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Bhutan's Druk Path Trekking


12 days 11 nights

Code BTT52

Category Bhutan Trekking

  • Group Size 1-10 Person
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Rating Popular
  • Highest Altitude 13, 808 ft. (4,210 m)
  • Trip Starts From Paro
  • Trip Ends At Thimphu
  • Accommodation hotels and camps
  • Type Trekking
  • Destination Paro Takstang Jele Dzong Jimilang Tsho Lake Phajoding Thimpu
Dates & Prices

Overview

This is one of Bhutan’s most popular treks, a celebration in beautiful scenery and snow-capped Himalayan Peaks; a monastery high up in the mountains, and a visit to the Dzong. A relatively short outing, it still gives you a good taste of what a high altitude trek is like. 

This is a moderately strenuous trip, but after the initial climbs the route moderates. And, if needed, there is access down to a road, and a ride, from several spots along the way. The trek begins from Paro Ta Dzong and finishes at Mothithang Preserve near Thimphu, following a trail through a wild, secluded area with several remote lakes. Part of the route follows the original mule track that linked the Thimphu and Paro valleys. In the past, Bhutanese soldiers completed this trek in a single day from the opposite direction (Thimphu to Paro) as a punishment. We’ll have seven days on the trail, and finish in a far, far better moods!

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Flight to Paro, Bhutan

The Paro International Airport of Bhutan is connected by air with Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu. Please, allow at least one overnight stay in your gateway city before and after the trip to make sure you make your connection. Upon arrival, a Far & High guide will greet you outside the airport terminal for transport to our hotel for check in.

This afternoon, we can visit the national museum at Ta Dzong, the magnificent Paro Rinpung Dzong, Drugyal Dzong, Kyichu Temple – whatever appeals to the group.

Overnight at Khangkhu Resort.

Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~Hike Taktsang Monastery

The Taktsang Monastery – the legendary Tiger's Nest – is perched some 2,000 feet up a sheer cliff overlooking the valley. It is an unforgettable hiking destination. This is a holy site where it is said that legendary Guru Padmasambhava arrived from Tibet on the back of a tigress to defeat five anti-Buddhist demons. The hike takes about two hours to the Takstang Cafeteria, a stop for tea, snacks, and beautiful views of the monastery. With pre-arrangements, that portion of the trip also can be done aboard a pony. But for the return hike down and further ahead to the monastery itself, you will need to be able to hike on your own. The hike from Takstang to get a closer look at the monastery takes 45 minutes to an hour; retracing the hike down takes about half the time coming up.

On the way back, we’ll have the option to visit a typical Bhutanese village home, the ruins of historic Drugyal Dzong, and religious shrines such as the Kyichu Temple and Dungtse Temple if you missed them the previous day for any reason.

*Note: If you are interested in photography, we recommended the monastery hike in the afternoon; sunlight is blocked by the hill in the morning.

Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Druk Path Trek Begins Today

Our trek to Jele Dzong begins early today, as we drive with our crew to the trailhead outside the gate of Ta Dzong (National Museum) at about 8,100 feet. Traveling with pack horses, the trail initially goes through farms and climbs steeply up a ridge, passing the Kuenga Lakhang Temple and then more cultivated lands and blue pine forests that eventually open up to a meadow. Our campsite is another hour ahead a large pasture below Jele La. On a clear weather day, we’ll enjoy the views of the entire Paro Valley, as well as Mount Jumolhari – at 23, 997 feet, it is known as the mother goddess of Bhutan.

Distance covered 10km (6.25 miles), camp at altitude 3560m (11676 ft.), walk 4-5 hrs., in total you will make an ascent of 1090m (3575 ft.).

Overnight tented camping.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Additional Day for Acclimatization.

Whenever you gain an altitude of more than 1,000 meters, or 3,575 feet, and camp at 3,560 meters, or 11,676 feet, it is not unusual to experience some mild discomfort with the altitude. A rest day helps. So, we reserve a day in Jele Dzong for acclimatization. We can still explore the area, enjoy the panoramas of Paro Valley and Mount Jumolhari, and even take a hike to visit the Jele Dzong, which was the residence of Ngwang Chhogyel, the cousin of Lama Drukpa Kunley. Or we can just hang out.

