This trip allows the travelers to enjoy the daily lives of friendly Bhutanese people by visiting temples, monasteries and gigantic fortresses. It gives you a chance to meet people, enjoy the pristine forest with rare glimpse of wildlife and observe the ancient old traditions arts and crafts. We would be travelling through the less frequented areas of Bhutan. Our journey starts from Paro valley where our flight lands. We spent two and a half days sightseeing and hiking in Paro to acclimatize ourselves and begin the trek from Paro and arrive in the lush valley of Thimphu, the capital city, After visiting the historical sites in Thimphu we will return back to Paro and take our flight back home with beautiful memories.
- The 5 day trek is wonderfully varied: beautiful scenery, good views of snow capped Himalayan peaks, a monastery high up in the mountains, and a visit to a dzong. There are campsites next to the monastery, and also near some beautiful lakes. There are several possible campsites besides the ones listed in the itinerary, so make sure that you know where the horsemen are aiming for, in case they push to a different camp!
- After the initial climb the route is not too hard and, if needed, there are access down to a road from several spots. Part of the route follows the original mule track that linked the Thimphu and Paro valleys, and eventually connected Bhutan to the Indian border.
- *The trek begins at high altitude, plan some extra days in Thimphu or Paro. You can begin from Paro to Thimphu, or vice versa.
On a typical trek day, we will be woken at 6.00 am, by a member of the camp crew bringing a bed tea (in your tent), followed shortly by a bowl of hot washing water. By 7.00 am, when breakfast is ready, we will have packed ready for the day’s activity (day pack, and main luggage). We leave with our guide just before the camp crew at 8.00 am and spent the rest of the day at an unhurried but steady pace. We stop for about an hour for lunch, which will be carried by a camp crew and continue for our next campsite. The crew will break down 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 wash water and our evening meal. After dinner, we discuss for the following day with our guide before retiring to bed.
This will sound familiar to anyone who has trekked in Nepal, the main difference being that camp crew is much smaller in Bhutan and there are no tea houses along the way.
*Note: Use designated campsites only approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. No campfires or cooking fires at the campsite. Usage of LPG (liquid petroleum gas) gas stove is mandatory. Pack out solid waste (pack it in and pack it out), should not bring out flora and fauna products, respect the nature and culture of the area. Most trekking routes are in the National Parks and Reserves.
It is essential that participants undertake regular walking and hiking 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 and elevations involved. Previous experience of multi-day trekking as well as of extended periods of camping over 3,000m is preferable.
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 (Acetazolamide) 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 trail at home so that you understand what the effect is on you before administering it at height.
Day1: Arrive in Bhutan, Paro
Flying into the country, is an experience on its own, offering great views of the Inner Himalayas. The imposing monasteries, clear mountain air and welcoming Bhutanese in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
Your guide, for the entire trip from Bhutan Kurukulle Adventures will meet you and transfer you to the hotel for check-in and refreshment.
In the afternoon, visit the National Museum, housed in a 17th century watch tower which will serve as a great introduction before you delve deep into the country. Nearby is the Rinpong Dzong, the centre of civil and religious authority of the Paro province, built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, unifier of medieval Bhutan.
O/N at hotel in Paro. Elevation: 2,800m.
Day2: Paro Halt
After breakfast, before the sun gets too hot, hike to Taktsang (literally translated as Tiger’s Nest). Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery/temple clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The history states that Guru Rinpoche, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress. Looking at the monastery/temple flying tigress doesn’t seem so impossible after all.
The trail to the monastery/temple climbs through beautiful pine and rhododendron forest, lichens overhanging from the trees above notifies that you are walking along pristine forest surrounded with clean, fresh air without any pollution. It takes 5 hours in total to complete the whole hike and to visit the shrines inside.
Next visit the ruins of Drugyal Dzong in the northern end of the valley, the Jumolhari mountain is visible from here on a clear day. Visit the Kyichu Lhakhang on the way back.
O/N at hotel in Paro.
Day3: Paro Halt
This morning we drive up to the Chelela pass (3,800m), for another hike on the ridge of the pass. This is a beautiful hike which offers panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks in Bhutan and other mountains of bordering India, the road is aligned with different species of rhododendrons including the high altitudinal alpine rhododendrons. It is also a paradise for bird watchers, some of the birds seen on this road and the trail are Kalij pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Griffon and many more. The hiking trail goes a little over 4,000m a good way of acclimatizing just before the trek. The hike ends with a visit to the Kila Goemba Nunnery (a solitary place), where Buddhist nuns practice the dharma teachings.
O/N at hotel in Paro.
Day4: Paro-Jili Dzong (4-5hours)
We drive for 30 minutes to the trail head to the National Museum (2,370m), where you will meet the trekking crew, the horsemen and pack animals. At the start of the trek the crew takes some time to get organized, so don’t be in a hurry to rush to arrive early at camp-the luggage will undoubtedly be behind you.
Today’s trek climbs non-stop for over 1065m, before dropping down over 80m to camp. This is a major effort at this altitude, so take your time and drink as much as possible. The trail winds its way up through blue pine forest and around several farmhouses and fenced apple orchards, and cross a dusty road-mainly used during the apple harvest season. Damchena (2,900m/9,510ft), marks the end of the dusty road. Then you pass by a meadow and start the steeper part of the trail, finally bringing you to the Jili La Pass (3,490m), our camp is just below the pass in a yak pasture. If you are not tired and yu have time you can walk along the ridge which provides good views of the valley.
Distance: 5miles/8kms, Time: 4-5 hours, Altitude Gain: 3,503ft/1,065m. Altitude loss: 80m.
