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The Sacred Valley Trek

BELGIUM

“Tsheten took us to charming places, telling about the country and its people, and wonderfully survived our never relenting stream of questions”

USA

“Journey to Discover Bhutan, organizes specialist tours for studying Bhutan’s natural history; cultural endeavors, especially those centered on the exuberant Buddhist religious festivals”

AUSTRALIA

“Tsheten has arranged my previous three visits to Bhutan in a professional and stress free manner (and he is currently arranging my fourth). “

AUSTRALIA

“Tsheten has arranged my previous three visits to Bhutan in a professional and stress free manner (and he is currently arranging my fourth). “

“Tsheten took very good care of me and introduced me at easy pace to Bhutan culture, customs, history and people. “

    OVERVIEW

    The Sacred Valley Trek

    A trekking adventure in Bhutan unveils a realm of untouched natural beauty and cultural wonders. The kingdom’s pristine landscapes, from lush forests to lofty mountain peaks, serve as the backdrop for thrilling trekking routes like the iconic Snowman Trek or the scenic Druk Path Trek.

    As travelers traverse the undulating terrains, they encounter traditional villages, ancient monasteries, and breathtaking vistas that showcase Bhutan’s serene charm. The trails, adorned with prayer flags fluttering in the mountain breeze, lead to high-altitude campsites where the star-lit Himalayan nights are as enchanting as the days. Bhutan’s commitment to environmental conservation ensures that these trekking experiences are not just adventures but also journeys of immersion into the kingdom’s unspoiled nature and rich cultural heritage.

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    DAYS

    The scared valley trek is a moderate trek of ten days that takes you through the magnificent Thangbi valley, following along the Chamkhar River. It takes you to the base camp of Gangkhar Puensum (Bhutan’s highest mountain and te world’s highest unclimbed mountain). According to Bhutanese history, the mountain is the source of three major Bhutanese rivers, the Kurui Chu, Chamkhar Chu, and the Mangde Chu. These rivers flow through the Lhuntse, Bumthang and Trongsa valleys respectively, and each area has a pivotal significance in Bhutanese history, religion and culture.
    WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE?

    When to visit for Bhutan Luxury Tour

    Bhutan experiences distinct seasons, with a monsoon season bringing heavy rainfall from June to September, nourishing the lush green landscapes. Winters, from November to February, bring cooler temperatures and occasional snowfall in higher elevations. Spring and autumn, from March to May and September to November respectively, offer pleasant weather with clear skies and blooming flora.


    4-25
    °C
    20-50
    MM
    Spring
    MAR – MAY
    15-27
    °C
    90-120
    MM
    Monsoons
    JUN – AUG
    3-26
    °C
    0-70
    MM
    Autumn
    SEPT – NOV
    (-2)-17
    °C
    5-10
    MM
    Winter
    DEC – FEB

    Trip Highlights

    Gangkhar Puensum Basecamp

    Gangkhar Puensum’s base camp in Bhutan beckons adventurers to an extraordinary trek amidst the kingdom’s pristine Himalayan terrain. This high-altitude journey offers breathtaking views, encounters with yaks, and the serenity of remote lakes. As the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum’s base camp promises not only a physical challenge but a spiritual sojourn, providing a rare opportunity to connect with the untouched beauty of Bhutan’s majestic Himalayas.

    Sightseeing

    Sightseeing in Bhutan unveils a harmonious blend of cultural treasures and natural wonders. From the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery to the historic Punakha Dzong, each site narrates a tale of spirituality and architectural splendor. The Dochula Pass offers panoramic views, while the cultural hub of Thimphu showcases a seamless fusion of tradition and modernity. Amidst valleys adorned with prayer flags, Bhutan’s sightseeing experience is a captivating journey into the heart of a kingdom where ancient heritage meets breathtaking landscapes.

