Druk Path Trek

Trekking in Bhutan

Designed for those who want to get off the beaten path, Druk Path Trek enables travellers to hike and walk some of the most scenic trails. This trek features a wide variety of terrain including spectacular alpine meadows, turquoise blue glacial lakes and mountain forests with breath taking views of the great Himalayan Mountains. This varied terrain provides great opportunity for wildlife spotting as well.

On this adventure holiday one need to only be in average physical condition, capable of walking fifteen or so kilometers with a daypack in a day. An experienced leader, well versed in the geography, natural history, wildlife and culture of the areas we visit, will escort you.

Day 01: Arrive Paro
Flying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression. On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Bhutan Excursions will receive you and transfer you to the hotel.

Paro encapsulates a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, the country’s only airport, and the National Museum. Mt. Jomolhari (7,300m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley, its glacial waters plunging through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro River).   The Paro valley is one of the kingdom’s most fertile, producing the bulk of Bhutan’s famous red rice from its terraced fields.

Your sightseeing in Paro includes visit to the following places;

Rinpung Dzong

It was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan; the Dzong continues its age-old function as the seat of the district administration, district court and the monastic body. The southern approach to the Dzong has a traditional roofed cantilever bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk across the bridge offers a wide view of splendor of the Dzong’s architecture and an opportunity to tread the same path as the ancient warriors.

Kyichu Lhakhang
The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emporer Songtsen Gampo. It is considered to be one of the 108 border taming temples he built.

In 1971 HM Kesang Choden Wangchuck, the Queen of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, built a Guru Temple next to the old Jowo Temple that was consecrated by HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Since then, the annual rites of great accomplishment for the deities Vajrasattva, Palchen Heruka, and Vajrakilava have been held in this temple for the well being of the country under the patronage of HM Kesang Choden Wangchuck.

There is a belief that the two orange trees in the courtyard of Kyichu Lhakhang bear fruit throughout the year.

Altitude at Paro: 2300m
Overnight: Hotel in Paro

Day 02: Hike to Tiger’s Nest
Today, we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.

After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hilltops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful there and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for the rest of their lives. They say heaven is a place on earth – perhaps this is one such place. Anyway it is as close as you can get to in a day!

Coming down, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.

Approximate walking time: 06 hours

Altitude at Paro: 2300m

Overnight: Hotel in Paro

Trek begins;

Day 03: Paro - Jili Dzong (04 - 05 hours)
Today, we will have to make our way up gradually through the coniferous forest along the ancient trade route till Jili La Pass (3490m). It’s then just a short gentle walk down to our camp in a yak pasture (3450m). If we have time and if you are not tired with day’s walk, we can walk along the ridge that is just above our camp for the stunning view of mountains and the valleys.

Overnight: Camp at Jili Dzong (3450m)

Day 04: Jili Dzong – Jangchup Lakha (04 - 05 hours)
After making a short climb the trail gets level in the meadow along the ridge for sometime before you walk downhill for a while to climb through thick alpine forest to a saddle at 3,590m. The trail then follows the ridge, making many ups and downs, along the one side of the ridge to the other, heading towards northeast to our camp at Jangchup Lakha (3,780m) yet another yak pasture.

En route you are likely to see or hear some monal pheasants, and if the weather is clear, you will be rewarded with the breathtaking views of the mount Jomolhari and its associates.

Overnight: Camp at Jangchup Lakha (3780m)

Day 05: Jangchup Lakha - Tsobcha (05 - 06 hours)
This morning, we have a short steep climb through the forest of junipers that starts right from the camp. Once the steep climb is over, the trail gets level for a while and then it goes gradually up and down through the thickets of dwarf rhododendrons leading up to Jangchu La (4020m). We continue to walk uphill along the ridge for about another half an hour till we get to a small flat area on the slope, used as yak herder’s camp. Be cautious of the fork here! Avoid the path that is wide and more welcoming on the right. This path goes down to Jimilangtsho Lake, following the popular Drukpath Trek. Keep left on a small path that is barely visible at first and from here WE ARE GOING OFF THE BEATEN PATH! Our camp, a meadow beside small lake beneath some towering rocky mountains is just about 15 minutes from the fork.

