Trip Name: Merak and Sakteng Trek
Trip Duration: 18 days
Max. Altitude: 4090 m (13,500 feet)
Best Season: March to June / September to November
Meal: Breakfast lunch and dinner
Accommodation: 3 stars hotels in City, Teahouses during trek
Transportation: Private car, van or bus (Depends on group size)
Trip Type: Private Tour
Merak and Sakteng Trek offer a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and idiom experience to the trekkers in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys and in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Trashigang District, in eastern Bhutan. The Sanctuary protects the easternmost temperate forest ecosystems in the country with endemic species like eastern blue pine, black-rumped magpie and many others found only in the east. Very few trekkers have experienced this trekking as it was opened only in 2012 after three decades of inception of tourism in Bhutan. It is a moderate trek that traverses through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu, Merak, Sakteng, Thakthi and Joenkhar.
- Witness spectacular bird’s eye view of the Himalayas onboard flight in from Paro.
- Visit significant spiritual & pilgrimage sites in Bhutan.
- Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’- one of the most famous monasteries in Bhutan.
- Visit Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful monastery in Bhutan.
- Explore Bumthang- the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to oldest monasteries & temples.
- Visit Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang & Tamshing Lhakhang in Bumthang.
- Visit Jakar Dzong – “the castle of the white bird”.
- Explore the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Experience the semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and idiom of peoples of Eastern Bhutan.
Day to Day Itinerary:
Day 01: Arrive Guwahati-S/Jongkhar
Arrive in Guwahati airport in Assam, India. Meet our representative and drive to Samdrup Jongkhar, a trade hub for eastern Bhutan. In the evening stroll around the town. Overnight at Hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 02: Samdrup Jongkhar-Trashigang
After an early breakfast, drive north to Trashigang. En-route we visit to a local weaving center in Khaling. Later in the afternoon, we visit Trashigang Dzong, administrative center for the valley. Overnight at Hotel in Trashigang.
Day 03: In Trashigang
Drive to Trashiyangtse, visit Gomkora temple, Doksum village along the way. In Trashiyantse, visit Traditional Art School, Chorten Kora and stroll around the village and its small town. Return to Trashigang for overnight. Overnight at Hotel in Trashigang.
Day 04: Commence trek to Donmong Chu ( Approx. 19km, 5-6hours)
From Trashigang drive for about 2 hours to the road end at Chaling at 2135m. Then begin trekking with gradual climb towards Shaktimi meadow, with yaks and sheep grazing with some yak herders’ huts scattered on the hillside. Continue the climb to reach Mendula Pass at 3345m. After the pass it is all downhill through the rhododendron forests till campsite at a beautiful meadow known as Donmong chu by the river at 3145m. Overnight in camp.
Day 05: Donmong Chu-Merak (Approx. 10.5km, 3-4hours trek)
Today we trek along the Donmong Chu River through the rhododendron forests and shrubs. Today’s trail skips steep climbs and follows the river bends, gradually gaining the height. The first village we come across is Gangu (3430m) and after another 45 minutes, we arrive at a large Merak village at an elevation of 3520m. Overnight in Camp.
Day 06: Merak-Mitsateng (Approx. 16km, 6 hours trek)
We start early from the camp, towards the east with a gradual climb to the first pass at 3900m. Today we cross the highest pass along with some smaller passes and ridges so it might be toughest day this trek. We continue along the tree line till we reach Nachungla Pass at 4150m. Catch a glimpse of 360 views of Bhutan peaks, Arunachal and Tibet. From the pass, it is a long descent to Miksateng village campsite at 3060m. Overnight in camp.
Day 07: Mitsateng-Sakteng (Approx. 6.5km, 2-3hours trek)
After breakfast, we descend down to the river and then climb gradually towards a small pass with a small chorten (stupa) on the hill overlooking the Sakteng valley. From the ridge, we descend down to the valley, cross the river into Sakten village at an altitude of 2950m.
Overnight in camp.
Day 8: In Sakteng
Today we rest at Sakteng exploring its beauty. In the morning, we visit the village, local homes, temple, meet with people and witness the lifestyle and unique living culture of this ethnic group. In the afternoon, we watch the cultural show performed by locals. Brokpas have a unique yak and ache lhamo dances. We can also try the local liquor with a special ceremony. Overnight in Sakteng.