    Bhutanese Culture

    Bhutanese culture, nestled in the Himalayas, welcomes travelers with a rich tapestry of tradition and spirituality. Festivals like Paro Tsechu showcase vibrant mask dances, offering insight into the country’s identity. Dzongs and traditional attire echo an ancient heritage, while warm hospitality invites cultural engagement. Bhutan’s culture, seamlessly blending with its stunning landscapes, turns every traveler’s experience into a profound journey of discovery.

    Tour Includes

    • Accommodation: Luxury Hotels

    • Meal Plan: All the meals

    • Transport: Very Comfortable Transport (SUV/Mini Bus/Coaster Bus)

    • Guide: Professional English Speaking

    • Visa / Permits: Bhutan Visa & All Permits

    • Sightseeing: Extensive Sightseeing & Touring

    • Entrance fees: All Historic Monuments

    • Tax: Government Royalties And Taxes

    Tour Excludes

    • Airfare

    • Laundry

    • Private Calls

    • Beverages or Drinks

    • Insurance for travel and other contingencies.

    • Bank Charges

    Single room supplement charges of US $ 40 per night halt per person will apply for any single room requirement.

    Itinerary

    DAY 01: Arrival at Paro

    The flight over the Himalayas is one of the most spectacular experiences one will ever experience. You will fly past Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga and the entire Himalayan range visible on the left hand side.

    On landing at Paro you will be met by our representative from Journey to Discover Bhutan. After Customs and Immigrations formalities, you will be escorted to the hotel.

    Over night at hotel

    DAY 02: PARO – BUMTHANG (Fly to Bumathang)

    Fly to Bumthang by domastic flight, The drive takes around 8-9 hours. The road passes through National horticulture center at Yuespang over the Dochu La at 10,000 feet (la, a word we’ll get to know well, means pass). In clear weather, the pass offers paranomic view of Himalayan summits stretching far to the northeast.

    Spiraling down from the pass to the fertile valley of Lobesa, we pass across the fortress of Wangdiphodrang. The trail climbs steadily through tropical vegetation, finally reaching the Pele La (10,825 feet). Descend through the open meadows of yak herder’s settlement till Chendebji Chorten, a shrine of ancient lineage built on the old walking trail across the country.

    The first sight of Trongsa Dzong, the largest in Bhutan, is most impressive and a masterpiece in architecture. The road winds another 20 kilometers before reaching the town. We will have a short stop over in Trongsa to explore the shops of Trongsa. Depart for Bumthang over Yongtong la pass 11,635ft. As we enter the Chume Valley (the first of the four valleys which comprise the Bumthang Valley) we will observe the Yathra weaving center at Zugney. Yathra is the name for the locally produced hand-woven woolen cloth. Distinctive patterns and bright, earthy colors enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and much sought after throughout Bhutan. Another 20 minutes drive to Jakar. Check in your hotel.

    Overnight Guesthouse.

    DAY 03: BUMTHANG VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

    Today is kept as an easy day for acclimatization for the Trek. The day begins with visit to the places of cultural and historical interest. First visit will be to Jambay Lakhang, the first monastery built in Bhutan in 7th century by Tibetan King followed by Kurjey Lakhang, which bears the body imprint of Guru Rimpoche on a rock.

    From here start a gradual walk to Tamshing monastery, related to Tertorn Pemalingpa (treasure discover), followed by visit to Kharchu Dratsang, a private monastery of his eminence Namkhai Ningpo. It is a religious institute for monks.

    Lunch at your guesthouse, Afternoon visit Jakar Dzong, castle of white bird, presently the administrative center and religious institute of Bumthang district.

    Evening at leisure. Overnight: Guesthouse.

    DAY 04: BUMTHANG – KHAGTHANG

    START OF THE TREK FROM TOKTOZAMPA

    Drive to the north Kurjey valley (8800 ft). We start our trek at the Toktozam Bridge. Within 20 minutes we come to Thangbi Lakhang, a 15th century monastery founded by Pema Lingpa with the original statuary of eight bodhisattvas and two protector deities.

    We continue up the valley following the feeder road till Shabjithang Community School. We pass through Nasphey village to Khagthang military camp, where we camp in a meadow near the river.

