Bumthang Owl Trek Overview
Bumthang Owl Trekking is a newly opened trekking destination in Bhutan. You will be exploring and experiencing the culture & nature of the central Bumthang region of Bhutan. Further, the trekking route of Bumthang owl trek offers a lifetime experience.
It allows you to explore village settlements and the sacred sites of monasteries. Besides that, you will be passing through rich flora and fauna region Additionally, you will get the best views of breathtaking valleys and surrounding high peaks. The highest unclimbed mountain in the world – Mt. Gangkhar Puensum, is also viewed during this trek. We have to take a flight to Paro, Bhutan, at the beginning of the trip. From Paro, we drive to Bumthang. The hooting of owls at night is quite usual in this region. Also, this is how the trek got its name as ‘The Owl Trek’. Moreover, it is an adventurous trek with the opportunity to the rural/village life in an excellent village-like Dhur.
Bumthang Owl Trekking is not only a trekking trip. You have to trek for only 3 days long plus, as per your requirement and convenience, you can make possible changes to your itinerary. It includes a splendid walk through the undisturbed temperature forest. It is an alluring forest of blue pine, hemlock, juniper, fir, and spruce with undergrowth of bamboo spices, rhododendrons, chestnut, birch, maple, and many others. Also, we can observe different species of birds en route. And the big Monal pheasants among various birds can be encountered around the second day and the Tharpaling area (morning and evening).
Besides that, the valley scenes and the Himalayan snow-capped mountains in the north give you lifetime memories. Enjoy the natural beauty and picturesque scenic Bhutan with Bumthang Owl Trek. You will experience an amazing monastery life in Tharpaling, Choedak, and Shambala. Overall you will have one of the best experiences in Bhutan with the Bumthang Owl Trek.
Our Bumthang Owl trek begins with a scenic flight to Paro. This flight offers magnificent views of the Himalayas. Further, the flight to Paro gives an astounding view of the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest (8,848.86m/29,031ft). Moreover, landing in the Paro Valley is a perfect entry into the world of Bhutan. You can feel its pure air and a sense of serenity. Besides that, you can witness the fields of green and brown covering most of the valley floor. Here, you can also see hamlets and isolated farms dot the landscape.
After some refreshments, we will begin our Paro sightseeing tour. Our sightseeing trip starts with a visit to Paro Dzong. Paro Dzong is the Fortress of a Heap of Jewels. So, the full name of Paro Dzong is Rinpung Dzong. It is one of the finest models of traditional Bhutanese architecture. This structure is a large dzong- a Buddhist monastery and fortress.
Paro Dzong is also listed as a tentative site in Bhutan's Tentative List for UNESCO formation. Further, resting beyond Paro Dzong is its watchtower renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. It is an unusual round building, built in the shape of a conch shell. Also, its displays include an inspiring combination of ancient and modern thangkas (Buddhist paintings) as well as fearsome festival masks. Besides that, we will also visit the Kyichu Monastery, via the Drugyel Dzong ruins.
Kyichu Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. After exploring these astounding sites of Paro, we head back to the hotel. But, on our way back, you'll cross Nyamai-Zam. Nyamai-Zam is a traditional wooden covered bridge that spans the Paro River. We will spend the first night of the Bumthang Owl trek in Paro.
After breakfast, we will hike to one of Bhutan’s most revered pilgrimage sites, the Taktshang Lhakhang. Taktshang Lhakhang is popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. We can also drive (around 25 minutes) to this site. The trek offers panoramic views of this sacred monastery resting precariously on a steep rock face. The hike from the base to the cafeteria will take at least 90 minutes along well-maintained trails. We will stop here for a rest. It is about another hour's trek from here.
We trek through the charming landscape to reach the monastery, which clings to a vertical rocky cliff. And it is nearly 900 m/3,000 ft above the valley floor. Moreover, Tiger's Nest is a holy Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site. It is because Taktsang Palphug Monastery is one of the thirteen Tiger's Nest caves in historical Tibet in which Padmasambhava practiced and developed Vajrayana.
The legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, father of Mahayana Buddhism, came to the Paro Valley more than a millennium before on the back of a tigress. He meditated for three months in this cave. After a spiritual visit to the sacred Taktsang Palphug Monastery, we hike down. On our return, we will again stop at the cafeteria for lunch. Then we descend to the base of Ramthanka. So, the return hike needs around two hours. In the evening, you can relax in a traditional hot stone bath. We will spend another evening in Paro.
