MERAK SAKTENG TREK

TREK TOUR - 19 DAYS / 18 NIGHTS

TOUR SUMMARY
TOUR NAME
Merak Sakteng Trek
TOUR CATEGORY
THEMATIC (Ethnic minorities)
PUBLIC
Individual
DURATION
19D/18N
MAIN STEPS
Guwahati-Samdrup Jongkhar-Trashigang- MERAK TREK-Mongar- Bumthang-Trongsa-Gangtey-Punakha-Thimphu-Paro
TOUR DATES
May and September/October
Merak-Sakteng stands out as a distinct attraction in Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang Dzongkhag (District), in Eastern Bhutan.
It is a moderate trek (between 1,500m and 4,100m) traversing through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu (3400m), Merak (3500m), Sakteng (2800m), Thakthi (2200m), and Joenkhar (1700m). Tour operators are not mandated to use a particular trail but the most common trail usually begins from Chaling and ends in Phongmey. Both these Geogs of Merak and Sakteng are an important watershed for Ngere Ama chu and Gamri chu rivers respectively.
The campsites have been designed aesthetically to blend with local architecture and ambiance. Enclosed by a stonewall (with a gate to bring in the ponies to unpack trekking paraphernalia), the campsite is equipped with facilities such as tenting sheds, toilets, kitchens (in some), dining area and water supply. A signage describing the location, altitude, forest type, fauna, additional hiking trails in the locality, distance and time to next camp welcomes a visitor to each campsite.
Upon arrival at Guwahati airport you will be received by our certified tour leader and drivers who will usher you into the comforts of your luxury vehicle and continue to Samdrup Jongkhar, a small bordering town which is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The place will provide a glimpse of indo-Bhutan relations across the border and how the people of Bhutan and India have juxtaposed each other to create a place called Samdrup Jongkhar.
Driving to Trashigang, you’ll pass by Sherubtse College –It is almost legendary as it has been greatly written about by well-known alumni members and you could do a campus tour if you are interested. Trashigang town is a cramped-up square where locals from near and surrounding villages gather with their precious agricultural produce. Normads from Merak-Sakteng attired in their traditional costumes come here to barter and sell their dairy products. You’ll then visit the Trashigang Dzong (fortress) built in 1659 perched on a hilltop overlooking the vast underlying valleys. Your hotel also provides you with a spectacular view of the town and the verdant nature around you.
The trek to Merak will start from Chaling reached by following an unsealed road from Rangjung. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies at about 3,316m / 10,880ft.

5 hours, camp altitude 3,499 m.
The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs. Over night at Damnongchu Camp.

The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng is long and of medium difficulty. It will pass through the beautiful Nagchungla pass (approx 4,100m / 13,451ft). The campsite is located in a clearing surrounded by rhododendron trees.

Trek to Sakteng from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakteng. Overnight at Camp.

Time to explore this remote Himalayan village.
6 1/2 hours, camp altitude 1,859 m.
Sakteng to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy trek comparing to previous days. It is mostly downhill to Jyonkhar Teng camp.

5 hours, camp altitude 1,981 m
The final day for Trek. This day is full with ups and down until you reach the road the head at Phongmay. Drive to Tashigang.

After breakfast, proceed to Gom Kora, an ancient 17th century temple known for its religious treasures and a rock garden. It is believed that you’ll be liberated in this life if you carry a particular stone around the garden for three rounds and also reach the heaven of Guru Rinpoche if you are able to surmount the biggest rock in the garden. Think it is the easiest way to get to heaven? Well, we doubt you can make it!! So our advice is to continue driving onto Mongar and continue with life. Every year, Gom Kora comes alive with the annual Gom Kora festival, a picturesque festival attended mainly by people from the eastern regions of Bhutan. Overnight in Mongar.

On the way to Bumthang, you’ll see the ancient Zhongar Dzong which actually is in ruins after an earthquake and a fire outbreak that destroyed it. Our guide will narrate the mythical story of Zhongar Dzong to mesmerize you and at the same time make you realise that these mythical stories are a huge part of our everyday life. After a day’s drive through hinterland, we’ll make sure you are treated to some local speciality combined with fresh trout fish from the local river. If you are of the adventurous type, your dinner will be complete with some ara (home brewed alcohol) that fits perfectly with the Bumthang culinary. Overnight in Bumthang.

