Bhutan – Druk Path Trek

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  • Duration: 10 Days
  • Grading: 1B+
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Requirements
Itinerary
Prices & Dates
inclusions & exclusions
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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 (known as 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 Himalayan mountain ranges. The first road in Bhutan was built only in the early 70s. Until then, people travelled along trails for over hundreds of years. Till today, some remote parts of Bhutan are still days away from the nearest road.

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 is an ancient trading route that 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 (the highest unscaled peak in the world). It is also dotted with ancient lhakhangs and dzongs.

The trek connects the valley of Paro to the valley of Thimpu. The 5-day trek begins with a short trek (3-4 hours) starting from the Damchena village (2900m) to head uphill through pine forests to the restored Jele Dzong (3490m), perched on a grassy whaleback ridge with breathtaking views of Mount Jomolhari to the north. Day 2 is a 5-6 hour undulating trek. From Jele Dzong, continue to ascend up the ridge, walking along the ridge line, before descending below the ridge line to enter into a forested area of thick alpine trees and rhododendrons, to start another uphill climb to reach Jangchulakha (3760m) – a pasture for yaks. The next 2 days are trekking days of around 4-5 hours. On Day 3 and 4, continue to trek on undulating mountain terrain, over 4000m passes and along ridges with magnificent views of the Himalaya. On both days, the campsites are near two gorgeous alpine lakes namely, Jimilang Tsho (3870m) and Semkotha Tsho (3834 m). The final day of the trek will reach above 4000m and is the longest day of around 7-8 hours of trekking. The trek begins with a gradual climb to a small saddle (4150m) with majestic view of Mt Gangkar Puensum and other Himalayan peaks. Then, descend to a small lake to climb up to Phume La pass (4210m), which is adorned with beautiful prayer flags. From the pass, great views of Thimphu far below can be seen. Descend through a juniper forest to a community hall near Phajodhing (3870m) and continue to walk down hill through more forests to arrive at the end point of the trek, which is just above Thimphu town (15 km).

Trekking Seasons

There are four seasons in Bhutan. The best seasons to visit Bhutan for trekking are spring (mid-March to June) and autumn (mid-September to early December). 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 form the typical daily weather pattern.

Autumn (mid-September to early December): This is the most popular time for trekking in Bhutan. The sky is often clear blue with barely a wisp of cloud. Though the temperatures can be cold in the higher areas of the mountains, there is little or no snow in most places yet.

Spring (mid-March to June): While the spring season may not yet be ideal for trekking in the higher mountains (above 5000m), it is the perfect time for the lower altitude treks, such as the Druk Path Trek. The spring conditions are pleasant for trekking, with cool temperatures and rhododendrons blooming across the hillsides.

Experience Required

This trek is graded 1B+. It is a multi-day scenic trek with full camping support.

No trekking experience is required. Anyone with a good level of fitness can complete this trek. The trek will bring you to an altitude ranging from 2400m-4200m in undulating mountain terrain. You will be trekking for 5 days with a 5-6kg backpack load and sleeping for 4 nights at camps above 3000m. The average trekking hours are around 4-5 hours, except for the last day, which is the longest trekking day of around 6-7 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 for information on the layering system and how to choose the right gear/equipment for your trek.

DAY DESCRIPTION MEALS
1

Arrive Paro.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

-/-/D
2

Acclimatisation hike to Taktsang Monastery a.k.a Tiger’s Nest (3120m). On the way back, visit other places of interest like Dumtse Lhakhang temple.

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
3

Acclimatisation with a drive to Chele La (3900m) and a short hike up Gung Karpo La (4300m).

Overnight: Paro hotel (2200m)

B/L/D
4-8

Trek the famous Druk Path. Day 8 transfer to Thimphu.

Overnight: Tents at Jele Dzong (3560m), Jangchulakha (3760m), Jimilang Lake (3870m), Semkotha Lake (3830m), Thimphu hotel (2330m)

B/L/D
9

Thimphu.

