum 7 hours), and stop at the Trongsa dzong which represents the purest Bhutanese monastic architecture. We will cross the breathtaking 11,000 foot high Pele La pass.
Dragon's Nest

Day 13 Monday October 5, 2009      Wangduephodrang-Thimpu
We drive towards Thimpu, the capital and at Hungtsho near Dochu La, we will stop to witness a pamo ritual, which is a typical shamanistic ritual. This promises to be an unusual event.
Jumolhari Hotel

Day 14 Tuesday October 6, 2008      Thimpu
In Thimpu, we will walk to Tango (Horse's Head) monastery. It will take about 45 minutes to the monastery. Tango Monastery is a Buddhist college, and it's the residence of the Desi Tenzin Rabgye, a young boy who is the reincarnation of the 16th-century monk who built Tango. We will also visit the monastic school of Drubthob Goempa, and perhaps the Simtokha dzong and the Changangkha Lhakhang as well. Our hotel is on the main shopping street of the capital, so we can buy whatever souvenirs we need.
Jumolhari Hotel

Day 15 Wednesday October 7, 2009      Thimpu-Paro-Outgoing Flight
We drive to Paro (2 hours’ drive) in the morning for our return flight to the USA.


Images copyright Tewfic El-Sawy -