(3 Trekking days/ Total 9 days)
This trek takes you first to the majestic and spectacular Tiger’s Nest in Paro, then to the old capital, Punakha, then off to Trongsa in the central region and then finally to Bumthang, where you will embark on your 3-day trek surrounded by fantastic views from a high altitude of an unspoiled natural environment endowed with a diverse array of flora and fauna as well as opportunities to visit ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Day 1: Arrival in Paro
On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be warmly received by your tour guide and driver from Druk Tersar Tours & Travels, who will then escort to your hotel in Paro.
Explore Paro town and local sights.
Overnight in Paro.
Day 2: Tigers Nest (Taktshang)
This hike to Taktshang monastery, in addition to visiting one of Bhutan’s most sacred places with breathtaking views, will also help in acclimatizing you to the altitude and prepare you physically for the upcoming treks.
After breakfast, drive to the base of the Tiger’s Nest, locally known as Taktshang (tiger’s nest). Taktshang, located 2900-3000 meters above sea level, was built in the 8th century by Guru Rinpoche who, according to legend, flew on a flaming tigress from the eastern part of Bhutan and landed where the Taktshang monastery currently stands. It is believed that he meditated in a cave for three months and spread Buddhism in Paro.
Halfway up the trek, halt for a 15 minute’s tea/coffee break at the Taktshang cafeteria, take in the splendid view of the magnificent cliffs on which the monastery is perched and pat yourself on the back for having almost made it. Then proceed for another 30-minute walk until we reach the monastery. After visiting the monastery and admiring, among other things, the tenacity it must have taken to build it there, we head back to the cafeteria for a well-deserved lunch.
After lunch, walk down to the base and then drive north of Paro to visit the historic Dru-gyal Dzong (Fortress of Victory, “Dzong” means fortress). If the sky is clear you can see the snow covered peak of Mt. Jumolhari (7300mts).
Ta-Dzong (National Museum) and Paro Dzong
After Dru-gyel Dzong, drive back to Paro town and visit the Ta-Dzong, which served as a watchtower for the Paro Rinpung Dzong in the olden days. It was converted to the National Museum in 1968. After the National Museum, you will visit the Paro Dzong, which was built in 1645 on a hilltop located near the Pachhu (Paro river). The Dzong has the finest example of traditional Bhutanese architecture and is now used as the District Administration Office and houses the district monk body, in addition to hosting colourful local festivals.
Overnight: Hotel in Paro
DAY 3 Paro to Punakha (145 kms/5 Hrs.)
After an early breakfast, we drive towards the old winter capital, Punakha, via Dochula Pass. Stop over for tea/coffee at Dochula Pass (3,100 m). On a clear day the pass offers visitors a spectacular view of the majestic eastern Himalayan ranges. A cup of hot coffee or tea to warm up at the pass has almost become part of tradition for people travelling through Dochula.
We then proceed a little further to a small village, where we stop for lunch in a farm house. Your welcoming local hosts will serve traditional food and drinks.
After lunch, continue to Punakha, and then start the hike to Chimmi Lhakhang (also known as the Temple of the Divine Madman). This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. The hike will last around 30-40 mins.
Also known as the palace of great happiness. Built in-between Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mo-chu (female river). The Dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, enthroned the first King of Bhutan, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck.
The palace is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan.
Overnight: Hotel in Punakha
DAY 4 Punakha to Trongsa (142kms/6 HOURS)
After breakfast, we drive down the Punakha valley to the neighbouring town of Wangdiphodrang. Our road gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La Pass at 3,400 m, where we make stop for views of the snow clad peaks, including that of Bhutan’s sacred peak Mt. Jumolhari.
Tea break and lunch: We stop for tea/coffee and lunch at Chedebji Chorten (Stupa), en route to Trongsa
On arrival in Trongsa, check in to the hotel and then we visit the inner courtyard of the historical Trongsa Dzong. Trongsa is a very popular place with largest and certainly one of the most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century.
Overnight: Hotel in Trongsa.
DAY 5 Trongsa to Bumthang (70 kms-3hrs)
Ta Dzong (Museum)
After breakfast, visit Ta Dzong. This watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. The Ta Dzong of Trongsa still remains the most fascinating museum in the nation.
After the tour of the museum, drive to Bumthang.
Lunch in a local restaurant en route to Bumthang
After lunch, cross the Yotong La pass (3,400 m), then descend into Chumey valley, the first of four valleys in Bumthang. In Chumey, visit Yathra Weaving centers (a colorful wool weaving technique). Then drive onto Jakar, the center of the Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is considered one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the past kings were cremated and the present royal family trace their ancestry back to a famous local saint called Terton Pemalingpa.
Overnight: Hotel in Bumthang
DAY 6 Bumthang
Trek Day 1: Manchugang to Dhur village (2900m).
The trek starts from Manchugang and takes you to Dhur village (2900m). The inhabitants of the village are the nomadic Kheps and Brokpas. This village has two distinct dialects, the Bumthang Kha and the Brokke a language spoken by the nomads. Near the river is a traditional water-driven flour mill which used to be a source of livelihood for the people of Dhur village. The trek resumes with an uphill climb through refreshing blue pine forests towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m) which is covered in hemlock and juniper trees. The otherwise silent nights are punctuated with the hooting of owls, hence the name ‘The Owl Trek’.
