Duration: Six days
Max. Elevation: 4200m
Highest Camp: 4110m
Standard: Easy to medium
Best Seasons: March to June & September to November
Start: National Museum in Paro
Finish: Motithang (Thimphu)
The expedition is one of the most popular and easier treks, offering great views of the highlands, landscape and the beautiful lakes and Phajoding monastery.
You can also relish the kingdom’s most revered sites and enjoy the vastness of the rich biodiversity.
Day 01: Bangkok/Delhi/Katmandu-Paro
Arrive at Paro international airport after having experienced an enthralling flight with peaks of the mighty Himalayas, including Mt Everest greeting you and the plane taking you through the awesome Bhutanese foothills, not to mention the thrilling landing at what is considered one of the most challenging landings.
Our company’s representative will welcome you at the airport and escort you to the hotel.
After lunch at the hotel, begin Paro sightseeing by driving to the National Museum (once a watch tower-Ta dzong), which has some of the Kingdom’s fascinating collection of art, artifacts, thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. Then, drive to the massive Rinpung dzong (Castle on a Heap of Precious Jewels), another historic Bhutanese structure. Later, take a stroll of Paro town.
Overnight at hotel
Day 02: The Taktsang experience
After breakfast and a 30 minute drive, you begin one of the most exciting sections of your trip, the hike to Taktsang monastery, the Tiger’s Lair. One of the most revered religious sites in Bhutan and a centre for pilgrimages, the monastery is perched some 1000meters on a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley. Associated with the great Tantric Saint from the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava, it is believed that Padmasambhava came riding on a tigress in a fiery and wrathful form and in a cave within the temple subdued the evils who were obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Since then, several Buddhist masters have meditated in and around the monastery. Some have even discovered hidden religious relics.
The hike takes about five hours (round trip) and follows an ancient path marked by water powered prayer wheels.
Enroute to the hotel, visit Drukgyel dzong (Castle of the Victorious Drukpa), constructed to mark the victory of Bhutanese forces over the Tibetans in the 17th and 18th centuries. One can see Mt Jomolhari, (7329 m) on a clear day from here. You will also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th century temple believed to be built on a structure that resembled the left leg of a giant Ogress, by King Songsten Goembo of Tibet. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Paro and the country. Overnight at Hotel
Day 03: Paro-Jili dzong (Distance 5 km, 1090m ascent, camp altitude 3480m) -Jangchulakha (Distance 10 km, 3hours, 310m ascent, 50m descent, camp altitude 3770m).
Your trek begins after a 45 minutes drive. The first day is long and arduous as you have to scale elevations more than 1000m. It starts with an uphill climb to a steep ridge, after which the trail leads you through blue pine and fir forests to Damche Gom. Upon arrival at the ridge near Jili Dzong, you will have your lunch.
After lunch, the trek to Jangchulakha begins. It involves an uphill climb for about an hour and a half that continues to ascend. You will be taken through thick alpine forests and dwarf rhododendron tress. You may see yaks and yak herders around your campsite.
Day 04: Jangchulakha-Jimilang Tsho (Distance 11 km, four hours, 230m descent, 330m ascent, camp altitude-3870m).
It is a trek that follows a ridge from which on a clear day offers you an enchanting view of the mountains and valley. You will camp close to Jimilang Tsho (Lake), known for its giant sized trout.
Day 05: Jimilang Tsho-Simkotra Tsho (Distance 11 km, four hours, 820m ascent, 400m descent, camp altitude 4110m).
Involving brief ascends and descends; the trail for the day will take you through dwarf rhododendron trees and Janetsho (Lake). You could get a glimpse of a nomad’s life if you come across some yak herder’s camp. The campsite for the night will also be near a lake (Simkotra Tsho).
Day 06: Simkotra Tsho-Phajoding (Distance 10 km, three to four hours, 130m ascend, 680m descend, camp altitude 3750m).
Beginning with a gradual climb, the trek for the day is an easy one and from a pass offers you an opportunity to view Mount Gangkar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan and other Himalayan peaks. Once you cross the pass, it is a downhill trek all the way to Phajoding. The camp is above Phajoding.
Day 07: Phajoding-Mothitang (Distance 4 to 5km, 3 hours, 1130 m descend).
It is a gradual descend through forest carpeted by blue pine all the way to Motithang (Thimphu). Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 08: Discovering Thimphu
You will discover the beauty of Thimphu and its treasures epitomized in the historic and massive structures such as the largest Buddha statue at Buddha point, the 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang, Takin zoo, Sangaygang (view point of Thimphu valley,) Handicrafts Emporium, Nunnery and the Memorial Chorten (Stupa).
After lunch, you will visit the Tashichhodzong (Fortress), the main secretariat building. This massive structure houses the King’s office, Throne Room, some government ministries, the State Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and senior monks. We will visit the archery ground and witness a match, if there is one ongoing. In the evening, you can stroll around the Capital’s market.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 09: Thimphu-Punakha/Wangduephodrang
The drive till Punakha will take about three to four hours and traverses through beautiful forests composed of rhododendron and fields of dwarf bamboos. The landscape, green meadows, beautiful wildflowers, gushing waterfalls and constantly changing vegetation offers breathtaking scenery.
About 45 minutes drive from Thimphu is the Dochula pass (3100m). From here one will get their first glimpse of the eastern Himalayan ranges, consisting of snow-capped peaks with heights measuring anywhere from 6000m to 7554m. The pass is also exotic in flora and fauna. Apart from this, the spectacular 108 stupas or chortens build around a mound at the pass makes the place a visitor’s delight.
The road from the pass descends all the way to Punakha. Before reaching Punakha, you will visit the Temple of Fertility (Chimi Lhakhang), which is an hour hike (round trip) from the road. Associated with Lam Drukpa Kuenley (Divine Madman), this 15th century structure is a place where the phallus is worshipped, with barren women from around the world receiving blessings from a phallus.
You will then arrive at Punakha dzong, which from far looks like a gigantic ship perched on a mass of water. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is home of the Chief Abbot and the central monk body during the winter months. Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal at the confluence of two rivers (Phochhu and Mochhu), the fortress is the quintessence of Bhutanese architecture and was a hub of ancient Bhutan’s civil and religious life. It houses some of the Kingdom’s most sacred relics in the form of religious antiques.
In the afternoon, you will visit Punakha dzong and then drive for half an hour and hike to the Khamsumyuly chorten.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 10: Punakha/Wangduephodrang-Paro
In the morning, we will visit ruins of Wangduephodrang dzong (fortress), which was built in 1638 by the Zhabdrung and tragically gutted by a fire in 2012. We will also take a stroll of Wangdue town.
A four hours drive will take us back to Paro, where we will have lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, we will take a stroll of Paro town and visit a farm house. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Paro-Bangkok/Delhi/Katmandu
After breakfast, you will be driven to Paro international Airport for your journey out of Bhutan.