Bhutan Ancient Trail Hikes draws its inspiration from recently restored Trans Bhutan Trail (TBT), which has been primarily reopened for the visitors, who seeks hiking grandeur and the history. In days of yore, these trails served as the sole means of connecting different places for trade, movement, pilgrimage etc. Over time, with a judicious infusion of modernity, these trails have naturally evolved. Nevertheless, they still possess much of their original, untouched appeal and innate natural history.
This meticulously crafted itinerary seamlessly immerses travelers in the captivating essence of the history, as they traverse through unspoiled and breathtaking natural landscapes. Amidst the rigors of trekking, one can uncover the allure that lies in the challenges of the trail. Simultaneously. , this journey maintains a finer balance, allowing for an exploration of the cultural richness nestled within the valleys and villages.
Talking about finer balance, we have included some drives at places of interests to make it time effective and also hotels to avoid the ruggedness of camping tent. Primarily, it is for logistic reason as well as being cost effective measure. To frame the essence & spirit of this itinerary is just that it is essentially engineered to make it tough, beautiful & cultural Immersive yet not roughing it up!
Trans Bhutan trails in its austerity, avoid drives and overnight in hotel as much – camping tent mostly. This significantly add more time to duration, thus in its entirety it take almost 35 days to complete it. It starts from Haa in far west to Tashigang in East. So to make it viable in terms of travel duration and associated cost, we extracted western region of Trans Bhutan Itinerary and blended it with cultural themes of these areas.
Day 1: Arrive in Paro
Day 2: Short drive across Chele La pass to Haa and explore.
Day 3 : Start trek from Kastho village to Kaykala pass on Trans Bhutan trail to Ngopa/Paro (6-7hrs).
Day 4: Rejoin TBT to Jele Dzong and Tsaluna (6-7hrs) and Drive to Thimphu.
Day 5: Full day in Thimphu
Day 6: Drive to Docula Pass and following Divine Madman trail (part of TBT ) till Thinleygang and drive to Punakha.
Day 7: In Punakha – excursion hike to visit Limukha village through TBT
Day 8: Drive to Paro via Lungchuzekha & Tashigang temple hike from Docula Pass.
Day 9: Taktsang Hike.
Day 10: Departure.
- Vista of stunning natural landscapes.
- Immersive cultural experiences.
- Opportunities to sight wildlife & Avi Fauna
- Varied climatic zones – spanning temperate to alpine to sub tropical
- Accommodations in listed hotels
- All meals
- All transportation by good quality private vehicles.
- Entrance fees to the monuments
- Bottled water on drives
- English Speaking guide.
- Bhutan Visa fees, tourists fees (SDF)
- Travel permits etc
- Flight cost.
- Travel /Medical Insurance
- Personal expenses such as bars, beverages, optional tips/gratuities.
- All other costs not listed in the included section
Detailed ItineraryExpand All
Arrive in Paro & tour
On arrival in Paro airport, meet guide & driver and transfer to hotel. After, visit National Museum & Paro Dzong and later take a short hike to explore nearby farmhouses. In case if your flight is in late afternoon, then we will try to have some hikes atleast if not sightseeing. Some good walks at all possible time will set a tone for your forthcoming hikes. We will cover sightseeing the following day or later. Overnight in Paro.
Your arrival timing will influence directly with the first day sightseeing activities. If you arrive early, you can cover all of the sights listed. If the arrival is late, will adapt the attraction visit the following day or later.
Drive to Haa via Chelala Pass.
Haa is a quaint & secluded valley in the western frontier. It takes approx. 3 hours to reach Haa. However we will stop at Chelala Pass to visit Kila Gompa. It entails a hike of 2 hrs. Following the ridge downhill. Kila Gompa sits precariously on a cliffside that houses 7 small temples with 70 nuns. After, drive to Haa. Optimising the rest of time at hand, we will do a mix of drive & hike to visit Lhakhang Karpo, Takchu Monastery and a village nearby. Overnight in Haa
Today, you will cross Chelela Pass - 3850m - the one among a few more along the journey. It is the highest motrable road in Bhutan.
Start trek from Kastho village to Kaykala pass on Trans-bhutan trail to Ngopa/Paro.
