Start: Shana, Paro
Maximum Elevation: 4300 m
Day 01 Arrive Paro
Kuzuzangpola – Welcome to Bhutan!
The flight into Bhutan takes you the great Himalayas, offering you the most scintillating scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the silvery Pa-chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley with lush green paddy fields, pristine forest, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers. On arrival at the Paro International Airport, Away Smile Travels representative will welcome you.
Paro valley extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom up to Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. This picturesque region is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. Accentuating the natural beauty are the elegant, traditional-style houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills. One of the distinctive features of Paro town is that it is situated in a flat valley bottom and follows a grid-like pattern.
Visit Ta-Dzong, the National Museum which was originally the watch tower of the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan.
Visit Rinpung Dzong. The dzong’s correct name is Rinchen Phug Dzong but has been shortened to Rinpung Dzong. The name means ‘fortress of the heap of jewels.’ The dzong was built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche. Some of the scenes from the film ‘Little Buddha’ by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1995 was filmed at the Paro Rinpung Dzong. From the Paro Dzong, walk downhill to the wooden bridge, which is known nayamai zampa.
Explore Paro Town.
Evening: Briefing our Trek program Overnight Hotel in Paro.
Day 02 Paro Sightseeing-Shana.
After breakfast hike to Taktshang Goemba. Taktshang meaning the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites and a very popular site for all tourists visiting Bhutan. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktshang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four-hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever. (Round trip hike 5 hrs)
This trip is to warm up / acclimatize before the trek.
Visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built in the 7th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. As the name suggests, the temple is a reservoir of peace, where you will really feel at peace.
Drive upto Sharna from Paro (~ 1 hr). The camp site is just beyond an army outpost, alt. 2800m. Overnight Camp.
Day 03 Shana-Soe Thangthangkha. Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m.
On this long day, the trail continues through the river valley with lots of ups and downs. The valley gradually narrows so much that the path takes to the slopes. The valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari. Overnight Camp.
Day 04 Soe Thangthangkha-Jangothang. Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m.
Walk up along the Pachu (Paro river), pass a small army outpost where the valley begins to widen again. You can now clearly view the high ridges and the snowcapped mountains all around and also see the yaks and the yak herders winter homes. Camp beneath a ruined fortress at the base of the Jomolhari mountain. Overnight Camp.
Day 05 Jangothang Halt
You can either trek up to Tsophu lake which takes about 1-2 hours journey and do some trout fishing in the lake or hike up to Mt. Jomolhari to take a closer look of the mountain as well as other famous mountains such as Mt. Jichu Drake to the North and Mt. Tserim Gang and other un-scaled peaks. Overnight Camp.
Day 06 Jangothang-Lingshi. Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m
Walk up toward the pass through a wide pastureland. Depending on the season you are there, you might find some yak herders in their camping tents along the way. As you come down after the pass to the Lingshi basin, you will see some beautiful views of the Lingshi Dzong and the valley and also Tserim Kang (mountain) and its descending glaciers at the north end of the valley. Overnight Camp.
Day 07 Lingshi-Chebisa. Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m.
Today is the shortest walking day and you can really take it easy. On reaching the camp site at Chebisa, you can visit the village houses if you feel upto it. Overnight Camp.
Day 08 Chebisa-Shomuthang. Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m.
You walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu-la (pass). On the way, you will see few people herding the yaks. After crossing the Gobu -la (Alt. 4350m) descend down to the valley. The camp site is on a bench above a river which is a tributary of the Nochu river. Overnight Camp.
Day 09 Shomuthang-Robluthang. Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m.
As the walk is little strenuous, it is advisable to start a little early. After crossing the Jarela (pass) alt. 4600m, you come down to Tsarijathang valley where you can normally see herds of Takins. Overnight Camp.
Day 10 Robluthang-Limithang. Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m.
After crossing the Shingela pass, alt. 4900m, you come down and follow the valley. Lemithang is under the Laya District and you will see people dressed in typical Laya costume with long pointed bamboo hats on their head. If you have time, it would be advisable to spend a day here exploring the valley and meeting the people who have a different and unique culture. Overnight Camp.
