Bhutan trekking: Druk Path experience and helpful tips
As the smallest state in Asia to be located entirely within the Himalayan 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 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 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. You have to pay a minimum daily package of USD $200 (or $250 depending on the season you visit) per person per night, which covers accommodation, meals, transport with a driver, a 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 in my other article: How Does Bhutan Turn Its Strict Travel Requirements into Attractive Merits?
Don then first mentioned the fight to Paro, where the sole international airport in Bhutan is located. Being a mix surrounding of high altitude, high mountains, and visual approach, Paro airport is one of the toughest airports for pilots to land in the world. This really makes the flight 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.
Early the next day, Don and his accompanying team started trekking from the national museum in Paro. The whole trekking tour generally needs 5 days and 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 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 the 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 accompanying team members are. As for a trekking tour, you'll be accompanied by a support team consisting of the trek chef, a 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 blankets, dinnerware, all kinds of food, drinking water, drinks, gas tank, hurricane lamp, flashlight, table and chairs, kitchenware, anything necessary to accommodate in a quiet wilderness.
The National Museum in Paro
During the following few days, they went through mountain roads among wild forests, folk houses, farmlands, and apple gardens dotting the hillside. They saw pines and firs, unknown flowers, and 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."
Trekking in the Forest
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 consisting 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.
To camp in the wild, especially on high-altitude mountains, is not an easy thing until you're well taken care of. "Horses, horsemen, and the chef always speed up to the camping site to pitch 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 tents, restroom tents, and dining tents. Yes, but no tent for a shower or bath. Those who want a warm shower have to wait until the arrival at Thimphu.
Horses & Horsemen
After 5 days of sweaty but truly worthwhile trekking among the mountains, Don arrived at Thimphu with numerous great memories and a huge appreciation for his trek staff. "I enjoyed the time with my guide and other people very much. They were always smiling to provide service and willing to give me options if I needed 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 of service to all our Odynovo clients as well. "
Here is what the 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 degrees Celsius to minus 10 degrees 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 for trekking and camping in the wild. Participants should start jogging, cycling, some hill hiking, etc., about a couple of months ahead of the trip. And if you are buying new boots for the trek, please wear them to get used to your feet.
Essential 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
- Sun Hat
- Cotton socks
- Trekking Pole
- Sun cream
- Toilet requisites
- Torch lights
May you find this article helpful, share it with your friends and others for a better trip to Bhutan, and feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further questions about Bhutan tours.
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