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The Far - Out East Bhutan Trek

East Bhutan and certainly Trashi Yangtse is little known and little explored. However, it offers a wealth of nature, culture and history. The first Dzong in the country was Tsenkharla. Omba Ney is one among three unique pilgrimage sites where holy letters can be seen in the rocks and Omba gonpa has been called the Taktshang of East Bhutan. At Gongza ney you find one of the most peaceful monasteries in Bhutan, set among paddy fields and naturally sculptured rocks at the banks of the Gongri river.

The trek passes through broadleaved forest, chir pine savannah with lemon grass, sub-alpine pastures, agricultural areas and small villages and ends along the Gongri river. The trek can be done in 3-6 days, at a moderate or very relaxed pace. It can also be done the whole year round as Khamdang and Toedtsho Gewogs are among the driest in Trashi Yangtse and most of the rain falls at night, while only the highest viewpoint receives some snow in winter. Moreover, there are no leeches. Existing camping sites and homestays will be improved as more tourists visit. 

Max Elevation 3000 m
Min Elevation 800 m
Difficulty Medium
Season March, April, May, August, September, October, November
No. of Days 6 Days

Itineraries

Start walking just below the first Dzong built in Bhutan in the 9th century (Tsenkharla) and follow the ridge with excellent views past several gonpas to Shakshing Gonpa.

If you are late, you can walk directly to the campsite near Nangkhar Gonpa. Otherwise continue up the ridge past a small lake to Darchen Gonpa and several sacred sites in the pastures above. Descend from Darchen through broadleaved forest to Nangkhar Gonpa and your campsite. 

 

Distance 8 km
Time 4-5 hours
Ascent Ascent 1,950 m, descent 2,650 m
Camp Altitude 2400 m

From Nangkhar Gonpa walk down past maize fields and 3 chorten to the irrigation channel of Sep, which you follow to Septshekhang Lhakhang on a steep ridge. Back-track to a trail down through a sokshing (leaf litter oak) forest and a bigger trail to a river. After crossing another small stream you climb back up to a chorten just above the neat village of Omba, which has a pleasant homestay and a small camping site. In the afternoon visit Omba Ney and Gonpa (the Taktshang of East Bhutan) and the Gonpa at the cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated. 

Distance 12 km
Time 5-6 hours
Ascent Descent and ascent between 2,400 m and 1,800 m
Camp Altitude 2200 m

Follow your local guide to the hamlet of Phekti, from where there is a small trail up a ridge with views of the Omba cliffs and Gonpa. You emerge from the forest into pastures and keep climbing until you reach Shangphula, just above 3000m.From the “border-egg” at Shangphula, you have excellent views of parts of Bhutan and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Camp in the pasture and enjoy the flowers, sunset and sunrise. 

Distance 8 km
Time 3-4 hours
Ascent between 1900 and 2650 m
Camp Altitude 3000 m

Enjoy the views and your breakfast at your leisure and make your way down the pastures along the ridge into the forest below. You emerge at a lookout point of the village and the Gongri valley. Find your way to the campsite at the school or near the army camp or to the home stay after it has been established. Shop for local bags mainly produced for the Tawang market, visit the lhakhang and relax. 

Distance 8 km
Time 3-4 hours
Ascent Descent 2100 m
Camp Altitude 2100 m

Follow your guide through the maze of trails to a larger trail through broadleaved forest to Kheni. Just before a chorten on a ridge turn left down a steep small trail. After Changmashing and Chemkhar village it improves and reaches a small saddle from where you can find your way to Phamkhar ruins (mainly defense walls and trenches left; built to defend Tsenkharla against attacks from Tibet. Then descend to the paddy fields and the peaceful Gongza Ney and Gonpa along the Gongri river with lots of sacred rocks and stones. The gonpa holds a petrified treasure chest, a demon’s heart, a shoe of Guru Rimpoche and a devil’s egg. 

Start early from Gongza if you want to avoid the heat and make your way down the valley past some paddy areas and sand beaches to the end of the road near Doksum, a couple of km from Gom Kora. From there continue to your next destination. If that is the natural rock bridge (dozam) in Thragom you can in a few years walk upstream to and get picked up at the Melongkhar bridge, and dropped at the school and walk along a gentle trail with chortens and mani walls to Thragom village, 1.5 hrs above which you find the dozam.

 

Distance 12 km
Time 4-5 hours
Ascent Between 1450 to 840 m
Camp Altitude 840 m

End your Far-Out East Bhutan Trek at Doksum and you can either come back to Trashigang or go to visit Trashi Yangtse.

Distance 0
Time 0
Ascent 0 m
Camp Altitude 840 m