fbpx

Bhutan Mindful Running Retreat

A running journey through the Himalayan heart of one of the world’s most mindful countries

 

High Quality Wellness Hotels | Guided Mindful Running | Bhutanese Cooking Class | Yoga and Mindfulness for Beginners | Spas

On this unique trail running and wellness retreat, you’ll explore the world’s only country that is ruled by happiness-centric policies and a fosters a culture of heart-swelling kindness. As you run through the velvet-green valleys of this remote Himalayan kingdom, share paths with yak herders, hear the droning chants of monks residing in cliffside monasteries and inhale crisp mountain air tinged with incense.

Bhutan is the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” where colorful prayer flags and flowering alpine meadows inspire spiritual renewal. Over 10 spirit-enriching days, you’ll run and trek through tidy rice paddy terraces, rural villages and picturesque blue-pine forests and sleep in Himalayan valleys peppered with sacred sites. 

Much more than a running retreat, this is an immersion in a culture that embodies mindful living and measures in wealth in terms of Gross National Happiness. You’ll do yoga with a local teacher, meditate with Buddhist monks, relax in a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath, try your hand at the national sport of archery and learn to cook traditional delicacies with a Bhutanese chef.

Even the runs include special surprises, such as a three-story golden Buddha Dordenma and visit to the Temple of the Divine Madman.

And of course we don’t leave Bhutan without making the pilgrimage to the the legendary Paro Taktsang, or “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery, perched on a high cliff. This iconic shrine, built in 1692, represents centuries of Buddhist wisdom and lore that is still revered today.

Optional 3-Day Extension:
Make the most of your time in the Himalayas with the with the optional 3-day extension to your retreat package at Nepal’s luxurious mountain spa retreat at The Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel, location on a hillside just outside Kathmandu. Use this time before the retreat begins to recovery from your jetlag and relax into “retreat mode” by lounging in the resort’s pink Himalayan rock salt chamber, walking the meditation maze, doing yoga, rebalancing your energy in the Chakra sound chamber, enjoying an Ayurvedic massage treatment and so much more.

Start Planning Your Retreat

Bhutan Mindful Running Retreat
  • 9 nights’ accommodation in high-quality boutique hotels
  • Round-trip flights from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan (international flights to Kathmandu are not included)
  • Bhutan Visa and daily tariff
  • Ground transportation in Nepal and Bhutan
  • Two local English-speaking guides and private driver
  • Dedicated retreat leader
  • Guided mindful runs
  • Visit to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery
  • Private yoga classes with Bhutanese teacher
  • Meditation class at the Sarna
  • Authentic Bhutanese hot stone bath
  • Learn and practice the national sport of archery
  • Cooking class to learn the national dish “Ema datsi”
  • Learn about Gross National Happiness with a dinner conversation with a Bhutanese professor
  • Run Wild Retreats Gift Bag

The upgraded hotels included in your package are:

    • Dwarika’s Hotel, Kathmandu
    • Thimphu: Zhiwaling Ascent Hotel
    • Phobjikha: Dewachen Hotel and Spa
    • Punakha: Dhensa Boutique Hotel
    • Paro: Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary (spa inclusive hotel)

*Note:
While Bhutan is open to visitors, it presently requires a five-day quarantine. However, this requirement is expected to be lifted in summer 2022. We will keep all registrants updated as to the any Covid-related travel restrictions affecting this retreat. Please click here to view our Covid-19 booking policies. 

Shared Room Package* (per person): $7,995 USD
Private Room Package (per person): $9,450 USD

Deposit: $1,900 USD

Balance Payment Deadline: November 13, 2022

(After November 13, 2022, full payment is required at time of booking)

Max Group Size: 15 women

*Shared room packages are room with two beds. Solo travelers may choose this option and will be paired with another retreat participant.

*If traveling with a friend, you may list your friend as your preferred roommate on your Retreat Participant Intake Form.

This retreat is rated Level II. Given the physical requirements listed, this retreat is for runners with good physical fitness, though it’s not necessary to have prior experience running on trails. 

