Phub Dem | Paro

A team of 21 people working in tourism such as guides, cooks, and horsemen revived an ancient route in Haa and developed it into a new trekking trail.

Calling it the ‘Haa Panorama Hiking Trail’ (HPHT), the one-day hiking trail overlooks four major monasteries of upper Haa: Yangthang, Katsho, Dranadingkha and Takchu goenpas.

The hike could either start from Yangthang goenpa or Wangtsa village through thick pine covering and provides a bird’s eye view of Haa valley.  It gently ascends to 3,150 metres above sea level and passes through Juney Drak, Katsho and Yanthang goenpas.

A guide, Sonam Wangdi, and his three friends had explored ways to diversify tourist destinations in Haa for domestic and international travellers.

Sonam Wangdi said HPHT was ideal for a day hike. “One can cycle through the rich forest.”

The trail covers 11 kilometres in about five hours.  Haa dzongkhag provided Nu 1.5 million to develop the route within two months.

According to Sonam Wangdi, it was a fulfilling project for both laid off guides to promote new products and get paid for their hard work. “The trail will further benefit the already established homestays in Wangtsa and Yangthang villages.

Haa dzongkhag’s economic development officer, Tshering Peldon, said the trail connects two gewogs of Katsho and Bji with two exit points in between. “If hikers can’t complete the journey, they can exit from Katsho goenpa and Juney Dra.”

She said that the trail has two canopies, a bazam, 15 log bridges and a picnic spot with a hot stone bath. “In view of the potential of tourism development, the dzongkhag administration immediately provided support to begin the work.”

Although there were some hiking and trekking trails in Haa, such as the Meri Puensum hike, Sonam Wangdi said that many travellers refuse to trek, as it takes 8 hours to complete without much infrastructure in place.

Meanwhile, Haa opened to tourism in 2002 when the people of Haa valley approached the National Assembly and expressed their desire to introduce their community to the world of tourism, but only a few tourists visited.

Although Haa has a strategic location and proximity to Thimphu, Paro international airport, and the southern gateway town of Phuentsholing, it lacks proper infrastructure, according to Haa’s tourism action plan.

Many believe that Haa doesn’t have much to offer tourists and it used to be a day trip destination.  To promote Haa as a potential tourist destination called for more tourist attractions such as HPHT.