punakha dzong bhutan

Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

The 17th century Punakha Dzong is an architectural wonder, dramatically situated at the confluence of two rivers.

Photo by Sean Morrissey

display information about this photo

Trekking in Bhutan: Sacred Lakes and Hidden Valleys

High Trails of the Haa Region
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 14 days
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 4 nights deluxe hotels, 3 nights lodges, 6 nights full-service camping
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 7-day trek on steep trails, 6-8 hours a day, altitudes between 8,500-14,700 feet
5p

Highlights

  • Trek through ancient rhododendron forests to sacred Lake Tsonapatta
  • Witness a traditional Tsechu celebration in Haa town
  • Hike to Taktsang, the famous cliffside “Tiger’s Nest”
  • Enjoy the amenities of two deluxe Bhutanese hotels: the Zhiwa Ling in Paro and Taj Tashi in Thimphu

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Gold-roofed monasteries, emerald valleys, snow-capped Himalayan peaks, striking traditional architecture, deep rustling forests—Bhutan’s landscape is simply ethereal, and nowhere more so than in the beautiful Haa Valley, a pastoral realm flanked by forested mountains dotted with exquisite 17th century temples and monasteries. Our 7-day trek in the Haa region brings us along a spectacular ridgetop trail through ancient rhododendron and pine forests to sacred Tsonapatta, a mystical lake at 13,700 feet. Views stretch north into the vastness of Tibet and to five-summited Kanchenjunga (28,208'), third highest mountain in the world. Before the trek, we witness a traditional Buddhist celebration in the small town of Haa and visit the lovely town of Paro for a hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, “the Tiger’s Nest.”

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Paro, Bhutan

Arrive in Paro (7,500'), where our activities include a hike through pine forests to Taktsang Monastery, built into a sheer cliff face 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley. Overnights are at the serene Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a deluxe tribute to Bhutan’s traditional architecture.

Days 3-4
Haa Valley / Haa Festival

In the mountain-ringed Haa Valley, first opened to outsiders in 2001, we see examples of Bhutan’s traditional architecture, one of the country’s unique cultural treasures. Even the most remote village farmhouses are hand-crafted using the same ancient methods used to create Bhutan’s religious fortress-dzongs. We witness the activities of the Haa Festival and hike up to the beautiful 17th century Jamtey Gompa (10,500'). Overnights at the simple but comfortable Rigsum Lodge.

Days 5-11
Haa Trek

With our Bhutanese camp staff and pack ponies, we climb up through forests of dwarf bamboo and towering rhododendrons, cross the Tsabjo La (13,475'), and continue along mystical paths through high pastures where shaggy yaks graze. Crossing the Tsejey La (14,700'), we reach our camp near the holy lake of Nub Tsonapatta at 13,700 feet. Our descent from the lake back to Haa town brings us beautiful views of snow-capped Mt. Chomolhari (23,997'), Bhutan’s “divine” peak, and Mt. Jitchu Drake (22,470'), with its spectacular pyramid-shaped peak.

Days 12-14
Thimphu / Paro

In Bhutan’s bucolic capital, our explorations include the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the Folk Heritage Museum, and Bhutan’s school for traditional arts. Overnights are at the deluxe Taj Tashi. Depart via Paro on Day 14.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 5+, Strenuous. Our typical trekking days are six to eight hours of hiking with a restful stop for a picnic lunch prepared by our staff. Bhutanese ponies carry our gear, leaving us free to hike with just a daypack. Most of the hiking is at around 13,000 feet, with three passes over 14,000 feet (the highest pass is 14,240 feet, when we cross the Tsejey La on Day 6). Our campsite elevations range from 11,600 feet to 13,700 feet.

For the most part, you can hike at your own speed; the group will spread out along the trail during the day to cover about 6 to 10 miles per day (4-8 hours of hiking). There are significant elevation gains and losses each day, often 2,000 to 3,000 feet, as our trail contours up and down steep hillsides. Trip members carry only a daypack for jacket, water bottle, camera, and whatever you like to have with you on the trail. Pack animals carry our camping equipment, and a camp cook prepares all meals. On trek, we use Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 tents. We recommend that you get in top physical shape for the trip. Daily brisk walking, regular hiking, or using a stair-climbing machine at your gym are excellent preparatory exercises. You should wear sturdy, well-broken-in hiking boots for maximum comfort on the trail.

The typical trekking day begins shortly after 6 a.m. with “bed tea” and warm washing water brought to each tent. We are served a light breakfast while the camp crew packs our gear. We begin walking by 7 to 8 a.m., stopping around 11 a.m. for lunch and a good rest. Our afternoon walk begins around 1 p.m.; we arrive at camp by tea time (about 4:30 p.m.). Dinner is served around 6:30 p.m.

Explanation of Trip Levels

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Burma

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2

Myanmar

Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2

Thailand

wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2