Trekking in Eastern Bhutan
Sorry you missed this tour! Please see the other small-group tours to Bhutan.
17-day Trekking tour through Eastern Bhutan
Itinerary dates: October 12 – 28, 2010
Tour leader: Beth Whitman
Group limit: 12 people (co-ed) – As of August 29, seats are extremely limited on flights out of Bhutan for this tour. Please contact me immediately if you are interested in this tour to ensure a flight out of Paro, Bhutan: beth (at) wanderlustandlipstick (dot) com or call 206-937-6789
The Eastern Trekking tour to Bhutan takes you into the heart of this isolated region which was closed to the outside world until June 2010! Come be among the very first to visit this remote and mysterious region.
This 17-day journey begins in Northeast India with jungle safaris and then includes a 5-night trek in Bhutan. This takes you into the isolated valleys of Merak and Sakten at approximately 11,500 feet and 9,700 respectively. At the highest point, the group will cross over the Nyuksang la Pass at 13,500 feet.
The tour provides extra time in this region so that you can make the most of this special area with its unique culture, rich history and very friendly people. This is a rare opportunity not to be missed!
Read these Bhutan Holiday and Vacation Tips
Read Bhutan FAQs and learn what to expect in Bhutan.
See the Bhutan Packing List.
See Beth’s Recommended Books about Bhutan.
View Beth’s Bhutan Photo Gallery.
October 12, 2010
Day 1 – Kolkata — Guwahati (by air)
The group will be met in Guwahati by a local guide and transferred from Guwahati airport to an area just outside of Kaziranga Park, a World Heritage Site located approximately 5 hours drive from the airport. We will reach Kaziranga in the evening and stay overnight at Landmark Woods – a jungle resort. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
October 13, 2010
Day 2 – Kaziranga
This day will be spentÂ around Kaziranga National Park and will be an exciting start to the journey. We will depart early in the morning for an elephant safari followed by a jeep safari through the park in the late morning.
In the afternoon, we will visit an ethnic Assamese village and enjoy an Assamese lunch in the village itself. Afterward,Â we’ll drive toward the eastern range of the parkÂ for a boat cruise in an area whereÂ we willÂ have the chance of seeingÂ endangeredÂ dolphins. The area is also known for its vast array of bird life.
After a full day we will dinner and overnight at hotel.
October 14, 2010
Day 3 – 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.
October 15, 2010
Day 4 – 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 porters and/or yaks.
October 16, 2010
Day 5 – 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.
October 17, 2010
Day 6 – 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.
October 18, 2010
Day 7 – 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.
October 19, 2010
Day 8 – 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.
October 20, 2010
Day 9 – 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.
October 21, 2010
Day 10 – 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!)
October 22, 2010
Day 11 – 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.
October 23, 2010
Day 12 – 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.
October 24, 2010
Day 13 – 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.
October 25, 2010
Day 14 – 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 wasÂ recentlyÂ 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.
October 26, 2010
Day 15 – 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.
October 27, 2010
Day 16 – 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.
October 28, 2010
Day 17 – 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!).
Price includes: Flights from Kolkata to Guwahati, India and then Paro to Kolkata or Bangkok. For the Bhutan portion, it includes transportation, all meals, hotels, bottled water, visa, entrance fees to dzongs, airport tax and tourist development fund charge. For the India portion, it includes 2 nights hotel, 1 elephant safari,Â 1 jeep safari, meals, transportation from the airport in Guwahati and ride to the Bhutan border. Also includes full insurance coverage including medical, trip cancellation and evacuation through TravelGuard.
Price does not include: flights to and hotel in Kolkata or Bangkok, Indian visa (available separately), souvenirs, personal purchases (such as books and snacks), beverages other than water, and tips.
Because of the remote nature of this journey, it is limited to 12 people and requires an $800 deposit on a first come, first served basis. This trip is sure to sell out quickly. Please register early to ensure your spot.
Please make payable and send check with registration form to:
PO Box 16102
Seattle, WA 98116
For questions, please contact Beth:
beth (at) wanderlustandlipstick (dot) com
Full payment is due at this time. Please call or email before sending payment to ensure there is still availability for this adventure.
Beth with tour guides, Chuki and Tshering
Your tour leader, Beth Whitman, has been traveling the world for more than twenty-two years and has a deep respect for cultures and the environment. She is the author of the Wanderlust and Lipstick series of guides and the editor of www.WanderlustAndLipstick.com. This will be her 5th trip to Bhutan but the first to this region.
Few tourists visit Bhutan due to the country’s lack of infrastructure. While hotel accommodations are generally quite comfortable, they are basic. Meals are usually served buffet-style at the hotel and consist of lots of cooked vegetables, rice and some meat. Vegetarians will have no problem finding plenty to eat.
Bhutan is located in the Himalayas. The altitude should not be an issue for most but occasionally some people react to it with slight headaches or stomach upsets. Participants should be reasonably fit and should expect to do light trekking and hiking throughout the journey.
Beth’s Bhutan Gallery
All other photos: Beth Whitman