Bhutan

Exploring Gross National Happiness

Join us on a 10-day adventure into this remote Buddhist Kingdom, where happiness and wellbeing are at the centre of politics, economy and culture.

Dates
Apr 23, 2025
-
May 2, 2025
Duration
10 days
Cost:
$12,895 AUD + GST
Pillars
Nature & Environment
Self & Belonging
Equality & Democracy

Impact Safari Bhutan: Exploring Gross National Happiness

In partnership with the Gross National Happiness Centre , explore Gross National Happiness in context with deep dives into integrated leadership, systems change thinking, active hope, happiness and purpose. Centred around the Four Pillars of GNH, Socio-Economic Development, Preservation & Promotion of Culture, Good Governance & Ecological Sustainability.

Inspired by the Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s focus on Gross National Happiness (GNH), Bhutan has chosen to define prosperity very differently to most other nations, putting happiness and wellbeing at the centre of their politics, economy and culture. The contrast is stark compared to so many other nations, including our own, that put financial metrics such as GDP, growth and profits as the key measures of success.

Guided by Club of Rome Member & Buddhist Teacher, Dr. Julia Kim and Small Giants Academy Founder, Danny Almagor, immerse in temples, monasteries, ancestral homes and cultural sites as we bask in the majestic natural landscape of this tiny, magnificent Himalayan country.

Read last year traveller, Kirsty De Garis’ reflection here: The Good Society: A journey through Bhutan exploring Gross National Happiness

Who is this program for?

Impact Safari Bhutan is for humans curious about creating shifts in personal, organisational or cultural practice to align with your individual purpose impacting the collective.

Whether you’re a public speaker, executive, community or organisational leader, artist, politician, activist, or marketing professional - engage in Impact Safari to be guided through self-exploration to mobilise wisdom into action.

Bhutan offers a sacred space for inner-contemplation and exploration of a Kingdom built on the fundamentals of happiness. How has this been prosperous and where have challenges of the modern world taken effect?

Details

The Gross National Happiness index, in a sense, put Bhutan on the map. Rising to Global curiosity from the 1970s, when Bhutan became part of the United Nations, after a long-held self-isolation. The GNH index is a holistic approach to measure the happiness and wellbeing of the population used for policy making to increase Gross National Happiness. Technically defined as a “multidimensional development approach seeking to achieve a harmonious balance between material well-being and the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of society.

Read 2023 Participant, Kirsty De Garis's, reflective essay: The Good Society: A journey through Bhutan exploring Gross National Happiness

Listen to Guide Dr. Julia Kim and Head of Programs, Tamsin Jones discuss Unlocking Enough

Read Bhutan: The Home of Happiness by Mele-Ane Havea

Dates:
April 23, 2025
-
May 2, 2025
Duration:
10 days
Location:
Bhutan

Safari Program -
Based on previous years.

DAY 1

THIMPHU

Fly into the most ornate airport you could ever imagine, met by the Wonderful Gross National Happiness Centre Team, Dr. Julia Kim, Tsoki Tenzin, Anisha Ghalley & Pema Namgyel. We will make our way through the mountains to Thimphu, visiting Tacho Lhakhang Temple en route. Where Dr. Julia will lead our welcome meditation and you will be guided through Bhutanese Buddhist prayer ritual. Cross the prayer flag covered suspension bridge into a new world, which feels of a different time. We will continue by bus to Thimphu, check-in to our hotel and freshen up, before heading to The Great Buddha Dordenma of Kuensel Phodrang to hold our opening circle. Enjoy local cuisine at the locally-run hotel and get an early night or explore town after dark.

DAY 2

THIMPHU

Following our daily morning meditation and breakfast, Dr. Julia Kim & the GNH team will share an introduction to the Gross National Happiness index. Before a GNH Symposium of local experts to discuss the ways this system is applied, it’s history and place within an everchanging world. Following lunch we will embark on Learning Journey’s to Parliament House & ELC Highschool, exploring GNH in Government and Education. Speak with Parliamentarians, Principals, students and esteemed members of these pillars of Bhutanese society. Head out to a local spot for dinner and let your hair down with Karaoke.

Day 3

THIMPHU

After morning mediation pop your hiking shoes on, for a 2 hour or so hike up to Dodeydrak Monastery. Established in the 12th century, now home to over 120 Monks of all ages. This cliff side wonder will bring you to your centre with its grounding, earth energy and kind spirit. Inquire into how GNH can be applied to your life through our Wheel Workshop in one of the Monasteries many meeting places. Have a moment to explore, meditate or bathe in the magnificence of this place. Reflect with the cohort before enjoying dinner together and getting a good nights rest.

DAY 4

MENDEGANG HERITAGE HOME

Today we make our way to Mendegang Heritage Home, the ancestral home of Tsoki, the Gross National Happiness Centre Director. En route we will visit the Dochula Pass 108 Stupas. Enjoy a traditional home-cooked welcome lunch and come together for an afternoon workshop, deep-diving Blood, Birth & Choice. Relax and reset in the early evening, enjoy family dinner followed by a blessing briefing.

DAY 5

MENDEGANG HERITAGE HOME

Today we spend in silence. Take part in a traditional Monk blessing, chanting and smoke offering held in the family temple. You are invited to fast or continue meals as usual. Dr. Julia Kim will hold an inner-world journalling workshop in the afternoon. Have solo reflection time, before breaking silence to share dinner and fireside story.

