2 nights/3 days
Season: March-May/ September-November
Altitude: 3400 m
Bumthang to NGA LHAKHANG (9,000′) Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 800′/Elevation Loss: 0
We begin our trek near Kurje Lhakang, where the past kings of Bhutan have been cremated. A new temple built in honor of the Late King was consecrated in the spring of 1991. The old temple has a golden statue of the Guru 30 feet high accompanied by Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyel (they are his consorts) about 15′ high.
We drive a short distance past the temple complex where we will begin our trek. Just a short distance from our starting point is the village of Thangbi, home to a famous and beautiful temple.
Continue up the gentle, fertile valley. Take the time to watch the farmers plowing their fields, or stop to visit a matron grinding grain in the water-powered grist mills.
It takes approximately four hours of walking to reach the village of Ngang. You are now in “swan land” (Ngang Yul) with its center “swan temple” (Nga Lhakang). Legend says that this part of the valley was first inhabited only by swans, which gave their name to the place. The Lama Namkha Samdrup, having dreamt a vision of how to build a Gompa, shot an arrow and, at the spot where it landed the Nga Lhakang was erected. Overnight in camp near the village Camp-at-Nga Lhakang
NGA LHAKHANG to MEADOW CAMP (9,800′) Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,247″over the Phephe La (11,647′)/Elevation Loss: 1,847′
This is the longest day of this trek, which starts with the gradual climb through the valley and into a mixed forest of maple, pine and rhododendron. The trail becomes steeper as you near the PhePhe La. The pass is marked with a stand of prayer flags and a stone chorten. From this point, we head downhill to our camp in the Tang Valley. From the pass, it is approximately a 2-hour walk to camp, which is located in a spacious field beside a stream.
Camp at Meadow Camp
MEADOW CAMP/UGYENCHOELING/BUMTHANG (9,247′) Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 0/Elevation Loss: 543′
Today’s walk is about seven miles and is a gentle trail along the river. We will pass through the village of Ugyencholing or “the palace of Ugyen” with its massive ancestral home, which has a dramatic view of the surrounding area. This area is well known for the woolen textiles called “Yatah”. Almost every farmhouse has a loom and most women weave for their family and for resale.
We depart from Ugyencholing and follow the village trail along the river, past beautiful farmhouses and villagers working in the fields. We reach a bridge and cross the (trout-filled) Tang Chu (Chu means river).
On the west bank of the river is Tang Rimochen Lhakang. Guru Rimpoche is said to have founded this temple in the 8th century. The rock face has distinctive stripes, which are said to left by Guru Rimpoche. Ask your local guide to show you “Guru Rimpoche’s bathtub!” a hollow in the rock below the temple. Be sure to circumambulate the temple (clockwise) and see the unique rocks that devotee pilgrims have brought to this spot. If we are able to secure permission to enter the temple, you can see a rock, which is said to contain the footprint of the “Lotus Princess”, daughter of King Trisongdetsen of Tibet. She is said to have accompanied Guru Rimpoche on pilgrimage and died at the age of eight in Rimochen. Her body is believed to be enshrined in the rock with the most precious of the hidden treasures, “the mystic keys to the future”, dedicated for the benefit of future generations. We continue a short distance down the road to a boarding school, housing many students from the area. Our trek ends at this point.
On the way back to Jakar, we will stop to visit Mebar Tso – the burning lake. This sacred place, where Pemalingpa discovered terma or hidden treasures left by Guru Rinpoche, is not actually a lake. It is a small granite canyon carved by centuries of flowing water with very deep pools.
Legend has it that Pemalingpa had a vision that Guru Rimpoche instructed him to retrieve a “terma” or hidden treasure from this spot. He did so by diving into the water holding a lamp (which stayed lit) and returned with the texts and treasures left by the Guru. The “termas” are a very important part of Mahayana Buddhism. In this way, a continual stream of teaching and revelations are revealed to future generations. Pemalingpa was one of the greatest “Tertons”, or treasure finders.
We arrive back to the comforts of our guesthouse (with hot running water!) in time for a hearty dinner.
(Note: This itinerary is a sample itinerary intended to give you a general idea of trip to Bhutan. We can tailor an itinerary to suit your requirements and interests.