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 – Shana (Start of Trek)
Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong following the Paro river and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana.
Altitude 2,820 m; Distance 14 Km; Time 5 – 6 hours.
Day 04: Shana – Thangthangka
The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.
Altitude 3610 m; Distance 21 Km; Time 8 – 9 hours.
Day 05: Thangthangka – Jangothang
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tekethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.
Altitude 4,115 m; Distance 15 Km; Time 5 – 6 hours.
Day 06: Exploring Tshophu lakes and areas.
We will start hiking quite early to Tshophu lakes. From there one can have a spectacular view of both Mt. Jumolhari & Mt. Jichu Drakye. We can also see some animals like mountain goat, blue sheep and marmot.
Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi
A good day’s walk today with spectacular views of the Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyile La pass (4,700 m. After the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Dzong atop a high hill.
Altitude 4000m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 08: Lingshi – Chebisa
This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb gently to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300 m cliff. Another hours walk brings us to a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall at one end of the Shangri La village of Chebisa, where we camp by the side of the river. The walk is very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger.
Altitude 3,780m; Distance 12 kms; Time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 09: Chebisa – Shomuthang
We start with quite a stiff climb through high pastures up the Gokula pass (4,320 m) before we drop through forests of dwarf rhododendron. We climb gradually and head down to the camp near a riverbed.
Altitude 3,890 m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 10: Shomuthang – Robluthang
A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,700 m where we once again get stunning views of the Himalayan mountains above us. We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarigathang valley, where herds of Takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp.
Altitude 4,100m ; Distance 20 kms; Time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 11: Robluthang – Lemithang
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 5,010 m. and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta (Great Tiger mountain) at the head of the valley. On a clear day practically all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank.
Altitude 4,040m; Distance 19kms; Time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 12: Lemithang – Laya
We walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for they wear vertical stripe yak hair clothing and their strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and with great deal of turquoise and jade jewelry. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/ Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys. The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting village houses and mixing with the villagers. Good views of the Masagang and the other peaks.
Altitude 3,880m; Distance 10 kms; Time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 13: Laya (Halt)
The extra day in Laya is to get some rest and to exploret Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people. Laya is a large isolated community of roughly 1000 people, who have their own language, customs and distinct dress. The village is spread out over the hill side, close to the Tibetan border at an altitude of 3,700m, is one of the higest villages in Bhutan.
Day 14: Laya – Koena
The trail winds along the river valley offers breathtaking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Over night at camp.
Altitude 3,300m; Distance 19 kms; Time 6/7 hours.
Day 15: Koena – Gasa Tsachu
We gradually climb up to Balela pass at 3,740 m and then descend to Gasa village. The first sight of the Gasa Dzong perched on the hillside over the village is one of the sights of the trip. We then drop steeply down to the river for an hour and camp near the Hot Spring – a chance for a good, hot bath!
Altitude 2,638m; Distance 15 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 16: Gasa Tsachu – Goen Damji – Punakha (End of Trek).
After the climb away from Gasa Tsachu the trail winds through rolling hillsides with the vista of fields, villages and forests of oak and pine. Gasa Dzong will be visible behind you glued to the valley wall, seeming afloat in space. Overnight at hotel ,Time 6-7 hours.
Day 17: Full day Sightseeing in Punakha & Wangduephodrang.
In the morning we visit Punakha Dzong, the ancient capital of Bhutan and later we do a holiday (easy) walk to Chimi Lakhang the temple of fertility. After lunch we drive down to Wangduephodrang and stroll the tiny down town and visit the Dzong. Overnight at hotel.
Day 18: Drive to Thimphu and sightseeing.
After breakfast we drive to Thimphu, journey overland across Dochula pass (3100) and stop to get breathtaking panoramic views of the eastern Himalayan peaks. Skies are usually clearer between October and December in Bhutan.
After lunch we visit Textile Museum, Heritage Museum, National Library and Thimphu Dzong, the main seat of our King and the central monastic body.
Day 19: Thimphu sightseeing & drive to Paro.
In the morning we visit the School for arts and craft, Traditional hospital, National memorial Chorten, Mini zoo where our national animal can be seen. We also visit the national stadium to watch our national sport; archery. If possible, we can visit the weekend market. Later in the evening we drive to Paro and take a rest. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 20: 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.