Day 09: Sakten-Joenkhar Teng (Approx. 17km, 6-7 hours trek)
Today we trek for about 6-7 hours with a gradual descent. As the journey is seems long so we start early from the camp. Leaving Sakteng, we march forward for the Joenkhar Teng and camp right next to the river at an altitude of 1750m. Overnight in camp
Day 10: Joenkhar Teng Tashigang–Mongar (Approx. 8km, 2-3 hours trek)
Our last day of the trek begins with short climb through Joenkhar Teng and a long descent crossing suspension bridges and short climb to reach Phongmay (1770m). Afterwards, drive to Mongar town, which takes about 5hrs via Trashigang. Overnight at Hotel in Monger.
Day 11: Mongar-Jakar, Bumthang
After breakfast, we begin a long and spectacular drive west to Bumthang, across Thrumshingla National park, witnessing the drastic vegetation and landscapes, rich in bird and other wildlife. We also pass through many small hamlets and villages along the way before arriving in Jakar in the evening. Overnight at Hotel in Jakar.
Day 12: In Bumthang
In the morning visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro). After lunch, hike to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later, visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”, and then take a stroll through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 13: Bumthang – Trongsa – Punakha
After breakfast take a long drive to Punakha. From Jakar, cross into Chumey valley, then across Yontongla pass, we arrive in Trongsa, where we stop to peek at the Tower of Trongsa museum and also see the impressive Trongsa Dzong. Trongsa Dzong is one of the largest fortress in Bhutan. Traverse Pele la pass (through Black mountain national park) and descend into semi-tropical Punakha-Wangdue valley, where we arrive in the evening. Overnight at Punakha.
Day 14: Punakha-Thimphu
After breakfast, visit Punakha Dzong crossing the bridge. It’s the ancient capital of Bhutan connecting the Mo Chu & Pho Chu Rivers. It is also the winter capital for the monks and the Je Khenpo (chief abbot). Afterwards, drive to Lobeysa for lunch. After lunch hike another 20 minutes to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the “Divine Madman” built in 1499 and today mostly visited by the women who couldn’t bear Children, thus also known as the temple of fertility. Afterwards, drive to Thimphu. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu.
Day 15: Thimphu – Paro
Full day at Thimphu for touring, it has many monuments, attractions such as Textile Academy, Farmer’s Market, Changlimithang, Handicrafts workshops, Giant Buddha statue and others if time permits. In the evening, drive short distance to Paro (1 1/2 hr)
Overnight at Paro in Hotel
Day 16: In Paro
Spend the full day around charming Paro valley, where we will visit National Museum, Rinphung Dzong and beautiful 7th century Kichu Lhakhang temple, Dumtse Lhakhang, Dzondrakha cave temples and local farm houses by short walks and drives.
Overnight at Paro in Hotel
Day 17: Hike to Takstang Monastery
Early in the morning, make an excursion to Taktsang Monastery – this has to be the monastery with the most outstanding setting in Bhutan. Set on a vertical cliff face at 2950m above sea level, it defies all engineering logic. For the energetic, hike 2 hours up to get a more dramatic view of the monastery. (The hike demands a certain level of fitness and a pony ride to the monastery can be arranged at additional cost). Just on the outskirts of Paro town, visit Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan and have the opportunity to meet the local villages in a local farm house. Overnight at Hotel in Paro.
Day 18: Departure
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch the onward flight. Bid farewell to the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappearing again behind its guardian mountains
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• Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
• 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium).
• Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
• Route Permit
• Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
• All land transportation by private vehicle
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
• Sightseeing as per itinerary
• Monuments entrance fees where applicable
• Drinking water
• All internal taxes and charges
• A sustainable development fee of $65. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)
• Airfare & Travel Insurance
• Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
• Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.
• On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on a usage basis.
Our entire Bhutan tours are private journeys and tailor made programs suited for any independent travelers according to their chosen traveling dates. Should you wish, the tour can be easily customized as per your interest and activities you wish to get involve in or spend more time in your places of interest. Contact us to customize this tour as per your requirements. This tour can be undertaken round the year.
Normally during the monsoon seasons (Jun, Jul & Aug), the road condition in between Thimphu to Bumthang will be muddy road and bumpy ride. Other than Land-cruisers it’s not an easy journey but still with cruisers will be a bumpy ride. Another option will be flying into Bumthang and drive back or vice-versa. But in other seasons, such is not the case.