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Closed to the outsiders for centuries, Bhutan has long been a mysterious land for foreigners. Our ‘Jumolhari Trek with Cultural Tour in Bhutan’ combines both trekking through rugged mountain terrains and a journey into the mystical Buddhist cultural towns of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. While touring the towns we visit popular landmarks like Rinpung Dzong (fortress), Kichu Lhakhang and Chimi Lhakhang temple, Drugyal Dzong, memorial Chorten, folk heritage museum and even hike to the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s nest) monastery. We also cross the Dochula pass while enjoying constant company of the stunning Bhutanese landscape on our Jumolhari Trek with Cultural Tour in Bhutan.
|DAY 01: Arrival and sightseeing in Paro||2,250m/7,382ft|
|Day 02 Acclimatization hike to Tigers Nest Monastery||3,180m/10,434ft||4-5 hrs|
|Day 03 Trek starts: Paro to Shana||2,870m/9,416ft||5-6 hrs|
|Day 04 Shana to Sio Thangkha||3,750m/12,304ft||6-7 hrs|
|Day 05 Sio Thangkha to Jangothang||4,040m/13,255ft||5-6 hrs|
|Day 06 Jangothang: Rest Day||4,040m/13,255ft|
|Day 07 Jangothang to Lingshi||4,000m/13,124ft||6-7 hrs|
|Day 08 Lingshi to Shodu||4,100m/13,452ft||8-9 hrs|
|Day 09 Shodu to Barshong||3,600m/11,812ft||6-7 hrs|
|Day 10 Barshong to Dolam Kencho||3,600m/11,812ft||5-6 hrs|
|Day 11 Dolam Kencho to Thimphu : Trek ends||2,320m/7,612ft||3 hrs|
|Day 12 Sightseeing in Thimpu||2,320m/7,612ft|
|Day 13 Thimphu to Punakha||1,250m/4,101ft|
|Day 14 Punakha to Paro||2,250m/7,382ft|
|Day 15 Final Departure||-|
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. Overnight in Paro.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today is a day set aside for acclimatization. Health experts recommend us to stay active and moving during the rest day too instead of being idle. We can choose from four day hikes: a 3-4 hours hike up to a ridge that gives a good view of Jichu Drake; a hike up to the end of the valley, toward Jumolhari; a trek up the main valley toward Jichu Drake’ or a hike to Tsophu, a pair of lakes with a good supply of brown trout. Overnight camping.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are included during your stay in Bhutan. A variety of meals are available in most hotels the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food. Non-vegetarian dishes are generally available in most parts of Bhutan - pork, beef, chicken, and fish. The best advice is to ask the hotel and restaurant to recommend what is fresh and in season. While trekking, fresh foods and meats will be served during the initial days and high quality tinned foods during the end of the trek.
Hotels in Bhutan are approved and classified by the government as grade A, B and C. These government approved hotels are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels elsewhere. Based on availability at the time of booking, we will be accommodated in A grade hotels in Paro and Thimphu and B grade hotel in Punakha. We use Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro, Hotel Migmar in Thimphu and Meri Puensum Resort in Punakha. We will also be camping (in tents) during trekking. All accommodations are on a twin-shared basis. Single supplement will be served on request and will cost USD 800.
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