Merak and Sakteng TrekThe 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.
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.
You will visit Sakten village and explore the lifestyle and unique culture of this ethnic group.
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.
After breakfast, commence your journey to Mongar. You will drive through many small townships, villages and rivers and finally arrive Mongar. Overnight hotel in Mongar.
Drive the spectacular 8-hour route back to Bumthang, with stops for lunch and tea in nearby villages. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
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.
Drive to the airport for departure.
Cost Includes on Trek
- Sleeping tent
- Dinning tent
- Toilet tent
- Sleeping mats
- Trekking chef
- Pack animals - Horses
- Government levy
- All meals
- Tea and snacks
- Visa fee
- Entrance fees
- Guide services
- Air fares
- Sleeping bags (on trek)
- Drinks and beverages
- Phone / internet
- Other personal bills
What trekking is like?Trekking in Bhutan is different from Nepal. There are no teahouse or lodges on trail where you can backpack and find your meals at the teahouses and lodges on the way. Horses or yaks carry all your trekking gears, equipment and food supplies. We do not use human porters. You will be sleeping inside a tent pitched at different night halt places. Trained trekking chef is being assigned to you to cook hot meals at the campsites. You will also get hot lunch served on the way.
For a group of two trekkers, you will have 6 people trekking with you – these include a trekking guide, chef, assistants and horsemen. You will have 8 horses carrying luggage.
FitnessThere is no blue print setting standards for your fitness level for treks in Bhutan. Cardio-vascular training, stamina building and leg strength development may be necessary but not compulsory. If you do not have time for such fitness preparation, you should not bother much — with bit of cooperation with your guide and observing some precautionary measures while trekking, you can successfully complete your trek. In more than a decade of our high altitude treks operation; we have a record of completing Snowman Trek by person as old as 72 year and other treks by people with no past trekking experience.
If you are to hit by altitude sickness, you will be prone to it even if you have climbed K2 before. It can hit any one irrespective of age, past experience and time.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) & PrecautionAcute Mountain Sickness or simply high altitude sickness is caused when your blood stream does not get enough oxygen in higher altitude. If not taken care, this would become fatal.
All trekkers must take precaution to avoid AMS. It’s a holistic approach – cooperation, using right and appropriate gears, eating proper meals, protecting from heat and cold, maintaining your fluid balance and ultimately allowing enough time to acclimatize your body.</ p>
Temperature of trekDuring the day it will be warmer with temperature ranging from 12-18 degree celcius. While during the night the temperature will fall below zero degree celcius. In Oct and November, the night temperature will be negative 5-6 degree celcius. You must carry warm sleeping bags.
Trekking Guide & Handling EmergencyOur trekking guides are trained and certified by the government to handle AMS and other emergencies on treks. You have access to mobile networks on some point of trails and a daily contact is being maintained with the office back in city.
Meals on trekWe have set standard food menus on trek to keep you healthy and energized. Our trekkers often remark that our trek food is better than in city hotels. You will be provided with toasts, tea/coffee, butter, honey, fruit jams, milk, fresh fruits, juices, ham, sausages, chocolates, corn flakes, egg, chicken, pork, beef, fish, rice and variety of vegetables. You will be served hot meals always including lunches.
Trash ManagementLittering is not allowed on all trek routes. Hand over your wastes to your trekking staff. They will put in a garbage bag and carry along with them to city to be thrown into proper bins.
Group sizeTo facilitate group dynamic we limit our group size to 12 people maximum. However we will run the trip even for FIT or one and two individuals.
FlightsParo international airport in Bhutan is being connected to cities like Bangkok, Kathmandu, Singapore, Dhaka and Indian cities like Kolkotta, Guwahati and Bagdora. Local airlines Drukair and Bhutan Airlines services to and from these cities. For journey originating from Europe Delhi should be the best connection and Bangkok from America.
When to book?Bhutan has bottlenecks in trip planning. We have limited hotels and flights. You are advised to book at least 6 months in advance to secure flights and hotel rooms.
Visa and PassportTourist’s visas need to be arranged in advance through local tour operators. No foreign missions abroad grant tourists visa. You will have to make an advance payment to approve your visa. Once your visa is been approved, visa clearance letter (VCL) will be sent to you. You must carry this letter to be shown at the check-in counter from where you board your flights to Bhutan. Actual Bhutanese visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at Paro international airport.
Your passport should have minimum six months validity from the date on entry into Bhutan and at least one full blank page for visa. You will not need to carry passport size photos for visa.
Tips and GratitudeAlthough tipping is not compulsory, your service provider might expect from you. You can consult with the company office with regards to tipping slab.
- Down parka
- Warm fleece jacket
- Comfortable trekking boot (we like lowa)
- Lightweight shoes
- Rain gears
- 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
- 1 bandana
- Warm gloves
- Flip flop (or similar camp shoes)
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- 2 pair sunglasses
- Small daypack
- Warm sleeping bag (negative 8-10 degree celcius)
- Trekking poles
- Mud guard
- Headlamp and a normal torch
- Camera and extra batteries
- 2-liter water bottle (if camelback, bring also a nalgene)
- Insulated drinking mug
- Small towel
- 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.
- Lightweight toilet articles (shampoo, soap-travel size)
- Sunscreen, lip screen and insect repellent
- Water purification tablets (iodine or chlorine)
- High calorie snacks and energy bars
- Prescription medications
- Some books to read at camp