This one week trek offers a short, easy and enjoyable journey around scenic TrongsaDzongkhag. The climate is warm and pleasant as the trail stays between 1000-1500m in altitude and there is a wide array of flora and fauna observable along the route including the rare Golden Langur, Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Rhesus Monkeys, Rufous-necked Hornbills and Clouded Leopards.
Hikers on this trek will have plenty of opportunity to experience traditional rural life as they will spend nights in the villages of Nabji, Korphu and Nyimshong. Nabji is an idyllic village surrounded by verdant paddy fields and the villagers of Korphu are famed for their hospitality. Visitors will often be greeted by a Chipdrel procession and Marchang ceremony, practices typically reserved for royalty. Nyimshong is a good place to observe some of the local culture as the women often put together cultural shows full of singing and dancing for visitors.This is the perfect trek for visitors looking to learn about and experience traditional rural life firsthand while enjoying the natural beauty and biodiversity of Bhutan. The best time to embark on this trek is in winter, between October-April.
Itinerary: 12night 13days
Bangkok/Delhi/Katmandu – Paro -Thimphu
Highlights: Spectacular views of Mt Everest (8,848 m), Kanchenjunga (8,586m) and Lhotse (8,414 m); and a literal adrenaline-pumping landing on the roof of the world.
Travel by Druk Air, Bhutan’s national airline, to Paro, the country’s only international airport. The flight is exhilarating to say the least, as the route traverses parallel to the mighty Himalayas enabling passengers to see the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest, and many more. The descent affords a panoramic view of Bhutan’s foothills culminating into a thrilling landing at what is considered one of the world’s most challenging airports.
Meet your guide at the airport and head to the hotel for lunch. Devote the afternoon to sightseeing around the Paro valley famed for its natural beauty, historical monuments, agricultural farms and quintessentially Bhutanese village communities. Visit the National Museum, formerly a watchtower, and then the Castle on a Heap of Precious Jewels or RinpungDzong. Wind up the day with a stroll around Paro town. Evening drive from Paro to Thimphu is just under an hour. On the way stop at the Tamchoe Monastery view and chuzom the confluence of Paro and Thimphu River. Overnight at the hotel
A Sojourn in Thimphu
Highlights: The power centre and the capital city of the Happy Kingdom. Also the hub of commerce and culture.
There are great many places to see in Bhutan’s capital. In the morning we will drive to Buddha Point, which provides a spectacular 360-degree close-quarter view of entire Thimphu and the adjoining areas. This is the site of the world’s tallest statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. Our next destination is the Memorial chorten of Third king of Bhutan the JigmeDorjiWangchuk, visit the 12th century Changangkha Temple, Takin Zoo and the viewpoint at Sangaygang. On our way back, we stopover at a nunnery, the Folk Heritage Museum and the Textile Museum.
After lunch, we will proceed to TashichhoDzong, a 17th century castle-fortress which today houses the offices of the King, Chief Abbot and government ministries. We will also take the opportunity to see the nearby parliament complex, the School of Arts and Crafts, vegetable market, and then spend the rest of the day watching an archery match and strolling around the town.
Thimphu – Punakha/Wangdi
Distance: 77 kilometres, Time: 3 hours
Highlights: A panoramic view of the snow-capped eastern Himalayas and a multitude of alpine flowers and birds; Bhutan’s ancient capital and Temple of Fertility.
The three to four-hour drive from Thimphu traverses thorough a constantly changing kaleidoscope of vegetation, waterfalls, flowers, mountains and meadows. In about 45 minutes we will reach the famous Dochula pass (3,100m) where on a clear day we can see the entire eastern Himalayan range, teeming with 6,000m to 7,554m snow-capped mountains. The pass also known for its abundant species of extremely beautiful flowers has 108 Buddhist stupas exquisitely built around a mound, adding to the natural splendor of the place.
