Bhutan

8-Day Samtengang Trek

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Tour type

Tour Level: High level

Tour Comfort: Superior

Tour Period: 8 Days

Tour Highlight

  • Enjoy incredible views of mountain peaks including Jumolhari
  • Hike trails through pine, fern, oak and rhododendron forests
  • Drive over high mountain passes affording sensational views of the Himalayas
  • Explore the galleries of one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia
  •  View ancient Bhutanese written and printed scripts at the National Library of Bhutan

tour details

Visit Bhutan’s finest dzongs, chortens and historical sites for a glimpse into the country’s mystical past. Experience the beautiful outdoors on a 4-day trek, which will take you through the Punakha Valley’s terraced fields and lush forests dotted with rhododendron. Gaze upon Bhutan’s most precious religious pieces, written words, and artwork found in its museums and marvel at the country’s most religious sites such as the Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility Temple), the Punakha Dzong and the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest).

After arriving at the Paro International Airport, receive a welcoming ‘khadar’ greeting scarf from your guide and then commence your sightseeing tour. First, visit Rinpung Dzong, a modern school for monks. Built in 1645, it was once used to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. Next, visit the Ugyen Pelri Palace, which is known for being one of the most beautiful examples of Bhutanese architecture. Continue onward to The National Museum. Rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia, it has a collection of precious works of art and fantastic costumes, armour and other handcrafted, culturally significant objects. There is also a gallery dedicated to exquisite pieces of thangkas. Enjoy a free evening to leisurely explore downtown Paro.

Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro.
Drive toward Punakha, which was once the old capital of Bhutan, by way of the Dochula Pass. On a clear day, you’ll see a stunning view of the snowcapped Himalayas. Next, visit Druk Wangyal Chorten and drive by the 108 Khangzang Namgyal Chortens, which are a new landmark for travellers crossing Dochula. After a 20-minute walk through the village of Sopsokha, visit Chimi Lhakhang, a temple and holy site where childless couples have come seeking blessings since the 15th century. Lastly, tour Punakha Dzong, which guards Bhutan’s most treasured possession, the Rangjung Kharsapani, as well as a holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage written in gold.

Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Punakha.
The trek begins upstream from Punakha Dzong, where you will have the thrill of walking over the Pho Chu Suspension Bridge, the longest of its kind in Bhutan. Enjoy a gentle uphill climb through terraced fields of the Punakha Valley, which yields two harvests of mustard and winter wheat during the season and are also covered with banana and orange trees.
After hiking for approximately 2.5 hours through pine forests speckled with fern, oaks and rhododendron, relax with a delicious lunch in a peaceful clearing. Witness beautiful views overlooking the valley and spy the huge Khamsu Yuelley Namgyel chorten in the far distance. Toward the west, you can see the road tracing through Dochula and, if you’re lucky, the snowy peaks of Jhomolhari, Kang Bum and Tiger Mountain. A chorten and some prayer flags on the skyline at 7,215 feet indicate the end of the day’s climb. From there, you’ll see our campsite, just behind the Wangdi and Limbukha villages. Limbukha has several old big houses and it is said that in former times, a king lived there.

Dinner and accommodation at a camp in Limbukha.
The trail takes us downhill through rhododendron and oak forested areas. The day’s walk will be approximately 14 kilometres and around five or six hours long. En route, visit a famous temple used as a winter residence by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15th century.

Dinner and accommodation at a camp near Chungsakha village.
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. The trek is roughly 13 kilometres long and will take approximately five hours to complete.

Dinner and accommodation at a camp by the lakeside at Samtengang.
After an early breakfast, drive to Thimphu, the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Take in the city’s traditional Bhutanese architecture, which seamlessly blends into the idyllic countryside. Check into your hotel in the city and then continue on to the Bhutan Post, which is known for its world-famous stamps. It’s home to an extensive collection of exotic stamps made from metal and silk. It also has three-dimensional images and stamps with mini-phonograph records. Next, walk through the treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts at the National Library of Bhutan. Continue to the National Folk Heritage Museum to get a glimpse of the lifestyle, items and artefacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. In addition to the displays, the museum also organises demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs. Next, visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum or the 'Painting School’. This institute offers a 6-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. One can often see students learning the various skills taught at the school. The day concludes with a walk around Memorial Chorten, which is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, a trip to the Takin Preserve to see the national animal, and a drive up to the BBS tower to get a view of Thimphu Valley.

Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
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 Drukgyal Dzong. Now in ruins, it was once strategically built over the only passage into Paro Valley. It helped to prevent numerous invasions throughout the course of Bhutanese history, beginning in 1646. In clear weather, gaze upon the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari, which marks the frontier with Tibet and is believed to be the dwelling place of the goddess Jomo.

In the evening, 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 is home to the cattle, the top floor is reserved to dry hay, and the family lives on the middle floor. While there, enjoy a hot stone bath.

Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Paro.
Enjoy your last breakfast with your guide and then ride back to the Paro International Airport and board your onward flight. Tashi delek!!

Includes

  • All private transfers, Hotel accomodation and transportation inclusive of taxes during the entire tour
  • Meals as stated in the programme B= Breakfast, L= Lunch & D= Dinner
  • Transfers and tours with English-speaking guides in private air conditioned vehicles
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the programme
  • Mineral water available in the vehicles
  • Visa fees at US$40 per person

Excludes

  • Domestic airfare (quoted separately, if requested)
  • International airfare to / from Lao (quoted separately, if requested)
  • Optional tours
  • Surcharges for other language guides
  • Surcharges for Lao Pimai (New Year)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal expenditures, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities, etc.
  • Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
  • Drinks with meals
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking or when available
  • Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the programme

Notes

Upon request, a licensed French, German, Spanish or other language-speaking guide can accompany participants for the whole duration of the trip at an additional cost.

Tour code: SWT08

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