The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering amazing scenic view of some of the world’s highest snow peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills and over the silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) twisty down the valley below. Our representative will meet you at the airport and after completion of arrival formalities proceed to hotel at paro.
If times permits visit RinpungDzong (fortress on heap of jewels) located at a ridge overlooking Paro valley. The Dzong has a long and fascinating history from 1600s. The first National Assembly of Bhutan was held here. The Dzong offers the sight of 100s of monks wondering in the courtyard of Dzong. After ParoDzong take a short walk down for 15-20mins till you reach a beautiful traditional cantilevered bridge (photo opportunity as you walk down the way).
Leisure time in Paro town.
Recommended free activity:
Walk along old Paro Street.
Visit stamp shop and Bhutanese traditional music CD shop at old market.
Day 02 : Paro to Tiger's Nest, Paro
Early start is recommended (summer 7am, winter7:30)
After an early breakfast drive north of Paro valley and take a 5-6 hours excursion to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous of all Bhutanese monasteries. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan. He meditated in the cave and emerged in eight incarnated forms and thus, the site became holy. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. (Your guide will decide on lunch place depending on time).
In the afternoon, visit KyichuLhakhang. Built by the Tibetan king, SongtsenGampo in the 7th century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan and also visit a traditional Bhutanese farm house nearby where you get the opportunity see interior part of a farm house and also to sit with local family and know about real story translated by your guide or directly from family(depends if someone from family speaks English).As you hear the story, you also get to try local tea(salted cow butter tea) and local alcohol(Ara from fermented rice or wheat).The main goal of this visit is to see traditional house and hear on Bhutanese way of life as farmer
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
PREPARE FOR NEXT DAY TREK.
Day 03 : Paro to Shana
Altitude: highest 2900m (campsite)
Trekking time: 5-6hr.
Your trek starts from DrukgyelDzong (2,580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide farm road through pine forest. Your trekking crews will greet you at Drugyal. The trail then climbs gently through rice terraces, fields of millet and potatoes. Continue trekking through the valley offering you with few old houses located by the side of the road. Later on you come to apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley broadens, and you reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m). This is one official check point before Tibet. You continue upwards until you see a suspension bridge with prayer flags on it. Beyond Shana Zampa (bridge), there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees. Your camp site for today will be in pine forest with few houses around.
Free time after reaching the camp: explore the houses around and look for birds in nature around.
Day 04 : Shana to Soi Thangthangkha
Altitude: highest 3700m.
Trekking time: 7-8hrs.
After breakfast from camp, start your trek by a dirt farm road that goes through beautiful pine forest however awkwardly you will see forest being cleared in some stretch of trail for electrification. The trail again follows the Pa Chu (Paro river), with gradual ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, you will be stopping for a hot lunch in an open space. Then we continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests and crossing the bridge once again before reaching your campsite (3,750m).
Day 05 : SoiThangthangka – Jangothang
Altitude: 4000m (basecamp)
Trekking time: 6-7hrs.
The path ascends by the side of Parochu (river) for a while until we reach the army camp. You then again follow the river above the tree line, enjoying stunning view of the surrounding Himalayan peaks. Hot lunch is served at a yak herder’s camp.(Having lunch with yak herders depends on their availability) A short walk from here into the valley on a rugged trail takes us to your campsite at Jangothang (4,040 m). Once you reach the camp site the view of Jhomolhari and Jichu DrakeMountains are superb and majestic.
Evening at leisure and I bet you can’t stop taking pictures of mountain peaks.
Day 06 : Jangothang to Jangothang (halt and exploring day)
The halt and resting day at Jangothang offers plenty of hiking possibilities around with stunning views of lakes and snowcapped Himalayan mountain peak such as Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake. Hiking to Tshophulake is one best option. The hike takes few hours and as you hike up to the lake you will get the best sight of Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake. The hike provides the opportunity to see blue sheep on upper slopes of Tshophulake.
Halt at Jangothang is a perfect opportunity for you to acclimatize and to prepare for following days trek.
Day 07 : Jangothang to Lingshi.
Altitude: highest 4700m (Nyili la pass).
