Gangtey – Rubisa Trek

In Summary:

 

Duration: 10 nights / 11 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Miderate.

Group size: Minimum 2 pax

Best Months for the Trek: January – May, September –December.

Popularity Rating: ****

 

At 3000 meters, Phobjikha Valley is in one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan. It is the winter home to the rare Black–necked Cranes which come from the Tibetan Plateau. The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan and the Gangtey Gompa monastery is the only Nyingmapa Monastery on the western side of the Black Mountains. This moderate trek passes through the village of Gogona and Khotokha, through meadows and fields, then forest of juniper, magnolia, and rhododendrons. This is one of the finest low level treks in Bhutan.

 

Itinerary

 

Day 01. Arrive at Paro, 2280 meters, by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares for landing, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel. After Lunch, you will visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, now the National Museum. Just below the Museum is the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the Dzong and across a traditional cantilever bridge. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 02. Paro, 2280 meters: Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by the walk back to Satsam Chorten.

After lunch, we will drive you to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (Victory Fortress) about 16 km away from Paro town. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by fire and has been in ruins since then – an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you will see an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang that was built in 659 AD by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. In the evening, drive to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 03. Thimphu Sightseeing: The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, which displays ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Traditional Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of Thangka painting (sacred Buddhist scrolls).

After lunch, we drive to Buddha Point to see the tallest Statue of Buddha in the world. We will then visit Changangkha Lhakhang and Takin Preserve Centre. In the evening, we will visit the Tashichhodzong, seat of the government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). Then we will visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 04. Thimphu – Punakha: (76 kms, 3 hours drive). After breakfast, we will drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula Pass to view the higher Himalayas. On the way, we will stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang, known as “the Temple of Fertility”, and built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (the Divine Madman) in the 15th century.

In Punakha, we will visit the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, the Dzong served as the seat of the government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche who predicted that a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Zhabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping, the Zhabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rinpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). Punakha is still the winter residence of Je Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck convened the First National Assembly here in 1952.

 

Day 05. Punakha – Gangtey Gompa: After breakfast, we will drive for 2 hours to Gangtey. On the way, you will visit Wangduephodrang Dzong. Later, explore the Phobjikha Valley famous for the rare Black – necked Cranes. Dinner and overnight in a Guesthouse.

 

Day 06. Start of Trek: Phobjikha – Suibikha

 

  • Starting Point – Tshikopang (2900m)
  • Lunch spot – Yaklam
  • Camp – Suibikha (3860m)
  • Time taken – 5-6 hrs
  •  Difficulty – moderate, gradual ascend
  • Attractions – beautiful landscape, flora and fauna sightings (rhododendrons, pheasants, etc.)

 

Day 07. Suibikha – Gogona

 

    • Starting point – Suibikha pass (3860m)
    • Lunch spot – Pangeymo
    • Camp – Gogona (2950m)
    • Time taken – 4-5 hrs
    • Difficulty – moderate, gradual descend
    • Attractions – beautiful landscape, flora and fauna sightings, visit to Gogona cheese factory, possibility for a traditional hot stone bath since the village has a source for Menchu (medicinal water)

 

Day 08. Gogona – Khotokha

 

  • Starting point – Gogona Village
  • Camp – Khotokha (2600m)
  • Time taken – 5 hrs
  • Difficulty – moderate/ easy
  • Attractions – Scenic beauty (view of Mt. Jumolhari can be sighted from Shoblaa pass, for example), Khotokha Valley, Black-necked Cranes can be seen during season, potential day hike destinations (valley surrounded by many monasteries and temples)

 

Day 09. Khotokha – Rubisa (Wangdue)

 

  • Starting point – Khotokha
  • Camp – Rubisa/ Wangduephodrang
  • Time taken – 5-6 hrs
  • Difficulty – moderate
  • Attractions – beautiful valley of Wangdue and parts of Punakha can be sighted from almost all parts of the trail, with magnificent view of Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Gangkar Puensum and other snow capped mountain ranges

 

Day 10. Wangduephodrang – Thimphu: After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. After lunch, hike to Cheri Monastery. In the evening, free for shopping.

 

Day 11. Departure: After breakfast, drive to the airport and farewell.

 

Yaktsha Trek

In Summary:

 

Duration: 14 nights / 15 days.

Accommodation: Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Highest point: 4900 meters.

Group size: Minimum 2 pax

Best Months for the Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

Popularity Rating: *****

 

This route is very popular and passes through Jangothang and the base of Mt. Jumolhari. The trek runs through some of the most beautiful high passes and Yak herders’ camp. The trekkers will be able to see some of the most spectacular sceneries of the higher Himalayas including Mt. Jichu Drake. You will also have the opportunity to see Blue sheep and other exotic wild life in along the trekking route.

 

Itinerary

 

Day 01. Arrive at Paro, 2280 meters, by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares for landing, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town for photography. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 02. Paro, 2280 meters: After breakfast you will visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, now the National Museum. Just below the Museum, sitting atop a knoll is the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the center of civil and religious authority of Paro district. You will cross a beautiful cantilever bridge to the base of the dzong. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery ranges (archery is the National Sport of Bhutan). If we are lucky, we may catch a match in action.

After lunch, we will drive you to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (Victory Fortress) about 16 km away from Paro town. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by fire and has been in ruins since then – an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you will see an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang that was built in 659 AD by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 03. Paro, 2280 meters: Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by the walk back to Satsam Chorten. In the afternoon, you will visit Tachog Lhakhang and a Bhutanese Farm House. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 04. Paro – Shana (Start of Trek): Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong at 2580 meters following the Paro River and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and bright-colored butterflies. Overnight at a camp in Shana.

Altitude 2850 m; Distance 17 km; Time 5 – 6 hours; Ascent 360 meters, descent 80 meters.

Day 05. Shana – Thangthangka: The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. We pass a junction en route, where another path leads north over the Tremola Pass to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.

