Merak – Sakteng Trek – Yeti Trail

Cultural & nature trek in remote northeastern Bhutan

Trip Facts
Trek Duration:
5 or 7 days
Total Duration:
17 or 19 days
Difficulty: Moderate.

This special cultural and nature trek of an isolated Merak & Sakteng recently opened in 2009. Until now a handful of tourists and researchers were permitted to this area with special permissions. This area was closed to protect the unique cultural heritage of this Brokpa people and in part to give the mythical Yeti some peace, whose tales of wandering in the valley is very popular among the natives. The Brokpas (highlanders) population of Merak and Sakten are semi-nomadic yak herder, who speak different dialect and wear a completely different outfit from other Bhutanese.

The five-day trek visits Sakteng and the seven-day trek visits both Merak and Sakteng valleys. Along with Nabji Korphu trek, this is one of the first community based tourism in Bhutan.

>>Read more about Merak & Sakten valleys

Trip Accommodation
In hotels during the touring portion and in tent camps during the trek. Please note that the accommodation in Trashigang and Samdrup Jogkhar are bit rudimentary.

Seasons
Best from late March till early May and from late September till end of October.

Departure Dates
Private Journeys for independent travel with your own dates.

Tour Costs
From US$ 200 per night per person.

Request cost based on the number of travellers

Included:
* Bhutan royalties, Visa, taxes and permits.
* All transfers and transportation by good quality private vehicle.
* English Speaking Guide through-out.
* Accommodation in standard tourist hotels during tours and in tent camps during the trek.
* All meals, including evening tea.
* During the trek: fully organized trek with Tents, Thermal Pads, Blow pillow, Hot-water bag, Pack animals/porters to carry luggage. Basic Medical Kit, Cook and assistants. Beverages such as juices, tea, some alcoholic spirits are also provided during the trek.

Not Included:
*Flights in and out of Bhutan. Flight booking will be done by us. For latest fares, check our website.
* Travel/Medical Insurance – optional
* Personal trekking gears such as sleeping bag, clothing, shoes etc.
* Personal expenses such as Tips and gratuities (optional), bar/beverages, laundry, telephone and others not listed in the included section.

OPTION 1
Merak & Sakteng Village Culture and Nature Trek 7 days

Max elevation : Nachula Pass 4153m
Trek difficulty :
Moderately Strenuous Trek Day 1: Trashigang/Chaling – Donmong Chu. (B/L/D)
Approx.19km, 7 ½ hours, 2217m ascend and 230m descend. :e
From Trashigang drive for 1½ hr. to the road end at Chaling at 2148m. After leaving Trashigang, the drive is a scenic one as you pass through Rangjung town and then after that, it is a dirt road through Radhi village to Chaling. After the pack animals are loaded with your luggage, along with Wind Horse trekking crew, begin trek past Chaling and gradually make a climb towards Shaktimi meadow, with yaks and sheep grazing with some yak herders’ huts scattered on the hill side. Continue the climb to reach Mendula Pass at 3354m. After the pass it is all downhill through the rhododendron forests till campsite at a beautiful meadow known as Donmong chu by the river at 3124m. Overnight in camp.

Trek Day 2: Donmong Chu – Merak (B/L/D)
Approx.14km, 5hours, 396m ascend.
Trek along the Donmong Chu river through the rhododendron forests and shrubs. There are no steep climbs today and the trail in most part follows the river bends, gradually gaining the height. The first village we come across is Gangu and after another 45 minutes, we arrive at Merak village located at an altitude of 3520m. Visit the local village homes; meet with its local people.

South of Sakteng, the nomadic enclave of Merak is one of the most isolated valleys in Bhutan. Like the people of Sakteng, Merak people (Brokpas) are said to have migrated here few centuries ago from Tshona region of southern Tibet. They arrived here after several months of journey across treacherous passes, set the shrubs on fire and settled down to make it their home called Merak, which literally means “Set on fire”. The inhabitants of Merak are similar to those of Sakteng in their language, dress, lifestyle and spiritual affiliation. However the people from Merak are said to be better built and taller than their counter part in Sakteng. The houses are built of stones with very small windows and in most cases the houses are one storied only. In Merak the custom of polyandry is practiced, with brothers sharing the same wife.
Overnight in Camp.

Trek Day 3: Merak – Miksateng (B/L/D)
Approx. 16km, 5hours, 633m ascend and 1074m descend
Today’s journey is the toughest on this trek with crossing of the highest pass of this trek and there are also few smaller passes and ridges. Start early from the camp, towards the east with a gradual climb to the first pass at 3900m, from where you can look back for a last glimpse of Merak valley. Continue thereafter along the tree line with juniper and rhododendron forest on one side till we reach Nachungla Pass at 4153m. Then we descend down to Miksateng village Campsite at 3079m. Overnight in camp.

Trek Day 4: Miksateng – Sakteng (B/L/D)
Approx. 14km, 5hours, 81ascend and 310m descent.
After breakfast, drop down to the river and after crossing it, we follow the river basin for few hours. Than we gradually make a climb towards a small pass with a small stupa or chorten on the hill overlooking the Sakteng valley. From the ridge we drop down to the valley and camp in a meadow by the river side in Sakteng at an altitude of 2950m.
Overnight in camp.

