Black Mountain Trek

Spectacular scenery, ancient trails and visits in our guides' villages
Overview

overview

Fully experience the Buddhist character, spectacular scenery, and ancient trails of Bhutan. Trek to the home village of your guide near the remote Black Mountains. This area is newly opened to foreign trekkers, and the trails are sometimes steep, but this is one of the easier treks in Bhutan. High altitude, cold temperatures, or unbridged stream crossings are not concerns. You will, however, travel and camp in a remote part of the country. If you are unsure of your physical fitness for the trip, it is possible to reserve a mule for riding the uphill sections of the trail.

Campfires will illuminate the evenings and are likely to include villagers singing and dancing to honor your visit. We have scheduled this trip during the time of year with clearest skies for mountain viewing. The trek includes rich natural habitat where you will encounter rufous-necked and great hornbills, golden langurs, and numerous other species of birds and animals in Bhutan’s virgin subtropical forests.

This region is especially rich in myths and legends about the bygone times when gods and saints lived in Bhutan and left their marks on the landscape, ancient structures, and especially in Bhutanese culture and tradition. You'll spend several days hiking through Monpa communities. These hospitable and welcoming people, although extremely isolated, are among the oldest of all Himalayan cultures, and only a few thousand of them remain on earth. This may be the best chance of your life to transcend the reality of your usual existence on a journey to other realms and other times. Very few non-Bhutanese have visited this area, and you are unlikely to see other foreigners on your visit.  At the beginning of the trip, prior to the trek, you'll also head out on an excursion to see the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

The November 1 departure has been coordinated to attend the Black-necked Crane Festival in the Phobjika Valley on Day 10. Ask us about extending to witness this sacred Buddhist festival.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Paro, Bhutan
    Secure a window seat on Druk Air for dramatic views

    Fly to Paro from Bangkok, Delhi, Singapore, or Kathmandu (arrival dates and times into Paro may vary according to city of origin). This is a spectacular flight with beautiful views of the Himalayan range, including Mt. Chomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake inside Bhutan. The elevation in Paro is at 7,780’. Check into your local hotel and perhaps take a stroll through the town before dinner.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery/Wangdue
    Make the hike up to Tatksang Monastery

    After an early breakfast, drive to Satsam Chorten where you’ll hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery as a warm-up walk for your trek. This is perhaps the most scenic monastery in all of the Himalayas. Look for silver langurs in the forest below the monastery. After lunch, drive to Wangdue (approx. 3 hours). En route, enjoy beautiful views of the Himalayan ranges from Dochu Pass, weather permitting of course.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Wangdue/Trongsa
    Soak up amazing vistas on your hike

    The drive from Wangdue to Trongsa takes about six hours. En route, visit Chendenbji Chorten. You’ll have spectacular views of Trongsa Dzong and Jo Dungshing from your hotel. Trongsa was once the seat of power and Jo Dungshing is a sacred mountain for some people of Shemgang and the Monpas. Deep in the heart of Bhutan, you can feel the sanctity of the place and the grasp of ancient traditions still in place.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Trek Begins, Riotala to Nimshong
    Relax at your campsite

    Drive via Shemgang to Riotala. At this point you have arrived at a place in Bhutan where few foreigners have traveled and about which very little is written. Numerous waterfalls are visible from the road. Here, you begin the trek to Nabji-Korphu. From the motor road, descend very steeply along a dusty trail for about 1,000' to the Mangdichu River. You then climb up for about 2,000' to Nimshong, which is at an elevation of 3,800’ and is a small farming village with about 58 households. This is probably the hardest hiking of the trip. Keep an eye out for the golden langur, which is endemic to Bhutan. This is also a location to look for the threatened rufous-necked hornbill. During the winter, you can see carpets of yellow flowers all around the village, surrounding the community school. Nimshong is within the Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. In the evening, the local community members may perform a cultural program as this is the customary way of entertaining visitors. Overnight in a tented camp. Enjoy your first of many delicious camp dinners alfresco or in the dining tent.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Trekking to Nabji
    Nabji's landscape is captivating