    • Elevation: 9425 ft
    • Altitude gain: 625 ft
    • Time: 5-6 hrs
    DAY 05: KHAGTHANG – SHEMTHANG

    Continuing up the west side of the Chamkhar Chu, we walk through rolling terrain of alternating bamboo forest and meadow, past several wooden bridges (which we do not cross) and finally to a new suspension bridge that we cross, onward 20 minutes to our meadow camp at Shemthang.

    • Elevation: 10,750 ft
    • Altitude gain: 1,325 ft
    • Time: 7-8 hrs
    DAY 06: SHEMTHANG – TSAMPA GOMPA

    We now continue ascending the east bank of the Chamkhar Chu, through bamboo and rhododendron grooves into spruce, fir, juniper, and birch forest to the last settlement in the valley with a small Royal Bhutan Army post at Tsampa Gompa.

    Above us looms a rock citadel festooned with prayer flags, the abode of Draktsen, one of the ancient war gods of pre-Buddhist Bhutan (handy for the army), now sworn to protect the Buddhist teachings and the animals of the valley. Above here no living being can be killed or trash burned. As it is never wise to provoke a war god, even a retired one, we will comply with local tradition.

    • Elevation: 12,225 ft
    • Altitude gain: 1,475 ft
    • Time: 5-6 hrs.
    DAY 07: TSAMPA GOMPA – SHINGKU

    From our camp at the confluence of two branches of the Chamkhar Chu we now head northwest up the left or main fork. Gaining altitude more quickly now, we pass through the first of numerous seasonal yak-herding camps with ancient boulders carved and inscribed with the mantras of Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion and Guru Rimpoche, the demon-taming saint who is credited with bringing Buddhism to the Himalayas.

    We stop near treeline at the yak camp of Shingku, literally ‘top trees’ in Dzongkha, to savour one last forest meadow and also for acclimatization.

    • Elevation: 13,825 ft
    • Altitude gain: 1,600 ft
    • Time: 4-5 hrs.
    DAY 08: SHINGKU – BUMARPA

    An easy morning’s walk to the yak settlement of Bumarpa, from which the day-hiking possibilities are seemingly endless and the views of the peaks are spectacular.

    • Elevation: 14,800 ft
    • Altitude gain: 975 ft
    • Time: 3-4 hrs
    DAY 09: BUMARPA – BASE CAMP

    Exploration/Leisure. If the weather is good, we highly recommend a pre-breakfast jaunt up the hill to the east of camp for an extraordinary early morning view of Gangkhar Puensum (1 hr r/t 500-700 ft alt. gain).

    After that, some people may find a day of relaxation just what the doctor ordered. Others may wish to hike up valley past Buurstam, the last yak encampment, to the base of the glacier (2-3 hrs r/t 500 ft alt. gain). There is a pristine alpine lake, less than an hour from camp in the cirque to the southwest (2 hrs r/t 300-500 ft alt. gain).

    And finally, those with energy to spare may wish to opt for an upclose and personal view of Gangkhar Puensum’s famed three brothers (summits) by taking the valley to the west. This 6-7 hr r/t 2000 ft alt. gain hike is ‘noticeably uphill’ as the guiding euphemism goes, it takes us to what must be the highest (16,500 ft) room with a view in yak-herding Bhutan.

    DAY 10: BUMARPA – TSAMPA GOMPA

    Today we return down valley and cross the river on a new wooden bridge just above Tsampa Gompa for a secluded riverside camp.

    • Elevation: 12,175 ft
    • Altitude gain: 2,625 ft
    • Time: 6-7 hrs
    DAY 11: TSAMPA – THOLEYTHANG

    Today we use some of that slowly acquired acclimatization to traverse up and around the rocky spur above camp. The operative word is ‘up’, but the reward is a glorious hanging valley with a chance to see blue sheep, blood pheasant, the extraordinary blue Himalayan monal, and the largest bird in the Himalayas, the lammergier – all seen here on our reconnaissance.

