Day 01: ARRIVE AT PARO AIRPORT (BHUTAN) (B,L,D) Altitude: 2320m/ 7656ft above sea level.
The flight into the Himalayas reveals scenic and breathtaking views of Himalayan Mountains of the world. If weather permits you will be able to see Mt Everest (8848m, 29,198ft) and other Himalayan mountain ranges. After checking into the hotel later visit,
Later visit, Mini zoo: Here you can see just one animal - Bhutan’s national animal- the Takin. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo.
Kuenselcholing View Point: The view point is also the perfect place to take in some truly breathtaking views of the entire city of Thimpu and also the largest Buddha in the world is being built.
Tashichho Dzong : The names means - Means Fortress of Glorious Religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
Overnight in Thimphu
Day 02: IN THIMPHU (B, L, D) Morning take a hike to Cheri Monastery(Includes Dodina and Jigme Dorji Wild life Sanctuary): Hike about 1hrs(to and fro) leds to Cheri Goemba (Cheri Dorji Dhen). Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this monastery in 1620 and established the first monk body here. A chance to spot birds such as Mrs Gould's Sunbird, Yellow-browed Tit, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Long-billed Thrush, Ultramarine Flycatcher.
Later visit, Textile museum: The foundation was laid in 2000 under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck. It was e stablished with the aim of preserving and promoting Bhutanese textile arts. It’s a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs.You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
Bhutan Craft bazaar: The private stalls had a variety of high-end quality products from places across the country such as wood carved national symbols, bags and western wears with touch of traditional designs, wooden and clay utensils, Bangchung, Dhapa, key hanger of jewelry boxes, bookmarks and handmade packing papers (Deysho) in different patterns, antique items and etc. The stalls have a distinctly rich outlook with fine tones of elegance, and a warm and inviting atmosphere. The craft bazaar is also an exemplary of how bamboo can be used to construct houses in the country.
Later visit, Paper factory: The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world.
General Post office of Bhutan: Get an insight into Bhutan through its stamps. Visit their Philatelic Bureau for their beautiful, unique and wide range of stamps and philatelic products. You can also order them from Bhutan Post and its agents around the world. All types of attractive postage stamps, picture post cards, stamp albums, envelopes, etc., are available at the philatelic counters which are best for presentation and gift purposes. The bureau also maintains prepaid customer accounts such as Ordinary account and Standing order account.
Memorial Chorten: This particular chorten was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan.
Thangtong Dewachen(Nunnery): It was founded in 1976 by Rikey Jadrel, who is considered as emanation of Thangthong Gyalpo(1363 – 1485), the builder of numerous iron chain bridges across the Himalayas.
Later leisure time for you to take rest and prepare for the next journey.
Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 03: THIMPHU TO GANGTEY (B, L, D) Altitude: 2800m/ 9240ft above sea level (5 hours drive)
In the morning driving towards Gangtey we come across a pass known as Dochula (3140m, 10362ft) from where a beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range can be seen, especially in clear winter days. The beauty of this place is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chortens- a 108 stupas built by the eldest Queen, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
Gangtey Goemba: In the mountains east of Wangdue Phodrang lies the beautiful Phobjikha valley, on the slopes of which is situated the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few km. down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate.
Overnight in Gangtey.
Day 05: GANGTEY TO BUMTHANG (B, L, D) Altitude: 2600m/ 8580ft above sea level.(6 hours drive)
Morning you will hike across Gangtey Nature Trail: (Duration: Half day: two hours at a quicker pace): This is one of the most beautiful and shortest of the existing nature trail. In this trail you have the opportunity to visit the magnificent Goemba(Monastery), it also leads to sloping area of green grass, flanked by pine trees on either side. You will even come across some villages, rivers, crane roosting ground.
Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 06: IN BUMTHANG (B, L, D)Morning the Swiss farm and see how sweet cheese, apple brandy and locally brewed wine and beer are made.
Later visit, Jambay Lhakhang: It is one of the 108 monasteries built by King Songtsen Goenpo in the 8th century to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
Later visit, Kurjey Lhakhang: Means body print. It dates back to 8th century when Guru Rimpoche first visited Bhutan. It is after his visit to the Monyul (country in the darkness); Buddhism was introduced in the country.
Then hike across to Tamzhing Lhakhang: “Temple of good message”. It was built by Terton Pema Lingpa (Treasure Discoverer) in 1501AD. We can see the paintings done by him on the wall and an iron jacket which was also made by him.
