Day 19: Tang Valley to the Chhume Valley and the Tharpaling Goemba Hike

Our day started earlier than expected, as a group was leaving the homestay at 7 am. We could hear them getting up and ready from 5:30 am! Great homestay, wonderful family, but not the best sound insulation!

We finally got up and at it for breakfast for 7 with a departure of 8 am. Today was going to be a big day with a visit to Mebartsho Lake and then on to hike to the temple and monastery at Tharpaling. This would be our highest hike yet at 3691 M, or 12,000 ft.

We left the beautiful homestay and the gorgeous valley, and I wanted to give you a taste of the kind of roads getting in here, and why it takes hours to go a few km!

One last look at our homestay in the Tang Valley. You can just see the stone bath hut to the right side of the main building.
The main road between valleys!
The driveway up to our homestay – even that was treacherous!

Today our first stop further down the Tang Valley is a very sacred place here. Mebartsho Lake, or Burning lake is said to have been where Pema Lingpa performed a miracle in front of many village skeptics. Carrying a lit butter lamp, he jumped into the lake to receive hidden treasures that had been foretold to him. When he surfaced, not only was the butter lamp still burning, but he also held a statue and a treasure chest that had been hidden centuries before by the 2nd Bhudda.

Personal stupas placed by pilgrims. Each one has a paper with a personal mantra inside.
River feeding the small lake or pool
Mebartsho Lake
Prayer Flags hung above the entrance to the Lake

After the short visit at the lake we continued on our journey. We travelled a road that was in much better condition. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop shepardesses from using the same road to move their sheep!

This took about 10 minutes to get through. No sheep were harmed with this pass!

We soon found ourselves at at the pass, and the beginning of our hike to Tharpaling Goemba. We started this hike at an elevation of 2750 M and ended at close to 3700M. While it was a gentle climb, it was steady for over 12-14 km. The path was smooth and covered in pine needles for the most part. Today it was my turn to be feeling a little punky ( not sleeping well and extra hard mattresses didn’t help). We took it slow and steady and tried to enjoy the hike as much as our panting would allow! A brief stop at the halfway mark for some trail mix, and some electrolyte replacement certainly helped the rest of the hike! Here are some shots along the way.

The Chorten and Pass that marked the beginning of our hike.
Special WindHorse Prayer Flags
Kencho and Dan hiking up the 15 km trek. Up, up, up!
Kencho and Dan about a quarter of the way there!
Beautiful snow capped peaks of the high Himalayas can just be seen peaking out of the northeast.
We take a break at the half way mark. Pat does some much needed fuelling and electrolyte replacement!
Some beautiful mountain flowers distract me from my efforts!

About 45 minutes before the end of our hike, we see our driver Penjor coming towards us. What a welcome site he was!! (I think Kencho was getting worried he’d have to carry us both, and sent for reinforcements!)

Penjor, our driver, joins Kencho in encouraging us forward!

With only 45 minutes or less to go, we were suddenly energized. The end was in site! We soon came to the highest point of our hike at 3691 M, and could see the Temple, Monatery and Goemba or Monks University on the next hill.

Dan channeling good Karma for the rest of hike from, what can only be described as a Buddha Chair formed in the stone!
We finally made it to 3391M! That 320 sets of stairs today for all you Fitbit lovers!
Extraordinary view of the Tharpaling Temple complex and the Chhume Valley below
Impressive crashing of clouds over the far mountains.

Once at the Temple grounds, we set up for lunch with one of the most beautiful views we’ve had!

Yes, another hot lunch. Kencho even borrowed two chairs for Dan and I from the monks so that we could rest our backs during lunch! He’s an allstar guide for sure!

After lunch we tried to visit the Temple, but it was closed. Tharpaling means liberator, and it is said on this site a spiritual teacher came from Tibet to meditate attracting many disciples. After meditation they all were enlightened and rose beyond this life on earth. There are many meditation facilities high on the ridge for the many monks who inhabit this Goemba.

We descended down into the valley by car after lunch, and arrived at the Chumey Nature Resort for the night. Another stunning place, and stunning room. Extra bonus was great internet that allowed me to play catchup on my blog!!

Entrance way to the resort where we were greeted with hot tea before heading to our rooms. (Probably didn’t need the extra steps though!!)
Our room for the night!

Well, it’s been a long day! Time to get rested up for tomorrow. We head out of the Bumthang Valley region of Central Bhutan and into the West. On to Trongsa and the Phobijikha Valley for a couple of nights! Until tomorrow!

Categories: Himalayas: India, Nepal and Bhutan 2019


  1. Sleep well you adventurers you’ve earnt! Buen Camino 🧸🐻❤️


  2. That was quite the stair count but the views certainly looked like it was worth the climb.


    • Absolutely! I’m sure our guide is trying to strengthen us for the Tiger’s Nest Trek tomorrow. We stay on the mountainside overnight. Day time temps in PAro today were up to 28C, but when the sun goes down it drops to about 3. Up there is will be more like -5C! Winter camping, here I come!


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