Journey into Bhutan's Remote East

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Duration

11Days/10Nights

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Season

Jan – May & Sep - Dec

Mar-June & Sept-Nov

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Group Size

2-18 People

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Region

East Bhutan

Mar-June & Sept-Nov

Tailored for those who have already explored western and central Bhutan, this 9-day journey is designed to unveil the eastern part of the country. Venture into the remotest district, Trashigang, with a special focus on the semi-nomadic villages of Merak and Sakten, nestled in the far northeast. A unique aspect of this adventure is a two-day trek connecting these isolated villages, with a night camp nestled in between. Immerse yourself in the distinct culture of Merak and Sakten before returning to Paro, where a rewarding hike to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery awaits.

A two-way domestic flight unfolds an incredible opportunity to marvel at the majestic mountain landscapes situated north of the Bhutan-Tibet border. 

Itinerary

If you are flying from Kathmandu, you will have an opportunity to see many spectacular Himalayan Mountain ranges of Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.  Make sure to book seats at left window.  Flying for a while east of Kathmandu, you will see Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, and Makalu in Nepal, Kanchenjongga of Sikkim and the majestic Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks few minutes before reaching Paro valley.  Paro valley is adorned by beautiful farmhouses, rice fields and apple orchards.  Turquoise – colour Pachu River meanders through the valley toting its natural beauty.  On arrival, you will be greeted by our guide. If your flight is in the morning you will visit the Rinpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. It has a long and fascinating history. This fortress is visible throughout the valley with its high walls, big stone-paved festival ground, and chapels with striking architecture. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. You will walk downhill to the road point crossing a traditional wooden bridge. Your vehicle will be waiting here to take you to Kyichu Lhakhang, Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred temple. The evening is at your leisure, you can explore Paro town on foot. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

This 35-minute bound light perhaps is one of the best domestic flights in the world.  If you have not originated your journey from Kathmandu or flown in from other cities, we definitely recommend taking this flight.  On your entire flight duration, you will be excited by the views of northern Himalayan Mountains.  Your airport Yonphula is a table-top landing similar to that of Lukla in Nepal. From the airport, we descend through village of Khangma, Kanglung, Rongthong and finally arrive Trashigang few minutes away from Pam Village.   Trashigang is the largest district and a commercial hub of eastern Bhutan.  Although lies at an elevation of 3773m/11320ft it has temperate kind of weather.  Check into the hotel on arrival. 

After lunch at the hotel, we visit the Dzong which was built in 1659 at top of edge with steep cliffs on three sides, overlooking the Drangme Chhu and Gamri Chhu rivers.  Legend has it that the site of the Dzong has intimidated invading Tibetan army remaking as Sky Fortress and not on ground.  During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Bhutan allowed Indian soldiers returning home to pass through Trashigang from battle field situated north east Arunachal Pradesh.  Some rifles lie in the Dzong even today as retreating Indian soldiers were made to leave their arms.  A unique four day long annual festival is being held here every year.  In the evening, you will explore town.  Overnight hotel at Trashigang. 

After early breakfast, you will begin for an hour and 22km exploratory trip to Rangjung and Radhi Villages with a picnic lunch.  Drive is along the bank of Gamri Chu River through rice fields leading to Rangjung.  Explore Rangjung for a while and venture further up till the village of Radhi – it is rice bowl of eastern Bhutan and famous for weaving ‘bhura’ or raw silk, which is a classic tradition textile endemic to the region.  This trip will expose you in depth into the simplicity of lifestyle of eastern Bhutanese and how different from western Bhutan.  You may also visit Nunnery at Radhi to interact with nuns who devote their lives in practicing Dharma.  Later in the evening, you will return to Trashigang for an overnight stay at hotel.           

The north eastern most twin villages of Merak and Sakten are being inhabited by the semi-nomadic tribe called ‘brokpa’, which is believed to been migrated from southern Tibet long time ago.  You will experience their unique culture in our next two days of visit.  They speak a different language and wear a unique dress made on yak’s wool.

After early breakfast at hotel, we start our journey by retracing our drive to Rangjung and Radhi from where we continue on further up through unpaved country road till we arrive Merak, which is situated at an elevation of 3520m.  You will spend a night here at local farmhouse belonging to the brokpa farmer.   

We will embark on two days trek to reach Sakten as these villages are not connected by road.  The first day of the trek will take you through juniper and rhododendron forests, leading to Nakchungla Pass at 4,153m.  After a challenging hike to the pass, we descend to Miksateng campsite. It is situated at 3079m/1010ft.  Overnight at camp. 

