Merak Sakten Trek
Highlights: The Brokpas, semi-nomadic inhabitants of the region, migrate through the seasons with their yaks; moving between the highlands in summer and the lowlands in winter. The people of Merak and Sakten still engage in the barter system, trading cheese, butter and dried meat for grains and other goods that are not readily available to them. During the colder months, they also travel down south to the villages to barter their goods. So during such times tourism is not really a viable option as the active population is out with their cattle. However, there are few residents who do not own animals and they stay back in the villages.
Day 01 Arrive Paro & sightseeing
Day 02 Paro Tiger Nest - Thimphu
Day 03 Thimphu Sightseeing
Day 04 Thimphu - Punakha
Day 05 Punakha - Trongsa via Gangtey
Day 06 Trongsa - Bumthang
Day 07 Bumthang Sightseeing
Day 08 Bumthang - Mongar
Day 09 Mongar - Trashigang
Day 10 Trashigang – Chaling (7050ft) – 7hrs – Damnongchu (10131ft)
Day 11 Damnongchu – 5 hrs – Merak (11480ft)
Day 12 Merak – 7.5 hrs – Miksa Teng (9400ft)
Day 13 Miksa Teng – 3.5 hrs – Sakteng (9850ft)
Day 14 Sakteng – 6.5hrs – JyonkharTeng (6100ft)
Day 15 Jyonkhar – 5hrs – Phongmay/Radhi(6500ft)/Trashigang
Day 16 Trashigang rest day
Day 17 Trashigang Samdrup Jongkhar (180 Km)
Day 18 Samdrup Jongkhar - Guwahati, India (110 Km)
Tour Ends, Tashi Delek!
Day 1: Arrive in Paro
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it's possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the dzongs (forts) currently. You'll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the dzong. Afterward you will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From there you will be taken to the Drugyel Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day you can see Mount Jumolhari, Bhutan's second-highest mountain at 7,329 meters, from the village below the dzong. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight in Paro.
Day 2: Paro Tiger's Nest - Thimphu
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuntse to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. The hike to reach the viewpoint to the monastery makes for a nice half-day excursion. In the afternoon you will drive to Thimphu. In the evening you can explore Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, and absorb the lifestyle of the people. You can also visit some interesting handicraft shops. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu
Visit the school of Arts and Crafts which was established to preserve and promote our age old practice. The students here are taught 13 different traditional arts and crafts. Visit the folk Heritage museum, to see the house of living traditions in some of the rural areas or the living house in olden days. Drive to Buddha point to see one of the largest statues of the Buddha in the world, and the Thimphu city is also best viewed from the Buddha Point. And visit the mini zoo to see the Takins which is our national animals. After lunch you can visit the Handicraft emporium for your souvenir shopping. Visit the Memorial stupa which was built in the memory of our beloved 3rd King in 1974. In the evening, visit the majestic Tashichodzong. the summer palace for the Cheif Abbot and the Central Monk Body. Overnight in the same hotel in Thimphu.
Day 4: Thimphu - Punakha sightseeing
After breakfast, drive to Punakha for 2 ½ hours with short stop at Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, you could have a superb view of the Bhutan’s Himalayas. Upon your arrival in Punakha, you will be taken to your hotel for checking in. Have lunch in Punakha town and visit beautiful Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Based on the prophecy of Guru Padmasambava the dzong is situated between two famous rivers, Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). Later in the evening you can hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten. The hike is wonderful posing its fascinating view of Mochu River and valley. And then return back to your hotel in Punakha.
Day 5: Punakha - Trongsa via Gantey
(145 Kms, 5 ½ hrs drive)
You will begin the day by driving to Gantey. You'll pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gantey village, where you'll visit Gantey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. From Gantey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjika Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. From there you'll head to Trongsa, the ancestral home of the royal family. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La, and at certain times of year it's possible to see yaks. You can browse through the Trongsa shops and town in the afternoon. Overnight in Trongsa.
Day 6: Trongsa - Bumthang
(2 ½ hrs drive)
In the morning you'll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, and you'll also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong. After lunch, you'll proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yethra (textile weaving) factory, where the yethras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 7: Bumthang Sightseeing
The valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in the kingdom. It is also the religious heartland where many saints and masters meditated leaving their imprints as sacred places of worship and pilgrimage Tales of Padmasambhava dominate these holy shrines. In the morning visit, Jampa Lhakhang which was built by Tibetan King Songtshen Gempo in the 7th century to pin down the left Knee of the ogress. And then visit Kurji monastery were body imprints of Guru Rimpoche from the 8th century remains preserved upon a rock. Then short hike to Tamzhing Monastery. If the weather is clear, you will enjoy the view of green valley, dotted with hundreds temples, thousand flags and beautiful chamkhar river flow through the valley. The valley is also called mini Switzerland of Bhutan. After Lunch, drive to visit Tang Member Tsho (Burning Lake), Saint Pemalingpa had discovered several hidden treasure from the Lake. Night halt at the same hotel in Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang - Mongar (7 hrs drive, 192 km)
You will drive towards eastern Bhutan. The steepness of the region lends itself to some spectacular views, with rushing waterfalls and sheer drops. You will pass through beautiful Ura valley which lies at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The journey is one of the most beautiful in all the Himalayas. The descent from Thrumshing La to Lingmithang is astonishing for several reasons. The road drops from 3,800 meters to 650 meters in only a few hours passing from pine forest through semi-tropical forest to orange groves. Carved out of the side of the mountain, in parts the road's edge borders a sheer cliff which drops thousands feet. Arriving at Mongar marks the beginning of your eastern Bhutan experience.
