Bumthang Cultural Trek


Duration: Three days, Max. Elevation: 3,360m
Highest Camp: 2,800m
Standard: Easy to medium
Best Seasons: March to May & September to November
Start: Toktu Zampa (Bumthang)
Finish: Mesithang (Bumthang)

The Bumthang Cultural Trek. Bumthang is well known as one of the main cultural centres of Bhutan and there are many opportunities to visit temples and small Bhutanese villages along the trek route. Although the trek is on the easy side, it involves a few major climbs like the one up to Pephe La with an ascent of about 500 m.

Day 1:

Toktu Zampa – Ngang Lhakhang (Distance 12km, four to five hours, 170m ascent, camp altitude 2,800m). The route follows the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for trout. Stop for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) at the centre of which lies the Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple). In by-gone days, the valley was populated by swans, and hence the name Ngang Yul.

Day 2:

Ngang Lhakhang – Tahung (Distance 16km, six hours, 750m ascent, 670m descent, camp altitude 2,720m). The day starts out across meadows and with the view of the valley below. Then you climb gradually to Phephe La (3,360m), the highest point of the trek route. The trail passes through beautiful forested areas where many stops can be made to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. The path leads you downhill into a broad valley. Amongst several possible camping places the most likely one is uphill behind the village of Tahung.

Day 3:

Tahung – Mesithang (Distance 16km, four to five hours, 230m descent). The trail follows the Tang Chu, another trout-filled river. On the bank of the river is the Tang Rimpoche’s Lhakhang. The trek will pass the Mebar Tsho (Flaming Lake) and lead you to Tang Ugyen Choling. Ugyen Choling Palace houses one of the most interesting museums of Bhutan. From here you will soon reach the road head.

Bumthang Owl Trek


Duration: Three days
Highest Camp: 4000m
Standard: Easy to medium
Best Seasons: November, December, March, April, May & June
Start: Menchugang (Bumthang)
Finish: Tharpaling monastry (Bumthang)
This is a combination of culture and alpine natural world. It is a three day trek passing through Dhur village. Natural scenery is magnificent and views of Gangkar Puensum    (the highest unclimbed peak in the world) is possible. In autumn trekkers should be careful about the Himalayan Black bears. In April-May, enjoy the sightings of beautiful pheasants such as the Himalayan Tragopan.  The trek ends through Tharpaling monastry which gives you a chance to delve into monastic livelihood. The ending trail joins the Royal Route (trail used in the medieval days) at Kikila pass. Highlights of this trek are: village at Dhur, healthy forests of blue pine, hemlock, fir, spruce, juniper, bamboo spices, rhododendrons, birch, maple, chestnut. April onto early June is the season for rhododendrons flowers all along the route.  The trail offers high mountain views and great number of bird and other wildlife. Of culture the Tharpaling and Zhambala monasteries offer great respite. Time this trek with one of Bumthang’s numerous festivals. The trek is recommended from March to May and then again from September to November.
Day 1:
The trek starts from Manchugang and reach Dhur village at an elevation of 2900 meters. The inhabitants of the village are the Kheps and Brokpas (nomads). This village has two different dialects, the usual Bumthang Kha and the Brokke (nomadic dialects).  Near the river is a traditional water-driven flour mill which used to be a source of livelihood for the people of Dhur village. Resuming the trek is the uphill climb through the blue pine forest towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m) in hemlock and juniper forest. The hauling of owls through the night is quite common, hence the name The Owl Trek.
Day 2:
Day two is trekking through fresh forest of hemlock, fir, spruce and many species of rhododendron which are in full bloom during the months of April and May. The trekking also takes you through the forest of bamboo which is the main undergrowth in this forest.
After few hours of walking you will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m). Climbing up the Kitiphu ridge brings you to an altitude of about 3870m which is the night campsite. From this point you can have a fresh view of snow capped mountains and valleys underneath. This is also when you can view the mount Gangkarpunsum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world.
Day 3:
On day three you descend towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. Chuedak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) where you may pray for yourself and all living beings. You might even stop for many holy water around this place to quench your thirst, wash your sins and purify your body and soul.
Towards the afternoon the trek will take you along the ridge of Kikila and following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) through scenic hills and forests. Finally you will have the best view of Jakar Dzong  and come to end of the trek at Bumthang.

Bumthang : Duer Hot Spring Trek


Duration: nine Days, Max. Elevation: 4,700m
Highest Camp: 3,400m
Standard: Medium to hard, Best Seasons: March to April & September to November
Duer Hot Springs are said to be the most beautiful natural hot springs in the Himalayas. The Duer Hot Spring Trek is a demanding nine day trek along the same route as the finishing of the Snowman Trek. Some long days and steep and long ascents (e.g. the day before reaching the hotsprings) ranks it among the more demanding treks in Bhutan.  A mule trail is being built from Trongsa up to Duer Hot Springs. As soon as this new route is ready the trek will be a stunningly beautiful round trip, Bumthang – Duer Hot Springs – Trongsa.
Day 1:

Duer – Gorsum (Distance 18 km, six to seven hours, 380m ascent, camp altitude 3,120m). The trek route follows the Yoleng Chhu, a river known for its abundance of trout. The trail from Bumthang to Gorsum is a gradual climb.
Day 2:

Gorsum – Lungsum (Distance 12 km, five hours, 40m ascent, camp altitude 3,160m). The trail leads through a dense forest of Spruce, Hemlock, Cypress, Juniper and Maple. The trail ascends gradually to the campsite.
Day 3:

Lungsum – Tsochenchen (Distance 15 km, -six to seven hours, 620 m ascent camp altitude 3,780m). The vegetation along the trekking route is similar to places crossed the previous day. Near the campsite the vegetation thins out and the camp is made above tree line.
Day 4:

Tsochenchen – Duer Tsachu (Distance 18 km, eight to nine hours, 1,340m ascent, 1,530m descent, camp altitude 3,590m). The trek from Tsochenchen is uphill all the way till Juli La (4,700m). If the day is clear, you will have a great view of the surrounding mountains from the pass. After crossing the pass, the trail descends to a lake at 4,220m, then climbs again to Gokthong La (4,640m). From here it is a steep way down till the campsite. Musk deer, herds of blue sheep and Himalayan bear is sometimes seen along the route.
Day 5:

Halt at Duer Tsachu. After a late breakfast, relax in the hot spring or hike the surrounding areas.
Day 6:

Duer Tsachu – Tsochenchen (Distance 18km, eight to nine hours, 1,530m ascent, 1,340m descent, camp altitude 3,780m). Return on the route taken on day 4. The day is even tougher than on the way up as there is slightly more climbing than descending.
Day 7:

Tsochenchen – Lungsum (Distance 15 km, five hours, 620 m descent, camp altitude 3,160m). Return on the route taken on day 3.
Day 8:

Lungsum – Gorsum  (Distance 12 km, four hours, 40m descent, camp altitude 3,120m). The trail descends gradually from the campsite. The trail leads through dense forest of Spruce, Hemlock, Cypress, Juniper and Maple.
Day 9:

Gorsum – Duer Village (Distance 18km, six hours, 380m descent). From Gorsum the trail descends gradually till the bridge near Duer village, where you reach the road head.