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Punakha Winter Trek | Trekking in Bhutan
Punakha Winter Trek is a newly established trekking route in the central part of Bhutan. For those travelers who are bound by the time limit can easily cover this trip. This trek is categorize as an easy to moderate level of trek and is suitable for all kinds of trekkers though they be a beginner or an experienced ones. Anyone with a good level of fitness can carry out this trek in our mentioned trekking hours.
The scenic drive from Thimphu is the starting point of our trek. From Thimphu, we drive all along passing through Dechenchholing Palace and Pangri Zampa Lhakhang. Few kilometers drive from the Lhakhang will take you to Chamina, a beautiful small village. This is the starting point of our trek. You have to walk for about seven to eight hours in order to reach Dopshipang, our first trekking destination where we will camp overnight. On the next day, we will have a descend walk passing all the way through village and rice fields. Similar walking hours on this day as well will lead you towards Chorten Ningpo, which is linked to Drukpa Kuenley, better known as the “divine madman”. We will end our two days Punakha Winter trek in this spot. You can also have visit Shedrag here if time permits. This trek is recommended between early March to June and late September to November however it is one of the few Bhutan treks that can be undertaken even in the winter months from December to February due its lower altitude.
Day 1- Arrive Paro International Airport
During the flight, one will experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Chomolhari and Mount Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received by our representative and escorted to the Hotel where arrangements will have been made for two nights.
Day 2 Paro - Sightseeing
Drive to Drugyel Dzong (a ruined fortress - 16 kms away from Paro Town). Although now in ruins this Dzong is of great historical significance.It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the Tibetans and drove them back. From here too the peak of Chomolhari "Mountain of the Goddess" (Alt. 7,329 mtrs/24029 ft) can be viewed on a clear day. On the way back visit a typical Bhutanese farmhouse. After lunch at the hotel, take a leisurely stroll around the compound.
Day 3 Paro - Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu takes about 2 hours. Distance - 65 kms. Check in at Hotel. After some rest, visit the following places: Memorial Chorten, a huge stupa built in memory of the third King who reigned from 1952 - 1972. The National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. Visit Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the Royal Government and the winter residence of the Head Abbot and the central monastic school. Evening: Reception with cultural show.
Day 4 Thimphu - Sightseeing
Visit Simtokha Dzong. This is one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan. It was built in 1629 A.D and presently houses the largest monastic school in the country. Visit the wood craft 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.
Lunch and afternoon siesta
Early evening will be left free to stroll around Thimphu valley and its town.
Day 5 Thimphu - Shong Pang
Drive north up the valley towards Dechencholing, the palace of the Queen Mother, following the Thim-Chu. The transport will reach you upto Pangrizam, the last motorable point. From here the trek starts towards Shong Pang which takes about 4/5 hrs through villages. The camp will be just above Chamina village.
Day 6 Shong Pang - Dopshing Pang
The trek trail ascends gradually till you reach the pass called Sinchula which is about 3,490 mtr. From this point, if the weather is clear, one can see Phajoding Monastery which is just above Thirnphu. After 2 kms walk, you can view Thinley Gang village, Tale Monastery and the motor high-way towards Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The trek from the pass is downhill to the camp site.
Day 7 Dopshing Pang - Chorten Ningpo
The trek to Chorten Ningpo is rather gradual and goes through thick forests, villages and rice fields. The camp site is at an Alt. of 2,700 mtrs.
Day 8 Chorten Ningpo - Zomlingthang
For about 2-3 hrs the trek trail will be through several villages until you reach a motor road. From the motor road, you will follow the road towards Punakha.
Day 9 Zomlingthang - Limukha
Follow the motor road till Punakha Dzong and then cross the Pochu River (Male River), that drains the remote Lunana region. You will have a steady half day climb into a forest of scattered long needle leaves of Chirpines. 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 mountains to the north. The camp site is near Limukha village - Alt. 2,250 mtrs.
Day 10 Limukha - Chungsaka/Wangdiphodrang
The trek trail ascends gradually up through the thick forest of oak and rhododendrons till you reach a pass called Dochula. Then descend through thick forest leading to a small monastery dedicated to 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 downhill till you reach the motor road and then drive for about half-an-hour to Wangdiphodrang.
Overnight in Wangdiphodrang Guest House.
Day 11 Wangdiphodrang - 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 Poeliu and Mochu which means (male rivei. and female river). Drive up to Dochula pass and stop for a hot cup of tea and some snacks. Continue to drive down to Thimphu.
Evening: guests can rest in the hotel.
Day 12 Thimphu - Paro International Airport