NABJI TRAIL: The Nabji Trail is an ideal post-harvest/winter trekking open from October up to the end of March. The trail is set out in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, a park with an ecological rich environment. The park, located in central Bhutan, is also home to several cultural rich agricultural villages. The trail is a six-day low-altitude trek (between 693m/23100ft and 1,636m/5453ft) through six different villages located inside the park. Starting point Riotala (1060m/3533ft) and final destination Tongtongphey (1061m/3537ft) are two small villages along the Trongsa-Zhemgang road, situated in the buffer area of the park at the east side of the Mangde Chhu (river). On this trek, you will possibly see the Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei), one of the rarest primates, which can only be found in Bhutan and neighbouring Assam. Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park is also home to the endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nepalensis). The trail is a superb place for birding (common mynas, blue-fronted redstarts, long-tailed shrikes and Eurasian sparrows, to name just a few common species, but spotted are also serpent eagle, golden-throated barbet, and the yellow-bellied flowerpecker) and has a wide variety of plants and flowers found in this Himalayan area (from Chir Pine, broad-leaved trees and Bamboo, to Rhododendrons and wild Orchids). Besides the natural beauty of the area, the area also contains cultural history, witnessed among others by the presence of a commemorative pillar in the temple of Nabji. The last two days of the trek will go through the homeland of the Monpa people. The small traditional villages of the Monpa community are scattered on the slope overlooking Mangde Chhu. The Monpas are thought to be the first settlers in Bhutan, the Mangde Chhu valley representing one of the earliest areas of settlement in Bhutan. The Monpas practice a mix of animistic shamanism and Buddhism. Monpa refers to “the people of darkness” referring to their isolated position in the past.
Suggested itinerary Day 1: Total walking distance Riotala and Nimshong: about 6.5km; 3-4 hours Trongsa (2,200m/7,333ft) - Nimshong village (1,319m/4,367ft) The first day starts with a brief tour through Trongsa Dzong and its Ta Dzong strategically located above the Mangde River. From there the bus will follow the road towards Zhemgang to halt in Riotola (1,060m/3533 ft), the start of Nabji Trail. Keep an eye open for deer and macaques along the way but notice the beautiful view over Mangde Valley as well. The trek starts with a steep descent of 693m/2310 ft, to the bed of Mangde River; within one and hour from the river you can have a rest at a place called Matling (804 m/2600 ft). After half an hour you will come across a chorten that indicates the entry to the Nimshong village which is a steep climb for about two hours from the river. Nimshong is a small (circa 58-household) village, which has a population of about 465 people. The villagers welcome you with dance and songs while cooks are preparing diner. The campsite (1319m/4397 ft ) is just beside the Nimshong Community School next above the village.
Day 2: Total distance: about 13km; 4-6 hours Nimshong Campsite (1319m/4397 ft)-Nabji Campsite (1,300m/3827ft) Early in the morning, the village guide will take you to the local temple. From there the hike will go through a lush broadleaf forest alive with abundant bird and mammal life, with possible sightings of Golden Langur and Rufous-necked Hornbill. Nabji is pretty much at the same elevation as Nimshong village; however, the trail will move up and down through a dense forest. Nabji consists of 55 households and an approximate population of 400 people. The village is situated on a foothill above terraced fields of rice. The temple of Nabji –which means ‘promising’ or ‘oath’- harbours the stone pillar to mark the peace between Bumthang and Assam Kings. In the village you can find rock remains of a blacksmith (one of the reincarnations of Pema Lingpa). Overnight at campsite surrounded by the rice fields of Nabji.
Day 3: Total distance: 9.5-13km; 4-5 hours Nabji village (1,300m/3827ft)-Korphu Lunch spot 1,636m/5453ft) From our base camp in Nabji, we will do a day hike to Korphu village. Korphu is situated on a mountaintop at an altitude of 1,500m/5000ft. The village consists of 76 households, with an approximate population of 600 people. It is a spectacular hike uphill, and the view from the clustered village of Korphu is breathtaking. It is possible to visit Korphu’s temple, which houses the sacred relics of Pema Lingpa. A local lunch will be provided in the village. In the midafternoon, we hike back to Nabji.
Day 4: Total distance: 11-14 km; about 5-7 hours Nabji/Korphu campsite-Kubdra Camp site (1636m/5,453ft) Our trek today starts on a trail to Kubdra village, leaving Nabji village at the holy tree. The trail has it own beauty; you will come across dense forest, big trees with clippers, orchid and small bamboos. After 5 to 6 hours hike, you can rest on the benches provided; enjoy your lunch with a nice view of water fall at a place called Zhelyung (1565m/5217ft.). Then after few hours walk you will come across an ethnic group (called the Monpas) inhabited in Kubdra. Kubdra is situated in the middle of the forest, around 6 hours walking from Nabji. Along the way you’ll find traces of Guru Rimpoche. The habitat you traverse is very attractive for tigers and leopards (though it is very rare to spot them, droppings and spores can be found). Kubdra only has 3 households, but the few Monpas living here are very happy to welcome you at their campsite.
Day 5: Total distance: 13-14,5km; circa 6 hours) Kubdra Camp site (1636m/5453ft)-Jangbi village (1368m/4560ft) The hike continues from Kubdra to Jangbi village. Again traces of Guru Rimpoche can be found along the way (foot print, dragger and hat). A brief visit will be paid to the small village of Phrumzur with its temple (at 1,400m). From the site of the temple there’s a good view over the valley, here lunch will be served. From Phrumzur the hike continues, with great vistas and pristine forest along the way. A welcoming tea is prepared in the orchid garden in Jangbi. Here you will also find more information on the Monpas and their Cane and Bamboo Project. Camp will be set near Jangbi village with a beautiful view over the valley and Mangde Chhu.
Day 6: Total distance: 7-9.5km; about 3-4 hours) Jangbi Campsite (1,368m/4,560ft)-Tongtongfey (1,061m/3,537ft)-Trongsa Today there is a steep descent of 950 meters, which will bring you to the bridge crossing the Mangde Chhu; after that there will be a last climb to Tongtongfey. From here, the bus will bring you back to Trongsa for a real bed and shower. If time permits, you can visit the Kuenga Rabten Palace and the Nunnery (on the way back to Trongsa). Overnight in Trongsa (or next destination)
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