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12 Days 11 Nights Jomolhari Mountain Festival Trekking Tour takes same trekking routes as Jomolhari Loop Trek. The only difference is you get to halt 2 extra days in Jangothang to mingle among the people who lives a nomadic life herding yaks at an altitude ranging from 2,500 meters to nearly 5,000 meters and celebrate their 2-day annual Mountain Festival which offers great opportunity to explore and experience local culture and cuisine. The highlight of this trek is not only the fascinating mountain festival but also the spectacular view of majestic Mount Jomolhari from the Jomolhari basecamp accentuated by splendid landscapes, flora and fauna.
Trekkers who want to avoid high passes and high altitude can chose an easier version of the Jomolhari Loop by retracing their steps from Jangothang instead of taking harder routes through spectacular high ridges (see days 9,10,11) while still having the majestic impressions of Mount Jomolhari.
Note: For time-strapped travellers, we can exclude trip to Thimphu and stay just one day at Jangothang camp and reduce the whole trip to 10 Days 9 Nights.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
Jomolhari Mountain Festival is an annual event which takes place in late September or early October.
Moderate to Difficult – very good level of fitness is required for this trekking. Trail crosses altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level. You should be able to walk/trek 20+ km in 7-8 hours through rough terrains. Your are strongly recommended to undergo training to get fit and healthy before undertaking this trek.
Only high season tariff applies as this mountain festival takes place during high season months of September or October.
US$3550 – for single person traveller
US$3430 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$3080 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
Arrive Paro International Airport by either Drukair or Bhutan Airlines. After getting your visa stamped on your passport and going through customs formalities, you will be received by your guide and driver at the arrival gate.
If your arrival time is way earlier than the hotel check-in time, we will visit one or two places of interest within Paro town. Otherwise, you’ll be heading straight to the hotel. Your guide and driver will assist you to check into the hotel so that you can relax for a while and then have lunch, your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine.
The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district). It is housed in an ancient watch tower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watch tower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. This unique ancient watch tower was converted into the National Museum in 1968.
Paro Rinpung Dzong (Rinpung Dzong means “fortress of the heap of jewels”) was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1646 and established as the administrative and monastic centre of the western region. Today, the Dzong serves as the office of the governor of Paro district and head of the district monk body in Paro.
A great annual festival known as Paro Tsechu is held in Rinpung Dzong from the eleventh to the fifteenth day of the second month of the traditional Bhutanese lunar calendar (usually in March or April of the Gregorian calendar). On this occasion, holy images are taken in a procession followed by a series of traditional mask dances conveying religious stories which are performed by monks for five days.
After visiting the Dzong, take a short walk to the traditional wooden cantilever bridge called Nemeyzampa, where your driver will be waiting for you. The roofed wooden cantilever bridge is built in a traditional style and this type bridges are called Bazam.
Later towards the late afternoon if time permits, you will visit 7th century monastery. Kyichu Lhakhang (Lhakhang means “temple”),which is located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro, is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
According to the legend, spirit of a giant demoness lay spread across Tibet and Bhutan causing obstruction to the propagation of Buddhism. In order to subdue this demoness, King Songtsen Gampo was required to built 108 temples across the affected region. Kyichu Lhakhang, built to pin down the left foot of the giant demoness, is one of the two temples that were built in Bhutan. The other is called Jambay Lhakhang located in the district of Bumthang in central Bhutan and was built to pin down the left knee. Both the temples were believed to have been built overnight.
The old temple is known as Jowo Lhakhang and holds the original 7th century Jowo Jampa Statue in its inner chapel. Jowo Jampa is a Tibetan term for Buddha Maitreya, the Future Buddha. The outer hall of the Jowo Lhakhang houses the statue of Chenrizig, the God of Compassion Avalokiteshara.
Next to the Jowo Lhakhang is Guru Lhakhang which was built by Her Royal Grandmother Ashi Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in 1971 and houses the statue of Guru Padmasambhava. Inside this temple is also a statue of her spiritual root teacher His Holiness Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, a highly accomplished Buddhist master who passed away in 1992. Many important religious annual rites are conducted here at Kyichu Lhakhang under the patronage of Her Royal Grandmother.
