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Dagala 1000 Lakes Trek

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Bhutan 12 days
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1000 Lakes Trek

12-day trip, including a 6-day trek.

The Dagala Trek, also known as the 1000 Lakes Trek, will take us off the beaten track into a wilderness area known for its mountain views. We may be able to glimpse the high Himalayan peaks of Bhutan and Sikkim. This area is known for its beautiful alpine lakes and some of Bhutan’s most beautiful birds can be seen here.

The Dagala Trek is a relatively easy one as the walking times each day are quite short - but this is the Himalayas so expect some steep ascents and descents! After completing our trek we will travel further east to visit a number of significant cultural sights in the capital Thimphu and the former capital Punakha. The trip will also include a walk to the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery.

Dochula

Location : Bhutan

The Dochula is one of Bhutan's many scenic high passes. This one in particular is pretty spectacular as it has 108 chortens built on a small hill. The chortens were bulit by the queen mother in honour of Bhutanese soldiers killed during skirmishes on the Indian border. If the weather is clear you can see a chain of mountains, the Eastern Himalayas.

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Khamsum Yueley Namgyel Chorten

Location : Khamsum Yul-le Namgyal Chorten, Khamsum Nyenzergang Chorten, Bhutan

This chorten (stupa) was built in 2004 by HM the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck.

About a hour's walk uphill from the footbridge in Yepaisa Village, worth every step.

It was built with the intention of bringing peace in the world in general, and to clear obstacles for the country of Bhutan in particular.

Source: Wikipedia

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Pristine alpine scenery

Life's pretty good on top of the world. Experience stunning Himalayan views.

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Punakha Dzong

Location : Eastern states

Punakha dzong was the second of Bhutan’s dzong. For many years, until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the government

The stonework and the woodwork on dzongs and palaces are magnificent. The contrast between the whitewashed walls and the intricate and painted woodwork of the upper floors demonstrates a great sense of aesthetic and the pitched roofs give to the structure an impression of lightness, which is a hallmark of Bhutanese architecture.

Dzongs are fortresses, which in each valley house the administrative and religious powers. They are white washed structures with tampered walls made of stones. A stone paved courtyard is enclosed on all sides by two-storey high buildings forming a rectangle (shagkhor). In the middle of the courtyard stands the main tower (Utse) usually three to four storeys high, which contains the temples. The windows, very narrow at the bottom of the buildings, become larger in the upper storeys. Dzongs as they are known today date from the unification of the country in the 17th century.

The palaces are found mostly in central Bhutan and date from the early 20th century. The noble families of the area built them. Although the Dzong inspires their layout, the structure is less imposing and the number of large windows makes the palaces more pleasant places to live.

Source: Bhutan Cultural Atlas

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Takstang Monastery

Location : Taktsang Monastery, Taktsang Trail, Bhutan

Also known as the "Tiger's Nest Monastery". The most famous site in Bhutan.

Photo Source: Richard Hopkins

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Chimi Lhakhang

Take the short hike to Chimi Lhakhang, known as the temple of the Divine Madman, built in honor of Drukpa Kunley, one of Bhutan's most revered saints.

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Day 1: Paro

DAY 1

Location : Paro, Bhutan

Your guide and driver for the trip will meet you at Paro airport after a wonderful scenic flight into
Bhutan. We will check into our hotel before heading out to explore the beautiful Paro
Valley.

The Paro dzong dominates the valley and we will explore the inner courtyards and temple of this incredible structure. Dzongs were originally fortresses with impressive, strategic locations that were able to spot an invading army. They usually have a Buddhist temple as part of their complex, decorated with ornate traditional paintings, statues and silk hangings. The nearby Paro museum is also worth a look for its displays of traditional
crafts and a room dedicated to the flora and fauna of Bhutan.

Overnight in Paro. Altitude: 2,280 metres.

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Day 2: Tiger’s Nest Monastery

DAY 2

Location : Taktsang trail BT, Taktsang trail, Bhutan

Today will give us a taste of walking at altitude and prepare us for our trek as we hike to
the Tiger’s Nest monastery.

The walk begins at 2300 meters on the outskirts of Paro and reaches 3100 meters at the site of the monastery. The view of this wonderful monastery, clinging to the side of a cliff is simply breathtaking.

Travelers from across the world come to see the Tiger’s Nest, also known as Takstang to the Bhutanese, who are also expected to make the pilgrimage at least once during their lifetime. The hike will take
about 5 hours to complete.

Tonight we will sort out our gear for tomorrow’s trek.

Driving time: 1 hour round trip

Overnight in Paro. Altitude: 2,280 metres.

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Day 3: Gynekha to Gur

DAY 3

Distance – 7 km
Time – 5 hours
Ascent – 550 m, descent 210 m
Camp altitude – 3,290 m

Today begins with a drive to the start of the trek, where we will meet our horsemen and all the gear will be loaded on to the horses. The trek starts at beautiful Gynekha village and begins with a short descent to the river. After crossing the river you start climbing until you reach a huge rock platform from where you have a picturesque view of the valley below. After another two hours, you reach Gur, an area of yak pastures located just below the main trail.

