The 2nd Roof of the World 13 Days
Bhutan Adventure Travel – Bhutan Adventure Tour – On one of the most beautiful treks in Bhutan, you will head north from Parothrough alpine meadows and desolate valleys, taking in astounding views of some of Bhutan’s highest mountains, Himalayan peaks which straddle the border with China. The ideal season for this trekking route is in the spring or fall. You’ll also tour the “Tiger’s Nest” outside of Paro, and travel by road to see the sights of Thimphu and Punakha. The wonders of this Himalayan kingdom are unparalleled; don’t miss the chance to see them for yourself.
Day 1: Arrive Paro (By Drukair) (L, D, G)
The flight into Paro is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of this country. In clear weather, magnificent views of some of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green ParoValley as you land. On arrival at ParoInternational Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you’ll visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower which now houses the National Museum.
Below the museum is the ParoRimpungDzong, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds. (Archery is the national sport of Bhutan). If you are lucky, you might catch a match in action.
Day 2: Paro hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) (B, L, D, G)
Right after breakfast, you be driven out to the trailhead to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries. Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest,” so named because Guru Rimpoche reportedly arrived at the site of thismonastery on the back of a flying tiger in the late centuries of the first millennium. The monastery is perched on a cliff nearly 3,000 ft above the ParoValley floor.
This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic.It is about a two hour hike to reach a mountainside cafeteria which gives you a breath-taking view of the Tiger’s Nest. If you still feel like hiking,you can continue another hour to reach Taktsang itself. Then return back to the hotel and you’ll have the evening free.
Day 3: DrukgyelDzong – Shana (trek begins) (B, L, D, G)
Altitude: 2800m, Duration:5 hours, Distance:15 km, Level of difficulty: Easy.
Starting from DrukgyelDzong, the fortress that once guarded the Paro Valley against Tibetan invaders, your first day trekking begins with a pleasant walk along the unpaved road following the left side of the Pachu River. The farm road passes through a number of very small villages with traditional houses, rice and vegetable fields along the trail.
After about an hour’s walk, the farm road ends at Mitsizamp. Crossing a bridge to the right side of the river, the trail climbs very gradually for another hour through the trees to Zakhapang (2,600m), where you will pause for a nice lunch at a clean, open space. After lunch,continue through blue pine forests, closely following the river. The Gunyitsawa army outpost appears not long before the end of the first day’s trek. The campsite at Shana, just beyond, is situated at an altitude of 2,820m in a beautiful open space surrounded by blue pine forest. Two traditional houses on the other side of the wide, fast-flowing river make up Shana village.
Note: You can also drive to camp on your first day of the trek. If driving is required, please inform your guide a day prior to your trek.
Day 4: Shana – Thangthangka (B, L, D, G)
Altitude: 3,750m, Duration: 8 hours, Distance: 20 km. Level of difficulty: Long but not difficult, at places the route is muddy and rough.
This will be your longest trekking day, taking about eight hours to reach the campsite. The trail continues along the river, gradually ascending through a mixed forest of blue pine and oak and, later in the afternoon, tall rhododendron trees, birch, fir and maple.
Though the trail is sometimes rocky and rough, the trekking is not strenuous, thoughin rainy conditions it can be quite muddy. There are several simple wooden bridges to cross and sometimes the river reaches right up to the trail. You will stop for a lunch break after about 4 hours of walking through an ever-narrowing valley.ShingKarap or Thombuzam are popular stopping places, at around 3,305m.
Several trails lead in other directions, such as the trail to Tremo la, which was the old salt-trading route to Tibet. Not long before reaching the campsite, the trail leads you up a ridge with a chorten. In the distance at the end of the valley,Jumolhari Mountain comes into view. Finally, after an 8 hour walk, you reach your campsite. The camp is located in a spacious clearing and directly faces Mount Jumolhari. The view of early morning sun striking the tip of Jumolhari is breath-taking. Mount Jumolhari, rising 7,326 meters, is among the world’s highest mountains.
Day 5: Thangthangka – Jangothang base camp (B, L, D, G)
Altitude: 4050m, Duration: 4 hours, Distance: 12 km. Level of difficulty: Short and easy.
The third day’s trek is a short one so it is possible to set off a little later and proceed at a leisurely pace. When you reach the army outpost you are required to stop and register your entry permits issued by the army headquarters in Thimphu – this procedure will be taken care of by your guide.
The Pachu River is again to the right and the trail passes through some very small villages. It will take less than four hours to reach Jangothang Base Camp. The altitude at the base camp is 4,000m, and it is a beautiful place to spend the night. The imposing, rounded bulk of Jumolhari Mountain fills the view to the Northeast and in the evening the profile of the ruined JangothangDzong, populated by huge ravens, creates a mystical atmosphere. The area is rich in bird life. Birds sighted en route include the Fire-tailed Sunbird, Ibisbill, White throated Dipper, Yellow-billed Chough, Rosy Pipit, Snow Pigeon, Blue-fronted Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge and many more.
