Bhutan: A Treasure with the Nub Tshona Pata Trek
Trek Grade: Moderate
Bhutan, often referred to as the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" or 'Druk Yul', is regarded as one of the last "Shangri-Las" in the Himalayan region given its remoteness, its spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna, its unique ancient Buddhist monasteries and the peaceful and serene environment.
This tour takes you on a cultural spree from visiting many monasteries, fortresses and temples which dot the country, namely Thimphu, Punakha, Paro and Haa along with one of the most sought after treks in the western region the Nub Tshona Pata trek known as the ‘Great Lake of the West.’ This trek will start from Haa and ends in Haa Valley. During the trek, you will walk through thick forests of rhododendron and conifer trees, treat your eyes to views of the mountain ranges, and breathe fresh, pure air, smelling the sweet scented wild flowers carpeting the ground during spring season. There are many yak herders’ camps which you will also get a glimpse of on your walk. When you reach, spend some time with the yak herders at their camps drinking a hot cup of tea & interacting. You can engage in smoke offering lighting your incense sticks when you go by the lake. If you are lucky, you will find butter lamps left my other trekkers which you can offer. You may also go to the base of the lake where you can sit and meditate and offer prayers. The tour ends in Paro where you will climb the Tiger’s Nest monastery perched on a cliff. Usually considered to be a highlight for many visitors, travelers doing this particular tour would label it a double highlight along with the Nub Tshona Pata Trek!
- A 13 days adventure with 5 days of trekking staying 4 Nights stay in walk-in trekking tents in the Haa Valley from where you get spectacular views of surrounding mountains while crossing the Tale La pass (3,780 meters) & the Gochhi La pass (4,350 meters)
- English speaking Bhutanese Tour/Trek Guide with fixed camps and personal porterage of 20 kg
- Assistance at arrivals & departures with transportation by SUVs or, mini coaches depending on group size
- Entrance fees at the Monuments in Thimpu & Paro plus, Including Bhutan Visa Fees and Government Royalty & Taxes
- Flights in and out of Paro
- Prices on request
It is a charming capital city that is nestled in the Himalayas with the magnificent sites of the Raidak River which passes through it which is often called as the Thimphu River.
Set close to the centre of Bhutan, Gangtey is located in the glacial valley called Phobjikha. The region boasts various beautiful nature trails in the valley, Gangtey Goempa Monastery and the winter home to a group of globally endangered black-necked cranes that arrive every year from the Tibetan Plateau
Punakha is one of the 20 districts located in Bhutan. This place was the previous capital of Bhutan up until 1955 after which the capital was changed to Thimpu. This place is in a close proximity to Thimpu and one can easily reach here by means of car. This place is usually warmer in winter and colder in summer. Located at the height of 1200 m this place is known for its extensive rice cultivation.
Haa Valley, also known as the ‘hidden-land rice valley’ in Bhutanese, nested in the Himalayan land is a paradise connecting Paro, Chhukha, and Samtse districts of Bhutan. Spread across an area of 1766 sq. km, Haa valley is one of the lease populated valley in the Bhutan. Once the ancestral home to the Queen Grandmother and the illustrious Dorji family, the valley is culturally rich with a fascinating history.
One of the campsites en-route during the Tshona Pata Trek. As you trek, you will descend down to the clearing of Womji whereby you will see a small hut to rest and soak in the views of the majestic peaks. The next day you trek to the Tshona Pata from Womji.
Nub Tshona Pata in Haa in western Bhutan is considered as one of the most unique and unexplored trek in the region. The trail takes you through the spectacular views of Himalayan mountain ranges and neighboring Tibetan Plateaus, the lush green pristine juniper and rhododendron forests, the unparalleled passes above 4000m, the turquoise coloured sacred Nub Tshonapata Lake and yak herder’s camps.
Tshojo is also one of the lakes you will be able to see during the Tshona Pata Trek. You can spend some time at the lake shores to clear your mind and also enjoy a nice picnic lunch if time and weather permits. There will be many yak herder's camps at these locations.
This beautiful Paro valley is about 2250m above the sea level. Paro is believed to be one of the first valleys to have received the influences of the Buddhism. The wide and fertile Paro valley has both an ancient and a modern face.
Arrive Paro By Air & Transfer To Thimphu (55 Kms / 1½ Hrs Drive Approx)
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be the cool, clean, fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative. Then drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan with a stop-off at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different styles of stupas: Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left the Tschogang Lhakhang, “the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in the 15th century, as a result of the visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha.
On arrival in Thimphu, check-into the hotel. Thimphu is also the centre of government, religion and commerce. It is a unique city with an unusual mix of modern and ancient traditions and culture. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a metropolitan and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
Then visit the Memorial Chorten where you will always see people from all walks of life circumambulating and chanting mantras or spinning prayer wheels. This landmark was conceived by Bhutan’s third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the Father of modern Bhutan”) who wished to erect a monument for world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and a monument to global peace.
In the evening, take an exploratory walk around Thimphu’s Main Street and market area. Also visit the Local Crafts Bazaar and browse through some of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, Thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery and many interesting items made from local materials & enjoy a dinner with a local family.
Overnight in Thimphu (L, D)
After breakfast, drive to the Tashichoedzong where one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan is held, the Thimphu Tshechu. Thousands of people gather to witness this festival. You will see many locals dressed in their finest traditional attire. The actual Tshechu is led by days and nights of prayers and rituals to invoke the gods.
Afternoon, sightseeing in the Thimphu valley including a visit to the following: The National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Also visit Simply Bhutan, a living museum and studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people.
