BHUTAN: DAGALA 1000 LAKES TREK

October 2017

Autumn is a beautiful time to make the Dagala 1000 Lake Trek. While there are not 1000 lakes, there are many exceptionally beautiful high altitude lakes. The trek is part of the ancient route that existed centuries before roads arrived in Bhutan. The trail is in yak herder territory and we'll see many yaks and their herders and have the option to sleep in stone huts constructed by them (or tents if you prefer). The weather is at its best this time of year, little chance of rain, the skies sunny with days in the 60's and nights close to freezing, the trail uncrowded, and the views impressive. 

During the trek we camp, bedding down in sleeping bags in the aforementioned tents or stone huts. Our trek assistants will set up camp and cook us hearty meals. Horses will carry our gear, participants only need to carry day packs. This trek is rated moderate, a reasonably healthy person should have no difficulty in making this 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.

We begin this journey in Paro where we visit Paro's interesting sights and make the ascent to Tiger's Nest Monastery, the holiest and most iconic monastery in Bhutan. We then continue to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital for more exploration, after 4 nights in Bhutan we are sufficiently acclimatized to begin our trek. Finishing the trek we have 2 nights to relax in sub-tropical Punakha, then return to Thimphu for a night prior to departure.


close up Taksang Green Lake decorated yak Punakha,prayer flags 2 monks n friend BHUTAN Dochula,chortens Lakes

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.

Early breakfast and then a short drive to the base of the mountain where Takshang is located. Also known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery, 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. Overnight at Gangtey Palace Hotel.

A 90-minuted drive takes us to Thimphu, capital of Bhutan. We'll check into hotel and spend the afternoon sightseeing. Friday is the night when Thimphu residents head out for evening entertainment, and our local friends will act as guides for those wishing to experience Friday night in Thimphu. Overnight at Gyelsa Boutique Inn.

This morning we make a 5-hour hike to Dorjidrag Monastic complex and Due Gompa. On return from the hike, visit Dechephu and Pangrizampa monasteries (if interested) in upper Thimphu Valley. Afternoon busy preparing and packing for the trek. Overnight at Gyelsa Boutique Inn.

We depart Thimphu at 6:30 a.m. and drive 2 hours to trail head. We cross the new and scenic suspension bridge over the river at Geenekha. The trek begins here and we walk mostly though dense forest of pine and oak, the forest opens at times to provide spectacular views of the entire Thimphu Valley. By early afternoon we reach our camp site at Kepzen, 3,750 meters (12,300 feet), just at timber line.

From Kepchen it is less than 2 hours to the ridge, and another 2 hours from the pass to Labatama, where there are several yak herders' huts. The Labatama is dramatically beautiful and largely untouched. We are above tree line here and will notice the different colored hills, that owe their color to the minerals in the soil. Our trek assistants are from this area and they'll invite us into their families homes for tea or if you prefer, the local treat, butter tea. We camp at Dolung, 4,250 meters (13,900 feet).

While participants state that each day of the trek is unique and beautiful, this day is considered the most dramatically beautiful, as we hike around Mount Joma and then pass by many alpine mountain lakes, the vividly colored lakes stand in stark contrast to the barren but colorful mountains, their presence has given this area its mystical fame among locals. We'll spend the night at Doma, 3,700 meters (12,100 feet). 

From Doma we descend to Nortogang, a big yak pasture at 3300m. At Nortogang we cross yak pastures on a good path through rhododendron forests. After a clearing called Pongukha, the descent is through oak and broad leaf forest. At Bjitekha we have descended to 2000m and tropical vegetation. We reach Kunga Camp, where we spend the night in time for a late lunch, 2,000 meters (6,560 feet).

From Kunga camp it is 3 hours to a ridge from where Dagana Dzong is in view surrounded by rice paddy fields. It is a steep descent to the road head which is in Tsheza gewog, 5 km from Dagana Dzong. Here a 4WD will pick us up and drive us the 4-5 hours to Punakha where we spend the night. Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

Full day in Punakha. Enjoy beautiful Punakha valley at one of the best time of the year, during the rice harvesting season. Visit the magnificent Dzong.Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

We drive to Thimphu (2.5 hours). Afternoon to explore Thimphu on your own or with guides. Farewell dinner in Thimphu. Overnight at Gyelsa Boutique Inn.

Free morning in Thimphu, early afternoon drive to Paro airport (1 hour) 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.)

$4800. (Based on double occupancy)
$5300. (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.