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On this 8 day tour you will explore Paro and Thimphu and complete a stunning 4 day trek on the ancient route between them.

Departure: Paro
Duration: 8 Days
Best season: October - December; March - May
Grade: Moderate

Part of this trek is following the route between Paro and Thimphu, crossing the chain of mountains that separates the two valleys. The route is sparsely inhabited (by nomadic yak herders) but there are wonderful lakes teeming with fish and the area is known for spectacular rhododendron forests which bloom in April & May. In the clear weather of late autumn and winter, great views of the Himalayas are seen as the most part of this trek is along the ridge. (This trek can be stretched to 5 or 6 days trek too).

BRIEF ITINERARY

Day 01: Welcome to Bhutan
Day 02: Paro sightseeing
Day 03: Trek begins from Paro-Jele Dzong [3400m]
Day 04: Jele Dzong - Jangchulakha [3650m]
Day 05: Jangchulakha - Jimilangtso [3600m]
Day 06: Jimilangtso – Simkota - Phajoding [3500m]
Day 07: Phajoding - Thimphu sightseeing
Day 08: Drive to Paro Airport for departure

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Welcome to Bhutan
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a great introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Upon arrival, you will be received by your host who will transfer you to your hotel to settle in and have lunch.

After lunch, we will drive out to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong (fort). This dzong, now in ruins, was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644. The Shabdrung is credited with being the unifier of Bhutan and he also sought to create a distinctly Bhutanese cultural identity, separate from the Tibetan culture from which it was derived. The dzong’s name actually means "victorious Druk" and it had been used as an administrative centre until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. We can explore the ramparts and on a clear day we can see the unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m).

On the way back to Paro we will visit Kichu Lhakhang, a monastery that was built to hold down the left foot of an ogress whose body covers Bhutan and most of Eastern Tibet. It is one of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously constructed in one night by Tibetan King Songten Gampo in the 7th century. This is one of two of these monasteries that lie within Bhutan, the rest being found in neighbouring countries. Dinner and over night in our hotel.

Day 02: Paro sightseeing
This morning we head out of town to visit Taktsang, the Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched high on a cliff and one of the most important places in Buddhism. While flying on the back of a tiger, Guru Rinpoche identified Taktsang as a sacred place and meditated in a cave for three months.  Guru Rinpoche is also known as Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD. Today it's perhaps the best-known monastery in the world, because of its stunning location and it is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. The monastery was built around the meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro and although a fire destroyed most of the original buildings in 1998, these have since been painstakingly restored to their former glory.

The hike to Taktsang is a steep walk and takes 2- 2 ½ hours to reach. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we gain an incredible view of the Monastery, perched precariously on the edge of the sheer 800m cliff!

We will return to Paro for lunch, after which we will visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower that, since 1967, has been the National Museum of Bhutan. A specific route must be followed in the building which ensures a clockwise progression around important images. Exhibits include an impressive collection of thankas; a description of early history that illustrates how magic and science are inseparable in Bhutan; and not to be missed, Bhutan’s eclectic stamp collection, including some stamps that you can listen to on a record player!
Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices and protected within its walls is a collection of sacred masks and costumes, some dating back several centuries. Dinner and over night in Hotel.

Day 03: Trek begins from Paro - Jele Dzong[3400m]

Today is a short trekking day. Our trail starts above the National Museum and ascends gradually up to the camp nears the old Jele Dzong. Above the camp is Jele-la (3,400m) and Jele Dzong, which although mostly in ruins has a caretaker who, if he is there, will let us visit the Dzong.

If the weather is clear, then the Paro valley can be seen against the backdrop of Mt. Jumolhari(7314m) and snowcapped mountains. Overnight camp.
 
Approx Walking Time: 3-4 hours
Distance: 8km

Day 04: Jele Dzong - Jangchulakha [3650m]

Today we begin with a one and half hour climb to get warmed up! We then ascend gradually upwards along a ridge through a thick alpine forest and rhododendron.

We will have the fine views of Jomolhari and other snow capped peaks if the weather is clear and we may hear some monal pheasants calling during the day. At our campsite, we may be lucky to see yak herders. Overnight camp.
 
Approx Walking Time: 4-5 hours
Distance: 10km

Day 05: Jangchulakha - Jimilangtso [3600m]

The trail follows the ridge and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valleys are spectacular. In particular, we should be able to enjoy a great view of Mt Jichu Drake (6,989m), the peak representing the protective deity of Paro.

Our camp this evening is close to Jimilang Tso (lakes). These lakes are known for their giant sized trout, and if lucky, you may enjoy well-prepared trout for dinner. Overnight camp.
 
Approx Walking Time: 6-7 hours
Distance: 11km

Day 06: Jimilangtso – Simkota – Phajoding [3500m]

The trail takes us through dwarf rhododendron trees past the lake of Jane Tso. From here we slowly descend down through juniper forest to Phajoding Monastery from where Thimphu town is visible at the valley floor. If the weather permits you will have beautiful views of Mt. Gangkhar Punsum (7541m) the highest mountain in Bhutan and other Himalayan peaks. Today we may be lucky to come across some Yak herders camps and we can really have a look as to how these nomadic people live.

Overnight in cafeteria or camp, depending upon weather conditions.
 
Approx Walking Time: 6-7 hours
Distance: 22km

Day 07: Phajoding – Thimphu

This morning we walk down into Thimphu. It is down hill all the way through a forest of mostly blue pine. At a leisurely pace we will reach Thimphu in about 3 hours for a nice hot shower and lunch!

After lunch we will check out some of the sights of town. We will visit the National Memorial Chorten built in memory of the third King of Bhutan, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The deities depicted inside are from the Nyingmapa tradition of Buddhism and teachings of Vajrayana (or tantric form of) Buddhism and provide a rare insight into Buddhist Philosophy. We then visit the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.

We then visit the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion. We follow this with a visit to the Painting School, famous for carving and free hand art. Here you can see not only paintings, sculpture, clay work and metal work, but also students and artists at work.

In the evening we will visit the TashichhoDzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion). This Dzong was built in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961. It is presently the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot and spiritual leader of Bhutan). Over night in Hotel.
 
Approx Walking Time: 3 hours
Distance: 5km

Day 08: Departure
We have early start this morning - after breakfast we drive to the airport and bid each other farewell after a great trip!

 

               ”kimkim