Bumdra trek also known as “Trek of Thousand Dakinis” is one of the most beautiful short duration treks in Bhutan with a one night camping in the wilderness. The views and sceneries along the way are absolutely breathtaking. You will also be able to get a spectacular view of the iconic landmark of Bhutan - Taktsang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest- from the top!
Difficulty level: Moderate
You should have an average physical fitness level to attempt the trek.
ARRIVAL IN PARO - THIMPHU
Upon your arrival at Paro International Airport, you will see your tour guide waiting for you at the arrival hall. From Paro, you will take a one hour drive to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. In Thimphu, you will check in to your accommodation and have your first Bhutanese meal!
The city will provide you a glimpse into the local cultures and you will quickly notice Bhutanese in their traditional costumes, Kira for the ladies and Gho for the men. You will also realise that unlike other cities in the world, you will not see any traffic light on the roads!
On the first day, your itinerary will be light to ensure that you have sufficient rest from the flight and are ready to explore Bhutan! Your first stop will be the Buddha Dordenma (also known as Buddha Point) to learn more about Buddhism in Bhutan. The scenic view from Buddha Dordenma makes great photo opportunities for travellers. It’s located near Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and the 169 feet bronze Buddha statue is considered one of the largest in the world. The night view from Buddha Dordenma is absolutely magnificent.
After that, you will visit one of the largest ancient fortresses in Bhutan known as Tashichho Dzong or Thimphu Dzong. It is the office of the King as well as other government buildings nearby. Be awed by the architectural feat of Bhutan!
Subsequently, you can take a stroll to check out the Thimphu Town and visit the Craft Gallery to learn more about the different arts and crafts available in Bhutan.
You can either opt for a morning walk or take a 15 mins drive up to Sangaygang (BBS Tower) for a panoramic view of the city. This place makes a great photo spot for travellers and you will get to enjoy the view of the entire city of Thimphu! You will also be able to see the beautiful colourful prayer flags fluttering around the area.
You will visit the beautiful National Memorial Chorten located at the heart of the city. The chorten was built in honour of the late third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. You can see elderlies gathering, chatting and also offering prayers. Locals will be circumambulating the chorten in a clockwise direction. There are also huge gigantic prayer wheels where locals will spin in clockwise direction to accumulate merits.
Thereafter, you will be visiting Simply Bhutan - the perfect place for you to be introduced with the Bhutanese cultures. The museum offers you a guided explanation to different aspects of traditional Bhutanese way of life. You will also be treated to some local performances while sipping their local traditional butter tea. In addition, you can try your hand at the national sport, archery, in the museum! While you are there, you can also see the local artist, Pema Tshering who has cerebral palsy, diligently carving and painting his arts in his cosy shop.
After your induction about the Bhutanese cultures, you will head to Simtokha Dzong, the first ancient fortress to be built in Bhutan and the first building to incorporate both monastic and administrative centres. The central tower is three storeys high with prayer wheels surrounding the courtyard. There are also more than 300 slate carvings depicting Buddhist figures.
You will also be able to visit the Motithang Takin Preserve. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and you are sure to be intrigued by this unusual looking animal that is found only in Bhutan. Just remember to ask your tour guide about the legends surrounding these mystical creatures.
THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA
On the way to Punakha, you will drop by Dochula Pass, one of the most beautiful mountain passes in Bhutan. Dochula Pass comprises 108 chorten built by Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the Assamese insurgents from India. If you are lucky, you can also get a clear view of the gorgeous Himalayan range from Dochula Pass!
You can visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang located near the Dochula Pass. This beautiful temple was built in honour of the fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck who led the battle against the Indian rebels. You will be able to see locals offering butter lamps at the temple.
Upon reaching Punakha, you will first visit the Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful fortresses in Bhutan. It used to be the seat of the government until the capital shifted to Thimphu. The dzong continues to be a winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbot (Je Khenpo). The dzong is strategically located at the fork of two rivers, Mo Chhu and Po Chhu and beautiful jacarandas can be seen blooming at the courtyard during spring.
