Trekkers are drawn to the irresistible mystical charms of Bhutan’s mountains and its exquisite landscapes. The Dagala Trek is nicknamed the thousand lakes trek because of the many beautiful lakes trekkers will see. It follows a ridge-line in the Dagala range, which separates the Thimphu valley from the lower hills. On a clear day trekkers will enjoy views of the peaks of Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal. As well as the five-day trek, you will also enjoy visiting Bhutan's highlights in Thimphu, Paro, and the Punakha Valley.

Highlights

  • Enjoy impressive Himalayan views for many miles
  • Encounter local nomadic people
  • Be amazed by colorful flowers that bloom in the spring and summer
  • Experience a lesser-visited trekking trail in the Himalaya

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Bhutan - Fly to Paro - Drive to Thimphu Thimphu
Day 2 Sightseeing in Thimphu - Drive to Punakha, with Hike En Route Punakha
Day 3 Explore the Punakha Valley Punakha
Day 4 Begin the Dagala Trek - Hike Gyenekha to Gur Gur
Day 5 Hike Gur to Lambatama Lambatama
Day 6 Rest Day at Lambatama Lambatama
Day 7 Lambatama to Panka Panka
Day 8 Trek Pankha to Chamgang - Drive to Paro Paro
Day 9 Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery Paro
Day 10 Departure from Paro  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Bhutan - Fly to Paro - Drive to Thimphu

Stupa in Thimphu

Arrive in Paro from Delhi, Kathmandu, or Bangkok. You'll be met at the airport by your guide and transferred to Thimphu (about 90 minutes' drive away).

Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time for some preliminary sightseeing in Thimphu. A great place to start is the great Tashicho Dzong, the Memorial Chorten, and the Giant Buddha statue, from where you will have great views of the valley as the sun sets.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Thimphu - Drive to Punakha, with Hike En Route

Himalayan views from the Dochula Pass

The capital of Bhutan has many things for visitors to see. On a half-day tour of Thimphu’s cultural sites and monuments you may include:

  • The Traditional Art school (painting school), where students learn to create Buddhist-themed paintings.
  • Takin Sanctuary, a chance to see the odd-looking national animal of Bhutan, the takin.
  • Crafts workshops, where you can see traditional Bhutanese crafts being produced, and even purchase some straight from the source.
  • Textile Museum, where you can learn about the colorful weaves that you'll see locals wearing throughout Bhutan.
  • National Stadium, near whcih there is an archery ground where you can try Bhutan's national sport for yourself.

After lunch, transfer to Punakha (about three hours' drive). As soon as you leave Thimphu town you will be surrounded by forest. The road starts climbing gently to the Dochu La Pass (10,006 feet/3050 m). From the pass you can enjoy spectacular mountain views to the north. There are even better views from Lungchutse Lhakhang, about 1640 feet (500 m) above the Dochu La Pass, on a hilltop.

Embark on a two-hour hike through rich vegetation of moss, laden birch, hemlock, and rhododendron trees, arriving at the temple.

Continue driving to the valley of Punakha (4101 feet/1250 m). 

Day 3: Explore the Punakha Valley

Punakha Valley

In the morning, drive to the northern end of the Punakha Valley and hike to Chorten Nebu Goenba. This part of the valley is very scenic, with terraced rice fields beside the Punakha River. The hike will take around 2-3 hours, return. After reaching the road, cross a small suspension bridge and hike up to Khamsum Chorten, from where you will get even better valley views.

Hike down to the river and walk to the suspension bridge, where your car will be waiting to take you to the impressive Punakha Dzong. This architectural masterpiece is located on the confluence of two rivers.

In the late afternoon, visit Punakha town and market, and attend the evening prayer ceremony at the local nunnery.

Day 4: Begin the Dagala Trek - Hike Gyenekha to Gur

Leave Thimphu behind to begin the trek

Drive back to the Thimphu Valley and onward to the village of Gyenekha, where the trek starts. Begin with a short descent to the river. After crossing the river, climb until you reach a huge rock platform, from where there are picturesque views.