Overnight at tented camping.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Jele Dzong to Jangchulakha

The day’s walk begins with a climb through thick rhododendron forest to cross the Jele La (3,490 meters/11,448 feet) and onto a saddle (3,590 meters/11,775 feet). We might see yak herders or beautiful Monal pheasants along the way; we’ll almost certainly see fascinating views of Mount Jumolhari (also spelled as Chomolhari) and other snow-capped peaks of the eastern Himalayas. Tonight we camp at yak herder’s camp called Jangchu Lakha.
Distance six miles, trek three-to-four hours, camp at 3,760 meters/12,332 feet; total altitude gain 200 meters.

Overnight at camp in Jangchu Lakha.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Jangchu Lakha to Jimilangtsho

Leaving camp, the trail climbs steeply to the Jangchu La (4,180 meters/13,710 feet). On a clear day, the views of the mountains and the valleys will be sensational – especially Jitchu Drake (6,989 meters/2,924 feet), which is the peak representing the protective deity of Paro. Descending from the pass, we’ll arrive at camp beside the Jimilangtsho lakes, which are famous for their giant-sized trout and stunning views of Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkar Puensum (7,497 meters/24,500 feet).
Distance seven miles, trek four to five hours, camp at an altitude (3880 meters/12,726 feet).

Overnight camp.

 

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Jimilangtso to Simkota Lake

The trail takes us through dwarf rhododendron trees to Janetso Lake. We’ll hike three ridges of more than 4,000 meters (13,120 feet), along the way visiting yak herders’ camps that will offer rare glimpses into the nomadic life of the high Himalayas. The campsite is close to Simkota Lake – which, again, is famous for trout fishing!

Distance six miles, trek four hours, camp at 3,485 meters (11,431 feet).

Overnight at camp near Simkota Lake.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Simkota to Phajodhing

This unforgettable day begins with a gradual climb that will take us to the highest altitude of the trek: Labana La, an amazing 4,210 meters (13,809 ft.). Then one more crests at 4,210 meters (13,809 feet) to complement that. If the weather permits, we will have singular and spectacular views of Mount Gangkar Puensum, Bhutan's highest mountain, as well as other Himalayan mountain ranges and the Dochula pass. By the time we take the day’s last bit of trail in to Phajodhing for the night, we’ll all be both tired and amazed.

Distance six miles, trek four hours, camp at 2,879 meters (9,443 feet).

Overnight at camp.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Phajoding Gompa to Thimphu (2350 meters)

The hike from Phajoding to Thimphu is downhill all the way, passing along a trail forested mostly by blue pine and concluding in Motithang. There, we’ll meet your transport and drive to Thimphu. In good time, we’ll be checked into the hotel with time to do what we please.

Trekking distance: three to four miles, two or three hours; 1,130 meters (3,706-foot) descent.

Overnight at Khang Residency.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Explore the Himalayan Capital

Our day in the capital could begin with a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the central government, where both the temporal and spiritual heads of the country reside. Other points of interests include: the Memorial Chorten, Nunnery, School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, Bhutanese textile museum, and a traditional paper factory. Another option would be short hikes in the valley rim of Thimphu. During a weekend, we could also visit the bustling weekend market, a crossroads of people who come to buy and sell the fresh produce. It is where the village folks jostle with the residents of Thimphu for the best and cheapest vegetables and other local foods. The weekend also provides the opportunity to see the traditional game of archery played in the nearby grounds.

Overnight at Khang Residency.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11~Return drive to Paro via Chele-la Pass

After breakfast, we drive back to Paro with a side excursion of Chelela pass (3,810 m/12, 497 ft.) which claims to be the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. On a clear weather day, the pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains.

Arrive in Paro late afternoon. You will still have time to take a stroll through the quiet township of Paro.

Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Drukchen Hotel.

 

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12~Paro-Departure

Transfer to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Cost Includes

  • Best available of the regular hotel accommodation in Paro and Thimphu.
  • All camping gear, including two-person sleeping tents with floors and fly; dining tent, kitchen tent, toilet tents, dining tables, chairs, pillows and mattresses.
  • English speaking guide.
  • Cook and kitchen aides.
  • All intercity transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle.
  • Pack animals and animal drivers during trekking.
  • All necessary supplies.
  • 3 meals a day.
  • Bhutan visa.
  • Entrance fees.

Cost Does Not Include

  • International and internal airfares.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Expenses of personal nature like drinks, tip, telephone, laundry etc.
  • Extra expenses due to nature or unforeseen events such as flight cancellation, road blockade, no show etc.

