GANGTEY TREK – 10 DAYS
This trek is possible throughout the winter, the best time for the Gangtey Trek is between March-May and September-November. It is a short and relatively easy trek with several beautiful villages and monasteries en route.
The trail winds through forests of juniper, bamboo, magnolia and rhododendrons and over small streams of cold, clear mountain water. This trek is an excellent choice for those visitors not accustomed to trekking in the mountains as it offers beautiful views of the country with mostly gentle, forested slopes. The best time for this trek is between September-May.
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 04: Punakha to Gangtey
After break fast drive to Gangtey(Phobjikha). One of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan, which lies in the mountains,east of Wangduephodrang. After crossing over the pass, you soon come to the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies in a few kilometers down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quite, remote valley is the chosen winter home of rare black necked cranes, who migrate here annually from the Tibetan plateau.If you want to you can do a small hike of 1hr.Many visitors refer to this place as heaven on Earth. After visiting the valley drive back to Punakha.Overnight hotel in Gangtey.
Day 05: Gangtey Gompa – Gogona
The trek leaves the valley at 2830km and leads south, then west through meadows and fields. It then climbs via a mixed forest of juniper, bamboo, rhododendrons and magnolia. The trail is rough and rocky and weaves through trees where pack animals have created deep muddy furrows. After crossing Tsele La (3440m) the trail crosses several meadows, and then descends through forests to Gangak (3020m). It is then a short climb to the camp at Gogona (3100m), a beautiful hilltop site overlooking a long valley. Nearby is Gogona Lhakhang and dozens of poles with white prayer flags fluttering.
A 30-minute walk beyond Gogona is a hamlet where you may find homemade ara (local alcoholic drink) to buy. The women here weave blankets. The village folks speak here a different dialect called Bjop-kha (language of the nomads).
Overnight in camp.
Day 06 : Gogona – Khotokha
The trail winds gently up above Gogona village, past flocks of sheep and ploughed fields. Climb into a forest of firs, oak, spruce, dwarf rhododendron, miniature azaleas, cypress and juniper. Much of the undergrowth is daphne, the plant that is used for hand-made paper and may be identified by its yellow flowers. Then a long but gradual climbs leads to Shobju La pass (3410m). The trail down from the pass is rocky and muddy, weaving through the forest and criss- crossing a small stream. Eventually, at about 3000m, the trail meets a rough trek used by tractors to collect wood from the forest. Follow the road, with a few short cuts through the woods, to a saw mill and woodcutters camp at Dolonaga (2830m).
Still heading down, the trail overlooks the broad Khothangkha valley and eventually reaches Chorten Karpo, where there are four Chortens dedicated to the four Je Khenpos who came from this area. Three of the Chortens are square, in Bhutanese style, and the fourth is Nepali style. The best camp is in this clearing at 2790m, beside a forest of a large blue pines overlooking the valley and the village of Khothangkha, comprising about 60 rustic houses. Overnight camp.
Day 07 : Khotokha – Tikke Zampa & transfer Wangduephodrang and Punakha (Treks Ends)
A short, steep climb along a well-known path takes you to Tashi La (2800m). This is the upper terminus of the cable car that transports wood down to Chhuzomsa, 1300m below. The walk down is through a beautiful forest, with the undergrowth changing from rhododendrons and magnolia to ferns and dwarf bamboo. This stretch of trail is one of the finest bird-watching areas in Bhutan. Among the species found here are laughing thrush, shrike, magpie and woodpecker. The trail then plunges down past steep terraced wheat fields to a cluster of houses at Whachay. The trail eventually meets the road near Tikke Zampa at 1500m.
Rest of the day at leisure and to explore Wangduephodrang town.
Adjoining to Punakha, Wangduephodrang known as Sha or ‘east’ to the Bhutanese is an important gateway to the far-flung corners of Bhutan and played a crucial role in unifying the western, central and southern districts. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha
Day 08: Punakha-Paro
After breakfast visit Punakha Dzong: The Dzong was built in 1637 by the unifier Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyal and it was named as Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The Dzong is beautifully located in between the two rivers called Pho (male) and Mo (female) chhu (river). 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. After lunch drive to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 9: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.
Day 10: Depart Paro
Drive to the Airport for the departure.