Bhutan – Druk Path Trek with Black Neck Crane Festival
Bhutan – the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ - perched among the peaks of Eastern Himalayas has been described as the last Shangri-La. The tiny kingdom (second least populous nation in South Asia) shrouded in centuries of mystery is only beginning to open up in recent years to welcome more visitors. Landlocked, it is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh to the west and south. Being a Buddhist kingdom, it is well known for its monasteries and fortresses (or dzongs) and offers a fascinating insight into Buddhist culture. Coupled with its dramatic Himalayan landscapes range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys, Bhutan feels like a tranquil place, where time has stood still amidst landscapes of astounding and untouched beauty.
One of the best ways to experience Bhutan is to trek through one of its ancient routes or picturesque mountain ranges. The first road in Bhutan was built only in the early 70s. Until then people traveled along trails for over hundreds of years. Till today, some parts of Bhutan are still days away from the nearest road. Many treks in Bhutan are along these ancient routes in the Himalayas mountain ranges.
Combining Druk Path Trek with Black Neck Crane Festival
We have combined the Druk Path Trek in Bhutan with the Black Neck Crane Festival to create an unique way of experiencing Bhutan and to generate greater awareness of the endangered cranes.
The Black-Necked Cranes flock to Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan every winter from late October to mid February. They arrived in Phobhjikha valley from the Tibetan Plateau, where they breed in the summer. To protect the cranes, which has become endangered and dwindling in numbers, Bhutan has made Phobjikha Valley a protected area for the cranes.
The annual Black-Necked Crane festival is celebrated at the courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha Valley every November. The festival is an occasion for the locals to rejoice and celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part in their daily lives during the winter months. The festival is also organized to generate awareness and understanding on the importance of conserving the endangered Black-Necked Cranes. The festival includes cultural programs such as folk songs and dances (some with black-necked crane themes) and mask dances performed by the local people, crane dances and environmental conservation-themed dramas and songs by school children.
About The Trek
The Druk Path Trek is one of the most popular and shortest trek in the country. It is also a fairly easy trek that is a great introduction to trekking in Bhutan.
The trail passes through a gorgeous natural landscape of blue pine forests, high ridges and pristine lakes with stunning views of Mt Jomolhari and Mt Gangkar Puensum (one of the highest unscaled peak in the world). At the same time, offers the opportunity to visit some ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and villages.
The trek connects the valley of Paro to the valley of Thimpu. The 4 days trek begins by walking up through apple orchards and pine forest past ruined Jele Dzong (fortress) on a high grassy ridge with breath-taking views of Mount Jumolhari to the north and camping at Jangchulakha (3760m) - a pasture for yaks. Day 1 is the longest day of the trek of about 7 hours. The next 3 days are short trekking days of around 4-5 hours. Day 2 and 3, we climb above the tree line and cross several high ridges of above 4000m, camping near alpine lakes - Jimilang Tsho (3870m) and Semkotha Lake (3834 m), with splendid views of Himalaya along the Bhutan – Tibet border. On the final day of the trek, we descent through pine and juniper forests via Phajoding Gompa to Thimphu.
There are four seasons in Bhutan. The best seasons to visit Bhutan for trekking are spring (March to June) and autumn (mid-September to November). In winter, the temperature in higher altitudes becomes very low and snowfall starts. July to early September is the monsoon season when gloomy sky and heavy rain is the typical daily weather pattern.
No trekking experience is required. Anyone with a good level of fitness can complete this trek. The trek will bring you to an altitudes ranging between 2400-4200m in undulating mountain terrain. You will be trekking for 4 days with a 5-6kg backpack load. The average trekking hours are around 4 hours, expect for day 1, which is the longest trekking day of around 7 hours.
Equipment and Gear
You will need thermal base layers, a fleece jacket and an outer shell jacket. When at the campsite and after sundown, a down jacket will help keep you warm. A down sleeping bag is also needed and provided.
A packing list will be provided to all our participants. Please refer to our Resource Centre page to learn about the layering system and choose the right gear/equipment for your trek.