Altitude 3610 m; Distance 22 km; Time 7 – 8 hours; Ascent 770 meters ascent, descent 10 meters.

Day 06. Thangthangka – Jangothang: In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs up to a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, the winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. You will come across a lot of yaks before we arrive at the Mt. Jhomolhari base camp (4115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Dinner and overnight in a camp.

Altitude 4080 m; Distance 19 km; Time 5 – 6 hours; Ascent 480 meters.

Day 07. Jangothang: Rest day at Jangothang, enjoy the superb view all around.

You have three options for day hikes in Jangothang:

 

  1. Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (back and forth)
  2. Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (back and forth).
  3. Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (back and forth).

Day 08.  Jangothang – Dhumzo (Soi Yaktsa) at 3800 meters via Bontela Pass 4900 meters

 

Highest Point 4900 meters; Duration 7 – 8 hours walk; Distance 16 km; Level of Difficulty – moderately hard.
We will cover a distance of 16 km and will take around 7 – 8 hours to reach the Dhumzo camp site. On the way you will see the view of Mt. Jhomolhari, mt. Jichu Drake. You will also come across the several yak herders’ tent, Tsho Phu lakes and might even see a flock of Himalayan blue Sheep high up on the rocky slopes. If you are lucky you may see footprints of Snow Leopards at the Bontela Pass. Then the trail winds up till Bontela (4900m) and is also the highest point of this trek. From here you can see several mountain peaks. The trail drops through a steep, narrow gully with gravel and loose rocks till you reach Dhumzo. The Soi Yaktsa Valley is a beautiful site with impressive rock cliffs, waterfalls, deep side valleys, and snow-covered peaks. Dinner and overnight in a camp.
Day 09. Dhumzo (Soi Yaktsa) – Thombushong (4100 meters) via Tagalun Pass at 4550 meters.


Highest Point 4550 meters; Duration 5-6 hours walk; Distance 14 km; Level of difficulty – Moderate.
You will walk through rhododendron, birch, and oak forest draped in moss until you reach a meadow with huge juniper trees. From here you reach a shoulder of a ridge from where you walk straight into a beautiful valley with a number of Yak herders’ camp. You can also get a view of Mt. Jhomolhari for a short while. Little ahead of the Yak herders’ camp site, we stop for lunch and then there is a steep climb to the pass for about an hour. From the pass, you can see the campsite at Thombushong which is very pristine. If you are trekking during May and June, you can see Takins (Bhutan’s National Animal). This place falls in the migratory route of the Takins. Dinner and overnight in a camp.
Day 10. Thombushong to Zankepang at 2600 meter via Thombula Pass (4300 meters).

 

Highest Point 4300 meters; Duration 7-8 hours walk; Distance 18 km, Level of Difficulty: Moderate.
From the campsite, you start your climb to Thombula Pass which takes about half an hour and then you walk on the ridge which is very beautiful. You can see the several mountain peaks view from the pass, the closest one being Mt. Jo Drake (5980 meters). The best time to walk on the ridge is during spring where the whole surrounding mountains are covered with beautiful rhododendron flowers of different colors. After a while the path descends very steeply to the army camp which takes around three hours. The camp is another easy one and a half hour trek from the army camp. Dinner and overnight in a camp.
Day 11. Zankepang to Drugyel Dzong: Distance 7 kms.

 

This is the place where you see off your trekking staff and your horsemen. The walk to the road end is only 2 hours. End of trek. In the evening we drive to Thimphu. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 12. Thimphu Sightseeing: After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu. It includes: the National Library, which has a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts, followed by a visit to the Painting School, famous for carving and free hand art. After lunch visit the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan built in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and then visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument dedicated to the third King of Bhutan. Then visit the Handicrafts Emporium to see the exquisite artistry of traditional crafts and textiles. You will also visit the Tashichhodzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the third King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is regarded as the Father of Modern Bhutan.  You will have the evening free for shopping and leisure. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 13. Thimphu – Punakha – Wangdue (72 km, 3 hours drive): After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while to view the higher Himalayas. In Punakha, you will visit the Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). Punakha is the winter residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Lama of Bhutan. After lunch, we will drive to Wangduephodrang, and en route stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang also called the ‘Temple of Fertility’ built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley also popularly known as the Divine Madman in the 15th century. You will also visit the Wangduephodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 14. Wangduephodrang – Thimphu: After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Lunch in Thimphu. After lunch, you will be free for shopping and photography in the town. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 15. Departure: Early morning drive to the airport and farewell.

 

The Formidable Snowman Trek

In Summary:

 

Duration: 29 nights / 30 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Extremely Strenuous.

Highest Point: 5290 meters.

Group size: Minimum 2 pax.

Best Months for the Trek: March – May, September – 2nd week of November.

Popularity Rating: ****

 

This is the most daunting of all trekking routes in Bhutan. It runs through high and snow-covered mountain passes and lasts for several days on end. That’s why it is called the formidable snowman trek. The trek requires a lot of mental strength and could be extremely taxing.

 

Day 1: Arrive at Paro Bhutan by Druk Air

Arrive Paro by Druk Air, the national carrier. The flight offers you beautiful views of mountains on your approach. On arrival and after visa formalities you will be received by our representatives and transferred to your very comfortable hotel.

In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore Paro town a little and visit Paro Dzong. A Dzong is part fortress, part castle, part monastery and part administration building. Paro Dzong is one of Bhutan’s most impressive and well-known Dzongs, and the finest example of Bhutanese architecture. The tapering walls form a massive structure that towers over the town and is visible as a great white monolith from vantage points throughout the valley. Paro is at 2280 metres (7500 ft).