From the pass we descend to the sub-tropical valley of Punakha. Punakha served as the ancient capital of capital and still possesses the country’s main treasures in the form of Buddhist relics. Resembling a gigantic ship on an ocean floor from afar, and girdled by two (Male and Female) rivers, the castle-fortress also represents the best specimen of Bhutanese architecture.
After lunch in a small nearby village together with a rural farming household, we will walk along a footpath flanked by an endless view of ripening paddy fields to the Temple of Fertility – ChimiLhakhang. This temple, built in the 15th century to honour the “Divine Madman”, a saint iconoclast who is also associated with phallus worship, attracts barren couples from all over to receive fertility blessings from an anointed phallus.
Night halt in Punakha
Punakha/Wangdue – Trongsa
Distance: 120 km; Time: 6 hours
Highlights: Landscape, semi-nomads, diverse vegetation, and sighting of high altitude birds and animals enroute
Before heading for Trongsa in central Bhutan, we will visit the ruins and reconstruction work underway at Wanduephodrang, a fortress that was built in 1638 but was gutted in 2012. We take a short leisurely stroll in Wangdue town. If lucky, we might be able to sight the White-Bellied Heron cavorting on the riverbank. This is one of the rarest birds in the world.
The journey to Trongsa is a gentle climb, from the sub-tropical to the sub-alpine region with the highest point at Pelela Pass (3,300m) Consequently, we will notice the vegetation transform right before our eyes. To reach the pass, we will be skirting the periphery of the world’s largest winter habit of the exotic and the rare Black-Necked Crane. Pelela pass itself is historically significant as the boundary between eastern and western Bhutan before the country was unified. From Pelela we drop to the slightly lower valleys inhabited by the semi-nomads who live off yaks and whose lifestyles have largely resisted the forces of modernization.
After lunch at the 18th century Chendebji, a replica of the BoudanathStupa in Nepal, we continue eastward to Trongsa proper, the bastion of the powerful governors in ancient Bhutan who eventually unified the country and became the progenitors of Bhutan’s hereditary monarchy.Night Halt in Trongsa.
Tongtongphey – Jangbi Village
Distance 7-9.5 km, 3-4 hours, altitude range 1,000 m – 1,350 m.After an early breakfast at your hotel, you can take some time to wander around Trongsa town, taking a visit to the Dzong or the museum at the Watchtower of Trongsa. The museum will definitely captivate visitors with its myriad collections of antiques and artifacts. A 2 hour drive from the town along the Zhemgang highway brings you to the start of the Trek, Tongtongphey.
Jangbi Village – Kudra Village
Distance 13-14.5 km, 6 hours, altitude range 1,350 m – 1,500 m.
The morning allows you to further interact with the Monpas. Before you proceed, you can also pay a visit to the orchid garden that houses around 75 different varieties of orchids. The trail to Kudra is especially interesting as it passes stone imprints of Guru Rinpoche’s footprints, dagger and phallus. Lunch is served just before you arrive at Phrumzur, one of the Monpa villages. After a quick visit to the village Lhakhang in Phrumzur and you then proceed to the campsite in Kudra. En route, you’ll encounter another small Monpa village called Lekpogang, after which, the campsite in Kudra is just an hour’s walk. The campsite offers a bird’s-eye-view of Nyimshong village and also of Zhemgang town.
Kudra Village – Nabji Village
Distance 11-14 km, circa 5-7 hours, altitude range 1,500 m – 1,300 m.This part of the trek is a collage of streams, waterfalls and thick forests that will give you an invigorating feeling of being out in the wild. Animals such as Himalayan Squirrels, Rhesus Mecaques, and small snakes are often spotted along the trail. Himalayan black bears, Red pandas, tigers and Clouded leopards are also present this region. Upon arrival at the holy tree in Nabji, the villagers will give you a warm reception. Nabji is a beautiful village with paddy fields circling the clustered houses. You can also hike to the community school and enjoy a game of football or volleyball with the local school children.