    • Elevation: 14,600 ft
    • Altitude gain: 2,425 ft
    • Time: 5-6 hrs
    DAY 12: THOLEYTHNAG – THOLEY LA – LABRANG

    We move easily along the valley floor for an hour, past a mirror-smooth alpine lake. Keep an eye and ear open for the ruddy shelduck, a frequent visitor. Then it’s up through the tundra and hardy wildflowers to the pass at 15,685 ft. We’re rewarded with yet another glacially carved hanging valley, this one with immense rock walls and towers. We descend to camp at the yak camp of Labrang.

    • Elevation: 13,625 ft
    • Altitude gain: 1,085 ft
    • Altitude loss: 2,060 ft
    • Time: 4-5 hrs
    DAY 13: LABRANG – CHOCHOKMEY

    From Labrang it’s a short walk to treeline, then down along the cascading river through rhododendron, juniper, and spruce into denser fir, hemlock, and birch forest. We cross several wooden cantilever bridges, always following the main river drainage downward, ending the day with a short, stiff little climb of 500 ft up the west bank to Chochokmey, a welcome, open meadow camp with excellent views.

    • Elevation: 10,625 ft
    • Altitude gain: 500 ft
    • Altitude loss: 3,500 ft
    • Time: 6-7 hrs
    DAY 14: CHOCHOKMEY – DHUR – MENCHUGANG – JAKAR

    END OF TREK

    This being Bhutan, our last day of ‘down’ begins with a little more ‘up,’ then rolls downward through bamboo, skirting the downhill edges of several meadows and into blue pine forest. The air seems positively thick here. We descend to the river with live oaks now interspersed among the pines and continue along the valley floor beneath the village of Dhur.

    Finally, we pass under a new suspension bridge, round a corner to see a startlingly white stupa surrounded by prayer flags and it’s over.

    We cross a tributary via another suspension bridge to the trailhead town of Menchugang and our waiting transport back to the luxuries of hot showers, sheets, and possibly a Red Panda beer to toast an extraordinary trek.

    DAY 15: BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA

    Depart your hotel early morning to Puankha. The drive takes around 7-8 hours and packed lunch will served at Chendebji Chorten. Continue your journey to Puankha. Evening at leisure. Overnight Hotel

    DAY 16: PUNAKHA / THIMPHU / PARO

    Morning visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of central monk body and an ancient capital of Bhutan, which is remarkably located between two rivers of Pho Chu (male river) and and the Mo chu (Female river) Continue your journey to Paro and lunch will be at Dochula Cafeteria. Drive to Paro takes another 3 hours.

    Evening at leisure. Overnight at Hotel.

    DAY 17: PARO VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

    Today will be spent sightseeing in the Paro valley. Firstly our day begins with a hike to the Taktsang Lhakhang, known as The Tiger’s Nest this magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3,000 feet above the valley floor. The legend of Taktsang dates back to 747 AD when Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava), in the wrathful form of Dorje Droloe, is believed to have arrived at this site on the back of a tiger and subdued the evil spirits in the region. The Guru then meditated in the holy cave, which is the site of the Pelphug Lhakhang today. According to Tantric Buddhist mythology, the vanquished local deities became the protectors of the Dharma. Drive to the end of the road head till Ramthangkha In approximately one hour, we will reach a small teahouse that has a wonderful panoramic view of the temple.

    For those interested, it is possible to get a closer view of the monastery by hiking uphill for another 45 minutes. Lunch will be at the teahouse. Walk down hill to the base and drive to visit National Museum and Paro Rimpong Dzong. Finally stroll in Paro town.

    DAY 18: DEPARTURE

    Depart to the Paro Airport for your onward flight.

    “The Last Shangri-la”.

    DISCOVER BHUTAN

    If you’re unsure or still deliberating where to travel in Bhutan, we’ll put you in touch with our Travel Specialists to offer you sound advice and an honest take on any places you might be considering for your trip.

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