Day 1: Arrival in Paro, Paro to Thimphu
Arrive in Paro by druk air, the only national carrier. The flight offers you beautiful view of mountains and landscapes. Upon arriving the Paro Valley and after completing visa formalities, you will be met by Gawaling Tours & Treks’ representative at the airport. We will then drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The journey would take us one and half hours.
Upon arriving Thimphu, we will visit the National Painting school to see the young men and women at work in the production of handicraft items. Some specialize in mask making, some in wood curving, some in slate curving, and others in embroidery & scroll painting. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 2: Thimphu to Trongsa
We will have early breakfast and then drive to Trongsa, a district in central Bhutan. The journey would take us seven hours by car. First we make a gentle climb to Dochula Pass(3050m). Next, descend to Wangdiphodrang and cross over the Pelela Pass (3300m). On clear weather, we should be able to see the view of a chain of mountains bordering Tibet to the north. Overnight in a hotel.
Day 3: Trongsa to Bumthang
After breakfast, we will visit the Trongsa Dzong – the biggest fortresses in Bhutan and the watchtower located above the Trongsa market. Next, start our journey to Bumthang, located two and half hours towards east. We cross over the Yotongla Pass(3400m) and then descend to Chumi Valley and pass by a weaving center- where professional weavers weave well-patterned fabrics out of wool and yak hair known as “yathra”. Bumthang is known for its four spectacular valleys and was the seat of the government until the reign of second king. The district is famous for its historical sites. After lunch, visit Jambay lhakhang- one of the two oldest monasteries built in Bhutan in the 7th century. Next, visit Kurji Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang, Kenchosum Lhakhang, and Swiss Farm, where people make Bhutanese assorted wines and beer. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 4: Jakar to Toktu Zampa to Ngang Lhakhang
Distance 12km, four to five hours, 170m ascent, camp altitude 2,800m.
After early breakfast start our journey to Toktu Zampa. The route follows the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for trout. Stop for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) at the centre of which lies the Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple). In by-gone days, the valley was populated by swans, and hence the name Ngang Yul.
Day 5: Ngang Lhakhang to Tahung
Distance 16km, six hours, 750m ascent, 670m descent, camp altitude 2,720m.
The day starts out across meadows and with the view of the valley below. Then you climb gradually to Phephe La (3,360m), the highest point of the trek route. The trail passes through beautiful forested areas where many stops can be made to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. The path leads you downhill into a broad valley. Amongst several possible camping places the most likely one is uphill behind the village of Tahung.
Day 6: Tahung to Mesithang
Distance 16km, four to five hours, 230m descent.
The trail follows the Tang Chu, another trout-filled river. On the bank of the river is the Tang Rimpoche’s Lhakhang. The trek will pass the Mebar Tsho (Flaming Lake) and lead you to Tang Ugyen Choling. Ugyen Choling Palace houses one of the most interesting museums of Bhutan. From here you will soon reach the road head.
Day 7: Bumthang to Gangtey
After early breakfast, we drive to Gangtey Gompa, a seat of the Ngyingmapa Buddhism, a religious sect in Bhutan. The present chief abbot of the monastery is the 9th reincarnate of the descendant of Terton Pemalingpa. Upon arriving Gangtey, visit Gangtey Monastery, and walk around the place. This area serves as the wintering place for endangered black-necked cranes migrating from Tibet and Lhadak. The cranes stay here from November till April. The journey would take us seven and half hours.
Day 8: Gangtey to Punakha
En-route to Punakha, visit Wangdiphodrang dzong. Next, hike to Chhimi Lhakhang, the monastery dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley “the Divine Madman” who was known for his eccentric behavior. The monastery is known for its power of fertility, thus is a site of pilgrimage for both Bhutanese and westerners. We will begin our explorations of Punakha valley with a visit to Punakha Dzong, located between two rivers. The Dzong remained the national capital until 1966. It also serves as the winter residence for the central monastic body in Thimphu, as the area provides with more comfortable temperatures. The Punakha Dzong contains the body remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is considered one of the holiest of the dzongs in the country. Night halt at hotel.
Day 9: Punakha to Thimphu
After breakfast, we drive to Thimphu. Stop for a tea at Dochula Cafe, and continue our journey to Thimphu for lunch. After lunch, visit the Bhutanese handmade paper factory and see how the traditional paper is being made. Other places of interest will be to visit the textile museum, painting school, folk heritage museum, and Indigenous hospital- where traditional medicine is being made and dispensed to cure diseases. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 10: Thimphu to Paro
After our breakfast, we will drive to Paro. Afternoon, we can either relax or take a drive to Chelela Pass (3500 m) too see the view of Haa, another district in the west. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 11: Hike to tiger’s Nest
Paro is a valley of religion and myth. The most famous landmark, the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), stands on a granite cliff about 800m above the valley. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist saint, flew to Paro on a tigress and meditated at Taktsang. The monastery is considered as a national treasure of Bhutan.
The hike to Taktsang would take us around two and half hours. To reach a cafeteria, a point from where one can enjoy a great view of the monastery is more than an hour walk from the road-head uphill. Those interested can walk further 45 minutes uphill to get a closer view of the monastery and return to the cafeteria for lunch. The journey downward to the road-head would take us less than one and half hours.
Day 12: Departure
After breakfast drive to the airport for departure.