Leisure time in the town.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Lunch, Dinner)
|Hiking time||2 hours one way|
After early breakfast, drive to the base of the Taksang monastery from where the hike begins. It takes normally about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the nearest road point. The hike is a steep climb but takes you through the cool shades of pine trees giving you a lot of opportunities to take beautiful pictures of the valley below or the ridge above. There is a nice cafeteria on the way where you can rest and can see the breathtaking view of the Taktsang Monastery. It takes about another hour to reach the monastery from the cafeteria.
Taktsang or the Tiger’s Lair (people prefer to call Tiger’s Nest) is located on a sheer 800-meter rocky cliff in Paro. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan. It is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the 8th century A.D. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew into the cave from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress.
Taktsang is not only a sacred site visited by Guru Rinpoche but was also visited and blessed by many other renowned Buddhist masters; Langchen Pelgi Singye – one of the 25 disciples of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, Jitsun Milarepa – famous 11th century yogi, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo – 13th century saint who brought Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddism to Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel – the founder of nation-state of Bhutan in the 17th century, Desi Tenzin Rabgay – the fourth administrative ruler of unified Bhutan in the 17th century.
It was fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgay who built the Taktsang monastery in 1694. However, the present monastery you see today is not the original structure. It was destroyed by fire in 1998. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King initiated and personally supervised the reconstruction of Taktsang monastery to its former glory. It was completed and consecrated in 2005.
Inside on of the temple is a Choeten, a Buddhist stupa built in memory of Langchen Pelgi Singye and holds his sacred body relic. It is believed that the Choeten fulfill wishes if you pray with pure devotion.
Lunch at Taksang Cafeteria
After lunch at the picturesque Taktsang Cafeteria, we hike downhill back to the base where your driver will be waiting for you. From there we will drive to Thimphu.
|Thimphu Altitude||2,334 m (7,600 ft)|
It is a 55km road journey and the drive should not take more than one and half hour. We will be driving along the Paro River (Pa Chhu) which runs until the confluence (Chhuzom) where it is joined by Thimphu River (Thim Chhu). The two rivers form Wang Chhu and flows southward and is the major river running two hydroelectric power plants. After Chhuzom the road follows Thim Chhu river upstream and as you pass through number of villages, you will already feel immersed in a wonderland surrounded by mountains and beautiful landscapes.
If interested, you can stopover on the way to visit Tamchog Lhakhang, a temple that is dedicated to the 15th century Tibetan saint Thangthong Gyalpo popularly know as the iron bridge builder. It is located across the Pachhu river along the Paro – Thimphu highway. To visit the temple you will have to cross an iron chain bridge over the Pachu river, one of the very few remaining of the many iron chain bridges built by Thangthong Gyalpo.
This is a private temple owned by the direct descendants of Thangtong Gyalpo. However, tourists are allowed to visit if they are given permission. Crossing this very old bridge with its swaying and undulating movements can be quite an experience. The temple’s location on the ridge and the high rocky barren hills which serve as it’s backdrop makes this a good location to take pictures.
Upon arrival in Thimphu, our guide will assist you to check into the hotel. If we are able to reach Thimphu between 5pm – 6pm, you might want to visit Tashichho Dzong which opens to visitors after 5PM during working days and 9am – 5pm on weekends.
Tashichho DzongDzong means Fortress in national language of Bhutan, Dzongkha, which means “Fortress of the Glorious Religion” is opened to visitors only after 5PM during working days and from 9AM to 5PM on weekends. The original Dzong, known as Dho Ngon Dzong was built in 1216 A.D. by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa on a location where Dechen Phodrang monastery stands today. It was acquired by Zhabdrung Ngawang NamgyelZhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel was a Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and unified Bhutan as a nation state in 1641 and renamed it as Tashichho Dzong. The original Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and then relocated to the present location. The Dzong suffered several earthquakes and fires and was subsequently renovated and new structures added by successive rulers.
