Day 01: Arrive in Paro, Bhutan on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan.
Druk Air flights into Bhutan are spectacular. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu, over the foothills from Kolkatta or following the coastline of the Indian Ocean en-route from Bangkok, every Druk Air flight is memorable and offers incredible scenery. (Get your camera ready!)
After arrival at the Paro airport and sailing through immigration and custom formalities, you will be greeted by your All Access Bhutan guide and driver and warmly welcomed to the enchanting Land of the Thunder Dragon. We will take a short drive to our hotel. In the evening, you may take a walk through the colorful streets of “downtown” Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Excursion to Taktsang (for acclimatization)
Taktsang Monastery is one of the most picturesque, and certainly most widely-recognized sights in all of Bhutan. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava flew on the back of a tiger from Tibet to a cave in the side of a cliff at Taktsang (meaning tiger’s nest.) A monastery, mind-bogglingly perched 2,000ft/600m on the sheer cliff face, was built on this site to commemorate his fantastic flight.
We’ll begin the day with a short drive to the trailhead. We’ll then hike for an hour as we climb the hillside trail to a teahouse with a wonderful view of the monastery on one side, and the wide Paro valley on the other side. From there, it’s only another half hour or so to the monastery itself.
A visit to Taktsang monastery provides a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We will be served lunch at the tea house. Since the return route is all downhill, it will take roughly half the time as our ascent. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Paro to Jele Dzong.
Today is a short trekking day. The journey starts with a short climb up to Jele Dzong (3400m). The trek trail ascends gradually up to the camp, and if the weather is clear Paro valley can be seen with snowcapped mountains behind. Above the camp is Jele-la pass (3,400m) and Jele Dzong (mostly in ruins). There is also a lhakhang containing a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni. Overnight camp. (8 km, 4-5 hours)
Day 04: Jele Dzong to Tshokam.
Begin with a one and a half hour climb and then ascend more gradually upwards. The trail takes you through thick alpine forests and rhododendrons. You will have fine views of Jhomohari and other snow capped peaks if the weather is right, and you may hear some monal pheasants calling during the day. Your camp at Tshokam (3960m). Overnight camp. (9 km, 4-5 hours)
Day 05: Tshokam to Jimilang Tsho.
The trail follows the ridge, and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valley are sensational. You will enjoy a great view of Jichu Drake (6,989m), the peak representing the protective deity of Paro. Our camp is close to the Jimilang Tsho lakes (3880m), which are famous for their giant sized trout. Overnight camp. (10 km, 5-6 hours)
Day 06: Jimilang Tsho to Simkota Tsho.
The trail takes you through dwarf rhododendron trees and passes by the lake of Janetsho. Today you may come across some yak herders’ camps and get an idea of how these people live. We camp overnight close to Simkota Lake (4090m), and if you are lucky you can catch a lake trout for your dinner. (11 km, 4 – 5 hours)
Day 07: Simkota Tsho to Thimphu (Trek ends)
Today begins with a gradual climb, and if the weather permits you will enjoy majestic views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum the highest peak in Bhutan, and a host of other peaks. The trail slowly descends through juniper trees and to Phajoding area. After lunch trek to Thimphu is downhill all the way, passing through a forested area of mostly blue pine. Taking a leisurely pace, you reach Thimphu. (11 km, 6 – 7 hours)
Day 08: Thimphu Sightseeing.
Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu, including visits to the National Memorial Chorten – built as a memorial to Bhutan’s third king (‘the father of modern Bhutan’) and as a monument to world peace; Changgangkha Lhakhang; Handicrafts Emporium – a wide assortment of intricately hand-woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at this government-run outlet, and at many smaller handicrafts shops around town; National Library – established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage, it now holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts; Institute for Zorig Chusum – more commonly known as the Painting School, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan; National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) – the rich herbal medicines made up from plants abundant in the kingdom are dispensed here, and traditional medicine practitioners trained, Mini zoo to see our National animal Takin, Traditional hand made paper factory, Nado Incense factory and finally Trashichho Dzong – the impressive fortress/monastery housing some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Day 09: Thimphu to Punakha.
In the morning we drive to Punakha, an old winter capital of Bhutan. En-route stop at Dochu LaPass, 10,000ft/3,048m to view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied – ever changing forest, finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley.
In Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong situated at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Built in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this dzong has played important role in Bhutan’s history, make a village walk to Chimi Lhakhang the temple of fertility and Then drive to Wangduephodrang, to visit 17th century Wangduephodrang Dzong and the local market. Overnight at hotel Punakha.
Day 10: Punakha to Paro.
Drive back to Paro en route Thimphu for lunch.
Day 11: Depart Paro.
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll drive to the nearby Paro airport. On your flight, it’s likely that you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak, and Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain.