This trip to Bhutan allows the travelers to enjoy the taste of the great variety of Bhutanese landscape, and the views from some of the major passes that we come across are breath taking, be it of mountains or the valleys underneath. It gives you a chance to meet people, enjoy the pristine forest with rare glimpse of wildlife and observe the ancient old traditions of arts and crafts. We would be traveling through the less frequented areas of Bhutan. Our journey starts from Paro Valley where our flight will land and continue by road through the lush valley of Thimphu the Capital city. After touring through this tiny town, we will take an excursion to the famous Tiger‟s Nest locally known as Taktshang Gompa, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.We start our 8 days trek to Thimphu via Base camp of Mount. Jomolhari. A medium duration trekking in Bhutan
that is probably the most trekked route due to its easy access, beautiful terrain and spectacular views of the majestic snowcapped mountains. Locally known as Jomolhari (The Mountain of Goddess), believed to be the abode of Jomo goddess is one of the most beautiful and imposing mountains in the entire Himalayan region. Located at the northwestern border with Tibet, trekking to the base camp of this dome shaped mountain provides an opportunity to experience the panoramic views of some of the world‟s highest peaks. Beginning from Paro valley, your trek starts with gentle ascent through Bhutan‟s undisturbed forest of rhododendrons and pines. Passing through the villages with lush fields of rice, wheat, barely and crossing over the tree lines you arrive in the regions sparsely inhabited by the migrant yak herders. The trail continues through enchanting valley flanked with snowcapped peaks to the base of Mount Chomolhari and its spike shaped companion, Jichu Drake. You spend one entire day exploring the vicinity or just relaxing and enjoying the wonders of nature. You resume your trek to the Thimphu valley by crossing two major passes through the remote wilderness with abundant of wildlife, including, blue sheep, Takin and variety of birds, perhaps under the surveillance of the elusive snow leopard. There will be ample of opportunities to interact with the friendly people of Bhutan and learn their philosophy of “GROSS NATIONAL HAPINESS”. After the trek, you have a day to see Bhutan‟s tiny Capital city with no traffic light.
On a typical trek day, we will be woken at 6.00 am, by a member of the camp crew bringing tent tea, followed shortly by a bowl of hot washing water. By 7.30 am, when breakfast is ready, we will have packed ready for the day‟s activity (day pack, and main luggage if appropriate). We leave with our guide just before 8.30 am and spend the rest of the day walking at an unhurried but steady pace. We stop for about an hour for a hot lunch and at our next campsite, at about 4.30 pm. The crew will pack up the tents, load the horses, overtake us and have the new camp ready for our arrival. A hot drink will be ready when we arrive, followed by washing water and our evening meal. After eating, we discuss the route for the following day with our guide before retiring to bed.
This will sound very familiar to anyone who has trekked in Nepal, the main differences being that the camp crew is much smaller in Bhutan and there are no tea houses or
shops along the way.
It is essential that participants undertake regular walking in the months leading up to the start of the Tour so that you can enjoy to the full what this trip offers. The itinerary gives
an indication of the distances involved. Previous experience of multi-day trekking as well as of extended periods camping over 3000 m is preferable. It is accepted practice in Bhutan for the Guide to assess trek participants as to their physical fitness, and their ability to undertake what is ahead. In the event of serious concern he will stop and possibly turn back those who, in his opinion, cannot complete the undertaking.
Every effort has been made to allow gradual acclimatization to the altitude, but this is a factor which is unpredictable for anyone. Many folk have their own ideas about how to combat the effects of altitude and we always carry Diamox with us and use it if we feel
the need. If you plan to use such a drug for the first time, visit your doctor well in
advance of the trip and ensure that you have a trial at home so that you understand
what the effect is on you before administering it at height.
Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude.
Drive time 45 mins Breakfast and then trek for 7-7.5 hours with breakfast at Camp. Altitude at Camp – 3610. Km – 17 kms. Altitude gain is 850m. The bad road conditions and constant ups and downs of the route makes this stage a very exhausting one. The horizontal distance is about 16 kilmoeters. In case of good weather, the Jomolhari may be seen.
