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Druk Path Trek

Heart of the Himalayas

10 nights / 11 days

(5 days of trekking)

Level of difficulty 3 out of 5

The Druk Path Trek is an exceptional short trek in Bhutan, offering a memorable journey along an ancient trading route connecting Paro and Thimphu valleys. Starting amidst picturesque apple orchards and pine forests, the trek unveils the ruins of Jele Dzong, a fortress perched on a grassy ridge with awe-inspiring views of Mount Jumolhari. Over the course of four days, we venture above the tree line, traversing multiple high passes, including the majestic Phume La (4210m). Along the way, we encounter serene mountain lakes, yak herder's camps, and breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas along the Bhutan-Tibet border, featuring Mount Jumolhari, Jichu Drake, and Gangkar Puensum. The trek concludes with a descent through enchanting pine and juniper forests, leading us to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. The Druk Path forms part of a network of mule tracks that historically facilitated trade between the Thimphu and Paro Valleys, making it an exhilarating and scenic approach to reaching the vibrant capital.

Highest Altitude Trekked

Simkota Lake 4110m

Average Walking Distance per Day

11 km

Average Walking Time per Day

5 hours

Meals on Trek

B, L, D, Snacks

DAY 1: Paro (2250m)

Arrival & Welcome

Your friendly tour guide will be eagerly awaiting your arrival with your surname written on a plaque outside the exit doors at Paro International Airport. You will be driven to your hotel to unpack and enjoy a cup of tea then head out for some sightseeing if you wish. Note: Depending on the time of arrival, certain destinations below may have to be forgone if your arrival time is in the afternoon. This will be discussed during the booking process. We will take a short drive to see the Drukgyel dzong (fortress) with its stunning forest and mountain vistas. This dzong (the name literally translates to ‘the fortress of the victorious Drukpas’) was built after the victory over the Tibetan – Mongols in 1649. Then onto Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan which is said to have been built in 7th century by a Tibetan King known as Songtsen Gampo. There is an orange tree in its grounds that quite miraculously perpetually bears fruit. After an early lunch we will visit the national museum known as Ta dzong which houses a fine collection of ancient thangka paintings, textiles, weaponry, and other artefacts. Then you are free to roam the quaint streets of Paro at your leisure as you acclimatise to the altitude. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (L, D)

DAY 2: Acclimatisation hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery 

Taktsang Monastery (3100m)

After breakfast we will embark on a hike to the renowned Taktsang monastery, famously referred to as ‘Tigers Nest’. The ascent to the viewpoint will take 1.5 hours, rewarding us with a breathtaking panoramic view of the monastery, which seemingly clings to the side of a cliff. Take a moment to rejuvenate at the Viewpoint cafeteria, soaking in the surrounding beauty. Subsequently, continue our journey towards the monastery, which entails an additional hour of walking. Legend has it that in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche flew the distance from Tibet on the back of a tigress finally meditating in a cave here for three months. The main monastery within the present monastic complex traces its origins back to 1692. Despite suffering significant damage from a fire in 1998, Taktsang has been meticulously restored to its former grandeur. Once we have explored the monastery, we will retrace our steps, pausing for a satisfying lunch at the Viewpoint cafeteria, before continuing our descent towards the road point. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (B, L, D)

DAY 3: Paro to Jela Dzong (trek begins)

10 km | 4-5 hour | 1003 m ascent | 10 m descent | camp alt 3480M

After breakfast, we will depart from our hotel and drive to the starting point of our trek. Although today’s trek will be relatively short, the pace will be slow and steady due to the altitude gained. The starting point of the trek will begin in a clearing above the National Museum known as the Ta dzong. The trail will lead us through sweet smelling pine forests until we reach a clearing which will be our campsite for the night. We will visit Jela dzong (3490m) which is a little above the campsite. This temple served as a refuge for Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of modern Bhutan, during the Tibetan invasion in 1617. On a clear day, the views of Paro town and Mount Jomolhari (7315m) are stunning. Our campsite is situated at an altitude of 3480m.

DAY 4: Jela Dzong to Jangchulakha

10 km | 4 hour | 300m ascent | camp alt 3780m

As we gradually ascend, we will venture through the trail surrounded by dense alpine forests and rhododendrons. Along the way, there’s a chance of encountering yak herders in the area. The panoramic vistas of Jomolhari and other snow-capped peaks provide a captivating backdrop, while the melodious calls of the monal pheasants fill the air. Continuing our uphill trek, we will eventually arrive at Jangchulakha (3780m), a serene yak grazing pasture offering breathtaking views of the Himalayan range. Our campsite will be nestled behind a hillside.

DAY 5: Jangchulakha To Jimilang Tsho

11 km | 4 - 5 hours | 400m ascent | 300m descent | camp alt 3880m

As we follow the trail along the ridge, we will pass through enchanting juniper trees and dwarf rhododendrons. The views of the mountains and valleys around Thimphu and Paro will gradually unfold, offering sensational photo opportunities. After the initial ascent followed by a steep descent, we will reach the picturesque lake of Jimilang Tsho (3880m). This pristine lake is renowned for its large trout. Close to our campsite, we will be able to get magnificent views of Jichu Drake, a magnificent peak standing at 6989m and revered as representing the protective deity of the Paro region. We will spend the night at a campsite near the lake.

DAY 6: Jimilangtsho to Labana (Simkota Lake)

11 km | 4 hour | 270m ascent | 40m descent | camp alt 4110m

As we trek along the trail, we will pass through thick stands of dwarf rhododendron trees and skirt around the Janetsho (lake). During the spring months, if we are lucky, the rhododendron flowers will be in full bloom. Along the way we might encounter yak herder camps, offering a glimpse into their nomadic way of life. The trail then meanders for quite some time giving us magnificent views of the Himalayas stretching across deep valleys. After crossing a final spur, we will catch sight of the beautiful Simkota Lake (4110m) then after trekking for a short while we will reach the serene yak pastures of Labana where we will set up camp for the night.

