Ultimate Guide to the Small Group Bumthang Owl Trek
The Bunthang Owl Trek lies in the broad Bumthang Valley which is considered as the area of Choekhor Valley, one of the four stunning valleys in Bhuthang District (Others are Ura Valley, Chumey Valley, and Tang Valley). Choekhor Valley was carved out by the ancient glaciers in the last ice age and now becomes one of the most popular valleys favored by travelers around the world.
This fertile valley is not only abound in buckwheat, rice, and potatoes, but also regarded as the center of numerous temples and shrines regarding to Guru Rinpoche, the “Precious Master” and the founder of Tibetan Buddhism who visited this region in the 8th century.
Fancy an intimate contact with the adorable animals along your trek? Well, you can always consider to put the Bumthang Owl Trek on your alternative travel list. The silent nights are punctuated by the frequent hooting of owls which can be heard at campsites through the night. Some of the owls are blinking eyes on the twigs while others are playing enjoyably in the woods. If the weather is fine, they may probably pay a visit on your campsite.
The Bunthang Owl Trek embarks on Menchugang village and ends at Tharpaling Geomba with the best travelling months falling from Oct. to Dec. and Mar. to May.
What is the Bumthang Owl Trek in Bhutan?
A beautiful trek around one of Bhutan’s most stunning valleys, the Bumthang Owl Trek is so named because the area of the Choekhor Valley is renowned for the high number of owls that reside in the area, and which can be heard hooting throughout the night.
Gorgeous Choekhor Valley with a great number of owls lurking in the densely covered forests.
Instead of the silent nights camping that you get from most treks in Bhutan, in the Choekhor Valley, you will be struck by the number of owls you can hear, and on clear moonlit nights, you can even see them flitting around the woods and flying low over the landscape in search of food.
How many days do the Bumthang Owl Trek take?
The trek is a three-day trek that gives you fantastic views of the unspoiled natural environment of one of the most popular trekking areas in Bhutan, and one of the most spiritual valleys in Bumthang. On average, you will trek for around three to five hours a day, over the three days, taking the stunning trail from Manchugang to the beautiful Tharpaling Monastery.
What is the Bumthang Owl Trek difficulty?
As a three-day trek around the beautiful Choekhor Valley, the owl Trek is rated as an easy trek, suitable for all levels of hikers, from the most experienced who want to see the beauty of the area to the novices that are on their first ever trekking tour.
Trekking enjoyably to the woods where hide the lovely Bumthang Owl in the sunshine.
Reaching a maximum elevation of just 4,000 meters, the trek is high and the average elevation is between 2,300 meters and 3,200 meters. However, you will be camping at altitudes of above 3,400 meters, so care should be taken, and you should make sure that you are aware of the effects and symptoms of altitude sickness, which can hit at these elevations.
Bumthang Owl Trek Highlights
At 2,900 meters, Dhur Village is the first highlight of the trek, and is a village of the nomadic Khep and Brokpa people, who herd the yaks and sheep that make up the main source of livelihood for the locals. The village has two dialects of Dzongkha, Bumthang Kha, and Brokke, which are both unique to this small area.
Drangela Pass is crossed on the second day, and is reached through forests of bamboo as you climb the Kitiphu Ridge to the pass. At 3,600 meters, this is one of the best spots for the great views out across the valley, and an ideal place to view the stunning peak of Mount Gangkarpunsum, at 7,541 meters, the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
Zampala, Chuedek, and Tharpaling Monasteries
Your third day is the most spiritual, and you will get to visit three unique gompas in the valley. While all three are stunning, the Chuedak Monastery is the most unusual, with around 100 statues of Avoloketeshivaras, in the form of Chukchizhey, the god of eleven heads.
Bumthang Owl Trek Map
Geographical location of Bumthang Owl Trek in Bhutan
The trek starts in Manchugang, in the north of the valley, which lies in the Wangdue Phodrang District of Bhutan, in the western central area of the country. Most of the Choekhor Valley lies in the Bumthang District, to the east of Wangdue Phodrang, and the trek soon passes into Bumthang for the main portion of the route.
Route Map of Bumthang Owl Trek
The trek starts at Manchugang, and then heads south to Dhur Village, and then up to Schonath. On day two, you will trek from the campsite to Drangela Pass, via Kitiphu Ridge, and then day three sees you descending to the monastery of Tharpaling, then along the ridge of Kikila, to the road where the trek ends.
Map of Bumthang Owl Trek
What can we explore from day by day Bumthang Owl Trek itinerary?