Visit, Mebar Tsho(Lake of Burning Fire):This is a sacred lake for Bhutanese who believe that Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from this lake in the 12th century.
Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 07: BUMTHANG TO PUNAKHA/WANGDUE (B, L, D)Altitude: 1350m/4455ft above sea level.(6 hours drive).
Morning drive to Punakha/Wangdue.
Later on the way visit, Trongsa Dzong: It was built by Chhogyel Mingyur Tempa (sent by Zhabdrung to unify Eastern Bhutan to bring under the rule of the Desi) in the year 1644The dzong dominates the horizon, dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Both the First and the Second King ruled the country from this Dzong.
Trongsa Museum: Situated strategically above the Trongsa dzong, the Ta Dzong served as the watch tower for centuries. It was built by Choeje Minjur Tempa in 1652.The museum is equipped with state of the art technology and includes a media room where visitors can watch a documentary programme on the history of the monarchy.The Ta Dzong was renovated and converted as a museum at a cost of Nu. 97 millions with funds from the Austrian government. The museum is dedicated to the coronation and centenary celebrations.
Overnight in Punakha/Wangdue.
Day 08: PUNAKHA/WANGDUE TO PARO (B, L, D)
Morning visit, Punakha Dzong (fortress): Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung which is remarkably located between the rivers of Mo (Female) Chu (river) and Pho (Male) Chu. Until the time of second king it served as a seat of the king.
Hike to Chimi Lhakhang(Temple of fertility): This Temple was built by lam Drukpa Kuenley (The Divine Madman) in 1499. It is about thirty minutes hike across fields from the road –Wooden phalluses are often found hanging in the four corners of the houses and also phalluses are painted on the walls of houses. It is the common belief that this helps in driving away evil spirits.(30 minutes hike to and fro, gentle steep, good footh path across the valleys and villages)
Later drive back to Paro valley(4 hours drive).
Overnight in Paro.
Day 09: IN PARO (B,L,D) Morning hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s nest): This is Bhutan’s most recognizable cultural icon perched 800m/2640ft up a seemingly sheer cliff. Although it was tragically and mysteriously consumed by fire in April 1998 it has now been restored to its former glory. It is believed that in the 8th century, the great tantric master Guru Rimopche/ Padmasambhava (2nd Buddha) flew on the back of a tigress to the site where the monastery now stands. (Fivr hours hike to and fro, some gentle and some steep hike, some stony foot path and some good ones) If you ride a horse upward it will cost extra US$15 per person.
Visit Farmhouse: Eating, taking bath and staying for a night at a local farmhouse gives a different variation, and a chance to see the inside of such a home, rather than just the brightly decorated exteriors.
Later stroll around the town and see how locals live. (If you take hot stone bath and eat in the farm house it will cost extra US$25 per person)
Overnight in Paro.
Day 10: JUMOLHARI TREK BEGINS (B,L,D) Duration: Eight days
Max. Elevation: 4,890m
Highest Camp: 4,080m
Best Seasons: March to June, September to November
Start: Drukgyel Dzong (Paro)
Finish: Drukgyel Dzong (Paro)
Drukgyel Dzong – Sharna Zampa (Distance 17km, four to five hours, 360m ascent, 80m descent, camp altitude 2,850m). Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) where the road ends and the trek begins. With a gradual climb the trail follows the Paro Chhu passing beautiful meadows, paddy fields and impressive farm houses. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.
Overnight in Tents.
Day 11: JUMOLHARI TREK (B,L,D) Sharna Zampa- Thangthangkha (Distance 22km, seven to eight hours, 770m ascent, 10m descent, camp altitude 3,610m). On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, you enter the Jigme Dorji National Park. The valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mount Jomolhari.
Overnight in Tents.
Day 12: JUMOLHARI TREK (B,L,D) Thangthangkha – Jangothang (Distance 19km, five to six hours, 480m ascent, camp altitude 4,080m). If you did not see Mount Jomolhari last evening, you will have a great chance to get a great view this early morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. Cross an army outpost along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. Yaks and the herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. Reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
Overnight in Tents
Day 13: JUMOLHARI TREK (B,L,D) Jangothang Halt. The day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views on lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatisation. Trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jumolhari and it’s subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drake to the north and a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.
Overnight in Tents.