- The 3-13 Nov 2019 trek is part of our Start Trekking initiative. Through Start Trekking, we hope to encourage more people to take up trekking as a way to keep fit and embrace the great outdoors. The Start Trekking package fee include a trip leader from Singapore and is based on a group size of 10-20 people
- You can also form a private group. For enquiry, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Day||Description||Meals||Altitude at Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive Paro||-/-/D||2200m|
|Day 2||Acclimatization hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tigers Nest/Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tiger Nest/3120m). On the way back visit places of interest like Dumtse Lhakhang temple.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 3-6||For the next 4 days, trek the famous Druk Path trail. Day 6 drive to Thimphu for overnight.||B/L/D||Jangchulakha-3760m
|Day 7||Spend the morning sight-seeing in Thimphu. In the afternoon, drive to Punakha (3 hours), via Dochu La (3050m)||B/L/D||1250m|
|Day 8||Drive to Gangtey (3 hours) and spend the afternoon exploring Phobjikha Valley with a nature walk to villages and visiting of cultural places||B/L/D||2900m|
|Day 9||Black Necked Crane Festival||B/L/D||2900m|
|Day 10||Drive back to Paro (7 hours) via Wangdi (originally considered Bhutan’s second capital). Spend the afternoon visiting some handicraft shops in Paro.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 11||Depart Paro||B/-/-|
- Return SIN/PRO/SIN air tickets, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
- Bhutan tourist visa fee
- Return airport transfer and all land transfer as in itinerary
- All sightseeing and entrance fees including Black-Necked Crane Festival as in itinerary
- Meals as indicated in itinerary
- Twin/Trip sharing accommodation in standard local hotels outside of trek and in tents during trek
- Trek gear: Sleeping mats and bags, sleeping tents, dining tents, toilet tents and dinning tables and chairs
- Trek support: Climbing guide, assistant climbing guide and horses for portage support
- Trek leader from Singapore (experience in trek leading and first aid trained)
- Boiled drinking water, tea and coffee during meals on trek
- Permits & fees: Trekking permit fee
- Comprehensive first aid kit carried by guide
- International air tickets for other routes, except SIN/PRO/SIN
- Single Supplement
- Meals not indicated in itinerary
- All tipping
- Personal porters
- Personal travel insurance (mandatory to cover travel agent insolvency and trekking up to 5000m)
- Personal expenses like shopping, laundry etc
- Personal travel & trekking gear – warm clothing, shoes, backpacks etc
- Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (eg: climbing/trekking gear and equipment, cameras and any valuable items etc)
- Emergency evacuation and medical expenses
- Any expenses including accommodation, meals & transfer outside the stipulated trek/climb itinerary – i.e. any person leaving the group for personal travel, illness/injury or any form of extension of stay
Support from Ace Adventure Expeditions
We provide pre-trip support to prepare you for the climb:
1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Training guideline kit
4. Rope skill workshop (For climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)
Our Local Trek Operator
We carefully select and establish strong working relationship with our local trek operator to ensure safe participation by everyone.
Our local climbing guides have extensive experience in guiding treks in all regions in Bhutan, possess intimate knowledge of the local surroundings, conditions and culture. They carry a comprehensive first aid kit for emergency purpose.
Training: Regardless of your level of fitness and physical conditions, it is advisable to train prior to embarking on a trekking or mountain climbing trip.
Pure cardiovascular fitness is NOT enough.
Focus your training effort in the following areas, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:
- Climbing conditioning – stairs and load training.
- Cardio training - Jogging/running and interval training like CrossFit or HIIT.
- Strength training for the lower body, shoulder, back and core
- Flexibility training - eg: Yoga and stretching exercises
A good three months of training would be a good preparation for this trek.
A recommended training guide specific to the trek or climb will be given to you upon signing up.
Refer to our Grading chart for an overview on the technical difficulty and fitness required for this trek.
Refer to our Training Guide for tips on trekking and mountain climbing training.