Druk Path Trek: Experience the soul of Bhutanese Himalaya

5 March, 2021 | Reccy Guide

While the challenging Snowman Trek is probably the most well-known trek in Bhutan, the Druk Path trek is also famous among the worldwide adventure community. Importantly, it is a shorter and less arduous trek that can be accommodated within a tight schedule. Covering a series of high mountain passes, the trail rambles through the diverse regions of Paro and Thimphu. The Druk Path trek begins from the National Museum of the bustling Paro valley. The hike starts through the apple orchards and pine forest to Jele Dzong, a ruined fortress, on the lush whaleback ridge. From the ridge, one can clearly see Mt. Jomolhari (7314 m), Mt. Jichu Drake (6989 m) and Gangakar Puenseum (7570 m) emerging behind the clouds. 

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Before arriving at the whaleback ridge at 3490m, the trail explores a rustic village called Damachena. At the fortress here the locals worship an idol of Buddha in Lhakhang. Lhakhang is a Bhutanese term for a temple, which houses the idols of Buddha and his predecessors. The campsite is typically established at an altitude of 3480m and offers great views of the Paro valley below as well as popular Himalayan peaks of Mt. Jomolhari amongst others.

Paro Taktsang MonasteryParo Taktsang Monastery

Next day’s hike will take you to the yak pastureland of Jangchulakha, the campsite is established here at 3780m. To reach this campsite, trekkers gain approximately 300m in a single day, which may not be too stressful. In fact, you may have enough energy left to move around the hillside pastureland and see the exotic yaks foraging food.

Next morning, covered with dwarf Rhododendrons and Juniper trees, the trail undertakes a few ascents and descents, passes by the Janetsho lake and crosses a yak herders camp to reach the next campsite by the pristine Gemilang Tsho lake at 3880m, where you can spot the giant Trout. From here you can also see the spectacular Shimukta Tsho lake.

The final camp provides trekkers with awe inspiring views of Mt. Gangkhar Puensum, the highest peak of Bhutan. On a clear day, you can enjoy this view from the saddle at an altitude of 4150m. 

Druk Path Trek routeOn the Druk Path Trek

The Druk path trek route gives you the opportunity to traverse through the high mountain pass of Phume La situated at an elevation of 4210m. Several Buddhist prayer flags decorate this spot. From here, the descending trail will enthrall you with a bird’s eye view of Thimphu city below as you pass through rows of Juniper trees. On the way you will arrive at Phajoding at 3870m to visit the Phajoding monastery, which is perched on a hillock. The Phajoding monastery is listed as an endangered monument by the World Monuments Fund. In the past, it was considered one of the richest heritages in the world. Some operators arrange a camp for an overnight stay here, while others choose to move forward to the capital city of Thimphu.

The Druk Path trek, like all major Bhutanese Himalayan trekking routes offer you an opportunity to explore yak herder’s settlements which are located at a relatively high elevation. Rhododendrons and alpine forests are common features in most of the treks in Bhutan and to the delight of birdwatchers, one can also observe Monal pheasants. 

The Druk path trek from Paro to Thimphu makes for an enchanting journey, helping you explore the regional diversities and topographical alterations that exist in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Running along the Bhutan Tibet border, and passing through the country’s unique flora and fauna and stopping by ancient villages en-route with their indigenous people, the Druk Path Trek will let you soak in Bhutan’s unique peaceful culture.

Overall, by providing you with ample time to relax at each campsite, the Druk Path trek brings to you a plethora of experiential moments. It is one of the shortest and moderately easier hikes in Bhutan with successive campsites being comparatively nearer to each other while letting you to keep the elevation gain within very manageable limits each day. This is a perfect trek for you if you yearn to spend your time in nature’s cradle. 

Important note: The Government of Bhutan has a strict rule that requires hikers to obtain permits for undertaking any trek in Bhutan.  Many of the trek routes are closed for Indian and Chinese nationals, however, Indians are allowed to trek in the Paro and Thimphu region. A special permit can be obtained to trek Haa valley, Bumthang, Gasa, Laya, and other protected regions of Bhutan. The permit could be applied at a local immigration office or trekkers can get in touch with a registered Bhutanese travel agency / tour operator. In case you opt to go to the trek with an operator, the operator will typically arrange for all the necessary permits.

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