This moderate trek visits the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, passing through meadows and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia and rhododendrons in full bloom in April. It is a short trek at relatively low elevations, which visits several remote villages.
This trek is to the beautiful Phobjikha valley (3,000m), one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan, which lies in the mountains east of Wangduephodrang. After crossing over the pass you soon come to the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies a few kilometers down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quiet, remote valley is the chosen winter home of the rare black necked cranes, who migrate here annually from the Tibetan plateau. This moderate trek visits the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, passing through meadows and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia and rhododendrons in full bloom in April. It is a short trek at relatively low elevations, which visits several remote villages.
Best season: This trek is recommended for all months except July & August. The best months are April and early May when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Arrive Paro & transfer to Thimphu
The flight into Paro (2200 m/ 7800 ft.) is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. From a window seat on clear days you can enjoy a spectacular view of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by your guide and your driver who will drive you to the capital city, Thimphu (2400 m/ 8000 ft.). The 45 minute drive follows the rivers of Paro and Thimphu. You will have ample time to look around the city, the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
After breakfast, visit the Memorial Chorten built in the memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Drive to Motithang for a bird’s eye view of the capital city. Visit the mini zoo to get up close with ‘Takin,’ the national animal of Bhutan. Takins are a unique looking animal and are the only occupants of the mini zoo. There is an interesting story to their existence, which you will hear from your guide. Drive to Drubthop Lhakhang, the nunnery temple. Return to town for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch visit the Bhutanese Indigenous Hospital, Traditional Painting School, National Library and continue your drive south to Lungtenzampa, visit the Royal silversmith at work and then stop by at the Bhutanese Paper factory. Time permitting we will visit Simtokha Dzong (fortress), the first Dzong in Bhutan built in 1624; it currently houses the Institute of Learning for Culture and Buddhist Studies. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Thimphu – Gangtey
After breakfast, drive to Gangtey across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) . This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges.
Afternoon visit Gangtey monastery. Gangtey Goempa (monastery), is perched a top a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens who take care of the Monastery. In winter this families, together with the monastery’s monks, move away to another monastery, a day’s walk to the south. Later explore beautiful Phobjikha valley, lying at an altitude of 2900 m. This is the winter home of rare Black-necked Cranes, an endangers species that migrate from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia, each winter. Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey.
Gangtey Gompa – Gogona Trek (Altitude : 3100m, 14 km, 5-6 hour walk)
The trek leaves the valley at 2830m and leads south, then west through meadows and fields. It then climbs through a mixed forest of juniper, bamboo, rhododendrons and magnolia. The trail is rough and rocky and weaves through trees where pack animals have created deep muddy furrows. After crossing Tsele La (3440m) the trail crosses several meadows, and then descends through forests to Gangak (3020m). It is then a short climb to the camp at Gogona (3100m), a beautiful hilltop site overlooking a long valley. Nearby is Gogona Lhakhang and dozens of poles with white prayer flags fluttering.
A 30-minute walk beyond Gogona is a hamlet where you may find homemade arra to buy. The women here weave blankets and speak a different dialect called Bjop-kha (language of the nomads). Overnight camp.
Gogona – Khotokha Trek (Altitude : 2790m, 15 km, 5 - 6 hour walk)
The trail winds gently up above Gogona village, past flocks of sheep and ploughed fields. Climb into a forest of firs, oak, spruce, dwarf rhododendron, miniature azaleas, cypress and juniper. Much of the undergrowth is daphne, the plant that is used for hand-made paper and may be identified by its yellow flowers. Then a long but gradual climbs leads to Shobju La pass (3410m). The trail down from the past is rocky and muddy, weaving through the forest and criss- crossing a small stream. Eventually, at about 3000m, the trail meets a rough trek used by tractors to collect wood from the forest. Follow the road, with a few short cuts through the woods, to a sawmill and woodcutters camp at Dolonaga (2830m). Still heading down, the trail overlooks the broad Khothangkha valley and eventually reaches a clearing, Chorten Karpo, where there are four Chortens dedicated to the four Je Khenpos who came from this area. Three of the Chortens are square, in Bhutanese style, and the fourth is Nepali style. The best camp is in this clearing at 2790m, beside a forest of a large blue pines overlooking the valley and the village of Khothangkha, comprising about 60 rustic houses. Overnight camp.
