Day to Day Itinerary
Quality was very high, great attention to details, including hot water bottles at night for our sleeping bags. Enjoyed the added focus on Bhutanese cultural events, villages, festival in Thimphu on our last day, visiting two schools and staying with two Bhutanese families. Very special.
Depart Home Country
Arrive Paro, Elev 2280m 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 and transfer to the hotel. After lunch, visit Rinpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. It has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. You will walk downhill till the road point crossing the wooden bridge. Your vehicle will be waiting here to take you to Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. In the evening, you can stroll through Paro town. Walking through the market and meeting with the people will be an enjoyable experience. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Acclimatization hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Elev 3180m After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, Bhutan’s most famous monastery, which stands at 3180m 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. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. Explore the Monastery hike back to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Paro-Shana, Trek starts Distance: 17Km / Time: 5-6 Hours / Ascent: 300m / Camp Elev: 2850m The trek starts from Drukgyal Dzong at 2300m with a short 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 the Tibet border. At 2,850m, just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.
Shana-Soi Thangthangkha Distance: 21Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 900m / Camp Elev: 3750m 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.
Soi Thangthangkha-Jangothang Distance: 19Km / Time: 4-5 Hours / Ascent: 300m / Camp Elev: 4050m 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 the 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 4,050m. From here, the view of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Halt at Jangothang (Base Camp) Today is a day of acclimatization. You may choose from four day hikes: a 3-4 hours hike up to a ridge that gives a good view of Jichu Drake; a hike up to the end of the valley, toward Jumolhari; a trek up the main valley toward Jichu Drake’ or a hike to Tsophu, a pair of lakes with a good supply of brown trout. Altitude 4050m.
Jangothang-Lingshi Distance: 19Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 800m / Descent: 730m / Camp Elev: 4100m The trail follows the stream for 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 Nyele La pass at an altitude of 4830m. After the pass, it’s a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp, enjoying the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong.
Lingshi-Chebisa Distance: 12Km / Time: 5-6 Hours / Ascent: 100m / Descent: 250m / Camp Elev: 3850m Proceed ahead passing Lingshi Dzong, perched on the hilltop with a commanding view of green hills, the winding river and magnificent peaks. It is an easy day and pleasant walk through villages and yak herders camp. After lunch, a short walk will take you to Chebisa village. Camp by the side of stream at an altitude of 3,850m.
Chebisa-Shomuthang Distance: 17Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 570m / Descent: 290m / Camp Elev: 4130m Today begin with a stiff climb up a ridge to Gubu La pass at an altitude of 4420m, taking nearly four hours. After the pass, descend to a lunch stop through rhododendron bushes. Afternoon continue along the up and down path, after crossing the stream, through rhododendron forests and yak herders camp. You may see herds of Blue Sheep now and then. Camp at an altitude 4130m.
Shomuthang-Robluthang Distance: 15Km / Time: 5-6 Hours / Ascent: 620m / Descent: 590m / Camp Elev: 4160m The trek starts with a climb to Jerela pass at altitude 4,750m. Then descend to Tasharijathang valley, the summer residence of rare Himalayan Takins (national animal of Bhutan). From here we may have to cross the stream as most of the time the footbridge is washed away. After crossing the stream towards the left, the trail ascends till you reach Robluthang camp at an altitude of 4160m.
Robluthang-Lingmithang Distance: 19Km / Time: 7-8 Hours / Ascent: 850m / Descent: 870m / Camp Elev: 4140m It is a long climb unto Shingela pass (alt. 5010m). The view of the mountains from the path is stunning. After the pass, descend to Lingmithang. The path is quite narrow and you may have to cross a stream again and get wet. The last part of the trek is very interesting with the view of Mt. Gangchey Ta. Arrive at campsite at altitude of 4140m.
Lingmithang-Laya Distance: 10Km / Time: 3-4 Hours / Camp Elev: 3850m In the morning you wake up with a superb view of Gangchey Ta peak in front of you. The walk to Laya is very pleasant with wonderful views. You will pass through a damp forest, filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at altitude of 3850m.
Laya-Koena Distance: 19Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Descent: 50m / Camp Elev: 3800m Descend to army camp and join the Mo Chhu (Mother River of Punakha). Follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge it is up and down several times, through juniper and fir forests until you reach the camp at Koena at an altitude of 3,800m.
Koena-Gasa, Trek ends Distance: 19Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 300m / Descent: 1200m / Camp Elev: 2900m Walk for about half an hour over flat land till the Barila La pass (4100m). After this it is downhill all the way to Gasa Tshachu. Lunch will be served at Gasa village. After lunch visit the village. Then descend to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) for camp at an altitude of 2900m. Enjoy the hot bath at the Hot Spring.
Gasa-Punakha Today you will drive to Punakha on unpaved roads. The drive is through the high agricultural benches above the Mochu (Chu means River) into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees and creepers. Check into your hotel on arrival. In the afternoon, you can visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Punakha-Thimphu After breakfast, you will drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. On the way, you will stop at Lobesa to hike — through rice paddies and up to the Chimi Lhakhang Temple. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley, or the “Divine Madman,” who is believed to bless women who seek fertility. Continue drive to Thimphu via Dochula pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. After lunch in Thimphu, you can stroll through Thimphu city. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Thimphu-Paro Depart In the morning, you will drive to airport for departure (54 Km, 1 hour). Our representative will bid farewell.
Arrive Home Country
I don’t have a single thing to say needs to be improved upon and will tell you that Ben did an (typical for AAI) excellent job of handling the necessary minor changes to itinerary and added on some nice cultural features that made the trip a very special experience.