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The Druk Path Trek


The Ten-night version of our popular Druk Path adventure is designed for those who like a challenge and relish outdoor activity. Our experienced guides will lead guests through the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha Valley incorporating such highlights as Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery, the National Museum, Drukgyel Dzong and a visit to the ancient temple and monasteries.

For generations the Druk Path was an important trading link between Paro and Thimpu, crossing the chain of remote mountains that separates the two valleys. The trail goes as high as 13,800 ft (or 4100metres) and in clear weather the panoramic views of the Himalayas are breathtaking. Our four-day trek begins with an ascent through apple orchards and ancient pine forest past a pre-Buddhist temple to Jele Dzong perched on a grassy ridge dotted with yaks. Day two provides the biggest challenge and promises a magnificent day in the mountains, crossing a small pass marked with prayer flags. The trek then follows a ridge through dwarf rhododendron and pine, passing a series of small lakes before heading up above the treeline. The final descent via the monasteries at Phadjoding leads into Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, where we enjoy a brief sightseeing tour towards Punakha before returning to Paro. In days gone by the route was used as a corporeal punishment for Bhutanese soldiers who were made to complete the four-day trek in a single day.

This is an active itinerary and because of the heights reached; this trip has accordingly been graded as a moderate to hard adventure. You will need to be healthy and fit. As an indicator you should be able to walk up to 20 kms in mountainous terrain within six to eight hours.

10 Nights Package

DAY 1: Arrival, check-in, show round and easy walk

Our airport representative and experience guide will welcome you at the airport for the 10-30 minutes transfer to the hotel. We invite you for a short guided walk in the afternoon in and around the hotel area for orientation and acclimatisation purposes.

Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

DAY 2: Daywalk Zurig Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, Paro town, Kyichu Lhakhang and Drukgyel Dzong

Wind through pine forests the monastery of Zurig Dzong. Traverse across to Ta Dzong, housing Bhutan’s National Museum with magnificent views over Paro, and on down to Rinpung Dzong (Fortress on a Heap of Jewels). The trail then leads across Paro Chhu (river) via a traditional covered bridge (Nyamai Zam) and then past the main archery ground, Ugyen PelriPalace and into Paro town. Drive a few kilometres north of Paro, and we pay our respects at Kyichu Lhakhang; this is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magic orange tree that bears fruit all year round. Time permitting, we drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1648 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to control the northern route to Tibet (from here, it is only a two-day hike to the border with Tibet, dominated by Mt Jhomalhari).

Dinner and overnight in the Hotel

DAY 3: National Museum (2,450m) to Jele Dzong (3,450m)

Day 1 Trek The trek starts from the National Museum above Paro, heading uphill through apple orchards, smallholdings and ancient pine forest to a whaleback ridge. The altitude gain today is significant so it is recommended that you walk at a slow and steady pace. Tonight’s camp is in a yak pasture below Jele Dzong which is perched on the ridge itself and whose monks welcome visitors. The dzong was the former residence of Ngawang Chhogyel (1465-1540), cousin of the famous saint Lama Drukpa Kinley with the colourful moniker, the Divine Madman. The views of Paro town far below and of mount Jhomalhari (7314m) are breathtaking on a clear day.

Duration: 8 km, 5 - 6 hours Altitude gain: 1,068 m Altitude loss: 82 m

Difficulty: Hard

Guided with picnic

Overnight: Camp (3,436 m)

DAY 4: Jele Dzong (3,450m) to Jimilang Tsho (3880m)

Day 2 Trek Cross the Jele La pass (3490m) and descend below the ridgeline to walk through forests of pine and rhododendron before climbing to reach a yak herders’ pasture and possible picnic spot at Jangchu Lakha (3780m) with great views of the Himalayan range. In the afternoon follow the undulating ridgeline to a saddle at 4,020 metres and then continue to the Jangchu La pass (4180m). From here it is a steep descent to camp at Jimilang Tsho Lake (3880m). The lake is known to house a large number of trout, believed to have been introduced by the British in the last century. From near the camp there are good mountain views including the sacred peak of Jichu Drake (6989m).

Duration: 15 km, 6 - 8 hours

Altitude gain: 447 m Altitude loss: 82 m

Difficulty: Hard

Guided with picnic

Overnight: Camp (3,880m)

DAY 5: Jimilang Tsho (3,880m) to Simkotra Tsho (4,090m)

Day 3 Trek Today is much shorter so enjoy a leisurely breakfast by the lake and relax for a while. The ascent from the lake is steep at times, through dwarf rhododendron and over a spur to the lake of Janye Tsho. As the trail winds and undulates trekkers are rewarded with views across the deep valley to the route from two days ago and to Jele Dzong, now a tiny white dot in the distance. Crossing one final spur the Simkotra Tsho (4110m) can be seen below. The camp for tonight is by this lake.

