Gomphu - Norbugang trail
This trail is a 4-day trek inside the Royal Manas Park. During the trek, one can sight different birds and may be even lucky to spot wild animals like tiger, elephant, buffalo, among others. Also, it offers the visitors to experience local festivals and some other indigenous way of life. The local communities run the ecotourism camps and thus it directly benefit them.
Day 1: Gomphu to Pangtang (Zhemgang District)
Gomphu, located at 820 meters above sea level is the first ecotourism camp. The trekking time from Gomphu to Pangtang is about five hours along the traditional route and takes an hour longer along the motorable road. The journey takes through the mixed broad-leaved forests and thick undergrowth. The traditional route starts with about an hour descent and then an hour ascent before it starts for a gentle descent again. A numerous birds can be seen along the trail.
Half way to Pantang, stop for lunch at Mamung - a place where oranges are widely grown. A journey less than three hours will bring to Pantang camp- located on the right bank of Mangdechhu (river) on the rock. Pantang town is nearby the camp. Pangtang is at 239 meters above sea level
The communities at Gomphu perform annual festival and offerings at specific dates. Annual Tshechu (festival) is performed from 15-17 of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar. Magpon (deity) offering is performed in the 5th and 10th months of the Bhutanese calendar. This offering is believed to keep away from famine. Pangtang community also celebrates festivals and makes offerings to local deities (powgi lodue). The deity offering ritual can be performed for tourist at both campsites.
Day 2: Pangtang to Shilingtae
The second day trek continues to the campsite at Shilingtae. Shilingtae is at the higher altitude to that of Pangtang at 420 meters from the sea level. It is on much higher elevation providing a good view of the surroundings.
The trail starts with gentle descent with occasional short climbs. The entire trek will take about four hours and the last leg before reaching Shilingtae eco-camp is a climb for over half an hour. The trail is very rich in birds’ diversity.
The Shilingtae community also celebrates the Powgi lodue, celebrated by Pangtang community. A Tashibi village, which is about an hour walk from Shilingtae celebrates an annual Tshechu on 14-15 of the 10th month (Bhutanese calendar).
Day 3: Shilingtae to Pangbang (Zhemgang district)
After breakfast, the third day trek continues. Besides the birds encountered along this trail, a bat cave and twin waterfall await you. Panbang communities celebrate Tshechu from 8-10 every 11th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
Day 4: Pangbang (Zhemgang district) to Norbugang (Pemagatshel district)
The Pangbang campsite is at a place called Anilademba-the junction of Mangdechhu and Dangmechhu. (Some 13 kms by road will reach Royal Manas. One can do elephant riding or river rafting. Two hours walk from Royal Manas will take to ‘Special thang’ – there is a watchtower for animal sightings. Some of the animals sighted included sambar, gaur, buffalo, tiger and elephant)
A motorable road connects to Indian Manas Tiger Reserve. The same road is one of the exit or entry points into Royal Manas. Most of the birds sighted along the Shilingtae-Pangbang trail are also found along this trail.
Norbugang can be reached either from Manas or from Nganglam (Pemagatsel district). The travel time between Pangbang-Norbugang is around nine hours making it the longest trek.
The eco camp at Norbugang is constructed at a place called Dorji Jadram-also one of exits and entry points to Royal Manas National Park. The five villages along the trail from Nganglam to Norbugang conduct festivals and among them the one at Nimshongborang is considered unique and more entertaining.