MERAK SAKTEN TREK
Unlike anywhere else in the country, Merak-Sakten trek offers visitors experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys. It falls in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang 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 blocks 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.
Sakten Wildlife Sanctuary
The trek lies within the Sakten Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS). It was created in April 2003 with an 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 and Kangpara blocks in the west, and Shingkhar Lauri block in Samdrupjongkhar. It is connected to Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary by a biological corridor, a part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex (B2C2).
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 meanders along the river bank with slight climbs and drops.
Day 3: Merak – Miksa Teng
The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng 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 – Sakten
Trek to Sakten from Miksa Teng is easy, making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakten. Overnight at Camp.
Day 5: Sakten Day Halt
Time to explore this remote Himalayan village.
Day 6: Sakten – JyonkharTeng
6 1/2 hours, camp altitude 1,859 m. Sakten to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy as compared to previous days. It is mostly downhill.
Day 7: Jyonkhar Teng – Phongmay
5 hours, camp altitude 1,981 m
The final day. This day sees constant climbs and drops until you reach the road head in Phongmey. You will be driven to Trashigang.