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Hiking in Bhutan can involve treading through passes as high as 5500 meters with spectacular landscape and breathtaking views of the mighty Himalayan Mountains and valleys. Possibilities of day hikes are enormous all over Bhutan. Whether it is a short one, or two to three hours walk, or strenuous full day hike, well trained and licensed guides of Lonely Bhutan Tours will be always there to escort you through some of the beautiful hiking routes of Bhutan. Some of the hikes and walks lead you to remote and ancient Buddhist monasteries, through deep forests and close to some of the beautiful traditional villages. 

Your cultural tour in Bhutan can be more enchanting if you can include day hikes.

Following are some of the hikes we recommend during your tour in Bhutan.

Taktsang Monastery Hike (Tiger Nest):

Distance: 2 hours one way.

Altitude: 3,100 meter above sea level.

Elevation gain: 900 meters above paro valley. 

Difficulty: Moderate.               

Tiger Nest monastery is one of the most sacred site for all Himalayan Buddhist countries. It is also the main icon of Bhutan for the outside world and you wouldn’t believe as you take the picture with your own hand. ‘Every step you take is worth’ is the expression made by all the people who made to Tiger Nest. For many spiritual people, it is a mind’s journey. So come and take part to experience the worth. After hearing some true legendary stories associated with Tiger Nest and also having felt the presence of strong energy you will be a different person as you walk back.

The trail leads up steadily meandering along the ridge and finally finishes at the view point above the monastery and continues with steps all the way down to a water fall and continues further up into the interior of the monastery.  The way back to the bottom is by the same trail. On this hike one can ride horses up till the steps. For those who have the energy and quest to explore more, there are many other sacred monasteries around the main Tiger Nest temple. 

It is to be noted that the Tiger Nest Monastery closes down at 1 to 2 Pm every day for lunch break. The Taktsang cafeteria around the half way to Tiger Nest serves lunch, tea, snacks, and Juce for reasonable price. It is always good to start the hike early morning. TOP


Zuri Goenpa Hike:

Distance: 1.5 hours.

Altitude: 2600 meters

Elevation gain: 300 meters

Difficuilty: Easy and serves as acclimatization.   

This hike is a easy one with little climb of about 20 minutes above Uma Paro hotel and then levels along the slope above paro valley with spectacular view down below, finally finishing at the National Museum altogether taking about 2 hours. As you walk along the trail you will have an opportunity to witness the landing and taking off of Druk air which would remind you of the exciting landing you had earlier. It will also be of great opportunity to take pictures of paro valley including the Rinpong Dzong, Air port, Paro town and the surrounding mountains. You can visit Zuri Goenpa a 17th century monastery built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Zuri dzong also served as watch tower for the Rinpong Dzong down below.

This beautiful hike will serve as acclimatization and adaptation to the terrains of beautiful Bhutan.  TOP


Beautiful Sangchokhor Hike:

Distance: 3 hours

Altitude: 2700 Meters

Elevation Gain: 400 meters

Difficulty: Hard

This hike begins above Dungtse Lhakang climbing steadily through cattle grazing area with sparsely grown pine woods and oak trees.  The vegetation gets thicker as you get higher up. You will often meet people gathering Mushroom around. As you get higher up the view of Paro valley below gets better and better. You will find yourself spending good amount of time taking rest gazing at the amazing view below. You can see the fertile Agriculture fields flourishing lavishly with farm house spread all across and the Majestic Rinpong Dzong standing distinctively above. Sometimes you can see Druk air taking off and flying right above you making tremendous effort to rise above the mountains.

As your climb along the ridge reaches the level of Sangchokhor monastery on your left the trail turns left passing through thick vegetation until you come out into an open meadow just below the Monastery. From here you will make a finale short stretch climb and come out at the road head near the entrance gate of Sangchokhor Monastery itself. 

The Sangchokhor Monastery houses the monastic institute of higher studies. There are 200 monks pursuing 9 years of rigorous Buddhist studies. TOP


Chelela  to Khela Nunnery hike:

Distance: 4 hours

Altitude: 4400 meters

Elevation Gain: 500 meters

Difficulty: Medium 

After one and half hours of beautiful drive to Chelela pass, 3899 meters the Chelela ridge walk begins among the thick fluttering prayer flags sending enormous prayers for all sentient beings in the world. You can fix your prayer flag along if you have brought one and be fortunate to gain good merit. Once you leave the fluttering prayer flag and climbing steadily along the ridge you will notice the view on either side that of Paro valley on right and Haa valley on left side takes your attention. Thick Rhododendron bush and many flowers adorn the mountain slope making your walk along the trail more enchanting. There is high opportunity to spot Blue poppy and many more varieties of plants making this hike a botanical tour. Finally as you reach the top of the highest ridge called Gungkarpo at about 4600 meters you will find the sky burial spot which would render heartfelt emotions. From here the trail descends abruptly through opened natural meadow and then enters thick wood of silver fir forest and broad leaved Rhododendrons trees finally coming out above the Khela Gompa Nunnery. You can visit the Nunnery and get blessed by making offerings and praying inside the main temple. TOP      


