Druk Path Trek

Summary

The Druk (Dragon) Path trek is a relatively easy trek and ideal for those who are interested in seeing some of Bhutan's rich culture and its stunning Himalayan vistas. The trek provides significant contact with people, landscape and culture as you walk over the mountains from Paro to Thimphu. The route which goes above the treeline provides views of Bhutan's most spectacular mountain scenery.

Day 1: Arrival at Paro

On arrival you will be received by our representative. Transfer to hotel and rest until lunch. Your Bhutan experience will begin with a visit to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong, or the “Fortress of the Victorious Drukpas”, which was built in 1647 to mark Bhutan’s victory over invading Tibetans. In clear weather you can view the towering 24,000 ft. Mt. Jhomolhari which lies on the border with Tibet. On the way back you will visit the sacred Kyichu Lhakhang which was built in 659 A.D. and is the oldest temple in Bhutan. According to local belief this temple is one of the 108 that was constructed simultaneously by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in order to subdue a demoness that had been plaguing the Himalayan region. Next we visit the National Museum of Bhutan. which has a large collection of works of art as well as traditional costumes, arms and armor and handcrafted objects of daily life which provide a snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. From the museum you will walk down to the Paro Rinpung Dzong, a fortress-monastery that dates back to the 17th century. In the evening you can either rest at the hotel or explore the local market.

Day 2: Paro

After breakfast we will go on an excursion to Taktsang Monastery, the most iconic temple in Bhutan. The monastery clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor and is typically the highlight of most cultural tours in Bhutan. The hike is fairly short, but the steep climb and substantial gain in altitude are a perfect way to prepare for the upcoming Druk Path Trek. Lunch will be at the Taktsang Cafeteria about halfway to the monastery and offers great views of Paro valley and of the monastery itself.

On your return from the excursion, you can watch a traditional game of archery if one is in progress at one of the nearby archery ranges, or visit a local farmhouse for a personal encounter with a Bhutanese farming family.

Evening at leisure.

Day 3: Paro - Jele Dzong

Distance-8 km/ 3-4 hours After breakfast we drive to the National Museum which is the starting point for the trek. Here we will meet the trekking staff and the horsemen with the pack animals for the luggage and camp supplies. About an hour after we start on the trek we will pass a monastery called Kuenga Lhakhang at about 2640 m. The route goes past some villages, some apple orchards and cultivated fields. Then it’s a long but gradual climb through forests of blue pine and fir trees with great views of Paro valley until we reach a yak herder’s camp just before Jele-la pass (3540m). After crossing the pass which is marked by a cairn and a small chorten, we drop down to the campsite which is at 3518m. Along the way there are opportunities for great pictures with panoramic views of Paro valley with snow-capped mountains behind.

Overnight camp. Altitude 3,480 m.

Day 4: Jele Dzong Campsite - Jangchulakha

Before we set off for our second day of trekking, we visit the ancient temple fortress of Jele Dzong, which is now mostly in ruins. It dates back to the 15th century and was the residence of Ngawang Chogyal (1465-1540), a cousin of the Divine Madman Drukpa Kinley. It is said that sometime in the 17th century, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal the founder of Bhutan, meditated here before heading down to Paro to defeat an invading Tibetan army. On a clear day, we can get panoramic views of Paro valley and Mt. Jomolhari and Mt.Jichu Drakey and other adjoining peaks. The trek today goes through lush alpine forests and wild shrubberies. During the spring season, rhododendrons are in full bloom. Along the way we are likely to meet yaks and yak herders and pass several yak herders’ camps and see some beautiful flora and fauna including the Himalayan Monal pheasant. Our camp at Jangchu-lakha is on a pasture at an altitude of about 3759m.

Day 5: Jangchulakha - Jimilang Tsho

Today’s trek begins with a relatively steep climb to Jangchula Pass. The panoramic views of the mountains is simply magnificent. From thereon we start our descent towards our destination- Jimi Lang Tsho which is our camp site for the night. The name Jimi Lang Tsho means “Sand Ox Lake” and comes from a legend about a bull that is said to have emerged from the lake and joined the cattle of the family that uses this area as a summer pasture. The lake is considered to be the home of a local deity and it is believed that any acts such littering, urinating or anything that is considered polluting will bring about an immediate effect on the surroundings such as suddenly darkening skies with thick fog, rain and hailstorms. The lake is also known for its big sized trout and if you are lucky you could have fresh trout for dinner.

Overnight Camp at Jimilang Tsho.

Day 6: Jimilang Tsho - Simkotra Tsho/Lake

The trek starts with a gradual climb and then descends with the highest point being 4150m. The trail takes us through forests of dwarf rhododendron trees past Janey Tsho lake. Nomad yak herders almost always occupy the surroundings of the lake. This is yet another day to enjoy the pristine beauty of the Himalayan landscape with wild flowers and breath taking views of the mountains. Our campsite at on the banks of Simkotra lake lies at an altitude of approximately 13,400 ft. The lake is rich in trout and provided you have the necessary permits you can try your hand at angling.

Overnight camp at Simkotra Tsho Campsite.

Day 7: Simkotra - Phajoding

Simkotra – Phajoding Distance –10 km, about 3-4 hours; 150m ascent and 700m descent. The trek makes several short ascents, to summits, traverses broad rocky valleys, a sky burial site, and crosses the final ridge at Pume-la pass (4100m). On a clear day, we can get a spectacular view of Mount Gangkhar Punsum - the highest mountain in Bhutan, as well other peaks, and a view of the entire Thimphu valley. From the pass we descend to visit the Thujidra Gompa, a meditation site hanging on the side of a precipitous rock face at 3950m. A short but steep descent from here is your campsite near a stone shelter at an altitude of 3750m. Overnight at Phajoding Campsite.

Day 8: Phajoding - Thimphu

A leisurely breakfast and stroll down the hill to Thimphu is roughly 3-4 hours and a distance of 5-6 kms. The trail is through thick cover of blue-pine forests and wild shrubs. There are two options in terms of descent: (1) the main Zhung-lam (“highway”) that ends near the palaces of the Royal Family in Motithang (above Motithang Takin Preserve) or the newer and (slightly longer) gradual descent towards Sangaygang, a must visit for tourists who would like a birds-eye view of the capital city. The tour should reach Thimphu comfortably in time for lunch.

After lunch explore Thimphu city.

Evening at leisure.

Day 9: Thimphu

We will spend the day sightseeing and exploring the capital city. Some of the places you can visit include: - National Memorial Chorten: Built in 1974 in memory of Bhutan’s Third King. The paintings and statues inside this monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. - The National Institute of Zorig Chusum- Popularly called Painting School it is an institute at which the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan are taught. It was established by the government in order to preserve Bhutan’s traditional crafts. Here you can watch students engaged in learning the various crafts such as painting, woodcarving, clay statue making etc. - Folk Heritage Museum- an old three storied traditional Bhutanese house that has been preserved to provide a glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. The artifacts in the house reflect the lifestyle of people in rural Bhutan even today. The museum restaurant serves excellent traditional Bhutanese food and is popular among both tourists and locals.

After lunch visit the Authentic Bhutanese Crafts Bazaar, the National Handicrafts Emporium and other handicrafts shops. Late afternoon drive to Paro.

Evening free to explore Paro town.

Day 10: Departure

After breakfast drive to the airport for your onward journey to your next dexstination.