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Druk Path Trek

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Difficulty : Moderate

Reference Code: DPTBT

Trip Start: Paro

Trek Start: Paro

Trek Days: 5 days

Age: 20 years to 60 years

Season: Spring and Autumn

Accommodation: Hotel and Camp

Service: Full board

Destination: Bhutan

Trip End: Paro

Trek End: Paro

Trip Durations: 10 days

Physical Rating: Moderate

Group Size: 2-16

Theme: Walking and Observation

Meals: Standard

The Druk Path trek takes in the most varied and beautiful sections of an ancient high-level mule trail which winds its way through the mountains between Bhutan’s two main towns of Paro and Thimphu. Combined with opportunities to experience the fascinating culture and sights of the Thunder Dragon Kingdom, it makes the perfect two-week trekking holiday within this unique Himalayan land.

Before stepping out on the Druk Path trail, you stretch your legs with a walk up to Bhutan’s most famous cultural attraction: the soaring Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. Perched, seemingly miraculously,on the side of a sheer cliff-face, and decorated with brightly coloured prayer flags, the striking gold, red and white temple represents the unique culture, architecture and spirituality of Bhutan. If you travel on selected departures, you will also have the chance to attend one of Bhutan’s most significant and vibrant festivals, a highlight of any visit.

Your fully supported, five-day trek along the Druk Path starts in the Paro Valley and follows a tremendously varied route through virgin forest, open yak pastures and along glorious high ridges. There is much cultural interest along the way as you visit sacred mountain lakes, traditional settlements and even a haunted monastery. Each day you’ll be trekking at over 3,000 m/9,842ft and have the 4,210m/13,812ft Simkota La to cross before your final descent to Bhutan’s capital ‘city,’ Thimphu. En route you enjoy tremendous, panoramic views of snow-clad Himalayan peaks, and each night you camp in picturesque locations where you will enjoy the attentive services of your friendly, efficient trekking crew.

After your trek, you spend time exploring the principal sights of Thimphu and drive eastward to visit the lush Punakha Valley where magnificent Punakha Dzong provides a fitting finale to your time in the Thunder Dragon Kingdom.

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Day 01 Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Visit Dzong Drakha

Transfer for the flight to Paro, the country's main airstrip, 2,250m/7,382ft. The flight often gives fantastic views of the Himalayas, and particularly exciting is the section through the Bhutanese foothills and the thrilling landing. Try to sit on the left hand side of the plane. You will be met on arrival by your Bhutanese guide and then transferred to your hotel.

This afternoon you will take a short drive out from Paro to make a walk up to Dzong Drakha. This is a beautiful cluster of 16th Century cliff temples set above the small village of Bondhey, overlooking the Paro Valley. Although this walk will take little more than a couple of hours it's a good leg stretch and aid to acclimatisation.

Flight schedules permitting, there should also be time to wander along the streets of the small township of Paro; have a peek at the Queen Mother's Winter Palace, then walk up to look at the Dzong.

Day 2 Walk to Taktsang Monastery, 3,110m/10,200ft - 4-5 hours. Sightseeing.

A short drive beyond Paro town takes you to the trail head for the walk up to the famous Tiger's Nest, Taktsang Monastery. The monastery is perched some 600m/2,000ft up on a cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. It's a steep uphill walk through woods, of about 1½-2hrs, to reach a tea house (an ascent of 340m/1,125ft). Apart from offering welcome refreshment this tea house is one of the principle viewpoints of Taktsang and those who prefer not to climb any further can relax here whilst others continue on. If there is a particular religious gathering or VIP visit in progress, you will not be able to enter the monastery, but the further half an hour's ascent is well worth it in any case, as it brings you to another viewpoint directly across from Taktsang. If you are able to make a visit, the final section of the walk takes you from here steeply down 100m/330ft into the gorge that separates you from the monastery and then climbs back up again to reach the monastery gate. You descend back to the valley floor by your outward route and then drive back to Paro. The full walk to Taktsang and back involves approximately 740m/2,440ft of ascent.

