Details. Heartsongs in Bhutan 2018

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12 day sacred chanting sojourn through the Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan.


Join Kevin James, Susana and Shyāmalā on a 12 day sacred chanting sojourn through the Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan.

Trace the footsteps of Padmasambhava as we immerse ourselves in the mysticism of the most ancient lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, exploring the sacred sights, cultural heritage and natural majesty of a land from times gone by. Chant and pray in temple with monks and nuns, receive blessings from the precious ones, and partake in grand ceremony for the benefit of all sentient beings atop some of our world’s most gracious, magnificent mountains.


DAY 1, Sunday 16 September: Paro-Thimphu.

Arrive in the spectacular Paro Valley Airport. Warm welcome on arrival and private transfer to our hotel in Thimphu. Afternoon explorations include Tashi Chhodzong, the Buddha Point, Folk Heritage Museum and the Memorial Chorten, where we perform our circumambulations with the locals for good luck and blessings for an auspicious journey ahead.


DAY 2, Monday 17 September: Thimphu-Punakha.

Morning practice 7-9am. After breakfast we begin our journey. Mountainside roads swiftly take us through forests and past waterfalls, to a peak of 10,000ft above sea level, and a winding descent into the lush green valley of Punakha. We stop at Dochu-La Pass en-route for stunning views to pristine snow capped Himalaya. Visit one of Bhutan’s most beautiful monastery fortresses, the Punakha Dzong, and Chimi Lhakhang, the fertility temple of the Divine Madman Drukpa Kunley. Evening barbeque gathered around the fire, overlooking the valley below..


DAY 3, Tuesday 18 September: Punakha-Gangtey

Morning hike through rice paddy terraces to the hilltop temple of Khamsum Yuelley for morning practice before our 2 hour drive along the winding mountain roads to Phobjikha Valley. Introduction to the auspicious Gangtey Gompa, home to the body emanation of Pema Lingpa H.H. Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche and Vajrayana monastic body. Meet Khenpo and familiarise with the sacredness of the temple, shedra and gompa. Building of sand mandala before a short blissful alpine walk through the valley to our beautiful hotel and home for the next few days.

DAY 4, Wednesday 19 September: Gangtey

Morning practice 7-9am. After breakfast we hike through the valley up to a sacred meditation spot for Riwoe Sangchoe ceremony with Khenpo and monks, meditation, hoisting of prayer flags and picnic in the clouds. Return to the shedra for offering of 1,000 butter lamps for the benefit of all sentient beings. 


DAY 5, Thursday 20 September: Gangtey

Optional morning meditation with Khenpo at 7am followed by morning practice 8-10am at the meditation room in the monastery. Attend prayer and chanting in temple, followed by a sumptuous lunch at the guest house overlooking the valley below. Afternoon at leisure, at the temple or monastery, enjoy again the nature trail through the valley, visit the black-necked crane centre, Khewa Lhakhang incense making factory, take a bicycle ride through the valley or relax at the hotel.

DAY 6, Friday 21 September: Gangtey-Bumthang

Early morning practice 7-8:30am. Quick breakfast before early departure (aiming for 9am) for the drive deep into the spiritual heartland of Bhutan – Bumthang. An opportunity to sit back, relax, contemplate.. and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Arrive to Trongsa for lunch, Trongsa Dzong and Museum. Continue the drive to Bumthang in time for dinner and evening at our lovely hotel.


DAY 7, Saturday 22 September: Bumthang pilgrimage

Morning practice 8-10am. Today we take a beautiful walk through Bumthang, visiting some of the most profound sacred sights of Guru Rinpoche, including Kurjey Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang, and Tamshing Lhakhang. Our path takes us through lush farmlands, across a swinging bridge with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, the gushing river below. Traditional lunch at a Bhutanese farmhouse, followed by hot stone baths for those who would like one.


DAY 8, Sunday 23 September: Bumthang-Tang Valley

7-9am Morning practice followed by Menbar Tsho (the flaming Lake), and a visit to the nunnery where we are invited to partake in the sacred ritual of Chöd Puja and the lighting of 1,000 butter lamps. We may visit Bhutan’s only organic strawberry farm if time permits.


