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Fly Fishing: Angling in Bhutan
Fly Fishing: Angling in Bhutan

Bhutan’s commitment to maintain a forest cover of 70% of its total area as one of the four pillars of what is now known globally as the Gross National Happiness, where environmental and spiritual values are placed before material development to measure the country's economy. This created a fishing haven of pristine environment with clear rivers and streams, habitat to around 50 species of fish that include the brown trout (Salmo trutta) and snow trout (Schizothorax progastus, asla) highly sought sporting fishes around the world.

Brown trout was not native to Bhutan. Introduced in 1930’s from the hatcheries in Kashmir valley of India, the brown trout thrived and created a sought after destination to the anglers. The rivers and streams of Haa, Paro, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang and Bumthang offer opportunities to fish for fun. With demands increasing, the government relaxed restrictions to open these rivers for fly fishing but strictly practiced “catch and release”.

Experts on this Trip
Preview the Itinerary
Arrive Paro (2,300m / 7,600ft)
Arrive Paro (2,300m / 7,600ft)
Day 1

Board flight bound for Bhutan and weather permitting, one can view some spectacular mountains, such as the Everest, Kanchenjunga and Bhutan's holy mountain Chomolhari.  After arrival in the Airport and upon completion of  immigration and customs, you will be received by your fishing guide and private car. After lunch at the hotel, head to the Paro Chhu (river) for the first experience of fly fishing in Bhutan.

In the evening, your guide will conduct a trip orientation before your welcome dinner.

 

Paro – Fishing the Paro and Thimphu Rivers
Paro – Fishing the Paro and Thimphu Rivers
Day 2

After breakfast, continue fishing along the stretches of Paro Chhu from the confluence of Thimphu Chhu upstream. Lunch will be catered at the river side. The fishing will be a mixture of hiking to holding spots and driving occasionally to cover a good amount of stretch for the best spots. Alternatively, we will also drive to the Thimphu Chhu to provide more options. In the evening, visit the 7th Century Kyichu temple. 

 

Via Dochula & onwards to Punakha (1,310m /4,300ft)
Via Dochula & onwards to Punakha (1,310m /4,300ft)
Day 3

In the morning we drive to Punakha via the beautiful Dochula pass at 3,150m/10,334ft. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snow-capped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens (stupas) gracing the mountain pass. We spend some time over the pass and after tea, continue drive downhill towards warmer valley of Punakha. En route stop by the village of Sopsokha to hike and visit Chimi Lhakhang, dedicated to the Divine Mad Monk - Drukpa Kuenley- an hour round trip hike.

After Lunch, we change into our fishing gears and head to the beautiful Mo (female) Chhu. The fishing guide will take you to some very promising places to land in what would be the biggest fish on the whole tour; the wild brown trout and the ground feeder snow trout exist together in a single pool and both species will put up a good fight for the anglers.

 

Punakha Halt
Punakha Halt
Day 4

Today we continue our fishing expedition in the valley. We drive upstream and fish the areas not covered under the park. Bhutan has over 10 national parks and 42% of the forest are covered in these parks. We will enjoy a picnic lunch by the riverside (if weather permits).

Towards late afternoon, we have the option to visit the Majestic Punakha Dzong tucked between the two rivers called as Pho “male” and Mo “female” or undertake some beautiful hikes the valley has to offer. Option includes Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Hike, farmhouse visit, rafting, Chorten Ngingpo temple.

 

Drive to Gangtey (2,900m/9,510ft)
Drive to Gangtey (2,900m/9,510ft)
Day 5

After breakfast, we drive to Phobjikha valley. The valley is home and roosting ground for the endangered black necked cranes which flies over from Tibetan plateaus during winter every year and from Crane Centre you will get to learn about these revered birds and their habitats. Option to hike along the ridgeline of Phobjikha valley which is home to the biggest wetland in the country.

In the afternoon, the fishing resumes on the rivulet that runs among the thicket of bamboo shoots. The fishing here today will be very rewarding and one needs to approach the pools of water with stealth and precision. The fishes will be easily spooked due to very few anglers having tried their luck here. Occasionally, anglers have boasted of landing 2-3 pound trout from the pools.

 

Fishing in Gangtey
Fishing in Gangtey
Day 6

We continue our fishing in the valley today driving downstream to what you will notice the rivulet transformed by the tributaries into a big river. This would mean bigger size trout. We will see competitors today for the fishes. The yellow throated marten is a common sight in this area. Otters are also a direct competitors to anglers.