Nabji Village – Korphu Village
Distance 9.5-13 km, 2-3 hours, altitude range 1300 m – 1500 m.En route to Korphu, Nabji temple is located amidst verdant paddy fields. Inside, there is a stone pillar on which Guru Rinpoche imprinted the thumbs of two warring kings as a symbol of resolution after bringing about peace. Korphu is situated on a mountaintop at an altitude of 1,500m. The most striking thing about Korphu is that the people exemplify hospitality almost treating you like royalty.
You have the option of being welcomed with a traditional ‘Chipdrel’ procession and a ‘Marchang’ ceremony. These ceremonies are typically reserved for royalty but here the villagers will greet you by singing these traditional songs of praise and wellbeing. They also perform the traditional ‘TashiLabey’ dance to bid you farewell. The villagers can explain and demonstrate and even allow you to participate in the quintessential Bhutanese games of ‘Khuru’, ‘Dego’, ‘Sok-sum’, and ‘Gee-dum’.
You can also visit the village temple that houses sacred relics of PemaLingpa, the most famous Terton or ‘Treasure revealer’ in Bhutan. Lunch can be provided in the village campsite which also provides a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Nabji and other surrounding areas.
Korphu Village – Nimshong Village
Distance 11-12 km, 4-6 hours, altitude range 1,500 m – 1,300 m.The hike from Korphu to Nyimshong is pleasant and arguably the best location for bird watching as it is home to over 395 avian species. The elusive Rufous Necked Hornbill has its nesting holes adjacent to the trail. The walk is interspaced with waterfalls and, streams and cantilever bridges. The evening brings you to Nyimshong village. The campsite is equipped with an amphitheatre. The women of Nyimshong have a penchant for singing and dancing and often put on cultural shows for visitors.
Distance 5-6km, 2 hours, altitude range 1,300 m – 1,000 m.You begin by descending towards the Mangdi River. You are likely to see Herons, River-lapwings and even Golden Langurs in this region. A steep hour-long climb will bring you to the road from where your driver will drive you back to Trongsa.
Gangtey – Paro via wangdi
This morning drive 6hour to Paro and enroute visit Royal Botanical Park at Lamperi and lunch at the local restaurant on they way to Paro. Afternoon visit the 7th century Kyichu Temple, believed to have been built on a place that resembled a knee of a giant ogress. You can play the traditional sport he archery for an hour on the archer ground. Evening visit local farmhouse and enjoy the local dinner with family. Overnight at the hotel
Discovering Paro Valley
Highlights: Hike to the Tiger’s Lair, the most famous Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas, built on a sheer rock face.
After breakfast, drive for half an hour and start hiking up to the temple that is renowned in the Himalayan Buddhist world as one of the most popular sites of pilgrimage. The five-hour round trip follows an ancient but oft-trodden footpath flanked by water-driven prayer wheels.
The temple, precariously perched on a hair-raising ravine about 1,000 metres above the valley floor, is considered sacrosanct as it was in a cave within this temple that the eight century tantric saint, Padmasambhava, subdued the evils who obstructed the teachings of the Buddha. The saint is believed to have come to Taktshang in a fiery wrathful form riding a tigress. Over the years, many Buddhist saints have meditated in and around the temple and discovered numerous hidden treasure teachings.
Visit the ruins of DrugyelDzongenroute. The fortress known as the “Castle of the Victorious Drukpa”, is a symbol of Bhutan’s victory over the Tibetan invasions in the 17th and 18th centuries. We can also get a view of the sacred mountain, Jumolhari, along the way. On the way back to our hotel, we will visit the 7th century Kyichu Temple, believed to have been built on a place that resembled a knee of a giant ogress. Evening walk around the town for shopping and Cultural show at hotel. Overnight at hotel
Paro – Bangkok/Delhi/Katmandu
After breakfast drive to Paro international Airport and fly out.