START OF TREK : Drukgyal Dzong (Paro)
END OF TREK : Tashithang (Punakha)
DURATION : 19 nights/ 20 days
SEASON : April, May, June, September, October
GRADE : S
Arrive Paro (Druk Air)
Paro - Shana
Shana - Thangthanka
Thangthanka - Jangothang
Jangothang - Lingshi
Lingshi - Chebisa
Chebisa - Shomuthang
Shomuthang - Robluthang
Robulthang - Lemithang
Lemithang - Laya
Laya - Koena
Koena - Gasa Tsachu
Gasa Tsachu - Goen Damji
Geon Damji - Punakha
Punakha - Thimphu
Thimphu - Paro
Paro - Airport
DETAILED DAY TO DAY INTINERARY
DAY 01 ARRIVE PARO (DRUK AIR)
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the worlds highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. A tour guide from Sambara Tours & Travels, who will be your personal host throughout your stay in Bhutan, will be waiting to assist you with customs and immigration formalities, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel.
DAY 02 PARO EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG (Tiger's Nest) MONASTERY -
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang monastery - a labour of devotion and faith! After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten from where we walk up to the Taktsang viewpoint. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshment at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the monastery flying tigers donšt seem so impossible after all. Lunch at Taktsang Jakhang and then back to Satsam Chorten. In the afternoon we drive to the Ta Dzong, and ancient watch tower, which now houses the National Museum.
DAY 03 PARO - SHANA
A half an hour drive brings us to the end of the road at Drukgyal Dzong. While the horsemen and staff are sorting loads and loading ponies, we walk up to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jumolhari. Our trek to Shana follows the Paro river and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forest are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana. Altitude 2,790 m; Distance 14 Km; Time 5-6 hours.
DAY 04 SHANA - THANGTHANGKA
This morning the trial follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farm houses. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads to north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. Altitude 3,520 m; Distance 21 Km; Time 7-8 hours.
DAY 05 THANGTHANGKA - JANGOTHANG
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trial slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jumolhari base camp (4,040 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasion. Altitude 4,040m; Distance 15 Km; Time 5-6 hours.
DAY 06 JANGOTHANG (HALT)
A rest day. A chance to acclimatize and walk up the Jumolhari glacier or to the lakes in the opposite direction.
DAY 07 JANGOTHANG - LINGSHI
A good day's walk today with spectacular views of the Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela pass (4,700 m). After the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Dzong atop a high hill. Altitude 4000 m; Distance 17 Kms; Time 6-7 hours.
DAY 08 LINGSHI - CHEBISA
This magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb gently to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300 m cliff. Another hours walk brings us to a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall at one end of the Shangri La village of Chebisa, where we camp by the side of the river. The walk is very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger. Altitude 3,780 m; Distance 12 Kms; Time 4 5 hours.
DAY 09 CHEBISA - SHOMUTHANG
We start with quite a stiff climb through high pastures up the Gokula pass (4,320 m) before we drop through forest of dwarf rhododendron. We climb gradually and head down to the camp near a river bed. Altitude 3,890 m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6-7 hours.
DAY 10 SHOMUTHANG - ROBULUTHANG
A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4, 640 m where we once again get stunning views of the Himalayan mountains above us. We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarithang valley, where herds of takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp. Altitude 4,100 m; Distance 22 Kms; Time 7 - 8 hours.
DAY 11 ROBULUTHANG - LEMITHANG
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 4,870 m. and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. On a clear day practically all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the river bank. Altitude 4,040 m; Distance Kms; Time 6 7 hours.
DAY 12 LEMITHANG - LAYA
We walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for their vertical stripe yak hair clothing and their strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and with great deal of turquoise and jade jewelry. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys. The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting village houses and mixing with the villagers. Good views of the Masagang and the other peaks. Altitude 3,880m; Distance 10 kms; Time 4 5 hours.
DAY 13 LAYA (HALT)
We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people.
DAY 14 LAYA - KOENA
The trial winds along the river valley offers breathtaking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and water falls. Over night at camp. Altitude 3,300m; Distance 19 kms; Time 6/7 hours.
DAY 15 KOENA - GASA TSACHU
We gradually climb up to Balela pass at 3,740 m and then descend to Gasa village. The first sight of the Gasa Dzong perched on the hill side over the village is one of the sights of the trip. We then drop steeply down to the river for an hour and camp near the Hot Spring a chance for a good, hot bath! Altitude 2,638m; Distance 15 Kms; Time 6/7 hours.
DAY 16 GASA TSACHU - GEON DAMJI
After the climb away from Gasa Tsachu the trail winds through rolling hill sides with the vista of fields, villages and forests of oak and pine. Gasa Dzong will be visible behind you glued to the valley wall, seeming afloat in space. Overnight in camp. Altitude 2,280m; Distance 21 kms; Time 7/8 hours.
DAY 17 GEON DAMJI - PUNAKHA
The trial descends from the high agricultural benches above the Mochu into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and sight of an occasional monkey. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 18 PUNAKHA - THIMPHU
In the morning visit the Punakha Dzong, the ancient capital of Bhutan built in 1637. In the winter the Je Khenpo, Head Abbot of Bhutan, moves to Punakha with about 1000 monks. This Dzong is open to visitors only in summer when the monk body is in Thimphu. A 3 hour drive takes us to the capital, Thimphu and our hotel. Evening at leisure.
DAY 19 THIMPHU sightseeing - PARO
After breakfast we visit the Dupthop Lakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan and the National Memorial Chorten built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and then after lunch we stop at the Handicrafts Emporium following which we leave for Paro.
DAY 20 PARO - AIRPORT
In the morning our STT representative will bid you farewell at Paro airport. Good-bye and happy journey back home.