Explore the new Trans Bhutan Trail on this 12-day tailor made Bhutan holiday. The Trans Bhutan Trail spans 403 kilometres from the Haa Valley in the West all the way to Trashigang in the East. The trail allows keen walkers to explore the beauty of the country while staying in a combination of hotels and superior camp sites. The journey includes five days of hiking on the Trans Bhutan Trail across western Bhutan. Hike from Haa to Paro, enjoying incredible views of both valleys and, on clear days, spectacular views north towards the Himalayan range from the Kaleyla Pass. Take in the highlights of the capital, Thimphu, before trekking along the “Divine Madman Trail” towards the pleasant town of Punakha and end the adventure withe the famous hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, a fitting end to this Bhutanese adventure.
Fly to Kathmandu.
Land Kathmandu and drive to the hotel. Enjoy the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Fly from Kathmandu to Paro. Transfer to the town of Haa, with a brief stop en route to take in some breathtaking Himalayan vistas at Chele La which, at 3,810 metres above sea level, is the highest paved road in Bhutan. Enjoy time to settle into your hotel in Haa and to rest before joining your guide for an afternoon acclimatization walk around the town. This walk will include a visit to the Lhakhang Karpo or ‘White Chapel’ complex, just south of Haa Dzong. The Lhakhang has an atmospheric central chapel which houses statues of the Tse-la-nam Sum trinity. During your visit to the Lhakhang Karpo, you will have the option of a traditional pre-expedition blessing in preparation for your upcoming trek on the Trans Bhutan Trail. Head out to a local restaurant in Haa for dinner this evening. (D)
This morning transfer to Katsho to begin your first day of trekking on the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail. For generations, the people of Haa followed the route you will walk today to trade dried meat for rice with the neighbouring valley. The age-old trail follows the beautiful Haa river as it gently rises out of the Katsho Valley, passing through yak pastures before heading into forests of pine and rhododendron. Look out for cliff-edge Bjungneydra Taktsang, also known as “The Mini Taktsang”, and the sky burial site of Kungkarpo. Continue to climb until the trail reaches the pass at Kaleyla where you will enjoy stunning views of the Himalayan range to the north, including, on the clearest days, vistas of Mount Jomolhari. You will be provided with a picnic lunch during this stop.
From Kaleyla, the trail descends through rhododendron and bamboo forest into the Paro Valley, meandering through traditional Bhutanese farming villages. On arrival visit the 7th century Kichu Lhakhang and home to an original statue of Jowo Jamba which is one of the most sacred sculptures in the region. Your guide will arrange for dinner either at your hotel or in a local restaurant. (B/L/D)
Trek Distance:17 kilometres (10.57 miles)
Estimated Trek Duration: 8 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,169 metres (3,835 feet)
After breakfast rejoin the Trans Bhutan Trail heading east. The Trail rises gently from Lamgong Village as it traverses the sprawling rice paddies of the Paro Valley, before carving around the northern ridge and descending into the traditional village of Dopshari. Here enjoy a cookery demonstration and a traditional Bhutanese lunch at a local farmhouse before the chance to try your hand at Bhutan’s national sport, archery.
Continue along the trail for the climb up to Upper Dopshari for stunning views over the Paro Valley before being collected and transferred back towards Paro. En route, visit Ta Dzong or the ‘watchtower’, which is home to Bhutan’s National Museum, and home to a number of exhibitions including sculpture, painting and artefacts depicting Bhutan’s magical past. End the day at Paro Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’. After your visits, head to the hotel where we recommend you relax and unwind after your trek in a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath before enjoying dinner with your guide at a nearby restaurant. (B/L/D)
Trek Distance: 16 kilometres (9.94 miles)
Estimated Trek Duration: 6 hours
Elevation Gain: 943 metres (3,049 feet)
Drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city, which is the fifth highest capital city in the world by altitude and offers a unique blend of the modern world with Bhutanese tradition. Explore the city starting with a visit to the scenic Kabisa Valley, home to the Choki Traditional Art School. Choki is Bhutan’s only private institution providing free education to underprivileged youths who have a keen interest in learning traditional arts and crafts. Continue to Thimphu Dzong which was rebuilt by His Majesty the Third of Bhutan, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1962, and is the seat of the Government of Bhutan. Undoubtedly Thimphu’s most imposing building, you will have time to enjoy its quiet courtyards, the small Lhakhang Sarp chapel and the Dzong’s imposing utse.
