Day 1 – Arrival in Paro
Enjoy the full day sightseeing in the Paro valley; visit Rinpung dzong (fortress on a heap of jewels) was founded in the 15th century by descendants of Pajo Drugom Zhipo, founder of Drukpa School in Bhutan. The dzong was handed over to Zhabdrung and reconstructed in 1646 into a massive building. It houses governor’s office of the Paro valley and monastic body. At the base of the dzong is Humrel Gompa built in dedication to the local deity of Paro in the 15th century. This temple was built by Gyelchok after dispute with his brother. Five kilometers, north of Paro valley is one of the oldest Buddhist temples, Kyichu Lhakhang in Bhutan. Tibetan King, Songtsen Gempo built the temple in 7th century, in order to pin down an ogress, obstructing him in flourishing Buddhism in the Himalayas. Near the town of Paro is Dumtse Lhakhang of the 1421 built by Tibetan saint Dupthob Thangtong Gyelpo, also known as Iron Bridge Builder. This is stupa-like temple which rarely exists in Bhutan.
Day 2 – Paro
Have big breakfast! The time has come to hike for 5 – 6 hours (to and fro) to the beautiful Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) clinging on a rocky cliff, 900m above the Paro valley. It is an incredible hike through the oak forest with small bushes of rhododendrons. Dating back to the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche flew from Tibet via Singye dzong in the east riding a tigress; hence the name Taktsang. He meditated in a cave there for three months. Lunch is at restaurant at the viewpoint. Back from the hike, drive north to Drukgyel Dzong, fortress of victory in ruins. The fortress was built to commemorate the victory over Tibetans in 1644. Strategic dzong was built in 1647 by Zhabdrung to prevent the Tibetan invaders of the time. Unfortunately, the dzong was burnt down in 1951. On the clear days, Mt Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a backdrop.
Day 3 – Drugyel dzong, Paro – Shana
Distance 15 km
Time 5 hrs
14 kilometers north from the Paro valley is the ruins of Drugyal Dzong (2500m), the starting point of the trek. First day is easy walking along the unpaved road for an hour through village of Tsento. Continue walking following the Pa-Chu River in wide and rich cultivated valley. You would experience first picnic lunch after 2-3 hours of walk near a stupa. Further takes you to army check point, Gunitsawa, controlling the route o Tibet. About 20 minutes ahead is the first campsite, Shana (2890m).
Day 4 – Shana – Soi Thangthangka
Time: 6 -8hrs.
Start early to reach the campsite on time, following the upstream. This a hard day with long distance but beautiful trek through the thick forest of oak, rhododendron, fern, fir, maple, larch and blue pine. Try to spot some species of birds along the route. Walking for about 3 hours, there is wide road to Tibet which was used in the olden days for trade. Have lunch at Thongo Samba. After a few hours, Mt Jomolhari appears ahead from a bridge. Continuing from there takes about 20 minutes to Soi Thangthanka (3575m).
Day 5 – Soi Thangthanka – Jangothang (Jomolhari base camp)
Time: 4-6 hours
After hard day before, today is easy and short trek to the Jomolhari base camp. View of Mt Jomolhari is panoramic in the morning before starting the day. Start walking though the forest till army camp and above tree line is a small village offering again the view of Jomolhari and Jichu Drakey (6850m). Hot lunch will be served near the village. Shortly, the valley takes to the campsite, Jangothang (4050m)
Day 6 – Jangothang (Base Camp)
The people here live up to Yaks since the cultivation at this altitude is difficult. Acclimatize and explore the area with a few hikes around. Small gorge following Yak trails to the west of the campsite takes to the foot of Jomolhari, where there are two glacial lakes. Or walk steep up the hill, gives a view of Jitchu Drakey anf Jomalhari, and Tshophu in east which is the next day the trek. The hike takes about 3 hours to the rocky ridge.
Day 7 – Jangothang – Yaksa
A short walk beside the stream and steep up the hill has breathtaking views of Jomolhari, Jitchu Drakey and the campsite. Big flocks of Blue Sheep and marmots peeping from holes could be spotted along this route. Further takes to the crystal clear Tshophu Lakes and ascends to the Bonte-la Pass (4890m). Take time here at the Pass to have view of the peaks; Djo Drakey (5570m) and climb up to have a look at Kanchenjunga (8586m), third highest mountain in the world. Descend for about an hour for lunching spot. Steep descent leads to the campsite through the narrow gorge to the campsite, Soi Yaksa (3800m).
Day 8 – Yaksa – Thombu
Climb 100 and turn left to the Sey dzong perch on rocky cliff, which was built to protect the valley from Tibetan robbers in the 19th century. Return to the main track. Ascend to the prayer flags after crossing a log bridge. Flat trail leads to the base of Takhung-la pass at skyline. We would stop for lunch and energize for steep up to Takhung-la (4550m). Provided the clear day, we would have view of Jomolhari, Jitchu Drakey and Tseri Kang, in the west are Kanchenjunga (8586m) and Mt Makalu (8463m) in Sikkim blocking the view of Mt Everst. Gentle downhill leads to the campsite, Thombu (4120m).
Day 9 – Thombu – Gunitsawa
Steep uphill through the rhododendron bushes for about 30 minute takes to the Thombula Pass (4370m). If you have missed the view of Mt Kanchenjunga, there is a chance again to see the mountain and other mountains of Sikkim. The trail from Thombu-la Pass is flat and easy, later along the rocky and dusty and pine forest to Gunitsawa, army check point of the first day. We camp at pleasant spot near to the Paro River.
Day 10 – Gunitsawa – Drugyel Dzong, Paro
Distance: 17 km
The last day trek is beautiful and relaxing through the valley to the Drugyel Dzong. We bid farewell to the trekking crew and meet the car with driver at the end of the road. End of the trek!
Overnight in hotel
Day 11 – Paro – excursions to Haa valley
Drive to the Haa valley through pine and oak forest via Chele-la Pass (3810m), marked with prayer flags and view of Mt Jomolhari and Jitchu Drakey. Early in the morning or late afternoon is good time to spot some Pheasants along the road. Explore the small town of Haa and visit Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo.
Drive back to Paro and overnight in hotel.
Day 12 – Depart
After a few days of tour in Bhutan, hopefully you have enjoyed the trip. It is time to bid farewell.
Important notes on Itinerary:
Although we will do our best to adhere to the itinerary and its schedule, this itinerary should be considered as approximate indication of the schedule and scope of activities, and trip routing, rather than an inflexible schedule of events. It is likely that there will be changes in the itinerary in terms of anything from the exact hotel used, to the villages we may stop in for the night. Tour Guide and our crew will do everything to ensure that you are inconvenienced as little as possible. Please note that monasteries and temples are not tourism institution but a place of worship for the locals. Please dress properly and respect the local cultures. Some monasteries and temples may also remain closed for visitors and certainly the inner sanctuaries of these temples remain reserved for serious worships. Our guide will try their best to get you inside but we cannot guarantee some of the visits.