It was His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who renovated and enlarged the entire Dzong to its present form in 1962 over the period of six years. The magnificent architectural feat was achieved using traditional method without any blueprint plans or nails. It houses the Secretariat and offices of the King, the Throne Room, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Central Monastic Body.
Back to hotel and gather for dinner.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today you will visit some of the popular attractions and heritage sites and immerse yourself into contemporary Bhutanese lifestyle in the capital city of Bhutan. Thimphu is home to around 100,000 inhabitants and it is the most modern city in Bhutan. This small bustling city is the main centre of economy, religion and government in the country. You will notice that while the rapid modernization is inevitably taking place, its ancient culture and age-old traditions are still intact and vibrant. We will then drive back to Paro towards the late afternoon.
After breakfast, we begin the day by visiting the National Memorial Choeten the most frequented religious site and national monument in Thimphu. The National Memorial Choeten is a Buddhist Stupa built in 1974 in memory of the Late Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. It is one of the important landmarks in Thimphu. People from all walks of life come here to pray and circumambulate and it is a good opportunity for you to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop, Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the Thimphu valley. From here you can see a nice view of Thimphu city. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also for the purpose of bringing peace in the world . The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of same type. The construction began in 2006 and was completed in 2015 after almost 10 years. The total cost of the entire project is well over US$100 million.
Bhutan Post Office which is located in the heart of the city in the same building as Bhutan National Bank so you can also exchange your money into local currency if you wish.
The Postal Service in Bhutan was first launched in 1962 with the opening of a post office in Phuentsholing, a town in the south bordering with India. The Postal Museum was opened in 2015 to exhibit the story of Bhutan’s progress and development of communications and postal system in the country. If you are interested in philatelic products and stamp collection, they have a good collection of stamps, First Day Covers and stamp albums.
Lunch at the Folk Heritage Museum if your group size is five or more people. Otherwise, it will be arranged at one of the fine restaurants in the town.
After hearty lunch, visit the Folk Heritage Museum. Located in the capital city of Thimphu, this museum was established in 2001 and provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life. The Folk Heritage Museum is set inside a three storied, 19th century traditional house.
The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, in addition to artifacts from rural households, it also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment. In an effort to maintain our knowledge of indigenous natural resources, native trees and plants that had domestic uses in a rural Bhutanese household is grown at the front yard of the museum, creating an oasis of greenery, right in the heart of the capital city of Thimphu.
The museum also has a restaurant with traditional setting and ambience where a buffet lunch or dinner consisting of traditional dishes are offered. However, lunch and dinner arrangement is only available for a group of five or more people.
Note: The Folk Heritage Museum is closed on government holidays. Hours of operation are from 10am to 4:30pm on weekdays; from 10:30am to 1pm on Saturdays and 11:30am to 3:30pm on Sundays.
The National Institute of Zorig Chusum (Zorig Chusum means 13 Traditional Arts & Crafts) was established to promote and preserve the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan and to facilitate increased access in learning ZorigZorig means Arts & Crafts skills by Bhutanese youths. Many of these traditional arts and crafts are declining with the advent of modern technologies and therefore, the government is putting in lot of effort to train youths to keep the traditions alive.
The thirteen arts and crafts are categorized as:
These thirteen arts and crafts are an essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage that have been practiced from time immemorial. These arts were formally categorized during the reign of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth temporal ruler of Bhutan in the 17th century.
If the class is in session when you arrive, you will be allowed to enter the classroom and observe students as they get hands-on training.
The National Library of Bhutan is located nearby the National Institute of Zorig Chusum. It was established in 1967 for the purpose of preservation and promotion of the rich literary, cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan. The scriptures and document collection held in the library and archives are national treasure and a fundamental source for Bhutanese history, religion, medicine, arts and culture. The library also has an extensive collection of manuscripts, xylographs and wooden printing blocks that were used for printing religious text books and scriptures.
The building, which houses the collection of traditional texts was inaugurated and consecrated as a temple by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (a highly revered Tibetan Buddhist master) on November 23, 1984 in order to provide a sacred space for the religious books which form the bulk of the collection. The library moved into its permanent home at the end of 1984.
