Visit remote, spectacular, and rarely visited valleys of Bhutan and stay in comfortable mountain lodges
Immerse yourself in Bhutan's rich Buddhist culture, festivals, local crafts, and traditions
Active day hikes and rafting in the spectacular Himalayas
Visit the unique and remote weaving villages at Lhunentse
Accredited for up to 15 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM
This Wilderness Medicine CME course takes place in the remote Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan. It is a country of mountains, untouched forests, and fortified monasteries, nestled in the high Himalaya. A country the size of Switzerland with a population of less than one million, Bhutan vigilantly protects its ancient traditions, religion, and culture. Traveling there is like visiting Nepal or Tibet forty years ago. National Geographic called it "Shangri-La," or the last great paradise on earth.
Our CME adventure will take us on a journey that travels through the heart of Bhutan, visiting the famous monasteries and villages at Paro, Thimphu, Bumthang, Trongsa, and Punakha. We will cross the 10,200-foot Dochu La Pass, with its spectacular views of Bhutan's Himalaya as we travel from Thimphu to the famous Punakha monastery.
The culmination of our journey will come at the end of our trip when we hike for three hours to visit the "Tiger's Nest" of Taktsang, the most famous and sacred of Bhutan's monasteries, perched on the side of a sheer cliff, 3,000 ft above the Paro valley. No other monastery can match the grandeur of Takstang's natural setting. This is a wilderness medicine course designed for the active traveler! Bhutan's spectacular mountain scenery provides the perfect setting for day-hikers to explore its remote villages and mountain paths.
Wilderness Medicine CME
DAY 1 PARO, BHUTAN / THIMPHU Arrive in Paro, Bhutan, from Bangkok, Thailand. Our early morning flight brings us to Bhutan's emerald-green Paro Valley (7,500 feet), where shrines dot the landscape and graceful willow trees grow along the edge of the Paro River as it winds through fields and farmlands. Upon arrival, we are met for a transfer to Thimphu (7,600′), a wooded farming valley up until 1961, when it became Bhutan's official national capital. The massive Tashicho Dzong, about 700 years old, is the main building in town. It was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the main architect of modern Bhutan,to house the royal and main government offices. This is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, Bhutan's chief abbot.
In the afternoon we'll explore Thimphu and enjoy free time in the town. Overnight at the Hotel... (L+D)
DAY 2 THIMPHU / TANGO MONASTERY A 40-minute hike through a beautiful forest of oaks brings us up to Tango Monastery, a monastic school and retreat built in 1688. We will visit the main temple and also linger in Tango's inner courtyard, beautifully painted in bright colors, with lovely views stretching across the Thimphu Valley. We drive back to Thimphu and have lunch in the local restaurant. Later we head to Sangay Gang, where there is a sanctuary for the cattle-sized animal called the takin, the national animal of Bhutan. These rare Himalayan creatures resemble miniature American bison, standing about five feet high with large heads and front quarters. We also visit Changgangkha Lhakhang, an ancient monastic retreat set on a ridge above Thimphu. Overnight at the Hotel...BLD
Approximate Hiking Time: About 3 hours
DAY 3 THIMPHU / COUNTRYSIDE HIKE / PUNAKHA After a scenic drive through a lushly forested landscape and climbing the Dochula pass, we'll hike through a mixed forest of spruce, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, pine, and juniper to reach Lungchuzekha Monastery, surrounded by prayer flags. On a clear day, we'll enjoy good views of the mountains of the Bhutan Himalaya, then hike down the same way to Dochula pass (10,200) whose summit is festooned with fluttering prayer flags and more than 100 chortens (stupas) dedicated to Bhutan's continued peace and happiness. We will have a late lunch at the restaurant in the pass. After lunch, we'll board our vehicles and descend to Lobesa village for a half-hour walk through the cultivated fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery and fertility temple. The temple, flanked by nearly 100 tall prayer flags, sits atop a picturesque hill and has long been a pilgrimage site for childless couples. After visiting the temple, we drive to the hotel... (B+L+D)
Approximate Hiking Time: About 3-4 hours
