DAY 01: Arrival and sightseeing in Paro (2,250m/7,382ft)
As our flight nears Bhutan, we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take us to our hotel. Today, we will visit Rinpung Dzong which was built in 1646 and now houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. We will also visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country and Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower but has now been changed into the National Museum. The museum has a wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic displays and a “field of Buddhas”, which helps one visualize while meditating. Overnight in Paro.
Day 02: Acclimatization hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3,180m/10,430 ft)
After breakfast, we hike for around 4 -5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor and drive back to Paro. Overnight in Paro.
Day 03: Trek starts: Paro to Shana (2,870m/9,413ft): 17km, 5-6 hours
The trek starts from Drugyal Dzong at 2,580m with a downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. We will camp a little further from Shana Zampa, at the meadows surrounded by trees. Overnight camping.
Day 04: Shana to Sio Thangkha (3,750m/12,300ft): 20km, 6-7 hours
The trail follows Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch, we will follow the river again and climb up through the rhododendron forests. We cross the bridge for the last time before reaching our campsite. Overnight camping.
Day 05: Sio Thangkha to Jangothang (4,040m/13,251ft): 19km, 5-6 hours
Our path ascends for a while until we reach an army camp. We will then follow the Paro River above the tree line enjoying stunning views of surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder's camp. A short walk into the valley will take us to our camp at Jangothang. From here, the view of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peak are superb. Overnight camping.
Day 06: Jangothang to Lingshi (4,000m/13,120ft): 19 km, 6-7 hours
We follow a stream for a while before climbing a ridge. From the top of the ridge we get amazing views of Mt. Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang. The trail then moves towards a valley on an almost flat path until the climb to the Ngye La pass (4,700m). After crossing the pass, we gradually descend to Lingshi and take pleasure in the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong. Overnight in Lingshi.
Day 07: Lingshi to Shodu (4,100m/13,450ft): 22km, 8-9 hours
The Laya Gasa route leaves the Jumolhari trek here. We climb up towards a small white Chhorten on a ridge then turn south to the deep Mo Chhu valley. Our trail is largely on a treeless valley, climbing steadily for a while. However, after crossing the Mo Chhu River our journey will be on a steep trail to Yeli La pass (4,820m). From the pass, we can enjoy amazing views of the mountains like Jumolhari, Gangchen Ta, Tshering Gang and Masang Gang. Then we descend to our camp at Shodu, a meadow with a beautiful Chhorten. Overnight in Shodu.
Day 08: Shodu to Barshong (3,600m/11,810ft): 16km, 6-7 hours
We follow the Thimpu River, descending through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forests. On our journey we get to enjoy stunning views of high cliffs and waterfalls. Lunch will be served by the riverside. After lunch we gradually ascend to the ruins of Barshong Dzong. Overnight in Barshong
Day 09: Barshong to Dolam Kencho (3,600m/11,810ft): 15km, 5-6 hours
Our trail descends gently through dense rhododendron, birch and conifers forests until it meets Thimpu River at the bottom. We walk on the left side of the river, climbing over ridges and descending to side streams. Our trail then crosses steep cliff to Dolam Kencho, a pastureland where we spend the night.
Day 10: Dolam Kencho to Thimphu (2,350m/7,710ft): 8km, 3 hours: Trek ends
We walk on a steep and winding trail in and out the Thimpu River towards the south until we reach Dodena. There, we will be picked up by Himalayan Glacier’s representative and driven to our hotel in Thimpu. In the evening, we may stroll in the streets of Thimpu and soak in the rich culture and lifestyle of the locals. Overnight in Thimpu.
Day 11: Sightseeing in Thimpu
In the morning, we visit nunnery temple, mini zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan and the radio tower (for a great view of the Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong). After lunch, we visit other landmarks of Thimpu including the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Bhutanese traditional painting school, folk heritage museum, the majestic Tashichho Dzong and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed in the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimpu during the weekends, we explore the Weekend Market instead. Overnight in Thimpu.
Day 12: Thimphu to Punakha (1,250m/4,100ft): 76 km, 2 - 3 hours
After breakfast, we will visit King’s Memorial Chorten which was built in the memory of third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972. We then have lunch and continue our drive to Punakha via Dochu La Pass (3,100m). The road to Punakha descends from the pass through the magnificent pine and rhododendron forests and wanders through some of Bhutan's most spectacular countryside laden with beautiful rice fields along the river banks. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 13: Punakha to Paro: 130 km, 4 hours
Today is the day we visit Punakha Dzong which symbolizes Bhutanese architecture where dzongs were built without iron nails. Built in between 1637-1638, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. We then drive towards Paro via Dochula Pass. We will also visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley en route. After the tour of the temple, we continue our drive to Paro with a stop in Thimpu for lunch. Overnight in Paro.
Day 14: Final Departure
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom and her friendly people. After early breakfast, we leave for Paro airport. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after breakfast, we will be taken to the airport in the morning for final departure.