Merak and Sakteng are two highland villages consisting predominantly of a community of nomads. These two villages fall under the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in the eastern district of Trashigang. The people of Merak-Sakteng depend hugely on yaks and its products. Some also rear cattle and sheep.
These communities of nomads thrive on a distinct culture and tradition having also a unique attire of their own. It gives visitors a chance to live with them and learn their highland culture. Spring and Autumns are the best seasons to visit Merak and Sakteng.
Trip to Merak and Sakteng can be arranged through various options:
- Enter Bhutan through Samdrupjongkhar – the eastern gateway to Bhutan – end at Paro in the western Bhutan where Bhutan’s only International airport is located;
- Enter Bhutan through Samdrupjongkhar and exit Bhutan through the same (visitors who chose this gets the opportunity to visit the Kaziranga National Park in India);
- Enter through Paro in the west and travel to Trashigang onboard the domestic flight to Yonphula domestic airport and travel by road to Merak and Sakteng.
DAY 1: ARRIVE GUWAHATI – SAMDRUPJONGKHAR (100 Km)
- On arrival Guwahati Airport. On arrival you will go through the Immigration formalities and meet with Bhutan Journeys associate from Guwahati.
- 3 hours’ drive through Assam to Samdrupjonkhar
- Samdrupjonkhar is the eastern gateway to Bhutan.
DAY 2: SAMDRUPJONGKHAR – TASHIGANG ( 180Km)
- Depart to Trashigang and takes about 7 -8 hours’ drive.
- Pass through Deowathang, military base in eastern Bhutan
- Enjoy the lush tropical vegetation Wamgrong to Kaling.
- Visit weaving center started by Women Association of Bhutan.
- Kaling Blind School and passes through Yonphula Domesstic Airport.
- Shebrutse or Kalung college, 1st university in Bhutan
- Tashigang (3,375ft.), the biggest and most populated districts in the country.
DAY 3: TASHIGANG TO TASHIYANGTSE ( 54 Km)
- Easy day for acclimatization and visit Tashigang Dzong
- Depart to Tashiyangtse and drive takes less than 3 hours.
- Visit Gom Kora Temple, scared site of Guru Rimpoche, founder of Buddhism in Bhutan.
- Doksum village and see woman busy weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric.
- Drive to visit Tashiyantse Dzong. Tashiyangtse is an important district as it lies on one of caravan route leading from western or central Bhutan.
DAY 4: TASHI YANGSTI – TASHIGANG ( 180 Km)
- Visit Chorten Kora, Art and Craft Institute, Dumdeling Wildlife Center and Tashiyangtse town.
- Afternoon drive to Trashigang.
DAY 5: TASHIGANG – MERAK (47 Km)
- Drive from Tashigang through Chaling (2148m), scenic Rangjung town
- Mendula pass at 3154m. Donmong chu.
- Campsite : Merak village (3520m)
DAY 6:TREK DAY 1:MERAK – MISATENG (TREK START)
- Distance: 16km, Time: 5hrs. 633m.
- Nachungla Pass at 4153m.
- Miksateng village
- Campsite at 3079m
DAY 7:TREK DAY 2:MISATENG – SAKTENG
- Distance: 14km, Time: 5hrs.
- Campsite: Sakteng (2950m)
DAY 8:TREK DAY 3:SAKTENG VALLEY EXPLORATION
- Rest day to experience the lifestyle and unique living culture of this ethnic group.
DAY 9: TREK DAY 4:SAKTENG – JOENKHARTENG
- Distance 17km, Time: 7 hrs.
- Joenkharteng village (1733m)
DAY 10:TREK DAY 5:JOENKHAR – PHONGMAY – TASHIGANG
- Distance: 12km. Time: 4-5 hrs.
- Trek to Phongmay.
- Meet transportation and drive to Trashigang.
END OF TREK:
DAY 11: TASHIGANG – MONGAR ( 91 Km)
- Depart to Mongar crossing Chazam Bridge and Kolung River.
- Take a diversion road to visit Dametsi, a temple perched on top of steep hill
- Founded by Chorten Zangmo, the most sacred monastery in eastern Bhutan.
- Pack lunch along the way.
- Drive through Rahdi Loop and explore the Radhi village.
- Drive to Monger.
DAY 12: MONGAR – BUMTHANG ( 198Km)
- Transfer to Bumthang;
- Drive takes around 7-8 hours and it is a long driving day.
- Enjoying the most breathtaking drive with great watching cascading waterfalls through lush forest to Singor.
- Pass the highest motorable pass in the kingdom, the Thrumshingla pass – 12, 465ft.
- Botanical garden of Rhododendrons where 23 types of Rhododendrons are available during the flowering season.
- Descend to Ura village through a rugged terrain. Drive over Shetrangla pass.
- Descend to Tangsibi to Dechen Pelrithang to Jakar.
DAY 13: BUMTHANG VALLEY EXPLORATION
- Most spectacular valley and an ideal place for hiking easily accessible to visit some of most sacred sites in Bhutan.
- Visit Jampa Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Tamshing Monastery, Red Panda Brewery and Jakar town.
DAY 14: BUMTHANG – PHOBJIKHA ( 188Km)
- Transfer early morning to Phobjikha via Trongsa
- Drive takes about 7-8 hours.
- Visit Ta Dzong “The Tower of Trongsa” resorted into an elegant museum that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity
- Visit Trongsa Dzong, Trongsa Dzong – The most massive in structure and its architecture.
- Lunch at the hotel.
- Enjoy your journey through the stunning views of the amazing forest and villages.
- Drive over Phelepass (3350m 11000ft) surrounded by Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
- Take the road that leads to Phobjikha valley over Lawala pass.
- Descend to Phobjikha Valley, a wide open glacial valley and well known as the winter habitat for the Black necked cranes (Grus Nigricolis).
- Black Necked cranes migrated to this valley from early November to end of March.
DAY 15: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA ( 78Km)
- Take an eco-nature trail hike through the beautiful alpine setting environment, enjoying the peace and tranquillity.
- Visit Gangtey Gompa monastery
- Depart to Punakha, and experience the beautiful sceneries of Bhutan.
DAY 16: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU (71 Km)
- Visit Punakha Dzong, architecturally impressive Dzong in the country.
- Ideally located between two rivers Pho Chu “Male River” and Mo Chu “Female River”.
- Built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyel and Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, “Palace of Great Happiness.”
- Winter residence of Je-Khenpo “Chief Abbot” and central monk body.
- Picnic lunch at the riverside.
- Afternoon white water rafting about 2 hours.
- Drive to Thimphu, over Dochula pass (350m, 10,000ft.)
- Offers a magnificent view of eastern Himalayas.
- Descend to Thimphu
DAY 17: THIMPHU VALLEY EXPLORATION
Visit following places of cultural interest.
- Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Statue)
- National Memorial Chorten (Stupa)
- Simply Bhutan Museum
- Takin Enclosure
- Traditional Paper Factory
DAY 18: THIMPHU – PARO ( 54 Km)
- Art and craft school
- Weekend Market ( starts from Friday to Sunday)
- Iron Bridge
- Paro Dzong
DAY 19: PARO VALLEY EXPLOARTION
- Excursion hike to Taktsang (Tiger Nest) monastery
- Hot stone bath experience
DAY 20: PARO AIRPORT
- Transfer to Paro Airport for your international.