Nabji-Korphu Community Based Tourism (16 Nights/17 Days)
The Nabji Trail is an ideal post-harvest/winter trekking open from October up to the end of March. The trail is set out in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, a park with an ecological rich environment. The park, located in central Bhutan, is also home to several cultural rich agricultural villages. The trail is a six-day low-altitude trek (between 693m/23100ft and 1,636m/5453ft) through six different villages located inside the park. Starting point Riotala (1060m/3533ft) and final destination Tongtongphey (1061m/3537ft) are two small villages along the Trongsa-Zhemgang road, situated in the buffer area of the park at the east side of the Mangde Chhu (river).
On this trek, you will possibly see the Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei), one of the rarest primates, which can only be found in Bhutan and neighbouring Assam. Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park is also home to the endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nepalensis). More so, the trail is a superb place for birding (common mynas, blue-fronted redstarts, long-tailed shrikes and Eurasian sparrows, to name just a few common species, but spotted are also serpent eagle, golden-throated barbet, and the yellow-bellied flowerpecker) and has a wide variety of plants and flowers found in this Himalayan area (from Chir Pine, broad-leaved trees and Bamboo, to Rhododendrons and wild Orchids).
Besides the natural beauty of the area, the area also contains cultural history, witnessed among others by the presence of a commemorative pillar in the temple of Nabji. The pillar symbolises the occasion that peace was negotiated between the two kings (King Nauche from India and King Sindu from Bhutan) intermediated by Guru Rimpoche in the eight century. Along the six day trail more traces of Guru Rimpoche’s presence during those days can be found.
The last two days of the trek will go through the homeland of the Monpa people. The small traditional villages of the Monpa community are scattered on the slope overlooking Mangde Chhu. The Monpas are thought to be the first settlers in Bhutan, the Mangde Chhu valley representing one of the earliest areas of settlement in Bhutan. The Monpas practice a mix of animistic shamanism and Buddhism. Monpa refers to “the people of darkness” referring to their isolated position in the past. In general term Mon refers to people without religion that symbolises period before the advent of Buddhism in Bhutan. They were originally hunters and food gatherers and their culture, tradition and practices are intrinsically linked to the forest around them. They are traditionally cane weavers and bamboo crafters, using their skills for house construction, making baskets and other household items.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
Arrive at Paro. Received by YANA representative and transfer to the hotel. Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon visit National Museum of Bhutan. You will have time to admire the museum’s collection of rare Bhutanese artifacts and art, traditional weaving and other eclectic pieces. After the museum visit the Paro Dzong (17th Century Fortress) which now houses the offices of the district administration and the district monk body. You will then hike down to the traditional cantilever bridge. One of the scenes in the film Little Buddha includes this bridge. Your transport will pick you up from the other side of the river. Evening at explore around Paro town. Overnight at hotel. – L/D
Day 2: Paro – Thimphu
Morning drive to Thimphu – the capital town of Bhutan. Upon arrival check in and lunch at the hotel. After lunch sightseeing begins with the visit to the Memorial Choeten, a stupa built in 1974 to honor memory of the 3rd King, His Late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The stupa is one of the most elegant masterpieces built in the 20th century with detail religious wall paintings and sculptures. Then visit the 14th century Changangkha Lhakhang, which is also a focus of daily worship for many Thimphu residents. Then drive Sangaygang – the viewpoint. It is also known as “Lover’s Point,” where young couples come to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the Thimphu valley. Then you will visit the Dupthob Lhakhang built by Dupthob Thangthong Gyalpo, also known as “Iron Bridge Builder” in Bhutan’s history. It is now a nunnery and it has more than 70 practicing nuns. You will then visit the Handicrafts Emporium for souvenirs. Overnight at hotel. -B/L/D
Day 3: Thimphu
After breakfast, you will visit the Textile Museum, National Library – a tall stately building in the traditional Bhutanese style that is a repository of precious historical and religious manuscripts written in gold. Next you will visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum – a painting school where the traditional style of Thangka Painting is passed on to the next. You will then visit the Traditional Paper factory. Lunch in restaurant in town. After lunch you will drive north of Thimphu valley to visit Tango Monastery. It is now a college for learning higher Buddhist philosophy. It was more than 200 monks. It’s a moderate hike through the forest of oak and rhododendron. It’s one hour hike one day. Evening at leisure. Overnight at hotel. – B/L/D