Passport and visa

Your passport must be valid 6 months or more at the time of travel; please make sure that it has enough blank pages for entry and exit seals. Bhutan visa is processed through us with a booked trip. We will obtain visa pre-approval letter for you to present at Druk Air counter when you check in for flight to Paro. You will get the actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival, upon production of the pre-approval letter.

Trek Difficulty and Preparation

This is a moderately challenging trek with maximum altitude of 4,210 meters (13,809 feet). On average, we will walk five to six hours each day; some days could be longer. Trail conditions are varied with frequent ups and downs; sometimes the trails are muddy and difficult when it rains. Passes can close by snows around end of November. Although this trek includes couple of days camping above 3,000 meters, we will gain altitude gradually, significantly reducing chances for altitude discomfort or sickness. Previous experience is not required, but we do recommend some training and preparation beforehand to build stamina and confidence. Participants should start jogging, cycling and some hill hiking about a couple of months ahead of the trip. If you are buying new boots for the trek, please do break them in well before you leave.

What a typical trekking in Bhutan is like?

A trekking day in Bhutan usually consists of five to seven hours of walking. Pack animals, ponies or yaks are provided to porter provisions, baggage and equipment. All necessary camping and kitchen equipment are provided and included in the trip cost. Camping gear includes two-person sleeping tents, a toilet tent and a kitchen tent, dining tables and chairs, and foam mattress. You should bring your own sleeping bag.

All trekking parties are accompanied by a trained guide, a cook, and a couple of aides and pack animals with their driver. At least one riding pony is always taken along just in case it is needed. The support crew walks ahead of the trekking party each day, pitches camp before the group arrives, and greets everyone with a warm and most welcome cup of tea or coffee in the dining tent. All meals are carefully planned and prepared. Breakfast and dinner are served freshly prepared at camp and includes a choice of at least four dishes. On trail, we serve a picnic lunch at a pleasant and scenic place. All cooking and cleaning chores are taken care of by our trek staff, so you can relax and enjoy the trek fully. 

A trekking day normally begins with an early cup of tea or coffee in your tent. A jug of hot water will be provided for washing; you are expected for breakfast by 7 am. Breakfast is usually cereals, toast, eggs, juice and tea or Nescafe coffee. By 8 am, we’ll be on the trail. Trekkers can walk on their own pace, but we won’t want to get too spread out on the trail as we explore the villages and temples, and meet people along the way. The lunch stop is around noon to 1 pm. Some days we’ll be served hot fried rice or noodles or bread or boiled potatoes brought in an insulated container (unlike in Nepal, where the crews cook a hot meal while you nap). Lunch is usually accompanied by tea from a large flask. Some days, lunch will be simply sandwiches, fruits and cookies. Usually the day concludes between 4 to 5 pm, with our tents already set up and steaming cups of tea or coffee with biscuits or cookies waiting. As the crew makes dinner, we will have time to update our journals, read, nap, or photograph in the day’s diminishing light. Dinner is usually served around 7 pm. Meals typically include a rice dish, a potato dish, or frequently both. The cook is trained to produce a reasonable variety of Western and Asian dishes. They often add interesting Bhutanese touches, such as cheese sauces.

Clothing and Equipment

Your packing should be guided by these restrictions: Druk Air has a 20 kg (44-pound) limit on checked baggage. On trail, we expect to provide one pony for each two trekkers, and each pony carries 30 kg (66 pounds) or less. 

Essentials Items/Not to forget

Down Jacket: We recommend a down jacket, which has the advantage of being light, compressible, and versatile – say, as pillow at night or long car trips; or even inside our sleeping bag on colder nights. Artificial-fiber jackets filled with Polar-guard, Thinsulate, or Fiberfill are good substitutes, and are cheaper.
For day walking, we recommend Jumper or Pile Jacket. Two or three light layers of clothing, which could be jumpers, shirts or polypropylene, are better than a single heavy layer. Pile jackets with polyester fleece are light, warm and easy to clean.
Sleeping Bag is a must. Choose the one 20-degree bag. We can rent bags in Bhutan, but we cannot guarantee the quality.
Duffel Bags and Backpack: Suitcases are fragile and cannot be carried by ponies. Please bring a strong, waterproof duffel bag; a spare lockable bag or suitcase for the city stuff that you’ll leave behind in the hotel; and a backpack for your personal items (camera, wallet, water bottle, etc.) on trail.
Mountain Trekking Boots: Bring a pair of good quality of trekking boots with ankle support. If you are buying a new pair, break them in before you leave. Another pair of comfortable camp shoes is also recommended.
Torch lights with spare batteries and bulbs.
Water bottle and water purifying pills.