This is a day that will make you almost feel like a hermit in the lost valleys of the world. The valley is dotted with some of Bhutan’s most important and sacred pilgrimage sites and you’ll witness some amazing sites and stories that go with it. We recommend exploring the valley on foot as the temples are strategically located to be able do a loop to your hotel. Visit Kurje lhakhang (temple) built in 1652 which contains one of Bhutan’s biggest statues of Guru Rinpoche and more importantly his body imprints in a cave. Jambay Lhakhang (temple), most probably is one of the oldest temple that is believed to be one of the two in Bhutan, out of 108 temples that King Srongtsen Gembo of Tibet built across the entire Himalayan region in the 7th century. Finally to Tamzhing Lhakhang (temple) built by Terton Pema Lingpa in 1501. We can also arrange a visit to the local cheese factory, the beer factory and the bee keeping farmers if any of these may interests you. Overnight in Bumthang.

Today transfer to Trongsa via the Chhume valley for the opportunity to shop for local handicrafts and textiles. This region is renowned for its exceptionally high quality weavings. Traverse the Yotu La (pass) and continue on to Trongsa where the Dzong is the ancestral home of the Royal Family of Bhutan. The Dzong has recently added the excellent Tower of Trongsa Museum into its ancient watchtower, which you will visit. Continue westwards via the Pele La (Pass) which crosses through the Black Mountains National Park and divides western and central Bhutan. This is the best place in Bhutan to see yaks from the road. You will pass the village of Rukubji surrounded by extensive fields of mustard, potatoes, barley and wheat and keep a watchful eye out for Rhesus Macaques (Brown Monkeys).
Until recently the Phobjikha valley’s only electricity came from solar or mini hydro plants. In 2011 underground cabled electricity is gradually connecting the valley to the national grid. Potatoes are this region’s primary cash crop once exported to India. Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. It is also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and the winter home (late October to early February) of the rare black necked crane, which annually flies in from Tibet. There are also muntjaks (barking deer), wild boar, samba, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red foxes. Overnight in phobjikha.

After breakfast visit the sacred Gangtey Goemba (Monastery) and depart westwards for the Punakha valley. As you pass the dramatic Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (sadly destroyed by fire in June 2012 & soon to be under reconstruction again) notice the large cacti that cover the surrounding hillsides.Punakha holds the title as the winter capital because of its more temperate climate. Arriving into the valley visit Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman or Mad Monk), which is a pleasant, easy 20 minute walk across paddy fields. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing) from the resident monk. Drive to hotel.

After breakfast visit the dramatic Punakha Dzong, which formally served as the seat of the government and is still the winter residence of the Dratsheng (Central Monk Body). This is Bhutan’s most spectacular Dzong and an excellent example of how a medieval fortress, and a centre of both monastic and administrative functions, has adapted and evolved for modern day use. This afternoon transfer to Thimphu, Bhutan’s quirky capital, via Dochu La (Pass). At the pass view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen, and a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya and depending on the time of the year the vista can vary from alpine snow (November – March) to a profusion of blossoms (March – May) splashed among the soft green of the wild herbs and forest trees. Overnight in hotel in Thimphu.

This morning visit National Memorial Stupa and the awesome Golden Buddha offering wonderful views of Thimphu city and valley. Zorig Chusum – the Institute for the 13 Arts & Crafts of Bhutan where you can interact with the students (week days except holiday/exam time and has restricted hours. Then there’s the National Library featuring ancient Bhuddist manuscripts, the Post Office where you can have a stamp produced with your image on it and the Handmade Paper Factory.
For those who have an interest in quality weavings and local art check out the Gagyel Lhundrup weaving centre, where you can interact with the weavers. Vist Bishwa art gallery. Visit the Takin Preserve (home to Bhutan’s  most unusual looking national mammal). During evening visit  Trashichhoe Dzong. Overnight in hotel in Thimphu.