Overnight: Thimphu hotel (2330m)

B/L/D
10 Depart Thimphu B/-/-
DATES PRICE
3-12 Dec 2020 $4,800.00 (SGD) / person
  • Group size: 10-16 people
  • Group size 7-9 people: $5,100 (SGD) / person
  • You can also form a private group. For enquiry, send an email to us at contact@aceadventure.com.sg.
Inclusions
  • Return SIN/PRO/SIN air ticket, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
  • Bhutan tourist visa fee
  • Return airport transfer and all land transfer as in itinerary
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees as in itinerary
  • Meals as in itinerary
  • Boiled drinking water, tea and coffee during meals on trek.
  • Accommodation: Standard local hotels in Paro and Thimphu (twin/triple sharing); sleeping tents during trek (twin sharing)
  • Camping equipment: Sleeping mats and bags, sleeping tents, dining tents with tables and chairs, and toilet tents
  • Trek support: Trekking guide, assistant trekking guide and horses for portage support
  • Permits & fees: Trekking permit fee
  • Emergency support: Comprehensive first aid kit carried by guide
Exclusions
  • 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 4500m)
  • Personal expenses like shopping, laundry, etc.
  • Personal travel & trekking gear
  • Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (e.g. 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
Pre-trip Support

1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Complimentary group training sessions
4. Rope skill workshop (for climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)

Local Support

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.

Visa

Participants for Ace Adventure Expeditions’ organised trips, you will be assisted with your visa application.

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all visitors travelling to Bhutan need a visa. 

Indian, Bangladeshis and  Maldivian nationals can obtain a permit at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).  

All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior the travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by our licensed Bhutanese partner directly.

You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to us and we will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within 1 month prior to your travel date.

At your point of entry you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

For latest updates and details of visa application, please visit https://www.mfa.gov.bt/?page_id=220.

Money

The Bhutanese ngultrum (Nu) is pegged to the Indian rupee and not available outside Bhutan.

You can spend Indian Rupees in Bhutan. Bring US dollars, as they are the easiest currency to change. You receive better exchange rates for high value (USD100) notes and also in some of the luxury hotels. Euros and GBP are also accepted throughout. ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard.

Major hotels, restaurants and handicrafts shops in Bhutan accept credit cards. Otherwise, in smaller shops, and in rural areas, it is best to use cash.

Electricity

Bhutan’s electricity is 230V and 50HZ. There are mainly 2 types of plugs used in Bhutan. Two narrow round pins (Type F) is the most common, useable with most European plugs; and three-pronged thick round pins (Type D).

Language

The national language is Dzongkha, the native language of the Ngalops of western Bhutan. Dzongkha literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs, massive fortresses that serve as the administrative centres and monasteries. Besides this, Bhutan is linguistically rich with over nineteen dialects spoken, differentiated by the geographical locations of the various ethnic groups.

English is the medium of instruction in schools so it is widely spoken, especially those working in the tourist service industry.

Drinking Water

It is not advisable to drink untreated water in Bhutan. Bottled water is provided in the car during the day of your travel. You can also buy bottled water for consumption in your hotel room. On the trek, boiled drinking water is provided at camp.

Tipping

Tipping is not traditionally a culture in Bhutan. However, with the growth of tourism, tipping in Bhutan has become an expected thing among guides and drivers.

Your meals are included in the tour package, except drinks. You can tip a 10% to the drink bill (if any), or do not have to tip if there is a 10% service charge, along with 10% Bhutan sales tax added to your bill.

Culture and Customs 

The Bhutanese are generally tolerant of Westerners and don’t expect that they will necessarily follow, or understand local customs, so they are not quick to take offence, but it is worth bearing in mind the following:

  • Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully especially on a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. Long pants and long sleeved tops should be worn when visiting such places. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.
  • Follow your guide’s lead on this – it is customary to remove your shoes on entering the important rooms of temples (and indeed private houses).
  • Don’t point at people or religious objects or pictures. If you are indicating something in a painting, use your whole hand, palm upwards, pointing the tips of your fingers in the relevant direction. If you are waving someone towards you use your hand palm downwards.
  • Remember that you should always turn prayer wheels or navigate round a chorten, religious monument or temple in a clockwise direction. 

