Kuzuzangpo La.

Even the most privileged travelers consider Bhutan a special destination. Its secluded location, limited accessibility, and preservation efforts have shielded many from visiting this jewel in the Himalayas.

On this active program, tour the monasteries, temples, and ancient artisan sites in Paro and Thimphu. Then, trek through scattered hamlets and villages to reach high alpine pastureland. We invite you to interact with the gracious people of Bhutan and experience some of the most spectacular views in the world.

Level: Expert 

Season: April - June and September - November

Itinerary


Paro Arrival

Your flight to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas - a mesmerizing aeronautical feat offering an exciting descent into the Kingdom. On a clear day, you will see major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and on the final approach to Paro, Bhutan’s own snowy peaks of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tserimgang. Upon arrival at Paro airport, meet your guide and transfer to the hotel.

In Bhutan, the sights of colorful prayer flags are very common. Prayer flags are hoisted for happiness, long life, prosperity, luck, and merit. The colors used in the prayer flags follow the concept of ‘Kham’ which are five characteristic birth elements that determines an individual’s dominant personality.

A Buddhist Monk and friend of Sodha Travel will offer an interpretation of your birth element. Then, buy a prayer flag with the colors corresponding to your birth element and head out to a designated place in Paro. The Monk will chant the consecration prayers once you finish the hoisting of your flag. Evening at leisure and overnight.

Paro

In the morning, drive up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong (built in 1646), which once defended this valley from Tibetan invasion. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering outer walls are still an imposing sight. On a fine day, there is a grand view of Mt. Chomolhari.

 Continue to Taktsang Monastery. Taktsang Monastery is also known as Tiger’s Nest.  It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery.  The main structure was severely damaged by fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. Trek back to the vehicle and drive to Paro.

*Please allow a minimum of five hours for the roundtrip hike. Horses are available until the halfway point only.

In the evening, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan's oldest and most sacred shrines. Overnight.

Paro - Shana (2870 m)

The trek starts from Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail then climbs gently through well maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. Later you come to apple orchards and forests.

Soon the valley widens and you reach the army post of Gunyitsawa. This is the last stop before Tibet. Continue upwards to just beyond Sharma Zampa (2,870 m) where there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees. Overnight. Trek: 6 Hours

Shana - Soi Thangthangkha (3750 m)

The trail again follows the Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak, and spruce forests. After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, stop for a hot lunch. Then, continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests and crossing the river once more before reaching your campsite. Trek: 7 hours

Soi Thangthangkha - Jangothang (4040 m)

The path ascends until you reach the army camp. You then follow the river above the tree line, enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch is served at a yak herder's camp. A short walk from here into the valley will takes you to your campsite at Jangothang (4,040 m). From here, the views of Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb. Overnight at camp. Trek: 8 hours

Jangothang - Lingshi (4700 m)

The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right bank. You now start your climb up to the first ridge, enjoying breathtaking views of Mt. Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsrim Khang. The trail then takes you across a fairly level valley floor until the climb to the Nyele-la (4,700m). Then, descend gradually from the pass to your campsite at Lingshi, enjoying the panoramic view of the mountain peaks and Lingshi Dzong. Trek: 8 hours

Lingshi - Shodu (4100 m)

The Laya – Gasa route leaves the Chomolhari trek route here. Your trail climbs up towards a small white chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chu Valley. The trail stays on the west side of this largely treeless valley, climbing steeply a short distance above the Mo Chu. It then crosses the river and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli-la pass.

On a clear day you can see Mt. Chomolhari, Gangchhenta, Tserim Khang, and Masang Gang from this pass. Descend alongside a stream to a rock shelter in the cliff face, and then continue on downstream till reaching Shodu (4,100m) where you will camp in a meadow with a chorten. Trek: 8 hours

Shodu - Barshong (3600 m)

You are now back at the tree line and your path follows the course of the Thimphu Chu descending through rhododendron, juniper and mixed alpine forests. There are stunning views of rocky cliff faces and waterfalls along the way. Stop at the riverside for a hot lunch. Then the trail takes you gradually upwards to the ruins of Barshong Dzong (3,600m) where you camp for the night. Trek: 6 hours

Barshong - Dolam Kencho (3600 m)

The trail descends gently through a dense forest of rhododendron, birch and conifers, then drops steeply to meet Thimphu Chu. The trail runs along the left bank of the river, climbing over ridges and descending into gullies where side streams runs down into the river. The final stage of the trail climbs around a cliff face high above the Thimphu Chu River, coming out onto pasture land where you camp for the night. Trek: 5 hours

Dolam Kencho - Dodena - Thimphu (2600 m)

The trail winds in and out of side valleys above Thimphu Chu, making a long ascent through a forest of conifers and high altitude broadleaf species to a pass at 3,510m. The trail then drops steeply to the river and following it southward to the road head at Dodena. Meet the transport and drive to Thimphu.

Evening at leisure or we can reserve a traditional hot stone bath for your relaxation. Overnight.

Thimphu

In the morning, visit the following: The National Library, with its extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a six-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine where Bhutan’s famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed. Later, visit the Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by people murmuring mantras and spinning the prayer wheels.

Late afternoon visit to Centenary Farmers Market (open from Thu-Sun only). Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of food items and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, where all the locals meet and barter. It’s a fantastic opportunity to observe the local life. Overnight in Thimphu.

Departure

Today, transfer to the Paro airport for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!

Tour Details


Inclusions

  • 2 nights of hotel accommodations in Paro with daily meals
  • 2 nights of hotel accommodations in Thimphu with daily meals
  • 7 nights of a fully catered guided trek with tented accommodations and daily meals
  • Airfare to/from Paro from a preferred gateway
  • Trekking permits
  • Private vehicle and driver, per the itinerary
  • Comprehensive touring with a private guide
  • Entrance fees to the monuments
  • Local, immersive experiences
  • Airport transfers with assistance
  • Bhutan Visa Fee
  • Bhutan Government Royalty and Taxes
  • Road/interstate taxes, fuel surcharges, and parking fees

Exclusions

  • International airfare
  • Any items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities
  • Travel insurance

Travel Considerations

  • A visa is required to visit Bhutan. Sodha Travel will arrange for the clearance, and the final visa will then be sent to you via email.
  • To protect your travel investment, Sodha Travel strongly recommends travel insurance
  • The tourism infrastructure of Bhutan continues to develop. Therefore, the accommodation and transport standards may be different than what you are accustomed to when traveling to other destinations. Flights may be delayed and ground transportation may be limited, thus causing adjustments to your scheduled itinerary. To avoid disappointment, we ask you to consider these factors when traveling to Bhutan.

Learn More About Bhutan

Itinerary Map

  • Paro
  • Shana
  • Soi Thangthangkha
  • Jangothang
  • Lingshi
  • Barshong
  • Kencho
  • Thimphu