Day 24: Punakha Valley to Haa Valley

This morning we said goodbye to our lovely hotel in Punakha, even if it had 87 steps from the dining room to our room, it was a joy to be there! I swear this trip has been designed to get us in shape for the Bumtrak trek we have planned in a few days!

A photo from the stairs as we came down to check out,

We left the hotel around 8:30 and headed by car for 1 1/2 hours to the Dochla Pass. At 3140M this was the beginning of our trek up to Lungchutse Lhakhang. This temple is dedicated to the 4th King of Bhutan and acts as a protector for the valley.

Our starting point was just before the pass itself! You can see the Eastern high Himalayas in the distance
You certainly couldn’t miss the entrance to the hike!

This hike was about 8-9 km round trip and climbed to an elevation of 3610M. A steeper ascent than out last hike…again, getting us ready for our final trek in Bhutan in a few days!

The scenery was breath taking ( or was that just the lack of oxygen??). We walked through immense clusters of prayer flags hung throughout a dense forest of moss covered Rhododendrons. This ornamental plant in my garden reached heights of over 50’ here!

Kenchu showing us the way once again
Just look at the size of these Rhododendrons! Around 50 ft tall!
Views of high Himalayas as we were climbing
Moss and sunlight with ancient trees. Just beautiful!
Break time!
Kenchu shows us the path we must take – to the temple, not the monastery!!

We came across some yaks grazing and then a meadow where we could see the blues tent of the nomadic herders.

On we went up, up, up to the temple. When we arrived, we walked around simply admiring the view of the Himalayas. When we were done with the view, our guide went in search of the caretaker for the temple as it was locked. He soon appeared and unlocked the Temple for us to visit. We were even given some blessed water which we drank to cleanse our soul, and spread the last of the drops onto our head to protect us.

Dan gazing out at the high Himalayas
Breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the valley below

The inside was small but beautifully adorned once again. As I said before, this temple was dedicated to the 4th King who’s birth was foretold 200 years before.

The 4th King, among other ground breaking accomplishments, led the Bhutan army attacking terrorists on the Nepalese border. They even have the King’s AK 47 rifle in with the protector statues beside the 2nd Bhudda.

When we were done at the temple we headed back down the trail to meet with our driver, Penjor. With a wonderful hike under our belts, we headed off to lunch, and then the long drive to the Haa Valley.

Kenchu hangs a prayer flag on the way down
The exiting path with many prayer flags. People hang them in places where the wind catches them so that the prayers are constantly being said by the wind.
Dochu La Pass, where 108 Chorten season have been built to remember fallen soldiers in the 2003 border war

Enroute, we passed Thimphu and then broke off from the main road and headed for the Haa valley. All was going well, we were making good time on the double lane paved road, and then paved single track until we came across road construction. We had to wait a half hour until the workers were finished for the day,and then we proceeded carefully along the road which was now dirt and girded with huge boulders! An interesting strategy to road construction I must say!

A line of cars patiently waits for 5 pm!
The view of the setting sun as we waited. Yes, its a long way down!

This was the first time we had driven in the dark, which made the bumpy rugged ride even more interesting! Our driver, Penjor did a masterful job in getting us to our homestay safe and sound inspire of the road and the many trucks we met and negotiated space with along the way!

Our homestay is simple, but the family is very welcoming! When we arrived we immediately went in to the dining room for tea and then dinner. The homemade food was delightful! My biggest challenge was figuring out how to eat on the floor! After today’s hike and then a 5 hour car ride, my legs aren’t flexible enough to sit in lotus position for any length of time! After a wonderful meal, Dan and I chatted with a couple of guests who were having a weekend off from their work/school term in Paro. We shared lots of stories, but after our long day it was time to say goodnight! So, my friends, until next time!

Our host is in the foreground and Penjor and Kenchu sit at the far end. The Bukari, or fire stove is at the centre and radiates heat!
Our room for the next 2 nights. The mattresses were so comfortable! We even had a 2 piece ensuite! Feeling very fortunate indeed!

Categories: Himalayas: India, Nepal and Bhutan 2019


  1. The start to the hike looks like the beginning of a marathon! Great photo of Dan looking out to the Himilayas and love the photos of the valleys and the nature all around you. Maybe I will follow in your footsteps some day!


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