Trekking time: 7-8hrs.
The trail to Lingshi follows a small stream towards north for 30-45mins and crosses the bridge to the right. You now start your gradual climb up to the first ridge, enjoying incredible view of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The rugged trail then takes you across a fairly level valley floor until the climb up to Nyele-la pass (4,700m). The pass is beautifully decorated with prayer flags as a sign of safe trek. You then descend gradually from the pass to your peaceful camp site at Lingshi (4,000m), on a clear day you also enjoy a panoramic view of the mountain peaks and LingshiDzong as we walk.
Day 08 : Lingshi to Chebisa,
Altitude: highest 4300m(LingshiDzong)
Trekking time: 5-6hrs
Proceed further towardsLingshiDzong, perched on hilltop with a commanding view of green hills, a detour off the main trail to LingshiDzong (4300m) to catch the view from top is recommendable. After LingshiDzong it is fairly easy trek through villages and yak herders camp. Today you will have enough time to explore villages on the way and even to visit a yak herder’s camp. There is a beautiful waterfall if you go little further behind the village and it is one must to do at Chebisa (campsite).
Day 09 : Chebisa to Shomuthang,
Altitude: highest 4500m (Gobu la pass)
Trekking time: 6-7hrs
The day begins with strenuous climb behind Chebisa village through pasture land towards Gobu La pass (4,450m). On the way to Gobu la pass you will see few yak header grazing their yaks and you may even spot blue sheep in a distance. After you cross Gobu la pass its then a long descent to a valley at 4,170m. Later the trail again climbs over a small ridge through a cedar forest. It is a long climb over the ridge, then the trail descends on a muddy path into main Jholethang valley in a deep forest of fir and birch. Afternoon, the trail crosses high above the valley floor on right to Chackhim, a yak pasture at 4,260m. The camp at 4,250m is in a cluster of brush beside a stream at the bottom of the valley.
Day 10 : Shoumuthang to Robluthang
Altitude: highest 4700m (Jari la pass)
Trekking time: 6-7hrs.
The trek begins with a climb from the valley towards to Jari La pass at altitude 4,700m then descents to Tasharijathang valley, the summer residence of rare Himalayan Takin (Bhutan’s National animal). The famous Edelweiss canbe also spotted along the way today. The trek today offers a stunning view of Kang bum and Tiger Mountain towards southeast. Later after crossing the stream, the trail ascends till you reach Robluthang camp at altitude of 4,200m.
Day 11 : Roluthang to Limithang
Altitude: 5000m (shinje la pass)
Trekking time: 7-8hrs
This day is long as well as a demanding trek. It is the crossing of Shinjela pass(4,900m), the last and highest pass en route that makes this day a tough day however the climb to pass is magnificent with views of snowcapped Himalayan peaks. You may be able to spot Blue Sheep high on the slopes in a distance. From Shinjela, the descent is on a rough, rocky trail that follows rubble into another glacial valley. The last part of the trek is very interesting with fascinating view of Mt. Gangchey Ta (Tiger Mountain) Campsite in a meadow at 4,100m.
Day 12 : Limithang to Laya
Trekking time: 4-5hrs.
The moment you go outside your tent early in morning you will get breathtaking view of Gangchen ta in front of your camp site. The trek to Laya is very pleasant with wonderful views around. You will pass through a moist forest, filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country at the altitude of 3,800m. To the west of laya village you will catch a sight of majestic Masagang peak. After reaching the campsite explore the village by visiting houses around.
Day 13 : Laya to Chamsa
Distance: 19 km
Trekking time: 8-9 hours
This day also offer marvelous views around. Descend to army camp and join the Mo chhuriver(female river). Follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge it is up and down several times through juniper and fir forest until you reach the camp at Chamsa at an altitude of 3,500m. You will spot birds along the way to Chamsa.
Day 14 : Chamsato GasaTsachu(hot spring)
Altitude: 4100m (Bari la pass)
Distance: 14 km
Trekking time: 6-7hrs
Walk for 30-45mins over flat land till the Bari La (3,900m). There is a small rock landmark and a few prayer flags at the pass with awesome view. The route starts down again, sometimes steeply, through a bamboo forest along a stream. Later it is downhill all the way to GasaTsachu. Afternoon visit Gasa village andGasaDzong built in 17th century. Then descend to GasaTsachu (hot spring) for camp at an altitude of 2,200m.