Other clothing

  • Jumper or sweaters
  • Waterproof jacket, poncho or umbrella.
  • Hiking shorts (for men) and skirts (for women).
  • Nylon windbreaker (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Nylon wind pants (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Insulated pants (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Long sleeved shirt.
  • Long Underwear.
  • Sun hat.
  • Gloves ((for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Gaiters (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Woolen socks and some cotton socks to wear under wool socks.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Toiletries.
  • Cigarette lighter.
  • Small knife.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+).
  • Towel.
  • Laundry soap.
  • Medical and first aid kit.
  • Sewing kit.
  • Bandana.
  • Goggles or sun glasses.
  • Lip guards.
  • Insect repellents.

Optional

  • Reading materials.
  • Pen and diaries.
  • Play cards.

How we dress during the day

This is one of our higher-altitude treks. The weather will be cool even during the day. Most people are comfortable in long pants; but for women are recommended skirts, mainly for ease in relieving yourself along the trail. There are long stretches where there is little chance to hide, and a skirt solves the problem.

Best Trekking Season

Late September to mid-November is generally recognized as the best trekking season in the Himalayas, and so it is in Bhutan. The second best period is March to April. Winter is snowy and summer is rainy. We tend to avoid these seasons, but we always expect some rain. During fall, nights are cold in the mountains – 40 degrees F, or 5 degrees C under 11,500 feet, or 3,500 meters; at higher altitudes overnight temperatures can drop to 14 degrees F, or -10 C. But the bright sun makes the daytime pleasant, with temperatures averaging 68 degrees F, 20 degrees C. Autumn has clear sky with good visibility; spring trekkers are rewarded with rhododendron and orchid flowers in bloom. 

If you are traveling to Bhutan during winter, the only trek we recommend is our Samtegang Trek.

High Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, or at least discomfort, can pose a problem for trekkers crossing the high passes. In fact, above 3,000 meters (9,840 feet) all trekkers are likely to experience some mild symptoms of altitude discomfort that could include headaches, disorientation, dizziness, restlessness, and loss of appetite. But our itineraries are designed to allow enough time for acclimatization and, following proper measures, those symptoms should disappear in a day or two. We will always exert ourselves reasonably and drink plenty of water. Soup is also a welcome restorative in camp.

Anyone with existing heart, lung, or high blood pressure issues should consult their physician before signing up for this trip. Participants should in the months leading up the trip prepare with such exercises as jogging, cycling, swimming, and hiking in hilly terrain. 

Accommodations and meals in the towns

For the most part, we will stay in moderate to best-available accommodations, which are usually small hotels with 15 to 20 rooms of varying designs, rarely with gift shops. Outside Thimphu and Paro, “best available" might be very basic, sometimes without hot water (or any water, for that matter). These adjustments are, we think, part of learning about a new country. During festival period, high demand for accommodations sometimes means we have to use alternative hotels; your cooperation and understanding in this matter is very much appreciated.

Paro and Thimphu have a couple of international chain resorts with remarkably high prices. Our trips do not feature them, but we can book them for additional charges. 

Bhutan trips feature three meals each day, mostly at our hotel, usually served in a buffet that includes rice, vegetables, and noodles. Our guide can arrange some dinners at local restaurants, but remember that traditional Bhutanese food always features chilies, and the most popular dish, ema datshi, is made with large, hot, green chilies in a cheese sauce.

Guides

Our guides are college-educated Bhutanese, proficient in English, and trained and licensed by local tourism authorities. Just as important, they are friendly and committed to deliver the best services.

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed; it is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Booking/Deposit.

When you are sure you are going to Bhutan, it will be wise to put your reservation in line as early as possible as there are limited flights and hotels. An initial deposit of US$ 300 is requested along with completed booking form.

Balance Payment.

The balance and final payment is 90 days prior departure. The payment schedule may vary with customized and private trips on case to case basis. Payments made within 90 days prior departure may be subject to late fee and are required to make through wire transfer or cashier’s check. Payment by credit card attracts additional 3.5% fee.

Cancellation and refund

  • 90 days prior departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee).
  • 60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

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(Formerly Highland Asia Travel)

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Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137

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