Category Archives: Drukpath Trek

5 Nights/6 Days Drukpath Trek

GRADE: Moderate-demandingDURATION: 6 days/5 Nights.

ALTITUDE GAIN: 7400ft/2256m.

ALTITUDE LOSS: 6271Ft/1912m.

STATUS: Open.

This 4-or 5 day trek is wonder ful varied: beautiful scenery,good  views of snow capped Himalayan peaks, a monastery high up in the mountains, and a visit to a dzong. There are campsites next to the monastery, and also near some beautiful lakes.

Day 1.

TIME-4-5hrsDISTANCE: 5 miles/8 km

ALTITUDE GAIN-3503ft/1068m.

ALTITUDE LOSS:269ft/1068m.

At the museum you will meet your trekking staff, the horseman and pack animals. Todays trek climbs non-stop for over 1065m, before dropping down over 80m to camp site. This is a major effort at this altitude, so take your time and drink as much as possible. The trails winds its way steeply through blue pine forests and around several farmhouses and fenced apple orchards and across a dusty road-mainly used during apple harvest and farming purposes. The area called Taschugang. Along the way Kuenga Lhakhang(8660ft/2640m) is passed. Damchenna(9510ft/2900m) marks the end of the farm road, near big stone house.

After 1hr or so of steady climbing there will be nice views over the Paro valley.Visible above Jele Dzong(Jili Dzong), located on the top of the ridge and suprisingly nearby.  At 9825ft/2995m), After 1.5-2 hrs trekking, The route passes a long mani wall in a big flat grassy field. The trails continues to steepy up through the forest. Just before reaching a small pass(11,540ft/3518m) below the Dzong, the route opens up a bit, there may be some yaks with theirs herders and dogs. Tonight’s small campsites (11,270ft/3436m) is a little way down from the pass. It can be cold here because of the wind, which often picks up in the afternoon. You may be able to hear the monks playing instruments in the Lhakhang(temple) during one of their prayer sessions.

DAY:2

TIME: 4-5hrsDISTANCE: 5.5Miles/9km

ALTITUDE GAIN: 1726ft/526m.

ALTITUDE LOSS: 0ft/0m.

From camp, climb back to the ridge and the small pass leading to the Jele Dzong(11,790ft/3595m) Visit Jele Dzong. The valley to the east of Jele Dzong is Gidakom. At the village of Gida is a hospital that traditionally treated leprocy and tuberculosis. About half way down this valley a forestry road winds up and gets quite close to the Dzong. At the end of the valley are several lakes.

Leaving the Dzong walk north for about 10min on the ridge-with a beautiful view-before dissapering into the forest, which looks rather bleak as a result of damage by the bark beetles. Cross over to the easterly side of the ridge at 12,135ft/3700m. Go up and around a small peak, a steep 100m ascent to an altitude of 12,300ft/3750m. Looking back you see part of the Paro Valley and the large Doo chhu side valley. To the south, the Dagala range is visible (another trekking area). After 3hr pass a possible campsite (Jangchu Lhaka, 12365ft/ 3770m). After another 1 hr climb, the better campsite, Tsokam (12,995ft/3962m) is reached, just after a small saddle.

DAY 3:

TIME: 6-7hrsDISTANCE: 6 miles/10km.

ALTITUDE GAIN: 700ft/213m.

ALTITUDE LOSS: 965ft/295m.

The ridge walk followed by the trekkers is about 2 hrs longer than the pack animals route, and more spectacular. Weather permitting there are several views of snowy peaks to the north and a grand view down into the valleys. Once again, we proceed in a northerly direction most of the day. Looking east tonight’s camp, as well as some of tomorrows route, is visible.