Enjoy hot spring bath with locals at GasaTaschu
Overnight at camp.
Trek ends here at Gasa. This LayaGasa trek can be even done vice-versa (starting from Punakha and ending at Paro, however it is recommendable to start from Paro.
Day 15 : Punakha to Thimphu (75 km, 2 and half hours’ drive)
After breakfast farewell to your wonderful trekking crews and start driving towards Punakha for 2 and half hours on a dirt farm road seeing a drastic changes in vegetation. En-route visit PunakhaDzonga 17th century fortress which is beautifully erect between pho chu (male river) and Mo chu (female river).This Dzong is considered as winter residence of the central monastic body. Before 1955, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan. This place will propose you a great opportunity to take pictures of monks and also to intermingle with monks.
Evening at leisure in a hotel at Punakha.
Day 16 : Punakha to Thimphu (2hours)
After breakfast start exploring more at Punakha and wangdiphordang. Drive for 30-45mins uphill to Talo village. En-route visit SangchenDorjiLhendup Nunnery, built on a pine-covered ridge above Punakha valley. The nunnery’s chapel houses a 4.5 meters (14ft) bronze statue of Chenrezing, the bodhisattva of compassion, along with statues of the Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung in an intricately sculpted altar. It is home to a small and friendly community of nuns. A PRIVATE AUDENCE WITH A NUN WIILL BE ARRANGED BY BHUTAN TRAVELCATIONS (This feature is exclusive only for guest travelling through Bhutan Travelcations without any cost involve) The goal of this setting is to allow travelers understand real life of nuns in Bhutan) Continue driving uphill until you see a scattered village on hill top. The royal queen mothers (four sisters) hail from this small village. The highlight of this visit is a short walk (30mins) from top of village to bottom where you will see local farmers doing farm works. (Photo and interaction opportunities).
After lunch drive towards Thimphu with a stop at Dochula pass (3100m) with 108 stupas. The majestic view of Himalaya on a clear day adds significant delight to pass.
Evening at leisure.
Recommended free time activity:
Take a walk in town.
Visit ambient coffee (walking distance from hotel)
Visit DSB book shop (walking distance from hotel)
Witness local folks playing archery (national sports)
Dinner and Overnight in a hotel at Thimphu.
Day 17 : Thimphu to Paro (1 and half hours drive)
After breakfast, get a feel of the culture and traditions of Bhutan through an all-encompassing sightseeing tour of Thimphu.
Visit the National Memorial Chorten. The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty JigmeDorjiWangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who wished to erect a monument to promote world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. This site is the perfect place for you to take the photo opportunity of elderly people and to intermingle with locals. It has now become a vibrant center of spiritual practice and religious events.
Visit Buddha Dordenma(Buddha point) located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park overlooking the southern entrance to the Thimphu Valley. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha statue- 100,000 statues of 8 inches and 25,000 statues of 12 inches. Each of these figure have also been casted in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha sits upon is a large meditation hall.
The Painting School, famous for its traditional thangkha paintings. Here you will also see students at work producing intricate designs on 13 arts and craft.
After lunch, Visit Changangkha monastery. A 12th century monastery active with few monks and beautiful Buddhist paintings inside. The main goal of visiting this sights is to see, feel and interact with local families coming with new born babies to do offering and occasionally you will witness monks performing ritual inside the shrine.
Visit traditional handmade paper factory where you will be escorted inside the factory to see the traditional way of making paper followed by paper gallery where you will see how traditional paper are put in use in modern times.
Visit Centenary farmers market where you get to see local vegetable, rice, fruits and meat items being sold (expect the place to be crowded with local buyer and vendors. (The goal of going to this vegetable market is provide an opportunity to travelers to engage all six sense)
Proceed to paro (expect late arrival at hotel, 5-5:30pm)
Dinner and overnight in hotel at Paro
Day 18 : Paro –Onwards destination
Final departure from Paro international airport towards your destination.