START OF TREK : Drukgyal Dzong (Paro)
END OF TREK : Nikachu Zam (near Trongsa)
DURATION: 28 nights/ 29 days
SEASON: May, June, July, August, September, October
Arrival Paro (Druk Air)
Paro - Shana
Shana - Thangthanka
Thangthanka - Jangothang
Jangothang - Lingshi
Lingshi - Chebisa
Chebisa - Shomuthang
Shomuthang - Robluthang
Robluthang - Lemithang
Lemithang - Laya
Laya - Rodophu
Rodophu - Narithang
Narithang - Tarina
Tarina - Woche
Woche - Lhedi
Lhedi - Thanza
Thanza - Tshochena
Tshochena - Jichu Dramo
Jichu Dramo - Chukarpo
Chukarpo - Tampetso
Tampetso - Maorothang
Maorothang - Nikachu
Nikachu - Thimphu
Thimphu - Paro airport
DETAILED DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
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 world's highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. A tour guide from Sambara Tours & Treks, 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 Hotel.
DAY 02 PARO EXCURSION TO TAKATSANG (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 tress festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments 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 in to 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 don't seem so impossible after all. Lunch at Taktsang Jakhang and then back to Satsam Chorten In the afternoon we drive to the Ta Dzong, an 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 staffs are sorting loads and loading ponies, we walk up to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgayl, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative remainder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the 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 forests 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 trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farm houses. We pass a junction enroute, where another part path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. Altitude 3520 m; Distance 21 Km; 7-8 hours.
DAY 05 THANGTHANGKA - JANGOTHANG
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail 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 invasions Altitude. 4,040 m; Distance 15 Km; Time 5-6 hours.
DAY 06 JANGOTHANG (HALT)
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 17kms; Time 6-7 hours.
DAY 08 LINGSHI - CHEBISA
This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right bellow 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 3,780m; 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 forests 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 - ROBLUTHANG
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, 100m; Distance 22 kms; Time 7-8 hours.
DAY 11 ROBLUTHANG - LEMITHANMG
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela 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 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 eve 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 other peaks. Altitude 3,880 m; Distance 10 Kms; Time 4 - 5 hours.
DAY 13 LAYA (HALT)
A rest day and an opportunity to mix with the local people and visit their homes.
DAY 14 LAYA - RODOPHU
We descend down to Tashi Makhang (army camp) and climb stiffly for an hour and then follow the river until we reach Rodophu. If weather is clear we should have great views of the Tsendey Gang group. Altitude 4,100 m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 -7 hours.
DAY 15 RODOPHU - NARITHANG
The climb to the Tsomala pass (4,720 m) is quite tough. From the pass we may be lucky to see the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. We then descend and finally climb to Narithang where we camp. Altitude 4, 150 m; distances 10 kms; time 4 - 5 hours.
DAY 16 NARITHNAG - TARINA
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to the Ganglakarchung La pass (5,100 m) which takes 3 to 4 hours and are rewarded with stunning views of Ganglakarchung, Tsendey Gang, Jejekangphu and Terigang. Finally we drop steeply down to the Tarina valley where herds of takin roam. Great views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Altitude 3,900 m; distance 24 kms; time 8 - 9 hours.
DAY 17 TARINA - WOCHE
For 3 to 4 hours we follow the river, a tributary of the Pho Chu, pass through a forest of sliver pine and juniper and with a stiff climb reach Wochu - the Lunana region beings from this village. Altitude 3,830 m; distance12 km; time 4-5 hours.
DAY 18 WOCHE - LHEDI
We climb gradually through juniper forests and then cross a river from where we have great views of Jejekangphu. A stiff climb takes us past the Yumtso and Setso lakes and up to the Keche La pass (4,490 m). We descend to Thraga village and finally reach Lhedi. Altitude 3,640 m; distance 15 kms; time 5 - 6 hours.
DAY 19 LHEDI - THANZA
We follow the Pho Chu river through the village of Lhedi and Chotsi dzong which was built in the 17th century. After 3 to 4 hours we reach the beautiful village of Dhotey and Thanza where we set camp in a beautiful meadow with stunning views of Talbe mountains right in front of us. Altitude 4,060 m; Distane 15 Kms; Time 5 - 6 hours.
DAY 20 THANZA (HALT)
We explore the village and mix with the people of Thanza
DAY 21 THANZA - TSOCHENA
This is a difficult trek. After crossing the Pho Chu river we climb stiffly up for 6 hours to Jazela pass (5,100 m) before dropping down to Tsochena. We pass many lakes and on a clear day can see splendid views of many un-named Himalayan peaks. Altitude 4,840 m; Distance 21 Kms; Time 8 - 9 hours.
DAY 22 TSOCHENA - JICHU DRAMO
A gradual climb to Lajula pass (5,000 m) and finally we reach Jichu Dramo. Altitude 4,840 m; distance 10 kms; time 4 - 5 hours.
DAY 23 JICHU DRAMO - CHUKARPO
We climb gradually to the Rinchenzoe pass (5115 m), the highest the trek with spectacular views of mountains and turquoise coloured lakes. After the pass a 5 hour hike brings us to Chukarpo where we set camp. Altitude 4,450 m; distance 18 kms; time 7- 8 hours.
DAY 24 CHUKARPO - TEMPETSO
Today the trail gradually descends to the river and after a stiff climb through rhododendron, silver fir and juniper forests we reach Tempetso lakes where we set camp. Altitude 4,190 m; distance 18 kms; time 7 -8 hours.
DAY 25 CHUKARPO - TEMPETSO
We walk along the lake, climb up to Tampela pass (4,500 m) and finally descend to Umtso lake and Maorothang where we set camp. Altitude 4,190 m; distance 18 Kms; time 7 - 8 hours.
DAY 26 MAOROTHANG - NIKACHU
We follow the Nikachu through dense forests of rhododendron, silver fir and bamboo and emerge at Nikachu bridge. Altitude 2,670 m; distance 19 Kms; time 7 - 8 hours.
DAY 27 NIKACHU - THIMPHU
Early morning drive to Thimphu. We stop for lunch at Wangdue guest house. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 28 THIMPHU sight seeing
After breakfast we visit the National Library, stocked with ancient manuscripts, and the Painting School where tradition art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of paniting thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). In the afternoon we visit the Dupthop Lakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan and then the Tashichho Dzong seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The Tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only in winter when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body move to Punakha, the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. Other highlights include a visit to the National Memorial Chorten built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Handicrafts Emporium.
DAY 29 THIMPHU - PARO AIRPORT
We leave Thimphu early to catch your onward flight from Paro airport where our STT representative will bid you farewell. Good - bye and happy journey back home.