Merak Sakteng Trek

Trip Overview

Merak-Sakteng stands out as a distinct attraction in Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang Dzongkhag (District), in Eastern Bhutan.

It is a moderate trek (between 1,500m and 4,100m) traversing through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu (3400m), Merak (3500m), Sakteng (2800m), Thakthi (2200m), and Joenkhar (1700m). Tour operators are not mandated to use a particular trail but the most common trail usually begins from Chaling and ends in Phongmey. Both these Geogs of Merak and Sakteng are an important watershed for Ngere Ama chu and Gamri chu rivers respectively.

The campsites have been designed aesthetically to blend with local architecture and ambiance. Enclosed by a stonewall (with a gate to bring in the ponies to unpack trekking paraphernalia), the campsite is equipped with facilities such as tenting sheds, toilets, kitchens (in some), dining area and water supply. A signage describing the location, altitude, forest type, fauna, additional hiking trails in the locality, distance and time to next camp welcomes a visitor to each campsite.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

The trek lies within the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS). It was created in April 2003 with a strong agenda for conservation and to protect the unique assemblage of biological and cultural diversity in the region. It covers an area of 650 km2 and is bordered by the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang) in the north and east, Phongmey Geog and Kangpara Geog in the west, and Shingkhar Lauri Geog in Samdrup Jongkhar. It is connected to Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary by a biological corridor, a part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex (B2C2).

Outline Itinerary

Day 1: Chaling - Damnongchu

The trek to Merak will start from Chaling reached by following an unsealed road from Rangjung. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies at about 3,316m / 10,880ft. 

Day 2: Damnongchu - Merak

5 hours, camp altitude 3,499 m.  The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs. Over night at Damnongchu Camp. 

Day 3: Merak - Miksa Teng

The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng is long and of medium difficulty. It will pass through the beautiful Nagchungla pass (approx 4,100m / 13,451ft). The campsite is located in a clearing surrounded by rhododendron trees.

Day 4: Miksa Teng - Sakteng

Trek to Sakteng from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakteng. Overnight at Camp.

Day 5: Sakteng Day Halt

Time to explore this remote Himalayan village. 

Day 6: Sakteng - JyonkharTeng

6 1/2 hours, camp altitude 1,859 m. Sakteng to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy trek comparing to previous days. It is mostly downhill to Jyonkhar Teng camp.

Day 7: Jyonkhar Teng - Phongmay

5 hours, camp altitude 1,981 m The final day. This day is full with ups and down until you reach the road the head at Phongmay. Drive to Tashigang. 

Begore you go

Accommodations and facilities:
There are limited choices of accommodations in Bhutan. With a few exceptions of highly over priced international chain properties, hotels in Bhutan are small with 15 to 20 rooms. The hotels have been categorized by local authorities as Star 1, 2 and 3, with 3 Star being on the top level 1Star at the bottom and naturally we have pick the 3 Star category hotels and resorts which are local architecture with Bhutanese décor, well maintained and staffed with the friendly locals. There is disparity in the rooms in most of the hotels and travelers of the same group may end up in two different types of rooms although you have paid the same amount. You will have private bathroom with 24 hour running cold and hot water. They provide some fundamental toiletry supplies but hair dryers, iron and ironing board etc may not be available. Hotels in Paro and Thimphu do have internet access in office or reception areas. There are some new deluxe properties and international chain resorts which are above the traditional classification criteria and in the higher side in terms of price and can be booked with supplemental cost. Hotel listed on the itinerary are suggestions only and during peak season and tours timed with festival, we may not get the same hotels and in that case, we will book you in the similar property or upgrade you to the higher level.

Guide and Escorts:
Our Tour Guides are local individuals with college degree, government certification, experienced and with knowledge on the destination, history, culture and religion and most importantly they are easy going, detailed oriented, patient and high level of customer service skills. They will uncover the wonders of the destinations for you which you would never find on your own. They ensure that everything goes well with your tour without a hitch.

Vehicle:
We use good condition Toyota SUV and Toyota Coaches for all transfers and tours. Driver and guide is not the same person. Driver may speak little or no English but they know the road and are skillful to fix the problem in case of mechanical breakdowns. Depending on group size, we will use Japanese made Sedan cars, SUVs or minivan for entire transfers and tours.