Day 6: Jangothang break (B, L, D, G)
Today is a day to rest and acclimatize to the altitude. The body also needs time to adjust to the falling temperatures, especially during the night. You will have opportunity to explore the valley and enjoy wonderful views of the mountains. A leisurely 2 hourhike will take you to the twin lakes of Tshophu. You can also enjoy the view of the cone-shapedJichuDrakeyagainst the clear blue sky, whichcannot fail to remind you of the Matterhorn from this perspective. Truly a sight to behold,many rank this as the most beautiful mountain in Bhutan.
Day 7: Jangothang – DhumzoChhu(B, L, D, G)
Altitude: 3800m,Duration: 7 ½ hours, Distance: 16 km. Level of difficulty: Strenuous
Along your route today you will have views of Jhomolhari, Jitchu Drake and the valley to Jhomolhari camp site. Your will also come across several yak herder’s tentsand are likely to see Himalayan blue sheep high up on the rocky slopes. If you are lucky,you may see snow leopard footprintsat Bonte La Pass. At 16,040 ft/4,890m, this is the highest pass of your trek. Take some time to enjoy the scenery, have a snack or put up some prayer flags.
From here you can see the Basingthang Peaks (5,500m), Chatarake(5,570m) and Kanchenjunga (8,586m), the third highest mountain in the world. After the pass, the trail drops through a steep, narrow gully with gravel and loose rocks till you reachDhumzo. The SoiYaksa Valley is a beautiful site with impressive rock cliffs, waterfalls, steep valley walls and nearby snow-covered peaks. Overnight at the camp.
Day 8: DhumzoChhu – ThombuShong(B, L, D, G)
Altitude: 4150m, Duration: 5 ½ hours, Distance: 11 km,Level of difficulty: Moderate
From the camp you will climb through rhododendron, birch and oak forest draped in moss,then through a meadow with a huge Juniper tree and onward to Dhunge(15,410ft/4,700m) and Tagulun La (14,880ft/4,540m). Along the way you will get better views of Jhomolhari, Jitchu Drake and Teri Kang, and in the distance Kanchenjunga and even Makalu (27,760ft/8463m), blocking the view to Mount Everest.
You can also overlook the valley to see tonight’s camp,Thombu. The ThombuValley’s several stone huts are busy in spring and autumn with a number of families and hundreds of yaks, horses, dogs and goats. ThombuCamp is the second highest camp for the trek.
Day 9: ThombuShong – Shana – Paro (B, L, D, G)
Altitude: 2800m, Duration: 5 ½ hours, Distance: 12 km. Level of difficulty: Moderate
Today you will cross the valley through a swampy area to reach a clear trail through rhododendron bushes climbing steeply to Thombu La (14,005ft/4270m). You can also see the several mountain peaks from the pass.
The ridge walk from the pass is one of the best parts of the trek: very high above the valleys on a good trail with a beautiful view. The trail descends steeply for 2 to 3 hours till you reach the Army camp, and then you’ll be driven for about an hour on the unpaved road to your hotel and will spend the night in Paro.
Day 10: Paro/Thimphu Sightseeing(B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, you will be driven about one hour to Thimphu. At an altitude of 3,280 meters,Thimphuis the modern capital of Bhutan. Here, you will go to Buddha Point to see the massive Buddha statue and get a good overview of Thimphu City. View the Memorial Chorten commissioned and built by the Queen Grandmother in memory of the late King.
Stop by the National Library which houses a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts, and visit the Traditional Medicine Centre where healing arts such as acupuncture and herbal remedies are still practiced, and the painting school. Later,visit TashichhoDzong, the “fortress of the glorious dharma”, whichis the centreof government andreligion, seat of the Kings Throne room and of the Je Khenpo or chief abbot. It was rebuilt in the early 1960s after a fire destroyed most of the building. You will stay overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 11: Thimphu/Punakha (74 Km, 2 ½ hrs) (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, drive 2.5 hrsto Punakha,with a short stop at DochulaPass. If the weather is clear, you will have a superb view of the Bhutanese Himalayas. After lunch in Punakha, you will visit the beautiful PunakhaDzong built in 1637 by ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal.
Based on the prophecy of Guru Padmasambava, the dzong is situated between two famous rivers, Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). Punakha was previously the capital of Bhutan, until 1955. Spend the night in Punakha.
Day 12: Punakha/Paro sightseeing (115 Km, 3 ½ hrs)(B, L, D, G)
After breakfast you’ll head back to Paro, passing throughThimphu, a drive which may take up to 4 hours. After checking in at your hotel, you will have lunch in Paro, then visit DrugyelDzong, the fort of Drukpa victory which is almost 10 miles north of town. From this fortress,the Bhutanese repelled several invasions by Tibetans throughout the course of history.
Looming above the ruins, if the weather is clear, you can see the snow-capped peak of Mount Jumolhari. On the way back you’ll visit Kyichu Temple, one of the last three surviving among 108 temples built in the 7th century by a Tibetan king. Of the three remaining, two are in Bhutan and one in Tibet – the Jokhang in Lhasa. In the evening you can stroll around town and will stay overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 13: Departure from Paro Airport (B, G)
After breakfast, meet your guide and driver for transfer to the airport to catch your departureflight. Bhutan Adventure Travel – Bhutan Adventure Tour
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