WILD EAST RODUNG LA TREK – 21 DAYS
While the Rodung La Trek does not ascend to very high altitudes, it is still fairly challenging as the trail covers some fairly steep climbs and descents. The trail takes you from Bumthang in Central Bhutan to Trashiyangtse in the far eastern reaches of the kingdom.
The trail passes through alpine and bamboo forests, meadows and mountain passes, through villages and temples offering hikers an incredible array of biodiversity to appreciate. The Hike typically takes 10 days to complete and is best carried out in winter between October-Early Novembers or in spring between April-Early May.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
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. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight in Paro.
Day 2: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast, excursion to Taktsang or the “tiger’s nest” perched precariously on the cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley. It is the most famous monastery in Bhutan. It is said that Guru Rimpoche have flown to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated here for three months. Lunch would be served in the Cafeteria. Return to Paro and after tea drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The road lead through the Paro Valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzomsa. Three different styles of chortens adorn the confluence. A short way beyond, on the left is the Tachogang Lhakhang built in 15th century by Thangthong Gyelpo, a trader who first introduced Iron Bridges in Bhutan. On the way visit Simtokha Dzong; the oldest Dzong in Bhutan built by Shabdrung in 17th century. On arrival in Thimphu check into the hotel. In the evening you can explore Thimphu freely and visit some interesting handicraft shops. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: 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), Changgangkha Monastery, Buddha Point, 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 4: Thimphu- Trongsa
After early breakfast, drive to Dochula pass (alt. 3,100m). If weather permits, you can see a range of high mountains of high Himalayan peaks towards the northeast. Following peaks can be seen from this pass on a clear day; Masanggang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Teri gang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (1,170m), Zongpaphugang (7,060m), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana and finally Gangkar Puensum (7,497m), the highest mountain peak in Bhutan.
Further drive onwards to Wangdiphodrang town for lunch. Proceed to Trongsa across Pelela pass (alt. 3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west. A large prayer flag marks the pass and the ground is covered with high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop en route at Chendebji Chorten, which was built in 18th century by lama named Shida. It is Nepalese in style with eyes painted at four cardinal points.
Arrive Trongsa and check into hotel the lodge in Trongsa.
Day 5: 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 6: Bumthang-Ngang Lhakhang
Trek begins today. The route takes you around Chamkhar Chhu, a river rich in trout. Lunch at the Thangbi Lhakhang, a temple built by the first Karma Shamar in 13th century. Further ahead you enter Ngang Yul, ‘Swan Land” and at its center is Ngang Lhakhang, the “Swan Temple”. This part of the valley was at first inhabitated by swans who gave their name (Ngang) to the place. The Lama Namkha Samdrup, having dreamt a vision of how to build a temple, shot an arrow at the spot where the arrow landed, the Ngang Lhakhang was erected. Overnight at the camp at an altitude of 2,800m. Distance is 20 km, walking time 6/7 hours.
Day 7: Ngang Lhakhang –Ugyenchholing
Climb gradually to Phephe La pass (3,353m). Follow the trail until the pass takes you through one of the most beautiful forested areas of this region. Allow for stops to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. Overnight camp at an altitude of 2,850m.
Day 8: Ugyenchholing- Phokphey
Today’s walk is through bamboos, hemlock and finally up to alpine forest. Overnight camp at an altitude of 3,600m. Distance 17 km, walking time 5/6 hours.
Day 9: Phokphey-Ungaar
Continue ascending for half an hour until you reach Rodungla (3,800m), and then continue downhill through the gorge, overlooking some of the mountain valleys. Towards the camp you see pine trees. Overnight camp. Distance 20 km, time 6/7 hours.
Day 10: Ungaar-Taskila
This trail winds up and down till you reach Drula village and Khaine Lhakhang en route. It is one of the oldest temples in existence today, built in mid 7th century by the King Songtshen Gampo of Tibet to subdue demons. Overnight camp. Distance 21 km, time 7/8 hours.
Day 11: Taskila-Lhuntse
Proceed to Lhuntse guesthouse for lunch. After lunch it is leisure time. Overnight camp.
Day 12: Lhuntse-Menji
Arrive firstly to Kuri Zampa and the trek from here is gradually up through the paddy fields and villages. Overnight camp. Distance 12 km, time 4/5 hours.
Day 13: Menji-Pemi
Continue uphill through thick forests overlooking mountain views. The camp is under forest shelter at an altitude of 2,400m. Distance 20 km, time 6/7 hours.
Day 14: Pemi-Taupang
Continue up to Dongla where you will have the fascinating mountain views. Descend through thick evergreen forests till you reach campsite. Overnight campsite. Distance 21 km, time 6/7 hours.
Day 15: Taupang-Tashiyangtse
Today is the longest trek. It is a gradually downhill till Yangtse through Chir pine and hardwood forests like oak of sub tropical forest zone. Overnight camp. Distance 24 km, time 8/9 hours.
Day 16: Tashiyangtse-Trashigang
End of the trek and drive to Trashigang. Overnight at the lodge in Trashigang.
Day 17: Trashigang – Mongar
In the morning you can visit the weaving center in Khaling (which is operated by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan), Sherubtse College in Kanglung (Bhutan’s first college), and Zangdo Pelri Monastery. From there you will head back to Mongar. Overnight in Mongar.
Day 18: Mongar – Bumthang
Drive the spectacular 8-hour route back to Bumthang, with stops for lunch and tea in nearby villages. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 19: 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 20: 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.
Day 21: Depart Paro
After early breakfast drive to Paro Airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.