Lunch will be catered by the riverside. After a few visits to some hot spots of fishing, we drive back to the hotel and en-route visit Khewang Monastery where monks as young as 6 years old are ordained and pursues Buddhist studies and meditation. We will take time to visit their class rooms and interact with them and hear their stories.


 

Drive to Thimphu (2,400m/8,000ft)
Drive to Thimphu (2,400m/8,000ft)
Day 7

Today we drive back to Thimphu. On the way various sightseeing options will be provided including the visit to the rebuilding of the Wangduephodrang Dzong. Here you will notice the uniqueness of how the Dzongs (fortress) of Bhutan are built. Over hundreds of masons and carpenters will demonstrate the art of Bhutanese architecture. Wangduephodrang Dzong was destroyed by fire in June 2012 and currently the government is nearing restoration of the structure to its former glory.

We then drive back across Dochula and enter Thimphu city which is home to about 1,20,000 population residing. In the evening, we have leisure time to stroll around Thimphu City to shop for souvenirs from the handicraft shops.

 

 

Towards Quaint little town of Haa (2,718m/8,917ft)
Towards Quaint little town of Haa (2,718m/8,917ft)
Day 8

The drive to Haa is about four hours. Midway through the drive in the conifer forests, we stop to fish in the Haa chhu. After lunch, we visit the National Centre for Riverine and Lake Fishery. Here you will have the opportunity to see the slow introduction of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to the rivers and fisheries of Bhutan. This is an initiative of the government to promote the local economy through such fisheries. We will interact with the officials to understand the different fish species in Bhutan and their challenges in understanding the aquatic ecosystem in Bhutan.

The introduction of exotic fishes in the rivers in Bhutan and its effect of indigenous species of fish has been highly debated. Perhaps, the officials here would be the best persons to interact and understand the subject thoroughly.

 

Discover more in Haa
Discover more in Haa
Day 9

The Haa valley offers various secluded spots for fishing. We drive downstream and take a diversion from a farm road to fish the day in these areas. Lunch will be catered at the fishing spots. After a hard day of fishing, we soak ourselves in the comfort of local hospitality at the lodge and try the local delicacy Dumplings known as “Hoentey”. Option to stroll around quaint, little town of Haa where people spend their time slow during off seasons. During plantation and harvest seasons, all family members have to give hands to help each other in the farmlands.

 

 

Drive back to Paro
Drive back to Paro
Day 10

We drive to Paro over Chelela Pass, the highest motor able road in Bhutan at 3,988m/13,084ft above sea level. The pass is adorned with hundreds of colorful prayer flags; you may want to take a wwalk around the pass before continuing on drive to Paro.  Enroute we hike to Dzongdrakha, a village and temple that if unguided can mistake for the famous tigers nest of Bhutan.

Afternoon at leisure or visit the Paro town to choose more souvenirs from the market.

 

Hike to Tiger's nest Monastery
Hike to Tiger's nest Monastery
Day 11

This is a big day for any tourist in Bhutan. After breakfast we start our hike to The Tiger's Nest monastery perched precariously over a cliff at 10,000ft. This serene monastery stands about 800 m/2,624ft above the valley floor. Legend has it that the Guru Padmasambhava flew to this rocky Craig in the early 8th century Taktsang, who having tamed and converted the local spirit into a protective deity, meditated here and introduced Buddhism in the valley that later spread across the country.

He flew here on the back of a tigress and later the tigress was seen by people around the cave, hence the name (tigress lair). Being one of the most revered Buddhist sites, thousands of pilgrims travel here each year from all over the World. Lunch can be served at the cafeteria, from where one can get a most spectacular view of the monastery. It takes about 2 and half hours to get there and about 2 hours to return down.

Afternoon at leisure to unravel the trip and try out the hot stone bath and spa facilities at the Zhiwa Ling Heritage Hotel

Distance: 8Miles/13.2Kms                                 

Time: 5 - 6Hrs Return

Elevation gain: 600m/1,980ft                               

Elevation loss: 600m/1,980ft

 

Depart from Bhutan
Depart from Bhutan
Day 12

Most flights are in the mornings. Your guide will escort you to the airport and your Adventure and Fishing journey to the magical land of Gross National Happiness comes to an end. We wish you BonVoyage and Tashi Dlk