Pre Trip Days: Fly from your home country to meet together in Bangkok, Thailand. Remember, people in the Americas 'lose' one day when crossing the international date line. Please check your air itinerary carefully to ensure you arrive on time for this trek. Strict government guidelines limit our entry and travel in Bhutan.
Day 1: Participants arrive from around the world to join in Bangkok. We will meet you upon arrival at the Bangkok airport. Your guide will await you outside the Customs Hall. Once you have completed customs and immigration formalities, we will transfer you to your hotel near the airport for a restful afternoon and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow, we make our early departure to magical Bhutan. Meals not included today.
Day 2: We check in at the Bangkok airport for the 8:00 a.m. (current schedule, subject to change) Druk Air flight to Bhutan. Your Himalayan High Treks group leader and your Bhutanese guide will meet you at the airport on arrival at 11:40 a.m. After lunch, walk in the small town of Paro. It may be possible to visit your guide's home on this day. Overnight at our local resort. Fabulous views, charming rooms, good food and traditional Bhutanese stone baths will make this a memorable experience! Includes: (L), (D).
Day 3: Taksang Gompa (Tiger 's nest). This renowned monastery is set out on a sheer cliff and offers spectacular views. Inside the monastery are a large image of Padmasambhava (The Indian Buddhist Saint who converted Druk Yul and Tibet) and numerous thangkas depicting him. (Thangkas are Buddhist paintings done on cotton and mounted on fabric. They can be rolled up and carried like scrolls. Usual subjects include mandalas or Tibetan deities.). The temple's nickname derives from the legend that Padmasambhava was transported from Tibet to this cliff on the back of a flying tiger. Usually visitors are not allowed inside the monastery, however, the steep (3,200 feet) hike up to a nearby view point is a good preparation for the days to come. Overnight again at our local resort in Paro. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Visit the Natural History Museum at Ta Dzong and the district dzong called Rinpung dzong-fortress of a mountain of jewels, which is now the seat of administration and an institute for monks. Overnight again at our local resort in Paro. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Ground transportation to the ruins of Drukgyel dzong (monastery fortress) in the northern part of the valley which is where the road ends. This once was a strategic post built to repel invading Tibetan forces from the north and protect the famous Kyichu lhakhang (temple), one of 108 sacred lhakhangs built by the Buddhist King Srongtsen Gampo of Tibet. Following the gently rising Paro river valley, we pass traditional farms and homes. After about an hour we cross to the east bank on a bridge. As we continue, the valley begins to narrow. Camp near Shana (9,500 feet), just beyond an army post. The climb today is 1,600 feet. Distance: 11 miles. Walking Time: 5 to 6 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Continue walking uphill through the river valley. The valley narrows to a gorge and mixed forest replaces the fields. The trail becomes more difficult as it winds up and down along the drainage. The climb is about 2900 feet. Camp is in a small meadow at Soi Thangthangkha (11,800 feet). Chomolhari looms above our camp. Distance: 12 miles. Walking Time: 8 to 9 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: The valley divides and we continue hiking up the western fork of the Pa Chu (chu means river). The forests diminish to windblown scrub trees, shrubs and finally just yak pastures. Up above is an unbroken chain of snow-capped peaks which forms the border with Tibet. We 're in the heart of some of Druk Yul 's best yak grazing areas. Stop for lunch at a yak herder 's camp.
We may be able to look inside one of the smoky, black yak-hair tents. There are stacks of blankets, wood, dried yak dung and wooden pack saddles. If the yak herders aren't there, we can still see the same foundations they use for their tents. We 'll try some traditional butter tea. We'll camp at Jangothang (13,250 feet) behind a ruined fortress and at the base of Chomolhari. The climb today is about 1800 feet. Distance: 11 miles. Walking Time: 5 to 6 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: We 'll stay over at our camp at Jangothang for acclimatization. Options include day hiking or a full rest. Chomolhari is directly west. Jichu Drake is to the north. Chomolhari is a steep symmetrical peak that tilts slightly westward. It is said by many to be the most beautiful peak in the whole Himalayan range. It is considered to be the abode of the god Jomo Lhari. The sacred peak was first climbed by a joint Indo-Bhutanese expedition in 1970. The first team left a sanctified Buddha image on the summit. The second team from the same expedition disappeared when a sudden storm completely enveloped the mountain. Climbing is no longer allowed on the mountain. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Hike up the rocky path to Nyle La ('La' means pass) at 15,600 feet and descend on a trail along a long moraine toward Lingsi Dzong. Large herds of bharal (goat-antelopes) are common in this area. Tseri Kang mountain and its descending glaciers are at the north end of the valley. Camp is at Lingshi (13,000 feet). The hike today includes approximately 2500 feet of uphill and 2700 feet of downhill hiking. Distance: 13 miles. Walking Time: 5 to 6 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Stay over at Lingshi. Visit Lingshi Dzong, a 16th Century fortress still used as an administrative office today. Day hike to Tshoke Lake (14,760 feet) base camp of Jichu Drake. Wildlife includes blue sheep and musk deer. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Turn south from Lingshi and ascend to the 16,200 foot Yali La, the highest pass of the trek. If the weather is clear there will be excellent views of Chomolhari, Tserim Gang and Masa Gang. Camp is at Shodu (13,000 feet). Distance: 14 miles. Walking Time: 8 or 9 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Follow the Thim-chu (river) through rhododendron, bamboo and pine forests. Many fine water falls along the way. The camp is just below Barshong Dzong, another ruined fortress. Distance: 10 miles. Walking Time: 5 to 6 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13: Descending gradually through a forest of thicker rhododendrons we enter the pasture lands. Camp in a beautiful large meadow with flowers at 11,900 feet. Distance: 5 miles. Walking Time: 5 to 6 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14: Climbing up-hill to a small pass, the trail winds up and down along the drainage. Langur monkeys will probably be seen. These small gray monkeys have distinctive black faces and live in troops of as many as fifty. Although they are a threat to crops they are considered sacred and not killed. At Dodina we meet our ground transportation for transfer to Thimpu (7,900 feet). Overnight at our local hotel in Thimphu. Distance: 9 miles. Walking Time: 4 to 5 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 15: Free time for shopping and transportation back to Paro. Lunch at the Dochula Cafe. Overnight at wonderful cottages in Paro. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 16: Transfer to the international airport at Paro for a 7:30 a.m. flight to Bangkok. Spend night in Bangkok at your own expense. Includes: (B).
Note: We must book your roundtrip, in-trip, Druk Air flight between Bangkok and Paro and travel to Bhutan as a group.