Day 1 Arrival in Paro, Town stroll, o/n Paro
Day 2 Explore Paro valley. Tiger’s Nest Hike, o/n Paro
Day 3 Trek. Paro to Jele Dzong
Day 4 Trek. Jele Dzong to Jangchulakha
Day 5 Trek. Jangchulakha to Jimilang Tsho
Day 6 Trek. Jimilangtsho to Simkotra
Day 7 Trek. Simkotra to Phajoding
Day 8 Trek. Phajoding to Thimphu, o/n Thimphu
Day 9 Day excursion to Punakha, o/n Thimphu
Day 10 Explore Thimphu, transfer to Paro, o/n Paro
Day 11 International Departure
Grade: moderate – demanding
Duration: 6 days of trek and 10 Days of total program
Distance: 30 miles/48km
Altitude gain: 7400ft/2256m
Altitude loss: 6271ft/1912m
Best time: February – June/September – November
This 6 day trek is wonderfully varied and can be done in 4, 5 or 6 days. This trek follows the only “highway” for centuries between Paro and Thimphu valley, crossing a chain of mountains that separates the two valleys. Although there are very few villages to see, there are wonderful lakes teeming with fish at 4000 meters and spectacular rhododendron forests that bloom in Spring. You can also get one of the best views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks of Bhutan and monasteries high up in the mountains. There are campsites near a monastery, and also near some beautiful lakes.
Day 1: Arrive in Paro
On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities.
In the afternoon, visit Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower. In 1968, the watchtower was converted to Bhutan’s National Museum. The collection includes art, relics, religious Thangkha paintings, postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, as well as a small natural history collection. Then walk down a short hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong built in 1646. The Dzong now houses the offices of the district administration and Paro’s monk body.
Day 02: Explore Paro valley
This morning will begin with a hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four to five hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor.
In the afternoon there will be choice of excursions with those wanting a further immersion into the culture and religion, visits to the Kyichu Lhakhang, Dumtse Lhakhang and the Drukgyel Dzong alter room can be organized.
Day 3: Paro – Jele Dzong
Distance: 5 miles/8km
Time: 4-5 hours
Max Altitude: 11,540ft/3518m
Today’s trail ascends gradually till the camp. After an hour of climb, Paro valley can be seen with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop. The trail winds its way through blue pine forest and around several farmhouses and fenced apple orchards of Tachhugang. You will also pass Kuenga Lhakhang at 8660ft /2640m. The campsite is after the Jele pass (11,540ft/3518m) below the Jele Dzong.
Day 4: Jele Dzong – Jangchulakha
Distance: 5.6 miles/9km
Time: 4-5 hours
Max Altitude: 12,995ft/3962m
The Dzong is worth a visit. From the camp climb back to the ridge and the small pass leading to the Dzong. It’s a very impressive fort surrounded by many prayer flags. The view of Paro valley and snow-capped peaks on the border of Tibet including mount Jhomolhari (23,995ft/7315m) is spectacular. After the temple, the trail takes you through thick alpine forests and Rhododendrons. The camp will be set up at a riverside. You may see yak herders around your camp site. You will also have fine view of Jomolhari and other snow capped peaks if the weather is clear, and you may hear some Monal Pheasants calling during the day. You will camp at Tshokam(12,995ft/3962m)
Day 5: Jangchulakha – Jimilang Tsho
Distance: 6 miles/10 km
Time: 6-7 hours
Max Altitude: 13,695ft/4,175m
The trail follows the ridge. Weather permitting, there are several view of snow-capped peaks to the north and a breathtaking view down into the valleys. After several hours, views of Jomolhari and several monasteries are visible in the far east of the valley. There are several small lakes, shelter for yak herders and yak trails. The camp is at the east side of the sacred lake Jimilang Tsho at 12,726ft/3880m. There are plenty of trout in the lake.
Day 6: Jimilangtso – Simkotra
Distance: 4.4 miles/7km
Time: 3-4 hours
Max Altitude: 13,610ft/4150m
After steep climbs through the bushes, good view opens up. The trail leads through dwarf Rhododendron trees and then passes by Lake Jane Tsho. You might sight camps of Yak herders. You will also sight Dungtsho Tsho and Dungtsho Sama, regarded as the male and female lake. The female lake is believed to have powerful spirit and is said to be easily provoked if anything dirty gets near the lake ensuing in bad weather. After one hour, you will see Simkotra lake with some ruins nearby. This is tonight’s campsite.
Day 7: Simtokra – Phajoding
Distance: 6 miles/10km
Time: 5 hours
Max Altitude: 14,170ft/4320m
The trail continues with a gradual climb with seven minor passes before you finally look down to Phojoding. If weather permits beautiful views of Mount Gangkhar Punsum, the highest peak of Bhutan with the rest of the Bhutan Himalayas can be seen. If you climb 250m from Thujedra, the pass number five, to a small rocky outlook, you will see a lot of prayer flags and traces of fire. This place was formerly used as sky burials, and has an incredible view of the Himalayan ranges. Camping around Phajoding monastery complex is definitely worthwhile.
Day 8: Phojoding – Thimphu
Distance: 2.5 miles/4km
Time: 2-3 hours
Visit the monasteries in the morning. The many building spread out over the mountainside includes temples, monk quarters, numerous meditation centres and even a guest house. The trail takes you downhill through thick forest to the impressive temple of Chhokhortse. A steep 200m descent leads to the radio tower, past hundreds of prayer flags put up by the people from Thimphu. This is the transmission tower for BBS radio station. You will get a great view of Thimphu city from the tower. Your trek ends here. From here drive down to Thimphu passing the Thimphu zoo, where you can see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
Day 9: Day excursion to Punakha and Wangdiphodrang
Distance: 47.5 miles/76 km one way
Time: 2.5 hours one way
After breakfast, full day excursion to the Punakha and Wangdi valley. The drive from Thimphu crosses Dochu-la pass (3,088m) from which there are the most enchanting mountain views. In
Punakha, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong situated at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Built in the 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this dzong has played important role in Bhutan’s history. The first King was enthroned here. It is still the winter residence of the Central Monk Body. Then drive to Wangdiphodrang, to visit 17th century Wangdiphodrang Dzong and the local market. In the evening drive back to Thimphu.
Day 10: Thimphu – Paro
Time: 1.5 hours
Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu, including visits to the National Memorial Chorten; Tashichhodzong – the impressive fortress/monastery housing the Throne room, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the Central Monk Body; Handicrafts Emporium – for a wide assortment of intricately hand-woven textiles and other craft products available for purchase at this government-run outlet; National Library – established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage; Institute for Zorig Chusum – more commonly known as the Painting School, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan; National Institute of Traditional Medicine – the rich herbal medicines made from plants abundant in the kingdom are dispensed here, and where the traditional medicine practitioners trained. In the evening drive to Paro.
Day 11: Paro – International Departure
After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.