Bhutan trekking: Druk Path experience and helpful tips

Category: Bhutan, Company News & Guest Stories

As the smallest state in Asia to be located entirely within the Himalaya mountain range, Bhutan is always an attractive destination on one's to-do list for its unspoiled environment, people who guard its culture ferociously, devout religious life, and much more.

For a tour to Bhutan, trekking is considered as a complete wilderness experience yet the best way to encounter its well-conserved pristine natural environment. Don Li, one of our outstanding travel consultants at Odynovo, has recently done research on the Druk Path Trek, which is considered as one of the most popular treks in Bhutan. Let's see how he had his wonderful experience.

As it's known that it is a government regulation you must use a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners like us Odynovo Tours. And you have to pay a minimum daily package of USD $200 (or $250 depends on the season you visit) per person per night which covers the accommodation, meals, transport with a driver, well-trained guide, and other essential services. For those who are hesitating about the cost, my colleague Don suggested, "Forget the price and see it as the entrance fee into a world where people still walk around in traditional clothing, live in intricately carved houses and nature is sublime with a monastery or stupa found on every corner." You can find more Bhutan travel requirements from my other article: How Does Bhutan Turn Its Strict Travel Requirements into Attractive Merits?

Don then firstly mentioned the fight to Paro, where the sole international airport in Bhutan is located. Being a mix surrounding of high altitude, high mountains around and visual approach, Paro airport is one of the toughest airports for pilots to land in the world. This really makes the fly to Paro an exciting one but, worthwhile at the same time because you could see the fabulous Himalayan views outside the window from the plane. "But my landing was very smooth, without any bumping. First sight at Paro airport was amazing though only one lane", Don said. Right after he went out of the airport, our Bhutanese Odynovo guide and driver were waiting for him with the familiar flag of Odynovo Tours.

A Drukair aircraft landed on Paro airport safelyA Drukair aircraft landed on Paro airport safely.

Early the next day, Don and his accompany team started trekking from the national museum in Paro. The whole trekking tour generally needs 5 days 4 nights along the whole way, with an altitude ranging from 2,400 to 4,200 meters. But Don was amazed about our local trekking specialist, " Our guide said he is able to complete it in only 2 days. It is so incredible but I think it is true because all of Bhutanese are professional mountaineers as their bodies are so strong to accommodate the high altitude." Our guide told Don that besides the wonderful views on the way, the Druk Path Trek is also a fairly easy hike to undertake as the distances between rest camps are fairly short. In addition, there is less chance of getting altitude sickness as the altitude increases quite gradually. You may wonder who the accompany team members are. As for a trekking tour, you'll be accompanied by a support team consisting of the trek chef, local horseman, an experienced guide and the porter. And of course several horses carrying all the bamboo baskets filled with all the essential goods for the whole trekking and camping trip which can be a very long list: tents, sleeping bags, waterproof mats, woolen blanket, dinnerware, all kinds of food, drinking water, drinks, gas tank, hurricane lamp, flashlight, table and chairs, kitchenware, anything necessary to accommodate in quiet wilderness.

a horse got loaded with trekking goodsA horse got loaded with trekking goods.

Birdview of Paro from the beginning of the trekking tourBird-view of Paro from the beginning of the trekking tour.

During the followed few days, they went through mountain roads among wild forests, folk houses, farmlands and apple gardens dot on the hillside. They saw pines and firs, unknown flowers, sometimes a bird fly away like a fairy. And Don was truly amazed by the famous Jili Dzong, leisurely Yak herders, the giant sized trout in Jimgelang Tsho Lake, and my colleague even got the holy luck of beautiful sunny weather to see the spectacular view of Mount Gangkar Puensum, which is the highest mountain in Bhutan. The wild quietness is another thing that made Don's trekking trip an extraordinary one, "It was so tranquil that I did not even hear a tweet. No noise at all brought me the illusion I was walking in a totally different world. It looks like a fairyland that no other people had invaded ever."

