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Trek Duration: 5 days, Max. Elevation: 4,520m
Cultural Duration: 5 days.
Highest Camp: 4,300m
Best Seasons: April to June and September to October
Start: Gynekha (Thimphu)
Finish: Chamgang (Thimpu)
Although the trek leads up to plenty of beautiful high altitude mountain lakes and provides stunning views of the whole Bhutanese Himalayan range as well as Kanjenjunga (3rd highest mountain of the world, Sikkim) it is still not a very popular trek. You might not meet any other trekkers during the whole trek. It is also possible to start and end the trek in Gynekha. The optional route back to Gynekha leads through beautiful Bhutanese villages. Although most days are short, the day from Gur to Labatama involves a lot of climbing and is, therefore, pretty strenuous.
Day 1.Fly to Paro
Welcome to Bhutan. Upon arrival, obtain your Bhutan visa which will be pre-paid, and after clearing Immigration and Customs, you will be meet outside at the exit point by representatives From Bhutan Sky Trails and escort you to explore around and then to your respective hotel.
After settling down and relax visit Ta Dzong (National Museum), which towers above the Paro Dzong, and viewing its well-interpreted collection of historic artifacts makes for a great prologue to the journey yet to come. Next visit Paro Dzong. This massive fortress is located in the Paro valley and is approached by a gently sloping flagstone road and a beautiful wooden bridge roofed with shingles and abutted by two guardhouses. Today, the Dzong is the administrative seat of the district of Paro and it also contains a state monastic community of about 200 monks. The central tower (“Utse”) of the Dzong is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan with its superb woodwork. The Dzong was built in 1646 A.D. Drive to Thimphu in the evening.
Day 2: Paro – Taktsang – Paro
Transfer to Ramthangkha and begin the hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. Icon of Bhutan, This monastery clings to a cliff almost 789m above the Paro valley floor. The mountainside viewpoint for this dramatically situated and most sacred site is accessible by a walk of about 5 – 6 hours round trip. Enjoy lunch at the monastery’s cliff-side café.
Make a pilgrimage to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan and built-in 659 AD by Tibetan Buddhist king Songtsen Gampo.
Day 3: Gynekha – Gur
Approx:7 km, 4 hours, 550m ascent, 210m descent, camp altitude 3,290m.
The trek starts from beautiful Gynekha village with a short descent down to the river. From here – after crossing the river – you start climbing till you reach a huge rock platform from where you have a picturesque view of the valley below. After another two hours, you reach Gur, some yak pastures below the main trail.
Day 4: Gur – Labatama
Approx: 12km, 5 – 6 hours, 1,030m ascent, 110m descent, camp altitude 4,300m.
While trekking across the ridges, one enjoys the beauty of the rugged mountain vegetation. The path winds through flowers and wild asparagus (in spring). The meadows are refreshing and inspiring. The first pass symbolized by a huge cairn gives a spectacular view of Kanjenjunga (Sikkim) and more or less all the Bhutanese Himalayan peaks. Descending the pass one will see the whole Dagala range, meadows, and yak herders camp. Once descended into the Labatama valley you ascend gradually through the valley passing some yak herder huts till you reach Uthso Tsho. The campsite is right next to the lake.
Day 5: Labatama – Panka
Approx: 8km, 6 – 7 hours, 260m ascent, 520m descent, camp altitude 4,000m.
The trail climbs along the western side of Dala Tsho up to a saddle at 4,520m from where you have again a majestic view of Himalayan peaks during descent. This point is around 4,460m. The mountain peaks include Everest (Nepal), Kanchenjunga (Sikkim), Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, Tshering Gang, Khangbum, Masang Gang, Tsende Gang and Gangche Ta. If you want an even better view, you can climb a peak close to the saddle with an altitude of 4,720m. From the saddle, the path descends passing some yak herder huts to Doccha Chhu. You follow the river for a while, but stay higher up on the slope to reach Panka with some ups and downs on the way.
Day 6: Panka-Talakha
Approx: 8 km, 5 – 6 hours, 180m ascent, 110m descent, camp altitude 3,080m.
This day entails the crossing of several passes, none of them affording a major climb. Search for different varieties of blue poppy (June-July) and mountain birds. After crossing the last pass, Tale La (4,180m) you start a long descent to Talakha Gompa. You will camp right beside the monastery and wake up with the early morning prayers of the monks. One has a great view of Bhutan’s capital Thimphu.
Day 7: Talakha – Chamgang
Approx: 6 km, 3 hours, 440m descent.
From the monastery, it’s a short walk down to the feeder road which will lead you to the village of Chamgang.
After the trek check into the hotel and get a refresh. Evening at leisure to explore the city.
Day 8: Thimphu – Thimphu
In Thimphu, you will visit Buddha point where you will see the tallest bronze statue of Buddha Dodenma measuring 169 ft tall. Visit National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha temple (one of the oldest temple in Thimphu), Takin Sanctuary (The national animal), Nunnery, Handicraft Emporium, visit the school of arts and craft where you will see a student working on alive, visit Folk heritage museum, Late afternoon visit Tashichoe Dzong, the summer residence of the chief abbot and the central monastic body when they migrate here from Punakha. It is also the seat of the government and houses the King’s office.
Day9: Thimphu – Punakha
Transfer to Punakha, across Dochula pass at an altitude of 3050 meters, cutting through the majestic Himalayan range. We stop at the Dochula cafeteria for a hot cup of tea/coffee. You will also make a stop by the Druk Wangyel Chorten.
After that continue your drive to Punakha valley. Visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility shrine built in the 15th century. A hopeful young couple’s wanting children may be seen making offerings to the shrine and its builder, the notoriously playful and beloved saint Lama Drukpa Kuenley, also known as “the Divine Madman or Mad monk.” Visit the Punakha Dzong, which houses the district administration offices. It is also the winter residence of the central monastic body. The dzong was damaged by fire in 1986 and recently renovated using traditional building techniques.
Day 10: Punakha – Paro
Transfer to Paro drive over the Dochula pass and stopping along the way. On your way to Paro make a visit to Simtokha Dzong built in 1629 and one of the oldest dzong built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel. Witness our national sport archery if they are playing in Thimphu or Paro. You may walk around Thimphu city or Paro town for any last-minute souvenir purchase.
Day 11: Depart.
After breakfast, you will then be transferred to the airport for your flight.