DAY 01 ARRIVE PARO BHUTAN.
PARO ALTITUDE 7,600 feet / 2,280 meters
THIMPHU ALTITUDE 7,730 feet / 2,320 meters
DISTANCE PARO AIRPORT – THIMPHU = 54 kilometers / 33.75 miles 2 hours
The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. From a window seat on clear days you can experience a spectacular view of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by our representative, and then drive to your hotel.
DAY 02 THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
After breakfast you will start your sightseeing of Thimphu starting off with a visit to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, here traditional medicines are prepared according to ancient practices and a museum of herbal medicines and herbs are displayed. Then we head to The National Institute of Zorig Chusum, in this institute the 13 different traditional arts are kept alive through young Bhutanese who take 4-6 years course in different arts. Next we will visit the National Library and then to Bhutan heritage Museum, a nineteenth century house, preserved to present the visitors with how middle class Bhutanese lived in the past. A Bhutanese traditional lunch will be served here. After lunch, we’ll visit Textile Museum, the traditional gold and silver smith workshop, weaving center and other places of interest. Overnight at Hotel.
OPTION: If you are in Thimphu during Public holidays or weekends then the sightseeing will be, visit to Thimphu weekend market, which is in a permanent set of stalls, vendors from throughout the region arrive on Friday afternoon and remain selling their goods until Sunday night. It’s an interesting place to visit, where village people jostle with well-heeled Thimphu residents for the best – and cheapest – vegetables and foodstuffs. This is the only time that fresh produce is easily available and the shopping is enhanced by the opportunity to catch up on the week’s gossip. At the northern end of the market is a collection of stalls called the indigenous goods and handicrafts section. Here you will find locally produced goods, including religious objects, baskets, fabrics and different hats from various minority groups. Continue your sightseeing to Zangdopelri temple, the Changlimithang where you can witness young Bhutanese practicing their favorite archery game. Return to hotel for lunch, after lunch visit the Memorial Chorten built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Dupthop Lhakhang (Monastery for the nuns) and other places of interest.
DAY 03 THIMPHU
After breakfast proceed for hike to Cheri Monastery. The drive from the hotel is about 45 minutes North of Thimphu, we then cross a lovely traditional bridge that spans the Wang/Thimphu Chhu River and start our hike uphill towards the Cheri Monastery, this walk will take one hour of uphill, where you will come across tame deer and soaring birds that are looked after by the monks of this monastery. This monastery was built in 1620 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal and is the first monastic establishment in Bhutan. After visiting around we will hike back to the roadside and enjoy our picnic lunch. After lunch we will start our drive south from the road where we came in for about 20 minutes at Begana Hydro workshop, from where we will take another hike, this will not involve steep climbing, but a gradual ups and down to Pangri Zampa through villages and farmlands. This temple was founded in early 16th century and presently it houses the monastic institute for astrology studies.
DAY 04 THIMPHU – PARO & EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG MONASTERY.
ALTITUDE TAKTSANG: 10,234 feet / 3120 meters
ALTITUDE GAIN: 2,634 feet / 805 meters.
After early breakfast, we take a 2 hour drive to the hiking point of Tiger’s Nest or locally known as Taktsang Monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike (if not tired) for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the remains of Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The history states 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 doesn’t seem so impossible after all. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria. After lunch we start our hike back to Paro valley, if time permits we will have some more sightseeing or a free day for more shopping in the small Bazaar.
DAY 05 DRUKGYAL DZONG – SHINGKHARAP, 25KMS, 4 HOURS.
Driving Distance kilometers / 20 kilometers / 10.60 miles
Trekking Distance 05 miles / kilometers and takes about 4 hours
Altitude gain 2,900 feet / 885 meters
After breakfast we start our drive to Drukgyal Dzong (The Fortress of Victory0 Elevation 7600 feet, this will take about 30 minutes of drive through paved road.
We began our bumpy drive from Drukgyal with spectacular view of the Mount Jomolhari peak standing at an elevation of 7,314 m / 23990ft and reach down to the left bank of PaChu (Paro River). The source of this river is from Mount Jomolhari. Following the river along the villages of Tsento we continue our drive through the dirt road until we reach at Zangkay Pang often used as camping and picnic spot. After an hour of drive we reach at Gunitsawa Military Post, here we will have to submit our trekking permit and then for another 10 minutes of drive will bring us to the starting point of our trek. After few minute of handing our baggage to the porters we will start our 3-hour hike to Shingkharap. The distance from here would be about 5 miles. Crossing the Pachu River we now enter into Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park, a signboard will indicate you the entry of the park.
