Merak-Sakteng trek offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Trashigang Dzongkhag , in Eastern Bhutan. The trek lies within the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary . It was created in April 2003 with a strong agenda for conservation and to protect the unique assemblage of biological and cultural diversity in the region.
Season : March- May and September- November.
Level: moderate trek
DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO
Flight into Paro with Druk Air, crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari 7314m and Jichu Drake 6794m peaks in Bhutan. On arrival our guide will greet you and transfer to Hotel.
In the afternoon you will visit the Kyichu Lhakhang the holy monastery dates back to 7th century, Drugyel dzong the fort defended the Paro valley from the Tibetan attack from the north in the early 17th century. On clear weather Mountain Jhomolhari 7314 meters can see. Overnight stay at Hotel, Paro.
DAY 2: FLY TO YONPHULA & DRIVE TO TASHIGANG
You will fly to Yonphula in the east. On arrival you will received by our representative and 1hour drive to Tashigang. In the afternoon visit Tashigang Dzong, is the major district in Bhutan and it lies in the far east on the river Gamri Chu. It was once center of demanding trade with Tibet. The Dzong hugs a spur at more than 400m, over the Gamri River. The Dzong commands a amazing view of the surrounding countryside. Built in 1659 A.D. it is protected on three sides by the river and ravines, and from behind by the mountains. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and the local monastic community and you can stroll through the town, absorbing the culture of eastern Bhutan. Today Tashigang town it is the junction of the east west highway.
DAY 3: TASHIGANG – CHALING – DONMANG CHU
Drive from Trashigang (3739ft/1140m) to Radi village and Chaling (5943ft/1812m) and the starting point your trekking team will be waiting here for you. Your trail is a steady climb today on a slippery footpath through forest, occasionally the Murbi Chhu, finishing in 3-4hr at Chobaling winter grazing grounds (9305ft/2837m), Mendula pass 3300m decent to Donmang Chu about 2km half hour walk. Overnight at tented camp. Approxmatlly 20km, 7hours walk, Ascend 2217meter and 230meter descend.
DAY 4: DONMANG CHU – MERAK
Donmang Chu through the river from where another 3-4 hour easy hiking leads to Merak village (11536ft/3517m) via Gangu village, or on to Sakteng (9709ft/2960m). Spend a day or two in Merak. You can visit the Lhakhangs, explore the village, watch weaving, take a 4hr hike to the lake where the local deity,Aum Jumo, resides ,or a 5 -6hr loop to visit Bujla grazing area (13,373ft/4077m). Overnight at tented camp. Approxmatlly14km, 5hours walk, ascend 396 meter.
DAY 5: MERAK – MIKSATHANG
Today be prepared to take the stiffest journey of the trek crossing the highest Nachungla pass at (13,579ft/4140m).. Your trail starts from the campsite climb steadily climb 2-2.5 hours lead to the pass at 3900m from here you can make last sight of Merak valley. The trek through the lush forest line of juniper and rhododendron forests and conquer the Nachungla pass, from here steep 3 hours decent. Then you will arrive to Miksateng at 3079m. Overnight at tented camp. Approximately 16km, 5hours walk, ascend 633meter and descend 1074meter.
DAY 6: MIKSATHANG – SAKTENG
Today you trek 1 hour along the river. At the end of the day a steep climb of 1hrourleads to Chorten, from where it is 30minutes down to Sakteng, located at 3079meter in a big open space surrounded by heavily forested mountains. Overnight at tented camp. Approximately 17km, 5hours walk, ascend 81meter and descend 310meter.
DAY 7: SAKTENG
It’s worth spending an extra day in Sakteng to explore. Sakteng had about 60 houses in the 1930s,and the village has grown a little since then. The inhabitants are very religious, and north and east of Sakteng-in India-are many important Buddhist temples. Three routes leave Sakteng village. One to the north, crossing the Se La range via the Nyingsang La (12,200ft/3721m) into India; one to the east, crossing the Orke La Arka La (13,900ft/4240m), very close to the border with India; and finally the Nyuksang La (13,579ft/4140m) to the southwest.
DAY 8: SAKTENG – JOENKHAR
If you don’t want to stop, carry on to Joenkhar (5894ft/1797m) crossing a small pass, Munde La (9604ft/2928m). There are a couple of small ups and downs before reaching Jyonkhar after 5-6hr. Overnight in tented camp. Approximately 17km, 7hours, walk, acsend 74meter and descend 1291meter.
DAY 9: JYONKHAR – PHONGME
Jyonkhar (5894ft/1797m) to Phong Me (6006ft/1831m) in2.5-3hr, including one stiff climb of 1hour before reaching Phoneme. You will meet your transport and drive escort to Trashigang. On the way, stop at Khardung nunnery and visit their Monastery. Overnight stay hotel in Trashigang.