After another two hours, you'll reach Gur, an area of yak pastures just below the main trail. Camp here in tents, at an altitude of 10,793 feet (3290 m).

Total trekking time: 5 hours

Plan your trip to Bhutan
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Hike Gur to Lambatama

Camp overnight on the trek

Today's trail takes you across high ridges, from where you can appreciate the rugged beauty of your surroundings and the mountain vegetation. The path winds through meadows adorned with wildflowers (in summer) and asparagus (in spring).

The first mountain pass you cross is marked by a huge cairn, and gives a spectacular view of Kanchenjunga (on the border of Nepal and India), and a number of Bhutanese Himalayan peaks. As you descend the pass you will be able to see the entirety of the Dagala mountain range, as well as meadows and yak herder camps.

Once you have descended into the Labatama Valley you'll begin climbing gradually through the valley, passing several yak herder huts before arriving at Uthso Tsho. The campsite is right next to the lake. Camp here overnight in tents, at an altitude of 14,107 feet (4300 m).

Total trekking time: 6 hours

Day 6: Rest Day at Lambatama

Visit beautiful lakes en route

You'll spend today acclimatizing, relaxing, and recuperating at Labatama. You can take an excursion to any of three nearby lakes: Reli Tsho, Hen Tsho, and Jama Tsho. If you like, take part in some trout fishing. Permits are required for this, so let your local specialist know in advance if you're interested in fishing.

Day 7: Lambatama to Panka

Spectacular views of the Bhutanese Himalaya

Today's trail climbs along the western side of Dala Tsho, up to a saddle at 14,829 feet (4520 m). From here on you will have a fantastic view of the majestic Himalayan peaks, including Everest (Nepal/Tibet), Kanchenjunga, Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, Tshering Gang, Khangbum, Masang Gang, Tsende Gang, and Gangche Ta. If you want an even better view, you can climb a peak close to the saddle (at 15,485 feet/4720 m).

From the saddle the path descends, passing some yak herder huts, to Doccha Chhu. Follow the river for a while, but stay higher up on the slope to reach Panka, with ascents and descents along the way.

Camp overnight in tents, at an altitude of 13,123 feet (4000 m).

Total trekking time: 4-5 hours, plus optional one-hour climb to the viewpoint.

Day 8: Trek Pankha to Chamgang - Drive to Paro

Mountain trails in Bhutan

This day entails the crossing of several passes, but none of them require a major climb. Watch out for different varieties of blue poppy (in summer) and birds. After crossing the last pass, Tale La (13,713 feet/4180 m) you start a long descent to Chamgang. Total trekking time today is 5-6 hours.

Meet your vehicle and drive to Paro, a journey of about two hours. The Paro Valley is one of the loveliest valleys in Bhutan. The roads are often lined with willow trees, and you will see apple orchards beside the roads. Large whitewashed farmhouses and temples complement the terraced fields, with forested hills rising on either side to create a beautiful, organic, and peaceful whole.

After your arrival in Paro, if your energy levels are up to it, check out a few sights, including Ta Dzong (watchtower), which houses the National Museum; Rinphung Dzong; and Dumtse Lhakhang Temple, known to have some of the finest murals in the kingdom. 

Day 9: Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery

Tiger's Nest Monastery

Today you'll enjoy one last hike, to the legendary Taktsang Goenba (Tiger's Nest Monastery). A steep 1-3 hour climb will bring you to this spectacular monastery. You can also hike beyond Taktsang to more remote monasteries further up hill, such as Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tshemo. You'll get away from the (relative) crowds at Taktsang, and enjoy great valley views from here.

Return to the Paro Valley, where you will stop at Bhutan’s oldest temple, Khyichu Lhakhang, then continue to Paro town to enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide.

Afterwards, you'll also enjoy a traditional Bhutanese hot-stone bath, where you can stargaze from your bathtub.

Day 10: Departure from Paro

Farewell Bhutan

After breakfast, transfer to Paro Airport in time for your departure flight. Farewell Bhutan! We hope to see you again.

Bas
Written by Bas Naus, updated Feb 13, 2020