Wilderness Medicine
Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness Medicine
"So they burn" by Yen Teoh
Wilderness Medicine
"Punakha Dzong" by Yen Teoh

Wilderness Medicine CME Conference

October 23rd - November 3rd, 2017
March 22nd - April 1st, 2018
(with Paro Festival)
October 21st - November 1st, 2018
(with Prakher/Jambay Festival)

Approved for 16.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits

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 that lies nestled in the high Himalaya. A country the size of Switzerland with a population of less than one million, it vigilantly protects it ancient traditions, religion and culture. Traveling there is like visiting Nepal or Tibet forty years ago. National Geographic has called it the last "Shangri-La."

Our seminar will take us on a journey that will travel 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 3 hours to visit the "Tigers Nest" of Takstang, the most famous and sacred of Bhutan's monasteries, perched on side of a sheer cliff 3,000 ft above the Paro valley. No other monastery in the world can match the grandeur of Takstang's natural setting. This wilderness medicine course is 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

Explore Bhutan
Wilderness Medicine CME Conference


  • Visit the remote, rarely visited Eastern valleys of Bhutan
  • Active day hikes in the spectacular Himalayas
  • Stay in comfortable mountain lodges
  • Immerse yourself in Bhutan's rich Buddhist culture and traditions
  • Visit remote weaving villages at Lhunentse

Trip Cost: $4,795* (does not include airfare from Bangkok to Bhutan)
Additional CME Cost: $695 (Approved for 16.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits) $500 single supplement
*per person, based on double occupancy

"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

Explore Bhutan
Wilderness Medicine CME Conference

The itinerary below is our planned schedule. Hiking times are general estimates and vary depending on local weather, daily trail conditions, and festival schedules. Internal flights are also subject to change.

DAY 01) : 23 October (Mon) BANGKOK - PARO - 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. On 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. Even today, it still has only a few streets and no traffic lights. 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 Khempo, Bhutan's chief abbot. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk died in 1972 and was succeeded by his son, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who was age 17 at the time. He abdicated the throne in 2006, as Bhutan changed to a constitutional monarchy, and his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (then 28), was crowned king and became the head of state in November 2008.

In the afternoon we explore Thimphu's valley by visiting Giant Buddha statue and Memorial Chorten (outside) built in memory of the 3rd King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, and evening have a chance to mingle with the locals chatting about their week as they do their shopping. Many stalls also contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household wares. We overnight at the DrukHotel or similar..LD

DAY 02) : 24 October (Tue) THIMPHU / CHERI MONASTERY
A 40-minute hike through a beautiful forest of oaks brings us up to Cheri Monastery, a monastic school and retreat built in 1688. After crossing the Parizampa Bridge, we hike up to Cheri Monastery, the residence of the Druk Desi Gyaltsen Tenzin Rabgye, the lama who is a reincarnation of the 16th century monk who founded this monastery. We will visit the main temple and also linger in Cheri's inner courtyard, beautifully painted in bright colors, with lovely views stretching across the Thimphu Valley. We drive back to Thimphu for lunch in local restaurant. In the afternoon, visit the Royal Textile Academy and 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. Overnight in Druk Hotel or similar...BLD

DAY 03) : 25 October (Wed) THIMPHU / PUNAKHA
In the morning , drive to Dochula pass and if weather is clear, enjoy the view and the see the 108 stupas. From there take about 1.5 hr hike up to Lungchuzekha Monastery, through the beautiful forest of rhododendrons, maple, birch etc and visit the isolated monastery of Lungchuzekha. Enjoy the view from the monastery and walk back to Dochula. Lunch at Dochula cafeteria. Drive down to Punakha valley. Overnight at Zhingkham Resort or similar...BLD

Distance : 77 kms Driving Time : About 3 hours. Hiking Time (approx) : About 3.5 hrs

DAY 04) : 26 October (Thur) PUNAKHA
In the morning drive to village of Nezigang, we cross the suspension bridge and hike up through cultivated fields and little hamlets to visit the Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, a shrine recently built by the royal family. The shrine is an elaborate structure with a rainbow of Guru Rimpoche images and superb views of the Punakha valley. We descend and walk back to the bus, where we will have lunch in the restaurant. In the afternoon visit the 17th century Punakha Dzong, Bhutan's former winter capital, built in 1637 at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (the Mother and Father rivers). The Punakha Dzong is an architectural wonder and seat of the head abbot of Bhutan. It has survived six fires, two glacial lake burst 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 Zhingkham Hotel or similar...BLD

Driving Time : about 45 mins. Total Hiking Time (approx): About 3 hours

DAY 05) : 27 October (Fri) PUNAKHA - PHOBJIKHA
In the morning , we drive to Phobjikha via Wangdi. Phobjikha valley with its alpine setting on the western slope of the Black Mountains, is the winter home of a flock of 200-300 black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) which migrates to this valley from Tibet to spend the winter foraging of the valley floor. In Bhutan, the cranes are considered harbingers of good luck and have long been respected by the residents of the valley. The cranes' arrival signals to villagers that it's time to pack up and move down to lower, warmer climes since the valley is snowed-in during the winter months. We visit the gold-roofed Gangtey Monastery, one of the most Nyingma pa (old red hat sect of Buddhism) in western Bhutan. Lunch in the restaurant / Guest house. In the afternoon, enjoy the hike around the valley floor of Phobjikha and visit the Crane information center. Overnight atYue Loki Guest House or similar....BLD

Distance : 78 Kms Driving Time : About 3.5 hours

DAY 06) : 28 October (Sat) PHOBJIKHA
In the morning take a beautiful hike through the Rhododendrons, dwarft bamboo crossing a small pass to Longtoe village near Nikachu. Visit the Farm House and picnic lunch will be arranged near the village. In the afternoon, drive back to Phobjikha. Overnight at Yue Loki Guest House...BLD

Hiking Time : About 3 hours.

