DUER HOT SPRINGS TREK – 18 DAYS
This is one of the most challenging treks available in Bhutan and route partially overlaps with the trail of the legendary Snowman Trek, the most difficult trek in the world. This grueling nine day journey will take you up to the Duer Hotsprings, arguably the most beautiful hot springs in the Himalayas.
The trail has numerous steep ascents and descents and ranges from altitudes between 3000-4700 m. However despite the difficulty this trek is well worth the effort as it will take you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Bhutan. You’ll journey through forests of spruce, hemlock, juniper and maple, through regions populated by herds of Blue Sheep, Musk Deer and even Himalayan Black Bears.
An entire day will be dedicated to resting in the hot-springs. The periods between March to April and September to November are the best times to take on this challenging route.
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-Punakha
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time).
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. After Lunch, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). And 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. Visit Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing if you wish. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha – Trongsa
After an early breakfast, drive to Trongsa via Wangduephodrang and later passing through Pelela pass at 3,300m, the traditional boundary between east and west. Overnight in Hotel in Trongsa.
Day 5: Trongsa – Bumthang
In the morning you’ll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, and you’ll also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this Dzong. After lunch, you’ll proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. After crossing a high pass, guests can bike all the way to Bumthang. The road is broad and all downhill after the pass. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 6: Duer – Gorsum (Trek Starts)
The trek route follows the Yoleng Chhu, a river known for its abundance of trout. The trail from Bumthang to Gorsum is a gradual climb. Overnight camping at Gorsum.
Day 7: Gorsum – Lungsum
The trail leads through a dense forest of Spruce, Hemlock, Cypress, Juniper and Maple. It ascends gradually to the campsite. Overnight camp in Lungsum
Day 8: Lungsum – Tsochenchen
The vegetation along the route is similar to places crossed the previous day. Near the campsite the vegetation thins out and the camp is made above tree line. Overnight Camp at Tshochenchen
Day 9: Tsochenchen – Duer Tsachu
The trek from Tsochenchen is uphill all the way until Juli La pass (4,700m). If the day is clear, you will have a great view of the surrounding mountains from the pass. After crossing the pass, the trail descends to a lake at 4,220m, and then climbs again to Gokthong La pass (4,640m). From here the path is steep descent until the campsite. Musk Deer, herds of blue sheep and Himalayan bears are sometimes seen along the route. overnight camp at Duer Tsachu.
Day 10: Duer Tsachu
As the highlight of the trek, today will be spent resting at the Duer Tsachu. After a late breakfast, relax in the rejuvenating hot springs or take a leisurely hike around surrounding areas. overnight camp at Duer Tsachu.
Day 11: Duer Tsachu – Tsochenchen
Return by the same route taken on the day four. The journey will be even tougher than before as there is slightly more climbing than descending. Overnight at Tshochenchen
Day 12: Tsochenchen
Return by the route taken, overnight camp at Lungsum
Day 13: Lungsum – Gorsum
The trail descends gradually from the campsite. It leads through dense forest of Spruce, Hemlock, Cypress, Juniper and Maple. Overnight at camp in Gorsum
Day 14: Gorsum – Duer Village
From Gorsum the trail descends gradually until the bridge near Duer village, where you reach the road head. From here, drive through to Bumthang. Overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.
Day 15: Bumthang – Punakha
Morning visit to Jambay Lhakhang, the monastery built in 7th century by Tibetan King Songtshen Gampo, Tamshing Lhakhang, located on opposite side of the river is important place to visit, housing interesting religious paintings. Drive to Punakha with lunch en route. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 16: Day 12: Punakha – Paro
After break fast drive to Paro across Chelela Pass, Have lunch at Thimphu and if the day falls on Saturday, visit the famous Weekend Market, where you will see people from different walks of life. After lunch drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro. If you wish visit the farmhouse and have your dinner at the farmhouse.
Day 17: Hike Paro Taksang
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria).
In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. The original monument (destroyed by fire in 1951) was built by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight hotel in Paro. Farewell dinner with traditional dance and overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 18: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.