Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport.During the flight one will experience breathtaking views of Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. You then are received by your tour representative after processing of your visa. Depart airport and check in at Olathang Hotel, a cluster of unique Bhutanese style cottages.
After tea and snacks visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong). Once the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. After the Museum drive to Satsam Chorten and hike to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means "Tiger's Nest". The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 3,000ft. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava, the second Buddha, alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Enjoy a picnic lunch at Taktsang cafeteria. Refresh at your hotel and enjoy an early evening visit to a typical village farmhouse for some authentic Bhutanese food and to see how most Drukpas live in Bhutan. Leisure stroll in quaint Paro village and dinner at a cozy restaurant.
Day 2: After a hearty breakfast at the lodge, we depart to begin our trek. Excitement mounts as you drive to meet the team at Drugyel Dzong where the road ends and the trek begins. Your trek accommodations are of the finest quality. Packhorses will carry all supplies, food and your necessities. Cooks will prepare for your very large appetite sumptuous meals of hearty Bhutanese varieties. You will look forward to each meal with delight! Gourmet dinners around the campfire at night. Optional folklore and singing served with local Bhutanese beverage. Ara anyone? High Altitude tents are of the highest quality and sleeping bags can be provided. Paro Shana is about a 5 to 6 hour journey. The trail follows the river through the beautiful meadows and paddy fields of the Paro Chhu valley.
A gradual climb along the Paro River through the cultivated valleys and villages. Look back to view the strategically built Drukgyel Dzong, watchtower over Paro Valley. Pass through the small villages of Chamg and Metshi Zampa. Traversing through rice terraces and field of millet and blue pine forest. Bhutan is the least deforested land in the world, with 70% of the country blanketed in virgin blue pine forest. The night's camp is just beyond an army outpost at Shana. This is the last stop before Tibet. Your guide will process all necessary permits at the Gunyetsawa army post. Here are a few shops and a school. You proceed over a wooden cantilever bridge across the Paro Chhu. A climb to the rustic village of Shana Zampa for overnight camp. Altitude 9.184 ft
Day 3: Shana to Thangthangkha is a 6 to 7 hour trek. Continuing on a gradual climb alongside the Paro Chhu (river in Drukpa) through conifers and rhododendron you'll soon enter Jigme Droji National Park. Lunch served at Sheng Karap. Tremo-la is nearby; a stone paved trail utilized for invasions and a trade route from Tibet. We will not take this path, but cross over a wooden bridge and continue our climb over a set of switchbacks and cross the river again. Ups and downs, with more ups, will bring us over our last bridge of the day. You will be looking for a white chorten and a lovely meadow. Here you will see Jumolhari. The white peaks beacon to you. Here we will camp and rest for the night. 12,700 ft
Day 4: Thangthangkha to Jangothang is a 5-hour trek starting at Pa Chhu. Your climb today gains elevation and you will be comfortably worn out at day's end. Yaks will be utilized as well as our pack animals. Used to supply cheese, milk, tea, meat and hair for weaving of huts, blankets, clothes, backpacks and hats, the burley and huge yak play an important role in Bhutanese history; yesterday and today. Remote villages are dotted throughout this area. You are now entering "tarkin" territory. The tarkin is Bhutans' national animal and a strange looking creature indeed. It is best described as a cross between a gnu, musk ox, goat and about the size of a moose. You can view Tarkin in Thimphu in a large enclosure provided by the government, but better still we will see the tarkin wild and in their natural enviornment. Bhutan is the only country in the world you will see these unique beast, so be on the lookout. Also in our nature trek we can see Rhesus monkey, Langur monkey, and if we are very lucky, the Golden Langur. Bhutan is the only place in the world you will see this monkey. Barking deer and Sambar, which have long horns and is the largest deer in Bhutan. The forest provides homes for wild dogs, jackel, blue sheep, goats and antelope. Rare opportunities may present Panda or Himalyan Black Bear. There are over 657 species of birds in Bhutan. All animals in the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan are of course protected.
