The Lonely Planet describes the Druk Path Trek as: “One of the most scenic and popular treks in Bhutan, following a wilderness trail past several remote lakes. Although it is a short trek, it still goes to a high altitude making it moderately strenuous.”
The Druk Path Trek is also a fairly easy hike to undertake as the distances between rest camps is fairly short.
Your adventure begins on the flight – the views you have of Everest, Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Jhomolhari and Jichu Drakey in Bhutan, are a fabulous treat. On arrival in Paro airport we’ll greet you and check you into your hotel. After lunch we will see the rich history of Bhutan exhibited in the 17th century National Museum, the Ta Dzong. The Paro Dzong, a massive fortress built in the 17th century now houses the monastic body. A tour of this beautiful Dzong will introduce us to the unique aspects of the Bhutanese Buddhism. A lovely stroll downhill from the Dzong over an old cantilever bridge wraps up an eventful first day in this magical kingdom.
Alternatively, we can visit Taktsang monastery at the head of the Paro valley. The Tiger’s Nest temple is revered by Buddhists. This magical temple clings to a vertical granite cliff 800 m above the valley. Legend has it that in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche, a tantric master flew here on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave around which the temple is built. The wonderful atmosphere here can’t be conveyed by photographs. The walk up is a good warm up for what follows tomorrow.
The start of the Drukpath Trek is at the historic Ta Dzong, the National Museum. We follow a farm road until it gives way to our trail in pine forests. The trail takes us steadily uphill all the way until Jela Dzong, a now ruined temple built as a war fortress long in the past. From here we have a commanding view of the Paro valley below.
We camp here Above the camp is Jele-la pass (3,400m) and Jele Dzong (mostly in ruins). There is also a lhakhang containing a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni.
Today’s trail looks like the setting of Stephen Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. With ancient firs wrapped in Spanish moss, a dinosaur or a Bhutanese Yeti might actually surprise you around the bend. You may see yak herders around the campsite.
The trek today starts off with a climb, overlooking the rolling valleys below. Rhododendrons and other high altitude shrubs decorate the rocky trail which climbs up and down. On a clear day the Jhomolhari can be seen. Our camp is at the lake of Jimilangtsho.
The trail will take us through dwarf rhododendrons and junipers. We will also pass the lakes of Janatso and Simkotha. The view of the far ridge across the valley which you trekked will fill you with a sense of personal satisfaction and renew your strenght. Tonight is going to be the coldest of all our camps.
An hours’ climb from the camp will take us over the highest pass on this trek at 4,100 m. On a clear day we can see the Gangkhar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan. Descending from the pass over rocky steps, we will be greeted by the sight of Thimphu far below in the valley. From this point on, it’s all downhill. We will be passing through the temple and meditation center complex of Phajoding. Our transport will meet us just as we start emerging from the forest.
Visit the National Memorial Chorten (monument), the Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, Takin zoo, the National Library, the Government Handicrafts and the Handicrafts Emporium.
Drive to Punakha (2 ½ hours) over the Dochu La pass at 3,000 m. If we are lucky with the weather, we can see the entire Bhutanese Himalayas from this pass; east of Jhomolhari to Gangkhar Puensum.
Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until the 1950s. Today, the central monk body moves to Punakha in the winter when it gets too cold in Thimphu. With a climate almost tropical in the summer, the valley is blessed with an abundance of fruits and rice. After lunch we will visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong which without doubt showcases the finest example of Bhutanese arts and crafts. After the Dzong, we will go on a short drive in the lush upper Punakha valley and hike for 45 minutes to the beautiful chorten temple of Khamsum Yuley on a hill.
Bhutan is a place where people live in magic and mysticism. When a couple cannot have children, they pray for the blessings of the Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility, blessed by the Divine Mad Man, in the 1500s. We will start off our day with a short hike to this temple which will take us through a village surrounded by rice fields.
Lunch at the tea shop at the Dochu La pass, and we will resume our drive to Paro.
Early morning departure from Paro International Airport.