Trekking Bhutan: from two-day rambles to the world's hardest trek
Start Drukgyel Dzong
Duration 9 days
Maximum altitude 4,930m
Bhutan’s most popular trek follows ancient trade routes through Jigme Dorji National Park to fantastic views of sacred 7,314m Jhomolhari peak on the Tibetan border. Make a return loop back to historic Drukgyel Dzong or continue over a 4,870m pass for the classic route to Dodina. For more on this trek, see the article, 'Kingdom of heaven: exploring western Bhutan'.
End Motithang (Thimphu)
Duration 6 days
Maximum altitude 4,210m
Ditch the bus and hike the alternative wilderness path between Paro and Thimphu. The trek takes in high lakes, monasteries and fine Himalayan views, and is easily combined with the cultural highlights of western Bhutan for a varied two-week trip.
Start Drukgyel Dzong
Duration 14 days
Maximum altitude 5,005m
Continue from the first leg of the Jhomolhari Trek through yak pastures into the fascinating ‘hidden land’ of Laya, where the women sport distinctive conical bamboo hats. Other highlights include a 5,005m pass, the hot springs at Gasa and a tour of the dzong at Punakha at the end.
This fine short trek starts with black-necked crane spotting in the interesting Phobjikha Valley, then climbs through yak pastures and remote villages to cross two low passes.
Come in November for the best chance to spot the cranes, and to take in the Black-Necked Crane Festival; otherwise try April for the rhododendron blooms.
Up for a challenge? This mini-expedition traverses half the country, including the remote Lunana district, and is considered one of the world’s toughest (and most expensive) treks – due to distance, weather conditions and altitude. Be warned: only about half of those who set off on this once-in-a-lifetime trip ever finish it!
No high peaks here, rather a timeless succession of picturesque temples, monasteries and traditional villages.
Hike through dwarf bamboo and ancient rhododendron forests to the Phephe La pass, before descending through pastures to the well-preserved country manor of Ogyen Chholing. You can easily work this trek into the central Bhutan itinerary, adding just a day on to the trip duration.
This new low-altitude eco-trek explores a little-visited corner of the kingdom, mixing sub-tropical forest walks with local village-run tourism projects. It’s a good choice if you are more into personal interaction than high-altitude wilderness and it’s also a good cold-season trek.
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