Druk Path Trek
Highlights: This is an excellent choice for those with a tight schedule. A short 5 days trek crossing the chain of mountains which separates two districts, Paro and Thimphu or vice versa. This is a classic walk along high, windy ridges, past ruined forts which long ago guarded against Tibetan invasion. Although the route is sparsely inhabited there are wonderful lakes teeming with fish and the area is famous for its spectacular rhododendrons which bloom in the forests in spring. The view of the Himalayas can be seen in late autumn and winter. After an initial climb the route is not too hard and, if needed, there is access down to a road from several spots. Part of the route follows the original mule track that linked Bhutan to the Indian boarder.
Tour Duration: 8 nights/9 days
COST INCLUDES: Twin sharing accommodation, all meals, teas & snacks, all travel as per the itinerary, English speaking licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide, special permit for restricted & old monasteries, monument fees. For trekking: trekking tent/trekking crew/pack ponies & yaks, all internal taxes and charges (including the 35% royalty).
COST EXCLUDES: Drukair fares, drinks and beverages, excess baggage, laundry, phone calls, medical, insurance and any other expenses that are not mentioned above.
Day 1 Bangkok-Paro
Depart Bangkok International Airport by our Drukair Royal Bhutan Airline. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received by our representative and escorted to your hotel. After an early lunch, you’ll visit the national museum (Ta-dzong). Once it was the watch tower of Paro valley from 1616 A.D to 1907 and it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley.
Also you’ll visit the Paro dzong which is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (utse) of the dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the country. The dzong was built in 1645 A.D.
Overnight at Hotel.
Day 2 Excursion to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Right after the breakfast we’ll drive you to Taktshang. Taktshang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries is perched on the side of a cliff over 900m above the Paro valley floor. Taktshang means Tiger’s Nest, so named because in the late centuries of the first millennium Guru Rimpoche reputedly flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a flying tiger. The monastery is perched on a cliff nearly 3,000 ft above the Paro valley floor.
This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but is also incredibly scenic! It takes about two hours to reach the refreshment stop, a cafeteria which gives a breathtaking view of the Tiger’s Nest. If you still feel like hiking then you can take another hour to reach the temple.
Overnight- staying at the same hotel.
Day 3 Paro – Jele Dzong (11,273ft/3436m)
Time 4-5 hours; distance 5 miles (8 km); altitude gain 3477 ft/1060m.
At the museum you will meet your trekking staff, the horsemen and pack animals. At the start of a trek the staff always take some time to get organized, so don’t be in rush to arrive early at camp – the luggage will undoubtedly be behind you! Today’s trek climbs non-stop for over 1065m, before dropping down over 80m to camp. This is the major effort at this altitude, so take your time and drink as much as possible. The trail winds its way steeply through blue pine forest and around several farm houses and fenced apple trees used during the apple harvest – several times. The trail continues steeply up through the forest. Just before reaching a small pass (11,542 ft/3518m) below the dzong,the route opens up a bit, and tonight’s small campsite (11,273ft/3436m) is a little way down from the pass. You may be able to hear the monks playing instruments in the Lhakhang during one of their prayer sessions.
Day 4 Jele Dzong Tshokam
(Time 4-5 hours; distance 5.5 miles/9 km; altitude gain 1726ft/526m)
The trek starts with a short climb and then passes through a thick alpine forest of rhododendron and gradually climbs till we reach camp. You may see yak herders around your campsite. After 3hrs we pass a possible campsite (Dorjo Lakha or Jangchu Lakha (12,369ft/3770m). After another 1 hour climb, the better campsite, Tshokam (12998 ft/3962m), is reached, just after a small saddle.
Day 5 Tshokam Jimilang Tsho
Time 6-7 hours; distance 6 miles/10 Km; altitude gain 700ft/213m (or 1476ft/450m if opting for the higher trail at the end), Altitude loss.
The trail follows the ridge and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valley are beautiful. Our camp is close to Lake Jimilangtso. These lakes are known for their giant-sized trout, and if lucky, you may enjoy well-prepared trout for dinner.
Day 6 Jimilangtso Simkotra. (4-5 hours)
Time 3-4 hr; distance 4.5 miles/7 km; altitude gain/loss several small ups and downs.
