The 11 day Druk Path is an ancient trading link between Paro and Thimphu crossing a chain of remote mountains that separate the two valleys. It is a stunning route of beautiful rhododendron and pine forests, high altitude lakes, and in clear weather panoramic Himalayan views. At its peak the trek reaches 13,800ft (4,100 metres), and is the perfect option for someone looking to combine an adventurous wilderness exploration with a fantastic experience of Bhutanese culture. There will also be time to visit some of the many highlights of the Paro and Thimphu Valleys including historic Dzongs, ancient monasteries, temples and thriving villages.
It is a moderate trek, and due to the altitude, it is best to be fit and healthy if attempting it. Accommodation combines our preferred range of luxury hotels and resorts with comfortable campsites enroute. All luggage and camping gear will be transported by a support crew. Trekking is a fantastic way to experience the heart and soul of Bhutan, and there are many options available across the Kingdom.
For more details on this package or other treks available, please contact our reservations team.
DETAILED SUGGESTED ITINERARY:
Day 1: Arrive Paro
Fly into Paro Valley on our national carrier, Drukair. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane – a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. The concierge of Amulet Luxury Travel Bhutan will take care of all airport formalities whilst you enjoy the comfort of the VIP airport lounge services. You will be then transferred to Uma Paro.
In the afternoon visit one of the holiest temples in Bhutan, Dungtse Lhakhang (temple). Dungtse Lhakhang was built in 1421 by the famous Lama, Thangton Gyelpo (1385-1464), also known by the name of Chagzampa, ‘the builder of iron bridges’ or Drubthob, ‘the realized One’. It has three floors representing hell, earth and heaven and the paintings inside are considered to be some of the best in Bhutan.
Continue on to visit visit Kyichu Lhakhang. King Songtsen Gampo built this temple in 659 AD. It is believed to be holding down the left foot of a demon whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan. This Lhakhang contains a 5 meter-high statue of Guru Rinpoche and another of Tara, who represents one of the wives of King Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan.
Afterwards you have time at leisure to explore around Paro town. You can either explore accompanied, or on your own. Please note that your personal guide and chauffer will be at your beck and call as and when you need his/her assistance. He/she will be just a phone call away (use the phone which will be provided to you upon arrival).
Return to your hotel for dinner. Overnight in Paro.
Day 2: Paro (Taktsang Monastery, ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Hike)
Drive to the foothill of Taktsang Monastery. There are two options available to enable you to reach Taktsang Monastery (Please note that riding pony downhill is not recommended). You can either choose to ride a pony or hike. It takes approximately one and a half hours uphill to reach the Taktsang cafeteria overlooking the magnificent Monastery perched on the side of a cliff 900 meters above the floor of the Paro valley. From here it is about another hour to a lookout point beside the monastery.
Taktsang means ‘tiger’s lair/nest’. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress. Guru Rinpoche then meditated in a cave for three months and converted the Paro valley to Buddhism. According to Bhutanese tradition, the tigress was a form taken by one of Guru Rinpoche’s consorts for the occasion.
Continue on to explore Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the great “Unifier of Bhutan”. Drukgyel Dzong was featured on the cover of the US National Geographic magazine when John Claude White published an article about Bhutan in 1914. In 1951, a butter lamp fell over and started a terrible fire which destroyed the glorious and magnificent Dzong. Now the Dzong is in ruins and its main courtyard is closed to all visitors.
Afterwards visit the Rinpung Dzong, also known as ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’. Built in 1646, the dzong stands on a hill above Paro, and features beautiful architecture and ancient frescos. If you wish, you can also enjoy an exploration of Paro Town at leisure. Overnight in Paro.
Day 3: Paro (Chele La Hike)
Start early for the drive to Chele La Pass which, at 3,988m (12,499ft), is the highest road pass in Bhutan. The drive snakes upwards through blue pine and rhododendron forests for 35 kilometres. On a clear day the view of Bhutan’s second highest peak, Mt Jhomolhari (7,314m or 23,996ft), and down to the Haa Valley is breathtaking. Enjoy taking in the view before descending for the two-hour hike through dense rhodendron forest to Kila Goemba.
This ancient nunnery is nestled in a craggy patch on a mountainside. It is a serene retreat for 32 Anim (Buddhist nuns) who lead an undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer and meditation. The nunnery is one of the seven oldest nunneries in the Kingdom. Dupthob Chhoeje Norbu and Dupthob Temba initially established it in the early ninth century as a place for meditation. After being destroyed by fire, the Lhakhang was reconstructed by the 25th Je Khenpo, Sherab Gyaltsen and in 1986, the Government officially established Kila Goemba (monastery) as an Anim Dratshang (nunnery). This sacred place has a timeless quality which is ample reward after the effort of the hike and is about as far off the beaten path as you can get. Having made offerings and perhaps been blessed, it is time to descend further, arriving at the road in about an hour to be met by the awaiting vehicle.
For those who would rather a leisurely sightseeing day there is the option to drive from Chele La Pass down the other side to the Haa Valley. In case Chele La Pass is not accessible during the winter months due to ice or snow, your personal guide will propose an alternative for this day excursion.
Overnight in Paro.
Day 4: Trek – Paro to Jele Dzong
Duration: 8 km, 4 – 5 hours. Altitude gain: 1090 m Altitude loss: 0 m.
Today is a short trekking day. The journey starts with a climb through apple orchards, smallholdings and ancient pine forest to a whaleback ridge. The altitude gain today is significant so it is recommended that you walk at a slow and steady pace. Jele Dzong which is perched on the ridge itself and whose monks welcome visitors. The dzong was the former residence of Ngawang Chhogyel (1465-1540), cousin of the famous saint Lama Drukpa Kinley with the colourful moniker, the Divine Madman. The views of Paro town far below and of mount Jhomalhari (7,314m) are breathtaking on a clear day. Overnight at campsite.
