- Duration: 14 Days
- Type: Trekking
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Individual traveler
- Favorable season:
- April, May, October and November.
The first 2 days of this trek trails the ancient trade route to Tibet, taking you to Jangothang, popularly considered the base camp for the majestic Chomolhari (7326 m). Yaksa literally meaning the “Land of Yaks” is a very beautiful valley with dramatic cliffs. Yaks are the main source of livelihood in this region and unlike others, the people of this region practice sky burial of the dead instead of cremation.
Besides the mountains, you will also be visiting the main cultural centres of western Bhutan. Western Bhutan is comparatively more developed than the rest of the country. Thimphu, the capital, has all the important government offices, including the King’s Secretariat. Paro has the only airport and Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan.
Destinations with altitude (in meters):
- Thimphu: 2400
- Paro: 2200
- Punakha: 1250
- Yaksa: 3880
- Highest altitude on this trip: Bongtey La, 4820 on day 7
- Highest sleeping altitude on this trip: Thombu on day 8.
Day 1: Your flight to Paro will offer you a beautiful mountain views. On this flight the views of the Everest, Kanchen Junga and other Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drakey in Bhutan are awesome. On arrival in Paro our guide will receive you and check you into your hotel. After lunch we will see the rich history of Bhutan exhibited in the 17th century National Museum. The Paro Dzong, a massive fortress built in the 17th century now houses the monastic body. A tour of this beautiful Dzong will introduce us to the unique aspects of the Bhutanese Buddhism. A lovely stroll downhill from the Dzong over an old cantilever bridge wraps up an eventful first day in this magical kingdom. Overnight in Paro. Altitude: 2200 m.
Day 2: Taktsang or the tiger’s nest temple is the most revered temple to the Buddhist. This magical temple clings to a vertical granite cliff 800m above the valley. Legend has it that in the 8th century, Guru Rimpochey, a tantric master flew here on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave around which the temple is built. A hike to this temple will take up most of our morning. In the afternoon, we will host a special Buddhist prayer ceremony at the beautiful 1200 year old Kyichu Lhakhang Temple, to bring us good luck for the rest of the journey. Overnight in Paro. Altitude: 2200 m.
Day 3: Start of the Jumolhari Trek. Paro to Shana. The Drugyal Dzong was built in 1654 by the Shabdrung to commemorate one of the many war victories against the Tibetans. Over the centuries, it guarded the trail from Tibet into the Paro valley. We will be met at this historic site by our trekking crew for the start of our trek. Follow the Paro Chu upstream through the village of Tshento on a dirt road for about an hour. We will have lunch in a friend’s house on the trail. Just before reaching our camp, we will have to pass through an army check post, where your guide will produce your trekking permit.
- Distance: 15 k
- Walking time: 6 h
- Sleeping altitude: 2800 m.
Day 4: Shana to Thangthangkha. The trail from Shana to Thangthangkha is a very rocky series of small ups and downs along the Paro Chu and can be very muddy if it rains. About 2 ½ hours into the trek, you will come at a junction where a trail branches to go to Tibet. Don’t go to Tibet!
- Distance: 21 k
- Walking time: 8 h
- Sleeping altitude: 3630 m.
Day 5: Thangthangkha to Jangothang. Today you will come across small sparse settlements, and herds of yaks. You will also be crossing the tree line (4000 m). Our camp at Jangothang will bring us face to face with the majestic Chomolhari. Jangothang means the land of ruins; you will see ruins of some old settlements, which no one seems to know much about.
- Distance: 16 k
- Walking time: 6 h
- Sleeping altitude: 4090 m.
Day 6: Acclimatization and rest day. A good optional hike is to climb to the Tshophu Lake at 4300 m, which is about 2 h from Jangothang.
Day 7: Jangothang to Yaksa. 2 hours from Jangothang is the Tshophu Lake, which you probably visited yesterday. From the lake, it’s another 2 hours to the pass. Climbing up to the pass, we will be rewarded with stunning views of the Chomolhari and Jichu Drakey. From the pass, it’s all the way downhill until our camp at Yaksa.
- Distance: 17 k
- Walking time: 7 h
- Sleeping altitude: 4090 m
- Pass to cross: Bongtey La, 4820 m
- Sleeping altitude: 3800 m.
Day 8: Yaksa to Thombu. Climbing out of Yaksa, you will see the few houses that make up the Yaksa village across the valley, and the pass you came over yesterday. About 2 hours of gradual climbing and you will cross the tree line, entering another valley. The pass is 1 hours climb from here. From the pass, you can see the yak herders grazing grounds of Thombu, our camp. On a clear day, you can even see some houses in Tibet.
- Distance: 14 k
- Walking time: 5 h
- Pass to cross: Thombu La, 4550 m
- Sleeping altitude: 4150 m.
Day 9: Thombu to Gunitsawa. A short steep climb will take us out of the Thombu basin, traversing along a trail cut into a rocky cliff with a dizzying drop. 4 hours of steep and dusty descent (1½ k of vertical descent) will bring us to the army check post that we crossed on the first day of our trek. Our camp is a further 2 hours downstream from the army camp.
- Distance: 17 k
- Walking time: 6 h
- Sleeping altitude: 2600 m.
Day 10: Gunitsawa to Paro, Thimphu. Last day of our trek. We are back tracing the trail now. Very soon Drugyal Dzong will come into view where our transport will be waiting. After lunch in Paro, the drive to Thimphu the capital is 1hour 45 minutes. Overnight in Thimphu. Altitude: 2400 m.
- Distance: 10 k
- Walking time: 4 h.
Day 11: Explore Thimphu. Visit the National Memorial Chorten (monument), the Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, Takin zoo, the National Library, the Government Handicrafts and the Handicrafts Emporium. Overnight in Thimphu. Altitude: 2400 m.
Day 12: Thimphu to Punakha. Drive to Punakha over the Dochu La pass at 3000m. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until the 1950s. Today, the central monk body moves to Punakha in the winter when it gets too cold in Thimphu. With a climate almost tropical in the summer, the valley is blessed with an abundance of fruits and rice. After lunch we will visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong which without doubt showcases the finest example of Bhutanese arts and crafts. After the Dzong, we will go on a short drive in the lush upper Punakha valley and hike for 45 minutes to the beautiful chorten temple of Khamsum Yuley on a hill. Overnight in Punakha. Altitude: 1250 m.
- Distance: 80 k
- Driving time: 2 ½ h.
Day 13: Punakha to Paro. Visit Chimmi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility, before back tracing our way to Thimphu for lunch. Drive to Paro in the afternoon. Overnight in Paro. Altitude: 2200 m.
- Distance: 140 k
- Driving time: 4 h.
Day 14: Early morning flight from the Paro International Airport to Bangkok.
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Asia Bhutan Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey
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