    Today’s trek to Nabji will take about eight hours. The walk is very pleasant along lush green forest and there are no steep climbs or drops. There is no human settlement until you reach the village of Nabji. This is also the habitat for leopard, himalayan bear, golden langur, sambar deer, and most notably, horn bills, pheasants, sunbirds, and many other species of birds. There are several plants of ethnobotanical interest that are used as vegetables and medicine by the local people. As you enter the village of Nabji, you are greeted by the villagers with tea and arak, the local brew. The village is located on an alluvial flood plain. Rice is the main agricultural crop, and the landscape should be beautiful if you arrive just before the harvest of paddy.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Nabji/Korphu
    Admire the curves of terraced crops

    There are many interesting places to visit while in Nabji. You can start with a visit to the local community school and/or the Park Ranger Office. You will learn about conservation programs within Nabji and Korphu and the park ranger may join you for a meal. Visit the Nabji Lakhang, an ancient temple. The name Nabji derives from the word “Ngaa” or oath that was taken by the two warring kings in the presence of Guru Rimpoche to stop fighting. The caretaker of the Lakhang will explain the legend. After lunch you start for Korphu village, perched on a small plateau above Nabji. The name of the village derives from the word “Gorphu” which in Khengkha means “slanted rock”. There is a community in Lakhang that you will be permitted to enter. The village has a unique setting resembling a scene from a wild west movie. The view of Nabji from Korphu is spectacular, with scallops of paddy fields stacking along the river valley. There is excellent birding in this area. Camp overnight, with possible villagers welcoming you with dance.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Trekking to Kudra
    Meet the Monpa people (photo by Ahinsajain)

    Today you will enter the world of the Monpa people. It is believed that there are only 42 households consisting of just over 250 Monpas left in the region. The Monpa have a distinct culture, tradition, and language. This seven-hour walk from Nabji to Kudra is all within pristine forest, and you should be alert for bird and wildlife sightings. The tropical vegetation around you feels like a different world. As you enter the village of Kudra, you see several "Nges" of the great Guru Rimpoche, who supposedly spent one night in this place, and who is believed to have created the trail you walk in the 8th century. Local people may perform a cultural program for you this evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Trekking to Phumzor
    Camp at a monastery with great views

    Enjoy an easy walk of about four hours. There is little human evidence en route, and you can hear the calls of rufus-necked hornbills and barking deer calling their mates. The view of the Mangdichu River along the narrow gorge is breathtaking. Your campsite at a monastery offers a spectacular view.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Phumzor/Shangbi
    Share the day's stories around the fire on your last night of camping

    After visiting the Guru “Nge” at Phumzor, you start for Shangbi. The descent from Phumzor to Shangbi is quite steep as you walk down through lush green forests. Halfway down the path, you can see Guru Rimpoche's phurba (ceremonial dagger) embedded into a rock, meant to subdue evil. As you approach Shangbi, climb up among Chir pine forests and through fields of lemon grass. Here, pass by is a community school, an orchid garden, and a camping site. This is the last Monpa village on this route.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Trek Ends/Drive to Punakha
    Keep an eye out for primates as your trek ends

    Today is the easiest walk on the route as your trek sadly comes to an end. It takes about three hours to reach the road head passing through chir pine forests. You may be greeted by a troop of golden langurs and pairs of hornbills. Your drive to Trongsa will take just two hours, arriving in time for a hot lunch. After lunch, continue driving to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. Or, drive to the Phobjika Valley to witness the Black-necked Crane Festival if traveling in November (additional costs).

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Punakha/Thimpu/Paro
    Punakha Monastery

    Enjoy the morning sightseeing in and around Punakha including visits to the Punakha Dzong, Khamsum Yosercholing Monastery, and Chimi Lakhang. After lunch, drive to Thimphu (3 hours) and then onto Paro (another 1 1/2 hours). Overnight in Paro at local hotel.

