In eastern Bhutan the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, or Migoi National Park, covering 650km, was set up specifically to look after the Migoi (or Yeti Surveys are being carried out to determine how many species exist there; no Migoi have yet been spotted. Besides the Migoi National Park Migoi may be encountered between the Tang and Lhushi valleys (Rodang La).
This special cultural and nature trek of an isolated Merak & Sakteng recently opened in 2009. Until now a handful of tourists and researchers were permitted to this area with special permissions. This area was closed to protect the unique cultural heritage of this Brokpa people and in part to give the mythical Yeti some peace, whose tales of wandering in the valley is very popular among the natives. The Brokpas (highlanders) population of Merak and Sakten are semi-nomadic yak herder, who speak different dialect and wear a completely different outfit from other Bhutanese.
This seven-day trek visits the isolated valleys of Merak (11,536 ft / 3517 m) and Sakteng (9709 ft / 2960 m), with a crossing of the Nyuksang La (Nyakchung La) (13,579ft/4140m). Allow some extra days so that you can make the most of this special area with its unique culture, rich history and very friendly people.
Arrive in Guwahati airport in Assam, India. Meet and take a drive to Samdrup Jongkhar, a frontier town in southeastern Bhutan. Along the way, you will pass through many small Assamese villages and tea gardens. Complete immigration formalities and enter Bhutan. In the evening stroll around the town to see the locals. Samdrup Jongkhar is a trading town for eastern Bhutan. Overnight in hotel. (Meals D)
After an early breakfast, drive north to Trashigang. As the road ascends, we pass through a variety of vegetation zones in the Himalayan foothills. Looking back we should get a distant view of the Indian plains. The roadside is rich in plants including ferns, rhododendrons and primulas and we will pass though many small villages. If possible, we will stop in some of them, including a stop at a local weaving center in Khaling. Late in the afternoon, we will visit Trashigang Dzong which houses the monastic institute for monks and administrative center for the valley. Overnight in hotel. (All meals included hereafter)
Today we plan to take it easy. Visit Trashigang Dzong, stroll in the market etc. If you wish, you can also drive to Trashiyangtse and return to Trashigang for the evening, visiting Gomkora on the way.
However when there is an event in Trashiyantse, we plan to drive and stay in Tashiyangtse in a simple Guest House.
From Trashigang, a short drive brings you to small town of Ranjung. Continue up the hill with terraced rice paddies to Radhi village, from where new cut dirt farm road starts towards Chaling village and continuing on, road snakes uphill towards Shaktimi meadow, with yaks and sheep grazing with some yak herders’ huts scattered on the hillside. Continue the climb to reach Mendula Pass at 3345m. After the pass, it is downhill through the rhododendron forests, and meadows of Donmong chu by the river at 3145m. The dusty, rocky farm road continues up the valley, gradually gaining height through the rhododendron forests and shrubs and arrive at the first village Gangu (3430m) and 15 minutes later arrive in large Merak village located at an altitude of 3520m. We will be using off-road 4WD vehicle and should take about 5hrs. Overnight in simple village Homestay.
Merak is one of the most isolated valleys in Bhutan, with fresh farm road arrival in late 2017. We have a full day to explore; visit local families, school, farm, yak herding, see local weaving etc.
Like the people of Sakteng, Merak people (Brokpas) are said to have migrated here few centuries ago from the Tshona region of southern Tibet. They arrived here after several months of journey across treacherous passes, set the shrubs on fire and settled down to make it their home called Merak, which literally means “Set on fire”. The inhabitants of Merak are similar to those of Sakteng in their language, dress, lifestyle and spiritual affiliation. However the people from Merak are said to be better built and taller than their counterparts in Sakteng. The houses are built of stones with very small windows and in most cases the houses are one storied only. In Merak some still practice the custom of polyandry with brothers sharing the same wife. Overnight in Camp or simple guest house when available.
Approx. 22 km, 8 hours trek
Today’s trek is quite tough with the crossing of the several passes and ridges, so we’ll start early.
In order to avoid camping, we are covering two short day trek in one day.
Begin by climbing gradually to the first ridge crossing at 3900m, from where you can look back for a last glimpse of Merak. Continue thereafter along the tree line with juniper and rhododendron forest till we reach Nachungla Pass at 4150m. The views are incredible, endless, 360 view with peaks of Bhutan, Arunachal and Tibet are seen. Occasionally, you will come across Yak herders in their camp. We may also see caravans of yaks and horses moving their sites on this trail. From the pass, it is a long descent to Miksateng campsite at 3060m. Instead of overnighting here, we continue another 2+hrs. The trail follows the river basin for a bit. Than gradually make a climb towards a small pass with a chorten (stupa) on the hill, from where you can see Sakteng valley. From the ridge, a short descend brings you into the valley, and after crossing bridge, arrive in Sakteng. The area has cell phone towers and electricity since 2012. We overnight in a simple Guest House located at around 2950m.