Day 4: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast drive to Punakha – the ancient capital of Bhutan. The drive takes you across Dochula Pass (3100 m) which is marked by a large Bhutanese style Choeten, 108 small choetens and prayer flags. If weather is clear you will have an opportunity to enjoy the most spectacular views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas. The road to Punakha descends from the pass through the magnificent pine and rhododendron forests and wanders through some of Bhutan’s most spectacular countryside. Punakha, situated at an elevation of 1400 m served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and it stills serves as the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the Central Monk Body. Blessed with temperate climate and fed with the Po Chu (Male) and Mo Chu (Female) rivers, Punakha is one of the most fertile valleys in Bhutan. The climate allows for two crops of rice to be grown a year. And is also good for growing fruits with oranges and bananas in abundance. Check in and lunch at the hotel. Afternoon lunch visit Wangduephodrang Dzong built in 1638 and explore Wangdue town. Evening visit the YANA farmhouse which will offer a closer look at the country’s unique culture that dictates simple hospitality extended to any and all guests, even to perfect strangers. Dinner and overnight at hotel. -B/L/D
Day 5: Punakha – Trongsa
After breakfast drive down the valley to the town of Wangduephodrang, where there is a very large fortress and an interesting town. Continue on the road to east, through ever changing vegetation as road gradually winds its way up towards the Pelela Pass at 3400 m. On a clear day, views of the valleys and mountains are magnificent. After making several stops en-route for pictures, we arrive in time for lunch at Chendebji. After lunch continue to Trongsa. Evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight at Guest House. -B/L/D
Day 6: Riotala – Nimshong (6.5km; 3-4 hours) – TREK BEGINS
Trongsa (2,200m/7,333ft)-Nimshong village (1,319m/4,367ft)
The first day starts with a brief tour through Trongsa Dzong and its Ta Dzong strategically located above the Mangde River. From there the bus will follow the road towards Zhemgang to halt in Riotola (1,060m/3533 ft), the start of Nabji Trail. Keep an eye open for deer and macaques along the way but notice the beautiful view over Mangde Valley as well.
The trek starts with a steep descent of 693m/2310 ft, to the bed of Mangde River; within one and hour from the river you can have a rest at a place called Matling (804 m/2600 ft). After half an hour you will come across a chorten that indicates the entry to the Nimshong village which is a steep climb for about two hours from the river. Nimshong is a small (circa 58-household) village, which has a population of about 465 people. The villagers welcome you with dance and songs while cooks are preparing diner. The campsite (1319m/4397 ft) is just beside the Nimshong Community School next above the village. Overnight in Camp. – B/L/D
Day 7: Nimshong – Nabji (13km; 4-6 hours)
Nimshong Campsite (1319m/4397 ft)-Nabji Campsite (1,300m/3827ft)
Early in the morning, the village guide will take you to the local temple. From there the hike will go through a lush broadleaf forest alive with abundant bird and mammal life, with possible sightings of Golden Langur and Rufous-necked Hornbill. Nabji is pretty much at the same elevation as Nimshong village; however, the trail will move up and down through a dense forest. Nabji consists of 55 households and an approximate population of 400 people. The village is situated on a foothill above terraced fields of rice. The temple of Nabji -which means ‘promising’ or ‘oath’- harbours the stone pillar to mark the peace between Bumthang and Assam Kings. In the village you can find rock remains of a blacksmith (one of the reincarnations of Pema Lingpa). Overnight at campsite surrounded by the rice fields of Nabji. Overnight in Camp. -B/L/D
Day 8: Nabji – Halt (9.5-13km; 4-5 hours)
Nabji village (1,300m/3827ft)-Korphu Lunch spot 1,636m/5453ft)
From our base camp in Nabji, we will do a day hike to Korphu village. Korphu is situated on a mountaintop at an altitude of 1,500m/5000ft. The village consists of 76 households, with an approximate population of 600 people. It is a spectacular hike uphill, and the view from the clustered village of Korphu is breathtaking. It is possible to visit Korphu’s temple, which houses the sacred relics of Pema Lingpa. A local lunch will be provided in the village. In the mid-afternoon, we hike back to Nabji. Overnight in Camp. -B/L/D
Day 9: Nabji – Kubdra (11-14 km; about 5-7 hours)
Nabji/Korphu campsite-Kubdra Camp site (1636m/5,453ft)
Our trek today starts on a trail to Kubdra village, leaving Nabji village at the holy tree. The trail has it own beauty; you will come across dense forest, big trees with clippers, orchid and small bamboos. After 5 to 6 hours hike, you can rest on the benches provided; enjoy your lunch with a nice view of water fall at a place called Zhelyung (1565m/5217ft.). Then after few hours walk you will come across an ethnic group (called the Monpas) inhabited in Kubdra. Kubdra is situated in the middle of the forest, around 6 hours walking from Nabji. Along the way you’ll find traces of Guru Rimpoche. The habitat you traverse is very attractive for tigers and leopards (though it is very rare to spot them, droppings and spores can be found). Kubdra only has 3 households, but the few Monpas living here are very happy to welcome you at their campsite. Overnight in Camp. -B/L/D
