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Merak Sakteng Trek & Eastern Bhutan Tour

Merak Sakteng Trek & Eastern Bhutan Tour

Day 01: Guwahati - Samdrup Jongkhar (110km, approx. 3-hour drive)
On arrival at south-eastern Bhutanese border town of Samdrup Jongkhar, received by our representative and check into the hotel. This bustling little town is the largest urban centre and an important gateway into eastern Bhutan.meraksakteng Bhutan

Evening take an exploratory walk around town and also visit Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, centrally located this three-storied temple represents celestial abode of Guru Rinpoche.

Overnight at the hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar. (Altitude 280m)

Day 02: Samdrup Jongkhar - Trashigang (180km, approx. 6.1/2-hour drive)
After breakfast proceed to eastern Bhutan town of Trashigang. Once the centre of a busy trade route with Tibet, Trashigang is today the junction of east-west highway with road connecting to Samdrup Jongkhar and then to the Indian States of Assam. This town is also used as the market place for the semi nomadic people from Merak and Sakteng whose costumes are unique in Bhutan. 

En route take a short stop at Khaling. ‘Kha’ in Bhutanese language Dzongkha means ‘Bird’ and ‘ling’ means ‘valley’. This is one of the most enchanting, haunting and lush green fertile valleys, blessed with innumerable variety of birds and their songs. One of the oldest School, established in 1978 is located here known as ‘Jigme Sherubling Higher Secondary School’. At Khaling, we also get opportunity to explore Bhutanese textile weaving.

Drive further via Kanglung town. It is home of Sherubtse college, one of the Royal University of Bhutan’s famous academic institutes.
On arrival in Trashigang check-into the hotel. Evening visit Trashigang Dzong, built in 1659, the Dzong serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the home of the monk body. The Dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.

Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang. (Altitude 1150m)           

Day 03: Trashigang (Excursion to Trashiyangtse, 120km, approx. 5.1/2-hour roundtrip journey)
After breakfast, we visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river, 24 km from Trashigang. Gom Kora is a famous place, as Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon here, trapping it in a rock. We continue on down the road to Doksum village, where you may see women busily weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric. The road turns into the hills here, running up the side of a winding river valley to Trashiyangtse.

In former times, Trashiyangtse was an important center because it lies on one of the carvan routes leading from western and central Bhutan. Trasiyangtse is now a rapidly growing town and the administrative center for this district. The area is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which make inexpensive, attractive and useful souvenirs of a visit to this remote region.

meraksaktengp BhutanWe will visit Trashiyangtse Dzong, which overlooks the town and was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created.

Also visit Chorten Kora. This dazzling white stupa is situated on the riverbank below the town. Constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday, it is built in the same style as Boudhnath stupa in Nepal, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. During the second month of the lunar calendar there is an interesting celebration here, known as 'Kora'.

In the evening, we return to Trashigang.

Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang. (Altitude 1,150m)

Day 04: Trashigang - Merak  
From Trashigang, a short drive brings you to small town of Ranjung.  Then continue drive uphill with terraced rice paddies to Radhi village, often known as ‘Rice Bowl of the East’ because of its verdant rice fields. From Radhi, dirt farm road traverses towards Chaling village and then continuing upwards road snakes towards Shaktimi meadow with some yak herders’ huts scattered on the hillside. Continue the drive to Mendula Pass at 3345m. After the pass, it is downhill through the rhododendron forests and meadows of Donmong chhu river at 3145m. The dusty, rocky farm road continues up the valley, gradually gaining height through the rhododendron forests and shrubs reaching at Gangu (3430m) village and in a short while arriving at Merak, located at an altitude of 3,520m.

Overnight Camp. (Altitude 3,520m)

Day 05: Merak – Miksateng
16km, approx. 6 hours trek, Ascent 633m, Descent 1074m

Today is the toughest journey of the trek crossing the highest Nachungla pass at 4,153m and there are few other passes and ridges en-route too. From the campsite, climb gradually to the first pass at 3,900m from where you can have last glimpse of Merak valley. Continuing further, the trek traverses along the tree line of juniper and rhododendron forests and conquer the Nachungla pass.  Then you will descend to Miksateng at 3079m. 

Overnight in camp.

Day 06: Miksateng – Sakteng
14km, approx. 5 hours trek, Ascent 80m, Descent 310m

After breakfast, drop down to the river and after crossing it, follow the river basin for few hours  and then climb gradually to a hill adorned by small Chorten (Stupa) overlooking the Sakten valley. If you are lucky, you can spot red panda among the trees. Drop down from the ridge and camp on the outskirts of the Sakten village at 2,950m. Overnight in camp.