Drive to Paro and visit the National Museum, the largest museum of Bhutan that showcases some of the most valuable arts, artefacts, historical transcripts, statues, stamps etc. visit Paro Rinpong Dzong(fortress) built in 1646, the house of government offices and religious institutions, like the other highlights  of the country and the Kyichu Lhakhang, the sister temple of the Jambay Lhakhang you saw in Bumthang which was built by King Srongtsen Gembo of Tibet built in the 6th century as part of the 108 temples he built across the entire Himalayan region in one night. Overnight in hotel in paro.

Day hike to Taktshnag Lair of the Tiger. This wonderful monastery perched on a vertical granite Cliff, 250m above the valley.   According to Legend Guru Rinpoche flew far on the back of a tigress from Eastern Bhutan, hence the name given to the monastery. The tigress was actually his girlfriend favorite, Yeshey Tshogye. The site was a holy place from the 8th century marked by the impression of the great saint Guru Rinpoche, the existing temple was built by Gyltse Tenzin Rabgye the 17th century. It will take almost 2 hours to climb it and 30mm to return. In return we will have lunch in the cafeteria located midway Taktshang before the temple. All this will take about 6 hours. Overnight at hotel.

Airport drop

FARE RULES

MARCH – APRIL – MAI / SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER – NOVEMBER

XXXX $ : Single traveller

XXXX $ : 2 Pax

XXXX $ : 3 Pax & Above

Consult us : Group > 6 Pax

JUNE – JULY – AUGUST / DECEMBER – JANUARY – FEBRUARY

XXXX $ : Single traveller

XXXX $ : 2 Pax

XXX $ : 3 Pax & Above

Consult us : Group > 6 Pax

The itinerary is subject to change in case of extreme weather conditions or in anticipation of assumed risks, see unpredictable can put visitors at risk (roads, crowd movements, political instability. In an emergency it is left exclusively to assessing your Accompanist who knows the terrain otherwise we will refer to suggest the best option. We reserve the right to modify if necessary the choice of hotel or local hosting a replacement in its very category or, alternatively, higher.
It is compulsory to be in possession of a visa to enter Bhutanese territory.
Attention depending on the selected day of departure and the route chosen some sites may be closed, festivals or events may be out of step with the progress of the circuit. Thank you properly tell us if you have requirements wishes before departure.
As part of a tailor-made program, it is possible to modify the duration of the trip to us upon request.

FIXED DAILY RATES

The daily tariff for tourists is US$250per person and per day in the high season and the rate drop to US$200 per day in low season.

SURCHAGES

Individual travel will pay an additional surcharge of US$40

Two pax : 30US$ per pax

DISCOUNTS

Children up to 5 years old travel free

Children aged from 6 to 12 using parents room are exempted from US$65 government royalties and pay approximatively 50% of daily tariff resting (US$90)

Full-time students aged under 25, with valid identity cards get a 25% discount

Long stay : 50% discount on royalties from the 9th night / 100% discount on royalties after the 15th night

Royalty-free night at the borders points : please consult us

INCLUDED AND NOT

  • ACCOMODATION : Twin beddded room 3 stars YES
  • PRIVATE TRANSPORT by bus or car YES
  • ALL MEALS in standard restaurants or picnics YES
  • TOUR ACTIVITIES including all entrances fees YES
  • ALL TAXES & GOVERNMENT ROYALTIES YES
  • TOUR GUIDE : english speaking* and licensed YES
  • VISA FEE : 40US$ / Pax YES
  • FIT SURCHAGES for 2 pax only YES
  • TREKKING & CAMPING EQUIPMENTS YES
  • MINERAL WATER : illimited YES
  • TRANSFERTS : in land Bhutan from/to airports or border YES
  • AIR TICKETS : international and domestic NO
  • MANDATORY TRAVEL INSURANCES : Full services included NO
  • PERSONNAL ITEMS : laudry, drinks, telephone NO
  • Tips to guide & driver at your appreciation NO
  • TRANSIT VISA FEE : for india or Nepal NO
  • Wire Banking fees NO
  • EXTRAS : Single Room and/or 4 or 5 stars hotel OPTIONAL

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