Crisscross Sagala Hike; Connecting Haa and Paro on foot:

Distance: 7 Hours

Highest Altitude: 3500 meters

Elevation gain: 600 meters

Difficulty: Medium      

To experience beautiful nature of western Bhutan nothing compares to the sagala pass and recently opened Haa valley hike. At your convenience, you can drive about 30 minutes to reach the Village of Balakha in the upper valley of paro. From here you can start your hike heading south west direction gently climbing through blue pine pastures and farmland continuing on to the steeper trail through old growth forest of spruce, hemlock and rhododendron. Upon arrival at the Sagala pass you will enjoy breathtaking views of Bhutan’s northern Himalayas ; Mt. Jhomolhari and Jichudarkey. While at the pass enjoy a picnic lunch. 

Your descend will proceed on the south face of beautiful Sagala pass through spacious yak herding meadows leading down to quaint villages located in the upper valley of Haa. Your car will pick you up at the road head. This hike can be done from Haa to Paro as well following the same trail. TOP


Tacho lhakang Hike:

Distance: 15 minutes from the road head.

Altitudes: 2200 Meters.

Elevation Gain: 50 meters

Difficulty: Easy

This hike is very short and easy one but has profound sprit of history and Buddhism in Bhutan and is located below the high way road of Paro and Thimphu. From the road head you can actually see the 14th century Monastery known as Tachog Lhakang but you must walk to the monastery and feel the energy prevailing there. Walk down to the river and on the bridge with clear water passing below. 

The bridge is no ordinary one for the chain on the bridge is from 14th century made by an Enlightened Buddhist master, Thanthong Gyalpo of Tibet, popularly known as the iron bridge builder. He came to Bhutan in 14th century, discovered irons and made about 8 iron chain bridge in Bhutan in different places. In those days there was no welding technology invented anywhere in the world, how this Buddhist Master could make round piece of iron without sign of joints remains a great mystery.   Later all the bridges got washed away by floods. Many pieces of chains were collected from different parts of Bhutan and are put up together to build this last piece bridge not to exhibit but to bless and purify all who walks on it. 

Once you reach other side of the river you can take another 10 minutes walk to the monastery built by the master himself in 14th century. The Family who owns and takes care of the monastery are the descendant of Dawa Gyeltshen, the spiritual son of Thangthong Gyalpo. TOP


 UNDER THIMPHU DZONGKHAG

 

Wangditse Nature Trail:

Distance: 2 hours approximately

Altitudes: 2400 meters

Elevation Gain: 60 meters

Difficulty Level: Easy

Drive above Thimphu city, pass Mothitang area and drop by the Takin Reserve century to see our national animal called ‘Drong Gemtse’, an animal supposed to have the body of a cow and head of a goat, believed to have been created by Buddhist Master popularly known as Divine Mad Man. The peace road finishes at Sangay Gang where we have the BBS tower and many prayer flags fluttering.

The trail leads up through many hanging prayer flags making the place beautiful and if you look back you will find good view of Thimphu city.  At first the trail seems to head up into the mountain towards Phajoding. But after 10 minutes of abrupt climbing you will take the side footpath to right and the trail gets gentler and easier. You will find apple orchard and few farm houses above the trail. From here the trail drops down gently through oak, blue pine and rhododendron until you will reach Wangtse monastery. The view of Tashicho Dzong, Thimphu city, and Buddha statue is stunning from here.

The trail from here switches back towards Sangay Gang following a bicycle trail. TOP


 

Tango and Cheri monastery:

Distance:  1 hours approximately for each.

Altitudes: 2800 meters

Elevation Gain: 400meters

Difficulty Level: Medium

In 1627 the first Buddhist Monastic school for Bhutan was started by Shabdrung in Cheri, which to these days has become a Meditation centre for higher level Buddhist studies. The Monastery buildings are old and still contains many sacred relic from past. Definitely, visit to this place is more purifying and refreshing. From the road head at Dodayna it will take about 40 minutes hike to reach cheri Monastery. The trail leaves Dodayna bride and gently goes up through woods of blue pine, Oke trees and with lots of Rhododendron under growth.

