2 Nights/3 days
Haa District: Tour and Tented Camp
Altitude: 9600 Ft
Today is the scenic drive to Haa for a distance of about 80 Kilometers taking us approximately three hours from Thimphu. Our first stop is at the Lhakhangang Karpo (meaning the white temple). This temple is big and serves as the Dzong to house about 200 monks headed by a Lam Neten (Senior Head Monk) appointed by the Je-Khenpo (Chief abbot of the central monk body in Bhutan). The temple is located on the left side of the Haa chhu (Haa River) about six kilometers before reaching the main Haa town. The next town in Haa after the Lhagang Karpo is the Wangchuk Lo Dzong built by the 1st King of Bhutan, Sir Ugyen Wangchuk in 1915. Currently, it serves as the center for the IMTRAT (the Indian Military Training Team) who are responsible for training the Bhutanese army. Surrounding this complex is a beautiful nine-hole golf course built by IMTRAT and they organize an annual golf tournament that attracts many known golfers from the various parts of Bhutan. Our next visit is the downtown Haa comprising of about 12 shops selling groceries, clothing and some interesting handicrafts. The Ugyen Dorji High School is also adjacent to the Haa town giving it a busy atmosphere during the off school hours. Don’t forget to observe the three unique and impressive cone shaped hills rising right from the middle of the valley on the left side of the river. They are locally known as the “Rig-Sum-Goenpa” or the “Three Mountain Temples”. They are regarded as the domains of Chana Dorji, Chenrey Zig and Jambayang. These three hills are known to be the guiding force for the welfare of the people residing in Haa valley.
Lunch will be served in Haa and we set out to visit some of the villages in the north and will also get to visit a farmhouse to experience their rural life. Our camp tonight is where the trek begins. The trekking crew awaits us at the camp and a cultural night can be arranged on request to interact with the villagers next to our camp. The camp ground is set at Yangtong on a raised meadow next to the Haa Chhu (River) where there is a chorten (Stupa) and a flag hoisted in honor of the local protecting deity namely “The Powerful Chhundu”.
Camp at Yatong Meadow.
Day Two (Trek and Tented Camp)
Camp: Yangtong to Balakha Meadow Altitude: 9,400 Ft
Distance: 9.2 Kms Approx Time: 6-7 Hours
Today, after breakfast we begin our trek following the Haa Planters trail towards Paro. Our first portion of the hike is to Yangtong Gompa Village which is set up on a hill top right above our camp. The big temple surrounded by about 14 houses is about 300 years old. The temple is dedicated to Guru Rimpochey (The Patron Saint of Bhutan) and its eight manifestations (Guru Tshengye). We are allowed to visit the temple where we will make small offerings and pray for our ongoing journey. From there, one can have a panoramic picturesque view of the Haa valley and the three sacred hills.
Next, we walk horizontally through the pine groove to catch our main trail that goes through and nearby the beautiful villages of Talung. There are three main villages in this Talung region namely “Tshenka Gom”, “Tshenka Wom”, and “Langlo,” that collectively comprise of about eighty households. The last village that the trekkers encounter today is the Tshenka Gom (The upper Tshenka village) at 9650 Ft. There are plenty of farm lands fenced with piled stones to keep away deer and wild boars from destroying their crops like wheat, potatoes and buckwheat etc. Depending on the season it is possible to see many farmers at work. After passing this village, we hit the Yak trail and hike through numerous meadows and go across a wooden bridge by the name Chagdo Zam (Iron Bridge). Why this name, when it is just a wooden bridge? Well, the locals claim that the 14th Century Saint Thangthong Gyelpo (The man who introduced and built iron bridges all over Bhutan) originally built the bridge. Not only this, you will encounter a rock with twin eyes and distorted mouth in the Khadey Wom Meadow as we get closer to our camp. This rock is the Nyela Doem (The Nyela Demon) subdued by the Saint Thangthong Gyelpo using the Sword of Ignorance (Raydee) by slashing it through the demon mouth and turned her into a rock with his magical powers. Ever since, the travelers using this ancient trail traveled in peace without any harm from this ferocious demon. Watch out for Yaks and Yak herders around here if you are trekking during the late fall and early spring.
We hike over the Sagala Pass at 12200 Ft. The hike after lunch is gradual for about one and half-hour through various meadows and coniferous forest. Then the uphill climb begins for approximately two hours till we reach the pass. It is customary to take a gift for the pass, either pick a rock or break a twig from above the trail to pile it on the mini stupa (Chorten) formed by thousands of ancient travelers who did the same. Once at the pass, shout “Lhagyelo” meaning “May the God always win over evil,” and you will be blessed. On a clear day, there is absolutely gorgeous view on both sides of the valley. View towards Paro includes the Sacred mount Chomolhari, the Drageygang, the Drugyel Dzong and the sacred Taktsang Monastery (The Tigers Den). We usually serve lunch here if the weather is good. After lunch, our journey is downhill, beware of the small stone gravel on the trail. A good two hours downhill hike through mixed conifer forests and rhododendrons will bring you to the camp in an open meadow surrounded with taller Fir-trees (Abies Densa). To the left of the camp is the black Chosho La (Mountain from where the lake has escaped).
The last part of the hike today is steep going downhill for about an hour and half till we reach the Genchu Zam (Bridge). The hike is through thick vegetation with lots of bird habitats. Birds like variety of laughing thrushes, Magpies, Nutcrackers and Pheasants are commonly seen around here. There is also a beautiful small village comprised of about 8 households and a common temple on the left side of the trail. This is the village of Chodeyphu set picturesquely at the base of the mount Laump Bjara (Foggy Mountain inhabited with Mountain Goats).
Today, we camp in a beautiful meadow before Balakha.
Balakha to Paro This morning, after a leisurely morning our vehicle and driver will greet us after an hours hike. Drive to Paro to our hotel for a morning check in to freshen up before embarking on sightseeing or relax till lunch.
(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.)