There should then be time for further sightseeing in the afternoon. You may visit the ancient temple of Kyichu Lakhang, one of 108 temples built by Songtsen Gampo an important early Tibetan king, to pin down the Bon demon who was thought to hover over the whole of Tibet. Back in town you may visit the Ta Dzong. This 17th century circular watchtower is home to Bhutan’s National Museum. Having undergone a major renovation, the museum showcases a wealth of Bhutan’s most significant cultural and artistic treasures. The nearby spectacular Paro Dzong is also worth a visit, as is the typical cantilever bridge below the dzong.

There may also be the chance for souvenir shopping in some of the small shops on Paro's main street.

Day 3 Trek to Jili Dzong, 3,450m/11,319ft - 4½ hours.

Today you set off on your 5 day/4 night trek. The route is part of the original mule track that linked Thimphu Valley with Paro Valley and ultimately connected Bhutan to the Indian border. The walk is always done from Paro to Thimphu, as baggage horses are only available in Paro. It is a much more exciting way of reaching Bhutan's capital and after five days' trekking the sense of anticipation is keenly felt. The walk starts appropriately behind Paro Dzong itself. Starting from the watchtower, the path winds its way slowly and evenly upward, through the forest towards the ridgeline of the Himalayan foothills above. As the day passes, the views below of the highly cultivated Paro Valley, the Queen Mother's Winter Palace, and the monastery/fortress itself are wonderful. The walk is firstly through pine, then bamboo, followed by birch and finally rhododendron. You may have lunch near a mani wall. The camp site is just a few hundred feet below Jili Dzong in a clearing. You will see plenty of interesting flora and fauna throughout the day and many interesting birds.

Day 4 Trek to a large yak herders' camp at Jangchulhakha, 3,770m/12,365ft - 5 hours.

It is a short twenty minute hike from the camp to the dzong. This is a large monastery and supposedly haunted. It contains a huge statue of Padma Sambhava. There are birds nesting in the arrow slits and old Mongol helmets and shields hanging on the walls. The building was until very recently deserted, but has now undergone some renovation and is in use again. It sits astride a ridge, which affords dramatic views of the valleys on both sides and the Himalaya to the north. On a clear day the second highest mountain in Bhutan can be seen, Mt. Chomolhari, 7,314m/23,997ft. The path now follows a ridge for a short while before descending into forest. It then follows a snake-like route on rather magical paths, along mountainsides and through many different types of rhododendron. Occasionally you may meet local yak herdsmen and take in wonderful views of mountains, including another large peak called Kangcheeta. You will see this mountain has two peaks and is split by a straight, pronounced gully - locals believe that Kangcheeta is the brother of Chomolhari (female mountain goddess) who hit him with a stick because he wanted to marry her. To the south, the Dagala range dominates the skyline. Below Mt. Kangcheeta there is a temple, Tshomphu Monastery, where an idol is supposed to float in the air. In the past our guides have said they had visited the temple and it was possible to pass a string underneath the statue, thus proving it floated. Eventually, you pass through a number of yak herder clearings, stopping for the night at the largest of them.

Day 5 Trek to Jana Tsho via Jimi Langtsho, 3,956m/12,975ft - 7 hours.

From camp the path ascends to gain the ridge and then traverses along it, first one side and then the other, with wonderful mountain views. Eventually you cross a small pass and circle round, until above Jimi Langtsho Lake. This is a large beautiful lake, stocked with trout, with a large chorten (religious obelisk) built at one end. You zigzag down to the lakeside, which is thick with rhododendron and hemmed in by rocky bluffs. The path then leads up from the lake and along cliff paths with massive drops below. Eventually it leads round a succession of ridges until you arrive at the second lake, Jana Tsho, another magical campsite.

Day 6 Trek to Phadjoding across the Simkota La, 4,210m/13,812ft - 5-6 hours.

