Itinerary: 25night 26days
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. Than drive further to Punakha and stop at the views point the confluence of Male (Pho chu) and female (Mo chu) rivers and visit the PunakhaDzong, later visit the SangchenLhendrup Nunnery monastery. Night halt in Punakha
Punakha – Damji–Gasa25 km, 4 hours
Morning drive an half hour and hike to Khamsumyuley Temple, this hike will be very interesting that you can see the spectacular view of mountains, Mo chu river and rice paddy field and Punakha valley about one an half hour walking. Then drive 3 hour to Gasa by the riverside, following a well marked path through subtropical forest. There are many wild orchids growing in this rather damp area, but be on the lookout for leeches also! Passing thoroughDamji village (2,400). The path continues on through subtropical forested area and villages up to GasaTshachu (hot spring). The Tshachu is famous for its curative powers, and people come from all over the country to bathe here. After lunch near the spring, we have a climb up to GasaDzong (2,900m) where we camp overnight.
Gasa – Chamsa13km, 6-7 hours
After breakfast, we visit the GasaDzong. Today’s trek begins with a steep climb up to Bele-La Pass (3,700m) through mixed forests. We then descend for about to our forest camp at chamsa (3,650m).
Chamsa – Laya22 km, 8-9 hours
The trail descends to the bank of the Mo Chu. After crossing the river we have lunch by the bridge. From here it is a gradual climb up to Laya (3,800m) passing by an army camp en route. We camp at Laya.
Explore Laya village. You can go and visit one of the local houses. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended even to a stranger, and a cup of tea and chang (alcohol brewed from barley) is always offered.
LAYA – RHODOPHU19 km, 8-9 hours
From Laya we descend to the army camp and continue following the trail along the river till the turn off point for Rhodophu. After lunch we continue climbing upwards through rhododendrons till we reach a hanging valley where there are yaks grazing (4,350m). We camp here by the river.
RHODOPHU – TARINA25km, 10-11 hours
Today’s trek is the longest of the trip and it is important to start early, around 5 am. We first climb up to Tsimo-La Pass (4,700m) where we can enjoy a superb view of Lunana, and the peaks of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. Following 4 hours of level walking, we climb up to Ganglakarchung-La Pass (5, 080). The view from the pass is breathtaking, encompassing the whole mountain range. After crossing the pass, it is a very long descent to the Tarina valley, where we camp at 3,980m.
TARINA – WOCHEY17 km, 6-7 hours
The path descends through coniferous forest, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chu .The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Wochey at 3,800m, the first village since Gasa. Camp at alt 3, 800m.
WOCHEY – LHEDI17 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trek begins with a walk through mixed forests and further ahead through rhododendron bushes. We climb up to Keche-La Pass (4,480m). We then descend enjoy mountainous views en route. We walk upstream as far as Lhedi village (3,650), where we camp overnight.
LHEDI – THANZA17 km, 7-8 hours
The route continues to follow the river, rising gradually to Choejong village (the biggest village in Lunana) where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we visit the village temple, then walk for some timeto a suspension bridge to cross the river. Soon we reach our campsite at Thanza (4,000m).
A welcome day of leisure, or if you are feeling really energetic, you can climb up to the ridge for yet another splendid view of the mountains.
THANZA – TSHORIM19 km, 8-9 hours
Today’s trek starts with a climb up to the ridge, from where there is a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. We follow a stream through a small valley, enjoying the view of snowcapped Mountains. We then climb up out of the valley to reach our campsite at Tshorim (5,125m).
TSHORIM – GANGKAR PUENSUM BASE CAMP16 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s Trek is one of the highlights of the Trip. The day starts with a short climb up to Tshorim Lake. We walk around the side of the lake, enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophula Ranges. The final stretch up to Gophu-La Pass (5,230m) is very short. After crossing the pass, we descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge and enjoying a great view of GangkarPuensum. Climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view or you can go directly to the base camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chu.
GANGKAR PUENSUM BASE CAMP
Rest day at the base camp, enjoying the great views.
GANGKAR PUENSUM CAMP – GESHE WOMA14 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trail follows along the Sha Chu and descends to GesheWoma (4,200m) where we camp.
GESHE WOMA – WARATHANG 18 km, 8-9 hours
The path continues along the course of the Sha Chu until the climb to Saka-La Pass (4,800m). Visibility is poor along this part of the trail, so we must keep watching the top of the ridge in order to stay on course. Enjoy stunning views of small lakes spread below towering peaks. We camp at 4,000m.
WARATHANG – DHUR TSHACHU 14 km, 5 hours
A short half hour climb take us up to Juli-La (4,400m) before descending to the riverside through dense rhododendron, Juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb reach DhurTshachu hot spring, where legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava bathed in the 8th century.
DHUR TSHACHU – TSHOCHEMCHEM16 km, 8-9 hours
From the spring, it is a long and steady climb upwards, with great views of the mountains in Lunana. Eventually the ground levels out, and we see several beautiful deep blue lakes, yaks grazing on the surrounding Pasture, and yak herder’s camp (3,850m).
TSHOCHEMCHEM – DHUR (MOTOR ROAD) – BUMTHANG (JAKAR)21 km, 13 hours
This is the last day of the trek. We must set off very early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chu, descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach Dhur village, where transport will meet us and drive us to the lodge in Bumthang (Jakar).
Note: Unless very fit, it is best to spread this final stage over 2 Days.
Bumthang is the spiritual and cultural heartland of Bhutan. Spend the day exploring the some of Bumthang’s sacred sights including KurjeLhakhang, home to a rock featuring the imprint of Guru Rimpoche’s body, JambayLhakhang (7th century) and JakarDzong. Also visit Tamshing Monastery housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan. Overnight at your guesthouse in Bumthang.
BUMTHANG – TRONGSA
The journey to Trongsa takes approximately 3 hours. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. After lunch on arrival, visit TrongsaDzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Trongsa is the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the location of where the institution of monarchy in Bhutan began. Also visit the Ta Dzong located on the hill overlooking the Dzong. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
TRONGSA – PARO
After breakfast, depart for Paro. On arrival, enjoy a stroll through the Parotownship. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
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. Evening walk around the town for shopping and Cultural show at hotel. Overnight at hotel
Paro – Delhi/Bangkok/ Katmandu
After breakfast drive to Paro international Airport and fly out.