You will explore one of the most popular temples in the Punakha District, Chime Lhakhang (also known as Temple of Fertility). You will start your journey from Sopsokha Village where you can witness traditionally built houses and shops. Do not be surprised by the amount of phalluses you will see around the village! You will get to learn more about the significance as you reach Chime Lhakhang after taking a 20 mins stroll across a serene terraced field. Travellers from all around the world visit Chime Lhakhang to receive fertility blessings.
Then you will visit the Po Chhu Suspension Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan measuring 160 metres long. You can feel a sense of calm as you stand atop the suspension bridge admiring the picturesque lush green valleys. The bridge offers you a spectacular view of the rivers and Punakha district.
PUNAKHA TO PARO
Thereafter, you will head back to Paro for further exploration. In Paro, you can visit the Rinpung Dzong aka Paro Dzong that is located near the town. This 15th century massive fortress is the administrative centre of the district. It was built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan. The dzong is literally known as Fortress on a Heaps of Jewels. It is one of the country’s finest architecture. Scenes from Bernado Bertolucci’s 1993 film ‘Little Buddha’ were filmed in Rinpung Dzong!
You will visit Kyichu Lhakhang - one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Bhutan. It has a very calming ambience where you will see locals spinning prayers wheels and circumambulating the temple. Inside the temple also housed two mystical orange trees that bear fruits throughout the year!
You will also be able to visit the national museum located immediately above the Rinpung Dzong. It was originally built as a watchtower. In 1968, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the first National Museum that stores sacred religious artifacts. This excellent museum is not to be missed!
Subsequently, you can explore and chill around the Paro town. There are plenty of shops selling handicrafts, eateries and souvenirs.
BUMDRA TREK DAY 1
Your journey will begin with an early morning drive up to Sang Choekor. You will be greeted with ponies who will be assisting you with your loads. Before kickstarting your trek, you can visit the Sang Chokhor Buddhist College. It’s an education institution for about 100 monks.
Your hike will begin from the Sang Chokhor Buddhist College (2,800m) to the Yak Pasture below the Bumdra Monastery (3,800m). The initial 1 to 2 hours walk up to the ridge can be steep until you reach an open space with many beautiful colourful prayer flags. You will be treated with the spectacular views of both Paro and Do Chhu valleys.
Along your journey, you will get to see Chhoe Chhoe Lhakhang, nestled on the mountainside and the trail continues until you reach the last steep elevation. You will also overlook Paro International Airport and the majestic Himalayan range.
After 20 minutes of climbing through ruins and passing the fluttering prayer flags, you will descend through an ancient forest and reach a wide meadow with sacred chortens.
The camping site is located at Bumdra Monastery where you can visit the temple after lunch and witness the monks perform ceremonies and receive blessings. If you still have the energy to climb further, you can go further north up from the camping site. You will get an even better view of the valleys and Himalayan mountains.
Dinner will be served at the campsite and you can enjoy the night under the glistering night skies.
After a hearty breakfast with the awe-inspiring landscapes, you will make your descent down through the forests, towards the valley until you arrive at Zangdopelri Lhakhang. You will be navigating through a zig zag trail of ancient pine and rhododendron forest. After 1 to 2 hours of descent, you will catch a glimpse of the golden roofs of the temples below.
From Zangdopelri Lhakhang, you will be able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the iconic landmark of Bhutan, Taktsang Monastery, popularly known as Tiger’s Nest. Taktsang Monastery is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. It offers breathtaking views to the trekkers and the monastery’s name came about because Guru Padmasambhava (aka Guru Rinpoche) flew there on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. He is said to have meditated in the very cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3weeks, and 3 days.After visiting the numerous small temples and caves, you will hike down all the way to the base. You will be taken back to your hotel for a well-deserved rest.
DEPART FROM PAROThe day that you will say goodbye to this amazing Himalayan Kingdom and vow to be back again to explore more of it someday! You will be departing Bhutan from Paro International Airport. Hopefully you would have made some great memories and new friends that will last you a lifetime. We certainly hope that you will come back to discover more charm of Bhutan in some other parts of the country!