O/N in tents near Jili Dzong. Camp elevation: 3,436m/11,270ft.
Day5: Jili Dzong-Tshokam (4-5 hours)
From the camp, climb back to the ridge and the small pass leading to the dzong (3,5595m/11,790ft), from here the view is awesome, to the east is the Gidakom valley and to the west is the Paro valley. The trail then follows the ridge, making many up and downs, along the side of the ridge to the other side, heading towards northeast to Jangchulakha (3,770m/12,300ft) an optional campsite. Another hour of gradual ups and downs will bring us to Tshokam (3,926m/12,365ft), our campsite, yet yak another pasture. En route you are like to see some Satyr Tragopan and Himalayan Monal, and if weather permits, you will be rewarded with the breathtaking views of the Jumolhari (7,315m/23,995ft), and its associates.
Distance: 5.5miles/9kms. Time:4-5 hours. Altitude gain: 526m/1726ft. Altitude loss: 0m/0ft.
O/N in tents at Tshokam. Camp elevation: 3,962m/12,995ft.
Day6: Tshokam-Jimilangtsho (6-7 hours)
The ridge walk followed by the trekkers is about 2 hours longer than the pack animal’s route, and more spectacular. Weather permitting, there are several views of snowy peaks to the north and a grand view down into the valleys. Once again we proceed in a northerly direction most of the day. Looking east tonight’s camp, as well as some of tomorrow’s route, is visible. Climb gently from the camp for hour and half to a small pass 4,070m/13,350ft, and the trail gets gentle for a while till you come to a ridge. Continue along the ridge, with views of Jumolhari (7,315m/23,995ft) to the north and to the west below is the Paro valley and on the opposite is the Jimilang Tsho. From here you descend down to the east slopes of the ridge to a stream and gradually drop down to the Jimilang Tsho lake.
Distance: 6miles/10kms. Time: 6-7 hours. Altitude gain: 450m/1,475ft. Altitude loss: 295m/965ft.
O/N in tents at Jimilang Tsho. Camp elevation: 3,880m/12,726ft.
Day7: Jimilang Tsho-Simkorta (4-5 hours)
Today to start our climb we have t
O walk down to the southern end of the lake and then climb through dwarf rhododendrons till the trail becomes a little flat to get to another lake known as Jayne Tsho (3,956m/12,975ft). From her the trail gets much wider as it meanders uphill through the dwarf rhododendrons till the summit (4,150m/13,610ft), another will lead you to the camp at Somkorta (4,090m/13,415ft).
Distance: 4.5miles/7kms. Time: 4-5hours. Altitude gain: 270m. Altitude loss: 60m.
O/n in tents at Simkorta. Camp elevation: 4,090m/13,415ft.
Day8: Simkorta-Phajoding (5 hours)
The trail is good but there are several minor climbs to small passes before you finally look down to Phajoding monastery and Thimphu city. Monks frequently pass here on their way to meditate at the sacred lakes of Dungtsho.
The trail climbs and descends a couple of small passes to reach the highest pass on the trek Phume La Pass (4,210m/14,170ft), a climb of 250m on the left of this pass is a sky burial site with prayer flags, from where you get an incredible view over the whole of Bhutan Himalayas. An hour of downhill will lead you to the last and final pass of the entire trek Thuji la Pass (3,910m)-Gangkar Puensum (7546m/24,750ft) becomes visible. Take the right diversion to Thujidrak temple and visit it before you descend down to the camp at Phajoding (3,690m/12,103ft).
Distance: 6miles/10kms. Time: 5 hours. Altitude gain: 230m/755ft. Altitude loss: 405m/1,330ft.
O/N in tents at Phajoding. Camp elevation: 3,690m/12,103ft.
Day9: Phajoding-Radio Tower (2-3 hours)
From Phajoding there are three trails to Thimphu.
. One stays high and climbs to Pumo La (3,710m/12,170ft), and leads down to the Takin Preserve.
.The other two trails start with the same steep descent. At 3,343m/10,965ft you arrive at a big split in the trail. a) Straight down is a steep route past the Queen’s compound. This trail descends 250m more than the alternate route b).
.b) The other route goes left at the split, and follows a more gentle trail descending slowly through thick forest until Choekhortse Goemba (3,010m/9,870ft) in a clearing. A steep, 200m descent leads to the Radio Tower, past hundreds of prayer flags put up by the people from Thimphu. This is the transmission tower of Bhutan’s radio station BBS. From here drive down to the Takin Preserve, to see the National Animal, and then into Thimphu.
O/N at hotel in Thimphu. Elevation: 2,320m.
Day10: Thimphu-Paro (46miles/58kms, 1.5 hours of driving)
Today we spend this morning visiting Thimphu’s highlights including the Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the ancient way of healing system called Sowa Rigpa is still practiced. School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, the school offers an eight-year course in the techniques of traditional art in religious and secular paintings, woodcarvings, clay sculpture, embroidery and weaving.
Visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in the memory of the Third King popularly known as the “Father of Modern Bhutan”. Next drive to Kuenselphodrang to see the gigantic Buddha statue (169ft/51m), the site overlooks into the city and its entrance. Enjoy a scenic walk if you have time. Then visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, where you can see the traditional way of paper making from Daphne plants. Bhutan in ancient days was the biggest paper supplier in the Himalayan region for printing religious scriptures and prayers. Then proceed to Paro for the overnight stay.
O/N at hotel in Paro. Elevation:2,300m.
Your tour to this beautiful Himalayan Kingdom ends today. Your guide will see you off at the Paro International Airport for your onward journey.