Again a lovely walk in glorious high mountain country, crossing the highest pass, the Simkota La (also known as Phume La) 4,210m/13,812ft. From the lake a wide stone path between rhododendrons leads to a traverse of a basin, which contains the 3rd lake. Two other lakes are above and out of sight, one male, one female and collectively they are called Dungkar Tsho. The latter of these has a very strong spirit and if anything 'dirty' is done nearby, cloud comes down and only goes away with many prayers. The path is a mixture now of small passes, mountain tracks, some of which wander underneath cliffs. You may meet monks on their way from Thimphu to visit the sacred lake of Jimi Langtsho, where they meditate for a few days before returning. The rocky mountain next to the highest pass, Thujedraj, used to be used for sky burials in the old days. Lower down there is one smaller pass with a chorten which looks directly down onto Thimphu.

Here you will have lunch (3½ hours to here) and then the path zigzags down to Phadjoding (2½ hours), where there is time to rest, wash and then see the temples. There is a recent one, constructed with funds donated by the 4th King's Secretary, dedicated to Padma Sambhava, but the 9th and 16th Jey Khempos (head monk of Bhutan) built the two main ones. These are gorgeous buildings with golden roofs and acolyte monks will show you the inner temples. Phadjoding is a great meditation centre and there are a number of houses dedicated to retreat. A particular type of branch is put outside the front door, showing that the incumbent is not to be disturbed. High up on the cliff behind Phadjoding is a famous hermit temple, built many hundreds of years ago and still used today.

Day 7 Walk to road and end trek, 2,350m/7,710ft - 2-3 hours. Drive to Thimphu. Sightseeing in Thimphu.

It only takes two or three hours to reach the road, descending, steeply at times, through the forest, on a well-worn path. It is worth getting up early for the clear views of the Eastern Himalaya. Seen clearly on the horizon behind the temples is the highest mountain in Bhutan, Gangkar Punsum, at 7,550m/24,770ft now the highest unclimbed peak in the world. There are several paths leading down to Thimphu; perhaps the best is the one leading to the Radio Station, which takes about 3 hours. Quite often the valley below may be filled with cloud, with just the mountains poking up into the clear air. Your vehicle will meet you at the road head for the short transfer to your hotel in town.

This afternoon there should be time to explore a little of Thimphu at leisure, or your guide will be happy to take you to visit a couple of the principal sights, including the late King's Memorial Chorten, the Takin Reserve (home to Bhutan's national animal) or the Textile Museum, or up to the giant Buddha statue for views over the town.

Day 8 Sightseeing in Thimphu. Drive to Punakha via Drukpa Kunley’s temple.

There will be time this morning to visit some of the sights of Bhutan's capital. Apart from those places not visited on the previous day, possible options include the indigenous hospital specialising in herbal medicine, the School of Painting and Changangkha Lhakhang.

Later, leaving Thimphu the road climbs via a series of zigzags over the Dochu La Pass, 3,140m/10,302ft. On a clear day panoramic views can be had of the eastern Himalaya, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 7,550m/24,770ft. The road drops down through forest finally emerging into the cultivated Punakha Valley. The drive takes around 3 hours.

Before reaching your overnight hotel there should be time to stop for a short walk (45 minutes - 1 hour round trip) to visit Drukpa Kunley's Temple built in the centre of the Punakha Valley and called Chimi Lhakhang. The 'Divine Madman' built this temple to celebrate his victory over the demoness of the Dochu La. It is famous for the fact that infertile women visit here to pray for children.

Day 9 Visit Punakha Dzong. Drive to Paro - 5 hours.