Day 2: Day Hike to Taktsang Monastery

Day hike to Taktsang Monastery, the famous “Tiger’s Nest”. Horses can be arranged for an extra US$ 5. The hike which is all uphill takes about 2  to 3 hours through villages and pine forests. The monastery which clings to a huge granite cliff 800 meters above the Paro valley was devastated by fire in 1998 but the Royal Government has taken immediate steps to restore the monastery to its original structure. It is believed that the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. During the end of the 17th century, a monastery was built on the spot where the saint meditated and it is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their lifetime. Walk back to hotel.

DAY 3: Drukgyel Dzong to Sharna

Distance: 17km – 5 to 6 hours

A short drive from Paro takes us to Drukgyel Dzong, and the start of our trekking route. Heading up the Pachhu River valley, the trail passes the small settlements of Chang Zampa and Mitshi Zampa where we will see excellent examples of Bhutanese farmhouses. We camp at Sharna (2800m / 9200 feet).

DAY 4: Sharna to Thangkthanka

Distance: 22km – 7 to 8 hours

Leaving Sharna, the trail continues upriver and the route winds in and out of rhododendron and blue pine forests. When we enter Jigme Dorji National Park keep your eyes open for wildlife and changes in vegetation as we continue to climb in elevation. Tonight we camp in Thangthangka (3520m / 11545 feet).

DAY 5: Thangthanka to Jangothang

Distance: 19km – 5 to 6 hours

An hour out of camp this morning we leave the tree line and head into the high mountains. At the halfway point of our hike, we cross Tengethang, a winter home of the migratory yak herders. Arriving at Jangothang (4040m / 13,250 ft), we can watch the sun set on Mt. Jhomolhari (7314m) and Mt. Jichu Drake (6989m).

DAY 6: Rest day in Jangothang

The first of our acclimatization days, we have many day-hiking options. The first is a three to four hour excursion up the ridge to the north for great views of Mt. Jichu Drake. The second is to hike up towards the head of the valley in the direction of Mt. Jhomolhari. The third is a trek up the main valley towards the last house and onward toward Mt. Jichu Drake, this gives a great view of where we will be going in the next few days. The final alternative is a fishing expedition to Tshophu, a high-altitude lake about a two hour hike away.

DAY 7: Jangothang to Lingshi

Distance: 20km – 6 to 7 hours

Heading uphill from Jangothang we cross the first of many major passes. The Nyilela Pass at 4890m (16,135 ft) is about four hours ascent. Descending the other side we will encounter spruce juniper and rhododendron and pass many yak herders’ camps. From this area on we start to see herds of blue sheep. Arriving in Lingshi we set up camp at 4150m (13,700 ft).

DAY 8: Lingshi to Chebisa

Distance: 14km – 4 to 5 hours

This morning we will visit Lingshi Dzong, also known as Yugyel Dzong in the 17th century, it was used in the past to control travel between Tibet and Bhutan. Since today’s hike will not be as long, the pace will be more relaxed. Upon reaching the camp at Chebisa (3850m / 12,600 ft), we will have time to visit Chebisa village and see a bit of Bhutanese village life.

DAY 9: Chebisa to Shakshepasa

Distance: 13km – 4 hours

Crossing the Gombula Pass at 4350m (14,300 ft), we descend into a rhododendron filled valley, and continue past some yak herders’ camps to Shakshepasa where we camp at 3980m (13,100 ft).

DAY 10: Shakshepasa to Robluthang

Distance: 18km – 7 to 8 hours

An early morning start will get us on the way to Jharila Pass at 4747m (15,600 ft). Descending to Tsharijathang, the valley where herds of Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) are normally seen. From here we climb to our camp at Robluthang at 4160m (13,700 ft).

DAY 11: Robluthang to Limithang

Distance: 19km – 7 to 8 hours

Starting early a strenuous hike leads to the Shingela Pass at 5005m (16,650 ft). Descending to Lemithang we’ll see Mt. Gangchenta (6840m) and the glacially carved Gangchhenta valley. Gangchhenta means Great Tiger Mountain. We camp at 4140m (13,650 ft).

DAY 12: Limithang to Laya.

Distance: 10km – 4 to 5 hours

A shorter hike follows a trail in and out of a heavily wooded, uninhabited valley. Climbing up out of the forests we will be rewarded with some great views of Gangchhenta and Masangang (7165m) mountains. We camp at Laya at 3840m (12,650 ft).

DAY 13: Rest day in Laya

Resting in Laya for the day we will get a chance to see the village with its community school, hospital, archery field and the first shop since the Paro Valley. Laya is a unique village of about 800 people with their own language, customs and distinct dress. The women keep their hair long and wear peculiar conical bamboo hats with a bamboo spike at the top. They wear a lot of silver jewellery.

DAY 14: Laya to Rodufu

Distance: 19km – 6 to 7 hours

The trek leads gradually downhill to the Lunana trail junction, then makes a gradual climb to the camp through a forest of conifers, maple and rhododendron. The trail improves and becomes wider as we climb out of the river valley. We camp at Rodufu near a small stream at 4160m (13,645 ft).

DAY 15: Rodufu to Narethang

Distance: 16km – 8 to 9 hours

It is a long hike, first crossing the Tsimola Pass at 4950m (16,200 ft). Descending to Narethang we pass some dwarf rhododendron and hike in the shadow of Gangla Karchung peak (6395m). We camp at 4900m (16,000 ft).

DAY 16: Narethang to Tarina

Distance 18km – 5 to 6 hours

Climb to Karchungla Pass at 5240m (17,187 ft) and down to the glacial lakes that are the source of the Tangchu River. Above the lakes are the mighty peaks of Jejekangphu Gang (7300m) and Tsenda Kang (7100m). We camp at Tarina, 4020m (13,250 ft).

DAY 17: Tarina to Woche

Distance: 15km – 5 to 6 hours

The walk leads down through conifer forests, following the upper reaches of the Phochhu River. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to the village of Woche at 3940m (13,000 ft). The trek has now entered the Lunana region.

