Trekking in Haa Valley - Bhutan

This is a very gentle trek passing through villages in the Haa valley and the dense forest in the Paro side, involving ascent through forest and meadows, The name derives when the people of Haa went to Paro to help in the rice plantation and in return received red rice upon harvest. Trek is coupled with a visit to the historical and cultural visit to Thimphu, Paro and an interesting walk to the legendry Tiger’s nest.

Day 01  : Arrive Paro by Druk Air & transfer to Thimphu
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu, 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 cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan.

Haa valley trek BhutanOn arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel. The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 90,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.

Evening an exploratory walk around Thimphu main street and market area..

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 02 : Thimphu
After breakfast, proceed for the guided tour of city’s main attractions that includes:

Textile Museum: is worth a visit to get to know the living national art of weaving. Exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles made by women and men. 

National Library: The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.

Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

Simply Bhutan Museum: The newly commissioned museum depicts the ancient Bhutanese architecture which is being lost to modernization.  The uniqueness of the structure is in its composition of the materials used. The structure is built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from traditional and old demolished houses.  The best part is the portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people.

Lunch followed by city tour that includes:

Memorial Chorten: The stupa built in the memory of Bhutan's third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan.  The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) : Located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.

Conclude the tour of the day with a visit of Trashichhoedzong, “fortress of the glorious religion”. This is  the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 03 : Thimphu / Paro (55 km, approx. 1.1/2 hour drive)
After breakfast drive to Paro along scenic highway. En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the country built in 1627 which now houses the School for Buddhist studies.

Later in the day after checking into hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.

Ta Dzong visit immediately followed by a short walk down the trail to visit Rinpung 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 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, drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "mountain of goddess'' can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.

Along the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Haa valley trekkingDay 04 : Paro
After breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (approx. 5 hours walk):  It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognised as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.

Afternoon free for relaxation after long day hike.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 05 : Paro / Haa (70km, approx. 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, embark on a fascinating journey to Haa valley via Chele-la (pass) driving through blue pine & rhododendron forest. Stop at Chele-la pass (3988 meters), the top of the pass offers magnificent view of 7314 meter Chomolhari peaks & Jichu Drakey. It is about one and half hour drive from Paro city to the pass.

Afternoon explore exotic Haa valley which was opened for foreign tourists, first time in 2002. It is culuturally rich valley and some of the famous sites in the region are : 7th century Lhakhang Karpo (whilte temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (black temple) at the foothills of a venerated three brotherly mountains known as Meri Phuensum. The Haa valley is also unparalleled in Bhutan in terms of the diversity of the folk culture, legends and shamanistic rituals. The valley is also a paradise for nature lovers and travelling there is a very rewarding experience.

Overnight at the lodge in Haa valley.

Day 06: Haa - Trek to Khadey Gom 10,611 Feet
After breakfast, our car will shuttle us to Yangtong, where we will meet our porters and trekking crews. After an hour of baggage loading and arrangements, we will start our trek.

It is a steep climb to Yangtong Gompa set on a hilltop. This big temple surrounded by a few houses is believed to be 300 years old and is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche and his eight manifestations. From here it is more or less a level trail through pine forest which will bring you back to the main trail to the valley below Saga La (La – Pass). Here the Makhang River flows through the region called Talung, consisting of three beautiful villages known as Tsenka Gom, Tsenka Wom and Langlo. The track winds along the farmland that is fenced with cobblestone walls to protect the farmland from wild animals. We will then climb to a wooden bridge, Chagdo Zam, cross more meadows and some forests until reach a rock with twin eyes and a distorted mouth.

It is believed that a Tibetan saint known as Thangtong Gyalpo, in the 14th century subdued the Nyela Demon and turned it into this rock. Ever since, the travellers using this trail have walked across without any fear of the Demon. This holy rock is located in the Khadey Gom meadow, where tonight's camp is situated.
Overnight camp.

Day 07: Khadey Gom – Dongney Tsho 10,496 Via Saga La 12,200 Feet
After breakfast, we start a gradual hike for about one hour through meadows and coniferous forest followed by two hour climb to the Saga La Pass 12,200 feet. It is customary to take a gift for the pass, so either pick a rock or break off a twig/flower to pile it on the mini stupa built by thousands of former travellers. Once you reach the top of the pass, shout "Lhagyelo" (God be victorious) and you will be blessed. During a good weather there is spectacular view from both sides of the Pass, The view towards Paro (east) includes Mount Jhomolhari (23,993 feet), Mount Chaterake (18,270 feet) and below in the valley the Drukgyal Dzong and the sacred Tiger's Nest Monastery. Looking to the west the peaks of Haa forming the borders with Tibet can be seen. From the Pass it is good two hours downhill hike through mixed conifers and rhododendrons and the camp is set at an open meadow at Dongney Tsho, surrounded with tall firs. To the left is the black Choshola mountain, a holy place from which a lake escaped.

Overnight Camp.

Day 08: Dongney Tsho 10,496 Feet – Drukgyal Dzong (8,460 Feet)
After breakfast, we start our hike steep downhill for about 1.5 hours until we are at Genchu Zam (Bridge). The hike is through thick vegetation with chances of encountering laughing thrushes, magpies, nutcrackers and pheasants. You will cross a beautiful village comprised of eight households and a temple at the left side of the trail known as Chodeyphu, set picturesquely at the base of Mount Lamp Baja (Foggy Mountain, inhabited by mountain goats) Another one hour will bring you to Balkan Chu where the ancient Haa Planters' Trail ends. From the road head you will be picked by your car and shuttle to your hotel.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 09 : Depart Paro
After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.

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