The Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve in Bhutan covers 609.51 square kilometres in Haa District, occupying most of its area. It borders Sikkim and Tibet to the west and is connected to Jigme Dorji National Park via a “biological corridor.” Jigme Khesar contains the westernmost temperate forests of Bhutan, from broadleaf forests to alpine meadows and the small lakes of Sinchulungpa, at altitudes ranging from 1,400 metres to 4,800 metres.
Paro International Airport
2 Hours after arrival at the airport
Haa Valley was only recently opened to tourism and has remained beautifully quaint and untainted by the influences of modern development.
Our guide and driver will receive you at the Paro International Airport. Your trip beings with a visit to Kichu Lhakhang, offering prayers and seeking blessing for the success of the journey. Drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 h). Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Begin your day with a drive to the viewpoint at the Kuensel Phordrang. The park here has several walking trails ranging from leisurely to moderate. Other places of interest are the National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Temple (12C), Folk Heritage Museum, School of Arts & Crafts.
Afternoon visit to weekend market (open Friday to Sunday), taking Zoo and Trashi Cheo Dzong. Shop, stroll or rest, evening is your to discover.
If time permits, we can drive up to Dochu La pass (3,100m) where we can circumambulate the 108 stupas and, if the weather is clear, enjoy an incredible view of Himalayan peaks. Overnight in Thimphu.
Depart for Haa, the westernmost valley in Bhutan. This is a beautiful drive (3.5h) that is relatively free of traffic. The road takes us back to Chuzom (river conﬂuence) where we catch a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward off evil spirits, and then traverses left past Dobje Dzong, an ancient prison which now houses a monastery.
Picturesque and quaint villages dot the hillsides for the rest of our drive to Haa. Overnight in Haa.
Haa remains one of the least visited areas in the country and retains the air of an unspoiled, primeval forest. This valley only opened to foreigners in 2002 due to its proximity to the border with Sikkim and Tibet. This unspoiled valley harks back to a simpler, more traditional time, and its wooded hills give us an ideal setting for hiking and mountain biking. There are several pleasant walking trails in Haa and biking on the virtually traffic free valley to visit local areas of interest and village homes is an enjoyable way to spend the day. Overnight in Haa.
Chele La Pass and hike to Kila Nunnery (optional bike descents). Start early for the drive to Chele La Pass which (3,988m) from which on a clear day the view sweeps away to Bhutan’s second highest peak, Mt Jhomolhari(7314m). Striding out along the Edelweiss covered ridge, we pass a sky burial site. We then descend for the two-hour hike through dense rhodendron forest, possibly sighting shaggy yaks, to Kila Goemba, an ancient nunnery nestled in a craggy patch on the mountainside below. KilaGoemba is a serene retreat for 32 Anims (Buddhist nuns) who lead an undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer and meditation. An hour’s descent from the monastery and we are back at the road where we can saddle up on a mountain bike and freewheel down to Paro Valley.
Difficulty: Moderate. Picnic lunch. Overnight in Paro.
After breakfast we hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes us to Taktsang Monastery. Built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor, the monastery is a spectacular sight. It is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. Legend has it that the great Guru Rimpoche flew here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.
In the afternoon, we drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against marauding Tibetans in 1644. On the return drive to Paro, we can visit other remote monasteries in the valley.
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard. Overnight in Paro.
Drive to the airport after breakfast to your onward destination.