DAY 10: FLY TO PARO /BUMTHANG or DRIVE BY ROAD
On arrive on Chamkhar domestic airport you will receive and drive to hotel. After light refreshment your day excursion will start. The Bumthang Valley, consist of four valleys of Ura, Chumey, Tang and Chokhor and are considered to be one of the gorgeous and blessed valleys of Bhutan. The valley is one of the best-looking valleys in the kingdom. If the weather is clear, you will love the view of green valley, scattered with hundreds of temples, thousand of flags and striking Chamkhar River flow through the valley.
The valley is also called Switzerland of Bhutan. Your visit in Bumthang to Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambay Lhakhang, one of the firstborn monasteries in the Bhutan, dating back from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kujey Lhakhang, one of the most holy places, where Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. From here you will walk 30minutes to Tamshing Lhakhang lies on the other side of the Chamkhar River. It was built by Terton Pemalingpa the treasures discover, he was the ancestors of Bhutan present Royal Family; Kenchosum Lhakhang; and Mebar Tsho (Lake of Burning Fire), and this is a holy lake for the Bhutanese who believe that Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from the lake. Overnight stay at Hotel, Bumthang.
DAY 11: BUMTHANG – PHOBJIKHA (2982m): 155KM/APPROX 5 ½ HR
Today you will drive into the glacier valley of Phobjikha the valley is one of the most significant wildlife preserves in the country, because of the large flock of black-necked cranes in winter. The valley also has a very interesting Nyingmapa monastery dates back to the 17th century.
Your lunch at Chendebjee, after lunch you will continue drive to Phobjika valley and we can do short walk leads downhill from mani stone wall just north of Gangtey Goenpa to the Khewa Lhakhang. The trail descends to Semchubara village and keeps straight at the Chortens into the edge of the forest, before descending to a square Chorten and the Lhakhang. From here we can cross over the metal bridge to the community school. Overnight stay at Hotel, Gangtey.
DAY 12: PHOBJIKHA – THIMPHU: 130KM/APPROX 5HR
Before driving to Punakha the Kingdom’s richest agricultural land and most dramatic river valleys, you will visit to Crane Observation and information center. Then continue drive to en route stop at Wangdue and short wlak to Rinchen Gang clustered village, houses are made from mud and stones. The people of the village are said to be Indian origin. On the way you will stop at Mitsina village and visit Chimi Lhakhang the monastery of fertility.
In afternoon you will stop at Dochu La for lunch, from there you can enjoy the view of Himalayan ranges and snow peaks. You will also visit Druk Wanggyal Lhakhang built by the eldest Queen mother; the past and future appear to merge in the details of the Lhakhang that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future. Continue drive to Thimphu capital city of Bhutan. Evening freely stroll in town and visit shops. Overnight stay at Hotel, Thimphu.
DAY 13: THIMPHU (2320m)
Today’s exploration of Thimphu will take with visit to National Memorial Chorten, a stupa dedicated to world peace and prosperity in 1974 in memory of the Third King of Bhutan; the Kingdom’s rich culture at the National Library; the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students undergo training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; Folk Heritage Museum which will provide an insight into traditional Bhutanese farm house and rural past through exhibits and documentation of rural life.Visit Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress like temple, which lies perched on a ridge above Thimphu; Taken Preserve to see the rare national animal of Bhutan. This animal is chosen as the national animal of Bhutan for its uniqueness and its association with the country’s religious history and mythology. Visit to Buddha point – the Buddha Dordenma Project is the construction of a 138.6-foot-tall Shakyamuni Buddha statue (inclusive of lotus) seated on a 62-foot-tall throne in the Kingdom of Bhutan, symbolizes peerless virility to bestow blessings, peace, and happiness on the whole world. A further drive towards the BBS tower will provide a bird’s eye view of the capital; visit nunnery temple and followed by a visit to Tashichho Dzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” which is Bhutan’s administration and religious centre and houses the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan, other Government offices. It is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Evening drive to Paro. Overnight stay in Hotel, Paro.
DAY 14: PARO: Hike to Taktshang ‘Tiger’s Nest’
After breakfast you will drive through the beautiful Paro Valley and stunning hike on foot or on accommodating mule to the Taktsang Goemba or Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. The hike, which is all the way uphill, takes about 2 hours through pine forests. The Goemba, which clings to a huge granite cliff 900 meters, it is believed that the great saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. It is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their lifetime.
In the afternoon you will visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang the sacred monastery dates back to 7th century, Drugyel dzong, and the fort defended the Paro valley from the Tibetan invasion from the north in the early 17th century. On clear weather Mountain Jhomolhari 7314 meters can see. Overnight stay in Hotel, Paro.
DAY 15: PARO DEPARTURE
Early morning drive to the Paro International Airport for onward journey.