Eastern Bhutan is famous for its fine weaving. Weavers using backs trap looms produce cotton and silk cloth in incredible colors and patterns. Often natural colors are made from bark, leaves and flowers. The predominant ethnic group in Eastern Bhutan is Sharchops, who are generally followers of the Nyingma tradition of Buddhism and tend to be shorter and stockier than people in other parts of the country. Another characteristic of Eastern Bhutan is that the cities and towns are generally built on mountain slopes, a notable exception being Samdrup Jongkhar which is located in a valley on the Indian border. Sharchopkha is the predominant language of the region, though there are local variations. Overnight halt stay in Mongar.
Day 9: Mongar - Trashigang
(92 km, 3 ½ hrs drive)
After breakfast drive to Trashigang, today the rides take us over Kori la pass 3000 meters. After the pass the road is very beautiful as it has lots of soft turns called Yadi loops through beautiful pine trees. The pretty, lively town of Trashigang is a good jumping-off point to visit the kingdom's wild east. Few travellers make it here but, as long as you're happy to leave behind the relative comforts of Thimphu and Paro, exploring this neck of the woods can have its rewards. This is the most densely populated part of Bhutan but also most definitely the hinterland. Locals are fond of a tipple, and bodies sleeping off their excesses at the side of the road aren't an unusual sight. Trashigang Dzong sits on a jagged piece of land jutting out from the town and is the first landmark that can be seen from the road winding up to Trashigang. The Dzong was built in 1659 and commands a spectacular view over the valley for which it is the administrative center. The Dzong is significant for the fact that it only has one courtyard. Overnight in Trashigang.
Day 10: Trashigang – Chaling (7050ft) – 7hrs – Damnongchu (10131ft)
The trek to Merak will start from Chaling and the feeder road goes up to Chaling from Rangjung. The feeder road from Rangjung to Chaling is about 15 kms which takes about 1 hour by car. The first halt will be at Damnongchu. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies about 10,880ft above sea level.
Day 11: Damnongchu – 5 hrs – Merak (11480ft)
The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs. The final stretch is a very gentle incline after which you enter Merak village. The campsite, located before the village, has spectacular views of the nearby mountains and the village. There is also a guesthouse where tourists can stay if they choose not to camp.
Day 12: Merak – 7.5 hrs – Miksa Teng (9400ft)
The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng is of medium difficulty. It will pass through the beautiful Nagchungla pass. Right after the Nagchungla pass descend, the trek is mostly along the river and there is a small climb before reaching the village of Sakteng. The campsite is located in a clearing surrounded by rhododendron trees. It is beautiful when the flowers are in full bloom.
Day 13: Miksa Teng – 3.5 hrs – Sakteng (9850ft)
Trek to Sakteng from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakteng but it is not very difficult. If lucky, trekkers may be able to spot a red panda among the trees. The Sakteng campsite is located on the outskirts of the village. Sakteng also offers trekkers the option of spending the night in a guesthouse instead of camping.
Day 14: Sakteng – 6.5hrs – JyonkharTeng (6100ft)
Sakteng to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy trek compared to the previous treks. It is mostly downhill and walking on a plain path. Some trekkers can also make it to Phongmay or Radhi but a halt in Jyonkhar Teng is recommended. Jyonkhar village is located few minutes walk from the campsite. Jyonkhar also has a community school. Jyonkhar Teng campsite is located near a river.
Day 15: Jyonkhar – 5hrs – Phongmay/Radhi(6500ft)/Trashigang
The trekkers are highly recommended to either stay in Phongmay or Radhi. This is because of many attractions and beautiful villages in these two places. Radhi, popularly known as the ‘Rice Bowl” of the east is also popular for wool textiles called Bura weaving.
Also if visitors are exiting from Samdrup Jongkhar, they can choose to do so. However, a day in Trashigang is highly recommended as direct drive from Radhi or Phongmay may be possible but it will be very tiring.
Day 16: Trashigang rest day
If you want you can visit the Trashigang dzong in the morning, and have a rest in the after noon. Overnight stay at the hotel in Trashigang.
Day 17: Trashigang - Samdrup Jongkhar (180 Km, 7 hrs drive)
Today we have to start very early; today we will pass through Sherabtse University in Bhutan. Then to Khaling weaving center then finally to Samdrup Jongkhar the exit/enter point of Bhutan. Samdrup Jongkhar is boarder town to Assam boarder. Check in the hotel.
Day 18: Samdrup Jongkhar - Guwahati, India (110 Km, 3 hrs drive)
Today we will drive to Gawahati which is 110 Km from Bhutan Boarder. The entire drive is in the plains. Time to explore Gawahati and fare well dinner before we depart tomorrow. You will catch a flight with one of our Bhutan flights to your next destination.
Tour Ends, Tashi Delek!