This retreat is suitable for you if:

  • You are comfortable with a combination of trail running and hiking many days in a row for 2 – 3 hours at at time. Each time we are out on the trail it is inclusive of hiking sections of trail and stops for water breaks, snack breaks and photo opportunities.
  • You are comfortable trail running and hiking on trails with loose dirt, rocks and some muddy sections.
  • You are comfortable trail running or hiking at high elevations. You can expect to reach elevations above 9,000 feet above sea level on this retreat.
  • You are physically able to hike long uphills and steep downhills.
  • You are comfortable on narrow trails that are high up and at times exposed.
  • You are game for running in the rain! Don’t worry about what to wear; we provide you with a comprehensive packing list.
  • You have, or are willing to acquire before the retreat, a pair of trail running shoes.

Note:

The total distance of our runs and hikes for this retreat will be between approximately 35 and 45 miles. Each day’s run in this itinerary is represented by the time spent on the trail rather than miles run because the mileage covered will depend largely on your run pace. Faster runners will cover more mileage than slower runners on some days. As noted in the physical requirements, these run times include breaks to enjoy the views, take photos, eat and drink. The precise route and trails run may change due to changes to trail closures, weather conditions, guide recommendations and other safety considerations.

10-Day, 9-Night Retreat Itinerary

Day 1   |   Kathmandu Arrivals and Retreat Opening

Upon arriving in Kathmandu, exit the baggage area and look for your Run Wild Retreats retreat leader. Transfer to the Dwarika’s Hotel, a quiet sanctuary located 10 minutes away in the center of the bustling city. Meet at 5:00 pm for an early dinner at the hotel before a restful night so you can catch up on sleep.
No run this day
Overnight at Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu

Day 2   |  Fly from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan

After breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer as a group to the airport for a morning flight over the Himalayas to Paro, Bhutan. On a clear day, you might be able to see Mount Everest. This flight is included in your retreat package. Our Bhutanese guides and driver will meet us at the airport, and we will begin the leisurely 1-hour drive to the capital city of Thimphu and check into our hotel.
After some time to settle in and relax, we will change into our running clothes and meet for our Official Retreat Welcome Meeting. Following the meeting, we will go on an easy shake-out run on the trails surrounding the hotel. Dinner at the hotel. 
Run: 30 – 45 minutes
Overnight at Zhiwaling Ascent Hotel

Day 3   |  Monastery Run in Thimphu

Our day will start after breakfast with an optional morning yoga class, before our driver and guides take us to the nearby trailhead. Today’s run/hike is on a steep, rugged trail that ascends to the Dodeydra Monastery. Perched high on a hill overlooking Thimphu valley, the monastery is home to student monks, young and old, who have dedicated their lives to Buddhist philosophy. Here you will have the opportunity to meet one of the monks, maybe share a cup of tea, and learn more about their daily life and studies.
Following the visit we descend via the same trail and make the short drive back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, you can choose to relax at the hotel or join our local guides on an introductory tour of Thimphu City – the only capital city in the world without a single streetlight. Here we can delve deeper into Bhutanese culture at the National Folk Museum, admire the sacred and intricate weavings at the Royal Textile Academy, and have some free time to explore the city. This evening, a local expert will join us for dinner and a conversation on the country’s unique policy of Gross National Happiness.
Run/hike: 6 miles round trip
Overnight at Zhiwaling Ascent Hotel 

 Day 4  | Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley

We will depart the hotel this morning after breakfast for Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park to run a trail that will take us by the Great Buddha Dordenma statue overlooking Thimphu. One of the largest Buddha statues in the world, it stands 169 feet tall and is gilded in bronze and gold. The gentle trails of the park offer stunning views of the Thimphu valley and the buddha itself. 

Following our morning run, we will check out of the hotel and drive to Phobjikha Valley by way of Dochula Pass, featuring 108 memorial chortens (or stupas) set against the backdrop of the snow-capped Himalayas which can be seen on a clear day. We’ll arrive in Phobjikha in the early evening in time to check in to our hotel and enjoy dinner overlooking the valley.
Run: 5-6 miles on rolling trails
Overnight at Dewachen Hotel and Spa

Day 5  |  Mindful Run on The Gangtey Nature Trail

After breakfast and morning yoga class, we will start our run through the Phobjikha Valley from the hotel. The Gangtey Nature trail will take you through the awe-inspiring valley, dotted with prayer flags and home to unique flora and fauna. Here your retreat leader will lead you on a mindful running practice before continuing through the small village of Gangtey to catch a glimpse of rural life in Bhutan and spend some time visiting the Gangtey Monastery perched on a hill above the valley. Our run this morning will culminate at the Shedra, an institute where monks learn about Buddhist philosophy, poetry, logic, meditation and debate. Here we will have a meditation session focused on overcoming stress and developing a peaceful mind.

