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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
Dates & Prices

Overview

Actual trekking four days, three nights camping and six 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 lower altitude; has short walking hours and distance to cover daily. The trail begins from Punakha, passes through pine and oak forests, rhododendron bushes, and a village. You will enjoy magnificent views of Mount Jhomolhari (23,995 ft. /7,315m) in the west and Kang Bum Peak (20, 665 ft. /6,300m) on this trek.

The trek can be done even in winter when the day time temperature is warm and nighttime temperatures also rarely falls to the freezing point. The weather in spring and the fall are also okay, but summer weather is not suitable for this trip.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Paro, Bhutan

Flights to Paro Bhutan arrive from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu. Please, allow at least one overnight stay in the gateway city for a safe connection for the onward flight. Upon arrival in Paro, meet your guide and driver and proceed for a scenic one hour drive to Thimphu-the capital city of Bhutan.

Afternoon, take a 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 fort has two sections-administrative and the religious section. We will have access to the religious part only.

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~Visit the attractions of Thimphu.

We’ll have a busy day in Thimpu today. The sightseeing includes the school of traditional arts and crafts, the indigenous hospital, the heritage museum, textile museum, the nunnery at Zilukha, the Takin preserve, Buddha Dordenma, and other sights as time and energy allow. If you are in Thimpu during the weekend, it's also worth visiting the 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.

You can also take a brisk day hike. There are quite a few short and long hiking trips. You can consult with your guide and choose the trail you want to hike, depending on available time and interest — most popular hiking destinations are-Tango Goemba Monastery, Cheri Goemba Monastery, and Phajoding Monastery. The first two takes two hours each and the second one make a full day, about six hours. You will enjoy nature, scenery and have the opportunity to interact with the monks and learn about their lifestyle.

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Punakha-the former winter capital

Today, we travel to Punakha, the old winter capital of Bhutan (3 hrs). As we leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually gains altitude, and in an hour, 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 a hearty lunch at our hotel, we’ll take a short trek to visit the Khamsum Yuelley Temple. 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 Zingkham Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Trek 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: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Trek 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 impressive 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: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Trek 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: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Finish the trek and transfer to 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 lodging in Punakha.

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

 

Overnight: Drubchu Resort or similar
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: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Hike the ultimate Takstang Monastery

A special day, with an early start. After breakfast, we’ll hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, a highlight of any trip to Bhutan. The monastery sits on the edge of a 4000-foot cliff above the valley floor; it is an unbelievable sight. The hike up is less than three hours. With a prior arrangement, ponies can take us two-thirds of the way up, but no further. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, known as Guru Rinpoche by Tibetans and Bhutanese, flew on a tigress from Tibet and landed at the monastery’s site. Guru meditated in a cave here, it is said, and subdued the local demons and established the supremacy of Buddhism in Bhutan.

On the way back to the town, we will detour to the ruins of the historic Drukgyel Dzong. It was built in the 16th century to mark the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan invaders. 

This afternoon, visit a Bhutanese farm family and their colorful farmhouse, made up of wood without the use of a single nail! With prior arrangement, we can share a traditional meal with the family.

Experience Traditional Hot Stone Bath (Optional):

After such an active day, we recommend a traditional Bhutanese Hot stone bath, an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other diseases. Your guide needs one-day advance notice to book the hot stone bath. The estimated cost is $25 per person.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort 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

  • six nights three-star hotels by local standard and three nights camping.
  • All camping gears that includes-2 persons tents with floors and fly sheet, dining tent, kitchen tent, toilet tents, dining tables, chairs, pillows, and mattresses.
  • English speaking Guide.
  • Cook and kitchen aides.
  • A private vehicle for all the ground transfers and sightseeing.
  • Pack animals and animal drivers for trekking.
  • All the necessary supplies.
  • Three meals a day.
  • Bhutan visa fee.
  • Sightseeing admission fees.

Trip Does Not Include

  • International and internal airfares.
  • Travel Insurance and emergency evacuation 
  • Personal expenses like drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, internet, 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 of six 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 before the trip date. You will get an 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 7000 ft. 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: One should not take this trip as a 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 is a typical trekking trip in Bhutan 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. We offer all the necessary camping, and kitchen equipment required for the trip. Camping gear includes two-person sleeping tents, a toilet tent and a kitchen tent, dining tables and chairs, and a foam mattress. You should bring your 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 one needs a ride. If you want a dedicated pony for you, let us know in advance, and we can arrange it at an additional cost. 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. Our crews plan and prepare all the meals. Breakfast and dinner are served freshly prepared at camp and includes a choice of at least four dishes. On the 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 typically begins with an early cup of tea or coffee in your tent. Our crews provide you a jug of hot water for washing. They expect you 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 don't want to get too spread out on the path 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. Typically, 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. The teams will usually serve dinner 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

These restrictions should guide your packing: Druk Air has a 30 kg (66-pound) limit on checked in baggage. On the trail, we expect to provide one pony for every 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 a 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 a Jumper or Pile Jacket. Two or three light layers of clothing, which could be jumpers, shirts or polypropylene, are better than a single dense 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 quality.

Duffel Bags and Backpack: Suitcases are fragile, and ponies cannot carry them. Please bring a sturdy, waterproof duffel bag; an extra lockable bag or suitcase for the city stuff that you’ll leave behind in the hotel; and a backpack for your items (camera, wallet, water bottle, etc.) on the trail.

Mountain Trekking Boots: Bring a pair of good quality of trekking boots with ankle support. If you are buying a new pair, please try them and get used to several days before the trip date. We also recommend another couple of comfortable camp shoes.

Flashlights 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 sunglasses.
  • Lip guards.
  • Insect repellents.

Optional

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

How do we dress during the day?

This trip 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 in 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.

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 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 the 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 delivering the best services.

Airfares

There are two airlines which serve Bhutan-Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. They serve only the regional cities-Bangkok, Delhi and Kathmandu being the most popular gateways. These airlines are partners to none of the major international carriers, and so we can not book a thorough airfare to Bhutan from the North Americas or Europe. So, you need to book airfares to Bangkok or another gateway first and then a separate ticket to Bhutan; You will also need to a night stay in the gateway city at both the end of the trip. While you can book the international airfare on your own, we will reserve the internal airfare for you, and bill it separately. 

Booking/Deposit/Payment Schedule

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 air-seats to Bhutan. 

We request an initial deposit of US$ 300 along with a completed form and a passport scan. The second payment will be for the internal airfare when it's due. 

The final payment is due ninety days before the trip date. Payment by credit card attracts an additional 3.5% fee.

Cancellation Fees:

  • Ninety days before departure: US$ 150 per person administration fee.
  • 60-89 days before departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 -59 days before departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30-44 days before 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 Far & High'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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