Bumthang ­ festival and trek

A 12 day trek and tour in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan. The kingdom is located in the eastern end of the Himalayan mountain chain bordered on the north by Tibet and on the south by India. While it is only one third the size of Nepal, it's population is less than a million. The Bhutanese are proud of their pristine countryside, heavily forested with pine and their valleys dotted with small Swiss-like farmhouses. Villages are dominated by enormous Dzongs (monasteries) which are used as education centres as well as regional administrative offices.

Following an exciting bus tour across the mountain ranges of central Bhutan we reach the bucolic valley of Bumthang and the site of the Jambay Lhakhang Drup festival. We have 2 days to enjoy this locally popular Teschu religious festival with beautifully costumed dancers performing age-old legends of Bhutanese culture. We then stretch our legs for a 3 day, 22 mile trek to the peaceful Tang valley in the care of our local guides and horsemen.

Foreign travel is restricted to minimize impact on both the local culture and environment. There are less than 7,000 visitors to Bhutan each year prompting travellers to greet one another in passing! Bhutanese men are required to wear the gho (the national dress which resembles our bathrobe), women the kira. Night life is non-existent and the national sport is archery. The king is highly respected. One road, 1 1/2 cars wide, links the country east to west.

Bhutan is reached from Bangkok via Druk Air, the Bhutanese national airline.

Recommended reading
* BHUTAN - Odyssey series * BHUTAN - Insight Guide
* BHUTAN - Lonely Planet * SO CLOSE TO HEAVEN - Barbara Crossette
* BEYOND the SKY and the EARTH - Jamie Zeppa

Arrive Paro 17 October ­ depart 30 October, 2005

Land Price: $3,200US

Land Price includes: Druk Air service Bangkok to Paro (Bhutan), expert Bhutanese guide throughout visit, bus transport, lodges/hotels in Bhutan, entry to Bumthang festival, tent, food on trek, porters, trek duffle bag and airport transfers. Pricing is based on double occupancy for groups of 3 or more. Single supplement charge - $25US/night

Not included: Bhutan visa ($20US), departure tax, sleeping bag or air mattress.

Bumthang festival / trek
Day Schedule

Day 1    depart Canada                                      

Day 2    arrive Bangkok                                     

Day 3    fly Bangkok ­ Paro  KB127                          

Day 4    in Paro                                            

Day 5     drive to Thimphu                                  

Day 6    drive to Punakha                                   

Day 7    drive to Bumthang                                 

Day 8    Jambay Lhakhang Drup - festival                    

Day 9    Jambay Lhakhang Drup - festival                    

Day 10    start of trek                                     
    Kurje Lhakhang ­ Nga Lhakhang  8 miles  4 hrs

Day 11    Nga ­ Phe la 11,600ı -Tang Valley  7 miles 5 hrs  

Day 12    Tang Valley ­ Ugyenchoeling Bumthang  4 hrs       
    end of trek

Day  13    to Wangdiphodrang                                

Day 14    to Paro                                           

Day 15    fly to Bangkok  KB124                             
          fly to Hong Kong

Day 16    fly to Canada                                     


Day 1


Distance:  8 miles
Elevation Gain:  800'    Elevation Loss:  0

We  begin our trek near Kurje Lhakang, where the past kings of Bhutan have
been cremated. A new temple built in honor of the Late King was consecrated
in the spring of 1991. The old temple has a golden statue of the Guru 30
feet high accompanied by Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyel (they are his consorts)
about 15' high.

We drive a short distance past the temple complex where we will begin our
trek.  Just a short distance from our starting point is the village of
Thangbi, home to a famous and beautiful temple.

Continue up the gentle, fertile valley. Take the time to watch the farmers
plowing their fields, or stop to visit a matron grinding grain in the
water-powered grist mills.

It takes approximately four hours of walking to reach the village of Ngang.
You are now in "swan land" (Ngang Yul) with its center "swan temple" (Nga
Lhakang).  Legend says that this part of the valley was first inhabited only
by swans which gave their name to the place. The Lama Namkha Samdrup, having
dreamt a vision of how to build a Gompa, shot an arrow and, at the spot
where it landed the Nga Lhakang was erected. Overnight in camp near the
Camp at Nga Lhakang

Day 2

NGA to MEADOW CAMP (9,800')

 Distance:  7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,247"over the Phephe La (11,647')    Elevation
Loss:  1,847'

This is the longest day of this trek which starts with the gradual climb
through the valley and into a mixed forest of maple, pine and rhododendron.
The trail becomes steeper as you near the PhePhe La.  The pass is marked
with a stand of prayer flags and a stone chorten.  From this point, we head
downhill to our camp in the Tang Valley.  From the pass, it is approximately
a 2 hour walk to camp which is located in a spacious field beside a stream.
Camp at Meadow Camp

Day 3


Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain:  0    Elevation Loss:  543'

Today's walk is about seven miles and is a gentle trail along the river. We
will pass through the village of Ugyencholing or "the palace of Ugyen" with
itıs massive ancestral home which has a dramatic view of the surrounding
area. This area is well known for the woolen

textiles called "Yatah".  Almost every farmhouse has a loom and most women
weave for their family and for resale.

We depart from Ugyencholing and follow the village trail along the river,
past beautiful farmhouses and villagers working in the fields.  We reach a
bridge and cross the (trout-filled) Tang Chu (Chu means river).

On the west bank of the river is Tang Rimochen Lhakang. Guru Rimpoche is
to have founded this temple in the 8th century. The rockface has distinctive
stripes which are said to left by Guru Rimpoche.

If we are able to secure permission to enter the temple, you can see a rock
which is said to contain the footprint of the "Lotus Princess", daughter of
King Trisongdetsen of Tibet. She is said to have accompanied Guru Rimpoche
on pilgrimage and died at the age of eight in Rimochen. Her body is believed
to be enshrined in the rock with the most precious of the hidden treasures,
"the mystic keys to the future", dedicated for the benefit of future
generations. We continue a short distance down the road to a boarding
school, housing many students from the area. Our trek ends at this point.