After breakfast you make the short 10 minute drive up through Punakha to visit Punakha Dzong, one of Bhutan's most celebrated sights. The main monastery/fortress in Punakha was the power base for the old system of reincarnate rulers. The remains of the original ruler of Bhutan, Nawang Namgyal, are kept in a small room at the top of the highest tower; only the King and the head of the Monastic Order are allowed to enter this room. Provided the head of the Monastic Order and his monks are in Thimphu it should be possible to view the inner courtyards of Punakha Dzong. In 1994 there was a major flood in the town as a glacial lake burst up in the Himalaya, causing tremendous havoc in the town and damage to the dzong, which has now been beautifully restored.

After visiting the dzong your transport will meet you for the return journey westward to Paro, taking lunch along the way. If you did not visit Drukpa Kunley's temple yesterday there should be time today. En route for Paro you will doubtless stop once more at the Dochu La Pass for another chance, weather permitting, to take in the vista of eastern Himalayan peaks.

Day 10 Final Departure

Fly out to your next destination. Our representative will transfer you to international airport as per your flight time.


Full board basis


International flight with airport tax.
Bhutan Entry Visa fee
All personal equipment and personal expenses
Photography Charges
Personal Medical and travel insurance
Personal Medicine
Telephone and internet charges
Laundry charges
Alcoholic beverage, bottled drinks and cold drinks during the trip
Rescue evacuation charges if required
All kinds of Tips...

Clothing and Equipments List
» Pack to pack out - bring enough waterproof bags to carry all non-biodegradable rubbish back down the mountain.
» Remove all unnecessary packaging before leaving home.
» Bring enough warm dry clothes so that you can wrap up rather than burn firewood in the evenings.
» If you are going to trek higher than 5000m or you know it will be cold, buy an aluminum water bottle which can also be used as a hot water bottle at night.
» The easiest way to keep hydrated while trekking is to buy a 1 x liter platypus-drinking bladder to carry in your day pack.
» Make sure to buy proper trekking socks. Don’t buy synthetic socks as these promote sweating and can give you blisters. Always carry a few blister pads in your first aid kit and keep them handy in your day pack.
» Walking poles are very useful while trekking and helpful when descending.
» Please remember that waste disposal and recycling facilitates are limited in Nepal. When buying batteries make sure they are rechargeable and/or high quality so they last longer, and take them home to recycle.

More Lists
There is no definitive list. What you bring will vary according to the area, time of year and the length of your trek. Below is a suggested check list which you should adapt to your own needs. Ask yourself: Will there be snow/how long /high is the trek/are we camping?

» Good quality trekking boots with ankle support
» Lightweight shell/raincoat with hood
» Detachable fleece liner or separate fleece
» Fleece trousers
» Shorts and / or convertibles trousers- quick drying
» Sunglasses
» Sun hat and warm hat(good quality)
» Gloves
» Spare T-shirt x 3
» Sweat towel x 2
» Spare socks x 3 ( walking sock and thin inner sock)
» Small day sack
» Sun cream
» Small water bottle aluminum doubles as a hot water bottle.
» Iodine or water purifying kit,
» Soluble vitamin tablets to taste water or powder fruit drink
» Talcum powder
» Walking sticks or Trekking poles(good quality)
» Camp shoes/trainers/flip flops to wear in evening.
» Spare underwear 3
» Toilet kit
» Tissues
» Pen knife
» Bum bag
» Head torch(good quality)
» Biodegradable washing liquid / soap
» Ear plugs
» Sleeping bag liner(good quality)
» Sleeping bag(good quality-30)
» Bin bag/ gasbag to keep kit dry
» Small towel
» Lip balm
» Available in KTM

Personal First Aid (Aids Kit)
» Antiseptic
» Bandages
» Blister plasters
» Decongestant
» AMS medication like Diamox
» Eye drops – it can get very dusty on trails
» Paracetamol and/or ibuprofen
» Rehydration sachets, Imodium and antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea
» Scissors
» Sterile dressing
» Sticking plasters and tape
» Throat lozenges / sweets
» Tweezers
» A sewing needle etc.

This trekking equipment list has been prepared by Adventure Zambuling Treks (P) Ltd.

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