Druk Path Trek is one of the finest short treks in Bhutan. Leading through an ancient trading route, over high mountain passes, it connects the valleys of Paro and Thimpu. The trail passes through spectacular rhododendron forests, alpine yak pastures and beautiful lakes stocked with snowy mountain trouts.
The six-day Druk (Dragon) Path follows an ancient trading route through blue pine forests, past alpine lakes, along heart-stoppingly narrow high ridges, and past dzongs (monasteries) and villages. It is Bhutan’s most popular trail, thanks mostly to its proximity to the capital, Thimphu, but also because it gives access to so much in such a short time including spectacular views of the world’s highest, still-unscaled peak, Gangkar Puensum (24,835 feet/7,570 m).
It begins with a tough 3,280-foot (1,000-m) ascent on the first day after leaving the National Museum in Paro Valley, and a ninety-minute ascent on the second day puts you in the midst of alpine forests and groves of dwarf rhododendrons, a land of herders and yaks. The next two days, providing you haven’t succumbed to altitude sickness, are happily spent camping by the alpine lakes Jimgelang Tsho, Janetso, and Simkotra Tsho. Day five should bring your first views of Gangkar Puensum and several other mighty Himalayan peaks.
The final day on the Druk Path involves a 4,265-foot (1,300-m) descent past Phadjoding Monastery, once one of Bhutan’s richest monasteries, but after years of neglect, it found itself listed by the World Monuments Fund as one of the world’s five most endangered cultural monuments. It is still an impressive sight, however, and remains one of the country’s most important meditation sites. As well as being home to more than forty monks, it is now also a refuge for underprivileged boys. The final descent into the Thimphu Valley is through forests of blue pines, offering great views of the city and the promise of some much-needed rest for aching knees.
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