Day 5: Trek – Jele Dzong to Jangchu Lakha
Duration: 8 km, 7 – 8 hours. Altitude gain: 310 m Altitude loss: 50 m.
Cross the Jele La pass (3,490m) and descend below the ridgeline to walk through forests of pine and rhododendron before climbing to reach a yak herders’ pasture at Jangchu Lakha (3,780m). Enjoy great views of the Himalayan range, including Jichu Drake (6989m), the peak representing the protective deity of Paro. Tonight’s camp is in a yak pasture on the hillside of Jangchu Lakha.
Day 6: Trek – Jangchu Lakha to Jimilang Tsho
Duration: 11 km, 6 – 7 hours. Altitude gain: 330 m Altitude loss: 230 m.
After your breakfast, the trek begins in the juniper trees till you make it to the dwarf rhododendron trees to have a view towards Thimphu and Paro valley. From here it assent up hill and steep descent down to camp at Jimilang Tsho Lake (3,880m).The lake is known to house a large number of trout, believed to have been introduced by the British in the last century. From near the camp there are good mountain views including the sacred peak of Jichu Drake (6,989m).
Day 7: Trek – Jimilang Tsho to Labana
Duration: 15 km, 6 – 7 hours. Altitude gain: 330 m Altitude loss: 0 m.
The ascent from the lake is steep at times, through dwarf rhododendron and over a spur to the lake of Janye Tsho. As the trail winds and undulates trekkers are rewarded with views across the deep valley to the route from two days ago and to Jele Dzong, now a tiny white dot in the distance. Crossing one final spur the Simkotra Tsho (4,110m) can be seen below. Continue your trek untill you reach the Yak pasture which is the campsite for tonight. You will have a magnificent view of the Himalaya, weather permits.
Day 8: Trek – Labana to Thimphu
Duration: 12 km, 4 – 5 hours. Altitude gain: 90 m Altitude loss: 1,810 m.
The morning begins with an ascent to a small saddle at 4,150 metres before descending to another small lake then climbing to the Phume La pass (4,210m) which is adorned with prayer flags. This is where you will enjoy your first view of Thimphu far below. The trail now descends all the way to the pilgrim site at Phajoding (3870m) then into pine and juniper forest descending all the way to the roadhead at Motithang on the outskirts of Thimphu.
Your vehicle will be awaiting for transfer to Thimphu. The remainder of the day is at leisure to enjoy a well-deserved rest, or if you still have energy, you may want to stroll through the streets of Thimphu to explore the city center. Dinner will be served at the hotel. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 9: Thimphu
Enjoy a day of exploring some of the many sites around Thimphu. These include the Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 in memory of the Third King of Bhutan His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who died in 1972. Also visit Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in the Thimphu valley, built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. After lunch, visit the National Library featuring an extensive collection of ancient Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old, the Hospital of Indigenous Medicine, the School of Traditional Arts and the Folk Heritage Museum.
In the late afternoon, visit Tashichoedzong, ‘The Fortress of the Glorious Religion’. The Dzong houses some of the Ministries, His Majesty’s Secretariat, and the Central Monk Body. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 10: Drive to Paro
If you still have the urge to do some walking, you may choose to enjoy a short hike up to Tango Monastery, located about 12 kilometers north of Thimphu. The trail to Tango Monastery is a climb of 280 meters and takes about an hour. Tango Monastery was founded in the 12th century by one of the Tibetan saints, and was rebuilt in its present form in 1688 by the 4th temporal ruler of Bhutan, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. It is now the residence of his young 7th reincarnation. Tango Monastery is also the only Buddhist University in Bhutan where His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche completed his studies in Master of Buddhist Philosophy in 2009. Currently, His Eminence Thuksey Rinpoche is in his final year in Tango University of Buddhist Studies pursuing his Master of Buddhist Philosophy.
Return to Thimphu for lunch, and spend some time at leisure shopping for souvenirs.
Afterwards, drive approximately 1 hour to Paro. Overnight in Paro.
Day 11: Depart Bhutan
After an early breakfast you will be transferred to Paro International Airport for your flight to your onward destination.
End of Service and Tashi Delek!
Day 01: Arrive Paro.
Day 02: Paro. Taktsang Hike.
Day 03: Paro. Chele La Hike.
Day 04: Paro to Jele Dzong Trek
Day 05: Jele Dzong to Jangchu Lakha Trek
Day 06: Jangchu Lakha to Jimilang Tsho Trek
Day 07: Jimilang Tsho to Labana Trek
Day 08: Labana to Thimphu Trek.
Day 09: Thimphu.
Day 10: Drive to Paro.
Day 11: Depart Bhutan.
Our many years of experience have enabled us to establish the network and knowledge that provide our clients with a more in-depth experience of Bhutan. All of our tours are tailor-designed by our specialist travel designers to ensure they perfectly suit client interests. This itinerary is designed to provide only an example of the kinds of accommodations, activities and experiences that we can customise for you.
- Bhutan Government Tourist Tariff Royalty
- Visa fees
- Arrival & departure airfares to Bhutan including taxes
- Accommodation in superior standard hotels (and premium hotels and resorts where applicable)
- All meals in Bhutan
- Services of a professional, experienced and English speaking personal guide
- Experienced driver
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- All excursions, transfers, route permits and monument fees
- Medical / Travel Insurance.
- Expenses such as bar and laundry, cigarettes and other tobacco items, sleeping bags whilst on treks and other personal expenses.
- All add-on activities such as wellbeing and spa programs at premium hotels and resorts
- Telephone calls (except those made on the supplied mobile phone for contacting Amulet head office or your private guide)