Day 07: Explore Sakteng
After breakfast, visit few villages, experiencing lifestyle and living culture of village folks. You can also visit a local school. Afternoon witness a cultural program, performed by locals, with their unique Yak dances and Ache Lhamo dance.

meraksakteng BhutanLocated north of Merak, Sakteng is a wide valley at around 3,000m, surrounded by mountain on all sides. Sakteng literally means bamboo fields. The inhabitants of Sakteng are similar to those of Merak in terms of their language, dress, lifestyle and spiritual inclinations. The region comprises 250 households with three main villages Sakteng, Tengma and Borang but entire area is commonly known as Sakteng while people are called Saktengpa. Every winter, Brokpas take on Drukkor or grain journey to the lowland village, where they have their regular host family with whom they share close trading and social relationship. They live together as one family for weeks and barter their yak products with maize and grains.

Overnight camp. (Altitude 2,950m)

Day 08: Sakteng – Ranjung
Morning after breakfast, walk for a short while upto farm road and then board vehicle for drive to Ranjung. Visit Rangjung Woesel Choling Monastery, founded in 1989 by His Eminence Dungsey Garab Dorje Rinpoche. One can get fascinating view of valley from the monastery.

Evening Meeting & interaction with monks.  Overnight at the guest house in Ranjung.

Day 09: Ranjung – Mongar
After breakfast, drive to Mongar town which takes approx. 4 hours. The second largest town in the sub-tropical east, Mongar like Trashigang in further east, is situated on the side of a hill in contrasts to other towns of western Bhutan those are located on valley floor.
Post lunch visit to Mongar Dzong. It is site of one of Bhutan's newest Dzong built in 1930s. Yet the Dzong is built in the same method and traditions of all the other Dzongs; no drawings and nails have been used. A visit gives visitors an impression of how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries.
Then a short walking excursion to Yakang Lhakhang. Located at about 20 minutes’ walk from Mongar town, this privately owned monastery was founded by Lama Sangdag, the sixth son of Terton Pema Lingpa. It is of great cultural significance and a repository of a wide range of spiritual treasures and other sacred objects known to have been revealed by Terton Pema Lingpa.
Evening walking exploration of Mongar town.meraksakteng Bhutan

Overnight at the hotel in Mongar. (Altitude 1,620m)

Day 10: Mongar – Lhuntse (77km, approx. 4-hour drive)
Morning after breakfast drive to Lhuntse which is a dramatic trip, frequently taking you alongside cliffs high above the river valley.

Visit Takila-Guru statue. This world’s largest statue of Guru Padsambhava of 173 feet height stands tall on the Takila mountain slope, overlooking the valley of Tangmachu. Guru’s statue is surrounded by eight big and 108 small chortens and serves an important pilgrimage site as well as place for meditation and retreat.

Overnight at the lodge in Lhuntse. (Altitude 2,300m)

Day 11: Lhuntse
After breakfast, visit Lhuntse Dzong. Sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Kuri Chhu river, this mighty fortress was built by Trongsa Penlop, Chogyal Minjur Tempa in 1654 upon the site of an older temple established by Nagi Wangchuk in 1552. Since then it has been renovated several times and now houses the administrative and religious centre of the district.

Then walking excursion to Khoma village. Located about two hours walk from Lhuntse Dzong, Khoma village is famous for its exquisite and treasured Kishuthara (silk weaving). For Kurtoep women, the winter months are solely dedicated to textile weaving and they sit in a row of makeshift textile cottages, weaving intricate design and patterns.

Overnight at the lodge in Lhuntse. (Altitude 2,300m)

Day 12: Lhuntse – Trashigang (170km, approx. 7.1/2-hour drive)
After breakfast, drive to Trashigang. This lesser explored region of eastern Bhutan is blessed with unspoiled natural beauty, towering cliffs, pristine forests, picturesque farmland and villages, a journey which travelers will cherish in their lifetime.

Evening at leisure in Trashigang town.

Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang. (Altitude 1,150m)

Day 13: Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar (180km, approx. 6.1/2-hour drive)
Morning after breakfast, drive to Samdrup Jongkhar. On the way, take a short stop at Dewathang. It is the site where Jigme Namgyal, the father of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck led the Bhutanese troops in a final battle against the British in 1884. Though the Bhutanese put up a strong resistance against the British, Jigme Namgyal ultimately signed the treaty of Sinchula with the British in 1865. meraksaktengp Bhutan
Visit Chökyi Gyatso Institute, the first spiritual institution to declare Zero Waste Policy and it houses around 140 monks, dedicated to Environment and community. Also visit Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI), a non-profit organization with objective to foster genuine Gross National Happiness based development.

Overnight at the hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar (Altitude 240m)

Day 14: Depart Samdrup Jongkhar
After breakfast, picked up by representative from India for onward program. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and bid you farewell.

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