8 DAYS SAMTEGANG TREK
Kindly be at the check-in counter at least 2 hours ahead of your flight departure time. Your check-in luggage limit is 20kg on Economy Class / 30kg on Business Class, and hand luggage must not exceed 5kg.
DAY 1: PARO – ARRIVAL (-/-/D)
On arrival at Paro international airport you will be received by a representative of Bhutan Raewa Travels who will be waiting outside the arrival terminal of the Airport holding a placard with your name on it. The representative will be your guide for the duration of the tour and will welcome you in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).
Local sightseeing of the following places:
- Drive to see the Rinpung dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now used as an administration center and school for monks.
- Get a glimpse of the Ugyen Pelri Palace in a secluded wooden compound south of the river which was built by the Paro Penlop, Tshering Penjor, in the early 1900s. It is designed after the Second Buddha’s celestial paradise, Zangtopelri and one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.
- Visit The National Museum: rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia which is a repository of not only precious work of art but also costumes, armor and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Of special interest is the gallery of thangkhas which exhibits exquisite pieces of different vintages – those depicting Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first Je Khempo and first Druk desi are of particular significance.
The evening has been kept free for leisurely visit to Paro town.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 2: PARO – PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
Drive toward Punakha valley (the old capital of the country) via the Dochula Mountain pass (3,140 m). On a clear day Dochu La offers a stunning view of the snow capped Himalayan ranges:
- Kang Bum (6,526 m)
- Gangchhenta (6,840 m)
- Masang Gang (7,165 m)
- Tsenda Gang (7,100 m)
- Teri Gang (7,300 m)
- Jejekangphu Gang (7,100 m)
- Zongophu Gang (Table Mt) (7,100 m)
- Gangkhar Puensum (7,541 m)
Visit Druk Wangyel Chhorten, built by the Queen Mother for the peace and stability of the country. The 108 Khangzang Namgyal Chhortens are a new landmark for travelers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country. “The Buddha himself taught that reverence to the Chhorten, the mind stupa, is as meritorious as prostrating before the Buddha in person,” said the Dorji Lopon who performed the tagyen sungchoe.
Visit Chimi Lhakhang: The temple is located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina and is a 20 minute walk through the village of Sopsokha. It was built by Ngawang Chogyel in the 15th century after the ‘divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. The temple is believed to bless couples unable to have children and many people from around the world visit this holly site to seek its blessings.
Drive to see the impressive Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan. For many years until the time of the second King, it served as the seat of the government. It is the winter residence of the monastic body, and was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Inside the Dzong is the set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur – holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. The Dzong also safe guards Bhutan’s most treasured possession: the Rangjung Kharsapani, a self created image of Chenrigzig which is described by Shabdrung as a treasure as vast as the sky.
Check into hotel.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha.
DAY 3: PUNAKHA – LIMBUKHA (B/L/D)
The trek starts upstream from Dzong, over the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan across the Phochu. Climb gently on the Pho chu through terraced fields of mustard and winter wheat. The Punakha valley is low enough to enable two harvests, so there is plenty of activity in the fields in the winter months. The valley also produces fruits like bananas and oranges. At 6855ft/2090m (after about 2.5 hrs uphill through pine forest, fern, oak and some rhododendron) there is nice clearing for lunch with a big prayer flag and a beautiful view over the valley. In the far distance, the huge chorten, Khamsu Yuelley Namgyel, can be seen. Looking to the west the road to Dochula can be partly traced, and if lucky some snowy peaks may be visible: Jhomolhari, Kang Bum and Tiger Mountain. A chorten and some prayer flags on the skyline at 7215ft indicate the end of today’s climb. From the chorten you can see towards Wangdi and Limbukha where our campsite is located just behind the village on the beautiful green area.
Limbukha has several old big houses. Some people say that this place, at the upper end of the watershed, used to be a connection with the lake, when they begin to irrigate the fields. In former times a king lived there.
Overnight at camp.
DAY 4: LIMBUKHA – CHANGSAKHA (B/L/D)
The trail takes us downhill through rhododendron and oak forested areas. En route we visit a famous temple used as a winter residence by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15th century.
Overnight Camp near Chungsakha village: Walking distance 14km, 5-6 hours.
DAY 5: CHANGSAKHA – SAMTENGANG (B/L/D)
The trail leads us down and across the Pa Chu (river), then up the hillside to Sha village in the Sha region of Wangduephodrang district. We continue on upwards.
Overnight camp by the lakeside at Samtengang. Walking distance 13km, 5 hours.
DAY 6: SAMTENGANG – THIMPHU (B/L/D)
Early after breakfast drive to Thimphu valley, at an elevation of 2,350 m / 7700 ft. Urbanization began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built at this time. Even today the city retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Yet unlike other capital cities in the world, Thimphu remains essentially pastoral in character and changes its demeanor with the seasons.
Check into hotel.
After that begin local sightseeing of the following places:
- Visit the Bhutan Post known for its world famous stamps where you can buy postcards and stamps. The Bhutan Post is definitely a place of significance where an extensive collection of exotic stamps made from metal and silk to three dimensional images and even stamps with mini-phonograph records are produced. Many major events of the world are recorded and made into stamps in Bhutan.
- Visit the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts. The National Library of Bhutan (NLB) was established in 1967 with the primary objective of collecting and preserving mainly ancient Bhutanese written and printed resources. The multi-functional library can now pride itself on being a modern library with a number of service and research facilities. It accommodates a large and steadily growing collection of manuscripts, books, scriptures and written documents as well as a large number of hand carved wooden blocks for printing traditional religious books.
- Then move to The National Folk Heritage Museum to get an insight into the typical Bhutanese way of life. Folk Heritage Museum at Thimphu provides you a glimpse of the lifestyle, items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. Besides the display, the museum also organizes demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs, educational programs for children and research and documentation on the rural life of Bhutan. The museum building itself is one of the star exhibits of the library. It is a restored three-storey traditional rammed mud and timber house that resembles the average rural household in the Wang area during the mid-19th century, complete with typical household objects, domestic tools and equipments that were used by rural families of that period.
- See the Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
- Walk around Memorial Chhorten in Thimphu built in 1974 in memory of the Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. The Memorial Chhorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.
- Drive to see the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, the Takin.
- Further, drive up to BBS tower to get a view of the Thimphu valley.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu.
DAY 7: THIMPHU – PARO DAY EXCURSION (B/L/D)
Early after breakfast drive back to Paro.
The day begins with a short drive towards the road point for start of hike to see the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which clings precariously to a cliff 800 m / 2,600 ft above the Paro valley. The climb up to the view point will take around three hours (depending on one’s fitness). In the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, alighted here upon the back of a tigress, and upon meditating for three months in a cave, assumed the form of Dorje Droloe, the Terrifying Thunderbolt and subjugated the Eight Evil Spirits who hindered the propagation of Buddhism. Thereafter, the Buddhist Dharma was introduced to Paro valley and soon spread to the rest of Bhutan. Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas.
Lunch will be served during the return hike back to the road point. The afternoon will comprise of a visit to Drugyal Dzong and a local farm house as detailed below:
- Drugyal Dzong, now in ruins, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early English visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine. In fine weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari 7314 m high appears as a backdrop. This mountain which marks the frontier with Tibet is sacred and the dwelling place of goddess Jomo.
- In the evening visit a local Farmhouse to see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The Farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical style. The houses are normally three stories; the ground floor is used for cattle, the top floor for drying hay, while the family live in the middle floor.
Try a hot stone bath.
Overnight at hotel – Paro
DAY 8: PARO – DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
After breakfast your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onward.