DAY 18: Woche to Lhedi

Distance: 19km – 7 to 8 hours

It’s a gradual climb from Woche to the Kechela Pass at 4580m (15,100 ft), then downhill to Thega village. The hike continues to Lhedi village where we camp at 3600m (11,800 ft).

DAY 19: Lhedi to Thanza

Distance: 19km – 6 to 7 hours

The trail climbs gradually following the main source of the Phochhu to Chozo village. At the small Chozo Dzong there are some lay monks. Above Chozo the valley opens as we approach Thanza village near the foot of 7100m Zogophu Gamp, which is also known as Table Mountain. We camp at Thanza, 4080m (13,300 ft).

DAY 20: REST DAY IN THANZA, 4080m (13,300 ft).

This day is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the hospitable local villagers, and explore the beautiful surrounding area, our farthest point in the Lunana valley. Alternatively you can relax around camp and rest up for some of the tough days ahead. As Thanza is a transfer point for horses and yaks, it is important to have a day here for our staff to ensure all the necessary yaks are rounded up by the local herders who do not operate on western time.

DAY 21: Thanza to Danji

Distance: 8km – 4 hours

Today is a relatively short, although somewhat steep, climb to a campsite called Danji, part way up to the Jazela Pass. It will allow us to have some extra time in the morning and make a later start. The camp is around 4600m/15,000ft, with spectacular views of snow-capped peaks! It is an important acclimatization spot.

DAY 22: Danji to Tso Chena

Distance: 12km – 5 hours

The first part of the day involves a climb up over three false summits to Jazela Pass at 5050m (16,570ft). From the pass it is a short downhill trek to the campsite at the lake of Tso Chena at 4800m (15,740 ft). Keep your eyes open for blue sheep during the hike.

DAY 23: Tso Chena to Jichu Dramo

Distance: 14km – 4 to 5 hours

The trail has a series of gradual ups and downs between the snow-capped peaks and across the Lojula Pass at 4940m (16,300 ft) before descending to camp at Jichu Dramo at 4880m (16,000 ft).

DAY 24: Jichu Dramo to Chukarpo

Distance: 18km – 5 to 6 hours

We start with a hard climb to Rinchen Zoela Pass at 5290m (17,350 ft), the highest on the trek. It is then all downhill to Chukarpo, which is just above the tree line at 4950m (16335 ft).

DAY 25: Chukarpo to Thampe Tso

Distance: 18km – 5 to 6 hours

It is a long mostly downhill walk along the river, followed by a climb up to the Um So Lake at 4230m (13,950 ft). In this lake Pema Lingpa revealed a number of religious treasures. Continuing downhill we camp by the lake of Thampe Tso at 4200m (13,860 ft).

DAY 26: Thampe Tso to Maurothang

Distance: 14km – 5 hours

It is a short walk to the base of Thampe La and a steep climb to the pass at 4580m (15,100 ft). The trek is then all downhill through rhododendron bushes to the yak pasture of Maurothang where we camp at 3550m (11,640 ft).

DAY 27: Maurothang to Nikachu Chazam / Drive to Punakha

Distance: 23km – 7 to 8 hours

A long final day of trekking will descend through the lovely village of Sephu to finish at Nikachu Chazam, the road head. From there we will drive to a comfortable guest house near Trongsa. This beautiful Dzong is the centre of the region of Bhutan called “Bumthang” (central region). The Trongsa Dzong is the most impressive in the kingdom and can be seen from a great distance in its strategic position high above the Mangdechhu River.

Drive from Trongsa to Punakha. (Approximately 3 hours). In the mid-afternoon, there is a spectacular drive back west across the mountains to Punakha. We will probably stop along the way at Chendebji to visit the Chendebji Chorten, patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and built in the 19th century by Lama Shida from Tibet. We may also stop at the top of the Pelela Pass (3400m). Overnight in Punakha in a very comfortable hotel.

DAY 28: Drive Punakha to Thimphu

We will have time in the morning to see Punakha Dzong (the second of Bhutan’s dzongs to be built) which for many years served as the seat of government. The Dzong was first built in 1637 and is still one of the largest in Bhutan. We will drive to Thimphu in the morning (about 2 hours) and have the afternoon to visit Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. We will visit the Tashichhodzong, built as the symbol of the capital and then explore the shops along Norzin Lam, Thimphu’s main street.

DAY 29: Drive Thimphu to Paro

The morning is free to do some more sightseeing or shopping around Thimphu. In the afternoon we take a 2 hour drive through the lovely central foothills to Paro where we will halt overnight in a comfortable hotel.

DAY 30: Paro to Kathmandu

Waking up in Paro, we’ll have time for one last walk through town before saying our goodbyes and heading to the airport for the Druk Air flight to Bangkok.

 

Bumthang Cultural Trek

In Summary:

 

Duration: 13 nights / 14 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Highest altitude: 3360 m

Group size: Minimum 2 pax

Best Months for the Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

Popularity Rating: ****

This 3-day trek is named so because of the numerous cultural opportunities trekkers will get compared to other treks in Bhutan. Trekkers may visit villages and temples and meet the locals there. Though it is short, the Bumthang trek is strenuous because it involves a climb to Phephe La (3360 m).

 

Itinerary

 

Day 01. Arrive at Paro by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares for landing, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the hotel. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town for photography. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 02. Paro Sightseeing: Your exploration of the Thunder Dragon kingdom will begin with a short drive in the morning to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (Victory Fortress). Built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was almost completely destroyed by a fire in the early 1950s and has been in ruins ever since. You will get an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m) from Drukgyal. On the way back, you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D. by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. After lunch, visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and you will cross the Pachhu River on a traditional cantilever bridge. If we are lucky, we may catch an archery match in action close by. The evening ends with a walk through Paro’s main streets.

