An ancient trail used by Daga Penlops (Regional Governor) to travel to Thimphu
Ruin of Daga Penlop’s guesthouse
The Beautiful Dagala Lakes
Telltale signs of the presence of Grizzly Bear
Rufous Hornbill, Monal Pheasants, Red-Billed Chough
Variety of wildflowers in full bloom
Little known and largely undisturbed, Dagana is a verdant region of wildlife-rich forest and isolated villages in the southernmost reaches of Bhutan. Ranging from a lowly 200m to 4,720m above sea level it has an impressively diverse and rugged landscape unspoilt by development and with few signs of intrusion from the modern world. Few westerners have ever visited Dagana and Mountain Kingdoms is delighted to be the first British company to offer a trek here.
Starting a little south of Thimphu, this stunning new trek offers an incredible variety of scenery that leads from alpine meadows to sub-tropical forests. You cross high passes over 4,000 metres, marvel at the views of Himalayan giants such as Kangchenjunga, Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake, and enjoy walking through pristine rhododendron, pine and oak forests that host a rich variety of flora and fauna. You will also explore sacred lakes where, in true Bhutanese style, legends and tales of deities abound. On the last couple of days you descend to walk in dense forest terrain – the territory of tigers, leopards and bears.
A genuine wilderness trek you are unlikely to bump into a soul except the occasional yak herder. But even though this trek is unspoilt and feels very remote, the path is well-established due to its history both as a cattle trading route and as a trail used by the old Daga Penlop (governor) to reach Thimphu from the south. Some ruins of his guesthouses are still evident along the route today. On reaching Dagana there will be time to visit its attractive dzong and view the three giant stone megaliths on the opposite side of the valley.
As the trek to Dagana starts at quite a high altitude you will spend a couple of days in Paro and Thimphu beforehand enjoying day walks to acclimatise, as well as seeing some important cultural sights including Taktsang Monastery – the Tiger’s Nest. Your sightseeing continues after the trek with a visit to the beautiful riverside dzong at Punakha before you return to Paro for your flight back to Kathmandu.
Geneyzampa (2850m) Northing 27° 18 48.7” Easting 89° 38 04’’to Gur (3350m) Northing 27° 17 43.2” Easting 89° 38 25.5” Distance: 3.5km cross the suspension bridge, then keep right. Climb steeply, then more steadily, through beautiful oak forest. The trees are draped with lichen.
Along the trail there are old stone steps and resting places. Indicating that it was once a busy route. At 3200m, this is Dophu Jasey Dokha, with a nice view of the valley and surrounding mountains.
On top of the ridge, at about 3350m, when the trail takes a sharp corner, look for an unclear side trail going down for about 50m to a campsite, Gur. Gur is about 1000m higher than Thimphu. It takes 2 hours to get here from Geneyzampa. “Bjob- Gay-She Ru Daga La Gey PhuMey Choe”(Even as a yak herder dies of old age, he still doesn’t know the area of Dagala) Old Bhutanese saying.
The trail ascends to the main trek route until we reach to Pagalabtsa la (4170m) marked by four cairns. A beautiful high-altitude landscape opens up, with a fine view of Dagala range, including some rocky peaks. On the way we can find some yak herders camp. After travelling three hours, we reach to Watshachen (4100m), a good place to stop for lunch. There is a stone house at Watshachen. It takes one hour from Watshachen to Labatama campsite. At the bottom is a beautiful big flat campsite (4050m). We can still see ruin guesthouse of Daga Penlop at Labatama.
The next day, visitors can plan to visit to numerous lakes. A variety of wildflowers in full bloom including rhododendrons, and numerous lakes like Lang-Tsho, Tsho-Kharim, Rilang-Tsho, SerTsho, Yu-Tsho and Bjagoed-Tsho (Dagala Trail is said to have 1000 lakes) also fall along the route throughout.
There is a legend for every lake. For instance, Langtsho, Bull Lake, flows down to the Sunkosh on the right side of the Dagana Dzong. The villages on the either banks of the stream that flows from the lake are mostly plagued with bull calves. Locals say only one-fourth of the total cattle birth in the villages bear female calf.
The trail ascends until Lawagu (4426m). After crossing Lawagu, the trail descends until we reach to Tsibsaba campsite. A steep descent follows into Dagana valley. Walk next to a small blue mountain lake, Langtsho (ox) on a well-maintained path: this has long been an important route. The path stays on the eastern slope of the mountainside and leads in a southerly direction. We can see ruin of Daga Penlop’s guesthouse. The campsite is near the ruin guest house of Daga Penlop.
The trail starts slight descent through shrub and rhododendron forest. The trek runs through a range of varied ecological zones ranging from dry alpine scrubs, juniper, rhododendrons, fir, spruce, hemlock, blue pine forests to warm broadleaved forests, with an altitude ranging from below 1,500m to as high as over 4,000m.
We can see ruin of Daga Penlop’s guest house at Dompa and a few nomad’s camps along the trail. Wangrapang campsite will be potential spot for nature base tourism such as flora and fauna, bird watching and wildlife.
The trail now leads through broadleaved forest with masses of rhododendrons, becoming denser as the day progresses. Cross yak pastures to meet a good path through rhododendron forest. The first clearing reached is Pongukha, there is a small hut in the lower part. Keep left and descend in the forest. A steep descend follows through an oak and warm broadleaved forest.
A pasture with a ruined house on the right side, this is Bjitekha. Again descend steep down to Toepchu stream (1972m) through subtropical vegetation. The trail ascends slightly through the warm broadleaved forest until we reach to Kunga campsite.
We need to aware of insects, leeches, mosquitoes and snakes.
The trail leads through a floral paradise. Many orchids can be spotted on the trees and you are surrounded by lush subtropical vegetation. The ponies have to go other path. The path is narrow and there are many cliffs. After 5 hours of hiking you suddenly climb and get a good view of Dagana Dzong. The trek end at Shetok (1790m).
Private guided tour
Visas for Bhutan
Daily 3 meals (B/L/D) at designated restaurants or hotels
Accommodation at 3 star hotels
A qualified & licensed English-speaking guide
An experienced driver
A tour vehicle
Entry fees & road permits
Government fee, royalty, taxes & surcharges
Mineral bottled water
Set of traditional costume (to be return at the end of your stay)
Full service & assistance before, during and after your Bhutan trip
Flight into Bhutan via Drukair (can be arranged with us)
Flight on other airline to catch Drukair Flight
Meals at 4-5 stars restaurants
Hotel stay outside of Bhutan
Expenditure of personal nature
Tips for the guide and driver