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Enchanted Trails: Swan Temple Trek

A four-day trek through the bucolic village of Bhutan’s scared vallery ~ 17 to 19 days
Winding along the aquamarine Chhoekor Chu river into the fragrant mountains above Jakar Valley, this short trek takes us to the Swan Temple. Along the way, we pass several colorful hamlets where life continues uninterrupted as it has for centuries. At the Swan Temple, the site of a small and charming winter festival, we have an opportunity to view some of the sacred and ancient images of the patron saint of the Himalayas, Guru Padmasambhava, seated on a lotus and flanked by the swans after which the valley takes its name. Although short, this trek can be vigiorous and challenging and features a day of 1,640-foot elevation gain to the Phephela pass. On our descent, we will have the option to stay at the beautiful and competently preserved 16th-century palace of Ugyenchholing. The legacy of Deb Tsokye Dorji, one of Bhutan’s temporal rulers, the palace is today run and maintained by a direct descendant and Skykingdom family acquaintance, the Lady (Ashi) Kunzang Choden, who may be available to regale us with her treasury of stories about the region. Her personal accounts and folk tales from the region have beem publsihed in three well-known books: Folktales of Bhutan; Tales of the Yeti; and her latest, by Penguin books, The Circle of Karma.

GENERAL TREK STATS:
Maximum Elevation:

11,100ft.
Note: general indications; exact elevations may vary.

Walking Time: Average: 4 to 6 hours daily.
Note: general indications; exact times may vary according to individual fitness and endurance levels.

Distances:
(see Itinerary in Brief below for general indications; difficulty varies by terrain):

Bags and gear transported by mule or yak; meals and camp set-up by camp crew.

swan_temple471x365 ITINERARY IN BRIEF
Day 1: Arrive in Paro and visit the National Museum.

Day 2: Paro valley basin walking tour or hike to Taktshang “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery.

Days 3 & 4: Transfer to the capital, Thimphu, and afternoon visit to the National Memorial Stupa, hike to Tango Buddhist College.

Days 5 & 6: Transfer to Wangdue Valley with a stop at the 10,000-foot Dochula pass, hike to Khamsum Temple and visit the “Hall of 100 Pillars.”

Days 7 & 8: Transfer to Bumthang and afternoon hike to Lamey Gompa palace,visit Kurjey Monastery and area temples and monuments.

Day 9: Jakar to Nganglhakhang, or Swan Temple (7.5 miles).

Day 10: Swan Temple to Tahung (10 miles).

Day 11: Tahung to Ugyenchholing Palace (12 miles)

Day 12: Rest day at Ugyencholing, explore neighboring villages.

Day 13: Hike to the “Flaming Lake” and visit Pemacholing Nunnery.

Day 14: Return to Jakar Valley and browse the market.

Days 15 & 16: Transfer to Trongsa, visit the Kuenga Rabden palace.

Day 17: Transfer to Wangdue with a stop at Tangbi Village.

Day 18: Transfer to Paro, with free afternoon to shop or stroll the market.

Day 19: Return flight to Bangkok or another gateway city.