DAY 4 PUNAKHA VALLEY From the village of Nezigang, we hike up through cultivated fields and small hamlets to visit the Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, a shrine built recently by the royal family. The shrine is an elaborate structure with a rainbow of Guru Rimpoche images and superb views of the Punakha Valley. After lunch, we'll visit the 17th century Punakha Dzong (fortress), Bhutan's former winter capital, built in 1637 at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Po Chu (the "Mother" and "Father" rivers). The winter capital was established in this location in part because Punakha is a warm valley with a relatively low altitude of 4,100 feet, allowing for the production of two rice crops each year, along with oranges, mangos, and bananas. The Punakha Dzong is an architectural wonder and seat of the head abbot of Bhutan. It has survived six fires, two glacial lake bursts, and an earthquake. This labyrinthine dzong has played a pivotal role in Bhutan's history and has the official name of Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, which translates as "the palace of great happiness." Overnight at the hotel... (B+L+D)
Approximate Hiking Time: About 3 hours
DAY 5 PUNAKHA / TRONGSA We'll drive to the Trongsa crossing over Pele La Pass (11,000′) and will have lunch somewhere after crossing the pass. We'll continue our journey to Trongsa, the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family. Then, we'll visit the important historical Trongsa Dzong where the Penlop (governor) in the early 1900s consolidated political control over Bhutan to become the country's king. Overnight at Hotel... (B+L+D)
DAY 6 TRONGSA / BUMTHANG In the morning, we'll visit the Ta-Dzong Museum, which focuses on the history of the monarchs of Bhutan with many rare artifacts on display, and then drive to Bumthang, crossing Yotongla pass (11,140′) to entering Chumey valley. A 10 km feeder road goes up to the Tharpaling Monastery (2800m) from Gyetsa village in Chumey valley. This road may be impassable in summer due to rain, so walking is often necessary. The Tharpaling Monastery was found by Lonchen Ramjam (1308-1363) during his exile from Tibetan. He was the abbot of the Samye, one of Tibet's most important monasteries and the first Buddhist monastery built in the Himalaya. The Samye was primarily used as a place of meditation. After visiting this important monastery, we'll continue to hike to Kiki La. Overnight at hotel... (B+L+D)
Approximate Hiking Time: 4 hours
DAY 7 BUMTHANG Nowhere else in Bhutan are there as many temples and monasteries as in Bumthang, and it is also one of the most picturesque regions of the country, with sweeping agricultural valleys dotted by small villages and forested mountainsides sheltering centuries-old monastic complexes and religious retreats. Today's hike will bring us along the Chamkhar River and through meadows and pine forests to the village of Thangbi, where we'll visit its gompa (if the caretaker is present). Thangbi was founded in the late 1500s by the 4th Shamar Rimpoche, a patriarch of Tibet's Karma Kargyüpa sect. After crossing a suspension bridge, we'll reach Nga Lhakhang (Swan Land), and after visiting the village, we'll drive back to Jakar. In the afternoon, we'll visit two important monasteries: Jambay and Kurje. Jambay was originally built by Tibet's King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century as one of the 108 temples used to subdue the demoness lying across the Tibetan Plateau; this temple is said to pin down her left knee. Kurje is a complex of three temples and one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in Bhutan. Overnight at Lodge... (B+L+D)
Approximate Hiking Time: About 3 hours / Driving Time: 45 minutes
DAY 8 BUMTHANG In the morning we'll drive to Tang to visit the Tang Ogyencholing palace and its beautiful museum. Next we'll visit the Gamling village and have lunch in the Palace Guest house. In the afternoon, we'll drive back to Jakar and, in the evening, visit the farm-house to sample araa, the local wine, as well as butter tea, and watch a demonstration of how the local buckwheat noodles (puta) are made at a traditional farmhouse. Overnight at Lodge... (B+L+D)
DAY 9 BUMTHANG / PARO (Domestic flight) A morning flight brings us to Paro. In the afternoon we visit the fascinating National Museum of Bhutan, housed in the Ta Dzong, with its collection of ancient artifacts, weapons, and silver teaware. Overnight at the Hotel... (B+L+D)
DAY 10 PARO / KILA NUNNERY We'll spend the whole morning at the Paro festival, where masked dances are performed in front of the temple courtyard. In the afternoon, we will visit the Kyichu temple, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. In the evening, we'll enjoy dinner at a typical farm-house at Namjay village.
