Merak Sakteng Trek
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MERAK SAKTENG TREK
Merak Sakteng Trek is one of the remote and isolated community treks in Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang Dzongkhag districts, in Eastern Bhutan.
It is a moderate trek (between 1,500m and 4,100m) traversing through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu (3400m), Merak (3500m), Sakteng (2800m), Thakthi (2200m), and Joenkhar (1700m). Tour operators are not mandated to use a particular trail but the most common trail usually begins from Chaling and ends in Phongmey. Both these Geogs of Merak and Sakteng is an important watershed for Ngere Ama chu and Gamri chu rivers respectively.
MERAK SAKTENG TREK DETAILED ITINERARY
At your arrival at Guwahati airport, Wild Mountain Adventure’s Indian representative will be waiting outside to greet you. After short introduction drive all the way through the plains of India to the far eastern bordering town of Samdrup Jongkhar which lies at an altitude of 2000ft/610m. On the border being a non-Indian nationality you have to register for your exit permit and then just close to it entering Bhutan border your guide will ask for your documents and register your entry permit.
Today you will have a bit long journey uphill from the plain of the bordering town until you reach Trashigang. Enjoy the scenic landscape and the typical eastern settlement throughout. Arrival Khaling region lies tucked into the verdant mountain has a National Handloom Development Project, make a short visit to the handloom centre for the production of traditional textile. Driving further through the lush green valley you will finally reach a top of Yonphula the domestic flight fly in and out from here and then descent downhill to Kanglung which is known for the first university in Bhutan, a short stop may give you a glimpse of the university and the Zangtopelri Gompa opposite to the collage gate. From here your journey takes you around 22km to Trashigang the main centre.
The trek to Merak will start from Chaling reached by following an unsealed road from Rangjung. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies at about 3,316m / 10,880ft.
The trail from your camp to Merak is an easy and old wide trail and today this route is mostly used by local people for their animal trail. The trail takes you through the riverbank with a gradual up and down. Locally believe that Damnongchhu was a battleground of Prince Kuentu Legpa and the demon Lhacham. It is said that the prince shot an arrow from the ridge of Merak Nagpo Tse and subdued Lhacham and later built a stup to pin down Lhachama. Your trail takes you through the old trail and then finally takes the new trail which the vegetation becomes quite dense with juniper, rhododendron, Larch, hemlock and barberry etc. and finally stretches gentle up hill to a tiny village of Gangu. From this village you will finally enter the village of Merak (3520m) and then to your campsite.
The trek from Merak to Miksa Thang is quite a long and medium difficult. As you traverse above the Merak Village you trail take through an uphill task till you reach the beautiful top of Nagchung La which lies at an altitude of 4100m marked by beautiful prayer flags fluttering in the air, if the weather is clear the Himalayan range will be at your site. From the pass the trail takes you downhill through loosen rocks. There is a story that gives you a blow when you descent passing by a stone throne where Am Jomo and Lama Jarpa rested when crossing the Nagchung La Pass. It also says that the spot is where the old and weaker followers of Am Jomo decided to stay back and this people then settle in Sakeng. Continue the trek through the tree line of juniper and rhododendron forest and finally descent down to Miksateng
Trek to Sakteng from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakteng. Overnight at Camp.
Today you have a long journey with easy walk. As you leave Sakteng the trail begins with a short climb to the hill towering over the west of the village with beautiful two stupa. The trail can be of bit confusion if you don’t attach together with your local guide. The trail at your right hand takes one to the village of Sakteng and continues to Arnachal Pradesh (India). So always remember taking the left side descending downhill towards the stream and continue alongside the river through broad leaf forest. Finally you will reach a beautiful and wide meadow near the river in the village of Jyinkhar Teng at an elevation of 1859m where you will camp. The village of Jyinkhar Teng comprises of two different kind of people speaking different language like – Brokpa and Sharchokpa.
Today is your last day of your trek taking you beginning with a short uphill climb from the valley. There are several ups and downhill climbs crossing several suspension bridges until you reached the beautiful village of Phongmay. The trail takes you via Rangung and we encourage you to make a short stop here in this village for a short visit to the beautiful and historical Rangjung Monastery which is founded by his eminence Garab Ginpoche. Reaching Phongmay you will be met by your transfer vehicle and drive you to Trashigang for your night halt in hotel.
