BHUTAN – Jigme Dorji National Park is one of Bhutan’s national parks where the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal, Blue Poppy, the national flower, Raven, the national bird, and Cypress, the national tree, thrive in perfect harmony.
With over 300 bird species, the park serves as home to various animals, including the Himalayan blue sheep, Indian leopard, sambar deer, red panda, pika, marmot, goral, and more.
Thanks to relentless conservation efforts, endangered species like the snow leopard, Bengal tiger, Himalayan blue sheep, Bengal tiger, red panda, spotted linsang, Ussuri dhole, musk deer, and Himalayan black bear have been thriving here.
- Location: Encompassing the entire Gasa district along with parts of northern Paro, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, and Thimphu districts.
- Jigme Dorji National Park Entry Fee: 45,000 INR
- Timings: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Monday to Friday)
Jigme Dorji National Park in Thimphu, Bhutan, is also home to over 300 medicinal plant species, 39 butterfly species, and 5 reptile species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the park is where Bengal tigers first shared their habitat with snow leopards at an elevation of 4,000 meters in a diverse terrain.
Established in 1974 and named after Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the second-largest national park in the country covers an area of over 4,316 square kilometers. It’s a haven for trekkers, and it’s also home to more than 6,500 Layaps, indigenous nomads who live within the park, engaged in pastoral and agricultural activities.
How to Reach Jigme Dorji National Park
When planning your trip to Jigme Dorji National Park, you’ll be provided with both air and road options.
By Air: As the park is located in Bhutan, you can take a flight to Paro International Airport and then use a bus or taxi, depending on your convenience. Since there are no other airports near the park, you’ll have to choose either bus or car travel, which would take about 5 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
By Road: The best way to reach the park is by road, and the most convenient route is from Thimphu to Jigme Dorji National Park. It takes approximately 4 hours, assuming there are no traffic jams, but it’s advisable to add an extra hour or half-hour for traffic considerations.
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/r8zxdZ5hJkJMFr9RA
Best Time to Visit Jigme Dorji National Park
With an area spanning over 4,316 square kilometers, a trip to Jigme Dorji National Park can be planned at any time of the year. However, you should keep an eye on seasonal monsoons affecting different elevations ranging from 1,000 to 7,000 meters.
The park is a renowned hotspot for trekkers from all over the world, with most of them choosing the safe period between March and October to witness the blooming of wildflowers. Additionally, September is considered the ideal time for snow leopard sightings.
Jigme Dorji National Park in Bhutan encompasses three common climatic regions across the country with high altitude differences. There are year-round frozen fields on the high mountains while broadleaf forests have warm and cold variants. The high altitude alpine meadows offer a perfect supplementary climate for the cold high slopes.
Tourist Attractions in Jigme Dorji National Park
With the guidance of the Jigme Dorji National Park tourist map, you can either trek through the lush broadleaf forests or enjoy a wildlife safari across the high alpine meadows and even at higher elevations to seek out Bengal tigers, Satyr tragopan, or snow leopards.
Here are some places to visit within the park:
Known as the Bride of Khangchendzonga, this mountain peak stands at a height of 7,326 meters on the border of China, Tibet, and Bhutan. It creates the Paro Chu and Amo Chu rivers to the south and north, respectively.
This sacred mountain for Tibetan Buddhists has the Jomolhari Temple on its southern slope, and Gyalwa Lorepa, Milarepa, and ‘Lake Goddess’ Tsheringma can be reached with moderate trekking.
Mt. Jitchu Drake
With twin peaks and elevations ranging from 6,714 meters to 6,989 meters, Jitchu Drake stands beside Chomolhari and is a sacred peak reserved for the Tutelary deity, who protects Paro and the surrounding regions. It is a popular trekking destination.
Tserim Kang, or Tserimgang, at the Bhutan-Tibet border with an elevation of 6,532 meters, is a famous trekking destination within Jigme Dorji National Park. It stands next to Chomolhari, with Jichu Drake flowing in between.
The Mo Chhu River also drains water for the eastern and southern slopes of the mountain. To the north slope lies the Duoqing Co drainage basin.
Lingzhi Yügyal Dzong
The monastery of the Drukpa Kagyu sect, this administrative center is located at an elevation of 4,150 meters and is governed by the head Lama of the district’s monastic body. The monastery holds historical significance.
Also known as Gasa Tashi Tongmon Dzong, this administrative center on the northwest edge of the country appears majestic with its 17th-century architecture and whitewashed walls. It stands at an elevation of 2,850 meters, overlooking mountain peaks.
Glacial Lakes and Alpine Regions
For scenic exploration within Jigme Dorji National Park, the glacial and alpine lakes of Laya and Lunana Gewogs adjoining the high alpine meadows are your best options. Here, you’ll find everything from colorful lakes, grazing yaks and blue sheep, meandering rivers, medicinal plants, hot springs, waterfalls, and various flora such as edelweiss, rhododendrons, and orchids.
Under the veil of mist and clouds, you can spot elusive animals like the Himalayan monal pheasant or trek a bit farther into the warm broadleaf forest to glimpse the Satyr tragopan, Tawny fish owl, and White-bellied heron.
Explore further: Traveling to Bhutan – A Complete Guide.