We now cross over a stone and log bridge that provides our access to Jangothang. Winters here are harsh and long. Unparalleded views of snow peak mountain form the eastern side of the valley, dotted with the black yak huts of the herder. You are in the most spectacular camp spot in the entire Himalayan range. You are truly in the High Himalayas! Halt for the night and camp beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mt. Jumolhari at 13, 500 ft.
Day 5: Jangothang Halt. Rise early this morning to view Jumolhari Mountain. Today we hike in our surrounding seeking herds of Tarkin. It will be quite exciting when we find our first herd. We spend the day in a leisure fashion, amerced in the beauty and unsurpassed views of Jichu Drake 28,000 ft., as well as surrounding unscaled peaks in the east. A fishing expedition to Tshophu, a high altitude lake, is an alternative. Spotted trout do not get any bigger. Revel in the experience of Bhutan high Himalayans, a remote and surreal environment, dedicated to nature. Overnight and halt in camp. Gourmet dinner and folklore by the campfire, perhaps trout, YUM.
Day 6: Jangothang to Lingshi is about a 5 to 6 hours journey through wide yak pastures. A gradual climb crosses Nyle-la Pass as we trek into isolation. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, you will see a wonderful view of Lingshi. Tserim Kang, at 22,267 ft and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. Watch for Tarkin, blue sheep and musk deer as you trek in the afternoon shadow of the High Himalayas. Night halt is a choice between a stone hut and the tent. 14,660 ft
Day 7: Lingshi to Chebisa. Today we walk a distance of about 6 hours. En route you'll visit the Lingshi Dzong built on a mountain ridge over looking Lingshi Valley. A Dzong is an ancient fortress utilized today in Bhutan by monastic groups and government administration centers. Halt and overnight camp at Chebisa.
Day 8: Chebisa to Shomuthang. Hearty breakfast and depart for a 6-7 hours walk. The route leads through wild high pastures and alpine flowers (blue poppy is Bhutan's national flower) crossing Gopula Pass, 14,000 ft). Picnic lunch in the pristine meadow. Overnight halt and camp at Shomuthang, 13,500 ft.
Day 9: Shomuthang to Robluthang. Today we walk 6-7 hours, beginning with an early start in order to cross the Jarela Pass (4600 ). After crossing the pass, we descend to Sharijagathang. This is one of the main habitats of Takin, and we will camp here at 13,000 ft.
Day 10: Robluthang Halt. Try to locate some Takin in the Area. Enjoy your Bhutanese holiday. Overnight Camp Robluhang.
Day 11: Robluthang to Lingmithang. Distance 6-7 hours walk. After crossing Shinglela Pass, the route descends to follow the Lingmithang valley. Camp at 13,500 ft.
Day 12: Lingmithang to Laya. 4-5 hours walk as the road descends along a closed and winding river valley. The people who live in Laya/Lingshi are quite distinct in their way of dressing and culture from those who live in lower western and eastern Bhutan. Their main livelihood is trading yak cheese, butter and meat. They also speak a different dialect. Overnight Laya.
Day 13: Laya to Koena is 6-7 hour walk as the trail winds up and down along the river valley. Views of crashing river, feeder streams and water falls. Breathtaking!. Halt in Koena.
Day 14: Koena to Gasa. 6-7 hours walk. You'll be crossing Balela pass. The trail descends to Gasa Dzong. Camp site near the dzong. Halt in Gasa to enjoy the famous Gasa Hot Spring. Visit Gasa Dzong and enjoy the hospitality of some village people. Relax and sooth your tired body in alpine mineral tubs under the starlight Bhutanese sky aaahhh!..
Day 15: Gasa to Geon Damji. 6-7 hours walk. After a climb away from the Gasa Hot Spring, the trail gradually descends crossing through terraces of paddy fields and villages. Wild orchids abound here, gorgeous tropical terrain. Stop at a local village to visit. Camp at Damji.
Day 16: Damji to Tashithang. Early morning start out for 5-6 hours
walk. The trek ends at Tashithang. The trail descends from the high
terraced fields above the Mochu (female river) into a lush semi tropical
gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and the occasional monkey.
On the way back to western Bhutan visit the Punakha Dzong. Continue
our journey to Thimphu. Unwind and relax in your hotel room and enjoy
farewell dinner with Soenam, your local Bhutanese host.