Voted the two Best Hotel in Asia in the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards 2018, COMO Uma Bhutan's twin properties Paro and Punakha offer guests an experience of two distinct Himalayan valleys.
Sister hotels COMO Uma Paro and COMO Uma Punakha will host guests on a one-off retreat from 2nd to 9th June 2019. Bhutan’s first film and photography expedition, led by Natural World Safaris and British-American photographer and Kodak Ambassador Michael Turek, will offer the opportunity to get up close with Bhutan's natural beauty and practice mindfulness through photography.
The expedition will be split between COMO Uma Bhutan's two properties—five nights at COMO Uma Paro and two nights at COMO Uma Punakha—and guests will visit the three valleys of Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro. The fully guided itinerary includes forest treks, visits to sacred spiritual monasteries, daily yoga at COMO Uma Paro, a COMO Shambhala spa treatment, and an intimate group setting to improve your mindfulness and photography skills in tandem.
- Things To Do
- Not Included
Providing luxury accommodation in the less-visited Punakha Valley, COMO Uma Punakha offers guests access to some of Bhutan’s most celebrated landscapes and historic sites. Guests can choose from a Valley View Room, a One Bedroom Villa, or the exclusive COMO Villa. Every room commands sweeping views of the Punakha Valley and the Mo Chu River, as well as being equipped with sheesham-wood furniture, wall paintings by local artists, deep bathtubs and a separate shower stalls in the ensuite bathrooms, air conditioning and complimentary WiFi.
The award-winning Bukhari Restaurant at COMO Uma Paro is often the restaurant of choice of Bhutan's royal family when they are in Paro, so you can be assured a world-class experience. COMO Uma Paro also serves up the COMO Shambhala Cuisine, COMO's dedicated wellness menu designed to maximise energy and wellbeing with the use of nutritionally rich foods.
- Meditation and Pranayama
- COMO Shambhala Spa treatments
- Ayurvedic wellness therapies
- Visit Tiger's Nest Monastery
- Bhutan Anniversary Blessing
- White water rafting
- Archery and darts
- Accommodation for five nights at COMO Uma Paro and two nights at COMO Uma Punakha
- Full board, including picnic lunches during excursion days
- Six-and-a-half days of privately guided excursions, taking in the highlights of the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha Valleys
- The private services of COMO's expert experienced English-speaking Bhutanese guide
- Guided photography sessions with Michael Turek
- 10 rolls of Kodak Portra film and a 35mm SLR camera to use
- Gift from Arc’teryx
- One 60-minute COMO Shambhala body treatment
- Private airport transfers and transport around Bhutan
- All Bhutanese government visa and royalty fees, service charge and sales tax
- All museum and visitor centre entry fees and road permits
- Complimentary one-hour daily yoga class whilst at COMO Uma Paro (except Sundays)
- Additional spa treatments
- One-to-one sessions
- Michael Turek
Michael Turek is an award-winning freelance British-American photographer based in New York City. An ambassador for Kodak, Turek frequently leads Kodak Camera Club workshops in addition to his passion for documentary photography. He has worked internationally for publications such as AFAR, Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveller, Financial Times, Harper's Bazaar, and Travel & Leisure.
Sample Daily ScheduleDAY 1
Arrive at Paro
Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your lodge at COMO Uma Paro (approx. 10 minutes’ drive). You will meet up with the rest of the group, as well as your specialist leader Michael Turek. After the briefing you will be taken on a short orientation tour of Paro.
Paro – Thimphu – Dochu La – Lungchutse – Punakha
Today you will be driven to the town of Punakha (approx. 4 hours’ drive), visiting Bhutan’s capital city, Thimphu, en route. After leaving Thimphu, you will drive on to Punakha and stop at the 3,000-metre-high mountain pass of Dochu La, famous for its 108 chortens and Buddhist shrines. From Dochu La you have the choice to hike to Lungchutse temple, a moderate 2 ½-hour hike. After the hike you will be transferred to your vehicles and drive on to COMO Uma Punakha.