DAY 7: Labana (via Phajoding Monastery) to Thimphu (trek ends)

14 km | 7 hour | 100m ascent | 1800m descent

Embarking on today's trek, we will start with a gentle ascent, gradually reaching a small saddle at 4150m. From this vantage point, we will be treated to a magnificent view of Mount Gangkar Puensum and other majestic Himalayan peaks, provided the weather is clear. Afterwards, we will descend to another sparking lake before ascending to the awe-inspiring Phume La pass (4210m), adorned with colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Standing at this pass, we will be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of Thimphu city nestled far below. As the trail continues, we will descend through fragrant juniper trees, eventually arriving at the beautiful historic Phajoding monastery (3650m). Many of the monks there speak English and love to practice with the visitors. There are a total of 14 temples in the Phajoding compound and we will have the opportunity to visit the main ones which have been newly renovated. From here, we will make our way downhill through a forest of blue pine and juniper, until we reach the roadhead on the outskirts of the picturesque Thimphu valley where our driver will be waiting to take us to our hotel. Overnight: The Willows hotel (B,L,D)

DAY 8: Thimphu

Exploring Thimphu town

Today we will explore a few sites in and around the Thimphu valley. After breakfast we will make our way to the Buddha Dordenma statue at Kuenselphodrang, which towers over the city of Thimphu. It is the largest sitting statue of the Buddha in the world at a height of well over 50 metres. From here you will be able to view the whole of the Thimphu valley as well as go inside the statue that contains hundreds of smaller replica statues of the outer statue and offer prayers if you wish. We will also visit the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the 3rd King who passed away in 1972. This is a wonderful place to observe the older devout Buddhist population circumambulating the chorten in their colourful national dress. We will then have a few options. We could make our way to the Textile Museum where you will be able to learn about the history of Bhutanese textiles. The museum was established in 2001 under the royal patronage of Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, Sangay Choden Wangchuck. Another option is a visit to the Zorig Chusum, the school of arts and crafts where you will be able to observe the students engaging in the 13 artistic skills or if arts is not your thing, we can visit the 12th century Changangkha temple and Zilukha nunnery and even the Takin preservation centre, the national animal of Bhutan. After lunch there will be time to wander around the streets of Thimphu. There is a craft market near the magnificent Pemako hotel where you will be able to purchase local handicrafts at a reasonable price. Numerous handicraft shops are also scattered throughout the town. For a nice cup of coffee, we recommend Ambient café which is located near the only traffic light in the whole of Bhutan which is manually operated by a traffic policeman with white gloves. There are also a handful of shops selling the traditional attire which your guide will be more than happy to take you to. You may also wish to visit the main post office which offers for sale a wide array of stamps for the avid philatelist or visit the vegetable market to observe the hustle and bustle. If you are active, there is always the option to go on a short hike to Wangditse monastery, a short distance above Thimphu town. At 4:30 pm we will regroup to visit the summer residence of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan known as Tashichho Dzong, which is also the seat of the government of Bhutan and houses His Majesty’s office. Overnight: The Willows hotel (B, L, D)

DAY 9: Thimphu to Punakha (2.5 hours which includes stopping at dochu la to take in the view of the Himalayas)

Onwards to Punakha over the mountain pass

Today we will be having an early start to venture to Punakha. Enroute we will pass Semtokha dzong built by the founding father of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, in 1629. We will continue ascending to Dochu La (pass) to view the 108 stupas commissioned by the Queen mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, as a memorial to those who lost their lives during a conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutanese – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas. Before arriving in Punakha, we will stop at Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Ngawang Choegyel in honour of Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the divine madman due to his enlightened though unusual behaviours). It’s an easy 20-minute picturesque stroll through a traditional village and across rice paddy fields. Lunch at Nobgang B & B restaurant (12:30 – 2:30pm) After lunch we will visit the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body known as Punakha dzong. This dzong was also built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (in 1637) and was where he established his formal way of governing the land, known as the dual system of governance. Punakha dzong is one of the most breathtaking dzongs in Bhutan, situated at the confluence of two rivers. It is the second largest dzong in Bhutan after Trongsa dzong. We will enter inside the dzong as well as have time to stroll around the picturesque grounds. We will also visit the suspension bridge behind the dzong – a favourite amongst visitors. Overnight: Zhingkham resort (B, L, D)

DAY 10: DAY 14: Punakha to Paro (4-5 hours)

Sightseeing & leisurely drive back to Paro

First thing after breakfast, we will head to the upper Punakha valley to walk through lush paddy fields to the beautiful temple known as Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Lhakhang. The leisurely walk to the temple will take around an hour. From there you will be able to enjoy stunning views of the lush green valley and meandering river. We will have a casual picnic lunch on the banks of the gushing river. After lunch we will depart Punakha and move westwards to the Paro district, arriving in Paro town later in the afternoon. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. If we are lucky, we will come across the grey langur, one of several species of primates found in Bhutan. The Bhutanese believe that seeing one is a very auspicious sign. On the way we will stop briefly at the Royal Botanical gardens at Lampelri. We will stay at a traditional homestay where you will be able to enjoy the famous hot stone bath and local hospitality. Our host will also serve us a sumptuous Bhutanese dinner. Overnight: Kichu homestay (B, L, D)

DAY 11: Paro (Departure)

Till next time

Free time to relax this morning before we leave for the airport and onward flights. In Bhutan we never say goodbye as we always believe we will have the good fortune of meeting again. So, from the team at Touch Bhutan Travel, we sincerely hope you enjoyed travelling with us. Take care until next time. (B)

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