No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a relaxing hot stone bath, and this afternoon we will have the opportunity to experience this ancient tradition. Considered a form of medicine in Bhutanese culture, soak in a wooden bath of local river water heated with stones roasted over an open fire. Add in some relaxing botanicals and herbs, and it’s the perfect way to unwind after an active morning.
Run: 6 – 9 miles on a mix of dirt roads and hilly singletrack trails 
Overnight at Dewachen Hotel and Spa

 Day 6   |   Bhutanese Culture + Cooking Class

After breakfast there will be time for an early optional hike around the hotel before we depart for the lush, fertile valley of Punakha. Upon arrival we will have a casual lunch at a local restaurant, check into our hotel, and change into our running clothes. We will go on a short run this afternoon through the village of Punakha and verdant rice fields to the Temple of the Divine Madman. Dating back to 1499, the temple sits on a small hill and is dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, also known as “the Divine Madman”, who is famous for his outrageous lifestyle of wine, women, and poetry. Fittingly, his temple is dedicated to fertility, and is a pilgrimage site for many Bhutanese couples.

Bhutan’s cuisine is decidedly different from its giant neighbors China and India, but just as delicious with a focus on fresh, locally grown produce. This evening, we will join a local chef for a cooking class where we will learn to make the ubiquitous national dish of Bhutan – “Ema Datsi” – a simple, but spicy stew of chilies, onions and cheese. You will have the chance to taste your Ema Datsi during dinner.
Recovery Run: 3 miles 
Overnight at the Dhensa Boutique Hotel

Day 3 Vik black sand beach

Day 7   |  Punkha Dzong Run

Following breakfast and yoga class at the hotel, this morning’s run will take us to the Punakha Dzong, which is one of the oldest and largest dzongs in the country, dating back to the 17th century, and is known as one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. We will have plenty of time to explore the dzong before enjoying a riverside picnic lunch. 

This afternoon, there will be an optional hike to the Khamsum Yueley Namgyel temple. Perched high on a hillside, and offering breathtaking views of Punakha Valley, the temple is dedicated to the deities who safeguard Bhutan from evil forces.

Run: 5-6 miles on a mix of dirt roads and single track trails
Overnight at the Dhensa Boutique Hotel

Day 3 Vik black sand beach

Day 8   |  Archery and Spa Experiences

This morning we will check out of our hotel and begin the drive to Paro. En route, we will stop at a nunnery where we will meet the women and girls who are devoted to practicing Buddhism and learn more about their way of life and the differences between their male counterparts.
Later this morning we will arrive at our final hotel, the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, in time for farm-to-table lunch. The Spirit Sanctuary is a spa-inclusive hotel filled with options and we will have plenty of time to enjoy the amenities. The afternoon is free to enjoy a traditional massage or herbal treatment, join a yoga or meditation class, learn the national sport of archery, or just take the time to relax and unwind.
Rest day; no run today
Overnight at the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary

Day 3 Vik black sand beach

Day 9   |  Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Today we will start our hike early to avoid the crowds, for our hike to one of Bhutan’s most sacred and revered sites, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Also known as “Paro Taktsang”, the iconic Tiger’s Nest is perched precariously on a cliffside at over 10,000 feet above sea level and is a highlight of any visit to Bhutan. The trail is steep going up (1700 feet over two miles), but we will be rewarded with beautiful views of the valley and the monastery itself.
After visiting the monastery, we will return via the same trail and enjoy a free afternoon to relax at our hotel. This evening, we will gather for our retreat closing meeting and have the chance to reflect on our journey.
Hike: 4 miles round trip 
Overnight at the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary 

Day 3 Vik black sand beach

Day 10   | Return to Kathmandu + Farewells

After breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and transfer to the Paro Airport where we will say goodbye to Bhutan and our guides and depart on a morning flight to Kathmandu. Our retreat ends upon arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. 

Flights departing Kathmandu to the United States should depart no earlier than 5:00 PM. If you are unable to book a flight after 5:00 pm on the same day, it is recommended that you stay overnight in Kathmandu and fly out the following day. Post-retreat accommodations and transportation can be arranged by Run Wild Retreats.
No run today