Driving time: 1 hour

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Day 4: Gur to Labatama

DAY 4

Distance – 12 km
Time – 5 hours
Ascent – 1,220 m, descent 110 m
Camp altitude – 4,300 m

On the second day, the trail takes you across the high ridges from where you can truly appreciate the rugged beauty of your surroundings and the mountain vegetation. The path winds through refreshing meadows adorned with wild flowers and asparagus (in spring). The first mountain pass you cross is marked by a huge cairn and gives a spectacular view of Kanjenjunga (Sikkim) and a number of the Bhutanese Himalayan peaks.

As you descend the pass you will be able to see the entirety of the Dagala mountain range including meadows and yak herder camps. Once you have descended into the Labatama valley you begin climbing gradually through the valley, passing several yak herder huts before you arrive at Uthso Tsho. The campsite is right next to the lake.

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Day 5: Labatama

DAY 5

This day will be dedicated to relaxing and recuperating at Labatama. It is ideal to take an
excursion to any of three nearby lakes: Reli Tsho, Hen Tsho and Jama Tsho.

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Day 6: Labatama to Panka

DAY 6

Location : Panka, Bhutan

Distance – 8 km
Time – 6 -7 hours
Ascent – 260 m, descent 520 m
Camp altitude – 4,000 m


The trail climbs along the western side of Dala Tsho up to a saddle at 4,520m. From here
onwards you will have a fantastic view of the majestic Himalayan peaks all through the descent.
The mountain peaks visible include Mt. Everest (Nepal), Mt. Kanchenjunga (Sikkim), Mt.
Jomolhari, Mt. Jichu Drake, Mt. Tshering Gang, Mt. Khangbum, Mt. Masang Gang, Mt. Tsende Gang
and Mt. Gangche Ta. If you want an even better view, you can climb a peak close to the saddle
with an altitude of 4,720m. From the saddle the path descends, passing some yak herder huts to
Doccha Chhu. You follow the river for a while, but stay higher up on the slope to reach Panka with
ascents and descents along the way.

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Day 7: Panka to Talakha

DAY 7

Location : Talakha Gonpa, Bhutan

Distance – 8 km
Time – 5-6 hours
Ascent – 180 m, descent 110 m
Camp altitude – 3,080 m

This day entails the crossing of several passes but none of them require a major climb. You
should keep an eye out for mountain birds while in this area. After crossing the last pass, Tale La
(4,180m) you start a long descent to Talakha Gompa. You will camp right beside the monastery
and wake up to the early morning prayers of the monks. From here you will be treated to a great
view of Bhutan’s capital Thimphu.

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Day 8: Talakha to Chamgang

DAY 8

Location : Chamgang, Bhutan

Distance – 6 km
Time – 3 hours
Ascent – descent 440 m


From the monastery, it’s a short walk down to the village of Chamgang. Our driver will meet us
here and transfer us to our hotel in Thimphu. After hot showers and lunch, we will explore this
tiny capital city. There are a number of things to see: the National Memorial Chorten, the 51-metre
high Buddha Dordenma statue, Tashichho Dzong, the Tarkin Preserve and the National Folk
Heritage Museum. As it is a Sunday we can also expect to see the national sport of archery being
played. The large market will be on and is a good place to meet some locals.
Driving time: 30 minutes

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Day 9: Punakha

DAY 9

Location : Punakha, Bhutan

Today we will drive to the semi tropical valley at Punakha.

En route we will stop at Dochula, a high pass at 3,100 m and the site of 108 chortens. It is a stunning location with lovely mountain views and a walk on the hill among the chortens is recommended.

Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and seat of government until 1955 and its altitude of 1,200 m makes for balmier weather than elsewhere in Bhutan. Punakha Dzong, situated on the confluence of two rivers is considered one of the most important and beautiful in the country. The afternoon will be spent exploring this impressive dzong and the nearby Punakha suspension bridge, the longest in Bhutan.

Driving time: 3 hours

Overnight in Punakha. Altitude: 1,250 metres.

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Day 10: Hiking in Punakha

DAY 10

Location : Punakha, Bhutan

Today we will do a couple of short hikes in Punakha.

The first takes us through the rice paddies to Chime Lhakhang, the temple of the divine madman, Drukpa Kunley, who used unorthodox methods to teach Buddhism. It is common to see phalluses painted on the walls of local houses here, a sign of good luck. Childless couples visit the Chimi Lhakhang to seek blessings and the temple has a photo album of babies born as a result.

We will also hike to Khasum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, one of the most beautiful walks in Bhutan.
The trail ascends through rice paddies with lovely views of the valley and river. The chorten itself
is pagoda-like in style, with a number of floors, including a rooftop with more impressive views.

Overnight in Punakha. Altitude: 1,250 metres.


 

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Day 11: Lungchu Tsey Pilgrimage

DAY 11

Location : Thimphu, Bhutan

Today we will be driving back to Paro but we will stop just before the Dochula to do a wonderful hike known as the Lungchu Tsey Pilgrimage. This 3½ hour walk takes us to a small monastery overlooking the valley. The walk itself is through lovely forest of pine, rhododendron and daphne, strewn with colourful prayer flags.

Driving time: 4½ hours

Overnight in Paro. Altitude: 2,280 metres.

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Day 12: Returning Home

DAY 12

Today we will be transported to the airport where we will say our goodbyes to our guide and driver. The airport has a couple of cafes and a small but well stocked bookshop with books on all things Bhutanese. It's a good way to use up your last Ngultrums.

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