Day 03. Paro, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria. After Lunch, we go back to the hotel, check out and drive to Thimphu. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 04. Thimphu Sightseeing: The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, which displays the ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where the traditional Bhutanese art is still kept alive. After lunch we drive to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and to Lungtenzampa to observe the royal silver smiths and a traditional paper factory. Other highlights of the sightseeing include a visit to the Tashichhodzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). We then drive to Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong of Bhutan built by Shabdrung in 1627, and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium where you may buy souvenirs. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 05. Thimphu – Punakha (76 km, 3-hour drive): After breakfast, we will drive to Punakha through Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, you will see a spectacular view of the higher Himalayas at Dochula. After lunch at Punakha, you will visit the Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the sprawling fortress is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Zhabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, and while Palep was sleeping, the Zhabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From this vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials, mostly weapons and protective gears, captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je Khenpo. The first National Assembly of Bhutan was convened here in 1952. Overnight in a hotel. 

Day 06. Punakha – Trongsa – Bumthang: We start early to Bumthang. On the way, we will stop for a while to view the Chime Lhakhang, built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, more popularly known as the Divine Madman. The Temple is also known as “The Temple of Fertility”. In Wangduephodrang, we will view the Dzong, built in 1638 and situated on a narrow ridge at the confluence of Mochhu and Tangchhu rivers.  Lunch will be served at Trongsa. You will then visit the Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive fortress in Bhutan, built in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was dispatched by Zhabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan. The fortress was expanded at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home to the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. We will then visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower, now a monarchy museum. We will then drive to Bumthang. Overnight in a hotel.

 

Day 07. Bumthang Sightseeing: After breakfast, you will visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The present structure was built in 1667. You will visit Jambay Lhakhang, said to have been built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in 659 AD in the same year as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rinpoche during his visit to Bumthang. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rinpoche hid several Terma (sacred treasures). In October every year one of the most spectacular festivals, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, is staged here. You will then visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after the body print of Guru Rinpoche, built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. You will then visit Tamshing Lhakhang, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. After lunch, an excursion to Membar Tsho, literally “The Burning Lake”, will be scheduled. In the evening, you may visit the Swiss cheese factory. Overnight in a hotel.

 

Start of Bumthang Cultural Trek.

 

Day 08. Jakar – Nagang Lakhang: The trek route follows the Chamkhar Chu River through many villages and temples. This is a very easy and relaxing day. Arrive at the village camp at the altitude of 2900 meters. Walking time around 6 hours.

 

Day 09: Ngang Lhakang – Ugyenchholing: The trail ascends gradually toward the Phephe La Pass through the forest of juniper until you arrive at the pass at an altitude of 3340 meters. You will then descend to Tang Valley, finally arriving at Ugyenchholing village. Camp by the side of the river at the altitude of 2850 meters. Walking time around 7-8 hours.

 

Day 10. Ugyenchholing – Jakar: Morning walk up to the Ugyenchholing Dzong and the surrounding village, then drive to Jakar following the Tangchhu River until you arrive at the main road junction. On the way visit the Membertsho Lake, where Terton Pemalingpa, the great treasure revealer, is supposed to have discovered religious treasures hidden by Guru Rinpoche in the 12th century. This lake is very sacred and many Bhutanese visit it during auspicious days to offer prayers and butter lamps. Overnight in a lodge.

 

Day 11.  Bumthang (Excursion to Ura Valley): After breakfast, you drive to Ura valley. Packed Lunch will be served. In the evening, drive back to Bumthang. Overnight in Bumthang.

Day 12: Bumthang – Phobjikha valley (Gangtey): After breakfast, you will be driven to the beautiful valley of Phobjikha/Gangtey. Visit Gangtey Gompa Monastery from outside. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, founded the Temple in 1613. It is a Nyingma monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingma monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore Phobjikha valley, the winter roosting ground for the rare Black-necked Cranes. Overnight at a guesthouse.

Day 13. Gangtey – Thimphu: After breakfast, you will come back to Thimphu and after lunch, you will visit the tallest statue of Buddha in the world and a mini zoo. In the evening, you may stroll around Thimphu city for shopping and leisure. Overnight in a hotel.

 

Day 14. Thimphu – Paro: You will be driven to the airport early in the morning.

 

 

Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek

In Summary:

 

Duration: 11 nights / 12 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderately Easy.

Highest altitude: 4300 meters.

Group size: Minimum 2 pax.

Best Months for the Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

Popularity Rating: *****

 

It is a 5½-day trek near Thimphu, to a large number of lovely high altitude lakes. The trek is easy and most trekking days are short but there are some long steep climbs. It starts from Khoma (near Thimphu) and ends in Simtokha, Thimphu. The highest point is 4300 Meters.

Itinerary

 

Day 01. Arrive at Paro, 2280 meters, by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares to land, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel.

 

After lunch, drive to the ruins of Drukgyel dzong (Victory Fortress), built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the 8th century. Overnight in a hotel in Paro.

Day 02. Paro Sightseeing: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress. After lunch, visit Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong is currently the administrative center of Paro. You will also visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, now the National museum of Bhutan. In the evening, a two-hour drive will take you to Thimphu. Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.

 

Day 03. Khoma – Geynikha (2950 meters): You will walk through terraced paddy fields and coniferous forests to the settlement of Geynikha. The route then descends to a chorten that marks a camping place alongside a stream.

Altitude 2800 m; Distance 14 Km; Time 4 hours.

Day 04. Geynikha  – Gur: Crossing a suspension bridge, the trail heads west for a while, then climbs steeply towards the south to a rock platform and a crest at 3200 meters. A further walk of about two hours leads to a camp in a forest clearing at 3290 meters.

 

Altitude 3290 meters; Distance 7 km; Time 5hrs; Ascent 550 meters, descent 210 meters.

 

Day 05. Gur – Labatamba: You will cross the pass at 4240 meters for a view of spectacular Dagala village, and then pass through several herders’ camps en route the foot of the broad Labatamba valley at 4300 meters near Utso Lake, where plenty of Golden Trout flourish. There are many lakes in the vicinity. You will camp near the lake. Overnight in a camp.

