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This trek starts at Paro, following the Pachu (Paro River) upstream literally to its source. We pass through scattered hamlets and farmland into a deep and richly forested valley, which leads us up to high alpine pastures where yak herders graze their animals. The views of Mt. Jumolhari and the adjoining range along with the diverse landscapes we trek through make this a truly sensational trek.

Departure: Paro
Duration: 11 Days
Best season: October - November; April - May
Grade: Strenuous

BRIEF ITINERARY

Day 01: Arrive Paro
Day 02: Paro sightseeing
Day 03: Trek begins from Paro-Shana [2820m[
Day 04: Shana-Soi Thangthaka [3610m]
Day 05: Soi Thangthaka-Jangothang (Base Camp) [4115m]
Day 06: Jangothang Rest Day (Excursion)
Day 07: Retrace downhill to Pangyohsa (Past Soi Thangthaka)
Day 08: Retrace past Shana to Tsento village
Day 09: Trek ends and drives to Thimphu via Paro
Day 10: Thimphu sightseeing
Day 11: Thimphu sightseeing and to Paro for departure

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Arrive Paro
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a fine 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.

Your Bhutanese escort will greet you on arrival, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel.

Day 02: Paro sightseeing
This morning your journey into the Thunder Dragon kingdom will truly begin when we 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 lies within Bhutan, the rest being found in neighboring countries.

After lunch we 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, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds. (Archery is the national sport of Bhutan). If we are lucky, we may catch a match in action.

The evening ends with a walk through Paro's main shopping district.

Day 03: Trek begins from Paro - Shana [2820m]
Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong following the Paro river north along an ancient trade route to Tibet. If we are lucky we may be able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Jhomulhari from the trail head. As we walk we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages and the forests are alive with birds and brightly coloured butterflies.

Our campsite tonight is in Shana, overlooking across the river to one of the last houses in the vicinity to have electricity.
 
Approx Walking Time: 5-6 hours
Distance: 14km
 
Day 04: Shana - Soi Thangthaka [3610m]
The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes into a rocky gorge and our trail winds up and down along the gorge. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet.

Our camp tonight is in a meadow with a stone shelter and if the weather is clear we should have great views of the surrounding mountains.
 
Approx Walking Time: 7-8 hours
Distance: 21km

Day 05: Soi Thangthaka-Jangothang (Base Camp) [4115m]
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts.

Today the landscape changes from the alpine forests to the vastness of the highlands. We trek through sturdy and thorny shrubs, Juniper trees, semi-nomadic settlements and yaks grazing in the open. Our trail changes from bumpy rocks to fairly flat terrains, making walking a pleasure, although it is much more windy without the protection from the dense forests.

We will see lots of yaks today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp, with high mountains overlooking our camp. Jangothang is also known as Land of Ruins as a ruined fortress towers over our campsite from a rocky outcrop with coloured prayer flags spanning its walls. This fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.
 
Approx Walking Time: 5-6 hours
Distance: 15km

Day 06: Jangothang Halts (Excursion)
Today we have a rest day, given the high altitude. Depending on how you are feeling, we have a chance to walk up to the Jhomolhari glacier or to the Tsho Phu lakes. Or for a steadier day we can take in the sunrise over Mt Jomulhari and explore the ruins.

Day 07: Retrace downhill to Pangyohsa (Past Soi Thangthaka)
Today we retrace our steps back down the path, the going much easier this time now that we’re going down again!
Our camp tonight is at Pangyohsa.

Day 08: Retrace past Shana to Tsento village
Today we again start retracing our steps downwards to Shana where we camped on our first night of trekking. We continue past Shana to Tsento Village. Shadowed by scenic hills and rocky, snow-capped mountains, Tsento may be one of the most picturesque valleys in the kingdom.

Day 09: Tsento - Paro (End of Trek) – Thimphu
This morning we continue down to Paro, where our transport will be waiting (at Drukgyal Dzong) to take us to Thimphu.

Thimpu is 60km from Paro and is the capital city of Bhutan. Before 1961 it was only a small settlement, but in that year King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, started developing it as the capital and it now has an approximate population of 100,000. All new buildings have been designed in traditional style with Buddhist motifs and the result is a charming capital nestled in the Wang Chuu valley. It is one of only two capital cities in Asia without traffic lights!

Day 10: Thimphu Sightseeing
After breakfast we will indulge in a great day’s sight seeing in Thimphu! First 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 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.

After lunch we drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute, established in 1988, traditional herbal medicines are prepared here in accordance with ancient practices and distributed nationwide. There is a daily clinic where doctors diagnose patients and prescribe appropriate traditional medicine or treatments.

We then visit the locality of Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights of our Thimphu exploring include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong (or the ‘Fortress of the Glorious Religion’), 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).

Lastly, we visit the Handicrafts Emporium to see the exquisite artistry of Bhutan’s traditional crafts and textiles, before retiring for dinner and well earned rest back at our Hotel.

Day 11: Departure
We have an early morning this morning to drive to the Airport for departure home!

 

 

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