Punakha Winter Trekking

punakha-winter-trekkingPunakha Winter Trekking is a short and easy trek through Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The altitude of the trail covers almost a thousand meters in range, but the slopes are mostly gradual and should not present trekkers with much difficulty. Punakha Winter Trekking one of the best trek in Bhutan short and easy trek where can explore the nature beauty and culture and their life style experienced.

Punakha Winter Trekking  follows the old foot trail from Thimphu to Punakha passes through several villages, forests and rice fields. It offers incredible views of Phajoding Monastery and crosses through Sinchula Pass. Trekkers will also camp near Chorten Ningpo, an ancient chorten linked to Bhutan’s favorite patron saint, ‘The Divine Madman’, Lama Drukpa Kuenley.

Due to the low altitude and warm climate of the area, this trek is available all winter, but the best times to go are between March to May and September to November.

The trek takes in a visit to the awe inspiring Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) and to visit a Lhakhang and three other Dzongs in Paro on arrival.

The trek also takes in sightseeing in the capital Thimphu, the ancient capital Punakha and the town of Wangdue.
This trek can be customized to suit your needs.

Trek Facts

Trek: Punakha Winter Trek
Trek starts: Chamina
Trek duration: 7 days/16 days including transportation
Grade: Easy
Maximum altitude: 3400m
Minimum altitude: 2250m
Trek ends: Zomlingthang

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and a representative of Nepal Adventure Guide will welcome and transfer you to your selected hotel by private vehicle.

Day 2: Fly from Kathmandu to Paro (2250m). This flight into Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights to take, as it flies past Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and many more peaks. The flight takes around an hour and a half. We will then go to our hotel and take refreshment and visit Ta Dzong (National Museum) and Paro Rinpung Dzong.

Day 3: After breakfast, we drive to Kyichu Lhakhang. King Songtsän Gampo built the Lhakhang in the 7th century AD. The associated legend is that – this is one of 108 Lhakhang’s built in a single night by the king to tame his kingdom’s borders. The next stop is the ancient ruins of Drukgyal Dzong (30 minutes). The Dzong is a monument to the Shabdrung’s victory against an invasion of allied Tibetan-Mongolian forces in 1649. The name “Drukgyal Dzong” thus translates to “Fortress of Victory”. The Dzong was destroyed in a fire in the 1950s. On clear days, Drukgyal is an excellent place to view the glorious mountain Jomolhari. Return to stay for lunch, rest and prepare for the trek up to Taktsang Monastery (the “Tiger’s Nest”).

Drive to the start of the trek. Trek (or horse ride) to Taktsang Monastery (trek time is 2-3 hours depending on weather and fitness level).Taktsang is perched on a precipitous 900 meter cliff. The monastery has been restored at painstaking efforts to former glory after a fire in 1998. The legend is that Guru Padmasambhava flew to this holy place on the back of tigress to meditate. More recently, one of the most enlightened abbots in modern Bhutan history, Geshe Gendun Rinchen (1926 – 1997) also known as Draphugpa (Of the Caves), was born in a small cave by the path to the monastery. Tea and refreshments will be taken at Taktsang Café for about an hour’s rest to take photos and view the scenery. We will then descend to road point (horses cannot be ridden) and drive back to Paro to prepare for the trek.

Day 4: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast we drive to Thimphu taking about two hours with a distance of 65 km. We then check in at the hotel and after some rest, visit the following places: Memorial Chorten (a huge Stupa) built in memory of the third King who reigned the Kingdom from 1952 – 1972. The National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. Visit Tashichho Dzong. This is the main secretariat building. This massive structure houses part of the government ministries, office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and senior monks. Stay overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 5: Thimphu sightseeing
Visit Simtokha Dzong. This is one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, which was built in 1629 AD by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Visit the woodcraft and painting school where traditional art and crafts are still kept alive. Visit the handicrafts emporium where Bhutanese textiles and other arts are displayed and can be purchased. After lunch we drive 14 km to the north of Thimphu to visit Tango Cheri Monastery. Early evening will be left free to stroll around Thimphu valley and its town. Stay overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 6: Dechencholing – Chamina
4-5 hours, ascent 860m, camp altitude 3360m.
After breakfast we drive north up the valley towards Dechencholing Palace, following the Thimphu Chhu. The transport will reach you up to Pangri Zampa, the last road point. From here the trek starts towards Shong Pang, and leads you through some beautiful villages. The camp will be just above Chamina village.