The whole trekking crew walking on mountain roadThe whole trekking crew walking on a mountain road.

A bit of views on the trekking wayA bit of view on the trekking way.

Don was also satisfied with the meals served on the way. "A picnic lunch was always served at a pleasant and scenic place. It was kept in a thermal pot to keep warm, usually consists of rice, mushroom soup, fried chicken, cheese and chili. Breakfasts were also fantastic, much more than I expected. Egg omelet, milk, juice, bread, sauce, all piled up on the table." "All cooking and cleaning chores are taken care of by my trek staff so I can enjoy the trek fully." Don really appreciated our Bhutanese Odynovo staff.

Yummy breakfast prepared by our Odyssey trek chefYummy breakfast prepared by our Odynovo trek chef.

To camp in the wild especially on high altitude, mountains is not an easy thing until you're well taken care of. "Horses, horseman, and chef always speed up to the camping site to pitches camp, and prepare everything needed before I arrive", said Don, "It looked like heaven when I put my first sight on our camps after a long time trekking. And I felt even more like being a VIP after I was served a cup of black tea and cookies." Generally, the camping site is divided into sleeping tents, kitchen tent, restroom tent, and dining tent. Yes but no tent for shower or bath. Those who want a warm shower have to wait until the arrival at Thimphu.

Odyssey stuff get tents ready before our client reach the campsiteOdynovo stuff gets tents ready before our clients reach the campsite.

After 5 days sweatful but truly worthwhile trekking among the mountains, Don arrived at Thimphu finally with numerous great memories and huge appreciations to his trek staff. "I enjoyed the time with my guide and other people very much. They were always smiling to provide service, willing to give me options if I need help. Their simplicity and purity made me relax. Their excellent work treated me like a VIP client but did not lower themselves as insignificant workers. And I’m absolutely sure that they will deliver the same and higher standard service to all our Odynovo clients as well.  " 

Here is how Druk Path Trek day-by-day looks like:

DAY 1: Paro to Jele Dzong past Damchena village

10KM | 4-5 HOURS | 1003M ASCENT | 10M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3480M

DAY 2: Jele Dzong to Jangchulakha

10KM | 4 HOURS | 300M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 3780M

DAY 3: Jangchulakha to Jimilangtsho Lake

11KM | 4-5 HOURS | 400M ASCENT | 300M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3880M

DAY 4: Jimilangtsho via Janetsho Lake to Simkota

11KM | 4 HOURS | 270ASCENT | CAMP ALT 4110M

DAY 5: Simkota via Phajodhing to Thimphu city

14KM | 7 HOURS | 100M ASCENT | 1800M DESCENT

Apart from sharing the experience, Don and our Bhutanese tour guide also want to deliver a little more information about a trekking tour in Bhutan.

 

The best time to trek in Bhutan

Late September to mid-November is generally recognized as the best trekking season in Bhutan, while March to April is considered as the same. But due to its special climate, the day temperature is warm while the night temperature can go from 20 degree Celsius to minus 10 degree Celsius in high altitude areas.

 

Preparation before trekking

Previous experience is not mandatory but some training and preparation would help a lot to build stamina and confidence of trekking and camping in the wild. Participants should start jogging, cycling and some hill hiking etc about a couple of months ahead of the trip. And if you are buying new boots for the trek, please do wear them to get used to your feet.

 

Essentials items/Not to forget

Other than the necessities prepared by our people, you'd better bring the following goods if you are a trekking beginner like my colleague Don.

  • Down Jacket 
  • Quick-dry clothes 
  • Mountain Trekking Boots 
  • Backpack 
  • Sun Hat 
  • Cotton socks 
  • Trekking Pole 
  • Sun cream 
  • Toilet requisites 
  • Torch lights

May you find this article helpful, share to help with your friends and others for a better trip to Bhutan, and feel free to contact us at for any further questions about Bhutan tours.

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