 

Altitude 4300 meters; Distance 12 km; Time 5hrs; Ascent 1040 meters, descent 110 meters.

 

Day 06. Labatamba – Panka: The trail climbs along the western side of the lake from where you will get awesome views of the surrounding mountains. From the pass there is a steep descent to another lake at 4350 meters. A short distance beyond the lake leads to the valley and then to Panka.

 

Altitude 4000m; Distance 8 km; Time 6-7  hours; Ascent 260 meters, descent 520 meters.

 

Day 07. Panka – Talakha: The route leads north crossing a pass at 4000 meters, then climbs along the side of a ridge to a crest at 4270 meters. From here there is a view of the Dagala range and a view of Thimphu, far to the north. It is then a long descent through forests to the Goemba and village of Talakha (3080 meters).

 

Altitude 3080 m; Distance 8 kms; Time 6-7 hours; Ascent 180 meters, descent 1100 meters.

 

Day 08. Talakha – Chamgang – Thimphu: Walk downhill on a steep trail to Chamgang (2640 meters) from where our vehicle will pick you up and drive you to Thimphu. After lunch, rest and free to stroll around the town. Overnight in a hotel.

 

Distance 6 Kkm; Time 3 hours; Descent 440 meters.

Day 09. Thimphu Sightseeing: After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu. It includes: the National Library, which has a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts, followed by a visit to the Painting School, famous for carving and free hand art. After lunch visit the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan built in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and then visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument dedicated to the third King of Bhutan. Then visit the Handicrafts Emporium to see the exquisite artistry of traditional crafts and textiles. You will also visit the Tashichhodzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961 by the third King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is regarded as the Father of Modern Bhutan.  You will have the evening free for shopping and leisure. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 10. Thimphu – Punakha – Wangdue (72 km, 3 hours drive): After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while to view the higher Himalayas. In Punakha, you will visit the Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). Punakha is the winter residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Lama of Bhutan. After lunch, we will drive to Wangduephodrang, and en route stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang also called the ‘Temple of Fertility’ built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley also popularly known as the Divine Madman in the 15th century. You will also visit the Wangduephodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 11. Wangduephodrang – Thimphu: After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Lunch in Thimphu. After lunch, you will be free for shopping and photography in the town. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 12. Departure: Early morning drive to the airport and farewell.

 

Jumolhari Trek (Round Trek)

In Summary:

 

Duration: 13 nights / 14 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Highest Point: 4115 meters.

Group size: Minimum 2 pax

Best Months for the Trek: March – June, September – 2nd Week of December.

Popularity Rating: *****

 

 

This is a classic 9-day trek starting from (Drugyal Dzong) Paro and ending at Dodena near Thimphu. The route runs through two high passes from Jangothang. The view of Mt. Jumolhari (7314 M) from Jangothang is spectacular.  The trek is strenuous and is very popular. The highest point is 4115 m.

 

Itinerary

 

Day 01. Arrive at Paro, 2280 meters, by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares for landing, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel.

After lunch, we will drive you to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (Victory Fortress) about 16 km away from Paro town. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by fire and has been in ruins since then – an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you will see an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang that was built in 659 AD by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 02. Paro, 2280 meters: Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress.

After lunch, visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rinpung Dzong, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and you will cross the Pachhu River on a traditional cantilever bridge. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.

Day 03. Paro – Shana (Start of Trek): Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong at 2580 meters following the Paro River and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and bright-colored butterflies. Overnight at a camp in Shana.

Altitude 2,850 m; Distance 17 km; Time 5 – 6 hours; Ascent 360 meters, descent 80 meters.

Day 04. Shana – Thangthangka: The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. We pass a junction en route where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.

Altitude 3610 m; Distance 22 km; Time 7 – 8 hours; Ascent 770 meters, descent 10 meters.

Day 05. Thangthangka – Jangothang: In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs up to a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. You will come across a lot of yaks before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.

Altitude 4080 m; Distance 19 kms; Time 5 – 6 hours; Ascent 480 meters.

Day 06. Jangothang: Rest day at Jangothang, enjoy the superb view all around.

You have three options for day hikes in Jangothang:

 

  1. Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (back and forth)
  2. Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (back and forth).
  1. Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (back and forth).

Day 07. Jangothang – Lingshi: The trail follows a stream for half an hour and crosses a bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Jichu Drakey, and Mt. Tsrim Ghang. Then walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Nyeleyla Pass at an altitude of 4,700 meters. After the pass it’s a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp. Enjoy the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi dzong.

Altitude 4010 meters; Distance 18 km; Time 6-7 hours; Ascent 840 meters, descent 870 meters.

Day 08. Lingshi – Shodu: The trail today climbs to Yalila Pass (4930 m), from where on a clear day impressive views of Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Tserim Kang and Mt. Masagang can be seen. Dinner and overnight in a camp.

Altitude 4080 meters; Distance 22 km; Time 8-9 hours walk; Ascent 940 meters, descent 920 meters).

Day 09. Shodu – Barshong: The path follows the Thimphu River, descending through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forest. The view of the cliff facing rocks and waterfalls are stunning. Hot lunch will be served by the riverside. After lunch the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of the Barshong Dzong, reaching the camp. Dinner and overnight in a camp.

Altitude 3710 meters; Distance 16 km; Time 5-6 hours; Ascent 250 meters, descent 670 meters.

Day 10. Barshong – Dolamkencho: The road descends through alpine forest and we once again join Thimphu River for a while. After lunch we climb up to Dolamkencho camp.

Altitude 3320 meters; Distance 15km; Ttime 4-6 hours; Ascent 290 meters, descent 640 meters.

Day 11. Dolamkencho – Dodena – Thimphu: The path descends through bamboo forests finally joining the Thimphu River again. Arrive at Dodena where you will be picked up for the drive to Thimphu. Overnight at a hotel.

