Bumthang Owl Trek / / Max. Elevation: 3,400
Duration: Three days
Highest Camp: 4000m
Standard: Easy to medium
Best Seasons: November, December, March, April, May & June
Start: Menchugang (Bumthang)
Finish: Tharpaling monastry (Bumthang)
Summary: This is a combination of culture and alpine natural world. It is a three-day trek passing through Dhur village. Natural scenery is magnificent and the view of Gangkar Puensum (the highest unclimbed peak in the world) is possible. In autumn trekkers should be careful about the Himalayan Black bears. In April-May, enjoy the sightings of beautiful pheasants such as the Himalayan Tragopan. The trek ends through Tharpaling monastery, which gives you a chance to delve into monastic livelihood. The ending trail joins the Royal Route (trail used in the medieval days) at Kikila pass. Highlights of this trek are: village at Dhur, healthy forests of blue pine, hemlock, fir, spruce, juniper, bamboo spices, rhododendrons, birch, maple, chestnut. April onto early June is the season for rhododendrons flowers all along the route. The trail offers high mountain views and great number of bird and other wildlife. Of culture the Tharpaling and Zhambala monasteries offer great respite. Time this trek with one of Bumthang’s numerous festivals. The trek is recommended from March to May and then again from September to November.
Day 1: The trek starts from Manchugang along the dirt road to Dhur village at an elevation of 2900 meters and will descend up to the suspension bridge across the river. The inhabitants of the village are the Kheps and Brokpas (nomads). This village has two different dialects, the usual Bumthang Kha and the Brokke (nomadic dialects). Near the river is a traditional water-driven flour mill, which used to be a source of livelihood for the people of Dhur village. Resuming the trek is the uphill climb through the blue pine forest towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m) in hemlock and juniper forest. The hauling of owls through the night is quite common, hence the name The Owl Trek. Total walking distance 3-4 hrs
Day 2: Day two is trekking through fresh forest of hemlock, fir, spruce and many species of rhododendron, which are in full bloom during the months of April and May. The trekking also takes you through the forest of bamboo, which is the main undergrowth in this forest.
After two hours of walking you will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m). Climbing up the Kitiphu ridge brings you to an altitude of about 3870m, which is the night campsite. From this point you can have a fresh view of snow capped mountains and valleys underneath. This is also when you can view the mount Gangkarpunsum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world. Total walking distance 4-5 hrs.
Day 3: On day three you descend towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. Chuedak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) where you may pray for yourself and all living beings. You might even stop for many holy water around this place to quench your thirst, wash your sins and purify your body and soul.
Towards the afternoon the trek will take you along the ridge of Kikila and following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) through scenic hills and forests. From the pass we descend down to Lamai Goenpa (2877 m) above Jakar dzong. Lamai goenpa was also the second king’s palace. Hiking trail up to the pass is nice and beautiful but one might experience wet trail while descending from the pass depending on the season. Finally you will have the best view of Jakar Dzong and come to end of the trek at Lamai Goenpa in Bumthang. Total walking distance 4-5 hrs.