International and Internal Flights:
All internal flights are part of travel plan and are locally booked by us. You will be emailed e-ticket receipts once the reservation is booked and tickets issued. But you have liberty to book your international airfare on your own. We can certainly help you book international flight if that originates from the city that you live in. Once you receive itinerary, it's your responsibility to verify the itinerary and reconfirm the schedules.

Visa and Permits:
Passport should be valid for 6 months or more at the time of travel. We will take care of Bhutan Visa and permits. Bhutan Visa Fees of USD 20 which will be collected with the Tour Payment in advance. You will need to provide a copy of your passport which should be sent to us by email for Bhutan Visa Processing. Bhutan visa is preprocessed by us and we will provide you a copy the Visa Approval Letter before your trip which you will need to present at Druk Air counter at the time you check in for flight to Bhutan. You will get actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport.

Trip Activity Level:
This trip is basically motor vehicle based sightseeing with some short hikes and village visits and suitable for all travelers with regular health conditions. When we are driving from one city to another, we will be driving from 3-6 hours with occasional stops for photography and for refreshments. Roads are narrow and some portions may be rough and damaged. The itinerary allows enough acclimatization for you and it's advisable that you should keep physically fit and start mild exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling or practice some aerobics about 2-3 months ahead of the trip. It's your responsibility to determine that you are fit for this trip and if you have any health conditions, please consult with your physician before you sign up for this trip.

Note on Itinerary:
We do our best to adhere to the itinerary but it should be taken as a generic guideline in terms of what you expect to do or see during the tour and may differ in the practical ground from exact sequence or order of the sights to the overnight places depending on the local conditions.

Booking:
When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking so that we can confirm you in preferred hotels and flights. A 100% of both the Tour and Airfare is requested along with a completed trip application form plus copy of the photo page of your passport.

Cancellation:
100% Refund if tour canceled within 60 Days from the start of the tour.
50% Refund if tour canceled within 45 Days from the start of the tour.
25% Refund if tour canceled within 30 Days from the start of the tour.
No Refund if tour canceled less than 30 Days from the start of the tour.

Final Trip Dossier:
A final trip dossier with local contacts, hotel lists, check lists, travel notes and relevant information will be sent about a month ahead of the trip.

Tour Cost

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Tourism Business regulating agency of the Royal Government of Bhutan, fixes the Tourist Tariff rate. This rate is valid for all the inclusive tour packages. The tariffs for tourists visiting in a group of 3 persons or more are as follows:

Peak Season Rate: (March, April, May, September, October and November) Cultural Tour /Trekking – US$ 250/per person per night halt.

Low Season Rate:(January, February, June, July, August and December) Cultural Tour /Trekking- US$ 200/per person per night halt.

What's Included
  • Bhutan Royalty ($65 per person per day).
  • Visa Fees ($40 per person).
  • All necessary permit fees.
  • All transfers and sightseeing with entrance fees.
  • All meals including evening tea.
  • All accommodation in our partner hotels, which are some of the best in the country on twin sharing basis.
  • All trekking equipments and logistics including cooks, camp personnel, horsemen and ponies.
  • English-speaking tour leader, guide and driver.
  • Trekking Insurance (Our value-added service).
  • Cultural Performance (our value-added service).

What's Not Included
  • Airfare for flights into and out of Bhutan.
  • All personal expenses like laundry, telephone, tips, shopping expenses.
  • Meals and Beverages other than the ones mentioned above (see inclusions).
  • Spa Charges.
  • Travel and Medical insurance.

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Trip Facts

Length : 7 Days
Start : Paro
Finish : Paro
Trip Style : Trekking Tour
Discounts : Applicable on this trip
Group Size : Maximum 12, Avg 5
Group Leader : Certified Tour Leader from The DQA
Transport : New Model Toyota Hiace /Coaster bus/Land Cruiser not more than 3 years old
Trip Rating by Popularity
:
Physical Demand Rating
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Can it be Customized?
: Yes

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Cruising to Paradise
Kunzang Lam, Building # 29, Motithang
Thimphu, Kingdom of Bhutan
Tel: +975 1741 6570
Email: bhutanctp@gmail.com
info@bhutanctp.com