Overnight: Camp at Tsobcha (4030m)

Day 06: Tsobcha - Ngabtsho (06 - 07 hours)
We start the day with a short climb through rhododendrons leading up to some small lakes following the yak's path that is quite rocky before we tackle the long ascent to Chume La (4400m) which is marked by a cairn of stones. The view from here is awesome. After spending some time around the pass, we walk down for about half an hour passing by series of glacial lakes. Some lakes are known for having giant sized trout. From the last big lake known as Zangtetsho (4275m), we climb up to yet another pass to Lache La (4360m) and the view from here is no less striking. One can see a chain of snow capped mountains, including world’s highest unclimbed – Mount Gangkhar Puensum (7550m). The ascent to this pass is short and much easier than the earlier one. Lower in the valleys, if we look down we can see some beautiful lakes on both sides of this pass. Down to Tshosumtoe, the valley with many lakes and then gradually climb up to Ngabtsho.

Overnight: Camp at Ngabtsho (4200m)

Day 07: Rest day at Ngabtsho
It is worth rising up early in the morning to see the sun rise over the eastern Himalayan mountains or just to experience the solitude of this heaven like place on earth. We will spend the day contemplating and enjoying the beauty of this place or perhaps, climb some of the mountains that towers above our camp.

Overnight: Camp at Ngabtsho (4200m)

Day 08: Nabtsho – Dungtsho
We traverse to Yusa La (4280 m) following the yak’s path whereas our horses will have to go down to the lake below our camp following the previous day’s path and then come up to Yusa La because that stretch of path we are following is rough and difficult for the horses. From Yusa La, we make a steep descent of about 200m to the base of Rangtha Ja (name of the cliff) where there is a fork. Keep left and ascend gradually to Dungtsho La (4270m). Our campsite is just about half an hour’s trek from here through the narrow and rocky path.

Approximate walking time: 05 hours
Camp: Dungtsho (4100m)

Day 09: Dungtsho – Thimphu
The day begins with a short gradual climb along the rocky trail till it gets level for a while and then there is a short descent before you climb up to Phume La (4210m). From here, it’s just under an hours walk to the edge of the ridge, which is marked by the Chorten, and a grove of fluttering prayer flags. On a clear day, one can have the views of long chain of snow covered mountains, and Thimphu valley underneath. From here, we have a long downhill walk to Thimphu passing Thujidrag temple, a retreat center that hangs on the side of a precipitous rock face and some temples at Phajoding (3870m).

Approximate walking time: 06 hours
Altitude at Thimphu: 2400m
Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu

Day 10: Thimphu
Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan which is perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government, home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.

Your sightseeing in Thimphu includes visit to the following places;

National Memorial Chorten
Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had wanted to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity, originally envisaged the building of this landmark. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan”), and a monument to peace.

Buddha Dordenma Statue
This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.

The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfills an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world.

Motithang Takin Preserve
A short distance up the road to the telecom tower is a trail leading to a large fenced area that was originally established as a mini-zoo. The king decided that such a facility was not in keeping with Bhutan's environmental and religious convictions, and it was disbanded some time ago. The animals were released into the wild but the takins, Bhutan's national animal, were so tame that they wandered around the streets of Thimphu looking for food, and the only solution was to put them back into captivity. It's worthwhile taking the time to see these oddball mammals. The best time to see them is early morning when they gather near the fence to feed. It's a five-minute walk from the road to a viewing area where you can take advantage of a few holes in the fence to take photographs.

Handicrafts Emporium
Visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of handcrafted products, including the splendid Thangkha paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous.

The “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk in the 1960s. While other governments around the world ensconce themselves in fortresses of stone and steel, the seat of Bhutan's Royal Government is in a building that mirrors the country's culture and its people. The building we see today is largely a modern affair, built in 1962 when His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk moved the government to Thimphu after a fire at its original location. The complex's central tower is original. Tashichhodzong houses the main secretariat building, throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan. During the warmer summer months the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.

Altitude at Thimphu: 2400m

Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu

Day 11: Departure
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort from Bhutan Excursions will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.