Duration: 9 km, 5 - 7 hours

Altitude gain: 210 m Altitude loss: 0 m

Difficulty: Hard

Guided with picnic

Overnight: Camp (4,090m)

DAY 6: Simkotra Tsho (4,090m) to Thimphu (2400m)

Day 4 Trek The morning begins with an ascent to a small saddle at 4150 metres before descending to another small lake then climbing to the Phume La pass (4210m) which is adorned with prayer flags. This is where you will enjoy your first view of Thimphu far below. The trail now descends all the way to the pilgrim site at Phajoding (3870m) then into pine and juniper forest descending all the way to the roadhead at Motithang on the outskirts of Thimphu. The rest of the afternoon can be spent sightseeing in Thimphu, before heading to Punakha the next day.

Duration: 16 km, 4 - 6 hours

Altitude gain: 0 m

Altitude loss: 1690 m

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Guided with picnic

Dinner and overnight in the Hotel

DAY 7: Thimphu to Punakha Valley via Dochu La

This drive is truly awe-inspiring as it zigzags up to the 3,140m-high mountain pass of Dochu La with its forests of fluttering prayer flags, maze of memorial chortens and, on a clear day, sweeping views of the main Himalayan range. Up river, deep in the verdant terraced hills past Punakha Dzong is our home for the next two nights, Please note museum, monastery, temple and dzong opening days and times can and do vary with national holidays and events such a visit by a member of the Royal Family or auspicious ceremonies.

Duration of drive (Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula): 2 - 3 hours

Guided with picnic or lunch at local restaurant

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 8:Punakha Dzong, Khamsan Yuley Namgay Chorten Walk, Chimmi Lhakhang

We have a full day for further exploration of the scenic Punakha Valley, which is low enough (1,200m) to allow bananas and oranges to grow. The destination for this morning’s walk up through whitewashed homesteads and farmland is Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, a shrine recently built by the royal family. It is a startlingly ornate and elaborate structure with a rainbow of Guru Rinpoche images and superb views. Heading down along the riverside the massive architectural edifice of the 17th-century Punakha Dzong soon looms into view. The fortress-monastery was built in 1637 by Shabdung Nawang Namgyal in a commanding position at the confluence of the Po Chhu and Mo Chhu (Father and Mother rivers). It once served as the seat of the Kingdom's government and is now the winter home of Je Khempo, the head abbot of Bhutan, along with a retinue of 1,000 monks. In the afternoon a short walk across rice paddies takes us to Chimmi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, a Tibetan Buddhist saint known popularly as the Divine Madman. The temple sits atop a picturesque hill surrounded by rice fields. Drukpa Kuenley built a chorten on the site in the 14th century, and it has long been a pilgrimage site for couples hoping to start a family.

Duration: 6 - 7 hours

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Guided with picnic or lunch at local restaurant

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 9: Punakha Valley to Paro via Chuzom and Tamchhu Lhakhang

Time to retrace our steps over the Dochu La for a second view of the wonderful Himalayan range. Returning to the Chuzum (river confluence) we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward of evil spirits near the checkpoint. Time permitting the journey can be broken with a visit to Tamchhu Lhakhang built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the so-called Iron Bridge Builder. This former saint from the 14th century introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains and the only way to reach his temple is by one of these bridges. On the final leg the road snakes alongside the Pa Chhu River, through apple orchards and rice paddies, past quaint homesteads to our home in the mountains, After check-in and a show round, we invite you to spend the rest of the day relaxing around the property, enjoying the facilities or trying an activity like the Bhutanese national sport of archery or a traditional Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath.

Duration of drive (Punakha to Paro via Chunzom) : 3 - 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Guided with picnic or lunch at local restaurant

Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 10: Highlights of the Paro Valley–Taktsang Walk

One of the most amazing and important pieces of architecture in Bhutan, Taktsang Goemba defies logic, gravity, and reason. Legend has it that this Cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet. To avoid the hot sun an early start is advisable for the two-hour climb to the Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. Descend steeply, then climb up to the monastery, passing a waterfall and entering through the main gates which are filled with murals. Retrace our steps or alternatively (if time and energy levels allow) head further up to several remote temples and monasteries. In the evening you are invited for a firelight farewell dinner.

Duration: 7 - 8 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Guided with picnic or Taktsang cafeteria

Overnight: Dinner and Overnight in the hotel.

Depart Bhutan.

Flights normally depart in the morning, so after breakfast your 10 minute transfer to Paro International Airport will be arranged depending on the flight schedule.

Additional Trek Information

For a trek at this level, fitness is important and you may have to improve yours before departure to get the most enjoyment out of the experience. The Druk Path is equivalent to extended walking in mountainous terrain at home but at significantly higher altitudes; climate and remoteness can also play a part. Previous trekking experience is desirable but not essential if you are confident of your physical condition. A detailed pre-departure information sheet designed to help you prepare for your adventure will be sent out with your booking confirmation.

Packing Essentials:

warm jacket; good leather or waterproof fabric boots or shoes with good soles; waterproof jacket; sunglasses; warm hat; sunhat; sunscreen; four-season sleeping bag; torch; backpack; towel; thermal underwear.

Packing Recommended:

trekking pole; binoculars; gloves; tracksuit or thermal underwear; lip balm; a sufficient supply of any medication you are taking.

NB. Camera film is a rarity in Bhutan so bring your own in your carry-on luggage.

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