Day 7: Chamina – Dopshing Pang
7-8 hours, camp altitude 3400m.
The trek trail ascends gradually up till you reach the pass called Sinchula (3400m).  From this point, if the weather is clear, you can see Phajoding monastery, which is located just above Thimphu. After 2 km, you can see Thinleygang village, Talo Monastery and the motor highway towards the ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha. The trek from the pass is more or less downhill until you reach the campsite. The campsite is right in front of the temple.

Day 8: Dopshing Pang – Chorten Ningpo
8 hours, camp altitude 2700m.
The trek to Chorten Ningpo is rather gradual and will take trekkers through thick forests, villages and rice fields. The trek finishes at Chorten Ningpo which is linked to Drukpa Kuenley, better known as the “The Divine Madman”.

Day 9: Chorten Ningpo – Zomlingthang
2-3 hours.
For about two to three hours, the trail will lead you through several villages until you reach a motor road. From the motor road, you will follow the road towards Punakha the ancient capital of Bhutan.

Day 10: Zomlingthang – Limukha
Follow the motor road until Punakha Dzong and then cross the Pochu River (Male River), the river that drains the remote Lunana region. You will have a steady half-day climb into a forest of scattered long needle Chir Pines. Make sure to fill your water bottle before leaving Punakha, as there is no water on the way for a couple of hours. You will have a wonderful view of Punakha valley and the Dzong. If the weather is clear, you can see some snow peaked mountains to the north. The campsite is near Limukha village, at 2250m.

Day 11: Limukha – Chungsakha / Wangdue
The trail ascends gradually up through the thick forest of oak species and rhododendrons till you reach a pass called the Dochu La. Then descend through the thick forest leading to a small monastery dedicated to a lama called Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as The Divine Madman). From Chungsakha you can look across the valley to Samtengang on the ridge to the south. Walk down hill till you reach the motor road and then drive for about half an hour to Wangdue Phodrang. Stay overnight at the hotel in Wangdue.

Day 12: Wangdue – Thimphu
After breakfast, drive to Punakha Dzong viewpoint at the north end of the Punakha Valley. The Punakha Dzong lies between two rivers known as Pochu and Mochu, which mean ‘Male River and Female River’. It houses the District Administration office and the winter residence of the State Monastic Body and its Chief Abbot. Drive up to Dochu La pass and stop for a hot cup of tea and some snacks. Continue to drive down to Thimphu. In the evening you can either rest in the hotel or stroll around in the town.

Day 13: Drive back to Paro and do some sightseeing and shopping for some souvenirs. Stay overnight at a hotel.

Day 14: Fly back to Kathmandu. Stay overnight at your selected hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 15: Souvenir and sightseeing in Kathmandu.

Day 16: A representative ofUnique Nepal Adventure Trek will drop you off at Tribhuvan International Airport by private vehicle.

Price Includes:

  • Airport pick-up and drop off by private vehicle.
  • Two nights in your selected Kathmandu hotel with breakfast.
  • All meals during the trek (lunch, dinner, breakfast and tea or coffee).
  • Accommodation in a hotel in Paro, Thimphu and Wangdue.
  • Accommodation in twin shared tents with mattress.
  • All necessary equipment for camping.
  • One English speaking government trained license holder and well informed trekking guide.
  • Dependent on group size, cook, kitchen boy and extra horses)
  • All expenses for guide and porters – meals, accommodation, salary, equipment, insurance, transportation (bus/flights) etc.
  • First Aid kit bag.
  • Government and local area taxes where applicable. These include Royalty fees and road permit fees.
  • Return transportation from Kathmandu to Paro by flight.
  • Return transportation from Paro to Thimphu by private vehicle.
  • A Bhutanese visa fee, where the cost is dependent on the time of year you visit. See the link for Bhutan Information for prices.

Price Excludes:

  • Nepalese entry visa fee and departure tax. (See the ‘Visa Information’ link under ‘Trekking Info’ for current fees)
  • Travel insurance.
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks (mineral water, hot water, coke, fanta, beer, spirits, etc).
  • Snacks (Chocolate, biscuits etc).
  • Hot water, hot shower, heater charge, battery charge, phone calls and laundry service.
  • Donation, tips and personal expenses.
  • Emergency evacuation and medical equipment.
  • In case of natural calamities i.e. political unrest, cancellation of flight due to weather, landslides, etc, the extra charge will be borne by themselves.
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
  • Please note that you cannot hire equipment and other personal items in Bhutan such as (sleeping bag, down jacket, hiking boots, etc). You must either bring these items into the country by yourself, or they can be hired from Kathmandu.