Khotokha - Tikke Zampa & transfer to Punakha (Altitude : 1300m, 12km, 5 hours walk)
A short, steep climb along a well-known path takes you to Tashi La (2800m). This is the upper terminus of the cable car” that transports wood down to Chhuzomsa, 1300m below. The walk down is through a beautiful forest, with the undergrowth changing from rhododendrons and magnolia to ferns and dwarf bamboo. This stretch of trail is one of the finest bird-watching areas in Bhutan. Among the species found here are laughing thrush, shrike, magpie and woodpecker. The trail then plunges down past steep terraced wheat fields to a cluster of houses at Whachay. The trail eventually meets the road near Tikke Zampa at 1500m.
End of trek and then visit Wangduephodrang Dzong, founded by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgayl in 1638. It is located on top of a high ridge overlooking a river junction. The Dzong stands majestically on a spur and commands an impressive view over both north-south and east-west roads.
Evening visit Punakha Dzong, also known as ‘Palace of Happiness’. It is a massive structure at the junction of two rivers and was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. Punakha Dzong is the most beautiful and well-known fortress connected with Bhutan’s historical traditions. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Punakha – Paro, 125 km, 4 hours drive
Morning drive to Paro en route visiting Simtokha Dzong, oldest Dzong in the country built in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses the Institute of Language and Cultural studies.
This afternoon we will visit the National Museum, housed in a unique, semi-circular shaped Ta Dzong, built in 1775. The Ta Dzong with its six floors was once the watch tower for the massive Paro Dzong, built in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The museum has the most extensive collection Bhutanese artifacts and history, which include, ancient crafts, wares, weapons, a collection of antique thangkha (painted or embroidered religious pictures), textiles, and stamps. The museum provides a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom.
We walk downhill from the museum to the Paro Rinchen Pung Dzong (meaning ‘fortress on a heap of jewels’), the religious and secular center of Paro, and certainly the most dominant feature in the valley. The dzong was first conceived in the 15th-century, and finally consecrated in 1646. From the Dzong, we will hike to the river and cross Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge. Paro options include a visit to a traditional farmhouse to lunch with the family. After spending some village time, we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest monastery in the country. Overnight at Hotel. Farmhouse accommodation available upon request. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, your car will drop you at the starting point of the excursion to view the spectacular and famous Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s lair).The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike (if not tired) for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the imposing Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rimpoche is supposed to have meditated here for three months and it is considered like a Mecca for Buddhists. Drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong (the fortress of the victorious Drukpas) built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to celebrate victory over Tibetan invading forces and also to curtail further invasions from the enemy. The route is picturesque, and the site of dzong magnificent (from here, only two-day hike to the border with Tibet, dominated by Mt Jhomalhari). Not far from here also marks the trail head for the popular and scenic Jumolhari Trek. After returning to town, you can visit the town temple, built in 1525, to check out ancient wall paintings. Spend the rest of the evening in town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination.
DetailsEnquire about this itinerary
Number of Traveller(s) High Season Tour Price (8 nights) per person
3 or above HK$16,310
• All Accommodation in standard hotels (Double/twin sharing)
• All porters, camping equipments ( if on trek)
• All meals (but not beverages). Bottled water is complimentary in the car/coach
• All transfers (SUV/mini bus) and sightseeing within Bhutan
• Services of an accompanying English speaking local tour leader/ guide
• Fees for museums and permits to enter temples & monuments
• 35% government welfare levy (used for developmental projects) & tourism development fee
• Roundtrip Air tickets between Hong Kong and Bangkok (or other transit hub); and between Bangkok (or other transit hub) and Paro. Please contact our travel consultants for flight arrangements.
• Bangkok (or other transit hub) Hotel for transit
• Accommodations in upscale properties
• Single supplement for hotel rooms
• Visa and processing fee
• Travel insurance (recommended, mandatory if on trek)
• Personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, shopping, etc.
• Beverages (juice and alcohol)
• Tips and gratuities for staff (optional)
*Charlotte Travel reserves the right to amend above prices and service without prior notice. All arrangements are subject to confirmation form our travel consultants.