Today at your early breakfast in the hotel drive to Mongar(1620) passing through several villages and settlement. We encourage you to visit Gom Kora on the way to Trashi Yangtse which is one of the well known temples in theeastern region. It is one of the sacred meditation site of Guru Rinpoche who came to Bhutan in the eight century. The Guru meditated here in this temple and left his body imprint on the rock. After the Gom Kora continue your drive heading towards Mongar. This journey is one of the best and finest one especially for those landscape enthusiastic. Mongar lies on the side of a hill and once was the home to the legendary fugure of the past. Mongar is also famous for the finest textile and it exist even today.
Today your drive is bit a long one and takes you from east to the central Bhutan. The journey takes you through beautiful landscape and diverse flora and fauna through rushing waterfalls and sheer drops. Passing through thick forest you will finally arrive to the top most pass between Mongar and Bumthang the Thrumshing La Pass (12000ft/3659m). This beautiful pass is surrounded by beautiful prayer flags and gives you the panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks. The pass is usually wreathed in swirling vaporous mists. From the top your drive takes you downhill to entering the cultural heartland of the country, the Ura village under Bumthang will be your first glimpse once entering the central region and lies at an elevation of 10168ft/3100m.
After your early breakfast in the hotel drive to Punakha the winter capital of the monk body. It served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955. On the way stop at Trongsa which lies at an altitude of 2316m, the central hub and historically it is the place from where the attempts of unifying the country was launched, visit the giant fortress the Trongsa Dzong which is the ancestral home of the Royal Family. This massive fortress was built in 1648. Continue you drive and en route stop at Chendebj Chorten on the bank of Nikar Chhu River. From here the trail ascends uphill through beautiful valley of Rukubji village, Sephu through wide array of yak pasture and finally arrive at 3375m the Pelela pass which is marked by a chorten and prayer flags. From the pass the drive descend downhill till you reached Punakha.
Today in the morning drive further north of your hotel crossing the newly founded town of Khuruthang with a central attraction being the Zangtopelri Monastery with its large Nepalese style chorten (stupa), around four kilometer you will reach the Punakha Dzong saddle on the two river Pho Chhu (male river) and Mo Chhu (female river). This extreme fortress is built as far as 1637 and was the second of the mightiest dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Returning back a 30-40 minutes walk takes you to the Chhemi Lhakhang temple dates back to 1499. After lunch drive to Thimphu. Reaching the top of Dochula Pass if the weather is clear beside its magnificent one hundred and eight striking chorten in an amazing setting the panoramic view of the majestic Himalayan mountain range can be visible
The bustling city of Thimphu lies on the bank of Thimphu Chhu (river) and set gloriously in the hill of the Thimphu valley. It is unlike most capital in the world consisting around 80,000 souls. In Thimphu vi sit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum “the Thirteen Arts and Craft”, National Library which was opened in 1967 and consist of repository for thousands of old religious books and manuscripts and a wooden block for painting. Visit Drubthob Gompa, a small monastery which now houses the Zilukha Nunnery. In the evening visit the National Memorial Chorten (stupa) built in 1974 in memory of the third king of Bhutan. At late evening visit Trashichhoe Dzong which lie stretch the valley floor can be visited only after five in the evening
Early hotel check out drive to Paro, which is only 55 km and can be negotiable in one hour. From the main town the drive to Taktsang Goempa. Reaching the parking lot you will then walk uphill to the magnificent monastery that lies at an altitude of 3000ft/915m from the valley. You need to remember that the trek to the Goempa is quite an uphill task and it takes around three to four hours walk for an average speed. The trail takes you through a fairy speed up through the meadow and a teashop. The monastery perched cliff aside, was believed to be the meditation site of Guru Rinpoche, who flew on the back of a pregnant tigress in the eight century and meditated here in the cave for three months in subduing a demon through his magical power.
After your leisurely breakfast in the hotel drive to Paro airport and depart to your onward destination. Here you bid adieu to your helpful Bhutanese tourist guide and driver and proceed to your onward destination.
- All meals
- Tea and snacks
- Complementary bottled water in car
- Government levy
- Visa fee
- Entrance fees
- permits and sightseeing
- Flight tickets
- Medical/Travel insurance
- Drinks and Beverages
- Internet Bills
- Phone and other bills of personal nature