Trek from Thimphu to Punakha
Strenuous 1st day & moderate 2nd day
This trek is from Thimphu (The current capital of Bhutan) to Punakha (The ancient capital of Bhutan). It is a short four-day trek crossing the Sinchula Pass that separates the two important valleys of Western Bhutan. There is a fair amount of interaction with the villages and the people at the beginning and at the end of the trek. In the olden times, this route was used by the lords, the monk body to move back and forth from Punakha to Thimphu and by the local villagers of Kabjisa. The people of Kabjisa keep two houses, one in Thimphu for the summers and the other in Punakha for the winters. Now days, the villagers seldom use this route but choose to travel by bus.
DAY 1: PANGRI ZAMPA – DUPSHI PANG
Altitude at Start Point: 7440 Ft
Altitude at Destination: 10660 Ft
Distance: 12 Kms
Time taken: 8-9 Hrs (Approximate)
Our first day begins with a car ride till Pangrizampa for about 15 minutes. From here we follow the dirt trail leading to Menchu Karpo (The medicinal soaking stream). Many locals from Thimphu under go traditional hot stone bath next to this stream during the weekends to heal from various diseases. Today we hike through the beautifully set village of Kabjisa. Besides the locals who have lived there for ages, there are also Tibetan refugees who have settled here. We will get an opportunity to visit a Tibetan community school in this village. After 2-3 hours of gradual hike, we reach Debja Gosa set at 9100 Ft from where we start our climb to the camp. The trails from here are deep and narrow with lots of switchbacks cut through the thick vegetation of mixed conifer, bamboo, rhododendron and Daphne trees. After our lunch at Bangla Kayba, a nice clearing meadow surrounded by Hemlock and Juniper trees, we climb to the Sinchula pass 11200ft. The climb is steep at the first part and then is gradual till w get to the top. The pass is marked with a medium size Chorten (Stupa) and lot of prayer flags. In clear weather, there is a magnificent view of the lower villages of Talo, Toebisa and Limukha. It is also possible to view the high snow peaks towards Lunana in the north. We then descend down hill through the mixed coniferous forest vegetation. Today is the best day of the hike with spectacular views of the lower valleys till we reach the camp.
DAY 2: DUPSHIPANG – CHORTEN NYEBU to PUNAKHA
Altitude at Destination: 5300 Ft
Altitude Loss: 2070 Ft
Distance: 11 Kms
Time taken: 7-8 Hrs (Approximate)
The second day of our trek is also down hill through worn trails that are deep that it is almost like going through tunnels at some points. However, this is a perfect day to encounter many lower altitude Rhododendrons and young oaks. One can encounter plenty of birds too. Some of the common birds seen around here are: Grey Backed Shrike, Yellow Billed Blue Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Black Drongo, Common Myna and Green backed Tit and many more. We also walk through a series of cattle grazing grounds but will encounter cattle herders only in summer when they are moving higher after the plantations. Cross a bridge over the Kabji Chhu (River) and we walk parallel through the villages of Dophukha. People in this village are wealthy and have very fertile farmlands. Their main source of income is from selling the red rice during the weekend markets in Punakha. Another 45 minutes hike from here will take us to our campgrounds near Chorten Nyebu (Meaning the Old Chorten – Stupa).
Explore the Chorten Nyebu temple. This temple as the name implies is the oldest temple in the region. It is about 350 years old. The main statue in the temple is the future Buddha. The sacredness is considered similar to that of the Jow statue in the Lhasa Jokhang in Tibet. On the 10th Day of the eight month of the Bhutanese calendar, the locals and many more from the lower valleys gather here to undergo a Tsechu – prayer ceremony in the honor of the Buddha and the Guru Rimpochey. After visiting the temple. We hike down hill through the Kabjisa Primary School that is founded about 10 years ago built in the middle of the village houses. Hike down hill for another hour and we will reach the motor road point where our driver will greet us. Drive to Punakha that will take us about 45 minutes. Night – Hotel AccommodationNOTE: 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.