Distance 8 km; 4 hours walk;Ascent 500 meters, descent 930 meters.

Day 12. Thimphu Sightseeing: The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, which displays the ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where the traditional Bhutanese art is still kept alive. After lunch we drive to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and to Lungtenzampa to observe the royal silver smiths and a traditional paper factory. Other highlights of the sightseeing include a visit to the Tashichhodzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). We then drive to Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong of Bhutan built by Shabdrung in 1627, and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium where you may buy souvenirs. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 13. Thimphu- Punakha – Thimphu: After breakfast, we will drive to Punakha through Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, you will see a spectacular view of the higher Himalayas at Dochula. After lunch at Punakha, you will visit the Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the sprawling fortress is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Zhabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, and while Palep was sleeping, the Zhabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From this vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials, mostly weapons and protective gears, captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je Khenpo. The first National Assembly of Bhutan was convened here in 1952. In the evening, drive back to Thimphu. Overnight in a hotel. 

Day 14.  Thimphu – Paro Airport (Departure): Early morning drive to the airport and farewell.

 

Druk Path Trek

In Summary:

 

Duration: 10 nights / 11 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Moderately Strenuous.

Highest Point: 4210 meters

Trek Distance: 75 km

Group size: Minimum 2 pax

Best Months for the Trek: March – June, September – 2nd Week of December.

Popularity Rating: *****

 

This is a very popular 5-day trek that passes through some beautiful high altitude lakes. You will come across diverse flora all throughout the trek which starts from Paro near the Museum and ends in Motithang, Thimphu. The highest point is 4110 meters.

 

Itinerary

Day 01. Arrive at Paro, 2280 meters, by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares for landing, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the hotel. After lunch, we will drive you to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (Victory Fortress) 16 km up the valley. Built in 1647 by the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by fire and has been in ruins since then – an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you will see an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang that was built in 659 AD by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 02. Paro, 2280 meters: Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by the walk back to Satsam Chorten. After lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in 1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. Dinner and overnight in a hotel.

Day 03. Paro – Jele Dzong (Start of Trek): It is a short trek to Jele Dzong. The trek begins above the National Museum. If the weather is clear the Paro valley and the snow-capped mountains surrounding the valley can be seen.  The campsite is near the old Jele Dzong.  If the caretaker is there you can visit the Dzong.

Altitude 3560m; Distance 10 km; Time 4 – 5 hours; Ascent 1090 meters.

Day 04. Jele Dzong – Jangchulakha: The trek starts with a short climb and then passes through a thick alpine forest of rhododendron and gradually climbs till we reach camp. You may see yak herders around your campsite.

Altitude 3770m; Distance 10 km; Time: 3 – 4 hours; Ascent 310 meters, descent 50 meters.

Day 05. Jangchulakha – Jimilangtso: The trail follows the ridge and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valleys are beautiful. Our camp is close to Lake Jimilangtso. These lakes are known for giant trout, and if lucky, you may enjoy well-prepared trout for dinner.

Altitude 3870m; Distance 11 km; Time 4 hours; Ascent 330 meters, descent 230 meters.

Day 06. Jimilangtso – Simkota: The trail takes you through dwarf rhododendron trees past the lake of Janetso. Overnight in a camp.

Altitude 4110 meters; Distance 11 kms; Time 4 hours; Ascent 820 meters ascent, descent 400 meters.

Day 07. Simkota – Phajoding – Thimphu: From here we slowly descend down to Phajoding Monastery from where Thimphu town is visible at the valley floor. After lunch we drive to the Institute of Traditional Medicine where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices. Then we will visit the Takin Preserve Center and Sangay Gang View Point and then see the tallest statue of Buddha in the region. Overnight in a hotel.

Altitude 2520 meters; Distance 15 km; Time 6 – 7 hours; Ascent 130 meters ascent, descent 1820 meters.

Day 08. Thimphu Sightseeing: The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten built in the honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, which is stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch, visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. In the evening, visit the Tashichhodzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 09. Thimphu – Punakha (72 Kms, 3 hours drive): After breakfast, we will drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, we will stop for a while at Dochula Pass to view the higher Himalayas. Lunch will be served at Punakha. After lunch, you will visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located on a narrow spur of land between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Zhabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping, the Zhabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rinpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo. In the evening, you will visit Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the Divine Madman. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. Overnight in a hotel. 

Day 10. Punakha – Thimphu – Paro: After breakfast, we will drive to Paro via Thimphu. Lunch at Thimphu. You will be left free in the afternoon for shopping. In the evening, we drive to Paro. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 11. Departure: Early morning drive to the airport and farewell.

 

Beautiful Laya – Gasa Trek

In Summary:

Duration: 19 nights / 20 days.

Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.

Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.

Difficulty Level: Strenuous.

Highest Point: 4115 meters.

Group size: Minimum 2 pax

Best Months for the Trek: March – May, September – 2nd Week of December.

Popularity Rating: ****

 

This 14-day trek is an extension of the Jumolhari Trek. In the course of your trekking, you will come across diverse flora and fauna, including a good opportunity to spot Blue Sheep, Takins and the Blue Poppy (Bhutan’s National Flower). The trek will introduce you to the unique culture of the Layap people. You will also be able to take healing soaks in the natural hot spring ponds in Gasa.

 

Itinerary

 

Day 01. Arrive at Paro, 2280 meters, by Druk Air: The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, you will be able to see some of the world’s highest peaks as you fly into Paro. As the aircraft prepares for landing, you will be surrounded by the lush green valleys. On landing, your Bhutanese escort from Druk & Drukpa Travel will greet you at the exit terminal, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town for photography. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 02. Paro, 2280 meters: After breakfast you will visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, now the National Museum. Just below the Museum, sitting atop a knoll is the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the center of civil and religious authority of Paro district. You will cross a beautiful cantilever bridge to the base of the dzong. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery ranges (archery is the National Sport of Bhutan). If we are lucky, we may catch a match in action.