  • Photography and filming inside temples is not allowed. Please ask if they mind before taking pictures of local people.
  • It is polite to take any items offered to you (or to hold something out to another person) with two hands. This is also often done when shaking hands. If you only use one hand to take something from someone make sure it is the right hand.
  • Don’t touch people on the head or feet (although this rule does not apply to small children), and don’t point your feet at anyone. If you are sitting on the floor try to sit cross-legged or kneel with your feet behind you.
  • Don’t give money or candy to local children. It will encourage them to beg whenever they see foreigners. Instead you could leave small donations to schools or the village development fund so that the money can be used to benefit the whole community.
  • In an effort to become the first smoke free nation, Bhutan has prohibited the sale of tobacco and smoking in public areas. However, tourists are allowed to bring a limited quantity of tobacco products for their personal consumptions & subject to payment of 100% custom duty and 100% sales tax. Any excess quantity is subject to confiscation. Further, tourists are permitted to smoke at designated smoking areas only.
 
Travel Safety Advice

With evolving world situations that may occur unexpectedly due to natural disasters, pandemics/epidemics, conflicts and unrests, it is best to read up and keep tabs on news and developments at your destination country and region before the trip. Check on the country’s official website and/or your own foreign ministry website for any travel advisory or safety precautions to be taken while abroad.

As with traveling in anywhere in the world, regardless of the local crime rate, stay vigilant and take care of personal safety. Good to read up on any possible exposure in the country prior to departure.

It is a good practice to register with your respective foreign ministry if there is such a service provided to citizens, to contact you in order to make sure that you are safe and, if need be, assist you should an emergency (e.g. natural disasters, civil unrest, etc.) occur when you are overseas.

For Singaporeans, this is the link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ eRegister:
https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/eregisterportal/common/preLoginEregisterView.action.

 

Travel Insurance

It is highly recommended to purchase comprehensive travel insurance(s), upon payment of your trip, to cover adverse situations that may occur while you are overseas or even before departure. Ensure that the coverage is suitable for your destination and the activities that you are participating in. Be familiar with the terms and conditions before purchasing and travelling abroad.

 
Travel Immunization Advice 

There is no compulsory vaccine to be taken to enter Bhutan. You should, however, be up to date on routine vaccinations, especially vaccines against water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (examples: hepatitis, typhoid and tuberculosis) while traveling to any destination. You are encouraged to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition.

Recommended routine vaccinations for travellers in general:

Hepatitis A

Spread through consuming contaminated food and water or person to person through the faecal-oral route. Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation are poor.

Hepatitis B

Spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse. Risk is higher for those at occupational risk, long stays or frequent travel, children (exposed through cuts and scratches) and individuals who may need, or request, surgical procedures abroad.

Rabies

 

Spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, but also bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.

Tetanus

 

Spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. A primary series of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine is recommended for life. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.

Typhoid Fever

Spread mainly through consumption of contaminated food and drink. Risk is higher where access to adequate sanitation and safe water is limited.

Influenza

A vaccine specific for a given year to protect against the highly variable influenza virus.

For more information and professional advice on travel vaccinations, please consult your doctor or travel clinic.

For people residing in Singapore, you may visit The Travellers’ Health and Vaccination Clinic (THVC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital:

Travellers’ Health & Vaccination Clinic
Address: Level 4, Clinic 4B, Tan Tock Seng Hospital Medical Centre
Contact number: 6357 2222
Website : https://www.ttsh.com.sg/Patients-and-Visitors/Medical-Services/Travellers-Health-and-Vaccination-Clinic/Pages/default.aspx.