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Bhutan Samtegang Winter Trek


10 days 9 nights

Code BTT51

Category Bhutan Trekking

  • Group Size 2-10 persons
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Highest Altitude 2000 m (6560 ft.)
  • Trip Starts From Paro
  • Trip Ends At Paro
  • Accommodation Hotels and camps
  • Type Trekking
  • Season October through April
  • Destination Paro Thimpu Punakha Samtengang Wangdue Phodrang
Dates & Prices

Overview

Actual trekking 4 days, 3 nights camping and 6 nights hotels and lodges.

This trek is suitable for the beginners or those enthusiasts who want to get a feel of trekking in the Bhutan Himalayas. This trek is in a lower altitude, has short walking hours, and covers small distances daily. The trail begins from Punakha, passes through pine and oak forests, rhododendron bushes, and a village. You will enjoy great views of Mount Jhomolhari(23,995ft/7,315m) in the west and Kang Bum Peak (20, 665ft/6,300m) on this trek.

The trek is recommended during the winter, when the temperatures at night are around freezing and days are pretty warm. Spring and fall are also ok times to do this trek but you do not want to attempt this trek during summer because of extreme high temperature and weather.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01 Flight to Paro, Bhutan. Transfer to Thimphu.

Flights to Paro International Airport of Bhutan arrive from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkatta, and Kathmandu. Please, allow at least one overnight stay in those cities before and also after this trip to assure safe connections. Upon arrival in Paro, your guide will meet you outside the airport terminal with transport to Thimphu-the capital city of Bhutan.

Afternoon, take leisurely walk to Memorial Chorten, an iconic monument dedicated to the third king of Bhutan. Later, we will visit the Trasichoe Dzong fortress that houses the King's Office, the parliament and the principal seat of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan.The fortress has two sections-administrative and the religious section. We will have access to the religious section only.

Overnight Khang Residency or similar first class property.

Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02 Visit the attractions of Thimpu.

We’ll have a busy day in Thimpu today, visiting the school of traditional arts and painting, the indigenous hospital, the heritage museum, textile museum, the nunnery at Zilukha, handicrafts workshops store, the handmade paper factory, gold and silver smiths, Zangdopelri temple, the mini zoo (to see Takin, the national and endangered animal of Bhutan), and other sights as time and energy allow. If you are in Thimpu during the weekend, we’ll seek out the colorful weekend market, where people from near and far come to sell or buy the fresh produce and many other items. Village folks jostle with the residents of Thimpu for the best and cheapest vegetables and other things to eat. The weekend also provides the opportunity to see the traditional game of archery played in the nearby grounds.

Overnight Khang Residency or similar first class property.

Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 03 Transfer to Punakha

After breakfast, we drive to Punakha, the old winter capital of Bhutan(3 hrs). As you leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually gains altitude and in an hour or two we’ll crest Dhochu La Pass, (10,000 feet, or 3,048 meters) where the views of eastern Himalayas are spectacular, and we’ll see a group of colorful “chortens” (pagodas or stupas). The road then drops through changing vegetation into semitropical lowland Punakha and Wangdi Valley at around mid-afternoon. After lunch in our new hotel, we’ll take a short trek to visit the Crown Prince's chorten and nearby villages. We’ll return on a different route through a village to Sonagasa, the King’s winter residence, and then to Punakha Dzong at the confluence of Mo Chu and Pho Chu River; this is probably the most beautiful of the Dzongs in Bhutan. One can spend hours inside the Dzong, studying its murals. Our transport will drive us back to the hotel.

Overnight Drubchu Resort or Punatsangchu Cottages

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04 Trekking from Punakha to Limukha

Today, our trek begins in Punakha, with the gradual climb through the blue pine forests that cover most of Bhutan, the least deforested country in the world. On the way, we’ll visit the remote village of Dompala. After a picnic lunch, we’ll trek on to Limukha (7,380 feet, or 2,250 meters) for our campsite for the night, watching for wildlife and tropical and high-altitude flowers along the way.

Activity Level: Trekking distance: 12 km (8 miles), four hours; 2,886 feet or 880 meters ascent.

Overnight at camp.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05 Trekking from Limukha to Chungsaka

The trail today takes us through a forest of oak and rhododendron in which we’ll find three buildings of Drukpa Kuenly Lhakhang. Here, in a cave within one of the temples, is the body print of Guru Rimpoche. We’ll enjoy quite awesome sights today! Overnight and dinner at camp in Chungsaka (6,068 feet, or 1850 meters).

Activity Level: Trekking distance: 14 km (9 miles), about five hours; 1,312 feet or 400 meters of decent.

Overnight at camp.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06 Trekking from Chungsaka to Samtengang

After our usual hearty breakfast, we’ll head for Samtengang, downhill through the village of Sha Wangdi, with monkeys, exotic birds, and wild orchids along the way. Our camp at Samtengang is by a lake at 6,000 feet, or 1,830 meters.

Activity Level: Trekking distance: 13 km (8miles), about 5 hours; 2,132 feet, or 650 meters, of ascent, and 886 feet, or 270 meters of descent.