After coming back to Dodayna bridge from Cheri yet you still have Tango hike which is even more satisfying and spiritual. The hike to Tango can take about another 40 minutes and goes gently uphill through alpine woods.

Tango is the highest level of Buddhist studies in Bhutan. The qualification after you finish Tango is equivalent to Masters Degree in Academy studies. Tango is also the seat of our renowned Buddhist Master known as Gyelse Tenzin Rabgay. The young reincarnation of the master still resides at Tango. We also have many other young reincarnated masters studying there.

The road head at Dodayna is about 30 minutes drive from Thimphu city.  TOP


Phajoding Goenpa Hike:

Distance:   4 hours approximately for each.

Altitudes:  3500 meters

Elevation Gain: 1000meters

Difficulty Level: Medium

Phajoding takes its name from the saint Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who meditated there in the 13th century and is considered to be one of the most sacred meditational sites in Bhutan. The monastery itself is an open complex that comprises many holy buildings and relics and a State monastic school that currently houses 40 monks. 

The trek to Phajoding is an uphill climb through forested area of blue pine, fir and spruce. Bhutan is the least deforested country in the world, covered with 70% virgin blue pine forest. The walk, at a leisurely pace, takes about four hours. Phajoding provides an excellent view of Thimphu Valley and is also a retreat center for monks and nuns. You can visit some ancient monasteries and commune with the monks. TOP


Hungtsho Goenba Hike: 

Distance: 20 minutes approximately for each.

Altitudes: 2700 meters

Elevation Gain: 50 meters

Difficulty Level: Easy

Hongtsho Goemba was built in 1525 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the older brother of Drukpa Kuenlay. It is a two story traditional Bhutanese building where the main alter room has an enormous statue of Guru Tshoki Dorji in a standing posture together with a statue of Guru Dorji Drolo, Lama Ngawang Chhoegyal and Lama Drukpa Kuenley.

This hike is a short and easy one of about 30 minutes, a loop which starts from Hungtsho village, above the road to Punakha, before Dochula, all the way to Hunggtsho Goenba and finally finishing at the immigration check post, about 10 minutes drive from Hungtsho village. The trail leads up passing farm lands of Apple orchards, potato fields, and vegetable gardens. The Hungtsho Goenba stands overlooking the village below and serves as the Buddhist community centre. Hungtsho was used as refugee camp for Tibetans who fled Tibet during the occupation by communist China. The place in due course developed into a prosperous village. Still now we have many Tibetans living in Hungtsho village. TOP


 

Lungchutse hike: 

Distance:  2 hours approximately for each.

Altitudes: 3600 meters

Elevation Gain: 550 meters

Difficulty Level: Medium


This is one of the most rejuvenating and picturesque hikes in the Thimphu region. It can be done as a loop starting from Dochula and finishing at Hongtsho village with Lungchutse gomba and Trashigang gomba visit. At Lungchutse one can enjoy 360° view of the Himalayan mountain range.  You will start your hike from the large chorten in the middle of Dochula, the pass between Thimphu and Punakha at 3140 meters (10300 feet) above sea level. From here the trail slowly climbs a ridge through a forest of hemlock, birch and rhododendrons until reaching an open meadow. Again, you will enter into forest of moss-covered rhododendrons, gigantic hemlocks, junipers, and bamboo undergrowth. A small trail leads you the last 50 meters past a row of fluttering prayer flags up to Lungchutse temple.

On clear days, the view from the temple is fantastic! You will have a 360° view of the Himalayas including views of Jumolhari (7314 m / 24000 f), Masang Gang in the region of Laya (7158 m / 23500 f), Zongophu Gang – a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana (7060 m / 23160 f) and Gangkhar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan and the highest unclimbed peak in the world (7497 m / 24600 f). You can also see Gasa Dzong, as a tiny white speck in a sea of green almost 50 kilometres to the north.  A trail to the left just 150 meters below Lungchutse, leads to Trashigang village and temple. It slowly descends through spruce, rhododendron, hemlock and juniper forest. The village’s many dogs will warn the villagers about your arrival as you walk through the settlement down to the temple. It is nice to have lunch around the chorten in the temple’s courtyard while watching the monks in their daily endeavors.  The trail leading down from the front of the temple zigzags quite steeply down the side of the mountain until reaching a farm road which takes you up to the main road. Unless you have had enough hiking for one day, you might also want to visit Hongtsho village temple on the hill side to the right on the opposite side of the road. This involves a 30 – 60 minute short hike up through the little village and back down again the same way.

Trashigang Goemba was built in 1786 by the 12th Je Khenpo. It is an important mediation centre, and houses statues of several Je Khenpos who meditated here.