    **There is much to see in Thimphu which first-time visitors will want to experience. To enjoy a thorough visit to Paro and Thimphu, select the optional Thimphu-Paro Cultural Extension**

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Paro/Onward
    Bid farewell to this enchanting land

    After an early breakfast, transfer to the Paro Airport for your onward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Nov 1-12, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$3,950
- $4,350
Group size 2-3 costs: $4,350 Group size 4+ costs: $3,950 Druk airfares to/from Paro add $550-1,000 (estimate)
Single Supplement:
$350
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
12 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
1
Modest hotels, tents
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
3
Modest hotels, tents
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Everest View Mountain Flight

Duration: 1 days

Enjoy the magnificent Himalayas close up. You'll have a bird's-eye view as you fly along the full length of the Nepal Himalayas. This is the best way to see Everest. *This trip is available from Kathmandu, Nepal when booked with conjunction with a Ne... read more

Dhulikhel Lodge Visit

Duration: 3 days

Lovely lodge with traditional architecture, private gardens and panoramic views; village and short treks nearby.

Bangkok Hospitality

Duration: 3 days

If you are passing through Bangkok and want more than a transit stop, ask for our three day/two night Bangkok Hospitality Extension. We meet you at the airport and transfer you to an attractive centrally located hotel. This extension also includes y... read more

Phuket

Duration: 4 days

Phuket is the largest of Thailand's islands. It is incredibly varied with rocky beaches, long broad sandy beaches, forested hills, and clear waters great for snorkeling and relaxing. There is no better way to end a trip!

Kathmandu Hospitality

Duration: 3 days

2 hotel nights with breakfast, 2 airport transfers, Kathmandu sight-seeing, ticket reconfirmation and assistance with any necessary trekking permits.

Angkor Wat 3-Day Odyssey

Duration: 3 days

This excursion focuses on the amazing ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, a spectacular architectural legacy of a period of bizarre regimes, is the most famous and confusing of the ruins in southeast Asia. This makes a perfect extension to any ... read more

Angkor Wat 5-Day Odyssey

Duration: 5 days

This excursion takes you to Siem Reap where you explore the magnificent Angkor sites followed by a ride on the Tonle Sap to see the local fishing villages. Then a short flight to Phnom Penh where you visit interesting museums, including Toul Sleng, a... read more

Delhi Hospitality Package

Duration: 3 days

Visit Delhi before or after any JOURNEYS Asia tour.

Chitwan National Park

Duration: 3 days

Chitwan National Park is probably the world’s best habitat for the rare Bengal Tiger and the One-horned Rhinoceros. Ride elephants in search of these animals and the hundreds of other animals and birds found here. Almost 700 sq. miles of lush rive... read more

Bangkok Exploration

Duration: 1 days

Accompanied by your personal guide you will meet exotic, ancient, enigmatic Bangkok head-on. After completing this multi-transport, mobile cultural immersion seminar, you should be able to go anywhere in Bangkok by train, ferry, sky-train, taxi or tu... read more

Ko Samui

Duration: 4 days

Relax and explore the beautiful island of Ko Samui. A perfect extension to any Asia tour.

Thimphu- Paro Cultural

Duration: 4 days

This trip extends for an additional four days of extraordinary sightseeing in these two largest towns of Bhutan. Walk around Paro and savor the feeling of a country that seems to be existing in an earlier century. From the dress of the people to the... read more

Nepal Chitwan and Everest

Duration: 6 days

Fly to Kathmandu for a quick taste of the high Himalayas and the fabulous Chitwan National Park where we will take elephant back safaris into the most famous tiger reserve in Nepal. We will also get a close up look at Mt Everest from a special flight... read more

Nepal Rafting and Chitwan Jungle Safari

Duration: 6 days

A complimentary extension to a relaxing Nepal experience.

The Kathmandu Valley: Bhaktapur & Dhulikhel

Duration: 3 days

Explore the heart of the Kathmandu Valley outside the bustling capital with an excursion to ancient Bhaktapur city and a stay in the town of Dhulkhel. The culture here is Newar; the homes are traditional red brick trimmed with finely carved wood.  B... read more

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