DAY 07) : 29 October (Sun) PHOBJIKHA - THIMPHU
Drive back to Thimphu. En route, we continue to the village of Lobesa for a half-hour walk through mustard fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery and fertility temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, a Tibetan Buddhist saint known popularly as "the divine madman" and a folk hero in Bhutan for his unconventional ways. Drukpa Kuenley originally built a chorten on the site in the 14th century. The temple, flanked by nearly 100 tall prayer flags, sits atop a picturesque hill and has long been a pilgrimage site for childless couples. Lunch in the local restaurant. In the afternoon, drive back to Thimphu. Overnight in Druk Hotel or similar...BLD

Driving Time : 135 kms Driving Time : About 6 hours

DAY 08) : 30 October (Mon) THIMPHU - HAA
In the morning drive about an hour to Ji Goempa to see the annual festival where Mask and Folk dances are performed in front of the temple courtyard. We will spend whole morning at the festival and mingle with the local crowd. In the afternoon continue 3 hours a drive brings us via Chuzom to Haa valley set at about 9,000 feet in westernmost Bhutan. .Closed to outsiders for decades, this beautiful valley is one of the most deeply traditional regions in Bhutan. Three prominent hills dot the valley and are believed by the locals to be the physical manifestations of three very important Buddhist saints. The left-hand hill represents Manjushri (the god of wisdom who holds the flaming sword that cuts the knot of ignorance), the middle one is Chenrezig (the Buddha of compassion, of which the Dalai Lama is the human incarnation), and the right-hand hill is Chana Dorji (the protector god of Bhutan). Collectively they are known as rigsum ("three hills"). En route we will visit the Dobji Dzong located on hill with commanding view of the Wangchuk river The Haa Valley is dotted with farmhouses adorned with traditional painted motifs, and even the most remote village farmhouses are hand-crafted using the same ancient methods used to create Bhutan's religious fortress-dzongs. Overnight at the Rigsum Lodge...BLD Total Driving Time: About 4 hours

Driving Time : 115 Kms Driving Time : About 4 hours

DAY 09) : 31 October (Tue) HAA
After breakfast at the lodge, we hike along the banks of the Haa River, following the old trade routes toward the Chumbi Valley in Tibet. En route, we visit Gechukha Lhakhang and several villages. From the temple, a steep uphill hike brings us up to Jamtey Gompa (10,500'), where we enjoy our lunch while admiring wonderful views over the surrounding landscape. In the afternoon we visit Yangto Gompa, one of the largest in the Haa Valley, and hike down to Yangto village for an opportunity to meet the locals, perhaps sample some butter tea or the local wine. We continue our hike back to our camp at Yongto. Overnight at Rigsum Lodge..BLD

Total Hiking Time: About 3-4 hours

DAY 10) : 01 November (Wed) HAA - PARO
In the morning , drive to Cheli La (13'000' - la means "pass"), the highest motorable road in Bhutan. If weather is clear, enjoy the beautiful views of the Mountains (Chomolhari, Jichu Drake) and Paro valley from the Cheli La passs. Descend to Paro valley and lunch in local restaurant. In the afternoon visit the National Museum as well as the Paro Dzong, the religious and secular center of the Paro Valley and a 17th century architectural wonder. Overnight at the Drukchen hotel or similar...BLD

Driving Time : 65 Kms Driving Time : About 3 hours

DAY 11) : 02 November (Thur) PARO
TAKTSANG MONASTERY. We head a bit out of town to hike up through pine forests festooned with Spanish moss to reach to the striking monastic retreat of Taktsang, the "Tiger's Nest" (9,600'), built into a sheer cliff face about 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley. This is the most famous temple in Bhutan and one of the venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world. Padmasambhava, the great 8th century Buddhist saint and teacher, is thought to have landed at this spot after flying over the mountains from Tibet on the back of a tigress, thus bringing the teachings of Buddhism to Bhutan. The primary temple was built around Padmasambhava's meditation cave in 1684. We enjoy our lunch en route at a teahouse midway with fantastic views of the monastery. Overnight at Drukchen Hotel or similar....BLD

DAY 12 ) : 03 November (Fri) PARO / BANGKOK
After breakfast, we transfer to Paro Airport for homeward-bound flights via Bangkok.

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.

For detailed itinerary or to register for Bhutan please call
Bio Bio Expeditions at 1-800-246-7238

Faculty for the Bhutan For The Active Traveler Wilderness Medicine CME Conference:

KAREN B. VAN HOESEN , MD , FACEP: Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director, UCSD Diving Medicine Center, University of California San Diego School of Medicine.


  • Altitude Illness
  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite and Other Cold Injuries
  • Environmental Heat Illness
  • Snake Envenomation
  • 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
  • Wild Animal Attacks
  • Patient Assessment in Wilderness Settings
  • Wilderness Dermatology
  • Marine Hazards & Envenomations


"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
16.50 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.