Dance with the Nomads – Legendary trek to the nomadic villages of
Merak and Sakteng Trek
The legendary Merak and Sakten, is being opened after three decades of inception of tourism in Bhutan. The twin villages of Merak and Sakten situated at 3000m above the sea level is semi-nomadic yak herders with a unique and fascinating culture in the world.
You will arrive at the Guwahati airport, the nearest Indian airport in south east Bhutan. Guwahati is connected by Drukair flights from Bangkok and Indian domestic flights from Delhi. The 3-hour drive from Guwahati to Samdrup Jongkhar (nearest border town) is through Indian sub-tropical plains, small townships, villages and tea gardens. We then drive to Trashigang, the largest district in Bhutan and then trek to Merak and Sakten for 7 days. Immerse deep into the culture of these fascinating people via village exploration, cultural programme and trekking. We then drive to western Bhutan through central valleys of Bumthang and Trongsa. After hike to memorable Tiger’s Nest Monastery, you will depart Paro the next day by Drukiar flight to other destinations.
Government levy, all meals, tea and snacks, accommodations, transport, visa fee, entrance fees, guide services and sightseeing. On trek it includes sleeping tent, sleeping mats, dining tent, kitchen tent, toilet tent, trekking chef, assistant and horses to carry food supplies and equipments.
Air fares, sleeping bag (for the trek), insurance, drinks and beverages and other personal bills.
Enter overland at Samdrup Jongkhar (south east), travel on lateral highway and exit Paro (west) by flight to onward destination. As Bhutan has limited hotels and flights get sold out fast specially during festival seasons, it is advisable to book our trip well in advance. Drukair and Bhutan Airlines services to and from Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkotta, Dhaka, Singapore (Drukair).
Warm fleece jacket
Comfortable trekking boot (we like lowa)
4 pair trekking socks
2 long sleeve capilene shirts
2 capilene bottoms (mid & heavy weight)
2 trekking shirts (non-cotton is best!)
Trekking pants (zip off shorts are nice)
1 pair shorts
Flip flop (or similar camp shoes)
2 pair sunglasses
Warm sleeping bag (negative 8-10 degree celcius)
Headlamp and a normal torch
Camera and extra batteries
2-liter water bottle (if camelback, bring also a nalgene)
Insulated drinking mug
Various size plastic bags to keep gear dry and separate
Anti bacterial hand gel for disinfecting hands
Medical kit that includes –
aspirin, motion sickness tablets, cough drops, diamox, bites/burn cream and small bandage.
You will be received by your guide at the Guwahati airport. After a lunch at local Indian restaurant, you will be driving through the Indian plains comming across small townships and vibrant villages of Assam. While driving, you can also see tea gardens from where famous Indian tea is made. After driving almost for three hours and covering 120 km, you arrive at the Bhutan border. You will then check into your hotel after completing Bhutan immigration formalities at the entry gate. If you have time, you can explore this small township of Samdrup Jongkhar. It is the most improtant commercial hub of eastern Bhutan as it is the place where main trade between eastern Bhutan and Indian state of Assam takes place. Overnight hotel at Samdrup Jongkhar.
Have your breakfast at the hotel and prepare for the 6-hour long exhilarating journey to Trashigang, the largest district in Bhutan. From foothills of the border, you will gradually ascend from 145m to 1070m at Trashigang through different vegetations, villages and towns. This is the main highway in eastern Bhutan and also served as very important route during the Indo-China war in 1962. Check into the hotel on arrival. Overnight hotel in Trashigang.
Today is arelaxed day as we do not have many things to do. After breakfast at the hotel, you will visit Trashigang Dzong, the civil and monastic administration ofTrsahigang, which in early years have served as the main head quarter of whole eastern region. After a lunch in the town, you will drive to Rangjung, a small town north of Trashigang. While in Rangjung, you will vist the Ranjung Monastery, founded by the HH Garab Rimpoche. You will also explore nearby villages of Radhi. Overnight at the Guest House.
From Rangjung, you will take scenic drive to Chaling passing through Radhi village. Your trekking crew and pack animals will be waiting here for you. Trek starts with gradual climb towards Shaktimi meadow. You will see yaks and sheep grazing with yak herders’ huts dotted on the hills side. Climb further to reach Mendula Pass at 3354m. From this pass, you will descend through rhododendron forests till Donmong Chu at 3124m. Overnight in camp.
The trail from Domong Chu to Merak mostly follows the river bends. The final stretch has gentle ascend before you Gangu village. After another 45 minutes walk from this village, you will arrive at Merak located at an altitude of 3520m. The campsite located before the village has spectacular views of nearby mountains and village. Visit the local village and meet with the people. Overnight in camp.
Today is the toughest journey of the trek crossing the highest Nachungla pass at 4153m. From the campsite climb gradually to the first pass at 3900m from where you can make last glimpse of Merak valley. Continue the trek along the tree line of juniper and rhododendron forests and conquer the Nachungla pass. Then you will descend to Miksateng at 3079m. Overnight in camp.
First, you will descend to the river, cross it and then follow the river bank for few hours. Then climb gradually to a hill adorned by small Chorten (Stupa) overlooking the Sakten valley. If you are lucky, you can spot red panda among the trees. Drop down from the ridge and camp on the outskirts of the Sakten village at 2950m. Overnight in camp.
Today’s journey will be a longer and so we will start early from the camp. Leaving Sakten, start with short climb to the small hill towards the west end of the village. Then descend down to the river and walk alongside it through the broad leaf forests. We camp in a beautiful meadow near the river by Joenkhar Teng village (1733m). Joenkhar Teng is situated on the hillside and its population comprises of Brokpa and Sharchopa with a community school and an outreach clinic. Overnight in camp.
The last day of the trek begins with short climb through the Joenkhar Teng. Cross few of suspension bridges and short climbs to reach Phongmay. Meet your transport and drive to Trashigang. Overnight hotel in Trashigang.
Today’s sightseeing in Bumthang includes Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places, because Guru Rinpoche, a great spiritual Indian master left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. After lunch, you will visit Tamshing Monastery, which is founded by the great treasure discoverer. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
You’ll begin the day at the Bumthang market, and then drive to Wangduephodrang, where you can stroll through the town and visit the shops. The nearby villages are known for their slate and stone carvings and bamboo work. Overnight hotel in Punakha..
In the morning, you will visit Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful dzongs and the ancient capital of Bhutan. On the way to Thimphu, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing from the wooden Phallus if you wish. Continue driving to Thimphu via Dochula Pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. Overnight hotel in Thimphu..
Sightseeing in Thimphu includes: King’s Memorial Chorten; the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong); the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin; Folk Heritage Museum; School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school); the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and traditional paper factory. In the afternoon, you can visit the intesreting weekend market where nearby villagers come here to sell their farm produce and it is good place for the photography. If you are lucky, you can also catch some archery match taking place next to the market. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. Explore the monastery complex. Later in the evening, you will hike down to the Paro. Visit the local family and if you wish, you can experience traditional hot-stone bath and sit down for a traditional dinner. Overnight hotel in Paro.