Strategically built just above the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, Punakha Dzong is the second dzong built by Zhabdrun Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by the fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Punakha Dzong is also known by the name PungthangDewachen Phodrang meaning Palace of Great Happiness. ,It is the country’s most gorgeous and majestic dzong. Punakha is accessible from a 3 hours drive east of the capital Thimpu, and after crossing a pass in the mountains, the place is a breathtaking and glorious sight on the first glimpse from the road. The Dzong is open for visitors during Punakha festival and in summer months when the monk body moves to Thimphu.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
2 hours after arrival at the airport
Punakha district is adjacent to Wangdue Phodrang. The valley is blessed with temperate climate fed by Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, making it one of the most fertile valley for paddy cultivation. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan, after which it was shifted to Thimphu. It is still being used as winter home for Je Khenpo and the central monastic body.
★ Arrival at Paro airport
★ Drive to Paro Town for lunch
★ Visit National Museum and Paro Rinpung Dzong
★ Walk along the last remaining Iron-Chained Bridge on the way to Thimphu
★ Overnight in Thimphu
Choose A or B
A) Sightseeing & Shopping
★ Visit Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point- one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world), where you can catch a bird’s eye view of Thimphu.
★ Visit craft bazaar and 13 Art & Craft School.
★ Shopping for souvenirs.
★ Optional: Meditation with a monk to bless your trek and journey in Bhutan.
B) Tshechu or religious Festival of dances (specific dates within the year)
★ Be part of one of these fascinating festivals. You may participate in the festivals before or after the trek, depending on your arrival date in Bhutan.
★ You may wish to wear the Bhutanese national costumes, which we can provide.
★ Overnight in Peaceful Resort, Thimphu
*** Option A & B may be combined if time permits
The trek starts from Kabesa, 8 km north of Thimphu town and follows a farm road which was upgraded from a logging road. The route to Galapang passes through village of Chamina and passes through blue pine, oak and rhododendron forests. On a clear day, views of Phajoding Monastery and some of the Himalayan peaks can be seen.
Distance 10km, 6-7 hours, 669m ascent, 1154 descent, Camp altitude 2420m
Then the trek continues as a climb from Galapang till Sinchula Pass (3467m). On the pass, stands a Chorten Stupa with a host of prayer flags fluttering in the mild breeze. The trail flows along the side of the mountain and after some time becomes narrower and deeper having been eroded through centuries of use as the highway between Punakha and Thimphu. At some point on this stretch , we have a clear view of Dochula and the village of Thinley Gang, Talo Monastery and the highway to Thimphu. Beginning of this trail is rather slow due to difficult trail conditions. After walking through the trail with heavy forest canopy, we suddenly emerge into an opening which is used as camping spot for cattle migration. This is the only camping site on this stretch of the trail
The second day of the trek starts with a sharp descent through dense subtropical forests till you reach a suspension bridge. A small stream has to be crossed twice. From here the trail levels off passing undisturbed traditional villages and terraced rice fields. You arrive at Chorten Ningpo Lhakhang which sits strategically on a spur with a huge tree on the foreground. This old temple is founded in 15th century by Lama Drupka Kinley. An hour further down the mountainside will take you to Punakha-Gasa highway where your transportation will be waiting with refreshment. Your transport will drive you to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan.
Overnight in Damchen Resort, Punakha
★ After breakfast, go for river rafting along Pho Chhu (Male River) with the beautiful Punakha Dzong in the background
★ Return to hotel for shower and check-out
★ Visit Punakha Dzong
★ Drive to Thimphu. Any last minute shopping of souvenirs can be done on this evening.
★ Overnight in Thimphu.
★ After breakfast drive to Paro valley to hike the famous Taktshang Monastery (3,120m). Hike uphill all the way to Tiger’s Nest Temple (1,000m ascent) . Last part of the hike are mostly stairs.
★ Lunch at Tiger’s Nest Cafeteria.
★ You are not only hiking to the most sacred & holiest place in Bhutan, but will enjoy breathtaking views along the trail up.
★ Overnight in Paro
★ Your guide and driver will send you to the airport and bid you farewell.
★ Tashi Delek