DAY 01 ARRIVE PARO:
During the journey, the traveler will experience from the left side of the plane a spectacular view of Mt. Everest, and other famous Himalayan Mountains including the sacred Mt. Jumolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by your Bhutanese friend from Mythical Bhutan Travels. Lunch at the Hotel. Discuss the Tour Programme with the Tour Guide. After lunch sight seeing and early rest. Evening walk around the town. Overnight: Hotel in Paro.
DAY 02 PARO – A DAY EXCURSION TO TAKTSHANG MOMASTERY:
Drive up to Satsam Chorten (10 km from Paro town) and from there walk up to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest “. The Monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff drop of nearly 4000 ft. and overlooks the Paro valley and the river. 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 see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava known as the second Buddha in Bhutan meditated on this spot where the Monastery is situated having alighted there on the back of a flying tigress. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger.
Picnic lunch at the foothill of Taktsang monastery. The round hike takes about 4 Hr, followed by a short walk to Satsam Chorten and visit Kichu Lhakhang that was built in 659 by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. Visit is Ta Dzong (Fortress), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (Fortress), the center 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. Over night: Hotel in Paro.
Day 03 PARO – SHANA (Trek begins)
After breakfast drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). 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 2,820m; Distance14Km; Time 5-6 hours. Over night: Camping (Tent).
Day 04 SHANA – THANGTHANGKA:
The trek follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farm houses. 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 7-8 hours. Over night: Camping (Tents).
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 Tegethang, 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. Over night: Camping.
Day 06 JANGOTHANG (Halt):
A rest day. A chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jhomolhari glacier or to the lakes in the opposite direction. Over night: Camping (Tents).
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 Nyelela 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. Over night: Camping (Tents).
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. Over night: Camping (Tents).
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. Altitude3, 890m;Distance17kms; Time 6-7hours.Over night: Camping (Tents).
Day 10 SHOMUTHANG – ROBLUTHANG:
A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,640 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 22 kms; Time 7 – 8 hours. Over night: Camping (Tents).
Day 11 ROBLUTHANG – LEMITHANG:
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 4,870 m. and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta 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 16 km; Time 6-7 hours. Over night: Camping (Tents).
Day 12 LEMITHANG – BEAUTIFUL LAYA:
Altitude3, 880m; Distance10kms; Time4-5 hours.
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’re 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. Over night: Camping (Tents).
Day 13 BEAUTIFUL LAYA – HALT:
We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people. Over night: Camping (Tents).
Day 14 BEAUTIFUL LAYA – KOENA:
The rail winds along the river valley offers breathtaking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Over night at camp. Altitude3, 300m; Distance19kms; Time 6/7 hours. Over night: Camping (Tents)
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 15kms; Time: 6/7 hours. Over night: Camping (Tents).
Day 16 GASA TSACHU – GOEN DAMJI – PUNAKHA – THIMPHU:
(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. The trail descends from the high agricultural benches above the Mochu into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and the sight of an occasional monkey.
Afternoon, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952.After lunch, drive to Thimphu. Enroute visit Chimi Lhakhang also called Temple of Fertility built by Lama Drukpa kuenley in 17th century.
After noon drive to Thimphu, the journey takes about 3 & half hours through Dochula Pass (3150m). On the way stop for a photo stop at Dochula Pass which is 26km away from Thimphu valley, and for Tea and snacks and to enjoy the most spectacular view of eastern Himalayan snow capped Mountains and also the great view of Gasa Dzong at a distance (If weather is clear) and descends down to Thimphu valley, the capital city of the country. Over night: Hotel in Thimphu.
Day 17 THIMPHU – SIGHTSEEING:
After breakfast visit the Memorial Chorten (a great stupa) built in memory of the Third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972. Visit the mini Zoo where the national animals were kept and drive to Sangeygang where you can have a spectacular view of Thimphu valley. Visit nunnery in Zulikha. Visit the Wood Craft and Painting school where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive through the instructions of painting and curving. Visit the Handicrafts Emporium where Bhutanese textiles and other arts and crafts are displayed and can be purchased. Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. Visit Simtokha Dzong on the way. This is one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan. It was built in 1629 AD. It houses the largest monastic schools in the country. Evening drive to Paro. Over night Hotel in Paro.
Day 18 PARO – PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT for departure:
Early morning drive to Paro International Airport and your Bhutanese friends from Mythical Bhutan Travels will accompany you to bid farewell as you embark on your onward journey to back.