After breakfast at the camp, you will commence a decent for a while to the River. You will cross the River and for few hours you will walk along the trail following the river bank. We then take a gradual uphill hike to a hill which has many small Chortens.  The site of Sakteng Village from here is just superb.  If you are lucky, there are chance of spotting Red Pandas on this trek.  Descending from here and walking at the outskirt for a while, you will reach Sakteng Village.  It is situated at an altitude of 2950m/9678ft.  Overnight at farmhouse for the next tow nights.

Today, you will spend full day hiking and exploring the community.  Begin a short hike to get the panorama the village.  This semi-nomadic community, Sakten is bounded by Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in north.  Due to high altitude no other cereal crops can be grown except for some bitter buckwheat and vegetables, so the people of Sakten depend upon yaks and cattle for their livelihood.  You can interact with locals to get in-depth knowledge of their lives. As the village falls in Sakten Wild life corridor, during monsoon you will also see blue poppy, the national flowers of Bhutan.  Yeti or abominable snowman is also believed to have been protected in this reserve.  Overnight at farmhouse in Sakten. 

After breakfast, you will begin your journey towards the west end of the village to the small ridge, descending to the river and walking along the river bank through broadleaf forests, you will come to the start of country side road where your car will be waiting here to take you to Trashigang.  Driving through several villages, you will arrive Joenkhar Village, which is the lower most area of Sakten inhabited by mixed of Brokpa and people who speak Sharchops (another popular eastern Bhutan language).  Driving further down through Rangjung, and downstream Gamri Chu River bank for a while we will reach Trashigang.  We will not stop here but continue driving to Lengkhar Village for a night halt, and also to shorten our tomorrow’s journey.  Resort here is set in a beautiful rice fields and orange trees.  Sit down for a dinner after a relaxing hot shower.  Overnight hotel at Lengkhar.      

The flight to Paro normally takes off in the morning where you will once more be greeted by awesome views of northern Himalayas.  After arrival in Paro, you will be taken for an interesting excursion to Thimphu where you will spend most of the day either sightseeing or exploring Thimphu town.  Return to Paro later in the evening.  Overnight hotel in Paro.

To add fantastic conclusion to your trip, a hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3100m) is being included in the itinerary.  This unmissable hike is the most popular pilgrimage site for Himalayan Buddhists.  This Two-hour hike will take you to a dazzling height of the Monastery, which is precariously situated at high rock face.  You will end the day by exploring the Paro town buying souvenirs.  Overnight hotel in Paro.   

After breakfast, drive to the airport for your departure. Our guide will bid you farewell.

Q: Who would find the Journey into Bhutan's Remote East Tour suitable or ideal?

This tour is specifically crafted for individuals who have already explored all of Bhutan and are now yearning to venture into the unexplored and exclusive regions. Merak and Sakten, among the least visited and recently opened for visitors, offer a unique and distinct experience. The twin villages of Merak and Sakten are characterized by their semi-nomadic lifestyle and possess a culture unlike any other in Bhutan.

Q: What trip extensions are available for this itinerary, and what recommendations are there for those with a few extra days on hand?

Explore the remote Lhuentse and Mongar districts on this extended tour, with a particular focus on Khoma village, renowned for its rich textile weaving tradition. Also consider adding a day for an excursion to Khaling Village, enriching your journey with diverse cultural experiences.

Q: What type of hotel accommodations can we expect throughout the trip in Bhutan?

As per government regulations, we ensure a minimum three-star accommodation for your stay. You can expect three-star hotels or even upgraded options with upscale amenities. Additionally, for those seeking a more luxurious experience, we can arrange accommodations in four or five-star hotels, with supplementary fees applicable.  Farmhouse stays can also be arranged upon request.

Q: What is the optimal season for this tour, and how flexible are the options for customizing the itinerary?

While Bhutan is often hailed as a year-round destination, we do exercise some caution. While Western Bhutan is suitable for travel throughout the year, we recommend exercising caution when planning to explore Central Bhutan and Eastern Bhutan. It’s advisable to limit travel to this region during July, August, and mid-September, as these months tend to be a bit wet, impacting the overall tour experience.

We offer the flexibility to tailor the trip according to your schedule and preferences. One unique customization option includes attending Tshechu, a vibrant Buddhist festival celebrated throughout the country at specific times. Whether you’re interested in archery, traditional attire, astrology, marriage ceremonies, authentic dinners, cooking experiences, traditional hot-stone bath, white water rafting, or sessions of yoga and meditation, we can arrange it all to suit your preferences.

Q: Will the Company coordinate our visa and flight arrangements?

Yes! Your visa and flight arrangements are seamlessly included in your package, with no extra charges. We’ll take care of your internal flights, and if you require assistance with external flights, we can make special arrangements upon your request.