Hiking Eastern Bhutan II, 8 days

Omba Nye - The Tiger's Nest of the eastphoto by © Piet van der Poel
Eastern Bhutan Hiking

Tour highlights

  • Watch for Yeti in Migoi National Park
  • Sleeping in local village farmhouses
  • Enjoy the hospitality of local Brokpa villagers
  • Omba Nye famous as “Tiger's Nest” of the East
  • Start and end in Guwahati
  • Optional tour start or finish in Paro
# Itinerary Program
1 Guwahati – Samdrup Jongkhar – Tashigang Early morning at 5 o’clock you will be picked-up in Guwahati, driving to Samdrup Jongkhar. Here you will meet your Bhutanese guide and driver, who will manage all immigration formalities. ➜ Then you will start all day drive ascending to the Himalayas. ➜ After few hours drive we will stop to get blessing from Hindu hermit for safety of our journey. ➜ Soon after you will have opportunity to visit first of many charming Bhutanese Buddhist temples, called Zangto Pelri Lhakhang, with detailed mural painting. ➜ During afternoon, you will stop in Khaling village to visit National Handloom Development Project, which maintains rich tradition of local weaving. ➜ Also, you will pay a visit to the National Institute for the Visually Impaired. One of the accomplishment of this progressive institution is the development of Bhutanese version of Braille's script. ➜ Along the way, you'll also pass by Karma Thegsum Dechenling Goemba, huge monastery school and Sherubtse College, first Bhutanese university campus established in 1978. ➜ Also, we visit temple in nearby Kanglung village. Reach to Tashigang.
2 Tashigang – Merak Today you will change the car for hardy Bolero jeep and start early in the morning ascending to high mountains of Merak and Sakteng, so called Migoi national park. Migoi is local name for elusive yeti and most local inhabitants will be able to remember numerous cases encountering yeti in the wild. ➜ After two hours drive we will reach Mon-la pass where the welcome party of Borkpa nomads in local dress will be waiting. ➜ Experience local hospitality and yummy nomad lunch, the tasty local spirit and milk-like chang beer. Continue drive to Merak village (3500 m) and accommodation in local farmhouse as a guest of Brokpa family. ➜ Explore village and it's temples. ➜ Optionally and extra payment witness the performance of Yak dance and then and Aum Yomo (local deity) dance. ➜ Sleeping in simple conditions (own sleeping bag is recommended but not necessary).
3 Merak In the morning you will start full day hiking trip around the Merak village. You can either hike to communal pastures above the village to the north-east or go to holy Aum Yomo peak (approx. 4500 m), which is considered as the seat of local protective deity. ➜ Afternoon you will get more understanding of local culture. You will see how local people spin wool and make their colorful traditional clothes and textiles. ➜ Learn how they make yak cheese, butter tea and ara (local rice, wheat, or corn spirit).
4 Merak – Sakteng Start 7-8 hours hike over the 4120 meters high Nyuksang-la pass to the large Sakteng village. ➜ The trail offers great views of Merak village and a lot of opportunity to see various wildlife like blood pheasants and similar. ➜ After crossing pass there is long descent to river bed and another brief ascent after which the large village of Sakteng becomes visible. This village was reached by motorable road just in the 2019 and maintains nice local culture. Saktengpas, as the locals calls themselves, keep close relation to Tawang in Indian Arunachal Pradesh and their relatives who are called as “Monpas” on Indian side of border but who are culturally identical. It's just few hours hike from here to Indian border over which locals cross freely. ➜ Overnight in local farmouse, experiencing Saktengpa hopspitality.
5 Sakteng – Tashigang In the morning explore the Sakteng village and its temples. ➜ Also see the bizarre open air exhibition of the parts from the Indian army airplane which crashed here many years back. ➜ Then take jeep to Thrakthi village and further to Tashigang, over the rough road. ➜ If you're early, you can also visit Rangjung monastery, beautiful Nyingma school of Buddhism monastery which hosts number of interesting statues and relics. ➜ Reach hotel in the evening.
6 Tashigang – Trashi Yangtse – Omba

Hiking 14k m, 5 hours, ➚500m, ➘540m. ➜ Early morning start 2 hours drive time to Trashi Yangtse. On the way pass around the Gom Kora temple, which you will visit next day. ➜ Finally, you will see impressive building of the old Trashi Yangtse dzong which is home to 300 monks. Visit the castle if time is permitting. The dzong used to protect former trade route with Tibet and was established by the saint Pema Lingpa of 15th century. ➜ Near the Trashi Yangtse is the famous Chorten Kora, the largest stupa in Bhutan built in Nepali style. This is the site of two colorful local festivals at the beginning of the year. Then drive slightly back and continue drive by rough road to Tshengkharla in altitude of 2040 m. ➜ In Tsengkharla you can see the ruins of the dzong (castle), allegedly the first to be ever built in Bhutan, by exiled Tibetan king Lhasey Tsangma in 9th century. Bit up above the village by the very rough road, there is Buddhist stupa modeled after Mahabuddha temple in Bodhgaya, place of Buddha's enlightenment. This is the beginning of the trail which will take you around several temples and through maize fields. ➜ On the way see Septshekhang Lhakahng on the rocky cliff. ➜ Finally, descend through fields and forest to Omba village. ➜ Here is the simple guest house where you will spend the night. Sleep in elevation of 1920 m. ➜ In case you are not very fast hiker, you might need to skip morning sightseeing program.

7 Omba – Tashigang Omba Nye is the monastery, which is called “Tiger's Nest of the east” for its setting on the rocky cliff. ➜ This day you will start by hike up to there. It's said that 8th century magician-saint Guru Rimpoche had meditated here for 2 months subduing the demon whose name was Phurba Trashi. Various imprints of Guru Rimpoche can be found on the way. ➜ After reaching the temple see the holy places. Then continue walk from towards the Kheni village. ➜ You will reach in about 2 hours. Vehicle will be waiting you there. ➜ Drive down to the main road and finally visit the Gom Kora, the place where 8th century magician-saint Guru Padmasambhava left his body imprints. ➜ Drive back to Tshigang, reaching in the evening.
8 Tashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar, onward to Guwahati This will be all day drive descend from the Himalayas southwards to Indian border. You will start early in the morning, going the same way you came here on the day one, going around Yongphula airport, Sherubtse university. Don't forget to stop for another hindu blessing at Damthang before reaching Smadrup Jongkhar. ➜ After immigration formalities, you will tell goodbye to your Bhutanese guide and driver and Indian counterpart will drive you to Guwahati. This is the tour end.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Start or finish in Paro (0 or more days): Thanks to domestic flight which is connection Yongphula airport in Eastern Bhutan with Paro in the West, you can also conveniently start/conclude the trip in Paro in Western Bhutan, see famous Tiger's Nest monastery and other sights.
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