|Arrival, drive to Thimphu
|Arrival by plane to Paro airport and drive to Thimphu. In case of arrival by land, cross border from India in Phuntsholing/Jaigon and ~5 hours drive to Thimphu. Stop at Tachog lhakhang to see traditional bridge made using ancient iron chains. Optionally celebrate arrival to Bhutan in Mojo Park music club or other popular venue. Optionally celebrate arrival to Bhutan in famous Mojo Park music club or other popular venue. Day's program is subject to arrival time.
|Early morning drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and walk to striking city viewpoint. Walk in Norzin lam street and see the traffic police signaling in junctions. Thimphu is only capital in the world without the traffic lights. Finish walk at handicraft market where many interesting Bhutanese souvenirs can be seen and bought for reasonable price. Continue with visit to Folk Heritage Museum with the exhibition on traditional village life in Bhutan (closed on Sunday, alternatively visit Simply Bhutan museum). Drive to Changlimithang stadium to see archery match, traditional sport of Bhutan (depends on luck if the game is going on). From Friday to Sunday you can also visit to Centenary market where local people go to shop for food supplies. Market also has interesting handicraft section. Otherwise, you can enjoy some free time in the town, exploring it on your own. Evening visit of Tashichho dzong, the castle, which serves as seat of the king and government.
|Thimphu – Gangtey
|Transfer to Wangdue Phrodang over Dochu-la pass (3010 m) with visit of royal temple Druk Wangyel lhakhang. Descend to tropical valley of Punatsang chu river. Soon after lunch you will start driving up to the mountains again until you reach pristine Phobjika valley (2750 m). Optionally you can attend lesson on Buddhism led by accomplished master with translation to English in Gangtey monastery shedra (buddhist college). You might also like to spend overnight in welcoming local farmhouse or even try the hot stone bath, traditional Bhutanese treat.
|Gangtey – Punakha / Wangdue
|Visit of historical Gangtey gompa. 2.5-hour walking tour through the valley is one of the most beautiful and easy hikes in Bhutan. You will go through the buckwheat and potato fields to the mixed forest with trees decorated with old men's beard lichen and finally you will get a view of marshland. Here, in late autumn and winter, rare black neck crane can be seen. Finish hike with the picnic lunch. Drive back to Wangdue.
|Punakha / Wangdue – Paro
|Early morning hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten with wonderful view of the valley and it‘s terraced paddy fields. Visit of Punakha dzong, which counts as the most intricately decorated castle in the kingdom. Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to 15th century saint Drukpa Kunley, known as “Divine madman”, who taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and scandalous sexual exploits. If time permits, also visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery with Bhutanese and Nepali style stupa, overlooking the valley from the high hill. Evening drive to Paro.
|Paro – Gunitsawa
|Morning visit of Kyichu lhakhang, the temple built in 8th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Climb to Taktsang gompa (Tiger's Nest), most venerated and holy place in Bhutan overlooking valley from the steep cliff. After lunch drive to Drukyel dzong. This used to be a place where the trek started before. See ruins of the old dzong (castle) and continue further to military camp of Gunitsawa on the new built road. Possibility to make detour to Lhadi Gompa just before military camp. First night camping just above military camp at the elevation of 2890 m.
|Trek: Gunitsawa – Thangthangkha
|Distance 16 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m. On this long day there is a lot of up and downs, mostly through the forest along the Paro chhu river. Finally, you will reach to large chorten on the junction, where you will need take trail to the left. After about half hour, you will reach to Thangthangtha campsite. The place is equipped with dilapidated toilets, kitchen house and caretaker's dwelling. If weather permits, you might glimpse the first great view of Jomolhari, best photographed right from the toilets. Camp is cold and it gets dark early.
|Trek: Thangthangkha – Jangothang
|Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m. If you did not see Jomolhari peak in the evening, you still have a chance to get a great view this morning. The trek continues up the Paro chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you can enjoy most spectacular view of Jomolhari over the ruins of ancient temple or fortress.
|This is the rest day in order get proper acclimatization for high altitude. The best way how to spend it is to climb in direction of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake peaks for spectacular viewpoint, around 800 meters higher. The hike takes little bit more then half day and will help you to adjust to the thin air.
|Trek: Jangothang – Chore (Dhumzo)
|Trek: 16 km, 6-7 hours, 810 m ascent, 1090 m descent, crossing Bonte-la (4890 m), camp altitude 3,800 m. Start steep climb of 300 m in short distance. After strenuous climb, you will be rewarded with flat or mildly ascending path around beautiful lakes. The views of Jomolhari and Jiychu Drake are breathtaking. Continue ascent to Bonte-la pass. It's quite likely, that there will be some mild snow here. After crossing the pass with prayer flags, it will take about 3-4 hours descending through steep gully to Soi Yaksa valley.
|Trek: Chore (Dhumzo) – Thombu shong
|Trek: 11 km, 4-5 hours, 720 m ascent, 340 m descent, camping at 4,120 m. Climb through the rhodendron forest and along the ruins of the old castle monastery Sey Dzong to Tagulung-la pass (4,540 m). From the summit you can have a spectacular views of the Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and even Kanchenjunga and Makalu peaks in great distance to the west. After some walk you descend to the Thombu valley, the last camp of the trek.
|Trek: Thombu shong – Gunitsawa, drive to Paro
|Trek: 15 km, 5-6 hours, 150 m ascent, 1380 m descent. Short and steep climb through rhododendron bushes to the summit of Thombu la pass (4,270 m) and continue on the ridge with great views of surrounding and distant mountains. Shortly after you start descending steeply for about 2-3 hours until you reach military camp of Gunitsawa, where the whole trek started. From here you'll drive to Paro for hotel accommodation.
|Visit of National museum of Bhutan and Paro dzong, castle where Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha film was shot. You can spend afternoon in leisure or you can drive to Chele la pass (3,800 m) from where you will get splendid views of Jomolhari and Kanchenjunga peaks in good weather conditions. Also you can make interesting hike through the mixed alpine forest from the pass to Kila Gompa, the oldest nunnery in Bhutan.
|Depart from Paro airport by flight or 6 hours drive to land border in Phuntsholing.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations:
- Gasa Hot springs (+1 or 2 days): Gasa is highland region north of Punakha, just recently connected by road. Apart from beautiful dzong and vistas of nearby high peaks, you can enjoy the natural hot springs, so called "tsachu". There is number of pools with different temperatures. Water is sulfurous and it's believed it's beneficial for number of skin ailments. It's great relax in luxurious pools anyway. Additional experience can be spending overnight here in local farmhouse to try authentic Bhutanese hospitality.