- Altitude: 1100 – 3400 mts
- Best Season: March to May and September to November
This is a short and easy trek through Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The altitude of the trail covers almost a thousand meters in range but the slopes are mostly gradual and should not present hikers with much difficulty.
This hike follows the old foot trail from Thimphu to Punakha passes through several villages, forests and rice fields. It offers incredible views of Phajoding Monastery and crosses through Sinchula Pass. Hikers will also camp near Chorten Ningpo, an ancient chorten linked to Bhutan’s favourite patron saint, The Divine Madman Lam Drukpa Kuenley.
Due to the low altitude and warm climate of the area, this hike is available all winter but the best times to go are between March-May and September-November.
The 2 Day Punakha Winter Trek:
Day 1: Chamina – Dopshing Pang
7-8 hours, ascends 3,400m.
Drive north up the valley towards Dechencholing Palace, following the Thimphu Chhu, crossing the bridge after the army camp and before a beautiful monastery. Follow the unsealed road just above Chamina village. The hikes starts here.
From this point, if the weather is clear, you can see Phajoding monastery, which is located just above Thimphu. After 2 km, you can see Thinleygang village, Talo Monastery and the motor highway towards the ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha. The trek from the pass is more or less downhill until you reach the campsite.
Day 2: Dopshing Pang – Chorten Ningpo
8 hours, camp altitude 2,700 m.
The trek to Chorten Ningpo is rather gradual and will take trekkers through thick forests, villages and rice fields. The trek finishes at Chorten Ningpo which is linked to Drukpa Kuenley, better known as the “divine madman”.
Trekking Rates For Bhutan
The government of Bhutan requires that a minimum standard needs to be maintained while trekking in Bhutan. You will be accompanied by your own trekking staff consisting of a professional trekking guide, cook, camping assistant and a few horsemen and horses to carry your gear; regardless of whether you’re a solo trekker or you are a part of a bigger group. All food supplies must be carried in and prepared in camp. Trekking in Bhutan can therefore be a little expensive for solo travelers and those traveling in smaller groups.
TREKKING SURCHAGE PER PERSON ON TOP OF SDF, GUIDE & VEHICLE CHARGES:
1 Pax: USD 250 Per Person Per Day
2 Pax: USD 200 Per Person Per Day
3 Pax: USD 180 Per Person Per Day
4 Pax or More: USD 160 Per Person Per Day
- 4 season mountaineering tents. (Mountain Hardware Trango ll).
- Freshly prepared meals with tea and snacks throughout the trek.
- All trekking logistics like dinning tent with utensils, chairs and tables, toilet tent, etc.
- Sleeping bag and blankets
- Fully seasoned support team.
- Portage charges.
- Filtered/boiled drinking water throughout the trek.
- Hot washing water in the mornings and evenings.
- Hot water bags for the night.
- Individual footprint foam mattress.
- Communal first aid kit (We always carry multiple oxygen canisters for emergency scenarios).
DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- Personal snacks, drinks and equipment
- Gratuity for staff.
A TYPICAL DAY ON THE TREK:
The day starts off with a wake up call, around 6-6:30 am, if you are not already awake by then. A staff will come with a bowl of warm water to wash up along with tea/coffee brought to your tent. Before heading over to the dinning tent for breakfast, usually around 7-8, we suggest you pack your overnight gear into your duffel bag and prepare for the day. During breakfast the staff will pack away the tents and ready the horses.
After breakfast, usually between 8:30-9 am, we start walking. The pace of the trek is leisurely with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, take photos and explore the local settlements, if any. Lunch will be around noon at a favourable spot by the side of the trail. Lunch is carried by the staff.
There is usually more walking after lunch, we will always plan to cover big ascents/passes before lunch but this does not always pan out as expected. Normally we will get into camp by mid afternoon with the tents already set up by the support team. Once you arrive at camp, you will be able to wash up, change to get into your comfy camp clothes and try and get comfortable.
Tea and snacks will be served. Followed by dinner later in the evening around 7pm.
All meals are freshly prepared by our cook and kitchen team. Breakfast with fried rice, toast/pancakes with various condiments, omelettes and a range of hot drinks. Hot lunch is prepared by the kitchen crew during breakfast and packed into containers carried by the staff to be eaten on the trail. On arrival at the campsite, there will be tea and other hot drinks in the dining tent with biscuits and snacks, help yourselves. Dinner will follow with soup, meal and dessert.
ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS (AMS).
This happens due to the body’s reaction to the low air pressure (less oxygen) at high altitudes and each individual responds to this situation differently. So please ascent at your own steady pace so that you allow your body to acclimate as you gain elevation.
This is a problem for some people, especially when hiking and sleeping above 3500 meters. The onset of symptoms has no logic in the sense that you never know who will get it regardless of your previous climbs and high ascents. There is no natural way to avoid getting AMS. However, acclimatization before the trek (we recommend day hikes, climbing high and sleeping low) and staying hydrated, eating and sleeping (rest) well on the trek goes a long to keeping yourself fit and feeling good.
Usually a steady and throbbing headache at the back of your head is a telltale sign of the onset of AMS. But this is not a major concern if it does not develop further and persists. Other symptoms include: fatigue, shortness of breathe, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and vomiting. There is no treatment to this sickness other than letting the body rest, acclimate and cure itself. If the symptoms do not get better, we will descend in altitude.
PACKING LIST AND TIPS:
They say we pack our fears when we travel and thus all of us pack different and are each their own creatures of comfort. But the rule of thumb on treks is to keep it to the essentials and be organized.
Less things to pack in the morning means, being swift and at ease which translates to a few more cups of coffee while enjoying the morning sun.
Therefore only listing the essentials here.
- DAS BOOT: Your favourite hiking boot or shoe. One that is broken in and kept you on the trail, blister free, while hitting the gnarly stuff. A pair with good ankle support that breathes well and to a certain extent is water resistant, keeps your feet happy!
- THE FART SACK: I mean the sleeping bag. Check where and when you are going and take something that is rated lower by 5ºC than the expected temperature, just be on the warmer and safer side. Women typical tend to sleep colder than men.
- MATTRESS: A foldable and comfortable mat, ideally an inflatable mattress. After a long day, you just want some good sleep. One that can be packed away inside your duffle bag or secured on the outside with the straps (easier for us to stow away and load it onto the horses). We will provide a footprint foam mat.
- DAY PACK: Just like your boots, a backpack is something you wear almost throughout the day and the entirety of your trek. So take a pack that you are comfortable with. A 20-30 L pack is ideal, depending on the gear you carrying.
- CLOTHING: Apart from the clothes you are comfortable with, a rain jacket or a poncho that can double up as a windbreaker, is indispensable. Micro climates in the mountains are an enigma. So its always nice to be prepared, that way the rain doesn’t feel so bad and you can slog on with a grin on your face. Another essential is a down jacket, to throw over yourself while at camp after the sun goes down.
- MEDICATION: Please don’t forget you personal medication. Also a small personal first aid kit. You may never need them, but it can prove to be crucial for your wellbeing incase you do while on the trail. We will also have a common first aid with only the essential medicine and kit.
- GLOVES & BEANIES
- SUNSCREEN, SUN GLASSES AND HAT
- WATER BOTTLES
- A PACKABLE PILLOW
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