- Small Adult Group
- Breakfast is included throughout the trip and all food is provided in Bhutan. The meals in the hotels in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. The food in Bhutan can sometimes be a bit bland. The meals on trek are a mixture of Bhutanese, western and Chinese. Please allow approx. GBP20-25 (USD35-45) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.
- Accom: camping
- Accom: hotel/lodge
- Adult group
- Culture & Discovery
- Festival departures
- Trek: point-to-point
- Walking & Trekking
- Guided Group
Land in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax.
Fly to Paro; visit Paro Dzong and museum.
We fly to Paro today. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view (from the left hand side of the plane) of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest,Makalu, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). After completing visa formalities in Paro, we transfer to our hotel. The Paro valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Its blue pine-covered hills and attractive, solidly built farmhouses among the paddy fields are dominated by the massive dzong, or fort. This afternoon we aim to visit the Paro Dzong and the National Museum above it. Paro Dzong is one of Bhutan's most impressive, and the finest example of Bhutanese architecture you will see. The inward sloping walls form a massive structure that towers over the town. Built in the 17th century it was one of Bhutan's strongest and most important fortresses and it was used on several occasions to defend the Paro Valley from invasions by Tibet. Formally the meeting hall for the National Assembly, the dzong now houses a monastic school and district government offices. Scenes from the 1995 film 'Little Buddha' were filmed in the dzong. West of the dzong a traditional wooden covered bridge called Nyamal Zam, a reconstruction of the original bridge, which was washed away in a flood in 1969. The most famous pictures of Paro Dzong are taken from the west bank of the river, just downstream from the bridge. At the top of the hill above the dzong is the old watchtower known locally as Ta Dzong. Originally built in 1656, it was renovated in 1968 by King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk to house the National Museum. Damaged by the earthquake in 2011, the museum is housed at the present time in a new building above the Ta Dzong. Inside the museum there are collections of masks and thangkas.
Hike to Tiger's Nest monastery; free time Paro
Today we will have a warm up hike to Takstang Monastery. 'Tigers Nest' Monastery, is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then hike up for about 1.5 hours to a viewpoint, for the classic views of the monastic buildings which cling impossibly to the cliff wall opposite. For the energetic there is the chance to walk another 2 hours to the actual monastery. The walk is good for acclimatization and we recommend you wear trekking boots and take trekking poles and plenty of water. Please note there about 100 steps up and down. Returning to the hotel we have time in the afternoon to explore Paro town.
Trek to Jele Dzong.
Today we start our trek. After breakfast we have a short drive to the ancient Ta Dzong watchtower (2400m). The first day's trekking is not long in terms of hours but it’s all the way uphill and we do gain quite a lot of height. From Ta Dzong it is a gentle climb for about 3 hours on a jeep track to a prayer wall. The trail then narrows and we continue climbing up a little steeper now through the forest. We have lunch about an hour further on in a clearing and then it’s about an hours walk in the afternoon to the Jele La (3550m) and our camp just below Jele Dzong (3530m). If the weather is clear we can see the Paro Valley below. The energetic can walk up and visit the Dzong. Approximately 10.5km, 5 hours walking
Trek to Jangchulaka.
After breakfast we have time to explore the ancient 14th century Jele Dzong and if lucky we may be allowed inside. Our days walk begins with a short climb up the ridge before a descent into through thick rhododendron forest. Climbing back up again we emerge on the ridge and at times we can see the Paro Valley way below us and if the weather is clear we may even spot Chomolhari in the distance. Look out for the colourful Blood Pheasants which inhabit the forests. The trail climbs the ridge most of the day, through forests of rhododendrons. Today is a short day and we camp tonight at the yak herder’s settlement called Tsokam, just beyond Jangchu Lakha (3780m). Approx 8.3km, 4.5/5hours walking.
Trek to Jimi Lang Tsho.
A long day today and probably the hardest walk of the trek. We climb steeply up from camp on a narrow trail for about an hour to rejoin the main trail. We continue climbing through a rocky landscape littered with small rhododendron bushes. We reach a col at 4073m marked with prayer flags and then drop down a short way to a cave. The trail then climbs again quite steeply to a ridge at 4080m, from where on a clear day we get spectacular mountain views including Chomolhari and Jichudrake. We have lunch on the ridge to enjoy the views and then continue a little further up the ridge to 4120m. From here we contour round a little and then drop steeply on a rocky trail to the shores of Jimi Lang Tscho (3885m), well known for its trout. Approximately 9km, 6.5/7 hours walking
Trek to Labana.
Another long but great day's walk with good mountain views. The trail climbs from camp along a rocky trail up to Janye Tscho Lake at 3956m. Climbing even higher and steeply there are two more lakes above us Dungtscho Tscho and Dungtscho Sama before we finally reach a cairn at 4150m. Below is Simthoka Lake (4090m) the highest lake on our trek. From the lake the trail undulates all the way to our camp at Labana (4100m). Approximately 10km, 7 hours walking
Trek to Phajoding via Labana Pass; to Thimpu.
The trail today climbs gradually up to the Labana Pass at 4235m (the highest point of this trek). The views get better and better and on a clear day we can see Gangar Punsum, Table Mountain and much of the Bhutan Himalaya. Way below is the Thimpu Valley. From the top we traverse the hillside with great mountain views and descend towards Thimpu. There are a couple of small climbs to cols but the general direction is downhill. From the Phajoding Labsa chorten we descend quite steeply to Phajoding Monastery for lunch. There are several temples here and a monastic school and the place is a visited by many Bhutanese. We descend even further through forests of blue pine to the end of our trek at Motithang, just above Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. We should reach our hotel by mid afternoon. The evening is free to explore Thimpu. Approximately 10km, 5.5/6hours walking.
Full day at Thimpu Festival.
Thimpu Festival (October) We spend all of today at the spectacular Thimpu festival. This takes place in the Tashichho Dzong, which is the centre of the Bhutanese Government, and is one of the most famous festivals in Bhutan. Thousands of people gather to see the monks dressed in colourful brocade, silk costumes and wearing painted masks re-enact the story of the gompa’s particular divinity though music and dance. For several days there are masked dances, prayer meetings and a general carnival atmosphere prevails as many villagers arrive to meet old friends. No festival (Oct) Full day at leisure or hike to Buddha View Point or hike to Tango Monastery at the end of the valley.
Thimpu Festival (October) & No festival (Oct) We spend most of today visiting the main sights of the town including the Memorial Chorten, which was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Simtokha dzong and a painting school. In the late afternoon we have a short (1hour) drive back to Paro
Fly to Kathmandu.
Today we fly back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free to explore the temples and markets of Kathmandu or go shopping. We have several sightseeing tours on offer (see the notice board in the hotel in Kathmandu), or you may want to explore Kathmandu on your own. The Kathmandu Durbar Square is full of ancient temples and palaces. You may want to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath or the largest Hindu temple in Nepal at Pashupatinath or the one of the largest Buddhist stupas in Asia at Bodnath. Once you have had your fill of culture the colourful markets of Thamel are great for souvenir hunting. Please note that due to the recent earthquake some of these places may be closed; your guide will be able to give you more information on this.
The trip ends after breakfast.Depart from Kathmandu in the morning.