Druk Path Trek is the most popular trek in the country passing through gorgeous natural landscape of blue pine forests, high ridges and pristine lakes while at the same time offering the opportunity to visit some ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and villages along the way. The Druk Path Trek is also a fairly easy hike to undertake as the distances between rest camps are fairly short. The trail takes you through forests of fir, blue pine and dwarf rhododendrons at altitudes ranging between 2400-4200 m. On the third day hikers will arrive at Jimilangtsho Lake, whose crystal clear waters are home to gigantic trout.
Bhutan Druk Path trek also offers hikers stunning views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest unscaled peak in the world. The best times to embark on the Druk Path Trek are between March-June or September-November.
Fly to Bhutan’s Paro Valley (7,300 feet) and visit the National Museum of Bhutan with excellent displays of all facets of the country’s rich cultural history. The winding road that leads up to the museum offers a good view of the Paro valley below. Also visit Paro Rinpung Dzong (fortress on the heap of jewels) dating back to 17th century. The Dzongs’ structure is vast and full of colors. In the past, Dzongs acted as strongholds, protecting the vale’s inhabitants in times of war against Tibetans and internal rebellions. Today, it serves as the center for administrative and monastic life and they also houses the offices of the local government and the resident monk body. Check into the hotel and relax.
Our journey in the kingdom starts with a hike to the most sacred site in Bhutan: Taktsang Lhakhang or the Tiger’s Nest Temple at more than 10,000 ft. Visible from afar, this stunning monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor and today is the most popular destination for the travelers around the world. Even to this day, revered monks and saints come up this way to offer their prayers and get blessing from Guru Padmasambhava who in the 8th century is believed to have ridden on a back of a tigress and meditated here for four months, introducing Buddhism in the valley. In the evening we will take time to visit the oldest temple in the country, Kichu Lhakhang dating back to early 8th century. The main street, only built in 1985, is lined with colorfully painted wooden shop fronts and restaurants and handicrafts for souvenirs.
Elevation gain: 700m/2,300ft
Elevation loss: 700m/2,300ft
Drive up to the village of Damchena from your hotel for about 1 ½ Hours. And then start your trek from here bypassing a lone Mani walls, gradually climbing up for about 2 ½ hours through a forest of blue pine and silver birch. Just above the tree line we reach an alpine glade and the Jili La (3580m) and gain fine views back down the Paro Valley. We will visit the Jili Dzong, an impressive fort cum monastery with panoramic views. In the vicinity of the Dzong there are many prayer flags hung from commemorative poles that reflect the ancient Buddhist beliefs that extend across the ridge tops of Bhutan.
Afternoonwe continue walking along the wooded crest high above the Paro Valley through conifer and rhododendron forest while numerous orchids, ferns and wildflowers line the trail. To the north we will sight the snowcapped peak of Chomolhari in the distance. On this stage we also pass through a number of yak herders settlements who, like their counterparts in Southern Tibet, live in woven yak wool tents throughout the summer months. Our camp at Jangchulakha which is also used as the grazing grounds by yak herders is in a fine location overlooking the intermediary valley between the Paro and Thimphu valleys.
Distance: 10.5Miles/ 17kms
Elevation gain: 1,350m/4,450ft
Elevation loss: 70m/ 230ft
Today morningis a strenuous climb up for about 2 hours until we reach the top and continue north along tanned alpine ridge. 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 the passes there are also fine views of many of the peaks that form the border with Tibet. We keep walking along the ridge rest of the afternoon until Jigmelangtsho comes into view. To reach the lake involves a long and gradual descent taking an hour or so, at first across alpine meadows and then through rhododendron and conifer forest to this wonderful campsite by the side of the lake below. The lake is famous for the brown trouts.
Elevation gain: 330m/1,090ft
Elevation loss:230m/ 760ft
The trail today ascends through juniper and dwarf rhododendron forest before traversing a series of grazing meadows. It takes around three hours to reach the secluded encampment of Janye Tsho (3950 m) and a fine place for a break. Thereafter the trail continues with short ascents and descents until we make it to anotherbeautiful Simkotra Tsho from where you willappreciate the Jili Dzong and the ridge-line you trekked along a few days earlier.As you trek along you will enjoy and marvel at the pristine environment around. Further we continue on ascending and descending until we reach to Labana, another yak herder’s campsite. There are few lakes around and we will see the trail that goes up to PUMOLA, the highest point on our trek.
Elevation gain: 820m/2,700ft
Elevation loss: 400m/1,320ft
In the morning we will climb up to Pumola (4,100 M / 13,530 FT) 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), the highest point on our trek from where we appreciate the vast sprawl of the Thimphu Valley. We 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. This is a beautiful Buddhist monastery and an important pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese people.
From Phajoding the trail descends steeply down passing through mixed forest for a couple of hours. We keep walking until we reach the valley floor in Motithang, the land of pearls. Our car will pick us up from here and check us into the hotel.
Time: 7 – 8hours
Elevation gain:150m/ 495ft
Elevation loss: 1,200m/3,960ft
Spend the morning exploring the country’s more modern side in Thimphu. Visit the Textile Museum, where Bhutan’s finest weavings and brocades of Royals are on display. Also there’s a Memorial Stupa nestled in the heart of the city designed in a Tibetan style. You will observe Bhutanese people from all walks of life circumambulating the stupa and offering their prayers. Today every religious event in the city is organized in the Chorten here. Return to Paro in the afternoon and settle back in at the lodge.
We then journey towards the warmer valleys of Punakha which until 1960’s acted as the capital seat of Bhutan. Enroute we stop at Dochula pass (10,000 ft) marked by 108 mini-stupas and many prayer flags with an astounding panoramic views of the eastern Himalayas in the backdrop. Visit Chimi Lhakhang, referred to as the Temple of fertility attributed to the popular Divine Mad monk, the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and as flying carved wooden phalluses on house tops at four corners. Settle into our hotel and enjoy dinner together.
This morning we will embark on an invigorating hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Stupa situated spectacularly on a hill. Once on the top you will be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the fertile valley and the Mochhu River meandering below. Afternoon you will be treated with a picnic lunch by an exclusive campsite at Lakhu by the bank of Mochhu River. Late afternoon visit to Punakha Dzong, an impressive fortress guarding the southern end of the valley at the confluence of the Pho (male) and Mo (female) Rivers. As you move around you will admire the impressive, colorful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and the Zhabdrung, as well as paintings of one-thousand Buddhas in one of the shrine you will visit.
Travel back to Thimphu via the same Dochula pass. Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan with a population of about 120,000 and is home to the Government, royal families and the head offices of international aid organizations. There are internet cafes and restaurants and discotheque abound! Afternoon visit the world’s biggest statue of Buddha built to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. National Institute for Zorig Chusum (Painting School) is a photographers’ dream and it’s hard not to be impressed with the skill and discipline of the young students undergoing rigorous training for six years. A few minutes’ walk will take you to Folk Heritage Museum which provides an interesting glimpse into rural Bhutanese life centuries ago. Free time in town
In the morning our representatives will drive you to Paro and check you into the Airport. Your guide and driver will bid their farewells from here. We hope you had a wonderful time in Bhutan with us. Hope to keep intouch and seeing you again in near future. Bon Voyage, Tashi Delek!