Day 14: JUMOLHARI TREK (B,L,D) Jangothang to Dhumzo (Distance 15 km, 5 hours, 810m ascent, 1,090m descent, camp altitude 3,800m). Today you will climb up steeply to Bhonte La pass at 4,890 m, the highest point of this trek route. Reaching the Dhumzo Chhu river, you trek downstream passing the few houses of Dhumzo to arrive at your camp soon after.
Overnight in Tents.
Day 15: JUMOLHARI TREK (B,L,D) Dhumzo to Thombu Shong (Distance 11km, four to five hours, 720m ascent, 340m descent, camp altitude 4,180m) . The trail climbs 100m over a ridge to drop to another stream then. After crossing the Takhung La pass (4,520m) you descent to Thombu Shong, three yak herder huts with your campsite next to them.
Overnight in Tents.
Day 16: JUMOLHARI TREK (B,L,D) Thombu Shong to Sharna Zampa (Distance 13km, four to five hours, 200m ascent, 1,650m descent, camp altitude 2,850m). Crossing Thombu La pass (4,380m) you will finally reach Gunitsawa and the campsite of your first night of this trek.
Overnight in Tents.
Day 17: JUMOLHARI TREK ENDS (B,L,D) Sharna Zampa to Drukgyel Dzong. (Distance 17km, four to six hours, 80m ascent, 360m descent). Coming across the primary school and shop the valley opens. From Mitshi Zampa you can see how the dzong is positioned and where the path takes you finally to Drugyel Dzong.
Later the vehicle will pick you up and will drive to the capital city Thimphu.(1 hour drive). Altitude: 2320m/ 7656ft above sea level.
Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 18: DEPART FROM PARO AIRPORT (B, L, D) Early breakfast at the hotel and then drive to the Airport. Your escort will assist you with exit formalities and bid you farewell.
Valid passport (valid for six months from the date of your trip)
One other picture ID, such as driver’s license (in case of emergency and for use as a substitute of passport or incase of loss of your passport) Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet
Air tickets (Make a copy of flight tickets which may be helpful, in case of loss)
Visa Clearance (Make a copy of visa clearance which may be helpful, in case of emergencies)
MasterCard, Visa Credit and Debit Cards are accepted in Bhutan. However travelers cheques and some cash are highly recommended.
Mobile (if your cell phone is from CINGULLAR USA or ATNT (USA) operators then your cell phone will work in Bhutan.)
TREKKING TIPS AND WHAT TO BRING DURING THE TREK IN BHUTAN
Treks vary from short three-day walks across low altitudes to the three-week Snowman Trek that covers 356 kilometers and climbs three of the Kingdom’s highest passes. Not only the overall duration but also the daily walking distances vary substantially according to the different trek routes.
Guiding, Food and Camping
In Bhutan, all trekking supplies - camping equipment, kitchen implements, food - are all carried by pack animals. Porters are rather unusual in Bhutan with loads usually carted by horses or, in higher regions, yaks. All trekkers are accompanied by a guide, a cook and usually at least one horseman or yak herder. With the surest footing; they lead trekking groups across the passes. The horseman and cook will usually run ahead during a trekking day. They will have prepared a packed lunch for hikers and will go on to the night’s resting place to set up camp.
They set up tents, cook dinner and ready the area for arriving trekkers. When trekkers reach the campsite they are greeted with a hot cup of tea and biscuits in the dining tent. After six hours on the mountains, no drink will ever taste sweeter. For dinner the cook will usually prepare a buffet of dishes that are as welcome as they are delicious.
Although trekking gear is available in Bhutan you are advised to bring your own gear.
What to Bring
FOR ALL TREKSFootwear
Trekking or running shoes
Camp shoes or thongs
Down or fibre-filled jacket
Jumper or piled jacket
Waterproof jackets, poncho or umbrella
T-shirts or blouses
Sun hatOther equipment
Self Inflating Sleeping Mattress (optional, “normal” mats provided by Bhutanese tour operators)
Torch, batteries and bulbs
DRESS CODE FOR VISITING FORTRESSES, MONASTERIES AND TEMPLES IN BHUTAN
Shirt (either half or full sleeve)
Full pants/long skirts
Any type of shoes with socks
No Hats, No Umbrella, No Slippers, No t-shirts, No short skirt and No half-pants
Photographs allowed in the courtyard only.
APPROXIMATE TEMPERATURE DURING YOUR VISIT
IN MAY: MAX: 20.0 DEGREE CELSIUS
MIN: 1.0 DEGREE CELSIUS (IN THE MOUNTAINS)