This trek around the central district of Bumthang offers an opportunity to explore an un-spoilt natural setting pervaded with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and to visit ancient temples and monasteries in the spiritual heartland of Bhutan.
The trail passes through forests of blue pine, birch, maple, spruce, juniper, bamboo and rugged landscape blooming with numerous varieties of rhododendrons. It also provides unparalleled views of Mount Gangkar Puensum, the highest unclimbed peak in the world. Avian wildlife and pheasants such as the Himalayan Tragopan are a common sight around April-May.
The best time for this trek is between April and early June when rhododendrons are in full bloom. There is a possibility of encountering the Himalayan Black bear when trekking through this area in autumn, so caution should be exercised.
Bumthang Owl Trek detail itinerary
<5>Day 1~ Arrive Paro, 2280m
Day 2~ Paro Hike to “Taktshang”
Hike to Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest, perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro valley. It is a two-hour uphill hike at moderate pace. Visit Ta-Dzong (watch tower), now the national museum, and Paro Rinpung Dzong. Evening, drive to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu
Day 3~ Thimphu, 2350m
Visit National Memorial Chorten built in 1974 in memory of the third king of Bhutan and dedicated to world peace and prosperity, Drive to Takin preserve and see the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal, visit nunnery, school of thirteen traditional arts and crafts and national library. After lunch visit Changangkha Temple built in 12th century, Buddha point to see the 138.6 foot tall statue of Buddha Sakyamuni and Tashichoedzong, the seat of government, first built in 1641.
Day 4~ Thimphu – Punakha, 77km/3hrs
Today the drive to Punakha, Bhutan’s old capital, will take you through some of the kingdom’s fertile agricultural land and most dramatic river valleys.
The first stop is Dochu La (pass) at 3,050 meters. The snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. You could also circumambulate the 108 stupas of the Druk Wangyal Chorten. On the way down into the Punakha valley, one stop is at Mitsina village to visit Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility.
In the afternoon visit Punakha Dzong, which stands at the junction of the two Pho (male) Chu and Mo (female) chu rivers. Overnight in hotel, Punakha.
Day 5~ Punakha – Bumthang, 142km/5hrs
After an early breakfast, drive to the central district of Trongsa and pass over Pele La, at 3,390 meters. Trongsa forms the central hub of the kingdom and is the seat of the Bhutanese monarchy.
The massive Trongsa Dzong stretching across a ridge is an architectural wonder. Its watchtower (Ta Dzong) has been converted into an excellent museum.
In afternoon visit Trongsa Dzong, first built in 1648. Both the first and second kings ruled the country from here. Visit Ta Dzong museum for a glimpse of the rich historical and religious heritage of Trongsa Dzong.
Continue to drive to Bumthang crossing Yotong La (pass) at 3,425 meters. Along the way, stop at a yathra weaving centre. Yathra is a woolen textile weave unique to Bumthang. Watch weavers at their looms. Overnight in hotel, Bumthang.
Day 6~ Exploring Bumthang, 2600m
Today, explore Bumthang, the most beautiful valley in the kingdom and the country’s spiritual heartland. You can visit Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in the Bhutan, Kujey Lhakhang, where Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint when meditating; and Tamshing Lhakhang on the other side of the river opposite the Kurje Lhakhang. Overnight in hotel, Bumthang.
Day 7~ Manchugang – Dhur
Drive to Manchugang to start trek. The trek takes you to Dhur village at 2,900m. Walk above the village to get a full view of the village and the surrounding landscape. The path continues uphill through blue pine forests and reaches camp at 3,450m set in Hemlock and Juniper forests. At night you will hear the hooting of owls from which the name of the trek is derived.
Day 8~ Dur – Kitiphu
The trail passes through Spruce, Hemlock, Fir, bamboos, Birch and many species of rhododendrons. Cross the Drangela Pass 3,600m. Climb the Kitiphu ridge to reach campsite at 3,870m and view Bhutan’s highest peak Gangkhar Phuensum (7,541m).
Day 9~ Kitiphu – Jakar
Pass through several monasteries like Zambala, Choedak, and Tharpaling. Afternoon, walk along the ridge of Kikila and follow the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) and get the best view of Jakar Dzong, after which the trek ends. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 10~ Bumthang – Phobjikha, 155km/5hrs
Drive to the glacier valley of Phobjikha, one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and the winter roosting grounds of the endangered Black-necked cranes. The valley also has a very interesting Nyingmapa monastery dating back to the 17th century.
In Phobjika valley you can do short walks taking the trail downhill.
Overnight stay in hotel, Gangtey.
Day 11~ Phobjikha – Thimphu, 130km/4hrs
Before driving back to the Thimphu visit the Crane Observation and information center. Evening freely stroll in Thimphu town and mingle with the local people. Overnight in hotel, Thimphu.
Day 12~ Thimphu – Paro departure
Drive to Paro International Airport for your departure.