“A forest is a wonderful living organism which gives unlimited warmth and affection, without making demands. It gives protection and shade to all creatures – even those who wield an axe to cut it down.”
Can’t we apply this wonderful quote by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha to nature as a whole? When trekking in the Kingdom of Bhutan, an omnipresent nature welcomes us. We treat it with the utmost respect. From the peaks of the glaciers of the Himalaya down to the subtropics: The rivers of Bhutan have carved their way almost exclusively from North to South. This created independent valley landscape, sparsely populated, with dense mountain forests and magnificent high valleys. In this isolated world, we look for our exclusive trekking destinations. To guests coming from the high-tech Western world, the beauty of the rural sceneries often appears unreal. Subtropics and high mountains – this creates a rich biodiversity with orchids and rhododendrons, magnolias and carnivorous plants. And if we are lucky, we will spot a red panda, sitting high above on a fork of a tree. This cute mammal is also called lesser panda or red cat bear. And it looks more like a racoon than a “real” panda. Still, snow leopards roam the higher elevations of Bhutan, up to a height of 6000 m!
Day 1: Kathmandu, Nepal
Flight to Kathmandu. (Charter flight with Qatar or Thai Airways from Zurich is available)
Day 2: Arrival in Kathmandu. Our local travel guide will arrange the transfer to the hotel through the buzzing city. In the evening, we will go for a small tour through the lively quarters. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 3: Flight from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan, 2,240 m
The flight along the Himalayan mountain range offers spectacular views of the white peaks. We can spot the sacred Jomolhari and the Jichu Drake in the border region between Tibet and Bhutan. Upon our arrival in the Kingdom, we have the opportunity to visit the Kyichu Lhakhang on foot, which the oldest temple in the country. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 4: Trekking from Paro to Taktshang and visit of Tiger’s Nest Monastery, 2,960 m
We use this day to acclimatise to the height. We hike to Taktshang and visit the Ta Dzong, the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery, at 2,960 m. We then continue to Rinpung Dzong, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery, situated
at a respectable height of 3,180 m. Lunch will be served in a restaurant approximately at mid mountain height, high above the Paro valley. We spend the afternoon at leisure to prepare ourselves for the trekking on the next day. Overnight stay at the hotel, hike is approx. 4 – 5 hours, 12 km.
Day 5: Paro, 2,240 m – Drugyel Dzong – Sharma Zampa, 2,810 m
The trail follows a mild upward slope through well-kept rice terraces and millet fields. Later, we hike through an apple plantation and forest area. Soon, the valley widens and we reach the army post of Gunyitsawa at an altitude of 2,960 m. This is the last stop before Tibet. At 2,870 m, just after Sharma Zampa, we find well maintained camping sites on lawns, surrounded by trees. Overnight stay in tent, hike is approx. 5 – 6 hours, 17 km.
Day 6: Sharma Zampa, 2,810 m – Takengthanka, 3,730 m
The trail follows the Paro River through the Pa Chu valley, ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests until we reach Jigme Dorji National Park. After a hot lunch, we continue our hike through rhododendron forests, passing Chorten. We cross a bridge to reach our camping site. Stunning view of the Jomolhari, 7,314 m. Overnight stay in tent, hike approx. 6 – 7 hours, 20 km.
Day 7: Takengthanka, 3,730 m – Jangothang, 4,030 m
The route takes us past peacefully grazing yaks. Even at this altitude, we see farmers busy at work! We continue following the river, passing the tree line and next, a breath- taking view of the surrounding peaks is in front of us. During our hike into the valley, we pass yak shepherds until we reach the camp. Magnificent view of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. Overnight stay in tent, hike is approx. 5 – 6 hours, 19 km.
Day 8: Jangothang, 4,030 m, day of rest
After the strenuous past few days, a day of rest will do us good. Situated a bit higher than the village, our camping site offers a fantastic view of the snow covered mountains of the Himalaya. We can choose among different hikes. A very nice route leads us to the crest to the North of Jangothang, from where we can enjoy an impressive view of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. Another route takes us to a clear mountain lake, duration approx. 1½ hours. With a little luck, we can even spot Himalayan blue sheep. Overnight stay in tent.
Day 9: Jangothang, 4,030 m – Ngile La Pass, 4,870 m – Lingshi, 4,000 m
The sunrise with a view of the Jomolhari massif is breath-taking. The trail follows the stream and we climb up the Ngile La pass, from where we can enjoy a fantastic view of Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserim Kang. The descent leads us once again through a rhododendron forest, passing the glacier tongue of the 6,789 m high Tserim Kang. Magnificent panorama of the surrounding peaks and the LingshiDzong. Hike is 5 – 6 hours, 18 km. Overnight stay in tent.
Day 10: Lingshi, 4,000 m – Shodu, 3,763 m
Today, we have a quite long trekking tour ahead of us and therefore depart in the early morning. A steep trail carved into the stone leads us along a rock face up to the Yelila pass at an altitude of 4,930 m. On a clear day, we see the snow giants Jomolhari, Tserimgang and Masang Gang, which we know quite well by now. From the pass summit, we descend a steep trail down to our camping site in Shodu. Apart from the blue sheep, the musk deer and a small deer can be spotted. Hike is 8 – 9 hours, 22 km.
Day 11: Shodu, 3,763 m – Barshong, 3,680 m
This morning, we cross a steep rock face. Here we can find numerous meditation caves. Walking down some steps, we reach the Thimphu Chu River, which we will cross several times today. We reach Barshong in the afternoon, where we set up our tents in front of some ruins. Hike is 16 km, 5 – 6 hours.
Day 12: Barshong, 3,680 m – Dolam Kencho, 3,630 m
Our route takes us from the camp down to the Thimphu Chu River. Here, once again below the tree line, we hike through dense rhododendron, larch and birch forests. We cross several tributaries to the Thimphu Chu River.
Our journey continues up and down through these tributary valleys until we reach Dolam Kencho. Hike is 15 km, 4 – 6 hours.
Day 13: Dolam Kencho, 3,630 m Dodena, 2,640 m – Thimphu
Today is our last trekking day. Hiking over a small mountain pass and crossing open bamboo forests, we continue our journey until we reach Dodena. Here, we get to a road where a driver picks us up. Drive to Thimphu. In case we have not spotted the takin on our trekking tour, we have the opportunity now. This mammal, which resembles the chamois, is kept here and is also Bhutan’s national animal. Overnight stay at the hotel. Hike is 8 km, 3 – 4 hours.
Day 14: Thimphu – Paro
In Thimphu, we can explore many places of interest. Trashichodzong, the largest Buddha statue, and various monasteries can be visited. Situated above the city, it offers a stunning view over the valley. Visits of diverse traditional craft shops give us an insight into everyday working life. In the late afternoon, we depart for Paro by car. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 15: Paro – Flight to Kathmandu, Nepal
We drive to Paro airport for our return flight to Nepal. Our agent sees us off warmly. Upon our arrival in Kathmandu, a driver picks us up and drives us to our hotel.
Day 16: Kathmandu
We spend the day at leisure, strolling through the narrow alleys of Kathmandu and doing our last souvenir shopping. We end our tour with a final dinner, reflecting on the many impressions.
Day 17: Kathmandu – Flight Home
Transfer to the airport and return flight.