Summary: the most popular trek in Bhutan offers spectacular views of 7315m high mount Jumolhari from Jangothang base camp.
Season: April to June, September to November
Duration: 9 days
Start: Drukgyal Dzong Paro
End: Dodina Thimphu
Difficulty rating: Medium – Hard
Maximum elevation: 4930m
Day 1: Arrive Paro
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by the guide. After lunch, visit the Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower that is now the National Museum. The museum has wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic display and “field of Buddhas”, which helps one to visualize while meditating. Afterward you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and the most sacred shrine in the country. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Acclimatization hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, Bhutan’s most famous monastery, which stands at 3100m gives you acclimatization for the next day’s trek. The 8th century Spiritual Master, Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. Explore the Monastery hike back to Paro. In the evening you can explore Paro Town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro-Shana Trek starts
17KM / 5-6 HOURS / 360M ASCENT 80M DESCENT
The trek starts from Drugyal Dzong at 2,580 m with a downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently traversing through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and you reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. At 2,870m, just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees. Camp at an altitude of 2850m.
Day 4: Shana-Sio Thangthangkha
22KM / 7-8 HOURS / 770 ASCENT 10M DESCENT
The trail again follows Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch follow the river climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing the bridge again, reaching to the campsite at the altitude of 3,750m.
Day 5: Sio Thangthangkha-Jangothang
19KM / 5-6 HOURS / 480M ASCENT
The path ascends for a while till you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning view of surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder’s camp. A short walk into the valley will take you to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,040m. From here, the view of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Day 6: Rest day at Jangothang (Base Camp)
Today is a rest and acclimatization for the next day’s highest climb on this trek. You will hike to explore nearby mountains and lakes.
Day 7: Jangothang–Lingshi
18KM / 6-7 HOURS / 840M ASCENT 870M DESCENT
The trail follows the stream or half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang. Then Walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Ngye La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. After the pass, it is a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp, enjoying the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong. Camp at an altitude of 4000m.
Day 8: Lingshi-Shodu
22KM / 8-9 HOURS / 940M ASCENT 920M DESCENT
The Laya Gasa route leaves the Jumolhari trek here. The trek route climbs towards a small white Chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chhu valley. The trail stays on the west side of the largely treeless valley, climbing steadily a short distance above Mo Chhu. It then crosses the river, and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli La pass (4,820m). From the pass, on a clear day, you can see Jumolhari, Gangchen Ta, Tshering Gang and Masang Gang. Descend alongside a stream to a shelter, and then further downstream to a camp at Shodu (4,100m), a meadow with a Chorten.
Day 9: Shodu-Barshong
16KM / 5-6 HOURS / 250M ASCENT 670M DESCENT
At this place, one comes back to tree line. The path follows Thimphu River, descending through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forests. The view of the cliff facing rocks and waterfalls is stunning. Hot lunches will be served by the riverside. After lunch the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of riversides. After lunch the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of Barshong Dzong, reaching the camp at an altitude of 3,600m.
Day 10: Barshong-Dolam Kencho
15KM / 5-6 HOURS / 290M ASCENT 640M DESCENT
The trail descends gently through a dense forest of rhododendron, birch and conifers, and then drops steeply to meet Thimphu Chhu. It stays on river left, climbing over ridges and descending to side streams. Then traverses steep cliff to Dolam Kencho, a camp among pastureland at 3,600m.
Day 11: Dolam Kencho-Dodena-Thimphu Trek ends
8KM / 3-4 HOURS / 500M ASCENT 930 DESCENT
The trail goes in and out steeply to the river and follows it southward to the road head at Dodena, elevation 2,600m where you will be picked up by Bhutan Travelers transport to drive to Thimphu. In the evening, you can stroll through Thimphu town and absorb the life style of the people. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 12: Thimphu
Sightseeing in Thimphu includes the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Changgangkha Monastery, nunnery temple, School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school) and Folk Heritage Museum. After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, majestic Tashichhodzong and giant Buddha statue on a hill overlooking Thimphu which is reputed to be the largest Buddha Shakymuni in the world. In the evening, you can stroll through Thimphu and absorb the life style of the people. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 13: Thimphu-Punakha
After breakfast this morning, enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, drive downhill through the forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive at Punakha after traversing through rice field and along the bank of Punakha River. On the way, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to the Devine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. If you wish, receive the blessing from the Lama’s wooden phallus! After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
Day 14: Punakha-Paro
This morning you will return to Paro via Dochula Pass. On the way, visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. Stop in Thimphu for lunch. In the evening, you can tour the village in Paro to learn about daily life – perhaps visiting a farmhouse or two for a cup of butter tea or an “ara” local wine produced by a brewery of wheat or rice. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 15: Depart Paro
After early breakfast, you will drive to airport for departure. Our representative will bid farewell.