The hike is gradual ascent through forest of Mixed Coniferous with lots of rock hopping; the passerby laid these rocks during the monsoon to avoid mud. Continue to follow the river crossing bridges which are side streams joining main Paro river until you reach your first camp of the trek at Shigkharap (10500 feet / 3,200 meters).
DAY 06 SHINGKHARAP – THANGTHANGKHA
DISTANCE; 8.6 MILES/13.76KMS and takes about 6-7 Hours hike.
ALTITUDE GAIN: 1588 feet / 485 meters
After breakfast start our day again following the same river for about 45 minutes and arrive at the junction of trail leading to Tibet over Tremola pass, we take the trail that will lead us to the base camp of Jomolhari. Continue on the trail until you reach the bridge and then gradually through the forests of oak, spruce and rhododendron with maples. The trail makes continuous, but gentle, climb on a rocky trail through Oaks, rhododendron and ferns, crossing several small streams. Your camp for tonight will be at Thangthangkha, elevation 3,630 m /12,088 ft. There is a small stone shelter and a Bhutanese style house in a cedar grove at the edge of the meadow.
DAY 07 THANGTHANGKHA – JANGOTHANG
Distance 8.7 miles / 14 kilometers and takes about 5-6 hours
Altitude gain 1,498 feet / 450 meters
After enjoying the view to Jhomolhari and a good breakfast, we start our long day to the base camp. As we start the trek the view is gradually lost, but the mountain will be seen again in its full glory from Jangothang base camp. Today’s trail again follows the river and changes direction several times. Late in spring towards the tree line, the rare blue poppy, Bhutan’s national flower has been spotted. You will cross few villages, by now there should be a view towards the summit of the spiky peak Jitchu Drake about 22,470 feet / 6,850 meters. Cross a bridge and suddenly the overwhelming snow – and ice covered east face of Jhomolhari (23,995 feet appears, with its massive 3,200 meter high wall of granite, marble and quartzite. We have reached the Jhomolhari base camp alt. 4,090 m /13,415 ft.
DAY 08 HALT IN JANGOTHANG
Sun reaches camp at 0800 hrs in fall. Most people will feel the effect of ascending 6000 feet in three days, so a rest day at the base camp will help with acclimatization. However, those who wish to explore the vicinity of Jhomolhari, one can take a day hike. Although there are many good day hike, with only one day rest here we will not be able to do all, we have furnished you below two different day hikes for your choice.
- The most challenging day hike is up the steep, grassy ridge located next to camp to the north. It takes 3-4 hrs to reach the final rocky summit (15,610 feet). The views get better and better, first of Jitchu Drake and, at one point, when crossing over a ridge Jhomolhari is just opposite. The last part of the rocky summit can be tricky due to loose rocks and wind; bring a windproof jacket, gloves and hat.
- Another view point is the steep, grassy hill (16,334 feet) that starts from the second bridge at Jangothang. There is no real trail, just endless switchbacks uphill. It is about 3 hours climb to reach a prayer flag (clearly visible from camp) from where you get a superb view back to the Jhomolhari and Jitchu Drake group and the campsite. If it is wet, be careful on the descent.
You can also put your rest day to good use and enjoy the beauty of nature by just relaxing at the campsite.
