Trek through blue pine, rhododendron and oak forests, as well as picturesque terraced rice fields
Traverse ancient trails used by people travelling between Thimphu and Punakha before roads were built
Visit some of the holiest Buddhist sites including monasteries and temples in the western valley of Bhutan
Talk with locals and see classic 3-storey farmhouses in the Bhutan hillside
Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900 metres above the valley floor
The ’10-Day Sinchula Winter Trek’ is a pleasant low-altitude trek that follows the traditional trail used by people moving between Thimphu and Punakha long before there were paved roads. Hike through a beautiful landscape of blue pine, rhododendrons, oak forests and sun-drenched terraced rice fields and then camp overnight beneath snowcapped mountains. Marvel at holy cliffside monasteries, learn the art of Bhutanese paper-making and see how people currently live in the countryside.
After arriving at Paro International Airport, your guide will be waiting outside the arrival terminal and will traditionally welcome you by offering a khadar (greeting scarf). After lunch, enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum and Rimpong Dzong. This museum is home to many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts that give insight to Bhutan’s historical, cultural and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong and see the paintings of the great Saint Milarepa, who is considered the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a single lifetime. Afterwards, drive to Thimphu.
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Thimphu beginning with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. You will also visit the 12th-century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob Monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery. If there is time, visit a nursing pen of Bhutan's national animal, the takin, as well as the 13th-century Tashichho Dzong, which houses His Majesty’s Throne Room and is the summer home to the Monastic Body.
Today, continue exploring all that Thimphu has to offer. Visit the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art as well as the National Library, which is home to a collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century. Continue to the Traditional Paper Factory where you'll learn about the Bhutanese paper-making process and then continue onward to Bhutan Post to view some of Bhutan’s famous stamps. Next, visit a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum, which has a collection of typical household objects, domestic tools and equipment that were used by rural families during the mid-19th century.
If there is time at the end of the day's tour, take a 45-minute hike to Tango Monastery, one of the most ancient monasteries in the Thimphu region, or hike to Phajoding Monastery, which has a splendid view of Thimphu Valley.
Drive towards Dechhencholing to Kabjesha to start the trek. Gradually climb for four to five hours through blue pine, oak and rhododendron forests, stopping for the evening at the Sinchula Pass at an altitude of 3,380 metres.
On a clear day, views of Phajoding Monastery and some of the Himalayan peaks can be seen. The first part of the trek is rather slow due to difficult trail conditions. After an hour’s walk, the village of Thinley Gang, Talo Monastery and the highway to Thimphu will come into view. The trail carries on for another four or five hours through mixed forests to an altitude of 2,440 metres.
The third day of the trek starts with a 4-hour descent through dense forests. A small stream has to be crossed twice, then continue for another three to four hours through villages and rice fields to the village of Chorten Nebu at an altitude of 1,810 metres.
Today, the trek will take you through several villages until you reach a road, where you will be driven to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. Once you've arrived in the city, visit Sangchen Dorji Lhendrupchling Nunnery located above the town of Khuruthang.
This morning, visit the 1637 Punakha Dzong situated at the joining of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu Rivers. It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo as well as hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu in search of warmer weather. The 3-storey main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture. Its most prominent characteristic is the four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. Afterwards, proceed to Paro and check into the hotel.
Enjoy an early breakfast and then take a brief drive back to Paro to begin the hike to the Taktsang Monastery, which is also known as ‘Tiger's Nest’. It is famous for clinging precariously to a cliff 900 metres (2,600 feet) above the Paro Valley and is one of the holiest sites in the country. The climb will take approximately three hours to complete.
In the afternoon, visit a local farmhouse to see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The farmhouses are very decorative and are built and painted in a classical 3-story style. The ground floor houses the cattle, the top floor is reserved to dry hay, and the family lives on the middle floor.
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