3 Nights/4 Days Samtengang Trek

GRADE: EasyTIME: 4 Days


ALTITUDE GAIN:6117ft/1865m

ALTITUDE LOSS: 5215ft/1590m.


Samtengang trek is one of the easier lower treks in Bhutan starts in the Punakha valley and can be finished in 3-4 days. The only difficulty is that the few climbs are steep; On the last day there are steep 2 hr decent to the main road.

During the trek you may see Jhomolhari(23,995ft/7315m) in the west and Khang Bum peak, located above Gasa(20,665ft/6300m). Tiger Mountain (Gangchen ta 22,435ft/6840m) north of Laya might also be visible. The trek is especially recommended in winter, when temperature is at night are around freezing. During the rest of the year leeches may infest the trail through the paddy fields, but that is the time to enjoy watching farmers and their animals working in the fields.

The trek can be started from either end. There are several attractive villages along the route, which are used as camps. From nearly every camp site you can leave the trek and reach a road in no time.

Samtengang is mentioned again and again in old literature regarding travelling/exploring/plant hunting in Bhutan. It was the old stopping place on the first day out from Wangdi for peoples travelling east-West(vice versa). The booklet The Ballad of Pemi Tshewang Tashi:  by Karma Ura will tell you more about the history of the area.

DAY 1.

Punakha(4200ft/1280m) – Limukha(7280ft/2220m)

TIME: 4hrsDISTANCE: 5.6miles/9km

ALTITUDE GAIN: 3080ft/940m.


The treks atsarts upstream from the Dzong, Over the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan(180m) across the pho chu. Climb gently on the left side of the Po chhu through tarraced fields of mustard and winter wheat. The Punakha Valley is low enough to enable two harvests, so there is plenty of activity in the fields in the winter months. The valley also produces fruits like bananas and oranges.

At 6855ft/2090m (after 2 .5hr uphill through pine forest, fern, oak and some rhododendron) there is a nice clearing for lunch with a big prayer flag and a beautiful views over the valley. In the far distance the huge chorten, Khamsum Yuley Namgyel, can be seen. Looking to the west the road to the Dochu la can be partly traced, and if lucky some snowy peaks may be visible: Jhomolhari, Khang Bum and Tiger Mountain.

A chorten and some prayer flags on the skyline at 7215ft/2200m indicate the end of todays climb. From the chorten you can see towards Wangdi and Limbukha where our campsite (7280ft/2220m) is located just behind the village on a beautiful green area (1.5hr)

Limbukha has several old big houses. Some people say that this place, at the upper end os a watershed, used to be a lake. The inhabitants perform a special annual ceremony in connection with the lake, when they begin to irrigate the fields. In former times kings lived here. Dusk arrives about 5pm in the winter. During the night tiny lights of cars crossing Dochu la (10,170ft/3100m) are visible in the far distance.

DAY 2.

Limukha(7280ft/2220m)-Chungsa kha(6070ft/1850m)

TIME: 4hrsDISTANCE: 6.2miles/10km

ALTITUDE GAIN: 1230ft/375m.

ALTITUDE LOSS: 2445ft/745m

Leaving camp climb steepy (150m) upto a small ridge (7775ft/2370m) through a cold dense forest, from which today’s climb is visible. Cross this ridge, and descend steeply into a small side valley where a small stream (92230ft/2235m) is crossed. Surrounded by beautiful birdsong and oak and rhododendron forest, followed an unclear by slippery leaves.

After about 2 hr of climbing reach a small pass, Dochen La (8676ft/2370m). Nearby is a spot with many prayer flags from where there is a good view towards Dochula, Jhomolhari,Khangbum, Tiger mountain, part of the dust road walked yesterday, and Talo Lhakhang and Nobgang Lhakhang down in the valley.

After the pass a steep steady descent follows along a forest trail. The forest opens up after reaching Dagaegon with beautiful old farm house. In the distance a ridge with Samtegang village Chuni Gompa is coming into view. Just before reaching today’s destination walk next to Dargyel Goempa, an old monastery of Drukpa Kuenley, “the devine mad man” Whose teaching methods often shocked monks  and lay people alike. On the hillside above the monastery are several meditation cells.

DAY 3.

Chungsakha(6070ft/1850m)-Below Samtengang.(6725ft/2050m)

TIME: 2.5-3hrDISTANCE: 2.5miles/4km

ALTITUDE GAIN: 1805ft/550m.

ALTITUDE LOSS: 1150 ft/350 m

The sun reaches the camp late. Descent to the road in 45min and find a suspension bridge crossing the Bae chhu at 4920ft/1500m. The road leads to the slate mines of Tsheshinang at the valley. From the bridge start on a clear moderately steep trail through small deeply eroded gorges,  Which will be very slippery in the rain. In December, the daphne flower is already starting to flower. The climb is finished for the day when you pass Samtengang high school (established 1952)on your right. Walk through a narrow gorge to the other side at 6560ft/2000m and look down towards a holy lake, Lutshoka(Tsho sokha) surrounded with an ugly iron fence. Turn right; walk towards a huge building, the basic health unit(BHU), From this building a trail goes down straight to Chhuzomsa.

Camp is on the other side of the lake and another 20 min beyond it. It is a beautiful flat campsite(6725ft/2050m) in the forest below the villages of Samtengang. After lunch there will be plenty of time either to visit Samtengang or stay in camp and enjoy the freash wind blowing through the pines. There is a wonderful trail climbing up to Samtengang village, and a dirt road (2004). The Lhakhang is Gonjo Lhakhang, and there is another 1-2 hr above the village.

DAY 4.

Samtengang(6725ft/2050m)-Tika Zam(5100ft/1555m)

TIME: 1-1.5hrDISTANCE: 3km


ALTITUDE LOSS: 1625 ft/495 m

The trail, starting near camp, descends steeply through endless agricultural fields, heading into the valley of the Dang chhu. The road will be reached next to the bridge at Taki Zam(5100ft/1555m)