DAY 9, Monday 24 September: Bumthang-Paro

Morning practice 8-10am. Take today slowly, with the option to take the morning at leisure or go into town to explore Bumthang town, gather souvenirs or visit other monasteries/sights of interest. After lunch we take the afternoon flight from Bumthang to Paro (35 mins). Dinner in Paro, evening at leisure.

DAY 10, Tuesday 25 September: Paro Bumdrak

BUMDRAK TREK Guided with mineral water and warm nourishing meals.

Elevation: 3,800m / 4,100m at peak.

Duration: 3-4hrs to camp, 2-3hrs optional return trek to peak.

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard.

Hike from Sang Choekor Buddhist College (2,800m) to Yak Pasture below Bumdrak Monastery (3,800m).

The adventure begins with an early morning drive up to the Sang Choeker to meet our ponies. We pay our respects at the college temple before beginning the initial 1-2 hour ascent of a ridge. It can be steep at times but is in cool shade and we are absolutely immersed in the incredible beauty of high alpine forest. We will reach a clearing with prayer flags and enjoy a spectacular view of both Paro and Do Chhu Valleys.   Approximately 1-2 hours walk away is the Chhoe Chhoe Tse Lhakhang, a beautiful quaint temple nestled on the side of the mountain. The trail continues and when we reach the last steep elevation we will see a temple overlooking the views of Paro below and the snow-capped Himalaya towering before us. After another 20 minutes of climbing through ruins and fluttering prayer flags, we hike into the ancient forest for about 40 minutes before we reach a wide meadow with sacred chortens and prayer flags. We will spend a night here at the permanent camp site next to the Bumdrak Monastery (the cave of a thousand prayers).   It has an awesome view of the Himalaya. After lunch we can visit the monastery (if it is unoccupied), climb towards the north of the peak (4,100m) for a better view of the Himalaya, and visit a Padmasambhava meditation cave, before returning for evening bonfire, and a spectacular dinner under the stars.  

** Participants who do not have the fitness level to achieve this altitude and uphill descent, will be taken on a pilgrimage in Paro including Paro Dzong, temples and lhakhangs, shopping in town (beautiful artefacts, antiques, local woven textiles, art gallery etc), leisurely lunch, option for spa treatments or relax at hotel.


DAY 11, Wednesday 26 September: Paro Taktsang


Elevation 2,280m.

Morning practice at Bumdrak upon rising.

After a hearty breakfast in this spectacular landscape, it is time to either head straight back into the valley or linger awhile soaking up the view and perhaps hang some prayer flags of our own. Eventually we have to drop back into the ancient pine and rhododendron forest on the monks’ zig zagging trail to Taktsang. After 1-2 hours of descent we catch glimpses of the golden roofs of temples below and soon come upon the first of many on our way back from the wilds.

The path snakes across the mountainside between the monasteries and temples before reaching the gardens of Sangtopelri (Heaven on Earth) from which you can bravely peer over the edge and straight down onto the ornate roofs of Taktsang in the cliff far below. An hour later and we are at the gates of Taktsang, looking across the gorge at a steep descent to a sacred waterfall, followed by an ascent on steps, where you will pass into the tigers nest itself. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew to Taktsang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming Dakini-tigress in 747AD, where he meditated and subdued evil spirits. We will spend some time here, visiting the temples of Taktsang, taking our time to meditate and connect.

Our warm picnic lunch will be enjoyed in nature next to Taktsang when we are ready to leave, before taking the well-worn path back down the mountain to our waiting driver and vehicle. Enjoy the drive to our hotel as we wind through one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan with its slate-roofed farmhouses, graceful willow trees and rushing glacial river beneath snow covered peaks. Take the rest of the day at leisure to enjoy a spa treatment, traditional hot stone bath, or head in to Paro if you would like to find some antiques, art or textiles to take home with you.


** Those who did not participate in the Bumdrak trek may take the path to Taktsang, guided with water and warm picnic lunch.

After a stunning last full day in Bhutan, we have a beautiful final night dinner and celebration of our journey with special guests.

DAY 12, Thursday 27 September: Paro

Morning departure from Bhutan.

More about Daily Chanting

Kevin will guide us daily in an exploration of the profoundly trasnforming energy of chanting.