Today, we are leaving Paro and driving to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. The trail to Thimphu follows the Pachu River. We will reach Thimphu after around 2hours drive. Thimphu was once a rustic village sitting in a broad of fertile river valley. Thimphu is a beautiful town made up of just three lines of shops. Besides that, Thimphu is also the only capital in the world without traffic lights.
After reaching Thimphu, we will have some rest. We walk then around the National Memorial Chorten. It was built in 1974 in honor of the late King. Additionally, this was a temple initiated by the Third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck as a protection from the negative elements of modernization, further as a monument to world peace.
But it was completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial Stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. The Memorial Chorten is an awe-inspiring monument with its golden spires shining in the sun, its bell tinkling in the wind, and a continuous procession of elderly people surrounding it. Other than that, we will visit Zilukha Nunnery.
Here the nuns meditate and practice Buddhism. We will further visit the Folk Heritage Museum. This museum is committed to joining people to the Bhutanese rural history through the exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households. We will move toward the Textile Museum. Here, the art of traditional weaving is still kept alive and protected through exhibitions and has a good collection of old textiles.
They are rich in colors and design. We can also visit the Handicrafts Emporium. All types of Bhutanese handicrafts are made and sold here. We will stay overnight in Thimphu.
Today, we will leave Thimphu. We are heading into the countryside towards the Gangtey Valley. Gangtey is home to the rare black-necked cranes. On the way, our drive first ascends gradually to the Dochula Pass. We will have magnificent views of the Himalayas here. We will stop in at the Dochula Monastery for some time.
From Dochula Monastery, the trail
descends towards Wangduephodrang. It is a vibrant and colorful descending
journey, with waving prayer flags flapping amid terraced farmland and rivers.
Wangdue Phodrang is on the spur of a hill. And this hill is at the confluence
of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. Moreover, Wangduephodrang is the last
town on the highway before joining central Bhutan. Here, we can stop at a
viewpoint, if you want. From this viewpoint, we see the ruins of the Wangdue
Dzong (after being lost by fire, it is being rebuilt).
Continuing our drive, we make our way toward the Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey). Phobjikha is a wide glacial valley with a central stream. The mild sloping hillsides of Phobjikha are defined as 'the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas.' Also, it meanders through thickets of dwarf bamboo. Further, the forest behind the farms is mostly coniferous, and the common vegetation is composed largely of birch, blue pine, maple, and various species of rhododendrons. We will spend our night at Gangtey.
After breakfast, we will drive to Trongsa. Located at an elevation of 2,180 m, Trongsa is the gateway to central Bhutan. The ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family, Trongsa Dzong, commands the eye from miles away. It sets amid spectacular scenery.
Moreover, the drive to Bumthang via Trongsa is about six hours. On the way, we will be crossing over Pelela Pass (3,300 m) and Yotongla Pass (3,400 m).
We then climb firmly, passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass. Here, we will experience an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. Also, this pass has traditionally recognized the boundary between west and east Bhutan. Besides that, you can witness the Himalayan range view if the weather is clear. You can especially see the peak of Jomolhari (7314 m) to the west. On the way, we cross Chendebji Chorten, built many centuries ago to suppress a demon.
Today, we will also be able to visit Ta Dzong. It is the recently opened museum in the watchtower. Setting the Mangde Chu at an elevation of 2,200 m, Trongsa Dzong is the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong is an architectural masterpiece, built-in 1644 by the Zhabdrung. It is dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty. And it tells the tales of the Dzong and the valley, highlighting the personal belongings of the kings and queens of Bhutan. Our drive continues through some of Bhutan’s most idyllic landscapes.
Bumthang is an area of high valleys. Further, it is one of the most historic dzongkhag in Bhutan. Bumthang means a beautiful field. The lush valleys of Bumthang are covered in pastures of rice, buckwheat, and potatoes. Further, some usual sights here are Apple orchards and dairy farms. Also, this idyllic region is one of the most peaceful places in Bhutan. We will stay in a local farmhouse. Here, you will experience a genuine slice of Bhutanese life and hospitality.
Today, we will be doing a Bumthang sightseeing tour. Bumthang is considered the heartland of Buddhism. There are many legendary monasteries, temples, and palaces in Bumthang. Bumthang is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan. We will start our pilgrimage sightseeing tour with a visit to Jambay Lhakhang. Jambay Lhakhang was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. It is believed to be the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion.
