Through the glacial rivers

Through the glacial rivers

Bhutan’s clean and pristine rivers originate from the Eastern Himalayas and end with the Brahmaputra River in Assam, India. Apart from being the major source of the country’s revenue, which is primarily hydropower driven, the waters have been scouted for kayaking and rafting.

Set in an environment that is natural, the rivers offer an adventure for exploring the Kingdom’s exquisite wild.

We can customize different trails based on your interest.

While some have high currents and depths reaching a maximum of about five meters; there are occasions when the rivers pass gently on. The loud rages of the rivers are something that cannot be forgotten.

There is everything for everyone; easy rafting for beginners and hair-raising runs for the veterans. The best time for this adventure is from March to April and November to December.

Apart from the single package that we are offering here, Across Bhutan has the competency and expertise to take lovers of this adventure into realms beyond their imaginations. With well trained and professional kayaking and rafting guides, we have everything for you.

Tour Highlights

  • Duration: 7 Days
  • Start: Paro Chhu (river), Paro
  • End: Dang Chhu (river), Wangduephodrang
  • Rivers: Paro Chhu, Wangchu, Tamchhu, Punakha Chhu, Dang chhu.
  • Craft: Kayaks and Rafts

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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Kathmandu/Bangkok/Delhi-Paro

In one of the best flights you would have experienced, you will see the spectacular beauties of the Himalayan ranges such as, Mt Everest, Jomolhari, Jitchu Drake and others as you fly to Paro. The landing is a thrill. At the airport our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel. After a brief rest, you will visit places of historic importance in Paro, such as the National Museum, Paro Rinpong Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang and the Drugyel Dzong (Castle of the Victorious Drukpa).

There will be a picnic lunch and then we begin the expedition to one of Bhutan’s most revered places, Paro Taktshang (Tiger’s Lair), which is built on a hair raising ravine perched on a hill (1000m) overlooking the valley. It is said that the great Indian Saint of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava came flying on a tigress to subdue evils who were obstructing the spread of Buddhism and in one of the caves within the temple accomplished the task. The trek is a five hour hike (round trip).

Night halt in hotel at Paro.

Day 2: Paro Chhu (River) Excursion

  • (Bondey-Isuna Bridge)
    Location: Paro Valley, Western Bhutan
    Length: Approximately 10 km (3 hours)
    Difficulty: Class III-IV
    Flow: About 500 cfs
    Season: March – April
    Craft: Kayaks recommended due to narrow and steep rapids

After breakfast, we begin exploring the beauty and challenge of traversing through Bhutan’s sublime waters. We take a short drive to Bondey and start kayaking from there.

It will be a beautiful experience negotiating along the Paro river till Isuna, a small settlement on the way to Thimphu. Taking about three hours, the flow is not very swift. We exit at Isuna, where we will have our lunch.

  • Lower Paro Chhu (Isuna Bridge – Chhuzom)
    Location: Paro Valley, Western Bhutan
    Length: 7 km (1 hour)
    Difficulty: Class II – III, with one V
    Flow: Approximately 500 cfs
    Season: March-April
    Craft: Kayaks (too small for rafts)

This is the second part of the Paro river excursion and is just an-hour adventure along a valley flanked by steep ridges on the one side and the Paro-Thimphu highway on the other.

We stop at Chhunzom, the confluence of the Paro and Wangchu rivers.

  • Wang Chhu – Upper Run (Chhuzom Confluence – Lower Tam Chhu, Dobji Dzong)
    Location: Thimphu/Paro/Phuentsholing Highway, Western Bhutan
    Length: Approximately 4 km (2 hours)
    Difficulty: Class IV, one class V
    Flow: 800 -1000 cfs
    Season: March – April, November – December (Caution: a high water in this section is extremely dangerous. Not recommended for amateurs)
    Craft: Only Kayak
  • Wang Chhu – Lower Run (Tam Chhu – 4 km Downstream)
    Location: Thimphu/Paro/Phuentsholing Highway, Western Bhutan
    Length: 4 km (1 hour)
    Difficulty: Class III
    Flow: 800 -1000 cfs
    Season: March – April, November – December (Tips: a high water run is possible with good scouting)
    Craft: Kayaks, Rafts

In what would be the third part of our first day kayaking, we continue downstream from Chhunzom till Dam Chhu. The water is swift here and the adventure is recommended only for experts. After approximately two hours we arrive at Tam Chhu and then begin the second part of the excursion downstream, which would take us an hour. We could try trout fishing here.

We then move to Thimphu.

Night halt at Thimphu.