We begin our day with Kevin sharing what he simply calls his “Morning practice” which involves a deep journey into the Aum & toning sacred sounds as he shares his profound insight into the nature of sound and the connections it has to every part of our lives.

  You will be supported to open up to an effortless way of singing in your natural voice with emotion and feeling (the essence of Bhakti) and Kevin will explain how this has a direct connection to your true authentic self.

This will improve and open your voice, clear emotional blockages and give your energy centers a clean up and charge up with the power of your own voice. Send a message of harmony to every cell of your body. Feel the deep meditation of toning the sounds of your own true nature as it aligns your being and gives you a clear aura of peace and healing.


In the daily chanting sessions, we explore some of the blissful trance states that come from certain mantras with the possibility to learn some some of the more difficult mantras he doesn’t normally share in the circles. Also there will be the element of co-creation where Kevin will do his best to accommodate the desires of the group including some ‘one on one’ help if needed.


The benefits from chanting are clearly evident in just one 2 hour session. What I love about these retreats is that I get a chance to share the experience of what it’s like to be chanting every day and how this can have a profound effect on your state of being and health but even much more than that, it can change your reality, where it’s almost like we enter another dimension of harmony and grace. This is really the essence of what I intend to share at these retreats.” ~ Kevin James



PRICE: AUD $6,400 per person twin share*

Booking terms and conditions apply. Travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers. Price subject to change due to foreign currency fluctuations. Space on retreat is limited to 15 travellers.

  • Twin share accommodation in 3* boutique hotels
  • 3 nourishing meals daily, tea, coffee, and bottled water
  • Bhutanese guide, driver & private vehicle
  • Druk Air flight from Bumthang to Paro
  • All entrance fees and sightseeing
  • Buddhist monastery, fortress & temple visits
  • Traditional homemade Bhutanese lunch at a farmhouse
  • Hiking including trekking guides, ponies, horsemen, chef, and all camping equipment
  • Sacred ceremony at Buddhist monastery – puja, ritual ceremony, chanting and blessings. Building of sand mandala, blessing with a Tulku “precious one”, picnic with monks, prayer flag hoisting & offering of 1,000 butter lamps for all sentient beings
  • Chöd puja sacred song chanting meditation at the nunnery
  • All touring and transfers throughout the journey
  • Bhutan Visa, Visa fees, Government Tourism Royalties & local taxes
  • HAVE YOUR OWN ROOM. Subject to availability. Single Supplement charge applies $45 per night.
  • SPA TREATMENTS. Available throughout the journey, from traditional hot stone baths to massage and reflexology.
  • EXTEND YOUR STAY at one of Bhutan’s most beautiful locations, Paro. Take some day hikes to temples in hidden valleys, enjoy traditional spa treatments and sight seeing. Options to stay in one of Bhutan’s stunning luxury boutique hotels, a traditional Bhutanese hotel full of artefacts, woven textiles and a temple, or stay on at our 3 star boutique hotel while you take your time to unwind, relax, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and explore more of the magic in Paro Valley. For longer stay options, including trekking, please contact Shyāmalā directly
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE compulsory for all travellers prior to issuance of your Bhutan Visa. MUST INCLUDE cover for helicopter rescue, emergency medical and dental, cancellation and changes. Travel Insurance policy is available through Shyāmalā Travel with Bhutan specific required cover inclusions.


Available ex. Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi and Kathmandu. Shyāmalā will make all flight reservations into Bhutan with Royal Druk Air.

Airfares subject to availability. Air ticket prices are subject to change (due to airline) until seats have been booked and paid in full. Participants must book own airfares to connecting airport for flights to Bhutan, with minimum 3 hours allowed for connection (time in transit). Please liase with Shyāmalā prior to making any reservations to ensure the flights work with Druk Air schedules/routes.



Bangkok-Paro return: Economy USD$770 / Business USD$860

Singapore-Paro return: Economy USD$940 / Business USD$1,560

Delhi-Paro return: Economy USD$635 / Business USD$780



Questionnaire for all applicants to ensure suitability for climate, altitude, fitness level etc.

Booking form to be read and signed along with deposit at time of booking


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For more information, booking terms and conditions, or to enquire about your spot on this trip, please contact Shyamala +61 (0) 497 825 657 // //