Drangme Chhu River Expedition

5.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(1 customer review)

16 Days from From $5200

Raft the mighty Drangme Chhu River in the exotic and remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Enjoy the colorful cultural festivals and awe-inspiring viewscapes on this world-class odyssey.

Bhutan – the exotic, remote Himalayan Kingdom most well known for measuring its citizen’s “Gross National Happiness”. A gigantic staircase rising from the Indian border to the high Himalayas of Tibet, the soaring peaks of Bhutan are an untapped treasure of whitewater. The rivers are powerful and challenging. The mountains are magnificent. The people are delightful. The architecture and art is superb.

All together, this is a world-class odyssey in a magical land. Far from being a static, restricted environment, Bhutan is a dynamic country whose development is focused on meeting the practical, spiritual and aesthetic needs of its people.

The Bio Bio Expeditions Drangme Chhu trip will introduce you to this amazing culture as we travel by van to the far eastern side of the country. Along the way we will visit fortresses (known as Dzongs), monasteries – including the famous Tiger’s Nest built into the cliff, and local homes.

We will enjoy festivals and warm up on two different rivers as we make our way towards the mighty Drangme Chhu. Very few travelers have been to the far east of the country, and only a handful have run the river. Upon arrival at the put-in we will sort our gear, set our safety, and prepare to plunge into this deep and formidable canyon. Once we leave the road access at the top of the river there is no other access for 100 km. We’ll be totally self-sufficient carrying all expedition gear on our rafts as we explore one of the last untouched rivers in the world.

Although we ran the first descent in 2009, it is still relatively unknown as the monsoon floods often change rapids and we will still need to treat it as a first descent. The first few days feature the most intense whitewater and then the rapids gradually begin to soften as we make our way towards India. Along the way we will camp on sandy beaches, enjoy meeting some remote villagers, and feel the thrill of this amazing adventure.

At the journeys end we will take out in India and drive a short distance to the town of Guhawati where there are multiple daily flights to Delhi and connections back to the US. We look forward to experiencing the magic of Bhutan with you.

Day 1 Meet at the Bangkok airport early in the AM and fly on Druk Air to Paro, Bhutan. We spend the afternoon hiking to one of the most spectacular sites in all of Bhutan, the Tigers Nest Monastery. Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Thimpu. We recommend arriving in Bangkok a day or two early to have a chance to recover from flights and be fully charged for your flight to Bhutan!

Day 2 Drive to Punakha in comfortable motorcoaches, visit Punakha Dzong and stay at a riverside camp after paddling the class 4 Mo Chhu (2 hours on river). Multi-sport options after rafting include horseback riding or trekking.

Day 3 Spend another day and night in the Punakha valley. Rafting, hiking, kayaking are all options for today.

Day 4 Drive to Tongsa and visit the Dzong and museum. 4 hour trek across the Mangde Chhu river valley.

Day 5 Paddle the Ema Datzi canyon of the Mangde Chhu river – a great stretch of whitewater in an absolutely dazzling river canyon straight out of a fairy tale with emerald green water contrasting the shiny black walls and verdant jungle. Overnight at the family Dzong of our Bhutanese contact and friend Ugyen Dorji at Enduchholing (Palace of the first King), with a private festival for the group. This will include traditional religious mask dances and a sumptuous feast.

Day 6 Drive to Bumthang and overnight in a mountain lodge. Explore the colorful town of Bumthang.

Day 7 Short drive to the mountain village of Mongar. Visit the local Dzong and trek up one of the remote valleys. Overnight at the Mountain Lodge.

Day 8 Drive to Trashigang and visit the local Dzong. This section of road is absolutely stunning and changes from high passes to semi-tropical rainforest. We have timed this visit with the festival dates there. We will camp deluxe style – tents are set up for you, lighting, bathrooms). Note – Very few tourists travel this far east in Bhutan for the simple fact that it is a long drive to go there and back. We will only be traveling one-way with our plans for river take-out in India.

Day 9 Enjoy the Festival of Transhigang. Camp at the river.

Day 10-15 Drangme Chhu to Manas – This is the crux of the expedition! Once we leave the road access at the top of the river there is no other access for 100 km. We’ll be totally self-sufficient carrying all expedition gear on our rafts as we explore one of the last untouched rivers in the world. Although we ran the first descent in 2009, it is still relatively unknown as the monsoon floods often change rapids and we will still need to treat it as a first descent.