Towards the late afternoon, we drive back to Paro.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, we drive to wards the Drukgyal Dzong from where the trek begins. If you are interested, we could spend about 30mins visiting the Drukgyal Dzong, a 17th century ruined fortress which is undergoing complete renovation since 2016 and is expected to take few years to bring to its former glory.
The trek begins from Drukgyal Dzong with a short walk downhill and then ascends gently through the beautiful terraced rice fields leading to apple orchards and pine forests. We reach the village of Gunitsawa and pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trekking permit will be checked and endorsed. We cross the Sharna Zampa and soon reach our campsite on the meadows surrounded by trees. Overnight at a campsite.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari. Overnight at a campsite.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages of Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Overnight at a campsite:|
Today and tomorrow will be the highlight of the trekking – witnessing unique Jomolhari Mountain Festival. The festival brings together members of communities in the area to celebrate their local culture and heritage, promote happiness and strengthen social bonds while also creating awareness on the importance of conservation of elusive Snow Leopard with which the local people live in harmony.
On the first day of the festival there will be several unique cultural programs such as songs and dances by the local communities. A school of less than 15 students will perform a play that focuses on the Snow Leopard Conservation, and a Snow Leopard dance by the Snow Leopard Conservation group.
You can participate and watch local games like horse race, yak riding, Khuru (dart), shot put and tug of war. There will be stalls selling handicrafts and local delicacies.
In the evening hike back to the Jangothang campsite for night halt.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Overnight at a campsite:|
Today on the 2nd day of the festival, the program includes scenic hikes led by the locals to various sites around Mount Jomolhari such as twin lakes called Tsophu, the glaciers, and even through the habitat of the endangered Snow Leopard. You will definitely see the primary prey of Snow Leopard, blue sheep, and other wildlife along these day hikes.
In the afternoon, you can witness the cultural programs including traditional folk dances and participate in local games like Khuru (dart), shot put etc.
Back to the campsite for night halt.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Overnight at a campsite:|
The trail leads to a last settlement in the valley and drops to the Paro Chhu. Passing the lake of Tshophu (4,380m) you will climb up steeply to Bhonte La pass at 4,890 m, the highest point of this trek route. Reaching the Dhumzo Chhu river, you trek downstream passing the few houses of Soi Yaktsa (Dhumzo) to arrive at your camp soon after. Overnight at a campsite.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The trail climbs 100m over a ridge to drop to another stream then after crossing the Takhung La pass (4,520m) you descent to Thombu Shong, three yak herder huts with your campsite next to them. Overnight at a campsite.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Crossing Thombu La pass (4,380m) you will finally reach Gunitsawa village where your driver will be waiting for you. This is the point where your trekking staff will bid you farewell. We will then drive to Paro.
Overnight at hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Paro Internatioal Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in.
All tour services we provide are independent with flexible itineraries which can be customized to suit your interest and requirement. You can form a group to get discounts. Apart from the predesigned packages which have proven successful, Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel can also arrange the following add-on activities to enrich your experiences in Bhutan. These activities can be fitted into any tour itineraries.
Please note that some of the activities may involve extra fees.
All your deposits and any payment less administrative fees of US$100 per person will be refunded if you notify us at least 30 days prior to your arrival date. Refer the cancellation fee schedule below to determine the applicable charges:
|DAYS TO ARRIVAL||CANCELLATION CHARGES PER PERSON|
|30+||US$100 administrative fee per person|
|16-29||20% of the total cost|
|8-15||50% of the total cost|
|0-7 days||No refund is available|
In case the trip is cut short or duration lost due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan, no refund is available as the payment would have been already made to hotels and other logistics.
There shall be no charges for the number of days of delay either during arrivals or departures or both, due to weather conditions, communication problems, cancellation or delay in Bhutanese airline flights, sickness or any other legitimate reason as Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) may deem reasonable. However, the Tourist will be charged on the actual expenses on accommodation, food, transport and any other services provided.