Trekking in Bhutan

Bhutan offers great opportunities for trekking with its splendid scenic beauty, lofty mountains and deep valleys untempered by modernisation. It provides scenic beauty which gradually unfolds in all its glory and charm. Lifestyles change from the colourful lively pace of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, to the more traditional, simple remote mountain villages.

Trekking in this Himalayan Kingdom is the most wonderful experience a visitor can have. Trekking in Bhutan is unlike anywhere else in the Himalayas. The walks are long and arduous but they are complemented by crystal air and views that defy description. Only a handful of tourists trek each year and paths and communications may not be as developed as they are in other Himalayan destinations. However, what Bhutan may lack in infrastructure development it makes up through its superb facilities for trekkers. All parties are accompanied by a trained guide, a cook, an assistant and at least one horseman. Horses and yaks carry all provisions and most belongings; trekkers rarely have to carry more than a daypack with camera and extra film.

The support crew walks ahead of the trekking party each day and pitch camp before the trekkers arrive. A warm cup of tea waiting in the dining tent is the most welcome treat after hours of walking up and down mountains as high as 18,000 feets.

Problem of trek in Bhutan

Altitude sickness is an acute problem for trekkers in Bhutan. Almost all of the designed treks go above 3,000 metres. Those who have not properly acclimatised or suffer from altitude sickness are advised not to trek. If you are not used to high altitude, it is a good idea to start slowly and allow yourself to acclimatise.

Treks vary from short three-day walks across relatively low altitudes to the three-week Snowman Trek that covers 356 kilometres and climbs three of the Kingdoms highest passes. Inexperienced trekkers are recommended to do the trek from Thimphu to Paro or vice versa. Called the Druk Path, it leads across the chain of mountains separating the two valleys passing crystal clear lakes and offering splendid views of the high Himalayas outside the monsoon season. More difficult treks take in northern villages and pass yak herdsmen who spend most of the year tending to their herds high above the villages. The northern paths climb as high as 5,500 metres and should only be attempted by strong experienced walkers.


Things to bring
Whilst trekking you are provided with foam mats but you are recommended to bring a self-inflating mat pack called Thermarest. This packs up small but when inflated gives very good insulation and is more comfortable than a single closed-cell foam mat. Airbed is not recommended. You should also bring your Sleeping bags which should be 4-seasons bags as the temperature will decrease especially at 4,000m camp sites.

Other things you would need to bring on trek include strong comfortable trekking boots, cap/hat, sun glasses, sun block, flashlight, insect repellent cream, alarm clock, binoculars, torch, sufficient reading material and plenty of batteries for all electrical appliance. Not to be forgotten are your personal toiletries and medicine, as well as rain gear during the rainy season.

Trekking Itineraries
We offers a number of treks, which cover most of the central and northern parts of Bhutan. Each trek has its own beauty and charm. A few are difficult treks even for the experienced trekker. Most treks are suitable for people of good physical fitness. Yet others are for any age group, not too long or strenuous, with visits to places of interest.

Trekking Seasons:
Trek
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
Bumthang
X
X
S
S
S
S
M
M
S
S
S
X
Gangtey
S
S
S
S
S
S
M
M
S
S
S
S
Samtengang
S
S
S
S
S
S
M
M
M
S
S
S
Laya/Lingshi
S
S
S
S
S
S
M
M
M
S
S
S
Lunana Snow Man
X
X
S
M
S
S
S
S
M
X
X
X
Gasa Hot Springs
S
S
S
S
S
M
M
M
M
S
S
S
Jhomolhari
X
X
S
S
S
S
M
M
S
S
X
X
Druk Path
X
X
S
S
S
S
M
M
S
S
S
X
Dagala
X
X
S
S
S
S
M
M
S
S
X
X

S = Good season for trekking
M = Moderate season as there are chances of rain during the trek in these months
X = Trekking routes are closed due to snow


Trekking Routes in Bhutan

You would require a few days before and after the actual trekking days to arrive to the trek starting point and to return to the point of your departure.

Difficulty grade of treks :
S - Strenous, M - Moderate, E - Easy
No. Trek Name Days/Grade Alt.M. Season Start-End Scenes en-route
1 Bumthang Cultural 03-E H:3353
L:2800
May-June Sept-Nov Bumthang - Jakar Farmhouses, fields, temples
3 Gangtey Winter 03-E H:3203
L:1370
Mar-June Sept-Nov Gangtey-Chuzomsa/Wangdue Fields, villages, temples, forests
3 Chilela Nature 03-E H:3845
L:2200
May-June Sept-Nov Paro-Paro Farmhouses, wildflowers
4 Punakha Winter 04-E H:1800
L:1350
Jan-Mar Nov-Dec Thimphu-Wangdue Villages, temples, rhododendron, chirpine forests
5 Sinchula 04-M H:3600
L:1350
Mar-May Sept-Nov Thimphu-Punakha Mixed forests, villages, small lakes
6 Dongla 04-S H:3170
L:1780
Apr-May Sept-Nov Lhuentse-Trashi Yangtse Villages, temples, mixed forests
7 Druk Path 05-M H:3400
L:2200
Apr-June Sept-Nov Paro-Thimphu Blue pine forests, rhoddendron, yak herders, lakes
8 Rodungla 06-S H:3170
L:1780
May-June Sept-Nov Bumthang-Lhuentse Villages, temples, mixed forests
9 Dagala Thousand Lakes 07-M H:4420
L:2210
Mar-May Sept-Nov Chhuzom-Simtokha Villages, forests, lakes, fishing
10 Dur Hot Springs 08-S H:3400
L:2800
May-June Sept-Nov Bumthang-Bumthang Mixed forests, villages, temples, bule sheep
11 Jhomolhari 10-S H:4820
L:2200
Apr-June Sept-Nov Paro-Dodena/Thimphu Yak herders, fishing, blue sheep, musk deer
12 Beautiful Laya Gasa 15-S H:4600
L:1350
Apr-June Sept-Nov Paro-Punakha Villages, Yak herders, hot springs at Gasa
13 Lunana Snowman 25-S H:5100
L:1370
May-June Sept-Oct Paro-Bumthang Forests, hot springs, yak herders, blue sheep

Two New Trekking Routes
No Trek Name Days-Grade Alt. M Season Start-End Scenes en-route
A The Ancient Royal Route 03-E H:3330
L:1800
Apr-June Sept-Nov Tongsa-Bumthang Forest, farmhouses, village, monastery
B Bhey-Laga 09-S H:4700
L:1350
Apr-May Sept-Oct Chuzom/Wangdi
Nikachu/Wangdi
Forest, village, yak herders, lakes, blue sheep

 

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Last update 10 May 2009