Overnight in Thimphu (B, L, D)
Thimphu – Gangtey (150 Kms / 5 Hrs Drive Approx)
After breakfast at the hotel and check out, drive to Gangtey across the beautiful Dochula pass (3O8Om). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten (stupa) and prayer flags. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view of the towering peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. The Druk Wangyel Stupas (hundred stupas) are a sight to behold against this backdrop.
The highway follows the scenic Dang Chhu before climbing through forests of bamboo and oak into Gangtey/Phobjikha valley.
In the evening, take a stroll around the fascinating Gangtey Village.
Overnight in Gangtey (B, L, D)
After breakfast, proceed to visit Gangtey Goempa, perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountains and also the biggest one in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens (lay monks) who take care of the Monastery.
Later, explore the wide Phobjikha valley. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha. This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of the black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangdue Phodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water). According to a local legend, the two rivers actually represent a snake and a boar. The two animals once raced each other with an agreement that if the snake (Nakay Chhu) won, Phobjikha valley would be able to grow rice, but if the boar won, then rice could never be cultivated in the area. The snake lost since it had to meander all the way during its journey. Rice cannot be cultivated in the valley even today. Take the short Nature Trail starting from the Gangtey Monastery down the valley, en route stop by at the Kewa Lhakhang whereby you can interact with the monks.
Also visit the Black Necked Crane Visitor Centre: Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the Centre has an observation room equipped with a high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also displays information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop that sells handicrafts produced by the local people.
Overnight in Gangtey (B, L, D)
Gangtey – Punakha (70 Kms / 3 Hrs Drive Approx)
After breakfast, check-out from the hotel and drive to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan.
On arrival in Punakha; Check-into the hotel. Later visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body.
Next, visit the Chimi Lhakhang. From the hotel it is about 15 mins drive up to the motorable road from where the walk starts through paddy fields and villages. (about 1.1/2 hour walk, to and fro). The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that childless couples who pray at this temple are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you a rare glimpse of the daily lives of the people in the community.
Overnight in Punakha (B, L, D)
Punakha – Haa Valley (80 Kms / 6 Hours Drive Approx)
After early breakfast, check-out from the hotel and drive to Haa Valley along the scenic highway. The road will take you back to Chuzom (river conﬂuence) where you can get a glimpse of the three shrines in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward off evil spirits, drive past Dobje Dzong, an ancient prison which now houses a monastery. Picturesque and quaint villages mark the hillsides for the rest of the drive to Haa.
Haa valley also known as ‘the Hidden-Land Rice Valley’ lies along the three distinctive sister hills (Meri Pun Sum). These hills present a breathtaking view, like heaps of flour in the middle of valley. They appear equal in height, in a line and upright without touching one another. Haa valley is one of the most picturesque places in the country.
After lunch, proceed to visit Lhakhang Karpo (White temple), established in the 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo. According to legends, a black and white pigeon were released to select the site for temples and the white pigeon landed on the foothills of the three towering mountains worshipped as ‘Rigsum gonpo’ and is where this temple stands today.
Then visit, Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple), also built in 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo and situated towards the north of Lhakhang Karpo. Lhakhang Nagpo serves as the seat for the guardian deity ‘Da Do Chen’. The principal relic of the monastery is the Choe-Lung-Truel Sum. Both these temples stand as the guardian sentinels keeping watch at the south entrance of Haa valley.
Overnight at Lodge and Haa Valley (B, L, D)
Haa To Womji (14 Km, 5-6 Hrs – 230 Ascent, Decent 60 M Camp Altitude 2870 M)
Today your trek begins with a gentle climb up the Talela Pass at 3780m through a thick forest of rhododendron and conifer tress. You will continue gradually ascending to a yak herders’ camp at Tshojo. Climb up further to Gochula pass, which is at 4200m. After this pass, walk through the trail following a ridge and then descend gradually to our camp at Womji.
Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)
Womji to Tshona Pata (22 Km, 7-8 Hrs – 690m Ascent, Camp Altitude 3750 M)
Start your trek by climbing steeply through juniper and rhododendron forest to the Gochhila pass at 4350m, providing spectacular views of the whole Tshejala range. You will continue walking to Tshejalum passing through several yak herders’ camps and in spring the trail will be carpeted with wild flowers. You will then walk towards Tshejala pass crossing the ancient trade route from Haa to Tibet.
Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)
Tshona Pata Halt
You will spend the day by enjoying the area around this sacred lake, visiting the yak herders’camp and seeing golden trout or exploring the surrounding hillsides.
Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)
Tshona Pata to Tshojo (19 Km, 6-7 Hrs – 855m Ascent.)
You will retrace as far as to Gochhila Pass. From the pass take a different route over a ridge to Lake Tsojo at 3780m. You will have a picnic lunch on the lake shore. After lunch, you will descend to the camp in a yak meadow at Tsojo.
Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)
Tshojo - Haa - Paro (10 Km, 3-4 Hrs – 660 Ascent, Descent 660 M Camp)
The last day’s trail descends gradually through juniper and rhododendron forest until you reach the Talila Pass. Crossing the pass, you will re-enter the Haa Valley. Your trek ends here and your transport will be waiting here to take you to Paro. Dinner and Overnight in Paro, altitude 2350m.
Overnight in Paro (B, L & D)
After breakfast, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a Watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Bhutan’s exquisite stamps exhibited here offer another interesting collection.
This is followed by a short walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as the Four Friends, the Old Man of Long Life, the Wheel of Life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
After lunch, afternoon you can relax and wind down for the day to prepare for the next day’s most sought after hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. You can also stroll around in town area and stop by a coffee shop to have a cup of coffee.
Overnight in Paro (B, Lunch & Dinner)