Chimmi Lhakhang – Punakha Dzong – Khamsum Yulley
Today is a full day of exploration through the lush Punakha Valley, which at 1,200 metres above sea level has a low enough altitude for bananas and oranges to grow. The morning starts with a short walk past farmhouses and rice paddies to Chimmi Lhakhang, a 15th-century fertility temple. Heading further down the valley, continue to the 300-year-old Punakha Dzong. After lunch, continue on a walk passing rural homesteads and farmlands to Khamsum Yulley Chorten, a shrine recently built by the royal family. After returning to your lodge in the evening, you will have the chance to get photography tips from Michael.
Punakha Valley – Paro – Chuzom – Drakarpo
After breakfast, return to Paro over the Dochu La Pass for another chance to view the Himalayan mountain ranges. At the Chuzom, the confluence of the rivers Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu, you can glimpse three nearby shrines. You will then visit Drakarpo Monastery, precariously perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. Returning to the lodge, your drive will take you through picturesque mountain scenery, passing apple orchards and rice paddies. On arrival at the lodge you can choose to spend the rest of the day at leisure or try your hand at archery, Bhutan’s national sport. The evening presents another opportunity to receive photography tuition from Michael.
Floating Goddess Day Hike
After breakfast, you will be transferred by road to the river valley of Do Chhu. From here you will start your hike. The mountain trail passes tiny hamlets and then continues through ancient forests as you follow the course of the Do Chhu River into this remote valley. This trek is of moderate difficulty and takes 7 to 8 hours depending on fitness. This evening presents another opportunity to receive photography tuition from Michael.
Chele La Pass – Kila Nunnery Shedra – Ta Dzong – Drukgyel
Drive to Chele La Pass, which at 3,988 metres is the highest motorable pass in Bhutan: on a clear day you can get spectacular views of Bhutan’s second-highest peak, Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 metres). At the top of the pass you will disembark from the vehicles and hike to Kila Nunnery with your guide. The hike descends further and after an hour you join the road. Here you can either choose to get on to mountain bikes with your guide and descend down to Paro Valley or transfer back to Paro in the vehicles. Later, you may visit Ta Dzong, which is home to Bhutan’s National Museum and Rinpung Dzong (also known as ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’) and further up the valley visit the Drukgyel Dzong.
Taktsang Hike (Tiger’s Nest) – Ugyen Tsemo – Zangdopelri
Today you will hike up to and explore Taktsang (or ‘Tiger’s Nest’) Monastery, one of the most important and iconic cultural sites in Bhutan. The trip starts early morning to avoid the hot sun during the 2-hour climb to the Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. If time allows, there is the possibility of heading further up to visit the remote temples of Zangdopelri, built in 1853, which sit on the opposite ridge. Overlooking Taktsang, this is the spot to get the best pictures of the Tiger’s Nest. Continue higher on to the summit of the ridge directly above Taktsang Pelphung, to Ugyen Tsemo. After a picnic lunch, you will return to the lodge, where you have the evening at leisure before the final night’s dinner. You will have time to recharge before dinner – make use of the steam rooms and swimming pool or indulge in one of the spa treatments.
Today you will be transferred to Paro International Airport (approx. 10 minutes’ drive).
- A non-refundable 30 per cent deposit is required at time of booking to secure the booking. The remaining 70 per cent of the booking will be required 60 days prior to arrival.
- If the booking is made within these periods then full payment (100 per cent) will be required at the time of booking.
COMO Uma Paro, PO Box 222 Paro, Bhutan
Perched among the majestic Himalayas, COMO Uma Bhutan is split into two properties in two separate valleys: the tropical Punakha Valley with its scattered landscape of dzongs and forests, and the emerald valley of Paro filled with rice paddies and ancient monasteries. Guests can fly into Paro International Airport, where COMO can arrange guests transfers.
The Bhutan climate varies drastically from sub-tropical summers to snowy winters, with spring and autumn being the favoured times to visit.
Tourism in Bhutan is restricted by the government: the minimum daily spend and your visa is covered by your stay with COMO Uma Bhutan, and visas can be organised via COMO.