Walk around the lake to its far (western) end. There is a split in the trail. One branch is that used by the packed animal. The other soon starts to climb up above the lake. There is some steep climbing through bushes, but later good views will open up. An exposed cliff trail leads to a small saddle (13451ft/4100m) from where you can see the next lake below (Jayne tsho or Jane tsho; 12979ft/3956m; 1.5-2hrs) with a nice campsite which may be occupied by yak headers.
From the lake a wide stone path between rhododendron bushes traverses a valley with a small lake below. There are lakes just above, dung tsho and dung tsho Sama, regarded as male and female. The local people believe that the second (female) lake has a powerful spirit who gets easily provoked if anything dirty gets near the lake. If this happens, bad weather will ensue, which only can be stopped by endless prayer.
Climb up the ridge and look for a cairn. After 1hrs a viewing point at 13615ft/4150m reached, with a lake below, simkotra tsho (13415fts/4090m) with some stone ruins nearby. This is tonight’s camp site.
Day 6 Simkotra – Phajoding (4-5 hours)
Time 5hrs; distance 6miles/10kms; altitude gain 755ft/230m to the viewing point; altitude loss 1330ft/405m to phajoding (or 4190ft/1277m to the radio tower)
The trail is good but there are seven minor climbs to small passes before you finally look down to Phajoding monastery and Thimphu. Monks frequently pass here on their way to meditate at the scared lake Jimilang tsho.
When climbing up pass number five – Thujedraj-Gangkar Punsum (meaning “3 mountain siblings”) become visible. If you are lucky with the weather, the rest of the Bhutan Himalayas can been seen. From the pass climb 250m up to a small rocky outlook (14170ft/4320m) on the left side. It is covered with prayer flags, and there are also traces of fires on the top. This place was formerly used for sky burial, and has an incredible view over the whole of the Bhutan Himalayas.
After this excursion descend a little, then climb to pass number six (13515fts/4120m). The final pass is Dochula (13,430 ft/4120m), and is very windy. There are good views over the last part of the trek: a steep decent to Phajoding monastery and finally Thimphu.
Camping at Phajoding (12100fts/3690m) is definitely worthwhile.
Day 7 Phajoding Thimphu
Time 2-3 hours; distance 2.5 miles/4Km; altitude gain 0ft/0m; altitude loss 2860ft/872m or 3705ft/1130m.
Today the trails start with the path descending slowly through thick forest until Chhokhortse Gompa (9870ft/3010m) in a clearing. Just before the gompa there is a model of a hot stone bath in the ground. A steep, 200m descent leads to radio tower, past hundreds of prayer flags put up by people from Thimphu. This is the transmission tower for Bhutan’s only radio station, BBS. From here, drive down to Thimphu, passing the Thimphu Zoo, where some Takins (National Animal of Bhutan) can be seen. Say your goodbyes to the trekking team and then drive to hotel Pedling.
In the afternoon, first thing you will visit is the Memorial Chorten which was built in memory of the third king in 1974. You can go inside the Chorten and enjoy the most exotic statues of the gods. You can then visit the Indigenous Hospital and the Painting school where the art of ancient painting is used by the students. Then you can go around the outside of the Tashichhodzong which is the seat of the Royal Government and central monastic body. In the evening you can walk in the town and buy souvenirs to take back home.
Day 8 Thimphu – Paro
Drive to Paro. In Paro there’ll be a visit to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16kms up the valley. Built in 1647 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and village and on a clear day view the spectacular Mt. Chomolhari (23995ft/7,314m).
Drive back south and visit Kyichu Temple, which, according to Bhutanese tradition, was initially built by a Tibetan King, Songtsen Gonpo, in the seventh century. Return back to the hotel for lunch. After lunch visit Dungtshi Lhakhang founded in the 12th century by Drubthop Thongthong Gyelpo (the iron chain bridge builder). Then walk around in the market.
Day 9 Paro-BKK (Goodbye and Tashi Delek)
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch your onward flight. Your escort from Your Tour Guide for Bhutan will bid you farewell and as you fly away the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom will be seen to disappear again behind its guardian mountains.