After lunch in a local restaurant, head to Buddha Point, home to the imposing Buddha Dordenma. Guarding the entry to the Thimphu valley, this 51 metre gilded bronze statue is filled with 125,000 miniature statues and sits atop a three-storey base housing a chapel and thousands of donated statuettes.
Afterwards stop at the Memorial Chorten, a Tibetan-style stupa built in 1974 and one of Thimphu’s busiest religious sites, before continuing to Simtokha Dzong which is said to be the first dzong in Bhutan built to house both administrative and monastic residents. Your guide will arrange for dinner either at your hotel or in a local restaurant. (B/L/D)
This morning drive to the Dochula Pass to rejoin the Trans Bhutan Trail. At clearer times of the year, you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayas to the north from Dochula. Descend into the adjacent valley and join what is known as the ‘Divine Madman Trail’ to follow in the footsteps of The Divine Madman himself, Drukpa Kuenley. Over the coming days, you will come across many important cultural sites and extraordinary stories which relate to his life. Make a stop for a picnic lunch at Thinleygang Lhakhang before continuing to follow the Trail down towards Toeb. On arrival, visit the Toeb Chandana Lhakhang which was built in the 15th century to ward off the evil energy of a demoness and served as the religious seat of Ngawang Chogyal. The two hills at each end of the temple resemble knees and are said to be the knees of Ngawang Chogyal herself. End the day at a Signature Trans Bhutan Trail Camping Site. (B/L/D)
Trek Distance: 13.5 kilometres (8.39 miles)
Estimated Trek Duration: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 50 metres (164 feet)
Bid farewell to Toeb and commence the climb up towards Sew Drangsa. In recent years, the central monastic body occasionally uses this route to reach its winter residence in Punakha and to return to Thimphu in the summer. At Sew Drangsa, you will find a clearing marked with prayer flags, which is where the monks stop for lunch en route. From here, the trail descends towards Punakha Dzong, offering spectacular views of the Punakha Valley. In order to cross the bridge at Punakha Dzong, you will need to be wearing formal Bhutanese dress, including a gho for men and a kira for women. Once on the other side, enjoy a tour of the Dzong which was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal around 1637 at the confluence of the Phochhu (male river) and the Mochhu (female river). It is regarded as the most beautiful Dzong in the country which served as the capital and seat of the Bhutanese Government until the early 1950s. The building currently serves as the winter residence for the monastic body. After your visit, head north by vehicle to Dzomlithang, where you will enjoy a cookery demonstration and a traditional Bhutanese outdoor lunch.
This afternoon, you will have the option of a gentle rafting expedition down the Mochhu. Head to the put-in spot just north of Punakha Dzong and enjoy a leisurely float down the wide river valley past Her Majesty the Queen’s winter residences and His Majesty the King’s weekend retreat. This evening enjoy dinner either at your hotel or at a good local restaurant. (B/L/D)
Trek Distance: 13.5 kilometres (8.39 miles)
Estimated Trek Duration: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 195 metres (640 feet)
After breakfast this morning enjoy time to rest and enjoy the beautiful Punakha Valley before a leisurely drive back to Paro. There is the option to visit the imposing Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which was built in 2004 to protect Bhutan from evil forces and bring peace to the world. The stupa is accessible via a one hour trek up a pleasant trail to the north of Punakha. Alternatively, visit the Chimi Lhakhang, built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel. End the day in Paro, check into your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Dinner will be arranged either at your hotel or a local restaurant. (B/L/D)
This morning drive for a visit to the iconic Taktshang Goemba, more commonly known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest Monastery’. Precariously perched on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the Paro Valley floor, the Tiger’s Nest is undoubtedly Bhutan’s most famous religious building. The Monastery is only accessible by foot via a one and a half to two hour hike up the valley side. The trek offers spectacular views from the ridge and passes a small chorten, a basic monastery, and a waterfall on its way. Once you have reached the Tiger’s Nest, you will have a chance to visit the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated, as well as the extensive network of Lhakhangs which house images, murals, chortens and a holy spring. You may also wish to make a diversion to the attractive Machig-phu Lhakhang on the way back down to the access road. After the visit, you will head back to your hotel in Paro, where you will be able to relax for the remainder of the day or do some last-minute shopping for souvenirs. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide at a nearby restaurant. (B/L/D)
After breakfast today, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight to Kathmandu. Land and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy a short city tour with visits to Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath and Patan. (B)
Return to the airport and take the flight back to the UK. (B)
Please note, this package can be booked as a tailor made program for a surcharge. Please speak to our Regent Holiday Bhutan Specialist for further information.