Bhutan’s highland’s usher in sweeping views stretching far and wide though valleys flanked by snow-capped mountain peaks. The country’s Buddhist culture extends into the lakes, mountains, and valleys of the different regions of the country. Shrines, monasteries, and temples found along fertile paths lead to high villages, and alpine plains where yak herders and rural farmers practice a traditional way of life that has all been shielded from the world at large until 40 years ago.
Ground Control Tours in cooperation with a national agency makes exploring the small country a matter of getting in contact and letting us know what your dream vacation consists of while exploring Bhutan. Keep reading for a detailed summary of a journey into the natural wonders and cultural diversions of the country.
Day one starts after you meet your guide after landing and travel to your accommodations in Paro. The rest of the day is spent exploring the cultural riches of the town including the Drukgyel Dzong, the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country, and the national museum. All three have deep roots in the history of the country, and are sites for annual festivals that have brought people together for fun, family, and friendship for centuries. After an initial glimpse into the culture and traditions of Bhutan, you head back to your hotel for dinner and relaxation before the next day’s activities.
Day Two starts off with a hike to one of the stars of the Bhutanese Himalayas, the Tigers Nest Monastery. The three-hour hike acclimatizes you to the high altitude of the country, and the peaceful views into the distance with the monastery in the foreground are an amazing sight. First photographed by National Geographic in 1906, the monastery perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the valley below is straight out of folklore and shrouded in mystery. It’s a pilgrimage for travelers and monks alike, who come from all around the country and the world to experience the serene inner sanctum.
Day three steps up the action, starting after breakfast and heading from the Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) following a trail that gentle climbs along the Parochhu. The trail passes through green meadows, paddy fields and traditional Bhutanese farm houses. After about four hours trekking, you will reach the army outpost at Gunitsawa village where your guide will provide permits. From there it is short walk to the other side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa, to the campsite.
Day four finds you traversing eight hours from Shana to Soi Thangthangkha. Uphill and downhill trails lead to the Jigme Dorji National Park, where a scenic campsite overlooks Mount Jomolhari in the distance.
Starting early, day five continues five hours along the trail with views of Mount Jomolhari, past another army outpost, yak herders homes, and a beautiful view of snow-clad mountain peaks and ridges. The end of the route is Jangothang, the campsite at the base of the majestic Mount Jhomolhari, the abode of the protective deity Jomo. Tales say the goddess led her people out of peril in Tibet to the safety and solitude of the mountains of Bhutan.
Day six is a rest day at Jangothang, where short hikes in three directions lead to incredible views of the surrounding mountains and countryside.
On day seven, the journey continues on a trail that passes by Lake Tshophu (4,380m) from where you will climb a steep uphill to Bhonte La pass at 4,890 m, the highest point of this trek route. When you reach the Dhumzo Chhu, you trek along the river, passing the few houses of Dhumzo, to reach the campsite.
On day eight, you climb a 100m ridge, and drop to a stream. After crossing the Takhung La pass at an altitude 4,520m, the trail descends to Thombu Shong. Here near the yak herder’s settlement, you will halt for the night.
Day nine takes you further into the highlands of Bhutan, from Thombushong to Shana. The five hour hike climbs uphill for a while to Thombu La pass (4,380m), where the trail descends until Gunitsawa, where you camp for the night.
Day 10 traverses the ground between Shana and Drugyal Dzong. The trail is an easy one, a downhill journey from high terrain into the valley. From Mitishi Zam, you will be able to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. A rough road leads you to the road head at the Dzong. From here, you will be picked up and driven to your hotel in Paro.
Day 11 is a sightseeing trip that starts with a drive from Paro to Thimphu, the nation’s capital. Here you will visit the folk heritage museum, painting school, Changangkha lhakhang, Takin zoo, Kuenselphodrang, Sangaygang view point and Tashichhodzong before heading back for dinner at your hotel in town.
Day 12 is part driving and hiking-exploring te region around the capital where the Cheri Monastery is at the end of a two-hour uphill hike. After a short walk downhill and a transfer to the trail head to Tango, we have lunch before embarking on a two-hour gentle hike to Tango. The town is where Bhutan’s leading Buddhist University is located.
Day 13 is a travel day, after breakfast and goodbyes; you head to the airport to continue your journey onwards.
For more information about this tour and making the best out of your time on a mountain adventure in Bhutan, contact a member of Ground Control Tours for details and starting the ball rolling for a trip of a lifetime in a far off land.