Challenging trek for the first timer- Wild East Rodungla

Author: Shivani Subba
Date: 2019-12-05

Wild East Rodungla Trek - While the Wild East Rodung La Trek in Bhutan does not ascend to extremely high altitudes, it is still a fairly challenging trek as the trekking trail covers some steep climbs and descents. The trail of the Wild East Rodung La Trek will take you from Bumthang in Central Bhutan to Trashiyangtse which lies in the far eastern reaches of the kingdom of Bhutan.



The route of the Wild East Rodung La Trek used to be an important trade road in the past. However, it has now fallen into disuse and is chiefly used as a hiking trail. The Wild East Rodung La Trek passes through meadows and mountain passes , alpine and bamboo forests and also through villages and temples which offers the hikers an incredible array of biodiversity to experience and appreciate. The trek typically takes 10 days to complete and is best carried out in the winter season between October - Early November or in spring time between April - Early May.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Jakar – Ngang Lhakhang

Distance 20 km | Time 6-7 hours | Camp Altitude 2,800m

The Wild East Rodung La Trek route will take you around Chamkhar Chhu, which is a river in Bhutan that is brimming with trout. After passing Thangbi Lhakhang, a temple built by the first Karma Shamar in the 13th century you will visit Ngang Yul or ‘Swan Land” which is named after the swans that were once common in this part of the valley in Bhutan. Near the center of this area you will then find Ngang Lhakhang, or the “Swan Temple”. The Ngang Lhakhang was erected by the Bhutanese Lama (monk) named Namkha Samdrup at the spot where his arrow landed. The design of the lhakhang was inspired by a vision that he had.



Day 2: Ngang Lhakhang – Ugyenchholin

Camp Altitude 2,850m 

You will begin with a gradual climb to Phephe La pass (3,353m). You will keep following the trekking trail until the pass takes you through a picturesque forested region. It is best to allow for some stops along the trek on this day in order to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. You will stop for the night at Ogyen Choling Manor. This manor in Bhutan houses one of the most interesting museums of Bhutan and upon visiting, you will gain a better understanding of the lives of the landed gentry in traditional Bhutanese society.

Day 3: Ugyen Choling – Phokphey

Distance 17 km | Time 5-6 hours | Ascent 920m | Camp Altitude 3,680m

This day’s trek will take you through bamboos, hemlock and finally to an alpine forest. The camp is situated in a meadow at the head of the valley.

Day 4: Phokphey – Pemi

Distance 20 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 480 m, descent 1,160m | Camp Altitude 2,950m

Rodung La (4,160m) is about three more hours of climbing from the camp. From the pass you will continue walking downhill through a gorge while overlooking scenic mountain valleys covered in lush pine forests. This region of Bhutan is rich in folklore related to the stories of spirits and yetis. Near the camp you will see a ruined stone building that once used to serve as a grain storehouse during the reigns of the first and second king of Bhutan.



Day 5: Pemi – Khaine Lakhang

Distance 21 km | Time 7-8 hours | Ascent 350 m, descent 1,340m | Camp Altitude 2,010m

The Wild East Rodung La Trek now winds through the villages of Ungaar, Bulay, Kulaypang and Gomda before finally bringing you to Drula village and Khaine Lhakhang. Khaine Lhakhang  is one of the oldest temples in the country. It was built in the mid 7th century by the King of Tibet, Songtshen Gampo to subdue demons.

Day 6: Khaine Lakhang – Tangmachu

Distance 18 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 520 m, descent 810m | Camp Altitude 1,720m

From your camp, the trekking trail of the Wild East Rodung La Trek will take you down to a stream and then back up to a basic health unit and a community school in Gorsam. On walking further, you will pass a Tibetan-style Umling Mani, which was built by a Lama (monk) from Tibet, as well as a chorten on Zerim La (1,940m). Before reaching the next pass, Tage La (1,760m) you will see Menjabi, a beautiful Bhutanese village which has many large white houses. The campsite for the night is located South-east of Tage La near Tangmachu High School. Another option is to organize transport and drive to Lhuentse, which is the capital of Lhuentse district. Lhuntese Dzong is considered to be one of the most impressive dzongs in all of Bhutan.