DAY 09 JANGOTHANG – DHUMZO
Distance 13 miles / 21 kilometers and takes about 6-7 hours
Altitude gain 2,625 feet / 788 meters
Altitude loss 3,580 feet / 1,075 meters
Today is a tough day; we start early crossing the bridge, start a steep climb of about 1000 feet in a very short distance. There are breathtaking views of Mount Jhomolhari (23,995 feet), Jhomolhari II (22,770 feet), Mount Jichu Drake (22,925 feet) and down the valley to Jangothang campsite. After the ascent we arrive at flower carpeted meadow with several Yak herders tent (in spring) indicates the end of the climb. This area is normally known for flocks of Himalayan blue sheep and its predator Snow Leopards look high up on the rocky slopes for blue sheep. Watch your footings; the ground is uneven and full of marmot burrows. After crossing the meadow you will find clear trail along the Tsho Phu River (Sometimes dry in spring). Continue further into the beautiful valley, with towering rocky peaks of over 16500 feet, there are beautiful views back towards Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake, which slowly disappear. We continue walking along the shore of the lake, and then began to climb quite steeply. This steep part gains the top of the impressive rock face, with superb views of Jitchu Drake reflected in the lakes below. The trail winds up and into an upper valley, with snowcapped peaks in distance, leading to the Bhonte La (The Pass is first visible at the last 45 minutes). Bhonte La Pass (16,040 feet / 4,890 meters) is the highest pass of this trek. From the Pass there are views of the Basingthang peaks (around 18,500 feet) and a big snowy peak to the south called Chatarake (Dzo Drake, Jo Darkey; 18,300 feet). World’s Third highest mountain Kangchenjunga (28,160 feet) is visible if you climb up the higher peak east from the Pass. From the Pass the trail drops through a steep narrow gully, continuing through small grassy hill topped with a cairn. It begins to drop quickly to a large, grass covered area tucked beneath an enormous rock cliff and waterfall. Leave this meadow and descend very steeply through a narrow gully, below the tree line. We finally arrive at our campsite, Dhumzo (12,460 feet).
DAY 10 DHUMZO – THOMBU SHONG
Distance 7 miles / 11 kilometers and takes about 4-5 hours
Altitude gain 2,420 feet / 740 meters
Altitude loss 1,370 feet / 420 meters
A small ascend from the camp through a forest of rhododendron, birch, and oak draped with mosses brings you to a meadow with a huge juniper tree. Continuing on the meadow the trail descends and crosses bridge. From here we Continue our ascend through a forest, then another climb of about 700 feet where we will be greeted by a prayer flag where there are some cairns and a beautiful view of Soe Yaksa Valley and surrounding mountains. A nice flat trail now skirts around the hillside covered with rhododendron bushes, changing direction slowly to the south. We continue for another one hour of climb to arrive at Takhung La Pass (14, 880 feet). The pass is decorated with several Cairns wrapped in prayer flags. On both sides we can climb up small hills to get a good view of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Teri Gang, and in the distance Kangchenjunga (28,160 feet) and even Makalu (27,760 feet) blocking the view of Mount Everest. The trail first stays high to the left with some exciting drop offs, then winds gently downhill to the campsite at Thombu Shong (13,510 feet).
DAY 11 THOMBU SHONG – SHANA
Distance 9 miles / 14.5 kilometers and takes about 5-6 hours
Altitude gain 495 feet / 150 meters
Altitude loss 4,525 feet / 1,380 meters
We start our day by crossing the swampy area and then through a clear trail leading though the bushes of rhododendron and then climb steeply to Thombu La Pass (14,005 feet). Again the Pass is decorated with cairns and few prayer flags. One can get breathtaking views of Chatarake (Dzo Drake, Jo Darkey; 18,300 feet) at the southeast. Also with a little effort by climbing a small hill (14,270 feet) one can get great view of Kangchenjunga (28,160 feet) on the Sikkim- Nepal border as well as some smaller peaks of around 20,000 feet in North Sikkim. Nearer, on the Bhutan-Tibet border you will see Drake Gang (around 17,500 feet) the local male deity. The ridge walk from the pass is one of the best parts of the trek; the walk offers one with a good trail and beautiful views. After about an hour of walk we start our big descend. Edelweiss grows in abundance along the trail and huge lammergeyers or bearded vulture cruise on the warm uplifts of the valley below. The trail steeply descends for about 2-3 hours, be careful with your steps and your knees. We finally arrive at the day 5 campsite, SHANA.
DAY 12 SHANA –DRIVE TO PARO.
Trekking Distance 9.3 miles / 15 kilometers and takes about 2 hours
Altitude gain 260 feet / 80 meters
Altitude loss 1,020 feet / 310 meters
After breakfast we say goodbye to our crew and then start our drive to Paro, this may take about 2 hours to reach, check in to your hotel, after lunch we will start our sightseeing around Paro visiting the National Museum, Paro Rimpung Dzong and the market for final souvenir shopping. Overnight at Hotel.
DAY 13 DEPART PARO BHUTAN
After breakfast transfer to airport for your flight to onward destination.
Note: This is a sample intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors such as weather, tour conditions, the physical ability of the participants’ etc., may dictate itinerary changes either before departure or while on the tour. We reserve the right to change this schedule in the interest of the trip participants’ safety, comfort and general well being. RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.