Day 10: Kubdra – Jangbi (13-14,5km; circa 6 hours)
Kubdra Camp site (1636m/5453ft)-Jangbi village (1368m/4560ft)
The hike continues from Kubdra to Jangbi village. Again traces of Guru Rimpoche can be found along the way (foot print, dragger and hat). A brief visit will be paid to the small village of Phrumzur with its temple (at 1,400m). From the site of the temple there’s a good view over the valley, here lunch will be served. From Phrumzur the hike continues, with great vistas and pristine forest along the way. A welcoming tea is prepared in the orchid garden in Jangbi. Here you will also find more information on the Monpas and their Cane and Bamboo Project. Camp will be set near Jangbi village with a beautiful view over the valley and Mangde Chhu. Overnight in Camp. -B/L/D
Day 11: Jangbi – Tongtongfey – Trongsa (7-9.5km; about 3-4 hours) – TREK ENDS
Jangbi Campsite (1,368m/4,560ft)-Tongtongfey (1,061m/3,537ft)-Trongsa
Today there is a steep descent of 950 meters, which will bring you to the bridge crossing the Mangde Chhu; after that there will be a last climb to Tongtongfey. From here, the bus will bring you back to Trongsa for a real bed and shower. If time permits, you can visit the Kuenga Rabten Palace and the Nunnery (on the way back to Trongsa). Overnight in Trongsa at Guest House. -B/L/D
Day 12: Trongsa – Jakar
Morning drive to Jakar across Yotongla (3450 m) and descend into the valley of Chumey, the first of four Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings were cremated and the present royal families trace their ancestry back to a famous saint called Pema Lingpa, who was also a smith in Jakar. Jakar is also wide and large valley compared to other valleys in Bhutan. Most prefer to explore the valley on foot and almost all sites are located along the easy walking path. Here we will have time to watch the Weavers and see the weaving of Bhutan’s colorful and textiles. Jakar, the center of Bumthang valleys is only about half hour drive from here. Check in and lunch at hotel. After lunch visit Jambay Lhakhang (7th century), Kurjey Lhakhang and Jakar Dzong. Evening at leisure. Overnight and dinner at Guest House. -B/L/D
Day 13: Jakar
Option 1: Excursion to Ura valley
Day excursion to Ura valley. Hot lunch will be served at Ura village. After lunch visit Ura Lhakhang where you will have time to admire the wall paintings. Return to Jakar for your final night in Jakar. Dinner and overnight at Kaila Guest House or similar. – B/L/D
Option 2: Hike to Tharpaling Monastery
After breakfast hike Tharpaling Monastery. It’s a moderate all day hike through the forest of pine, oak and juniper trees. This hike offers panoramic views of Chamkhar valley. Dinner and overnight Guest House. – B/L/D
Day 14: Jakar – Punakha
Today you will drive back to Punakha with photo stops along the way. Lunch at the Chendebji restaurant. After lunch walk around the Chendebji Choeten (Stupa). This stupa was built in the 18th century by Lama Sidha to cover the remains of an Ogress subdued at this stop. After lunch resume your return journey. Overnight at hotel. -B/L/D
Day 15: Punakha – Paro
After breakfast you will hike to Khamsum Yuelay Namgyal Choeten built in 1994 by Her Majesty Azhi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck for the well-being of the people and country. It’s a moderate hike through the rice paddies and pine forests. The hike takes about 45 minutes one way. The view of the valley from the Choeten is magnificent. Then you will visit the Punakha Dzong and admire the beauty of the Bhutanese architecture where dzongs were built without iron nails. You will also have time to admire the paintings on the life of the Buddha. Lunch in restaurant in Khuruthang town. After lunch you will drive to Paro. Overnight at hotel. – B/L/D
Day 16: Paro (Excursion to Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Day Excursion to Taktshang Monastery literally known as Tiger’s Nest. This is one of Bhutan’s most sacred places, and an important pilgrimage destination. You will walk along a trail that slowly rises above the valley, taking you through fields and past four large prayer wheels turned by a stream. Continuing across an open meadow, you hike up a section of trail to a ridge where prayer flags rustle in the wind next to a massive prayer wheel. Just beyond is the Taktshang Cafeteria at 9,200 feet, where you stop to enjoy a hot drink and the striking views of the Monastery across the valley. Depending on your energy level, you may relax in the pleasant atmosphere of the cafeteria until lunch or continue on for a mile of steep climbing to another dramatic viewpoint. You return to the cafeteria for a delicious buffet of typical Bhutanese food. You may want to try Emadatshi (A chili cheese dish), vegetables with cheese sauce and other dishes. Farewell dinner and overnight hotel. -B/L/D
Day 17: Departure
After breakfast you will drive to Paro International Airport for your onward destination. Your YANA Expeditions Team will assist you with check in formalities and bid you farewell.