6 Days Punakha Winter Trek in Bhutan
6 days Punakha winter trek in Bhutan is a short and easy trek through Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The altitude of the trail covers almost a thousand meters in range but the slopes are mostly gradual and should not present hikers with much difficulty.
6 days Punakha winter trek in Bhutan is an excellent trek for those of good fitness who without necessarily having had previous Alpine experience. This moderate standard rated trek passes through various picturesque high altitude lakes.
Actual Trek Duration 6 days, Total Duration 12 days.
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Facts about the Tour / Trek:
Trek duration: 6 days.
Total Duration: 11 nights / 12 days.
Accommodation: Hotels, Resorts and Tents.
Activity Type: Walking, Trekking & Tour.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Group size: Minimum 2 pax
Best Months to do this Trek: March-May and September-November.
Day 1: Arrive Paro – Sightseeing.
Day 2: Paro Sightseeing.
Day 3: Paro – Thimphu.
Day 4: Thimphu Sightseeing.
Day 5: Thimphu – Shong Pang (Trek starts).
Day 6: Shong Pang – Dopshing Pang.
Day 7: Dopshing Pang – Chorten Ningpo.
Day 8: Chorten Ningpo – Zomlingthang.
Day 9: Zomlingthang – Limukha.
Day 10: Limukha – Chungsakha/Wangdue (Trek ends).
Day 11: Wangdiphodrang – Thimphu.
Day 12: Thimphu – Paro and depart
Detail Itinerary for 6 Days Punakha Winter Trek in Bhutan
Day 01. Arrive Paro. (Altitude 2280 m) (By Druk Air flight): Your Guide from Yak Holidays will receive you at the airport and drive you the short distance to the hotel.
After lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”), the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Dinner and over night in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.
Day 02. Paro Excursion to Taktsang Monastery – Shana: After an early breakfast, a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, the trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay; this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After lunch, drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, built in 1647 by the Great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m).
We then drive to Shana. Overnight at the camp Shana.
Day 03. Shana – Thangthangka (Start of Trek): The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.
Altitude: 3610 m; Distance 22 Km; Time 7 – 8 hours. (770 meters ascent, 10 meters descent)
Day 04. Thangthangka – Jangothang: In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Dinner and over night in Camp.
Altitude 4080 m; Distance 19 Kms; Time 5 – 6 hours. (480 meters ascent)
Day 05. Jangothang: Rest day at Jangothang, enjoy the superb view all around.
For Day hikes, you have 3 options on this day at Jangothang.
- Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (Back and forth)
- Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (Back and Forth).
- Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (Back and forth).
Day 06. Jangothang – Dhumzo (Soi Yaktsa) at 3800 meters via Bonte La pass 4900 meters
Highest Point: 4900 meters, Duration 7 – 8 hours walk, Distance – 16 Kms, Level of Difficulty: Moderately hard.
Today we will cover the distance of 16 km and will take around 7 – 8 hours to reach the Dhumzo Camp site. On the way you will see the view of Jhomolhari, Jitchu Drake and the valley to Jhomolhari camp site. Your will also come across the several yak harders tent, Tsho Phu lakes and normally see a flock of Himalayan blue Sheep high up on the rocky slopes. If you are lucky enough you may see the footprint of Snow Leopard at the Bonte La pass. Then the trail winds up till Bonte La (4900m) and is also highest pass of this trek. Take a time to enjoy the scenery, have a snack or put up some prayer flags. From here you can see several 5800 meter peaks. The trail drops through a steep, narrow gully with gravel and loose rocks till you reached Dhumjo. The Soi yaksey Valley is a beautiful site with impressive rock cliffs, waterfalls, deep side valleys, and snow- covered peaks. Dinner and overnight at the camp.
Day 07. Dhumzo (Soi Yaktsa) – Thombushong (4100 meters) via Tagalun Pass at 4550 meters.
Highest Point: 4550 meters, Duration 5-6 hours, Distance 14 Km, Level of difficulty: Moderate.
You will have to climb from the camp through rhododendron, birch, oak forest draped in moss brings you to a meadow with huge Juniper trees till you reach a shoulder of ridge from where you walk straight into a beautiful valley with a couple of Yak Herders’ camp. You can also get a view of Jhomolhari for a short while.
Little ahead of the Yak Herders’ camp site, we stop for lunch and then there is a steep climb to the pass for about an hour. From the pass, you can see the campsite at Thombushong which is very pristine. If you are trekking during May and June, you can see Takins (Our National Animal). This place is the Migratory route of the Takins. Dinner and over night in camp.
Day 08. Thombushong to Zankepang at 2600 meter via Thombula pass (4300 meters):
Highest Point 4300 meters.Duration 7-8 hours, Distance 18 Kms, Level of Difficulty: Moderate (Long downhill, punishment to your knees
From the campsite, you start your climb to Thombula which takes about half an hour and then you walk on the ridge which is very beautiful. You can see the several mountain peaks view from the pass, the closest one being Jo Drake (5980 Meters). The best time to walk on ridge is during the spring time where the whole mountains around is covered with beautiful rhododendron of different colours. After a while the path descends very steeply to the army camp which takes around three hours. The camp is another easy 1/1/2 hour from the army camp. Dinner and over night in camp.
Day 09. Zankepang to Drugyel Dzong – Thimphu (2320 m) (Distance: 68 km, 2 hrs drive): Trekking Distance: 7 km.
This is the place where you see off your Trekking staffs and your horse men. Then walk to the road end for 2 hours only. (End of Trek) and drive to Thimphu. After lunch, free to strollin the town for shopping and photography. Dinner and over night in Hotel Migmar or similar.
Day 10. Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m, Distance 58 kms, Drive Time 1 hour): After breakfast, visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls).
After lunch we drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices, and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). We finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Over night in Hotel Migmar or similar
Day 11. Thimphu Sightseeing (Altitude 2320 m). After breakfast, visit Folk Heritage Museum, Textile Museum, Changangkha Lhakhang and Philatelic office. After lunch, hike to Cheri Monastery. Dinner and over night in Hotel Migmar or similar
Day 12. Thimphu – Punakha: (Altitude 1310 m) (76 Kms, 3 hours drive). After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. On the way, stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.
Lunch at Punakha. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952. Overnight in Meri Puensum or similar.
Day 13. Punakha – Gangtey (Altitude 3120 m): After breakfast drive to the beautiful valley of Gangtey. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes: visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey. Visit Gangtey Gompa Monastery, from outside. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. Dinner and overnight at the Gakiling Guest House or similar
Day 14. Gangtey – Paro: After breakfast, drive back to Paro. Lunch will be served in Thimphu. Dinner and over night in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.
Day 15. Paro – Departure: After breakfast, drive to the airport and farewell.
- Hot stone bath.
- Cycling around Paro valley.
- Practice Archery.
- Bhutanese cooking class.
- Bhutanese cultural show featuring various mask dances and folk dances.
- Talk on Gross National Happiness / Buddhism.
- Consulting an Astrologer.
- Practice Dart.
- Performing religious ceremony.
- Marriage ceremonies.
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- Village walk
- Hike to Dzongdrakha Monastery.
- Hike to Kila Gompa.
- Excursion to Chelila Pass.