BUMTHANG CULTURAL TREK – 11 DAYS
This is a fairly easy three-day trek that takes you through beautiful valleys and along clear, trout-filled rivers. Bumthang is often known as the ‘cultural heartland’ of Bhutan and there are plenty of ancient temples to visit during the hike.
There are numerous lhakhangs and number of small villages where you can stop and rest. The best time to embark on this trek is in spring or autumn.
Day 1: Arrive Paro then to Thimphu
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it’s possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well. Upon arrival in Paro, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the Dzong. You can then tour the National Museum, formerly the watchtower for the Dzong. It now houses a collection of fine arts, paintings, thangkas, statues, and antiques. Afterward you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. Later drive to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu
Day 2: Thimphu
After breakfast you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972),Buddha Point, Changgangkha Monastery, the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple, the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts), and the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school). After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, the majestic Tashichodzong. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Tongsa
The journey to central Bhutan begins today. The drive to Tongsa takes about 7 – 8 hours from Thimphu. Packed lunch will be arranged. Lunch stop at Chendeji Chorten. Overnight at Hotel in Tongsa.
Day 4: Tongsa – Bumthang
Drive to Bumthang with a pleasant drive through scenic forests and country side. You also cross one of the highest passes named Yotongla (Alt. 17,000 ft.) along the East – West Highway on this drive. Bumthang (the “Plain of Ghosts”) is a land of mysteries and mystics and tales of the great Guru Padmasambhava who performed formidable feats and miracles in historical time in this place still hold sway. A beautiful sighting of Jaker Dzong ( ” Castle of the White Bird”) can be had from View Point. Lunch will be served in Hotel. Afternoon, a hike up to Lame Gompa, a temple built by the First King of Bhutan for his two nun sisters. Outside Lame Gompa one can see a workshop for traditional Bhutanese paper-making. Overnight halt in Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 5: Bumthang – Halt.
Visit the Dairy Farm, Swiss Cheese Factory and Apple Juice Factory. Walk around Bumthang valley in preparation for the excursion to Nganglhakhang. Overnight Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6: Bumthang – Nganglhakhang.
The route follows the Chamkharchu, a river known for trout fish. Stop for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan ) at the centre of which lies the Nganglhakhang (Swan Temple). In by-gone days, the valley was populated by swans whence the name Ngang Yul. Overnight halt in camp.
Day 7: Nganglhakhang – Ugyenchholing.
The trek starts with a gradual climb to Phephela Pass at an altitude of 3353 m , the highest point of the trek route. The trail passes through beautiful forested areas where many stops can be made to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. Along the way, the Ugyenchholing Palace can be seen. Overnight halt in camp.
Day 8: Ugyenchholing – Bumthang
Distance – 10 Kms. About 2 – 3 hours journey. Altitude 9000ft. The trail follows the Tang Chu, another trout-filled river. On the bank of the river is the Tang Rimpoche Lhakhang. The trek will pass the Membar Tsho (Flaming Lake). From Panshing, the group will be picked up by transport and driven to Jaker. Overnight hotel in Bumthang
Day 9: Bumthang – Wangdiphodrang-Punakha
You’ll begin the day at the Bumthang market, and then drive to Punakha enrooting Wangdiphodrang, where you can stroll through the town and visit the shops. The nearby villages are known for their slate and stone carvings and bamboo work.
On arrival in Punakha check into the hotel. After lunch drive for about 12 km and from the road point take a walk across the rice fields and a river to reach the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is located on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang. It houses the paintings and statues belonging to the Nyingmapa tradition. Drive back to Punakha and overnight in Punakha.
Day 10: Punakha – Paro
Set out for Paro with a stop in Thimphu for lunch and a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum. In the afternoon, you will continue the drive to Paro. In the evening you can visit a traditional farmhouse and, if you wish, enjoy a hot-stone bath and a typical Bhutanese dinner. Overnight in Paro.
Days 11: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.