We have another day to explore Sakteng. Sakteng is broad valley located at about 3000m, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Sakteng literally means bamboo field. The inhabitants of Sakteng are similar to those of Merak in their language, dress, lifestyle and spiritual afflictions. It comprises of around 200 households. There are smaller villages like Tengma and Borang Tse, spread around the hillsides.
Every winter, Brokpas take on drukkor or grain journey to the lowland village, where they have their regular host family, with whom they have close trading and social relationship. They live together as one family for weeks and barter their Yak products with maize and grains. Learn about Brokpa lifestyle, their food, their weaving, visit local school, their shrines. People here are happy to have visitors, to chat with you.
Towards afternoon, there may be locals coming over to show off their dancing and singing and offer local liquor. This is a local custom and the visitors are expected to give some gifts in form of money etc.
Overnight in Sakteng
The new farm road to connect Sakteng is approaching fast. At the time this print, it takes around 2hrs of walk, which is mostly downhill to the road head from where our vehicle can meet and drive you to Trashigang. Note that as the road is new and if it is not accessible, you may have to even walk whole day. Otherwise the drive is around 2+hrs on the dirt farm and another 2hrs or so on the regular road to Radhi or Ranjung. We overnight in a Monastery Guest House in Rangjung or a decent Home Stay in Radhi village. We should have time to explore Radhi Village.
After breakfast, drive to Mongar town, which takes about 3-4hrs. After lunch, spend sometime visiting Mongar. Then continue drive for another 2hrs to Yongkola, which will help to cover next days’ journey. At the same time, the areas around Yongkola is well known hotspot for birding in Bhutan. Besides birds you may also see Langurs and other wildlife. Overnight in simple family run lodge.
Begin a spectacular drive to central Bumthang, across Thrumshingla National park, through ever changing vegetation and landscapes, rich in bird and other wildlife. We also pass through many small hamlets and villages along the way and we will stop to visit few of them, arriving in Jakar by afternoon. Overnight in hotel.
Bumthang is justifiably regarded as the cultural heartland of the kingdom with its many temples, holy sites, languages and traditions. We spend the full day in and around Jakar visiting its important monuments and cultural sites and local villages.
Part of the today will be spent attending the festival for Nov trip.
After breakfast, begin a long drive to Punakha. From Jakar, cross into Chumey valley, then across Yontongla pass, we arrive in Trongsa, where we stop to peek at the impressive Trongsa Dzong (fortress/monastery). Traverse Pele la pass (through Black mountain national park) and descend into semi-tropical Punakha-Wangdue valley. Overnight in hotel.
Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are two separate towns located half hour away. The sultry, fertile and beautiful valley sits along the Punatsangchu river with terraced fields slopping the hillsides.
Visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong, a former winter capital of Bhutan, located at the confluence of two rivers. Drive short distance north through idyllic countryside and walk upto Khamsum Yuelley Chorten. Visit Chimi Lhakhang temple, local villages and towns.
Drive uphill for about 2hrs to Dochula pass(3050m). On a clear day, you can get the spectacular panorama of snowcapped peaks straddling along Bhutan and Tibet. Thimphu is only a half hour drive from Dochula pass and we spend the rest of the afternoon visiting Thimphu’s many monuments and attractions including traditional art school, Zilukha nunnery, Takin (national animal) sanctuary and Tashicho Dzong.
Overnight in Hotel Druk or similar
Spend the morning in Thimphu covering some of the sights that you may have missed yesterday, including the visit to Giant Buddha, and memorial Chorten.
Before noon, drive to Paro, which takes about an hour. Paro Valley is one of Bhutan’s most beautiful and most fertile valley. Numerous shrines, fortresses and farm houses dot the landscape and graceful willow trees grow along the edge of Pachhu river, which passes through paddy fields and farmlands. Visit National Museum, Rinphung Dzong and the 7th century Kichu temple complex. Overnight in hotel.
No journey to Bhutan is complete without a visit to Takstang monastery. Drive short distance from the hotel to the trail-head and climb for about 2-3hrs to legendary Takstang (Tiger’s nest) monastery. Option to hire riding horse for part of the way is available ! Return to Paro for any remaining tour or stroll around the town area. Farewell dinner.
Departure transfer to the airport in time for your flight.
The minimum daily package covers the following services.
The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:
These rates are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.
On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on usage basis.
The list of hotels and lodges approved to provide accommodations all listed on this website. If your accommodation is not listed on this website then it is not licensed cater for international tourists.
The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US dollars prior to arrival in Bhutan.
Our tours spread across a wide range of genres to delight every travel enthusiast out there.