Overnight at camp in Samtengang.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07 Trekking from Samtengang to Wangdiphodrang/Punakha

The trail today descends through a treeless slope until it reaches the motor road at Chuzomsa, where our transport will meet us. We’ll stop at Wangdiphodrang to visit its impressive Dzong, and, after lunch, we’ll transfer to our resort in Punakha.

Activity Level: Trekking distance: 15 km (10 miles) and 5-6 hours; 2,394 feet or 730 meters of descent.

Overnight at Drubchu Resort or Punatsangchu Cottages.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08 Transfer to Paro

After breakfast, we transfer via Dhochula pass to Paro (4 hrs). This afternoon, we get started with visits to notable sites – the national museum at Ta Dzong, the magnificent Paro Rinpung Dzong, Drugyal Dzong, and the Kyichu Temple, at least.

Overnight in Drukchen Resort or Tenzinling Hotel or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09 Hike the ultimate Takstang Monastery

Takstang Monastery, the legendary Tiger's Nest, is perched some 2,000 feet, or 600 meters, on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley. The hike there is in two phases: First, a two-hour hike to the tea house, which can also be done on a pony. After tea and snacks, you may either hike further uphill for about 45 minutes to get a closer look at the Taktsang and the surrounding temples, or just remain at the tea house to enjoy the views. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes about half the time. Today, we might also visit other cultural sites, and a typical local Bhutanese farm house. In the afternoon, we will drive to Thimphu, about two hours away.

Overnight in Drukchen Resort or Tenzinling Hotel or similar.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 Paro-Departure

Transfer to airport for your flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Best of the mainstream 3* hotels on double occupancy basis while in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro.
  • All camping gears that includes-2 person sleeping tents with floors and fly sheet, dinning tent, kitchen tent, toilet tents, dinning 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 fee
  • Sightseeing admission fees

Trip  Does Not Include

  • International and internal airfares
  • Travel Insurance and emergency evacuation 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 minimum 6 months beyond your return date from the trip and make sure that you are not running out of the blank visa pages. Bhutan visa is taken care of by us and you will be emailed electronic visa approval document 3-4 weeks prior the trip date. You will get actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport.

Trek Difficulty and Preparation

This low-altitude trek is one of the most accessible hikes in Bhutan. Our highest altitude is 7,380 feet (2,250 meters);our overnight camps vary from 6000 ft to 7000ft. We’ll usually walk four to six hours each day; some days could be longer, depending on local conditions and the pace chosen by the group. Trail conditions vary from easy to rugged; magnificent to miserable (especially if it rains). Altitude sickness should not be a concern, but we recommend conditioning – jogging, cycling, swimming, and hiking in hilly terrain – in the months before departure. Please note: this trek should not be taken as means of losing weight. If you buy new boots for the trek, please break them in before you leave. Anyone with existing heart, lung, or high blood pressure issues should consult their physician before signing up for this trip.

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, 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 in 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 for 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.

Flash 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/13,120ft).
  • Nylong wind pants (for altitude above 4000m/13,120ft).
  • Insulated pants (for altitude above 4000m/13,120ft).
  • Long sleeved shirt.
  • Long Underwear.
  • Sun hat.
  • Gloves ((for altitude above 4000m/13,120ft).
  • Gaiters (for altitude above 4000m/13,120ft).
  • 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 a low-altitude trek for Bhutan, but it is still in the mountains. The days are likely to be cool. Most people are comfortable on long pants, but for women we 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 Samtegang Trek.

High Altitude Sickness and Health Concerns

This low-altitude trek does not present risks of altitude sickness. Bhutan requires no mandatory vaccinations, although we recommend Hep A and vaccination against rabies. Some people consider malaria pills; please consult your physician.

Meals are arranged in hotels while in the cities and cooked by our own staff during treks. This care minimizes chances of food-related sickness. If you want to try something on your own, we advise tourist-standard hotels and restaurants. Please avoid food or drinks sold in the street, and please drink only bottled water or boiled and medicated water supplied by our crews.

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 10 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 dates, 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.

Airfares

You can book your international airfare to the gateway city ( eg, Bangkok, or Delhi or Kathmandu) on your own or we can also help you book it through our air ticket consolidators. But internal airfare from gateway city to Paro, Bhutan must be booked through us as its part of package and it has to be booked locally.

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 Druk Air reservation is quite a tricky matter. Druk Air is the only airline flying into and out of Bhutan and operates with 2 A 319 craft with capacity less than 100 passengers and gets filled up quickly. Paro-the only airport of Bhutan is connected with Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkatta and Kathmandu and have limited operations. For flight schedules and more information, please visit Druk Air Website.

A deposit of US$ 300 on land plus the cost of internal airfares is requested along with booking application and passport photocopies.

Balance Payment

Balance payment is due 90 days prior to your departure. Depending on the number of applicants, we may set an early payment date. If balance of payment is not received by the requested date, we reserve the right to cancel your booking without prior notice. Late payment may be subject to additional fee and has to be made in cashier’s check or through wire transfer.

Cancellation Fees:

  • 90 days prior departure: US$ 150 per person administration fee.
  • 60-89 days prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 -59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30-44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.
  • Airline cancellation and refund policy can be different and supersedes Highland Asia's cancellation/refund policy.

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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