After lunch, we will drive you to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (Victory Fortress) about 16 km away from Paro town. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by fire and has been in ruins since then – an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you will see an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang that was built in 659 AD by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. In the evening, you are free to stroll in the town. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 03. Paro, 2280 meters: Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: After breakfast a short drive will take you to Satsam Chorten, from where you start your 2-hour hike to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests. You will stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Zakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the famed Taktsang Monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Taktsang riding on a tigress. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by the walk back to Satsam Chorten. In the afternoon, you will visit Tachog Lhakhang and a Bhutanese Farm House. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 04. Paro – Shana (Start of Trek): Trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong at 2580 meters following the Paro River and we pass through cultivated fields and picturesque villages. Amid melodious birdsongs, you will come across brightly colored beautiful butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana.

Altitude 2850 m; Distance 17 Km; Time 5 – 6 hours; 360 meters ascent, 80 meters descent.

Day 05. Shana – Thangthangka: The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.

Altitude 3610 m; Distance 22 Km; Time 7 – 8 hours; 770 meters ascent, 10 meters descent.

Day 06. Thangthangka – Jangothang: You will pass a small army post in the morning, after which the trail comes out of the pine forests and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, the winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. You will come across hundreds of Yaks before arriving at the Mt. Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.

Altitude 4080 m; Distance 19 Kms; Time 5 – 6 hours; 480 meters ascent.

Day 07. Jangothang: It’s a rest day at Jangothang. You may enjoy the superb view the mountains around, take pictures, and relax. We also offer day hike options:

  1. Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (back and forth)
  2. Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (back and forth).
  1. Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (back and forth).

 

Day 08. Jangothang – Lingshi: A good day’s walk today with spectacular view of Mt. Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. You will start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela Pass (4,700 m). You will then descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. You will be able to see the truly mystical Lingshi Dzong atop a high hill.

 

Altitude 4000m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.


Day 09. Lingshi – Chebisa:
A gentle climb from Lingshi will take you to another delightful village, Gom Yu, located below a 300 m cliff. Another one hour’s walk will see us in a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall by the village of Chebisa, where we will camp by the riverside.

 

Campsite altitude 3880m; Distance 10 kms; Time 5 – 6 hours; 280 meters ascent, 410 meters descent.


Day 10. Chebisa – Shomuthang:
You will start the day with a steep climb through high pastures up the Gokula Pass (4320 m) before descending through forests of dwarf rhododendron. Then you make a short climb and head down to the camp near a riverbed.

 

Campsite altitude 4220m; Distance17kms; Time 6-7hours; 890 meters ascent, 540 meters descent.

Day 11. Shomuthang – Robluthang: From Shomuthang it is a long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,640 m where you will once again come across the stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains. We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarigathang valley, where herds of Takin roam, then cross a knee-deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp.

Campsite altitude 4,160m; Distance 18 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours; 700 meters ascent, 760 meters descent.

Day 12. Robluthang – Lemithang: This is one of the hardest days of the trek. You will climb slowly up to Shinchela Pass at 4870 m and will be rewarded with a stunning view of the Himalayan Mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. On a clear day all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep, and yaks abound in this area. We then descend to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank.

Campsite altitude 4140 meters; Distance 19 kms; Time 6-7 hours; 850 meters ascent, 870 meters descent.

Day 13. Lemithang – Laya: You will walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochhu, and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for their clothing made of yak hair and their conical bamboo hats. The women sport long hair and wear turquoise and jade. You will spend the rest of the day is spent at leisure visiting farm houses and mixing with the locals.

Campsite altitude 3840m; Distance10 kms; Time 4-5 hours; 60 kms ascent, 340 meters descent.

Day 14. Laya (Halt): You will have the entire day to meet the local people and learn about their customs and tradition. You may also take pictures. From Laya you see a stunning view of Mt. Masangang.

Day 15. Laya – Koena: The trail runs along the river valley offering breathtaking view of the river, feeder streams, and waterfalls. Overnight in a camp.

Campsite altitude 3050 meters; Distance19 kms; Time 6-7hours; 260 meters ascent, 1070 meters descent.

Day 16. Koena – Gasa Tsachu: You will gradually climb up to Balela Pass at 3740 m and then descend to Gasa village. You will see the Gasa Dzong perched on the hillside over the village. You will then drop steeply down to the river for an hour and camp near the Hot Spring. You will have a chance for a good hot soak in the ponds.

Campsite altitude: 2638m; Distance 14 kms; Time: 6-7hours; 900 meters ascent, 1710 meters descent.

Day 17: Gasa Tsachu – Goen Damji – Punakha (End of Trek): As you descent, the last day of your trek takes you through the rolling hillsides across fields, villages and forests of oak and pine. The trail descends from the highlands above the Mochu into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees and creepers. You might even spot a monkey.  Our vehicle will pick you up at Damji and drive you to Punakha, two hours away. Overnight in a hotel.

Gasa – Damji (18 kms); 5-6 hours; 470 meters ascent, 280 meters descent.

Day 18. Punakha – Thimphu: After breakfast, you will visit the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located between Pho Chu and Mo Chu.  Punakha is the old capital. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo. Bhutan’s first Parliament was also convened here in 1952. After lunch, we will drive you to Thimphu, about 72 kms away, and en route you will visit Chimi Lhakhang, also called Temple of Fertility, built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 17th century. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 19. Sightseeing in Thimphu: The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist scrolls).

After lunch, you will pay a visit to the tallest Buddha statue in the world and witness an archery match. Other highlights in Thimphu include a visit to the Tashichhodzong, seat of the government and the Central Monastic Body, and a visit to the Handicrafts Emporium where you may buy Bhutan’s legendary handicraft/souvenir items. Overnight in a hotel.

Day 20. Departure: Early morning drive to the airport and farewell.