Juniper Trail Tours and Trek – 7 days
- Airport Transfers
This itinerary offers an in-depth experience of Bhutan combining a short trek with a diverse insight into the country’s culture; which makes this such a fascinating place to visit. In our view, this is the best way to experience rural Bhutan and you will be sure to meet many interesting and charming people on the way. Your trek is an absolute gem. We were the first people to research the route in 2006 and were fortunate enough to discover an absolute classic. We also had the honor of naming it – The Juniper Trail. Our local guides now consider this to be the best short trek in Bhutan, offering rewards normally reserved for much longer itineraries in the high Himalaya. In the lower valleys, the landscapes of Paro and Thimphu are dominated by striking dzongs or monasteries which are visually spectacular and truly fascinating places to visit.
ARRIVAL DAY IN PARO
Flying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Bhutan Excursion for the trip will receive you and transfer you to the hotel.
Later on, take an evening stroll along the main street, and perhaps visit a few handicrafts shops or take refreshments at a local cafe or bar.
HIKE TO TAKTSANG MONASTERY
Today, we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the ‘Tiger’s Nest.’ This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hill tops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful there and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for their life! To go down, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.
CHUZOMTOE / TSENDU LA (05-06 HOURS)
It’s about 02 hour drive to the trail head at Chuzomtoe (3310m) to begin your trek from where there is a superb view of Bhutan’s Himalaya on a clear day.
The trail runs gradually up along the ridge for over two hours till the base of a treeless peak, occasionally passing by beautiful meadows that are being used by the yak herders to keep their yaks in winter. The trail then traverses for sometime before you make your way up through the thick alpine forest of firs, rhododendrons and junipers to Tsendu La, a beautiful meadow on top of the ridge with breath taking views, be it of mountains or of valleys underneath.
TSENDU LA / PANGKA LA (04-05 HOURS)
After the late breakfast, we will trek down the hill till we get to Dongle La pass (3565m) which is marked by an old two legged Chorten. This pass is along the forsaken ancient mule track between Paro and Ha valleys. This route was like the present day highway not so long ago, with traffic of mules and people being the beast of burden in the same way. From here, the trail goes gradually up through the alpine forest till you get above the tree line in the vicinity of huge meadow of Pangka La.
PANGKA LA / CHELE LA (05-06 HOURS)
It is worth rising up early in the morning to see the sun rise over the eastern Himalayan mountains or just to experience the solitude of this heaven like place on earth. After enjoying the peace and serenity of this place, we will start the last day of our trek sliding down slowly along the wide and well used yak’s trail for a while till it gets level. Along the ridge, we will come across some yak herder’s camps and then we have a short climb before we make our way down to yet another abandoned mule track at Dzongle La (3565m). From here, the path gets more of level traversing along one side of the rocky ridge till you get to the finishing point of your trek at the highest motor able pass in the country which is marked with grove of fluttering prayer flags known as Chele La (3750m).5TH DAY
In the morning, we will take a drive to Thimphu along the windy road taking about an hour. Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.
The sightseeing in Thimphu includes; Visit to the Institute of Traditional Medicine; Bhutan has long and rich tradition of medicine based on natural remedies derived mainly from plants and earth, and some animals. This institute has facility for out patients, training, research and production of traditional medicine. The courses to become traditional doctors, called drungtsho, entail six to eight years of strenuous study after high school. The institute has an exhibition room that imparts excellent look into the tradition.
Visit to the Folk Heritage Museum; established in 2001, this is an interesting museum housed in a very old traditional house. The museum is a walk through the fast changing rural tradition, habits and skills, and those of the past. They organize special exhibitions annually on select subject pertaining to Bhutanese heritage.
Visit the National Memorial Chorten; the building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had wanted to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is
both a memorial to the Late King (‘the father of modern Bhutan’), and a monument to peace.
Visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of handcrafted products, including the splendid thangkha paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous.