This is a short five day trek, which leads from Paro to Thimphu or vice versa, crossing the chain of mountains that separates the two valleys. Although the route is sparsely inhabited, there are wonderful lakes teeming with fish and the area is famous for its spectacular rhododendron forests, which bloom in May. In the clear weather of late autumn and winter there are great views of the Himalayas.
Day 1: Arrive Paro international airport
On a clear day, the flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, the journey offers you wonderful views of the Himalayas and an exciting descent into the kingdom. Our Bhutan representative will greet you at Paro airport. After completion of arrival formalities, you will be transferred to your hotel. Afternoon free or program may be arranged, according to choice. In the evening, take a stroll along the town’s main street. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Paro – Thimphu (morning hike)
Drive northwest up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, its towering walls are still an imposing sight. On a clear day there is a splendid view of Mt. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Visit one of the typical village houses clustered near the dzong. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan. In the afternoon visit Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower and now the National Museum. Then walk down the hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), ‘the fortress of the heap of jewels’. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro – Jele Dzong – 8 Km, 3 hours
Today is a short trekking day. The journey starts with a short climb up to Jele Dzong. The trek trail ascends gradually up to the camp, and if the weather is clear Paro valley can be seen with snowcapped mountains behind. Above the camp is Jele-la pass (3,400m) and Jele Dzong (mostly in ruins). There is also a Lhakhang containing a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni. Overnight camp
Day 4: Jele Dzong – Jangchulakha 10km, 3-4 hours
Begin with a one and a half hour climb and then ascend more gradually upwards. The trail takes you through thick alpine forests and rhododendrons. You will have fine views of Chomolhari and other snow capped peaks if the weather is right, and you may hear some monal pheasants calling during the day. You may see yak herders around your campsite. Overnight camp.
Day 5: Jangchulakha – Jimilangtsho 11km, 4 hours
The trail follows the ridge, and on a clear day the views of the mountains and valley are sensational. You will enjoy a great view of Jichu Drake (6,989m), the peak representing the protective deity of Paro. Our camp is close to the Jimilangtsho lakes, which are famous for their giant sized trout. Overnight camp.
Day 6: Jimilangtsho – Simkota 11km, 4 hours
The trail takes you through dwarf rhododendron trees and passes by the lake of Janetsho. Today you may come across some yak herders’ camps and get an idea of how these people live. We camp overnight close to Simkota Lake, and if you are lucky you can catch a lake trout for your dinner.
Day 7: Simkota – Phajoding 10km, 4 hours
Today begins with a gradual climb, and if the weather permits you will enjoy majestic views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, and a host of other peaks. The trail slowly descends through juniper trees to a campsite beside a community hall near Phajoding cafeteria. Overnight in cafeteria or camp, depending on weather conditions.
Day 8: Phajoding – Thimphu 5km, 3 hours
The trek to Thimphu is downhill all the way, passing through a forested area of mostly blue pine.
Taking a leisurely pace, you reach Thimphu in about 3 hours. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu
Day 9: Excursion to Punakha/Wangduephodrang
After breakfast, full day excursion to the Punakha and Wangdue valleys. The drive from Thimphu crosses Dochu-la pass (3,088m) from which there are the most enchanting mountain views. In Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong situated at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Built in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this dzong has played important role in Bhutan’s history. Then drive to Wangduephodrang, to visit 17th century Wangduephodrang Dzong and the local market. In the evening drive back to Thimphu. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 10: Thimpu Sightseeing and drive to Paro
Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu, including visits to the following, as time permits:
• National Memorial Chorten – built as a memorial to Bhutan’s third king (‘the father of modern Bhutan’) and as a monument to world peace
• Tashichhodzong – the impressive fortress/monastery housing some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body
• Handicrafts Emporium – a wide assortment of intricately hand-woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at this government-run outlet, and at many smaller handicrafts shops around town
• National Library – established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage, it now holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts
• Institute for Zorig Chusum – more commonly known as the Painting School, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan
• National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) – the rich herbal medicines made up from plants abundant in the kingdom are dispensed here, and traditional medicine practitioners trained. In the evening drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 11: Depart Paro
After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.