Bhutan is one of the last places on earth to be open to the outside world. For centuries, the kingdom of Bhutan kept its borders closed to most of the outside world. A few years back, this land has now opened its borders to a limited number of visitors a year. Because of its ruggedness as well as small population, its government wishes to retain its unique culture as its beautiful green valleys are in sharp contrast to the snowcapped peaks of the Eastern Himalayas.
Bhutan is known as the land of the Thunder Dragon, and makes for an awesome experience. It is best reached from Kathmandu. The tour begins in Paro and moves on to Thimphu, the capital city and then to different places around the country. All the while, enjoy breathtaking scenery of snowcapped peaks, rushing rivers, waterfalls and unusual villages.
It is said that the people of Bhutan have the highest "Gross National Happiness" in the world. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition has long ago established excellent relationships with the Kingdom of Bhutan and has all of the connections to make this tour a trip to be remembered for years and years. The Bhutan Trek & Sightseeing Tour offers incredible opportunities to really explore the land and culture of this wonderful country tucked away in the High Himalayas.
DAY 1 – Arrival in Paro (elev. 2250 m)
DAY 2 – Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (elev. 3180 m) and return to Paro
DAY 3 – Trek to Shana (elev. 2850 m)
DAY 4 – Trek to Sio-Thangthangkha (elev. 3750 m)
DAY 5 – Trek to Jangothang (elev. 4040 m)
DAY 6 – Rest and Acclimation at Jangothang Base Camp
DAY 7 – Trek to Lingshi (elev. 4000 m)
DAY 8 – Trek to Shodu (elev. 4100 m)
DAY 9 – Trek to Barshong (elev. 3600 m)
DAY 10 – Trek to Dolam Kencho (elev. 3600 m)
DAY 11 – Trek to Dodena then travel to Thimphu (elev. 2350 m)
DAY 12 – Return to Paro, final departure.
DAY 1 – Paro (elev. 2250 m): It is a short flight from Kathmandu to Paro Airport in Bhutan. Once through immigration, you will be greeted by a representative of Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition who will take you to your hotel. Once we check into our hotel, we will travel to Rinpung Dzong, which was built in 1646 and houses the District Monastic Boy and the Government Administrative offices in Paro Dzongkhang. We will tour Kichu Lhakang, the oldest temple and the national museum at Bhutanand Ta Dzong. This visit will help you to get a greater understanding of the unique culture of Bhutan as it displays ancient paintings, philatelic displays, and the "Field of Buddhas" for helping one to visualize scenes for meditation. Dzongs were ancient lookout towers for defense in days gone by. We will return to our hotel for the night.
DAY 2 – Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (elev. 3180 m): Probably the most famous picture of Bhutan is Taktsang Monastery (known as Tiger's Nest) which literally hangs off the side of a cliff. In its caves, it is said that the great Guru Rinpoche flew here on the back of a tigress to meditate. We will have lunch at Cafeteria Restaurant and explore this incredible monastery with its wonderful overlook of the valley below. We will hike down to the valley and return to our hotel for the night in Paro.
DAY 3 – Trek to Shana (elev. 2850 m): Our Bhutan trek begins today as we start out at Drugyal Dzong (elev. 2580 m). The trail will descend for a ways then climb gently up rice terraces and millet fields. There are beautiful apple orchards along the way. We will camp near Shana for the night.
DAY 4 – Trek to Sio-Thangthangkha (elev. 3750 m): Our journey follows along the Pa Chhu (Paro River), passing through fragrant forests of pine, oak and rhododendron. We will lunch along the Pa Chhu, then cross the bridge and continue to follow the rushing river to reach our campsite at Sio-Thangthangkha.
DAY 5 – Trek to Jangothang (elev. 4040 m): We continue our climb with some outstanding views of the high Himalayas from various outlooks along the trail. We will leave the forests behind as we now arrive above the tree line. For lunch, we stop at a yak herder's camp to enjoy the local hospitality. Our destination is Jangothang which features the most incredible view of Mt. Chomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. These snowcapped peaks form the roof of Bhutan as you look north toward Tibet.
DAY 6 – Rest Day at Jangothang Base Camp: It is important to acclimatize to the higher elevations and we will do that today at Base Camp. We will take some short side trips to the northern side of Base Camp to see one of the most impressive views of Mt. Jichu Drake. It is a day of picnic and fun as we spend another night at Base Camp.
DAY 7 – Trek to Lingshi (elev. 4000 m): It is a day of incredible views of the snowcapped peaks of the Bhutanese Himalayas. We will be climbing to a ridge that will afford us great views of Mt. Chomolhari, Tshering Gang and Jichu Drake. We walk toward a beautiful valley and then climb up to Ngye La Pass (elev. 4870 m). This pass is the highest elevation that we will obtain on this trek. From Ngye La Pass, it is downhill to Lingshi Dzong where we have more great views. Here we camp for the night.
DAY 8 – Trek to Shodu (elev. 4100 m): Our trail now reaches a junction, and we will take the fork that leads to The Laya Gasa. There is a small white Chhorten on the ridge and then the trail will turn south and into the deep Mo Chhu Valley. It is a steady climb to Mo Chhu where we will cross a river and then a steep climb to Yeli La Pass (elev. 4820 m). The climb is worth the effort as we will see the snowcapped peaks of Chomolhari, Gangchen Ta, Masang Gang, and Tsering Gang. Here we will camp and rest overnight.
DAY 9 – Trek to Barshong (elev. 3600 m): We pick up the trail along the Thimphu River as we make our way back into the forests of oak, pine and rhododendron. The Thimphu River features all sorts of swirling waterfalls and high cliffs. The walk will descend, and then after lunch begin a gradual ascent to Barshong Dzong where we will pitch our tents for the night.
DAY 10 – Trek to Dolam Kencho (elev. 3600 m): The trail descends today through forests that are now conifer and birch as well as rhododendron. Our route will meet up with the Thimphu Chhu River. It is up and down ridges today as we finally cross the steep cliff of Dolan Kencho where we will find rest at our campsite for the night.
DAY 11 – Trek to Dodena, Drive to Thimphu (elev. 2350 m): Today is the last day of trekking. It again is up and down, rising 500 meters and then descending 930 meters. When we arrive at the little village of Dodena, we can pick up our transportation that will take us to the capital city of Thimphu. Tonight, get a hot shower and sleep in a real bed as well as being able to take in the local culture.
DAY 12 – Departure: We drive back to Paro and the airport where we will board our Druk Air flight back to Kathmandu. We leave early because sometimes fog delays the flights. It has been a great trip as you have enjoyed 12 days in the Land of the Thunder Dragon. As you return to Kathmandu, be sure to plan to talk to your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition about other trekking and tour possibilities. We feature trips all around Nepal, as well as in Tibet, Sikkim, India and Bangladesh.
All hotels in Bhutan are approved and categorized by the government as Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C. If you compare these government approved hotels, they are equivalent to 3 – 4 star hotels elsewhere. "A" Grade Hotel will be provided in Paro and Thimphu based on availability at the time of booking of your trip. We provide you with the best hotel in Thimphu. Our accommodations during the trek will be camping in tents. All accommodations are on a twin-sharing basis. If you need a single supplement, you will be charged an additional fee.
The hotels will offer you a good variety of food choices including Indian, Chinese and Continental foods. In most areas of Bhutan, non-vegetarian dishes are available which include beef, pork, chicken and fish. It is advisable to ask the hotel and restaurants what they offer what is fresh and in season. According to the plan, we provide three meals a day along with evening tea and snacks. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition has well trained cooks that can make delicious meals while camping. If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know before the trek begins.