A challenging trek in the Forbidden Kingdom, and staying at the beautiful COMO Uma Paro
Bhutan is a land rich in history, culture and beauty alike. Almost completely cut off for centuries, it has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its ancient traditions. This 10-night adventure offers a challenging trek combined with a deep experience of Bhutanese culture. You’ll have four separate days out in the Paro and Thimphu Valleys, with highlights including the iconic Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery. Exploring mainly on foot, each night you return to the comfort of COMO Uma Paro, before the camping trek. Walking at altitude, you’ll get a full day to explore Jangothang, in the shadow of the Kingdom’s highest peak – Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314m).
Accommodation & Service
COMO Uma Paro, is an intimate, 29-room resort featuring the most exclusive private villas in Bhutan with an enviable location in the Paro Valley. This puts you within striking distance of the country’s great cultural landmarks. The style combines local artisanship with COMO’s contemporary style, while activities range from yoga to Himalayan camping adventures. The Bukhari restaurant is a royal favourite.
The trekking phase is fully supported with local Guides and ponies to carry equipment.
A typical day on the trek starts with a cup of warming tea or coffee at around 6am, enjoyed while still in your sleeping bags whilst hot washing water is prepared. After a hearty breakfast we set off between 7am and 8am while our supporting staff decamps for us every day. The hiking can be challenging but this is more than made up for by the magnificent scenery through which we pass – each of the days trekking is full of great views and experiences. Lunch will be with us and depending on how you feel and the views around, we can stop for a hot picnic lunch at any time. We normally reach camp at around 2pm to 5pm (subject to weather, fitness and photo stops!) where our team is ready with plenty of reviving hot tea and cookies. Our trekking chef will serve a dinner in the cozy heated dining tent and hot water bottles will be provided before you go to your sleeping tent every night to keep yourself warm.
Day 1 - Arrival, Check-in, and Local Sightseeing
Check in at COMO and a gentle afternoon sightseeing in Paro town and a temple visit. The afternoon trip allows you to acclimatise to the altitude as well as the chance to get to know your local guide.
Overnight: COMO Uma Paro
DAY 2 - Walk to Zurig Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, Paro Town, Kyichu Lhakhang
Wind through pine forests high above COMO Uma Paro to the pretty grounds of the fortress-like monastery of Zurig Dzong. Traverse across to Bhutan’s National Museum with magnificent views over Paro, and down to Rinpung Dzong (also known as ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’). The trail then leads across the Paro Chhu Rive, and then past the main archery ground, Ugyen Pelri Palace, before reaching Paro.
Duration: 5 to 7 hours Difficulty: Easy to moderate Overnight: COMO Uma Paro
DAY 3 - Paro Valley – Taktsang Walk and Tiger’s Nest Monastery
The historical Paro Valley is the focus of today’s activities, culminating in a visit to the Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery, which is one of Bhutan’s most important landmarks. According to legend, this cliffside is where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a ying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet. The trip starts early in order to avoid the hot sun during the two-hour climb to the Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. It’s a steep hike, passing a waterfall and ending among beautiful murals at the monastery’s main entrance. If time allows, there is the chance to head up to visit remote temples. After lunch you return to COMO Uma Paro, where you can enjoy the steam rooms, gym and swimming pool or a COMO Shambhala treatment.
Duration: 6 to 8 hours Difficulty: Moderate to hard Overnight: COMO Uma Paro
DAY 4 - Trek Day 1: Drive to Shana Zampa via Gunitsawa, then walk Shana Zampa (2,850m) to Thangthangkha (3,610m)
After an early start we drive to Shana, stopping at a ruined fortress built in 1648 to control the northern route to Tibet. Leaving the road behind, we follow the Pa Chhu River through rich farmland, past traditional farmhouses and the tiny settlements of Mitshi Zampa and Sangatang, before reaching the army check post at Gunitsawa. After 15 more minutes of driving, you’ll reach Shana Zampa, where the trek begins. The walk comprises a long journey through rhododendron and the pine-clad side of the river valley, entering Jigme Dorji National Park. Through woodland and across many streams, you’re rewarded with spectacular views of Mt. Jhomolhari as you make your way to the meadow campsite at Thangthangkha (3,610m).
Duration of drive: 1 to 1.5 hours
Duration of trek: 7 to 8 hours (21km), guided with picnic. Difficulty: Moderate (altitude gain: 770m, altitude loss: 0m) Overnight: Camping
DAY 5 - Trek Day 2: Thangthangkha (3,610m) to Jangothang (4,080m)
Leaving the last army post behind, you will negotiate a muddy section of trail, passing a Mani wall and entering yak country. You’ll see the yak herder settlements of Soe and Takethang with crops such as barley, potatoes and turnips, plus a chorten that marks the final approach across a plateau and up a stream bed to the campsite at Jangothang (4,080m). In the evening, your trekking guide will explain the following day’s exploration of the area around base camp.
