We began Bhutan Trips as a way to showcase the very best Bhutan has to offer—in a sustainable, responsible, fun way. Whether you are here for three days or thirty, we’ll make sure that every day is an amazing one.
The Jhomolhari route starts right by Paro (where you fly into Bhutan) and continues on for seven days through north-west Bhutan’s rugged peaks. This is suitable for novice to intermediate trekkers, and consists of an average of six hours of mostly medium-intensity hiking per day.
Your experience of this enchanting kingdom begins with a flight over the Himalayas into the Paro valley —truly one of the world’s most spectacular sights. You will view the world’s highest, most majestic peaks and enjoy the view of the approaching valley with its primeval alpine forests, monasteries, temples and farmhouses nestled in splendid mountain isolation. Your Bhutan Visa will be stamped in your passport on arrival. After clearing customs & immigration your guide and/or driver from Bhutan Trips will greet you and then depart for your lodging in Paro town, close to the airport.
Depending on when your flight arrives, we may have time to explore the surrounding area, including Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the two oldest lhakhangs (monasteries) in the country which was built in 659 A.D. by the Tibetan King Songsten Gyampo. It’s one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan king, and is said to hold down the left foot of a demoness. We may also visit the Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang, built in 1433 A.D. by the iron bridge builder Thangthong Gyalpo. It has three floors representing hell, earth, and heaven, and the paintings inside are said to be some of the best in the country. In any case, we can finish your first day with a stroll around the small town of Paro, after which we’ll retire for dinner and an overview of the days ahead at your hotel.
Our trek to our first night’s camp of Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong, following the Paro river. We’ll pass cultivated fields and small, picturesque villages along our half-day hour hike, passing through forests alive with endemic birds and brightly colored butterflies.
Altitude: 9,250 ft/2,820 m | Distance: 8.7 mi/14 km | Time: 5-6 hours
We’ll start the morning hike after breakfast. After passing a small army post the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of the local herder huts. Many yaks will be seen along the trail today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp, otherwise known as Jangothang. High mountains overlook the camp, and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.
Altitude: 13,500 ft/4,115 m | Distance: 9.3 mi/15 km | Time: 5-6 hours
We’ll use today as a rest day to recoup after the previous days, acclimatize to the elevation, and prepare for the slightly longer and more difficult days ahead. If you wish we can go for a hike up to Jhomolhari glacier, or to view a few mountain lakes in the opposite direction of the glacier.
Today’s hike will feature spectacular views of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang peaks. We start climbing straight away and after some three to four hours reach the Nyelela pass (15,420 ft/4,700 m). After reaching the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingzhi, where we camp for the night. Looking down from Lingzhi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Lingzhi Dzong atop a high hill.
Altitude: 13,100 ft/4,000 m | Distance: 10.5 mi/17 km | Time: 6-7 hours
This day will be a fairly long one. The trail ascends up to the Yalila pass (15,800 ft/4,820 m) where Mount Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake, Tserim Gang and Khangbum can be seen on a clear day. After the pass we descend to Shodu, where we’ll camp for the night.
Altitude: 13,400 ft/4,080 m | Distance: 12.4 mi/20 km | Time: 6-7 hours
Today we follow the Thimphu river through a forest of rhododendrons, passing multiple waterfalls along the way. The trail then ascends up to the ruins of the Barshong Dzong, where we will make camp.
Altitude: 12,170 ft/3,710 m | Distance: 9.3 mi/15 km | Time: 5-6 hours
Today we descend down to the Thimphu Chu river, crossing forests of rhododendrons and green meadows. Our trail follows the river until we emerge at Dodena, where transport will be waiting to take us to the hotel for a well deserved hot shower and full dinner.
Altitude: 7,650 ft/2,330 m | Distance: 15.5 mi/25 km | Time: 8-9 hours
Sleep in and grab a late breakfast, after which you can choose to have a leisurely day at your hotel, or you can choose to explore a bit. If you choose to do some sightseeing, we can visit a variety of sights in the vicinity depending on your interests and energy level.
The National Memorial Chorten (stupa), a large Tibetan-style chorten, was built in 1974 to honor the memory of the third king—his Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. There are numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statues inside, reflecting both the peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist Deities. The stupa is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.
We can also visit the National Institute for Traditional Medicine. Established in 1988, this traditional hospital prepares and dispenses herbal tonics and other medicines. Inside there is an impressively large lab, and production facility that ensures the quality of the products. We will also visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum—commonly known as the Painting School—which offers a six year course that provides instructions in many of Bhutan’s traditional arts to students from throughout the country. The students here follow a comprehensive course that starts with drawing and progresses through painting, woodcarving, embroidery, and statue making.
There is also the Folk Heritage Museum—a preserved mud and timber building from back in the day. The house has been turned into a replica of a traditional farmhouse as it would have been equipped about a century ago. A tour of this living museum will give you a glimpse into the way most Bhutanese lived back then.
The National Textile Museum, which was opened in 2001, is worth a leisurely visit to get to know the national art of weaving. The National Library, nearby, was established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. The traditional books kept on the upper floor of the building are Tibetan-style, printed or written on long strips of handmade paper stacked between pieces of wood and wrapped in silken cloth. There there are some wooden blocks on display that are used for printing books and prayer flags.
Dupthop Lhakhang houses one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan (the Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery). There’s also the Mini Zoo, which houses the National Animal of Bhutan—the Takin. It’s worthwhile taking the time to see these strange, weird looking animals that are endemic to the area if you haven’t already seen any during the hike.
Tashichho (a.k.a. Tashi Chhoe) Dzong was built in 1216 and houses the royal throne room and offices of the king and the ministers. The northern portion is the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) and the Central Monk Body. Tourists can visit the dzong after 5:00 p.m., and are allowed to enter up until the courtyard only.
The night we’ll head back to your hotel in Thimphu for dinner, or, if you have an early flight the night morning, we’ll transfer you to your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast or lunch (depending on your flight time) you will be driven to the nearby Paro Airport to board your flight out of Bhutan. Tashi Delek! (Goodbye, and best of luck!)