The Incredible Treks of Bhutan
Bhutan has always cherished its isolationism, which has allowed the country to preserve its way of life and avoid falling victim to over-tourism. The country offers one of the last destinations on earth where you can experience authentic culture that hasn’t been greatly altered by outside influence due to the fact tourism has never been encouraged by the government.
Even today, there are minimum daily charges that are implemented by the government to keep the destination rather exclusive. Known as “Minimum Daily Packages”, these daily charged fees usually range around $250-$300 per person, per day depending on the size of your travelling group. While at first this may seem a bit steep, it becomes quite reasonable when you realize the fee usually covers your accommodations, meals, internal transportation, camping equipment for multi-day treks, local guides, and porters.
Bhutan’s larger cities have finally begun seeing a slight change as more and more people discover just how incredible the country is. What this means is that if you’re looking to experience the real Bhutan, you may need to act quickly. Booking Bhutan Tour Packages is easy and travel within the country is both safe and well organized. Bhutan trekking adventures are a rather new offering, allowing travelers to escape the country’s major cities and settlements to really uncover the true culture of the region.
Treks range from just a couple days in length to extensive multi-week expeditions. Trails take visitors deep into pristine wilderness that only a few thousand visitors each year make the effort to see. This equates to very personal and uncommercialized experiences that reveal surprises around every corner.
We have put together a collection of Bhutan’s greatest treks that range from easy to manage hikes through lower elevations to demanding ascents high up into the mountains. If you have ever been curious about hiking through Bhutan, check out these incredible trekking experiences before the rest of the world realizes how special they are.
Druk Path Trek
A great trek for those that aren’t really looking for a demanding mountain trek and want to experience more culture than nature should look into the Druk Path Trek. This 4-6 day trek offers the perfect introduction to Bhutan, taking you from Paro to Thimphu. The ascent isn’t too demanding and you remain beneath 14,000 feet the entire trek. The route passes by Mount Gangkar Puensum, often regarded as the tallest mountain whose summit has never been reached by man.
The hike takes you through the Himalayan foothills where you can witness fields of dwarf rhododendrons in the spring. Once must not miss the chance to check out the Himalayan Buddhist sacred site known as Paro Taktsang, or the “Tiger’s Nest” which is located in the upper Paro valley.
Bumthang Cultural Trek
This even shorter trek lasts only 3 days but allows you to experience some of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and Buddhist temples such as Ngang Lhakhang and Thangbi Lhakhang. Most of the trek is easy to moderately challenging except for the 500-meter ascent to Pephe La pass which is marked with colorful prayer flags. You can expect to hike around 15 kilometers per day through the countryside, where you’ll pass through small villages where you will be allowed to stop and rest. It is here where you can meet the locals and learn about their way of life. The trail also makes its way past Mebar Tsho, or the Burning Lake, which local villagers view as a sacred pilgrimage site.
This trek makes its way through the stunningly picturesque Phobjikha glacial valley. Black necked cranes may be seen near the village of Phobjikha while you’ll also get to see the 17th century Gangteng Monastery. The trek is considered one of the easiest at just 3 days in length and is a great option for those that suffer at higher altitudes since it reaches a maximum elevation of just over 3,000 meters. It is best experienced during the spring to take advantage of the beautiful wildflowers. Almost all treks in Bhutan are best experienced in the spring or fall as this avoids the monsoonal rains of summer and the cold and snowy conditions of winter.
Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek
If you want to get a glimpse of Mount Everest, this 6 day challenging trek is perfect. You’ll be offered great views of the world’s highest peak as well as Kanjenjunga, which comes in as the world’s third largest. The route runs past alpine lakes that are literally swimming with trout. Fishing licenses can easily be obtained if you plan ahead, should you wish to cast a line. Get a taste of traditional culture as you meet yak herders and villagers along the way. There are a number of ascents and descents during the journey which makes the trek rather demanding.
Running along the border between Bhutan and Tibet, the 8 day Jhomolhari Trek reaches an elevation of 16,000 feet. You’ll follow the Paro Chhu valley to Jangothang, taking in views of Mount Jumolhari, for which the route is named after. The mountain stands as the second-highest unclimbed peak in the world. The journey to Jomolhari Base Camp is often regarded as Bhutan’s equivalent to Nepal’s Everest Base Camp Trek, and therefore it has become one of the country’s most popular treks. The trek combines local culture with incredible mountain vistas.
Those really wanting a challenge can go all out and take on the mighty Snowman Trek. It is said that more people summit Mount Everest than those who complete this monster 25 day trek. The journey requires a good deal of physical fitness and endurance. Hikers will have to endure eleven passes over 4,500 meters and must be comfortable knowing much of the trek is spent above 4,000 meters for nearly the entire trek. Three of the passes reach over 6,000 meters. The trek becomes nearly impassable during winter and therefore expeditions are usually undertaken in spring or autumn. Day after day in the remote landscape offers more opportunities to spot wildlife such as yaks, blue sheep, vultures, and even extremely elusive snow leopards if the heavens are really shining down on you. Excluding the starting and ending points, you will be far removed from civilization for most of the journey and must be comfortable being truly at the mercy of Mother Nature. It is one of the most rewarding and personally spiritual hikes not only in Bhutan, but the entire world.