DAY 11 TAKTSANG MONASTERY At dawn, the giant Thongdrel (religious scroll) will be unfurled for the people. People from Paro as well as from Thimphu come to get the blessing of the Thongdrel. After breakfast at the hotel, we'll drive for 20 minutes to hike through pine forests festooned with Spanish moss to reach the striking monastic retreat of Taktsang, the "Tiger's Nest," built into a sheer cliff face about 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley. This is the most famous temple in Bhutan and a venerated pilgrimage site in the Himalayan world. We'll enjoy our lunch en route at a teahouse with fantastic views of the monastery. Overnight at Hotel... (B+L+D)
Approximate Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
DAY 12 DEPART After breakfast, we'll transfer to Paro Airport for homeward-bound flights via Bangkok. Flights typically arrive in Bangkok between 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Please Note: Actual festival dates and activities are always subject to change (even once the trip has begun). The itinerary and/or dates may be altered to adjust to the final festival schedule. Sometimes, viewing a festival may not be possible if dates are changed at the last-minute and beyond the control of agents.
Trip Cost: $4,985*
(Does not include airfare from Bangkok to Bhutan or internal Bhutan flight)
Optional CME Cost: $695 (Approved for 15 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits)
Single supplement: $500
*per person, based on double occupancy.
A few of the publications Bio Bio Expeditions has been featured in:
Testimonials From Your Colleagues
"This was one of the best and most organized trips I have ever been on. Kinley and Pema were two of the best guides I have ever had on one of these trips. This was the trip of a lifetime - BioBio does a fantastic job with attention to detail. Our hotel accommodations were way above expectations - I was really impressed with the ability to fit as many things in as we did. I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in travel/wilderness medicine! There isn't enough room in this section to put all the positives of this trip. "
Benjamin Bring, DO
"What a collection of expertise…where else could you learn so much, so well – in such a short period of time…I don’t know how you could improve…Thanks for a great week… 5 star!"
Donald Turner, MD (Fam. Practice), Dayton, OH
"Our time in Bhutan was fabulous! Our time and energies were so well managed. Thank you so much for such wonderful organization and care with your clients. We had a beautiful blend of culture and exercise amidst the invigorating scenery of Bhutan. This was a trip to treasure."
Gill Tillmann , MD
Faculty for the Bhutan For The Active Traveler
Wilderness Medicine CME
October 28 - November 8, 2021
Timothy B. Erickson, MD, FACEP, FACMT, FAACT: Chief, Division of Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham Health, Harvard Medical School. Core faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; Section Editor, Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, Boston, MA.
Valerie Dobiesz, MD, MPH, FACEP: Director of Internal Programs, Neil and Elise Wallace STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, Director of Women’s Leadership Initiative, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Boston, MA.
COURSE CONTENT INCLUDES
- Altitude Illness
- Frostbite and Other Cold Injuries
- Environmental Heat Illness
- Traveler's Diarrhea, Giardia & Other Waterborne Wilderness Infections
- Surviving the Unexpected Night Out
- Lightning Injuries
- Improvised Medical and Trauma Care
- Management of Fractures and Dislocations
- Preparing for Foreign Travel
- Backcountry Medical Kits
- Wilderness Wound Management
- Patient Assessment in Wilderness Settings
- Wilderness Dermatology
- Marine Hazards & Envenomations
- Snake Envenomation
CME ACCREDITATION INFORMATION
"This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint providership of the Center for Emergency Medical Education and Wilderness and Travel Medicine. The Center for Emergency Medical Education is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians."
The Center for Emergency Medical Education designates this live activity for a maximum of
15 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM.
Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
This trip is planned, outfitted and conducted by Bio Bio Expeditions, or subcontractors arranged by Bio Bio Expeditions. Please note that Wilderness and Travel Medicine, LLC is responsible for the CME Educational content only. Wilderness and Travel Medicine reserves the right to change or substitute the faculty for any CME course without advance or prior notice to participants.