BHUTAN: THE DRUK PATH TREK FROM PARO TO THIMPHU

October 2017

Autumn is a beautiful time to make the Druk Path Trek from Paro to Thimphu. The skies blue, with distant and not so distant snow covered peaks to admire. Days are warm, and nights brisk, the rains long over and the snow yet to come. Ideal.  This is considered one of the most beautiful treks in Bhutan. We trek through forest and meadow, and pass small villages with friendly inhabitants. After the 5 day, 4 night trek, we then continue our journey by vehicle to sub-tropical Punakha. 

During the trek we camp, sleeping bags and tents our home. Our trek assistants will set up camp and cook us hearty meals. Ponies will carry our gear, participants only need to carry day packs. Considered moderate in difficulty, a reasonably healthy person can make this unique and memorable trek. Each day we walk about 11 kilometers, (7-8 miles) and average time to cover this distance is 5-6 hours. There is lots of time to stop and rest, enjoy the scenery and take photographs. 

close up Taksang decorated yak Dochula,chortens

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Arrive Paro and check into the Gangtey Palace Hotel. Discover Bhutanese food as you enjoy lunch in downtown Paro, followed by exploration of Paro town. Spend the late afternoon and evening relaxing at the hotel, a former palace as the name implies. Welcome dinner at hotel.

After breakfast we drive to trail head to begin our trek. We first hike through orchards, and then forest, to finally reach our campsite, a meadow surrounded by rhododendron forest.

Total hike time: 3.5-5 hours. 11 kilometers. 1115 meter ascent, 40 meter descent. 

Camp altitude: 3540 meters

Today we begin with a visit to the 15th century Jili Dzong, an ancient fortress. We then begin the easy hike that takes us through more rhododendron forest, and provides great views of the valleys below. At the end of the day our tents will be set up at a yak herders camp.

Total hike time: 3-4 hours. 10 kilometers. 425 meter ascent, 50 meter descent.

Camp altitude: 3890 meters


We take the high trail today for better chance of seeing the impressive peaks of Mt. Jumolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakye. We'll enjoy stunning views of the mountains, more forests of rhododendrons and finally arrive at camp, by Lake Jimilang Tsho.

Total hike time: 4 hours. 11 kilometers. 370 meter ascent, 375 meter descent

Camp altitude: 3885 meters

Today's hike along the ridge provides us with views of high altitude lakes, as we pass through more forest and eventually descends to Lake Simtokra Tsho where we make camp.

Total hike time: 4 hours. 11 kilometers. 820 meter ascent, 400 meter descent.

Camp altitude: 4100 meters

Our final trekking sees many temples along the way and then as we near Thimphu the entire Thimphu Valley appears dramatically in front of us. We wind our way downhill though forest and are collected by vehicle and brought to the centrally located and very comfortable Druk Hotel for dinner in restaurant and sleep in a comfortable bed.

Total hike time: 5.5-7.5 hours. 15 kilometers. 130 meter ascent, 1810 meter descent

Easy day exploring Thimphu. Relax over breakfast buffet at hotel, then depart by vehicle to visit the School of Traditional Arts, paper making factory, and Folk Heritage Museum. Afternoon free to explore Thimphu on your own or with guides. Friday is night when Bhutanese go out for music and dancing, and our Bhutanese friends will show us how they enjoy these evenings. Overnight at Druk Hotel.

Another day to explore Thimphu, visit the National Textile Museum, Buddha Point statue, incense making factory, artists studios, or for those who prefer a more relaxed day, optional visits to local spa, cafes, and shopping. Overnight at Druk Hotel.

Morning free in Thimphu, and then following lunch we drive 2.5 hours to sub-tropical Punakha, the drive takes us over the impressive pass at Dochu-La, at 10,300 feet. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

The morning will be spent exploring the lovely Punakha Dzong , architecturally and aesthetically one of the most beautiful of Bhutan's fortress/monasteries. Optional (40 minute) afternoon hike to Chimi Lhakhang, AKA the Temple of the Divine Madman, built in 1499 and one of the most revered temples in Bhutan. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

We begin our day early with a drive to the put in spot above the Punakha, and take a 90-minute river-rafting trip on the Mochu (Mother River) passing the villages and terraced rice fields that line the riverbanks. This is a gentle but beautiful rafting trip. Afternoon hike to Talo Monastery or free at hotel. Cooking demonstration with chef at hotel this evening. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

Morning departure for Thimphu (2.5 hours) where we break for lunch, and then continue on to Paro (90 minutes). Afternoon free to explore Paro town or relax at hotel. Overnight at Gangtey Palace Hotel.

After breakfast we drive 20 minutes to base of mountain where Taksang Monastery is located. Also known as Tiger’s Nest, and probably the most iconic building in all Bhutan, perched on a cliff 2,700’ above the valley floor. It is said that the Guru Rimpoche arrived here in the back of a flying tiger is 746 CE, and meditated in a mountain cave for 3 months. The site has since been sacred and a monastery has been constructed to commemorate his visit. It is a pilgrimage site for all Bhutanese who gain merit by making the ascent. You too can gain merit while by making the 3-hour ascent and visiting the monastery seemingly glued to the barest concavity of the cliff face. After descending we’ll have lunch in Paro, then optional hot stone bath at our hotel, The Gangtey Palace Hotel, followed by farewell dinner.

Breakfast at hotel, then transport to airport for onward flight.

prices & registration information

(Inclusive of food, beverages, accommodations, ground transportation, entrance fees, services of licensed Bhutanese guide and driver, services of USA based trip leader, Bhutanese visa and airport taxes.)


$6300. (Based on double occupancy)
$7100. (Based on single occupancy)

NOTE: International airfare, gratuities, alcoholic beverages other than local beer with meals, laundry, souvenirs, items of a personal nature and travel insurance are NOT included.

General Information

INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE

Bhutan is accessed most easily from Bangkok, Thailand from where there are daily flights. Flights always depart in the early morning and participants should give themselves at least 24-hour layover in Bangkok in the event flight to Bangkok is delayed. Fares are subject to change without notice.

BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $750. ROUND TRIP, economy class
BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $885. ROUND TRIP, business class

Flights are with DRUKAIR, ROYAL BHUTAN AIRLINES, operating Airbus 319 jets.