Shana – Thangthangkha [8 hrs] – The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. As we go up the valley becomes narrow, wilder and steeper. The trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads over the Tremo La to Tibet. This route was formerly used by Bhutanese people as a trading route to Tibet. We cross several traditional wooden bridges before finally arriving Thanthangka. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. From this we can see Mount Jomolhari for the first time if the weather permit. [Distance 22 km, duration 6-8 hours depending on the condition of the trail, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m]
[Distance 11km, 4-5 hours hike, 480m ascent, horizontal distance is about 11 km, camp altitude 4,115m] Breakfast at Camp. Today we will come across Yak Herders Camps/Houses with beautiful scenery of the rocky mountain on the other side and along the Pachu river. Here is the Base Camp for Mt. Jumolhari which can be seen from your camp site.
Thangthanglha – Jangothang [6 hrs] – If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder‟s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari. [Distance
19 km, duration 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m]
Exploring the day in an around the base camp with visits to the Yak Herders Camp. If you want one can take your own picnic lunch and move freely to the base of Mt. Jhomolhari. Wild animals like Blue Sheep, Marmoth etc can be seen.
Jangothang (Day Halt) [0 hrs] – The day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views on lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatisation. Trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jumolhari and it‟s subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drake to the north and a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.
[Distance 16km, walking time 6 – 7 hours, 810m ascent, 1,090m descent, camp altitude 3,800m]
Morning hike to Tsophu (Lakes) which offers beautiful views to the steep iceslopes of the KUNGPHU, Mt. Jitchu Drakey and Jhomolhari standing majestically against the Blue Sky and gradual climbs leads us to Bonte la pass at an altitude of 4890 m. From the pass the route descends gradually until we reach the village of Soi Yaksa and from the village another 200 meters to the Camp at an altitude of 3800 mtrs.In the evening if not tired from days walk one can visit the local village and their houses.
Jangothang – Dhumzo Chhu (via Bonte La) [7 hrs] – The trail leads to a last settlement in the valley and drops to the Paro Chhu. Passing the lake of Tshophu (4,380 m) you will climb up steeply to Bhonte La pass at 4,890 m, the highest point of this trek route. Reaching the Dhumzo Chhu river, you trek downstream passing the few houses of Dhumzo. Bonte La – The highest pass on this trek is crossed today so it is important that we get an early start. The weather in the mountains tends to be most settled in the early morning, increasing the chances of spectacular views. Bonte La (4,890 m) is the highest trek of this pass. There are several cairns and prayer flags. Take time to enjoy the scenery or put up some prayer flags. Your camp site at Soi Yaksay valley is a beautiful site with impressive rock cliffs, waterfalls, deep side valleys and snow covered peaks.
[Distance 11km, four to five hours, 720m ascent, 340m descent, camp altitude 4,180m] Dhumzo Chhu – Thombu Shong [5 hrs] – You pass the village and there is a steep and steady climb which takes an hour. The pass has several cairns covered with prayer flag. Climb a bit and you can see the mountains like jumolhari, Jitchu Drake etc. Looking back is the pass crossed yesterday and looking the other side is tonight‟s camp-site. The trail first stays high to the left with some exciting stopoff, then winds gently downhill to camp. Thombu camp is the second highest camp for this trek.
Distance 13km, walking time is 4 to 5 hours, 200m ascent, 1,650m descent, camp altitude 2,850m The first part – especially the walk on the ridge – offers beautiful views, partly to the mighty icegiants in Jomolhari region. Thombu Shong – Sharna – Paro [5 hrs] – Cross the valley through a swampy area to find a clear trail through rhododendron bushes that climb steeply to Thombu la (4270 m). The ridge walk from the pass is one of the best parts of the trek: very high above the valleys on a good trail with a beautiful view. It takes about an hour to reach a big descent. The trail ends near the military helipad next to the Bhutanese army camp. Our transport will pick us up from Shana to bring us back to the hotel.
The drive from Paro to Punakha will take around 4 to 5 hours.
About four hours‟ drive from Wangduephodrang is the central district of Trongsa, the ancestral home of Bhutan‟s royal family and from where the first two kings ruled the kingdom. Long before you reach it, you see the resplendent Trongsa Dzong in the valley centre. Its labyrinth of temples, corridors, offices and living quarters for the monks add up to a masterpiece in Bhutanese architecture preserved through professional restoration in 2004. Trongsa, literally “New Town” in the Dzongkha language, is where the current monarchy had its origin in Bhutan. Each King in the line of succession has held the post of Trongsa Penlop or Governor before donning the Raven Crown. The foundations of Trongsa Dzong were laid in the century by. Its foundation was laid by Pema Lingpa and flourished during the 17th century under Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal. The impressive fortress is a massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding Mangde Chu Valley,commanding the east-west road.
