Enchanted Trails : The Black Mountains

A short, low-altitude trek, offering glimpses into remote village and monasteries ~ 3 days

This short trek from the slate-rich Black Mountains begins at the revered Gangtey Monastery (pictured below) and ends near the Wangdiphodrang fortress (right). It is especially beautiful in spring, but a great complement to any cultural program if you are pressed for time. The trail leads through forests of fir, oak, spruce, azeleas, cypress, juniper and dwarf bamboo. Along the way is Gogona temple with images of the Buddha of Compassion and Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of the Himalayas. Near trail’s end is a new Nepalese style stupa built in honor of a former Je Khenpo, head of Bhutan’s Monastic order. A somewhat steep descent through rhododendrons and magnolia on the last day provides excellent opportunities for birdwatching, with laughing thrushes, shrikes, magpies and woodpeckers among those that have been spotted.

In all, this is a gentle and scenic complement to our general cultural programs as outlined on the itinerary below.

Maximum Elevation:

Note: general indications; exact elevations may vary.

Walking Time:
Average: 4 to 7 hours daily.
Note: general indications; exact times may vary according to individual fitness and endurance levels.

(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.

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 Phobjikha Valley, explore nearby villages and visit the nature center.

Day 9: Begin trek from Phobjikha to Zasa (9.5 miles)

Day 10: Zasa to Chorten Karpo (10 miles)

Day 11: Chorten Karpo to Tikke Zampa (7.5 miles)

Day 12: Transfer to Bumthang Valley.

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

Day 14: Jakar Valley temples and monuments.

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.