Hongtsho Goemba was built in 1525 by the older brother of Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine Mad Man. It is a two story traditional Bhutanese building where the main alter room has an enormous statue of Guru Tshoki Dorji in a standing posture together with a statue of Guru Dorji Drool, Lama Ngawang Chhoegyal and Lama Drukpa Kuenley. TOP


UNDER PUNAKHA DZONGKHAG

 

Chemi lhakang hike, the journey to fertility temple:

Distance:  30 minutes approximately .

Altitudes:  1500 meters

Elevation Gain: 20 meters

Difficulty Level: Easy

The Bhutanese Term ‘Chemi’ literally means ‘No Dog’. The 15th century Buddhist Master Drukpa Kinley(Divine Mad man) reached the place chasing the demon from Dochola who took the form of a dog. It is here on this spectacular hill the Divine mad man caught the demond, killed her, buried her and built a black stupa marking as the seal on the evil.  He left a piece of bamboo which has the shape of a phallus and said ‘ later on this hill which looks like a young woman’s Brest a temple will be built and this piece will represent me that time to bless man and women with children and protection. Indeed, a Master known as Ngawang Chogyal, a cousin brother of Druk Kuenlay himself built a temple on this very hill near the black stupa. To this days the Temple, renovated several times stands and houses a monastic school and the bamboo piece is used to bless people of all kinds who come to seek blessing for children and protection. The Temple more popularly came to be known as Fertility Temple.

The trail to Chemi Lhakang takes about 25 minutes and passes through farm lands of Lobesa Village. As you walk along you will get the opportunity to see farmers at work. It is best to do the hike in the late afternoon when there is cool breeze and you might reach the monastery in time when the monks are doing evening prayer. TOP


Khamsum chorten hike:

Distance:   1hour approximately .

Altitudes:  1500meters

Elevation Gain: 200 meters

Difficulty Level: Easy

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha valley. Built over a period of 9 years, Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters, and sculptors consulted holy scriptures rather than engineering manuals, to construct this 4-storey temple.

It is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. Built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, this temple is dedicated for the well being of the kingdom and in particular he long life of our beloved King. A 30-minute drive from the Punakha Dzong will bring you to the base of the hill on which this temple is built. From the car park, you have to cross a suspension bridge and walk through rice fields before you start climbing a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees. It takes about 1 hour from the car park to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes to hike down. During the summer, the walk could be a bit muddy, so be prepared. A hiking pole is recommended.

The best view of Punakha is enjoyed from the top of this temple. If the caretaker is convinced that you will not take pictures inside the temple, and only shoot out of the temple, you will be allowed to take your cameras. On the top floor, you can step outside. Enjoy the view. TOP


 UNDER PHOBJIKHA CRANE VALLEY

 

Gangtay Nature Trail: 

Distance:   2 hour approximately .

Altitudes:  2700meters(Descent)

Elevation Gain: 200 meters

Difficulty Level: Easy

Your walk along the Gangtey Nature trail will pass Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen (known as old man’s beard).  If in winter through, November to early March you are bound to see the black necked Cranes. Continue on from the end of the nature trail to Kingathang village where you can visit a temple built by the Queen Mother.   From Kingathang, you can walk via Yusa village back to your hotel. TOP


Longtay Nature Hike:

Distance:   3 hour approximately .

Altitudes:  3700 meters(Descent)

Elevation Gain: 400 meters

Difficulty Level: Medium

Drive until Longtey Village, which is just before the Pele La Pass, and start your hike from there, up and over Kayche La (3700m) to Gangtey.  We climb up gradually through the thickets of dwarf bamboos, birch, rhododendron, hemlock and fir to Kayche La, marked with some prayer flags. The other side of the pass is mostly meadows, and from here it is all downhill through the long and beautiful stretch of meadows and farms.  The walk takes around 4 hours in total. TOP


Shashela Nomadic trail: 

Distance:   6 hour approximately .

Altitudes:  1800 meters(Descent)

Elevation loss: 900 meters

Difficulty Level: Medium

The trail is used by the people of Sha Ngawang and Chitokha to migrate between their summer and winter home in Gangtey. It was also an important trail used by the Gangtey Truelku and his followers in the past while migrating between his winter residence in Sha Chitokha and Gangtey Gompa. It takes approximately 6 hours walk for casual trekkers to reach Kheylaykha from Phobjikha. This trail is especially recommended for bird lovers.  Your driver will meet you at the road and take you to Wangdi for the night, originally considered Bhutan’s secondary capital and commanding an important central position. TOP


OVERNIGHT CAMPING,YOUR MOUNTAIN ESCAPE IN BHUTAN

 

Bumdra Camping:

Jela Manepadme Gang Camp.

