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October 25, 2020
  • Welcome to Bhutan
  • Welcome to Bhutan
  • Welcome to Bhutan
  • Welcome to Bhutan
  • Welcome to Bhutan
  • Welcome to Bhutan
  • Welcome to Bhutan

Merak and Sakten Tour

Day 01 – Guwahati – Samdrup Jonkhar
After an early breakfast, we will drive (about 8 hours) toward Bhutan. We’ll enjoy lunch along the way and then make our way to the border where we will clear customs in the small town of Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Bhutan.

Day 02 – Samdrup Jongkhar – Trashigang
After an early breakfast, we will drive north to Trashigang. As the road ascends, we pass through a variety of vegetation zones in the Himalayan foothills. Looking back we should get a distant view of the Indian plains. Heading further north, the road is so high that we may be above the clouds! The roadside is rich in plants including ferns, rhododendrons and primulas.
Late in the afternoon, we will visit Trashigang Dzong which houses the monastic institute for monks and administrative center for the valley. Dinner and overnight at basic hotel.
Note – on trekking days, you will only be responsible for your daybag. The bulk of your items will be carried by ponies.

Day 03– Trashigang – Ranjung (by car), then hike to Sayphug
On this day, we will drive from Trashigang (3740′) to Radhi and Kardung Village (6,000′) which is the starting point for our trek. It is a steady climb on a slippery footpath through forest, occasionally along the Murbi Chu (river). The walking distance is 3 to 4 hours until we reach camp where we will have dinner and overnight.

HIGHLIGHT! There’s nothing like hiking through near-virgin Himalayan forest. This will be the start to a very special journey through this pristine area.

Day 03 – Sayphug – Merak
We will begin our trek today by heading toward Thumbursa la (10,700′) about a 2-hour climb from camp. From this pass, we will hike another 3 to 4 hours which will take us into the valley of Merak via Gengou. Here we will stop for dinner and overnight at our camp.

HIGHLIGHT! Lets trek to find find it ourselves.

Day 4 – Merak – Sakten
In the morning, we will either visit the monastery in Merak or explore the village where we can watch the nomads weaving yak hair. The hike from Merak to Sakten will take about 2.5 hours with a steady climb crossing over the Nyuksang la Pass (13,500′). A steep 3-hour descent from the pass and then a short climb up will take us to a chorten (stupa). Another 30 minute walk will take us down into the valley of Sakteng. This spectacular area is located in a big open space surrounded by heavily forested mountains. Dinner and overnight at our camp.

Day 5 – Sakten
Today is a well-deserved rest day. It is worth spending time here to explore the Sakten Valley which includes 80 households. The residents are very religious and toward the north and east of Sakten, there are many important Buddhist temples.
We will have a chance to visit the local monasteries and enjoy the valley during the day and in the evening there will be a cultural program.

HIGHLIGHT! There will be many things about this day that you’ll find to be a highlight, but any time there is a cultural program, it gives you a chance to see how Bhutan has managed to hold on to its cultural traditions.

Day 06 – Sakten – Jyongkhar
From Sakten, we will continue trekking on to Jyongkhar (5,800′) crossing Munde la Pass (9,600′). There are a couple of small climbs and descents before reaching Jyonkhar during this walk of about 5 to 6 hours. Along the way we will enjoy lunch and then dinner and overnight at our camp.

Day 07 – Jyongkhar – Phong Me – Ranjung (end of trek)
From Jyongkhar to Phong Me, the trek will take about 3 hours with a stiff climb of 1 hour before reaching Phong Me. From here we will meet with our transport and then drive to Trashigang via Ranjung. Dinner and overnight at hotel. (Yeah!)

Day 08 – Trashigang – Trashi Yangtse – Mongar
Today we will drive to Trashi Yangtse and then on to Mongar. Along the way, we’ll reach Gom Kora and pass a luxuriant waterfall. We’ll stop here to visit the Gom Kora Monastery, which was founded in the 8th century, by Guru Rimpoche.
We will then continue our drive until we reach Chorten Kora, built in the 1700’s and considered to be the largest chorten in Bhutan. We’ll then head into the valley of Trashi Yangtse where the locals are very famous for their woodwork. It’s then off to Mongar over the Khorila Pass (8,000′). A picnic lunch will be served en-route. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 09 – Mongar to Bumthang
There will be a tsechu (festival) in Mongar on this day. We will have time in the morning to visit this special event before we continue our drive west on to Central Bhutan.
This is a very unique opportunity that few westerners have experienced. We will travel via a series of switchbacks through the Thrimshing-la Pass (12,000′), which is a protected national park for West Bengal tigers! It also hosts a botanical garden for rhododendrons. It will take about 7 hours to reach Bumthang including a short stop in the Ura Valley. Dinner and overnight hotel.

HIGHLIGHT! To witness the costumes, dancing and singing of one of Bhutan’s tsechus is a treat! It will be easy to see how they manage to hang on to their culture after experiencing one of these festivals.

Day 10 – Bumthang
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heart of Buddhism. In the morning we will hike to visit the Tamshing Monastery and Kurjey Lhakhang. We also visit Jambay Lhakhang and Jakar Dzong.
Dinner and overnight at hotel.

HIGHLIGHT! In addition to the beautiful landscape, this area has numerous important monasteries. Guru Rimpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) spent much time here and influenced the sprouting of many temples.

Day 11 – Bumthang – Wangdue
Today after breakfast we will drive to Wangdue via Gangtey and over Pele-la Pass (11,000′). The drive is approximately 6.5 hours, climbing steadily through semi-tropical vegetation with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo.
We will visit the Gangtey Gompa (monastery) which was recently renovated. Nearby is the Phobjikha Valley which is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the Tibet and Ladakh. After the visit to Gangtey Valley, we will continue the drive to Wangdue. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

HIGHLIGHT! This area is well known as the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas!

Day 12 – Wangdue – Thimphu
After breakfast, we will drive over the Dochu-la Pass (10,000′) to Thimphu, where we will stop for lunch. Afterward, we will have time to visit a number of sights including one or two of the following: Institute of Traditional Medicine; the Folk Heritage Museum; the Textile Museum; Tashi Choe dzong; Zilukha Nunnery; the National Zoo (really more of a preserve for the national animal, the Takin) and the Handicrafts Emporium. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at hotel.

HIGHLIGHT! Thimphu is the busiest city in Bhutan and as such is also a cultural center with many sights to see and experience.
Day 13 – Thimphu – Paro (Hike to Taktsang)
We will depart early from Thimphu and drive into the valley of Paro. Here, we will begin our journey up to Takstang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The walk takes about 2 hours and there is a cafe half way up where there are spectacular views of the monastery perched on the side of the mountain.
We will have time at the the monastery to view the many temples there and to enjoy the view.
Dinner and overnight at hotel.

HIGHLIGHT! For many, this might be the pinnacle of the entire trip – to at least see the iconic Tiger’s Nest in person.

Day 14 – Paro – Departure to India or Bangkok
In the morning we will enjoy a final breakfast at the hotel and then depart for the airport where we’ll say goodbye to Bhutan (for now!).

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Mahakala Tours and Treks
P.O Box : 393,K.Samphheling Building, Motithang
Thimphu Bhutan | Tel : +975-2-324167
Fax : +975-2-334690 | E-mail : mahakalatravels@gmail.com

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