Day 3: Glimpse of Thimphu

Bhutan’s capital and most modern city is home to some of the country’s most significant and historical icons. We begin the day by visiting the memorial chorten (stupa), one of Bhutan’s most beautiful stupas of the Nygmipa sect, built in memory of the Father of Modern Bhutan, Late Third King, Jigmi Dorji Wangchuck. From there we will drive to Buddha Point, where the world’s largest Buddha statue stands, overlooking Thimphu valley. The next destination will be the 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang (monastery) and then the Takin Zoo. We will also visit a nunnery, Sangaygang(which offers a panaromic view of Thimphu) and the Textile museum.

After lunch at a hotel, we will visit the grand Tashichho Dzong (Fortress), which houses the King’s office, Throne Room and some ministries. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot (Je Khenpo) and the central Monk body. We then proceed to visit the Parliament of Bhutan.
Night halt in Thimphu.

Day 4: Thimphu-Punakha/Wangduephodrang

It is a three to four hour journey through beautiful landscape comprising of rhododendron bushes, meadows, water falls and changing vegetation.
Forty five minutes from Thimphu, we arrive at Dochula pass (3100m), which offers the first glimpse of the eastern Himalayan Ranges, consisting of snow-capped peaks, with heights ranging from 6,000m-7,554m. Dochula is also a centre of diverse flora and fauna. Additionally, the 108 stupas, build around a mound makes the pass a beauty.

From Dochula, the road descends all the way to Punakha valley. Before reaching Punakha, we will see the ruins of Wangduephodrang Dzong (Fortress), which was razed by a tragic fire in 2012.

Next, we hike (1 hour round trip) to Chimi Lhakhang, a 15th century temple associated with Lam Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madmonk. A temple where the Phallus is worshipped, hundreds of barren women receive blessings from a phallus there.

We will have lunch at the temple and then proceed to Punakha, where we visit the historic Punakha Dzong (Fortress), an architectural masterpiece, built at the confluence of two (Pho (male) and Mo(female) rivers.

Night halt at hotel in Punakha.

Day 5: Punakha Chhu (River) Excursion

  • Upper Pho Chhu (Wangthangkha – Samdingkha)
    Location: Punakha Valley, Western Bhutan
    Length: 12 km, 5 -7 hours with scouting
    Difficulty: Class V
    Flow: 1000 cfs
    Season: February/December. (Caution: higher than medium flows makes this run dangerous. High water runs not recommended for amateurs)
    Craft: Kayaks only (too steep for rafts)

This is perhaps one of the most exciting places to kayak, and also a dangerous one. We begin this expedition early morning, after which we stop for lunch, for the next part.

  • Lower Mo Chhu (Khamsum Yuling Namgyal Chhorten- Below Punakha Dzong)
    Location: Punakha Valley, Western/Central Bhutan
    Length: 6 km (1 hour) (Note: In Spring, high winds and small currents makes this stretch longer and harder)
    Difficulty: Class I – II
    Flow: 800 -1000 cfs
    Season: March – April, November – December (Tips: with good scouting, runs at higher flows possible)
    Craft: Kayaks and Rafts

Before venturing on this route, we will visit the Khamsum Yuling Namgyal Chorten (stupa), one of Bhutan’s most exquisite chortens. We then kayak all the way down to Punakha Dzong. The river is filled with trouts.

In the evening we move to Wangduephodrang and halt the night there.

Day 6: The Wangduephodrang Expedition

  • Upper Dang Chhu (Wangduephodrang Downstream – Kichu Resort)
    Location: Wangduephodrang, Western/Central Bhutan
    Length: Approximately 3 km (2 hours with scouting)
    Difficulty: Class IV -V at medium flows, V -V at higher flows
    Flow: 400-500 cfs
    Season: March – April, October – November (Caution: high water makes this run dangerous. Not recommended for amateurs)
    Craft: Kayaks only (too small and steep for rafts
  • Middle Dang Chhu (Kichu Resort – Dang Chhu Down-stream)
    Location: Wangduephodrang, Western/Central Bhutan
    Length: 5 km (1.5 hours)
    Difficulty: Class IV with three class V scouts
    Flow: 400 – 500 cfs
    Season: March – April, November – December
    Craft: Kayaks. (Tips: rafts possible but only with crew and portages. It is time consuming but there are great runs at stretches)
  • Lower Dang Chhu (Wangduephodrang Upstream – Puna Tsang Chhu Confluence)
    Location: Wangduephodrang, Western/Central Bhutan
    Length: Approximately 17 km (4 hours)
    Difficulty: Class III-IV at most flows
    Flows: 5000 – 7000 cfs
    Season: March – April, November – December (Tips: high water makes this run more difficult but reasonable as well)
    Craft: Kayaks and Rafts

Starting early morning, this excursion is in the waters of Dang chhu (river) and involves extreme as well as easy kayaking. After more than half a day, we move to Thimphu for the night halt.

Day 7: Thimphu-Paro

Early morning, you will be driven to Paro airport for your next destination.

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