Trek Day 5: Sakteng Exploration (B/L/D)
Rest Day to explore the valley and cultural program in the evening.
In the morning visit one or two of the villages and experience the lifestyle and unique living culture of this ethnic group. You can also visit a primary school. In the afternoon witness cultural program performed by the locals, their unique yak dance and ache lhamo dance. Located north of Merak, Sakten is a wide valley at around 3000m, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Sakteng literally means bamboo field. The inhabitants of Sakteng are similar to those of Merak in their language, dress, lifestyle and spiritual afflictions. It comprises of around 250 household with three main villages, Sakteng, Tengma and Borang Tse but generally known as Sakteng, and the people are known as Saktengpa. Every winter, Brokpas take on Drukkor or grain journey to the lowland village, where they have their regular host family, with whom they have close trading and social relationship. They live together as one family for weeks and barter their Yak products with maize and grains.
Overnight Camp.

Trek Day 6: Sakteng – Joenkhar teng (B/L/D)
Approx. 17km, 7hours, 74m ascend and 1291m descent.
Today’s journey will be a longer and so we will start early from the camp. Leaving Sakteng, start with short climb to the small hill towards the west end of the village. Then descend down to the river and walk alongside it through the broad leaf forests. We camp in a beautiful meadow near the river by Joenkhar teng village (1733m). Joenkhar teng is situated on the hillside and its population comprises of Brokpa and Sharchopa with a community school and an outreach clinic.
Overnight in camp.

Trek Day 7: Joenkhar teng – Phongmey/Trashigang (B/L/D)
Approx.12km, 5 ½ hours, 346m ascend and 942m descent.
Our last day of the trek begins with short climb through the Joenkhar Teng. Cross few of suspension bridges and short climbs to reach Phongmay. Meet our transport and drive to Trashigang and overnight in hotel. From Trashingang, it’s one full day drive to Samdrup Jongkhar (6-7hrs). Next day drive around 3hrs from there to Guwahati airport, where you can connect with flights to Kolkata, Bagdogra or Delhi.

OPTION 2
Sakteng Cultural Trek 5 days/4nights

Max elevation: 2987m
Trek Difficulty:
Moderate
Trek Day 1: Trashigang/Phongmey – Sona Pang. (B/L/D)
Approx.16km, 6 ½ hours, 1280m ascend and 311m descend.
From Trashigang drive 1½hr to the end of the road at Phongmey village. The road is paved for about 12km past Ranjung town and the rest of the 15km is a dirt road, but it is a quite scenic as we pass through the villages of Radhi, see several other villages in the distance to arrive at Phongmey. Along with Wind Horse trekking crew, begin the trek. The trek starts just above the Phongmey high school with a gradual descend to the valley below. Then it is through broad leafed forests and rich in biodiversity. Then a gradual climb through the village of Joenkhar Teng, we arrive at our first campsite Sona Pang (2761m), a beautiful meadow surrounded by the green forests. Overnight in tent camp.

Trek Day 2: Sona Pang – Sakteng (B/L/D)
Approx.14km, 5hours, 263m ascend and 74m descend.
Continue through the broad leaf forests along the bank of the river. There are gentle descends and climbs as the trail passes through a small village of Thrakthri, where you can visit small community school. Along this route you will normally meet locals travelling with caravan of horses or Ox. Towards the afternoon, arrive in Sakteng at an altitude of 2950m, a wide valley surrounded by the mountains on all sides.
Overnight in Camp.

Trek Day 3: In Sakteng (B/L/D)
Today is a rest day for exploring Sakteng. In the morning, visit one or two villages and see the lifestyle and unique living culture of this ethnic group. You may also visit a local primary school. In the afternoon, we will organize a cultural program performed by the locals. During this performance, you will also be able to see their unique yak dance and Ache lhamo dance.
Overnight in tent camp.

Trek Day 4: Sakteng – Joenkhar teng (B/L/D)
Approx. 17km, 7hours, 74m ascend and 1291m descend.
Today’s journey back will be longer and so we will start early. Leaving Sakteng, start with short climb to the small hill towards the west end of the village. From the there, descend down to the river and walk alongside it through the broad leaf forests to our campsite in a beautiful meadow by the river near Joenkhar Teng village (1733m). Joenkhar Teng village has a mixed population of Brokpas and the lowland Sharchopas with a small community school and an outreach clinic facility for the villagers.
Overnight in camp.

Trek Day 5: Joenkhar teng – Phongmey/Trashigang (B/L/D)
Approx.12km, 5 ½ hours, 346m ascend and 942m descent.
Our last day of the trek begins with short climb through Joenkhar Teng, crosses few suspension bridges and makes short climbs to reach Phongmay. Meet our transport and drive to Trashigang. Overnight in a hotel in Trashigang. From Trashingang, it one full day drive to Samdrup Jongkhar (6-7hrs). Next day drive around 3hrs from there to Guwahati airport, where you can connect with flights to Kolkata, Bagdogra or Delhi.

Suggested Outline Itinerary:
Day 1 & 2: Arrive and visit Paro Valley
Day 3 &4: Hike to Taktsang and visit Thimphu
Day 4 & 5: Visit Punakha and Wangdue
Day 6: Visit and stay in Trongsa
Day 7 & 8: Visit and stay in Bumthang
Day 9: Drive east across Thrumshingla to Mongar
Day10: Visit Mongar and stay in Trashigang
Day 11 till 17: Merak & Sakten Trekking
Day 18: Drive to Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 19: Drive to Guwahati airport (India) and fly out by noon. Connect with your international flight out of Delhi at night.
Or
Day 11 till 15: Sakteng Trek
Day 16: Drive to Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 17: Drive to Guwahati airport (India) and fly out by noon. Connect with your international flight out of Delhi at night.

Testimonials

https://www.windhorsetours.com/testimonial/geraldine-ronal-l/

>>Find out more about Merak & Sakteng valleys and the Brokpa inhabitants

Trek maps

meraksaktentrek

Trek Photos

 

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