Bhutan’s landscape provides an amazing short treks with its rugged terrain and steep mountain valleys from subtropical plains in the south, to the temperate zone to the Sub-alpine Himalayas exceeding 7000 meters in the north. Bhutan’s one of the finest short treks, The Druk Path, provides us a glimpse of rich Bhutanese culture. The journey begins in Paro with a visit to its landmarks like Rinpung Dzong, Kichu Lhakhang temple and Ta Dzong followed by an acclimatization hike to the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. We then begin our trekking with amazing views of the Himalayas including Mt. Gangkar Puensum (7497m). After crossing the Dochula pass, we step from harsh landscape to the lush green forests. On our trip we also visit Memorial Chhorten, Punakha dzong, Chimi Lhakhang temple and Druk Wangyal Monastery. We conclude our Druk Path Trek to Paro to the place where it started.
Day 01: Arrive in Paro
The excitement of your journey has already begun on your flight with fabulous views of the Himalayan range. We’ll collect you from the airport and check you into your hotel. Depending on the arrival time of your flight in Bhutan, we can either visit Paro’s ancient Rinpung Dzong, a stunning huge monastery (and government office) and Ta Dzong (the cylindrical Museum) or just have a stroll around the quiet town of Paro.
Day 02: Day excursion to Taktsang Monastery
Early morning hike to Taktsang Monastery, also known as “Tiger’s Nest”, which is the famous photogenic monastery perched improbably on the side of a cliff. It takes about an hour and half to reach the viewpoint (depending on fitness and eagerness) but it is well worth trekking the extra 45 minutes to the monastery and looking at where Guru Rinpoche is said to have landed with his magic tigress to meditate. We’ll take lunch at the viewpoint restaurant. After reaching the valley again, we drive north to the end of Paro valley to visit the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong and weather permitting, to get a spectacular view of Mount Jhomolhari. On the way back we’ll visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, an ancient 7th century monastery with fragrant orange tree in its courtyard.
Day 03: Trek from Paro to Jele Dzong (3480m/11415ft): 10 km, 4 – 5 hours walk
After our early morning breakfast, we take a short drive to the trialhead from where we take a gentle walk for about an hour to reach the Dzong. The trail then ascends gently through a forest before reaching our campsite just below the hill of Jele Dzong. The panorama of the Paro valley with snow-capped mountains as its back drop is simply outstanding. Jele Dzong is a Lhakhang (Buddhist Temple) that contains the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, built in the 15th century and is mostly in ruins.
Day 04: Trek from Jele Dzong to Jangchulakha (3770m/12365ft): 10 km, 3 – 4 hours walk
We begin our day's walk with a gradual ascent and then descend passing through thick alpine and rhododendron forests to reach Jangchulakha. Ascending further up, we reach our campsite that offers scenic views of the amazing landscape below. The constant company of yak herders around the campsite is truly amazing.
Day 05: Trek from Jangchulakha to Jimilangtsho (3880m/12729ft): 11 km, 4 hours walk
Following the rolling terrains and then through a ridge, takes us to a pass that offers picturesque views of the nearby mountains and valleys. Descending from the pass, we arrive at our camp beside the Jimilangtsho lakes, famous for their giant sized trouts. Our campsite also provides breathtaking views of Jichu Drake (6989m) and Gangkar Puensum (7497m), Bhutan's highest mountain.
Day 06: Trek from Jimilangtsho to Simkota (4110m/13480ft): 11 km, 4 hours walk
Our trail ascends from the lower end of the lake and passes through the side of the ridge followed by some descends to a single stone shelter before ascending to a summit at 4050m overlooking Janetsho Lake. As we walk, we most likely come across some yak herder's camp; we visit them and get an idea about their lifestyle. We camp close to Simkota Lake at an altitude of 4110m.
Day 07: Trek from Simkota to Thimphu (2350m/7710ft) via Phajoding: 14 km, 5 hours walk
Today we begin with a gradual climb to enjoy majestic views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum and other peaks. The trail slowly descends through junipers trees to a community hall near Phajoding. From Phajoding the trek to Thimphu is mostly downhill, passing through a forested area of blue pine. Arriving in Thimphu, we check-in to our hotel and spend the night.
Day 08: Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (1250m/4100ft): 76 km, 3 hours drive
After early breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3088m / 10130 ft) stopping briefly to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7158m), Tsendagang (6960m), Terigang (7060m), Jejegangphugang (7158m), Kangphugang(7170m), Zongphugang (7060m), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkarpuensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7497m. Later visit to Punakha Dzong, Built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region, Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan's history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the present King.
Day 09: Drive from Punakha to Paro (2250m/7382ft): 130 km, 4 hours drive
After breakfast we drive towards Paro with an en-route halt at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. After the visit, we continue with our drive and cross the Dochu La Pass. Here, we visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is popular for its elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. Later, we stop in Thimphu for lunch and reach Paro around evening.
Day 10: Final Departure
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan kingdom and her friendly people. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after taking breakfast, we will be taken to the airport.