Jumolhari Trek (Round Trek)
This trip allows the travelers to enjoy the taste of the great variety of Bhutanese landscape and the views from some of the major passes that we can come across are breath-taking, be it of mountains or the valleys underneath. It gives you a chance to meet people, enjoy the pristine forest with rare glimpse of wildlife and observe the ancient old traditions of arts and crafts. We will be traveling through the less frequented areas of Bhutan. Our journey starts from Paro Valley where our flight will land and will continue by road through the lush valley of Thimphu, the capital city. After touring through this tiny town, we will take an excursion to the famous Tiger’s Nest, locally known as Taktshang Gompa. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.We will start our 8-day trek at Thimphu via the base camp of Mount. Jomolhari. It is a medium duration trek that is probably the most trekked route in Bhutan due to its easy access, beautiful terrain and spectacular views of the majestic snowcapped mountains. Jomolhari (The Mountain of Goddess), believed to be the abode of Jomo goddess, is one of the most beautiful and imposing mountains in the entire Himalayan region. Located at the northwestern border with Tibet, trekking to the base camp of this dome-shaped mountain provides an opportunity to experience the panoramic views of some of the world’s highest peaks.
Beginning from Paro valley, your trek starts with a gentle ascent to Bhutan’s undisturbed forest of rhododendrons and pines. Passing through the villages with lush fields of rice, wheat and barley and crossing over the tree lines, you arrive in the regions sparsely inhabited by the migrant yak herders. The trail continues through enchanting valley flanked with snow-capped peaks to the base of Mount Chomolhari and its spike-shaped companion, Jichu Drake. You spend one entire day exploring the vicinity or just relaxing and enjoying the wonders of nature. You resume your trek to the Thimphu valley by crossing two major passes through the remote wilderness with abundant of wildlife, including, blue sheep, Takin and variety of birds, perhaps under the surveillance of the elusive snow leopard. There will be ample time to interact with the friendly people of Bhutan and to learn their philosophy of “GROSS NATIONAL HAPINESS”. After the trek, you have a day to see Bhutan’s tiny Capital city with no traffic light.
Day 01: Arrival at Paro 2280 meters:
Upon arrival at Paro airport, a representative from us will pick you up and will bring you to the hotel. After lunch, we will drive to the ruins of Drukgyel dzong. It was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644; the dzong name’s means indeed “The Victorious Druk”. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. Then we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century. We will have dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Paro sightseeing – Hike to Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger’s Nest):
After breakfast, we will go to Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger’s Nest). After lunch, we will transfer to Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices. After lunch, we will visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been since 1967, the National Museum of Bhutan. Dinner and overnight will be at the hotel.
Day 03: Paro – Shana (Start of Trek):
Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong at 2580 meters following the Paro River and we will see the cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly coloured butterflies. Overnight stay will be at camp Shana.
Altitude: 2,850 m; Distance: 17 Km; Time: 5 - 6 hours (Ascent 360 meters, Descent 80 meters)
Day 04: Shana – Thangthangka:
The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. The camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.
Altitude: 3610 m; Distance 22 Km; Time 7 - 8 hours. (Ascent 770 meters, Descent 10 meters)
Day 05: Thangthangka – Jangothang:
In the morning, after passing to a small army post, the trail will slowly leave the forest line and will gradually climb into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.
Altitude: 4080 m; Distance 19 Kms; Time 5 - 6 hours. (Ascent 480 meters)
Day 06: Jangothang:
This is a rest day at Jangothang. You may enjoy the superb view all around.
For day hikes, you have 3 options at Jangothang:
1. Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (Back and forth)
2. Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (Back and Forth).
3. Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (back and forth).
Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi:
The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. You can start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari, JichuDrakey and Tsrim Ghang then walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Nyeley la pass at an altitude of 4,700 meters. After the pass, it’s a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp, enjoying the panorama view of the peaks and Lingshi dzong. Camp altitude is 4010 meters. 18 kms, walking time: 6-7 hours, Ascent 840 meters, Descent: 870 meters.
Day 08: Lingshi – Shodu:
The trail today climbs to Yalila Pass (4930 m), from where on a clear day, impressive views of Mount Jumolhari, Tserim Kang and Masagang can be seen. Dinner and overnight stay will be at the camp.
Camp at Shodu: 4080 meters. Distance: 22 kms, 8-9 hours walk. (Ascent 940 meters, Descent 920 meters).
Day 09: Shodu – Barshong:
This is the place where one comes back to the tree line. The path follows the Thimphu River, descending through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forest. The view of the cliff facing rocks and waterfalls are stunning. Hot lunch will be served by the riverside. After lunch, the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of the Barshong dzong, reaching the camp. Dinner and overnight will be at the camp.
Camp at Altitude: 3710 meters. Distance: 16 kms. Walking time 5-6 hours, Ascent 250 meters, Descent: 670 meters.
Day 10: Barshong – Dolamkencho:
The road descends through alpine forest and we once again join Thimphu River for a while. After lunch, we will climb to Dolamkencho camp. Camp at Altitude: 3320 meters. Distance: 15 kms. Walking time 4-6 hours, Ascent 290 meters, Descent: 640 meters.
Day 11: Dolamkencho – Dodena – Thimphu:
The path descends through bamboo forests, finally joining Thimphu River again. You will arrive at Dodena where you will be picked up for the drive to Thimphu. Spend the overnight at the hotel. Distance 8 km, 4 hours walk. Ascent 500 meters, Descent 930 meters.
Day 12: Thimphu sightseeing:
The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974), built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang, one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We will then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch we will drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices, and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The Tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only during winter when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body move to Punakha the ancient winter capital of Bhutan and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. We will go back to the hotel for the overnight stay.
Day 13: Thimphu- Punakha - Thimphu:
(72 Kms, 2 hours drive). After breakfast, we will drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we will stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. Lunch will be at Punakha. After lunch, we will visit Punakha Dzong. It was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the first national assembly here in 1952. In the evening, we will drive back to Thimphu. We will drive back to the hotel for the overnight stay.
Day 14: Thimphu – Paro Airport (Departure):
In the morning, we will bring you back to the airport