Merak Sakteng Trekking
Merak Sakteng Trekking stands out as a distinct attraction in Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang Dzongkhag (District), in Eastern Bhutan.
It is a moderate trek (between 1500m and 4100m) traversing through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu (3400m), Merak (3500m), Sakteng (2800m), Thakthi (2200m), and Joenkhar (1700m). Tour operators are not mandated to use a particular trail, but the most common trail usually begins from Chaling and ends in Phongmey. Both these Gewogs (group of villages) of Merak and Sakteng are an important watershed for Ngere Ama Chhu and Gamri Chhu rivers respectively.
Merak Sakteng Trekking have been designed aesthetically to blend with local architecture and ambiance. Enclosed by a stonewall (with a gate to bring in the ponies to unpack trekking paraphernalia), the campsite is equipped with facilities such as tenting sheds, toilets, kitchens (in some), dining area and water supply. A signage describing the location, altitude, forest type, fauna and additional hiking trails in the locality, distance and time to the next camp welcomes a visitor to each campsite.
The trek lies within the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. It was created in April 2003 with a strong agenda for conservation and to protect the unique assemblage of biological and cultural diversity in the region. It covers an area of 650 km2 and is bordered by the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang) in the north and east, Phongmey Gewog and Kangpara Gewog in the west, and Shingkhar Gewog and Lauri Gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar. It is connected to Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary by a biological corridor, a part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex.
This trek also takes in a visit to the awe inspiring Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) and to visit two other Dzongs in Paro on arrival.
We can customise this trek to suit your needs
Trek: Merak Sakteng
Trek starts: Chaling
Trek duration: 7 days/17 days including transportation
Maximum altitude: 4100m
Minimum altitude: 2250m
Trek ends: Phongmey
Day 1: Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and a representative of Unique Nepal Adventure Trek 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 the road point (horses cannot be ridden) and drive back to Paro to prepare for the trek.
Day 4: Fly to Yonphula airport in Trashigang. This airport is currently closed until 2015 for runway repairs. Alternatively, fly to Bathpalathang airport in Jakar. Stay overnight at a hotel.
Day 5: Drive to Mongar by private vehicle which takes about 7 hours and stay overnight in a hotel.
Day 6: Drive to Trashigang by private vehicle and then drive up to Chaling.
Day 7: Chaling – Damnongchu
The trek to Merak will start from Chaling, reached by following an unsealed road from Rangjung. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies at about 3316m.
Day 8: Damnongchu – Merak
5 hours, camp altitude 3499m.
The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs. Stay overnight at Damnongchu Camp.
Day 9: Merak – Miksa Teng
The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng is long and of medium difficulty. It will pass through the beautiful Nagchung La pass (approx 4100m). The campsite is located in a clearing surrounded by rhododendron trees.
Day 10: Miksa Teng – Sakteng
The trek to Sakteng is easy, making your way through beautiful woods, along with a short climb, before reaching Sakteng. Stay overnight at Camp.
Day 11: Sakteng – Jyonkhar Teng
6 1/2 hours, camp altitude 1859m.
Sakteng to Jyonkhar Teng is an easy trek in comparison to previous days. It is mostly downhill to Jyonkhar Teng.
Day 12: Jyonkhar Teng – Phongmey
5 hours, camp altitude 1981m.
The final day is full of ups and downs, until you reach the road at Phongmey. Then drive to Trashigang.
Day 13: Fly back to Paro. Alternatively an early morning start and drive back to Jakar. This will be a very long day.
Day 14: Fly from Jakar to Paro and do some sightseeing and shopping for some souvenirs. Stay overnight at a hotel.
Day 15: Fly back to Kathmandu. Stay overnight at your selected hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 16: Souvenir and sightseeing in Kathmandu.
Day 17: A representative ofUnique Nepal Adventure Trek will drop you off at Tribhuvan International Airport by private vehicle.
- 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, Jakar and Trashigang.
- 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 to Yonphula airport in Trashigang or Bathpalathang airport in Trashigang by flight.
- Trashigang to the start of trek or Jakar to the start of trek 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.
- 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.