Day 11 Limithang-Laya. Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 60 m ascent, 340 m descent, camp altitude 3,840 m.
Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. Camp site is on a high flat bench above the Laya village. Overnight Camp.
Day 12 Laya Halt.
Halt in Laya for rest and to take in the great views and meet its extraordinary inhabitants. Explore Laya Village. Overnight Camp.
Day 13 Laya-Koena. Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 260 m ascent, 1,070 m descent, camp altitude 3,050 m.
The trail winds up and down along the river valley avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Overnight Camp.
Day 14 Koena-Gasa. Distance 14 km, 6-7 hours, 740 m ascent, 1500 m descent, camp altitude 2,240m.
You cross the Babela pass, Alt.3740m, after which the trail is all the way down till you reach the camp site at Gasa Tsachu.
Visit Gasa Dzong. Locally known as the Tashi Thongmon Dzong, the fortress served as a defending barrack in the 17th century. It was named after the region’s protecting deity Tashi Thongmon. The fortress is unique with a circular shape and three watch towers that are placed at strategic points.
Relax and dip at Gasa Tsachu (Hot Spring). Gasa is famed for its numerous hot springs or ‘Tshachus’ with renowned medicinal properties. The hot springs at the base of the Mochu River draws not just the locals but also Bhutanese from other parts of the country and tourists. Taking a hot dip in the Tshachu will be not just be a wonderful experience but also a healing experience. Overnight Camp.
Day 15 Gasa Tsachu -Punakha (Drive 3 hours)
After breakfast drive to Punakha. Visit Punakha Dzong. Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, the first King Gongsr Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the Dzong, enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork. Overnight Hotel in Punakha.
Day 16 Punakha – Thimphu. (Drive 3 hours).
After breakfast visit Chimmi Lhakhang. This fertility temple is dedicated to the famous teacher, Drukpa Kinley (also known as the ‘Divine Madman’) with whom the phallic symbol is associated. The Divine Madman sits there though a statue this time. Do not miss the master’s deeds painted on the walls. Couples usually visit this temple to be blessed with children. Parents also take their babies here to get them named. Babies named here usually have ‘Kinley’ as their first name.
Drive to Thimphu En-route stop at the Dochula pass. Dochu La is a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens (stupas) called the Druk Wangyel Chortens. On a clear day, you will get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around.
Visit Traditional Paper Factory. At the paper factory, you can watch the workers make traditional paper from the daphne plant. Traditional Bhutanese paper (called ‘Desho’) is said to last longer than regular paper. The handmade paper making begins to find its place as the most important part of Bhutanese culture and tradition. The paper making first began as a domestic occupation and still preserved to till these days.
Visit Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazzar/shop. A one stop shop place to witness Bhutanese rich Culture and buy Bhutan made art and craft products. The shop in its 80 small stall covers all aspect of traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The shops linked with the rural artisans aims to promote Bhutan’s craft industry by creating a viable market, which turn’s acts to preserve and promote Bhutan’s unique culture and bring about equitable socio-economic development in the country.
Visit Tashichhodzong. Tashichhodzong means ‘the fortress of the glorious religion.’ It is a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan’s government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of His Majesty the King and the ministries of home affairs and finance. The fortress was initially erected in 1641 and later rebuilt in the 1960s by the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
Explore Thimphu Town. Overnight Hotel in Thimphu.
Day 17 Thimphu Sightseeing-Paro
After breakfast drive up to Buddha Point. Buddha Point has the largest statue of Buddha in the whole kingdom. You can get a very good view of Thimphu valley from here.
Visit National Memorial Chorten. The National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 in memory of the late Third Druk Gyalpo (King) of Bhutan. At the chorten, you will find an extraordinary depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures.
Visit Weaving Center. You can watch weavers at work at the private weaving centre at Changzamtog. The center produces hand woven textiles and has a selection of cloth and readymade Bhutanese garments for sale.
Visit Takin sanctuary dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
Drive to Paro. Drive 1 hours). Overnight Hotel in Paro.
Day 18 Departure:
After breakfast drive to the Paro International Airport where our representatives will bid you goodbye!
Thank you (Kardrienchhey) for visiting Bhutan with Away Smile Travels “Smiles for Miles “