Besides that, Jambay Lhakhang is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to defeat evil spirits in the Himalayan region. After Jambay Lhakhang's visit, we will move toward our next site. We will be visiting Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang. Chakhar Lhakhang lies within a short distance from Jambay Temple. We then drive up to the valley to Kurjey Lhakhang. Here, the Kurjey means Body imprint. So, the temple to the right is the oldest in Bhutan.
This temple was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. Also, the temple was built around the cave in which Padmasambhava meditated and left his body imprint. Additionally, we will walk for a few minutes from Kurjey which lead us to Tamshing Lhakhang. On the way, we will cross the small suspension bridge then you will see a temple.
This temple is known as Tamshing Lhendrup Chholing (Temple of the Good Message). Moreover, if we still have some time after visiting all these places, we will visit the Kungzandra Monastery. It is a half-hour hike from the road. It is also one of the places where Padmasabha meditated, as did his disciple Namkha Nyingpo. After a full-day Bumthang sightseeing tour, we will get back to the farmhouse. We will spend another night at Bumthang.
Starting from today, we will be starting our trekking journey. After breakfast, we will begin our trek from Manchungang. We will first visit the biggest village in Bumthang, called Dhur. It lies at an elevation of 2900 m above sea level. This village has three types of inhabitants the Kheps (taxpayers) owning cattle and farmland, Brokpas (nomads) owning Yaks, and a third group having either.
Likewise, Dhur has two different dialects, the common Bumthang Kha and the Brokke (nomadic dialects). Here, we will climb down to the river. We will visit a traditional water-driven flour mill. Also, for the Dhur village people, this traditional water-driven flour mill used to be a source of livelihood. But now, it is abandoned after the input channel was washed away by flashflood.
After exploring this beautiful village, we continue the trek uphill through the blue pine forest and enter the camp at Schonath (3450m) in the hemlock and juniper forest. You will continuously hear the sounds of insects. Other than that, the hauling of owls through the night is quite common here. So, this is why the name of the trek is Owl Trek. We will spend a night at Schonath.
Our second-day trekking journey starts after breakfast. Today, we will walk through the thick forest of immense temperate trees like spruce, birch, hemlock, fir, soak, etc. If you are trekking during April and May, you will see various species of rhododendron blooming. It also makes you breathe the real wilderness of Bhutan. Further, we will be walking through shrub bamboo.
It is the main undergrowth in these wild forests. We will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m), after around two hours of walking. From here, we further ascend and reach the campsite, Kitiphu ridge. We can enjoy panoramic views of the snowcapped mountains and valleys underneath from this point. Other than that, you will capture the stunning views of Mt. Gangkar Phuensum (7541m). It is the highest unclimbed peak in the world. We will spend a night at Kitiphu.
Today, we will finish the final day trekking journey in 12 days Bumthang Owl trek. After breakfast, we will be leaving Kitiphu. Our trail first descends towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak, and then Tharpaling. Among these three monasteries, the Chuedak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads).
In this monastery, you may pray for yourself and all living creatures. We may even stop for a sip of holy water. Likewise, the walk in the afternoon will take you along the ridge of Kikila. We will be following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang.
It is a splendid walk through scenic hills and forests. Also, this trail is known as the Royal Heritage Trail. Our trek will finally end with a grand view of Jakar Dzong. We will spend a night at Bumthang.
After a splendid three days trekking, today we will back to Gangtey. It is around six hours from Bumthang to Gangtey. We get to enjoy a long scenic drive. From Gangtey, we can enjoy the immense views of the remote Phobjikha Valley and The Black Mountains.
While we are in Gangtey, we will visit Gangtey Gompa. It is one of Bhutan’s oldest and most recently renovated monasteries. We will also explore the valley where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. In November of each year, black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in this place, after spending the summer in Tibet. We will spend a night at Gangtey.
After breakfast, we will hike up to the hilltop of Rinchengang. Here, we can learn about its interesting history. Rinchengang is a small village picturesquely settled on a steep ridge near Wangdi.
After visiting Rinchengang, we will drive to Paro. After around 4 hour's drive from Gangtey, we reach Paro. After reaching Paro, we can explore the impressive Paro Dzong. Paro Dzong is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. We will spend our night at Paro.
It is the last day of the Bumthang Owl Trek. After a splendid 12 days in Bhutan, today you will fly back to your homeland. We will transfer you to the Paro International Airport 3 hours before your flight.
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