The first day sees you leaving Manchugang, and heading south towards Dhur Village, a culturally rich settlement of nomadic herders where two distinct ethnic minority cultures exist in perfect harmony in the same village.
After exploring the village, and the nearby water mill, the trek takes you uphill through the blue pine woods to the campsite of Schonath, at an altitude of 3,450 meters. Covered in juniper and hemlock trees, the woods are filled with owls that hoot all night long.
Unique farmhouses sighted along the trek route.
Day two sees you leaving the area of Dhur Village and heading out through the rich forests of fir and spruce, and into the vast bamboo forests, which make up the main growth in the area.
After around 3 hours of uphill walking through the forests, you will reach the amazing Drangela Pass, at 3,600 meters, and then up to the Kitiphu Ridge, where you will camp for the night. The campsite has amazing views of the last unclimbed mountain over 7,000 meters, Mount Gangkarpunsum, which sits a stunning 7,541 meters above sea level above you.
The third day sees you descending from the mountain and heading towards the monastery at Tharpaling, where you will get to visit Tharpalking Monastery, as well as the monasteries of Zambhalha and Chuedek.
In the afternoon, your journey takes you along the ridge of Mount Kikila, following the traditional Royal Heritage Trail, the main trekking trail between Bumthang and Trongsa districts. As you come out of the beautiful scenic forests, you will get a great view down the valley to the Jakar Dzong, as you come to the end of the trek.
How much money does the Bumthang Owl Trek cost?
Trekking in Bhutan is one of the simplest places in the world to hike, in terms of cost. There are no surprises and unexpected payments when you choose to trek in the Kingdom of Bhutan, as all the costs of the entire trek, including accommodation, meals, trekking guide, porters, etc., are covered by the total cost of the trek.
In Bhutan, all tours and treks have a Minimum Daily Package, which costs US$ 250 per day for the peak months and US$ 200 per day for the low season months. All that is not included in this are your own personal expenses for souvenirs, gifts, alcohol, etc. At the very least, a trek along the Bumthang Owl trail will cost from 600 to 750 dollars, plus the cost for any additional days that you will be in Bhutan.
When is the best time to take the Bumthang Owl Trek?
Bumthang District lies in the northern central area of Bhutan, and with the Himalayas so close, it can get cold in the winter months. The best time to trek this area is from March to May or from September to November when the weather is at its optimum for trekking. The trek can be done from December to February, although you will find that the bright sunny days turn to cold nights along the trekking trails.
Beautiful trekking trail with wrapped tree branches and crimson rhododendron in full blossom.
Trekking in Bhutan, in areas such as Bumthang, can be done at any time of the year, even in the depths of winter or the monsoon season. However, while the trek may be compelted, it will largely depend on the weather and climate, which can be changeable in both summer and winter.
Monsoon rains are not normally all-day rains, and there are usually plenty of days where the rain only comes in the evenings or at night. However, there are also times when it rains all day, so be prepared for some disappointments on what you can see if you are trekking out of season.
What should we pack in advance before taking the Bumthang Owl Trek in Bhutan?
The Bumthang owl Trek is not the longest trek in Bhutan, and takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the area. However, while this is an “easy” trek, you will need to bring certain things with you. Even in the spring and autumn months, it can get chilly at night, so you should pack a few warm sweaters to keep you warm in the evenings.
A sample of basic packing items for Bumthang Owl trek.
Good hiking boots are a necessity, as you will be crossing rough terrain, and warm socks to keep your feet from freezing. Bring a day pack for the trek, since your main luggage will be portered to the campsite ahead of you, and include sun cream, a good wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, to keep the bright sun off your face and head.
Trekking poles are a good idea for novices, to help you over the rougher patches of ground and ht climbs up the hills, and bring gloves and a light rain jacket just in case.
Accommodations and Meals during this Trek
All of your meals and accommodation during the trek are taken care of as part of your tour package, and for this trek, you will be camping for both nights of the trek itself.
Other accommodation will be arranged by the tour operator, and will be at least a three-star hotel, as per the guidelines for touring in Bhutan. Food is provided at your hotel when staying there, and will be catered for by your own cook while you are trekking, making sure that you get good meals, and packing lunches for the trekking days.
Conclusion according to Bumthang Owl Trek review
The Bumthang Owl Trek is one of the nicest treks in Bhutan, and from the reviews that people have given about this route; you can clearly see that it is an enjoyable trek, along with an easy route, even if it is classed as a high-altitude trek. The altitude is the only thing that can cause any concern, as you will reach elevations of up to 4,000 meters, which is high enough for altitude sickness to have some effect. As long as you are prepared, there is no reason why this should be a problem.