MERAK/SAKTEN COMMUNITY NATURE TREK
Merak-Sakten, the home of the nomads of Eastern Bhutan, is typically 3 days walk from the nearest road point situated close to the border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Situated at an altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, the region boast of its tradition and culture that is completely different from the rest of the world. This nomadic community has maintained its own unique dialect, dress and culture and they are dependent entirely on Yaks and sheep for their livelihood.
This fascinating tour of this region will give the visitors to explore the diversity of Himalayan terrestrial ecosystems, combining alpine meadow, temperate forest, and warm broadleaf forest.
Recommended Period of visit to Merak and Sakteng:
March, April, May, September, October and November.
Extended Tourism Months:
Pink poppy Season(June): It is believed that Nagchungla is the area for Pink Poppy and June is the season when it blooms. Tourists with special interests, for example Japanese, will be interested to come. Therefore, other than the standard proposed visiting season, June is open but only up to Nagchungla pass. One of the main reasons for not allowing tourists to cross Nagchungla pass is because of the landslide prone areas after the Nagchungla pass. This can be terrible during rainy seasons.
Duration of Tour: 17 days. Duration of Trek: 5 days.
Maximum No in a group: 12.
DAY 01 ARRIVAL AT PARO
Upon arrival at Paro Airport you will be received by our representative and will transfer to the hotel. The drive to hotel is about ten minutes through the beautiful Paro valley. Overnight in hotel.
DAY 02 PARO – SIGHTSEEING
Today, you will have the opportunity to visit and see some of the natural culture of the country including Drugyel Dzong, a ruin fort, once strategically important to Bhutan’s defense against Tibet. Mount Jhomolhari can be viewed beyond the ruined fort on a clear day. Afternoon visit National Museum, Paro Dzong and the handicrafts in Paro. Back at the hotel for dinner.
DAY 03 PARO – THIMPHU
Drive to Thimphu the capital of Bhutan through the terraced fields and scenic countryside along the banks of the Pa Chu (Paro River) down stream to its confluence with Wang Chu, then up-valley to Thimphu. Afternoon visit local handicrafts. Overnight in hotel.
DAY 04 THIMPHU – SIGHTSEEING
full day sightseeing and shopping in Thimphu. Wander round the town, visiting the shops and handicrafts shops. If you wish to visit the workshop where all the handicrafts are produced. For lunch you will return to the hotel. After lunch you will visit National Library and drive to Motithang. There you will take a short walk to see the Takin (Bhutan’s national animal) panned up there. Overnight in the hotel.
DAY 05 THIMPHU – TRONGSA
The journey into central Bhutan starts today, with the drive to Tongsa, which will take 7-8hours. During the drive you will visit Punakha Dzong, ancient capital of Bhutan, which is at altitude of 1,350metres (4,430ft). Opposite to this great Dzong you will see a temple, which has occupied the site since 1328, when a saint, Ngagi Rinchen, built it. On route, at Chendebji Chorten, you will stop for your lunch. After lunch continue drive to Tongsa. A vantage point from the opposite side of the valley, still 14 Km from Tongsa, provides a welcome view of the Tongsa Dzong and the town. Overnight tourist lodge
DAY 06 TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
This morning you will visit Tongsa Dzong and Ta-Dzong (watchtower) before starting the journey to Bumthang. 18 miles (29Km) from Tongsa, the road reaches the Yutong La pass at a height of 3,400meters (11,155ft). From the viewpoint you can see Jakar Dzong”Castle of the White Bird”. You will reach Bumthang in time to take lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon, visit Jampa Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang, and Kencho Sum Lhakhang.
DAY 07 BUMTHANG – MONGAR
Today drive to Mongar across the Thumsingla pass at a height of 3,800meters (12,465ft) and the subsequent descent from high altitude pine forest to lush pastures and orchards is one of the most exciting drive in all of the Himalayas. Gushing waterfalls, steep cliffs with even steeper drops, blazing flowers, and constantly changing vegetation combine to make this journey as varied, as it is beautiful. Overnight in tourist lodge.
DAY 08 MONGAR – TASHIGANG
Drive to Tashigang the eastern part of Bhutan, which takes about 4-5hours. On arriving in Tashigang is welcome respite from the seeming endless turns of the journey over the pass. The town is small with a sprinkling of shops. On the way as usual take a break to take a pictures of the great views, birds and animals. Overnight in the lodge.
DAY 08 TRASHIGANG-CHALING (7050ft) – 7hrs – DAMNONGCHU (10131ft) Start of Trek.
The trek to Merak will start from Chaling and the feeder road goes up to Chaling from Rangjung. The feeder road from Rangjung to Chaling is about 15 kms which takes about 1 hour by car. The first halt will be at Damnongchu. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies about 10,880ft above sea level.
DAY 09 DAMNONGCHU – 5 hrs – MERAK (11480ft)
The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs. The final stretch is a very gentle incline after which you enter Merak village. The campsite, located before the village, has spectacular views of the nearby mountains and the village. There is also a guesthouse where tourists can stay if they choose not to camp.
DAY10: MERAK – 7.5 hrs – MIKSA TENG (9400ft)
The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng is of medium difficulty. It will pass through the beautiful Nagchungla pass. Right after the Nagchungla pass descend, the trek is mostly along the river and there is a small climb before reaching the village of Sakteng. The campsite is located in a clearing surrounded by rhododendron trees. It is beautiful when the flowers are in full bloom.
DAY 11 MIKSA TENG – 3.5 hrs – SAKTENG (9850ft)
Trek to Sakteng from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakteng but it is not very difficult. If lucky, trekkers may be able to spot a red panda among the trees. The Sakteng campsite is located on the outskirts of the village. Sakteng also offers trekkers the option of spending the night in a guesthouse instead of camping.
DAY 12 HALT AT SAKTENG
Today is a well-deserved rest day. It is worth spending time here to explore the Sakten Valley which includes 80 households. The residents are very religious and toward the north and east of Sakten, there are many important Buddhist temples.
We will have a chance to visit the local monasteries and enjoy the valley during the day and in the evening there will be a cultural program.
DAY 13: SAKTENG – 6.5hrs – JYONKHAR TENG (6100ft)
Sakteng to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy trek compared to the previous treks. It is mostly downhill and walking on a plain path. Some trekkers can also make it to Phongmay or Radhi but a halt in Jyonkhar Teng is recommended. Jyonkhar village is located few minutes walk from the campsite. Jyonkhar also has a community school. Jyonkhar Teng campsite is located near a river.
Day 14: JYONKHAR – 5hrs – PHONGMAY/RADHI (6500ft) End of Trek.
From Jyongkhar to Phong Me, the trek will take about 4 -5 hours with a stiff climb of 1 hour before reaching Phong Me. It is highly recommended to either stay in Phongmay or Radhi. This is because of many attractions and beautiful villages in these two places. Radhi, popularly known as the ‘Rice Bowl” of the east is also popular for wool textiles called Bura weaving.
DAY 15: PHONGMAY/RADHI – TRASHIGANG
Morning , we explore, the villages and interact with people, and after that we proceed to Trashigang.
Option1. Today we drive to Yongphula, from where we catch a domestic flight to Paro.
Option2. We drive to Samdrupjongkhar.
Option1. Transfer to Paro international Airport for your onward destination.
Option2. We drive to Guwahati in India, to catch a flight for your onward destination.