Porters and cooks will go ahead of us and prepare site for lunch/dinner
Overnight: Campsite at Schonath
TREK DAY 2 : DHUR VILLAGE – DRANGELA PASS
The second day of this trek will take you through lush forests of hemlock, fir, spruce and many species of rhododendrons which are in full bloom during the months of April and May. The trail also takes you through the forests of bamboo which is the main undergrowth in this area.
After few hours of walking you will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m). Climbing up the Kitiphu ridge brings you to the campsite for the night at an altitude of about 3870m. From this point you can have a fresh view of snow-capped mountains and valleys underneath. This is also when you can view the mount Gangkarpunsum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world.
Porters and cooks will go ahead of us and prepare site for lunch/dinner.
Overnight: Campsite at Kithiphu
TREK DAY 3 : Drangela Pass – Tharpaling monastry
On day three you descend towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. Chuedak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) where you can pray for yourself and all sentient beings.
Towards the afternoon the trek will take you along the ridge of Kikila, following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) through scenic hills and forests. Before the trek ends, you will be rewarded with a splendid view of the Jakar Dzong.
Porters and cooks will go ahead of us and prepare site for lunch.
Dinner and overnight: Hotel in Bumthang
Day 9 Bumthang to Gangtey Valley. (188kms-7hrs)
From Bumthang, we will ascend out of the valleys on a twisting mountain road towards the Yotong La (3,370m). Near the pass is an area of wild cane/bamboos that is a well-known habitat for Red Panda. The road then descends to Tongsa and we will drive on to Chendebji Stupa for our lunch stop, the drive over the Pele La (3,353m) and start the descent for few kilometers to the junction where we drive to the glacial valley of Phobjikha.
Overnight and dinner at a hotel in Phobjikha.
Day 10 Gangtey to Punakha (78 km/ 4 Hrs.)
After breakfast, we take a leisurely walk (around 2 hours) that give you a good feeling of the Phobjikha valley. It is the most beautiful and shortest of the existing nature trails in Bhutan. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang, the trail ends at the local community school; this involves a 30 minute walk up to the start of town. The Nature Trail can be combined with a visit to Gangtey Goemba and the local school.
The Gangtey Monastery or the Gangtey Goempa is an important monastery/temple associated with the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism. The Gangtey Monastery is situated in the picturesque Phobjikha Valley, which is also renowned for being the winter home of the endangered Black Necked Cranes. The monastery was established in 1613 by Peling Gyalse Rinpoche, the grandson of Trenton Pema Lingpa from Bumtang.
Lunch at village home in Gangtey
Drive to Punakha
Overnight: Hotel in Punakha
Day 11 Punakha to Thimphu (77 Km/3Hrs.)
Drive to Dochula Pass (3100m).
Lunch at Dochula
Located below the main town, next to the Wangchhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh, organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favourite spot for tourists and a recreational hub for people from all walks of life.
Visit to the fortress at the northern edge of Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan. Also known as the “fortress of glorious religion” it was erected in 1641 and was subsequently rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s.
The Dzong has been seat of the Royal Government of Bhutan since 1952 and presently houses the Throne Room and the King’s secretariat. The Tashichho Dzong is also home to several ministries of the Bhutanese government, and the Central Monk Body which is the apex organization of the country’s main spiritual order.
Kuensel Phodrang or Bhuddha Point
After a short tea/coffee break, drive up to “Kuensel Phodrang” to see the statue of the largest sitting Buddha in the world. The statue is 51.5 meters tall and is made of bronze and gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha statue, 100,000 8 inch tall and 25,000 12 inch tall statues respectively. The hill, where the statue is located, also provides a bird-eyes view of the capital city.
National Memorial Chorten
National Memorial Chorten is known as the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan.It was built in 1974 by Her Majesty the late Queen Mother in memory of her loving son, the third King of Bhutan (His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck). The third King of Bhutan is also known as the “Father of Modern Bhutan”. It was his wish to erect a monument symbolising world peace and prosperity but after his unfortunate and untimely death in 1972, the late Queen Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck resolved to fullfill his wishes.
Dinner and overnight: Hotel in Thimphu
Day 12 Thimphu to Paro (65 Km/ 1 Hr.)
After breakfast, we drive up to the “Thimphu mini zoo”. Fenced between 8 acres of land, this area provides a sanctuary for an animal with a head like goat and a body similar to a cow. This strange animal, called the “Takin”, is believed to be a creation of the Divine Mad Monk (Lam Drukpa Kuenlay of Chimi Lhakhang) in the 16th century. The Takin is the National Animal of Bhutan.
Zorig-chu-sum (Arts and crafts School)
We then visit the Zorig-Chu-sum (thirteen different traditional arts) Center, where young Bhutanese learn to master various Bhutanese arts and crafts like painting, sculpture, wood work, silversmith and so on. We can watch the artisans while they create beautiful traditional art.
Lunch at the hotel
Drive to Paro
Upon arrival in Paro, visit one of the oldest and holiest monasteries in Bhutan called Kichu Lhagkhang. Built by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in 659 A.D., it is one of 108 such temples built to spread Buddhism in this region.
Evening, walk and explore Paro Town.
Overnight: Hotel in Paro
Day 13 Departure from Paro
Departure from Paro international airport