Climb gently for several hours to reach a small pass at about 13,350m/4070m. The trail has loose stones, so watch your step. After a short descent there is a smallcampsite at Labana, between two passes. Continue along the ridge to the next small pass(13,380ft/4080m) with a view north to jhomolhari (23,995ft/7315m). Down below, several monasteries are visible at the far end of the valley: Paro Dop Gesaka Gompa, Shar Dango Gompa farther north, and Ragyo Chiwokha Gompa above that. Keep climbing slowly on the ridge. On the opposite side there is a view of Jimilang Tsho.(lake)

At 13,695ft/4175m a small stone shelter next to a small lake is reached, with another view to Jhomolhari. There are many small lakes here, shelters for Yak herders and yak trails. Two possible trails lead to the large secret lake Jimilang Tso. One is higher up and not always easy to find, and accesses the lake from the east. The other descends at first, then climbs again and reaches the lake from the west. The higher trail is a more challenging loop and can be overgrown; despite this, this is recommended. The area above the lake to the east is especially remote.

At the east side of the lake is a good compsite(12,726ft/3880m). The lake has plenty of trout; locals are often seen standing in the cold water up to their knees, using bamboo spears to catch trout at the outlet of the lake.

DAY 4.

TIME:3-4 hrsDISTANCE: 4.5 miles/7 km.

ALTITUDE GAIN/LOSS: Several ups & downs.

Walk around the lake to its far(western) end. There is a split in the trail. One branch is that used by pack animals; the other soon starts to climb up above the lake. There is some steep climbing through bushes, but later good views will open up. An exposed cliff trail leads to a small saddle(13,450ft/4100m). From here, you can see the next lake below Janye Tsho (12,975ft/3956m; 1.5-2hrs) a nice campsite, which may be occupied by yak herders.

From the lake a wide stone path between rhododendron bushes traverses a valley with a small lake below. There are lakes just above, Dungtsho Tsho and Dungtsho sama, the second (female) lake has a powerful spirit, who get easily provoked if anything dirty gets near the lake. If this happens, bad weather will ensure, which only can be stopped by endless prayers. Climb up a ridge and look for a cairn. After 1 hr a viewing point at (13,610ft/4150m) is reached, with a lake below, Simkotra Tsho(13,415ft/4090m), Which has some stone ruins nearby. This is tonight’s campsite.

DAY 5.

TIME: 5hrsDISTANCE: 6miles/10km

ALTITUDE GAIN: 755ft/230m

ALTITUDE LOSS:1330ft/405m.

The trail is good, but there are seven minor climbs to small passes before you finally look down to Phajoding monastery and Thimphu. Monks frequently pass here on their way to meditate at the secred lake Jimilangtsho.

When climbing up pass number five-Thuji Dra, Gangkar Punsum becomes visible. If you are lucky with the weather, the rest of the Bhutan Himalayas can be seen. From the pass, climb 250m up to a small rocky outlook (14,170ft/4320m) on the left side. It is covered with prayer flags, and there are also traces of fires on the top. This place was formerly used for sky burials and has an incredible view over the whole of the Bhutan Himalayas. After this excursion descend a little, then climb to pass number six (13,515ft/4120m). The final pass is Dochu la (13,430ft/4095m), and is very windy. There is a good view over the last part of the trek: steep descent to Phajoding monastery and finally Thimphu.

Camping at Phajoding(12,100ft/3690m) is definitely worthwhile.

DAY 6.

TIME:2-3hrsDISTANCE:2.5miles/4km.

ALTITUDE GAIN:0 ft/0 m

ALTITUDE LOSS:2860ft/872m.

From Phajodhing monastery there are three different trails to Thimphu.

  • One stays high & climbs to a pass, Pumo La.(12,170m). From Pumo la a trail leads down to the upper Motithang.
  • The other two trails starts with the same steep descent. At 10,965ft/3343m you arrive at a big split in the trail. a/ Straight down is a steep route past to the queens compound and the wooden buildings of the royal staff camp, continuing on to the upper Motithang. This trail descends 250m more than the alternate route b.
  • The other route goes left at the split, and follows a more gentle trail decending slowly through thick forest until Chhokhortse Goemba(9870ft/3010m) in a clearing. Just before the Goemba there is a model of a hot stone bath in the ground. A steep, 200m descent leads to the radio tower,pasts hundreds of prayer flags put up by peoples of Thimphu. This is the transmission tower for Bhutan’s Radio station,BBS. From here, drive down to Thimphu, passing the Thimphu zoo, Where some takins can be seen.