Duration of trek: 5 to 6 hours (19km), guided with picnic. Difficulty: Moderate to hard (altitude gain: 480m, altitude loss: 0 m) Overnight: Camping
DAY 6 - Trek Day 3: Explore Jangothang (4,080m)/ Optional Rest Day
Trek in yak herder territory, climbing the ridge to the North for views of Mt. Jichu Drakye (6,989m). Today you can choose to go searching for the rare blue sheep and the remarkable blue poppy, or simply relax in camp with the view of the snow dome of Mt. Jhomolhari filling the valley. Whichever option you choose, the day will be a memorable one.
DAY 7 - Trek Day 4: Jangothang (4,080m) via Tso Phu Lake and Bhonte La (4,890m) to Soi Yaktsa (3,800m)
Leaving the camp, you’ll cross the Pa Chhu once again and climb to the lake at Tshophu before ascending to Bhonte La, which at 4,890m is the highest point of the trek, with breathtaking views of Basingthang (5,500m) and Chatarake (5,570m). You’ll reach the Dhumzo Chhu and follow it downstream past waterfalls, farmhouses and yak herder camps to our campsite by the river at Soi Yaktsa (3,800m).
Duration of trek: 6 to 7 hours (16km), guided with picnic. Difficulty: Hard (altitude gain: 810m, altitude loss: 1,090m) Overnight: Camping
DAY 8 - Trek Day 5: Soi Yaktsa (3,800m) to Thombu Shong (4,120m)
Walking in the morning, the trail climbs 100m over a ridge before dropping down to a stream. After crossing the Takhung La pass (4,520m) you’re rewarded with views of Mt. Jhomolhari, Mt. Jicchu Drake, Mt. Teri Kang and Mt. Kanchenjunga from the pass, before descending on switchbacks as the gradient steepens into the wide and grassy Thombu Valley (4,120m) normally bustling with yak herders and their families.
Duration of trek: 4 to 5 hours (11 km), guided with picnic. Difficulty: Hard (altitude gain: 720m, altitude loss: 340m) Overnight: Camping
DAY 9 - Trek Day 6: Thombu Shong (4,120m) to Gunitsawa (2,850m), COMO Uma Paro
Crossing Thombu La pass (4,380m) the trail descends into pine and juniper forest until the road at Gunitsawa. Your vehicle will be waiting for you to retrace your steps back through the rich farmland of the upper Paro Valley and back to COMO Uma Paro.
Duration of trek: 4 to 5 hours (13km)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (altitude gain: 200m, altitude loss: 1,650m) Overnight: COMO Uma Paro
DAY 10 - Thimphu Day Out
Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, sprawls up the wooded western hillside of the Wang Chhu, a one-hour drive from Uma Paro. A full day to explore the area, wander the markets and wind down after the tough trek.
Duration: 7 to 10 hours, guided with picnic or sample typical Bhutanese fare in a local restaurant. Difficulty: Easy. Overnight: COMO Uma Paro
DAY 11 -Depart Bhutan
Your 10-minute transfer to Paro International Airport will be arranged according to your flight schedule.
Accommodation for five nights at COMO Uma Paro on a full board basis, including picnic lunches during excursion days (excluding beverages)
Fully serviced camping trek
Privately guided excursions, taking in the highlights of the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha valleys
The private services of an experienced English-speaking Bhutanese guide
One 60-minute COMO Shambhala body treatment
Complimentary use of the library, swimming pool, steam room and gym at COMO Uma Paro
Complimentary wireless internet throughout COMO Uma Paro
Private airport transfers and transport around Bhutan
All Bhutanese government visa and royalty fees, service charge and sales tax
All museum and visitor centre entry fees and road permits
Complimentary one-hour daily yoga class whilst at COMO Uma Paro (except Sundays)
Flights to/ from Bhutan
Additional meals, snacks and drinks not listed as included
Items of a personal nature
Alterations to the itinerary
Airport departure taxes (unless stated)
Hospital bills and international evacuation in the event of an emergency
Although Bhutan is very small, it has a surprising range of climates. The very far North-Western region (in the most mountainous region) has a polar climate, whereas the southern plains and foothills are subtropical.
The weather is best in Spring (March to April) and again in Autumn (September to November). The Himalayan views are considered best during the Autumn months, particularly October.
This is a challenging trek. Days are typically around 6hrs, however all equipment is portered. terrain is undulating with significant height gain on several consecutive days. The trek reaches heights of around 5,000m, although we have endeavoured to provide ample time to sufficiently acclimatise.
A full kit list will be sent to you at time of booking.