Druk Path Trek (Itinerary One)

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01

DAY 01

Day 1: Paro the valley of un-surpassing beauty

Fly into Bhutan’s national airport in Paro, and witness spectacular views of the great Himalayan; peaks to catch your first glimpse of Bhutan. Descending into the beautiful Paro valley at 2250m, your journey, rare in time, place, and spirit, has begun. NAT staff will welcome you at the airport to transfer to your hotel for the evening.

Today provides an opportunity to acclimatize to the rarefied air at this 2250m altitude and to get to know your guide.

Sightseeing and acclimatization hikes for the rest of the day may include:

Ta Dzong- National Museum: which was built in 1951 was once the watchtower for the defense of Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century.  It was re-established as the National Museum in 1967 and has been rated among the best natural history museums in Asia.  It holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangka paintings, handicrafts, masks, costumes, armor and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps.  

Rinpung Dzong: which was built in 1646 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal mainly for defense purposes against frequent incursions.  Historically, it was an important administrative center and the seat of many feudal lords and penlops. Today it houses the administrative offices which include the legislative, executive, judicial and religious center for the people of Paro.

Paro’s Market & Town Square: Paro’s market has a more traditional feel than Thimphu’s weekend market and serves as an excellent introduction to some of Bhutan’s unique local products.

Weekend Archery: Archery in Bhutan is not just a sport but is celebrated as a way of life and an expression of Bhutan’s rich culture and heritage. Family members also participate, making it a social event. Aside from the grand celebration complete with traditional attire, it is likely the only sport in which players are allowed to drink alcohol! Traditional archery would be incomplete without plenty of eating and, of course, drinking. This is something that has been passed down through generations and is still going on!

02

DAY 02

Day 2: Hike to Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Monastery)

On day 2 we start our exciting hike toward one of Bhutan’s most sacred places—the site of a Cliffside monastery and an important pilgrimage destination, ‘Taktsang Monastery’. You’re likely to see locals displaying handicrafts for sale along the route to the monastery—evidence of individual enterprise rarely seen until the past few years.

The trail rises slowly above the valley, passing through fields, forests and by large prayer wheels turned by a stream. Just before reaching the Monastery we will stop to enjoy a hot drink and striking views of the monastery across the valley.

We then retrace our steps back down. We board the car at the end of this rewarding pilgrimage and drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1644 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to control the northern route to Tibet. The drive is picturesque, and the site of the ancient, now ruined dzong is magnificent. 

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DAY 03

Day 3: National Museum to Camp Jele Dzong (Trek Day 1)

The trek begins above the National Museum, with its way steeply through blue pine forest and around several farmhouses and fenced apple orchards. 

Above the camp is Jele la (3,400m) and Jele Dzong that is mostly in ruins. This is a large monastery and contains a huge statue of PadmaSambhava. The building was until very recently deserted, but has now undergone some renovation and is in use again for monastic school.  It sits astride a ridge, which affords dramatic views of the valleys on both sides and the Himalaya to the north. The second highest mountain in Bhutan can be seen, Mt. Jhomolhari, 7,314m/23,997ft. The campsite is just a few hundred feet below Jili Dzong in a clearing. There are plenty of interesting birds, flora and fauna throughout the day.

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DAY 04

Day 4: Jele Dzong to Camp Jangchu Lakha (Trek Day 2)

The altitude gain today is significant so it is recommended that you walk at a slow and steady pace. Walk through a forest of pine before climbing to reach a yak herder’s pasture at Jangchu Lakha (3780m) with great views of the Himalayan range.

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DAY 05

Day 5: Camp Jangchu Lakha to Camp Jimilangtsho (Trek Day 3)

The trail today follows the ridge and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valleys are sensational. A lovely walk to the large beautiful lake, stocked with trout, with a large chorten (religious obelisk) built at one end. En route we cross a series of small passes in the vicinity of 4050m with each marked by a stone memorial and an abundance of prayer flags. From our lunch spot we can appreciate the location of our campsite on the shores of the Jimilang Tsho. To reach the lake involves a log and gradual descent taking an hour & then we will reach our wonderful campsite.

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DAY 06

Day 6: Camp Jimilangtsho to camp Simkotra Tsho (Trek Day 4)

From the lake the trail ascends through wild forest before traversing a series of grazing meadows. It takes around three hours to reach the secluded encampment of Janye Tsho (3950m) and a fine place for a break. Thereafter the profile of the trail continues with short ascents and descents to reach the campsite above Simkota Tsho (4050m). From the campsite you can appreciate Jilli Dzong and the ridge-line you trekked along a few days earlier

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DAY 07

Day 7: Camp Simkotra Tsho to Phajoding (Trek Day 5)

On our final day along the ridges we head over a series of small passes leading towards the Thimphu valley. En route we pass a number of yak herders settlements and alpine lakes before reaching the Phume La (4200m) from where we cherish the vast sprawl of the Thimphu Valley. We will continue our descent to a campsite near Phajoding Goemba (3650m). This is a beautiful Buddhist monastery and an important pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese people

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DAY 08

Day 8: Phajoding – Thimphu (Trek Day 6)

From Phajoding the trail descends steeply, passing through mixed forest for a couple of hours before following the valley floor to the Youth center (2580m). From the road head, we drive to our hotel in Thimphu. In the evening, you have time to roam the streets of Thimphu. Small shops line the street, mostly catering to the locals. There are a few ―tourist shops but you must seek them out. To make the most of your free time, feel free to ask a guide or driver to accompany you.

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DAY 09

Day 9: Thimphu

Let’s hike to the giant Buddha that towers above Wang Chhu. It is one of the world’s largest Buddha statues, standing 169 feet tall and containing 100,000 smaller Buddhas. Buddha’s birthplace is a major pilgrimage site and a gathering place for Buddhists from all over the world to practice and meditate.

There are numerous long and short, easy & hard hiking trails around the Buddha through beautiful meadows, pine trees and rhododendron bushes with even more beautiful birds singing overhead.

Takin Preserve: Takins are the resident animals of Bhutan and look like a smaller version of the American Buffalo of yore. The takin is a cross between a Goat and a cow! The preserve is a beautiful area, not like a zoo at all…peaceful, green and lovely.

Sightseeing in Thimphu may include:

  • Check out the archery field for competition and practice
  • Thimphu’s colorful weekend market
  • Craft Baazar
  • World’s tallest Buddha

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DAY 10

Day 10: Departure

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our departure flight. We hope you have enjoyed your visit, found it rewarding, and left with a new understanding.

Tashi Delek !

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