Day 15 Our last day on the river – Take out and camp.

Day 16 Drive to Guhawati, India and fly to Delhi for connection home.


Dhey Kyed Resort – or similar

The resort is located 20 minutes from the airport in Paro on a gentle slope overlooking the picturesque Paro valley. The meandering Paro River and the rice fields form an agrarian topography that is beautiful to the eye and calming to the mind.

Dhey Kyed in Bhutanese means wellbeing and peace. And that is just what we hope to offer you during your stay here. Our dedicated staff will strive to offer the unobtrusive services to our esteemed clients with traditional warmth and hospitality. The resort was built keeping in mind the vibrant and colorful Bhutanese architecture and modern comforts

The resort offers fine dining with its selection of delicious Bhutanese, Chinese, Indian and Continental cuisine at the beautifully located restaurant “Zhe Go Za Gey.” You can also get an incredible view of the Paro valley from here.

Adjacent to the dining, is a cozy bar. Imported or local liquor, beer and assorted wines are available. You can also try the locally fermented beer “Bangchang” made from grains or taste the locally brewed alcohol, “Ara”.



Hotel Galingkha – or similar

Welcome to the restored and redefined Hotel Galingkha. Situated literally in the heart and junction of what is the burgeoning capital of Bhutan in Thimphu, the hotel is one of the oldest in the kingdom.

When the capital was first planned and developed, the area in which Hotel Galingkha is located was literally Ground Zero. This area is as much the beginning of what is today a rapidly growing capital of 90,000 inhabitants as it was when the area was nothing but rural houses and rice fields. Change is imminent and the agrarian life and its accompanying tools and symbols have led way to a vibrant and commercial hub that breathes life into the rest of Bhutan.

Today Thimphu is not just the face of a changing Bhutan but also the face of a kingdom that wants to transform in its own image. And this is where Hotel Galingkha takes pride in being one of the faces of a changing Bhutan. The hotel has been restored maintaining a delicate and fine balance between the traditional Bhutanese architecture and practical modern amenities to keep provide our clients with the comforts of a home, the caring services and atmosphere of a family and a vantage location to explore the main streets, bars, restaurants, handicrafts and the colorful nooks and corners of Thimphu.



River Camp by Xplore Bhutan

Our riverside base camp with comfortable safari style tents and bedding with comforters. Ideally situated in the magnificent Punakha Valley. We can launch our rafts from camp and enjoy an amazing class 3 whitewater run, passing Dzongs along the way.

Damchen Resort

Nestled in beautiful Punakha valley, the hotel is conveniently located close to Punakha town and river.  The architecture and décor of the resort provide a good display of the true aesthetic traditional Bhutanese architecture. ? ?The resort offers 35 well appointed rooms and few with breathtaking view of fascinating Punakha valley. All rooms are well equipped with necessary amenities like television, telephone, comfortable mattresses, furniture and fine linen. The bathrooms have 24 hours hot and cold water supply, comfy bath tubs, showers and toiletries.? ?The resort offers fine dining with its selection of delicious Bhutanese, Chinese and Indian cuisine at its picturesquely located restaurant. Adjacent to the dining is the cozy bar, providing good range of imported and local spirits.

Departure Dates:

Call for Fall Dates!

Trip Length: 16 Days

1 review for Drangme Chhu River Expedition

  1. 5 out of 5

    We were part of the Drangme Chhu first descent in 2009 – a truly amazing experience. The country itself is a gem. Adding the Drangme Chhu river experience is like adding the best icing to the best cake! The river is a classic highly technical river in the midst of beautiful terrain. On our layover day we were invited by a local farmer to hike to his place – a very small two room thatch dwelling on stilts – for “very local” alcohol. It was one of those very sublime cultural experiences that arrives out of nowhere but you will remember forever.

    The drive to the river in 2009 was quite an event covering three days. We were on comfortable busses on narrow, winding roads. Bhutan seems intent on road improvement, so the drive is probably easier by now.

    If you go, do take some time to experience the rest of the country in addition to the river. You must see the Tigers Nest and the monastery of the Divine Madman. The Dzongs are truly amazing.

    Enjoy the post-river exit to India. The contrast to peaceful Bhutan is striking!

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