Long long ago, a Buddhist master known as Pei Sherab singye, standing on a ridge, with his spiritual power drew MANEPADME letters with his small finger on the wall of his house standing far down below in Goenkha village. From then the place where he stood came to be known as MANEPADME GANG. Gang stands for ridge in Bhutanese language. The sacred letters can still be seen on the ruin walls of the master’s house in Goenkha village.   

Manepadme gang is about 4 hours walk from paro National museum at about 3,200meter above sea level. The place has beautiful natural meadows and great natural enviroment settings with several wild flowers, different conifer trees and beautiful meadows.  The place is also home to many wild animals and several Himalayan bird species. The view of surrounding mountain ranges including mount jomolhari and joe darkey is simply stunning.  Down below, the fertile Paro valley spreads graciously with beautiful mountain scenery at the back. As you sit around enjoying the perfect peace and tranquility of the place with fresh air all around nothing seems more special. Besides the acquaintance with the nomadic people who frequent the area in turn by yak harder in winter and cattle harder in summer is an experience worth experiencing. Further, the day sightseeing of exotic places accessible from the camp is simply wonderful. 

Therefore, a camp house of traditional style with proper settings at this perfect place will definitely   contribute towards the benefit of country’s tourism development and more towards the tourist who are looking for peaceful place to escape the fast and stressful life. 

Proposed Campsite: 

The proposed camp site for ‘MANE PADME GANG LODGE’ is below Tsho Shau (false lake) about 1 km away from Jela Samdencholing monastery and about 4 hours walk from Ta Dzong(National Museum) in Paro. The camp site has abundant source of water from Tsho shau and best natural environment setting with beautiful mountain scenery around. It also offers great convenience for beautiful sightseeing around Jela premises.

Camp activities and outdoor Entertainment:

 

  • Traditional hot stone bath can be arranged.
  • Archery, Khuru, Dego and sosum games at appropriate time can be fixed
  • Leisurely walk around the camp can be conducted.
  • Bird watching in the early morning hours can be done.
  • Day hike to several sacred and historic places can be conducted.
  • Visits to the local cattle and yak hard can be organized.
  • Botanical tour to identify different species of flower, plants and mushroom can be done.
  • Meditation can be done at the monastery.

 

Exploration of several exotic places around Manepadme Gang Camp:

In addition to the sound environment and deep historical background of the camp house there are several other important sites to visit, all within the reach and with beautiful natural trails and rich ecosystem. Most of them are unexplored and totally new sites for tourism industry in Bhutan. 

Tagungkha Dzong and Chubjokha Dzdong(both in ruin).      

About 30 minutes walk above Manepadme Gang there is the ruin Dzong of Tagungkha which the local people refer as the summer palace of a local chieftain in the distant past. The winter palace in ruin is located in chubjokha village south of Manepadme Gang about 2 hours walk which you can visit on your way to manadmegang camp house from Paro. Both the Dzong are huge and most have been built by great builders. Probably the Dzongs could have been built by Lhapa kagud School who had strong control of western Bhutan in 12th century. However, no records of these Dzongs have appeared in any of the recorded history of Bhutan. Perhaps, a thorough study of these places will reveal new dimension of our history.   Whatever, a visit to these places will always give us the opportunity to learn the experiences of the valuable past times.

Menti and Doechorten Goempa:

Towards east of Manapadme Gang, about 1 hours walk, lies Doechorten Goempa founded by the first incarnation of Tshangpa jarey, Tshungme Gelwong Jee in 15 th century. The ruins of the hermitage and the sacred footprints of lama, his cow and his pet dog are left on a stone nearby which can be seen even today at Menti above the goenpa. Down below the Goenpa there is a sacred stream created by the Lama. The term Doechorten in local language means self embodied relics of stone. Indeed around Doechorten Goempa there are lots of natural stone monuments that resemble chorten turned upside down. The story has it that Lama has to abandon his hermitage due to some serious threat to his life caused by some evil people from Ngaphu village down below. It was said as Lama flew off with his pet animals even the chortens tried to fly with lama but all fell upside down. 

Dochoren Goenpa was successively occupied by many eminent Buddhist master such as Gyalwang Tshume Je of Menti,Master sherab Singye who could turn himself into Tiger, Je Yonthen Tharchen and Geshe Tandin who passed away in 2010.  

Jela Samden Choling Monastry:

Built by Lam Ngwang Chogyal in 13th century ………

Bumri Gonpa, 100,000 dakini Mountain:  

 

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