After breakfast, transfer to Kastho and begin the Trans Bhutan trail hike. Embark on the same trail that people here have used to trade with Paro people for generations. The age-old trail follows the beautiful Haa river as it gently rises out of the Katsho Valley, passing through yak pastures before heading into forests of pine and rhododendron. As you traverse the Katsho Valley, look out for cliff-edge Bjungneydra Taktsang (monastery), also known as “The Mini Taktsang”, and the sky burial site of Kungkarpo. The Trail continues to climb until it reaches the pass at Kaleyla, where it crosses the ridge trail between Chelela and Sagala. At Kaleyla, you will enjoy stunning views of the Himalayan range to the north, including on the clearest days vistas of Mount Jomolhari Mount Jichudrakegang (6,794m/22,290ft). You will be provided with a picnic lunch during this stop.
From Kaleyla, the trail descends through rhododendron and bamboo forest into the Paro Valley. On arrival in the Ngopa gewog of Paro, meet your transport and if time permits, you will have the chance to visit Kichu Lhakhang & Dumtshe Lhakhang (temple). Overnight in Paro
Hike to Jele Dzong and descent to Tsaluna. After, drive for 1 hour to Thimphu
Post breakfast, drive to Damchennag and rejoin with Trans Bhutan Trail heading east toward Tsaluna. Begin up hill hike across a few settlement and apple orchards and further across the forest of moss till you reach Jele Dzong, located at the ridge overlooking Paro Valley & Tsaluna below. Visit the temple that houses large Buddha statue. After descent into the Tsaluna – this stretch is also renowned for sighting a few exotic species of avi fauna. From Tsaluna drive to Thimphu 1 hrs . In Thimphu , visit Centennial Farmer market and drive to visit Giant Buddha Statue, if time permits. Sunset & Sunrise are glorious from the ridge. Overnight in Thimphu.
Full day in Thimphu
Thimphu, being a capital, it houses many contemporary and medieval attractions. Such as Changkha monastery, Memorial Chorten, Traditional schools of Arts & Craft, Paper factory , Testile Museum, Traditional Medicine institute, Takin Reserve (National Animal), National Library, Tashi Chho Dzong etc.
Sightseeing can be based as per your interests & inclinations. You may do half day cultural sightseeing or you can also choose other half to do short two hour hike from Giant Buddha to Changangkha It is flexible. Overnight in Thimphu.
Cultural Sightseeing in Thimphu.
Drive to Docula and following divine madman trail along trans Bhutan trail to Thinleygang
Drive to Docula Pass – 3150 m. which takes about 40mins. Visit 108 stupas and savor the view of far off mountain peaks on a clear day.
After descending from the pass, rejoin the Trans Bhutan trail along a section also called divine madman trail till Thinleygang. After drive to visit Rinchengang village – a cluster of traditional houses built at close quarters, exhibiting a fine specimen of stone works. Further, through a short drive and walk visit Chhimi Lhakhang – dedicated to Parton Saint – Drukpa Kinley also fondly called as divine madman. Overnight in Punakha.
Visit Punakha Dzong and walk along Trans Bhutan Trail to Limungkha village.
Begin with visit to Punakha Dzong – aesthetically most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. After rejoin the Trans Bhutan Trail for the last time to visit Limunkha village. Initially, the Trail winds through paddy fields and then climbs relatively steeply until reaching a chorten (stupa) which marks the highest point on today’s hike. The trail descends down into the pretty Lingmukha valley, with some hike being along the feeder road.Visit Lingmukha Lhakhang (temple) and village, interaction with them etc. After drive back to Punakha. Overnight in Punakha.
Drive to Paro
Drive back to Docula Pass , and embark on a hike to visit Lungchuzekha and Tashigang monastery . Although it is not a part of Trans Bhutan Trail but it is a beautiful nature hike and comes highly recommended. It traverses across a rich temperate forests of pine, hemlock, birch and Rhododendron on a ridge top overlooking valley and mountain peaks. It takes around 2 hours to reach Lungchuzekha temple. Further walk of 1 hour will arrive at Tashigang monastery and retreat centre. After drive to Paro. Free afternoon or you take a stroll on serene paro town. Overnight in Paro
Hike to Takstang monastery
Transfer to trail head for the hike to iconic Taktsang monastery.
This takes about 2hrs and after visiting the temples, waterfalls, instead of returning back like almost what everyone does, we will continue hike further uphill to Zangdoperi temple. Then continue further uphill to Ugyen Tsemo Tsemo temple and make our way down from the other side of Taktsang, which also has a another difficult to access temple seen as part of the main Takstang. Our return journey downhill takes via quieter trail through the dense forests. This is a full day affair and after towards the evening, celebrate a farewell dinner.
Overnight in Paro.
Transfer to airport on time for your outbound journey. In case, if the flight is in afternoon, we can make morning hours useful by visiting more of Paro Valley.