Chendebji Chorten [1 hrs] – Two kilometres beyong Chendebji village is Chendebji Chorten, at a lovel0y spot by a river confluence. The large white chorten is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed.
Trongsa Dzong [1 hrs] – Were laid in the 16th century by Pema Lingpa and flourished during the 17th century under
Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal. The impressive fortress is a massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding
Mangde Chu Valley,commanding the east-west road.
Trongsa Museum (Taa Dzong) [2 hrs] – Sits high above the valley at a strategic vantage point over Trongsa Dzong. The “Tower of Trongsa” tells the stories of the dzong and the valley that it has watched over for centuries. His Majesty the King inaugurates the Taa Dzong as a museum dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty, land marking yet another significant event as the nation celebrates 100 years of the monarchy. It has been restored into a classy museum that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. There are 224 items on display, include a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (self spoken Vajradharna), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself and a number of centuries old treasures like dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings and scrolls and textiles.
Bumthang is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. It is an area with a wide variety of fauna and flora. The Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) making Bumthang his home have led to more than 40 temples being built in this peaceful valley.
Jambay Lhakhang [1 hrs] – This 7th century monastery was one of 108 monasteries built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region and who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. However the inner shrine with the Future Buddha is believed to be there some 1400 years ago. Jambay festival (Jambay Lhakhang Drup in the late autumn) is famous for the Tercham. English speaking Bhutanese refer to this dance as the Naked Dance. Indeed some dancers appear naked!
Jambhay Lhakhang Drup [0 hrs] – The festival is held for duel reasons; to commemorate an establishment of Jambay
Lhakhang (temple) in 7 th century and to honor Guru Rimpoche, a saint who introduced Tantric form of Buddhism in Bhutan. A variety of traditional and mask dances are performed and each dance bear significant meaning/importance.This festival is one of the most important in Bhutan and its high light is the ‘Mewang” – the fire ceremony and the ” Tercham” – a religious dance. A fire dance is held in the evening to bless infertile women so that they may bear childr
Pelela pass at 3300m is an important dividing range that separates Western Bhutan from Central and Eastern Bhutan. Crossing this important Pass, one may enjoy the pastoral feeling as you drive deeper into the valley with meadows where sheep and yaks graze. The bamboos that grow plenty on these hillsides are trimmed by yaks. Yaks love the dwarfed bamboos. If you are a bird watcher, look out for the specialty called the Wren Babbler taking refuge underneath those bamboos. In the months of April-June, the hillsides are painted with the rhododendron blooms. Trongsa, the sacred and the temporal heart of the country is the first district that you will come across.
Nature Hike along the valley of Phobjikha [2 hrs] – A short trek of about 90 minutes known as the ‘Gangte Nature Trail’ starts from the Mani stone wall to the north of the Gangteng Gonpa and ends in Khewa Lhakhang.
Black-Necked Crane Information Centre [1 hrs] – The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March.
Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, which has informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. You can use the centre‟s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet „Field Guide to Crane Behaviour‟. If the weather‟s iffy you can browse the library and handicraft shop, and watch videos at 10am and 3pm (Nu 200). This is also the centre of the valley‟s fledgling ecotourism initiative and they can arrange mountain-bike hire (Nu 700 per
The beautiful valley of Paro is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) [6 hrs] – Often called the Tiger‟s Nest, perched on the cliffs, has awestruck many a visitor. “Trip to Bhutan is never complete without climbing to Taktsang”, says one tourist. Indeed it‟s true as the journey there fills you with spiritual bliss. For those not choosing the spiritual side it is the dramatic, artistically built monument that becomes a hiker‟s delight. Take a trip to this dramatically set Buddhist relic hanging from a cliff. Experience the uphill climb as you ascend more than two thousand feet from the valley floor.
A prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex located on the cliff side of Paro Valley. According to legends, it is believed that Guru Rinpochhe flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a Tigress (his consort Yeshey Tshogyal) and
meditated in one of the caves. Guru Rinpochhe performed meditation and emerged in eight manifestations and the place became holy. Thus gaining the name Tiger’s Nest.