DAY 6

PUNAKHA

Wake overlooking the green-valley, following morning meditation and breakfast Matthew Nation will hold a workshop surrounding the Good Society. Share family-style lunch before jumping into an afternoon of local farm activity. Try your hand at Bhutanese Archery, traditional cooking and planting. Enjoy dinner and warm up around the bonfire.

DAY 7

PARO

Say your goodbyes to this special place, as we move to our final location, Paro city. En route we will stop at Punakha Dzong, share lunch locally and continue onto The Temple of the Divine Madman. Have some spaciousness in the afternoon to ponder our internal and external duality. Enjoy dinner and a restful evening.

DAY 8

PARO

Following morning meditation and breakfast head into town to visit the sights and solo explore, collect Bhutanese specialties such as tea, prayer bowls and woollen items. Have lunch at the hotel. followed by a Tiger’s Next briefing afternoon. A slow day to prepare our head, heart and hands for tomorrow’s journey.

DAY 9

TIGER'S NEST

Calm the mind through meditation and fuel the body with breakfast, pack your drink bottle and hiking shoes. Today we will hike to Paro Taktsang, a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. Go at your own pace, place your prayer flags and move through ancient rooms of sacred meaning to the Bhutanese and Buddhist cultures. Come together for our closing circle and an honouring dinner.

DAY 10

PARO

Following morning meditation, pack your bags and enjoy our final breakfast together. As we say our ‘see you soon’s,’ aboard the transfer to the airport or wave goodbye as you continue on your own journey.

Your Guides

Dr. Julia Kim

Dr. Julia Kim is the Program Director of the Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan. She joined the GNH Centre after serving as a member of the International Expert Working Group for a New Development Paradigm, convened by the Royal Government of Bhutan. Prior to living in Bhutan, Julia worked as a physician and HIV researcher in Africa and Asia, before serving with the United Nations (UNDP and UNICEF) in New York. She brings a background in leadership development, research, and policy in the fields of wellbeing economics, global health, and sustainable development, and is an Executive Committee member of the Club of Rome, and an associate of the Presencing Institute – a global network that views awareness-based systems change as a core capacity for 21st-century innovation and leadership.

Danny Almagor

Danny Almagor is co-founder (with his wife Berry) and the Executive Chair of Small Giants. Danny was the inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence at RMIT, the founder and former CEO of Engineers Without Borders Australia and is the co-founder and Chair of the Impact Investment Group. He has founded over a dozen for profit and non profit organisations including The Sociable Weaver, The Impact Club, and Beyond Creative. He has served on numerous boards, including Tom Organic, The School of Life, The Cape ecovillage, Pacific Biotechnologies, Smiling Mind, The Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan.

He has studied Aerospace Engineering, Business Administration and outdoor education. He loves to cook, read, rock climb, talk about philosophy, garden, travel and jump on the trampoline with his three kids. He doesn’t like to run marathons, watch horror films, drink beer, spend time on social media, or invest in anything that isn’t impact.

Producers

Tsoki Tenzin

Tsoki currently serves as the Director, and oversees the Centre's overall management in Bhutan. She believes every Bhutanese has a responsibility in nurturing the values of Gross National Happiness. Prior to joining the GNHCB in 2015, Tsoki worked with the UNDP for over a decade under different portfolios including operations and program administration.

Wesel Dema

Wesel joins the Small Giants team in Australia after years of collaboration as the Program Officer at the Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan. She brings a cultural and spiritual wealth of knowledge to our programs and as a guide. Currently living in Albury, Victoria supporting her partners PHD study.

"Impact Safari Bhutan masterfully wove content, conversation, immersion, play and connections that nourished our physical, spiritual and intellectual lives within the beauty and awe that is Bhutan. The spirituality and beauty of this country, along with its commitment to the vision of GNH, permeates everything, and it is impossible not to be changed by this experience.. Impact Safari Bhutan filled my cup on every level - mind, body and spirit, and its gift will be to shift us towards our potential as humans working collectively towards a better future for our planet.” — Alicia Kennedy, 2023 Impact Safari Bhutan

No ads, more forests: Emerging lessons from Bhutan, the ‘land of happiness’

Did you know that there are no billboards in Bhutan and nearly every retail business is a small, local enterprise? Recently returned from a trip to the country famous for pioneering Gross National Happiness, Regen Melbourne's Director of Research Alison Whitten shares lessons and insights from the road.

Join us on a transformational journey in redefining prosperity.

This immersive is an investment of $12,895 AUD.

This is an all-inclusive cost for the duration of the program, including accomodation, in-country travel, meals, access to Bhutanese parliamentarians, intimate workshops and an immersive leadership experience delivery by the faculty at Small Giants Academy.

This cost is exclusive of flights from your origin to Bhutan.

Bhutan is committed to high value, low impact travel experiences which is reflected in the cost of this journey. Following sustainable tourism practices is made possible by daily government travel permit charges and independent operators.

Cancellation policy

Impact Safari is an initiative of Small Giants Academy, which is a registered not-for-profit charity. Our cancellation policy is intended to provide you with maximum flexibility while ensuring our team can make preparations to deliver the incredible experience you’re expecting.

Please notify us of a cancellation by email so we can provide you with a refund minus the following cancellation fees:

  • Up to 8 weeks prior to the trip: Deposits and any balance received are refundable minus AUD$1200 cancellation fee
  • Within 8 weeks of the trip: All funds received are non-refundable and can not be used as a credit.

I'm in! What's next?

Smart move. To secure your place or ask any questions, please email Impact Safari Producer, Anna here:

Frequently asked

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