It is a moderate trek (between 1,500m and 4,100m) traversing through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu (3400m), Merak (3500m), Sakten (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 Sakten are important watershed for Ngere Ama chu and Gamri chu rivers respectively.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MERAK SAKTEN TREK
Merak-Sakten stands out as the main and distinct attraction of the eastern Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valley.
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 and many hiking trails in the locality.
- Experience fabulous views of snow-capped mountains such as Mt. Jumolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake.
- Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
- Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
- Experience Bhutan’s unique culture up-close with farmhouse visits and village excursions.
- Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.
- Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
DAY 1 : ARRIVE PARO AIRPORT BY DRUKAIR
Welcome greetings and transfer to hotel for refreshment. You will acclimatize the day by doing some light sightseeing to Rinpung Dzong (fortress of the heap of jewels)/ Kichu lhakhang (one of the oldest temple of the country)/ Wondering around Paro town and interacting with local. Overnight Paro.
DAY 2 : EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG
After wholesome breakfast, drive to the ruins of Drugyel and on the way back spend your day hike to Taktsang monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, (4-5hrs round-trip) Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. It clings to sheer cliffs of 900m above Paro valley. Lunch at the hillside café. (Ponies & horses optional; fees not included). Bhutanese style farewell dinner at a village home. Hot stone bath, optional. Overnight Paro.
DAY 3 : PARO – THIMPHU
Drive to Thimphu along the riverside. Thimphu is a charming capital city nestled in the heart of Himlayas. After check-in, drive to Buddha gang to enjoy the city-view of Thimphu. Circumambulate the Memorial stupa followed by a walking tour around city; Hongkong market/ Norzin lam/ Main traffic area/ Clock tower and etc. Overnight Thimphu.
DAY 4 : THIMPHU CULTURAL SIGHTSEEING
Sightseeing includes; Sangay gang/ Nunnery/ National library/ Zorig chusum/ Heritage & Textile museums/ Traditional hospital/ Tashichhoe Dzong/ Traditional paper factory, etc. Take some optional hikes to the monasteries at the ridge top, interact with the monks. Attend weekend market, craft bazaar and enjoy the archery match at the national stadium. Overnight Thimphu.
DAY 5 : THIMPHU – PUNAKHA & WANGDUE
Stop for mountain-view at Dochula pass (3150m)/ Walk in 108 stupas & Drukwangyel and drive to Punakha. Hike to Khamsum Yuelling stupa built on the top of the hill for world peace. After lunch visit Punakha Dzong (Palace of the Great Happiness) and the famous fertility temple – Chimi lhakhang. Overnight Punakha & Wangdue.
Day 6 : WANGDUE – TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
Embark on a scenic drive to Bumthang “the spiritual heartland of Bhutan,” over the Black mountain ridge via Pelela pass (3300m) & Yotongla pass (3425m). Chendibji chorten (large Nepalese stupa)/ Trongsa Dzong & town/ Yathra weaving centre. After arriving Bumthang, do some easy sightseeing in Bumthang. Overnight Bumthang.
DAY 7 : BUMTHANG SPIRITUAL SIGHTS
In morning, spend time in Jakar Dzong (fortress) followed by spiritual hikes to some ancient monasteries & temples such as Jambay lhakhang/ Kurjey lhakhang/ Tamshing lhakhang. After lunch drive to Tang valley and visit the holy Menbar Tsho (burning lake). In evening visit Kharchu draktsang (monastery) and enjoy the sunset. Overnight Bumthang.
DAY 8 : BUMTHANG – MONGGAR
Embark on a fantastic drive to the eastern Bhutan. This journey will unfold the rivers, landscapes, cliffs, different types of forest, water fall and the distant glacial peaks.
Picnic lunch will be arranged at the tip of the waterfall near Namling’s rocky cliff.
Stop at Thrumshingla pass (3800m) to view Mt. Gangkhar Puensum (7541m). On arrival, walk around Monggar town and talk to the locals. Overnight Monggar.
DAY 9 : MONGGAR – RANGJUNG – PHONGMEY
Drive on the countryside via Korila pass (2400m) where you’d offer butter lamps to the mountain God. Have lunch in Trashigang town and head on to Rangjung. Visit Rangjung monastery, if you are lucky you might get the chance to meet the reincarnated saint. You will meet your trekking crew of nomads in Phongmey village. Overnight camp.
DAY 10 : START OF MERAK-SAKTEN TREK/ CHALING – DAMNONGCHU
After breakfast walk through the paddy field and cross a small village. Here on you will be walk amidst the oak trees beside the river. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula, 3,316m.
DAY 11 : DAMNONGCHU – MERAK
The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs for almost 5 hours. Overnight at Damnongchu Camp, altitude 3,499 m.
DAY 12 : MERAK – MIKSA TENG
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.
DAY 13 : MIKSA TENG – SAKTEN
Trek to Sakten from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakten. Overnight at Camp.
DAY 14 : REST DAY IN SAKTEN
Explore this beautiful, unique and culturally rich nomadic village. People are extra warm and friendly. You will be invited to their homes for butter tea and drinks beside fire. The sources of their livelihood are depended on yaks & sheep.
DAY 15 : SAKTEN – JYONKHARTENG
6 1/2 hours, camp altitude 1,859 m. Sakten to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy trek comparing to previous days. It is mostly downhill to Jyonkhar Teng camp.
DAY 16 : JYONKHAR TENG – PHONGMAY (END OF MERAK-SAKTEN TREK)
5 hours, camp altitude 1,981 m The final day. This day is full with ups and down until you reach the road at Phongmay. Farewell to crews and head to Tashigang. Check in your hotel, shower and rest. In evening, stroll around the charming town of Trashigang. Overnight Trashigang.
DAY 17 : TRASHIGANG – SAMDRUP JONGKHAR
In morning, visit the Trashigang Dzong and head on to Samdrup Jongkhar. En route stroll around several villages and town like; Kanglung, Khaling, Womrong, Narphung etc. Picnic lunch will be arranged near the Mirror cliff. Hang wind-hourse flags to bring blessing and safety on your return trip to back home. On arrival, spend some time in the town and shop for souvenir. Farewell dinner at the hotel. Overnight Samdrup Jongkhar.
DAY 18 : DEPARTURE
Transport will be arranged. Our representative will bid you farewell at the Indo-Bhutan gate. Travel through the plains of Assam toward Guwahati (India). Tashi Delek!
- Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
- Experienced driver.
- Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard goverment approved hotels & guesthouses.
- All meals in Bhutan.
- All entrance fees and permits.
- All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
- Medical / Travel Insurance.