An unparalleled biological treasure in the Eastern Himalayas, Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) represents the largest example of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in Bhutan. With hundreds of wildlife, birds and plant species, several globally endangered, Royal Manas is not only the most diverse protected area in the Kingdom but also one of the world’s biologically outstanding conservation sites. The park is the fourth largest national park in Bhutan with an area of 1057 km2 and covers the three districts of Sarpang, Zhemgang and Pemagatsel. The park area begins from the plains of Manas River in Bhramaputra basin at 108 meters and extends upto 2600 meters above sea level.
After being maintained as a forest reserve by the Royal Government of Bhutan for many years, Royal Manas was notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1964, making this park, the nation’s oldest protected area. In 1993 the area was upgraded to a national park. Now, it forms part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex, an extensive system of protected areas and biological corridors covering over 50 percent of the country.
Name of the trail: Gomphu-Manas-Norbugang eco-trail
Entry/exit points: Gomphu, Zhemgang or Pangbang, Zhemgang via Indian Manas or Nanglam,S/Jongkhar.
Preparing for visit: Like visiting any other national parks in the country, park permit is required which can be collected from the office of Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division, Department of Forests and Park Services located below Jungshi paper factory, Thimphu during office hours. Since the entry and exit points along this eco-trail passes through India, double entry visas for both Bhutan and India would be required. The nearest immigration office is located at Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar.
Best time to visit: Early spring (March-April), autumn (September-October) and winter season (November-February).
Average walking distance: 4 hours daily between eco-camps
Things to experience: Hike through the warm broadleaf forests rich in birds, plants, butterflies and wildlife. Experience local way of life, culture, festivals, performances, sports, arts and crafts, hotstone/hotspring bath at the five community managed eco-camps, which are unique. Hike to local cultural sites and natural features such as bats cave and limestone caves and experience river rafting and elephant rides.
Recommended Pax size: Maximum of 13 pax at one time in each eco-camp in order for smooth catering of services by community management groups at each eco-camp.
Day 1:Gomphu – Pangtang
Day 2: Pangtang – Shilingtoe
Day 3: Shilingtoe to Pangbang
Day 4: Pangbang to Norbugang
Each eco-camp has two eco-lodges with twin beds in each lodge and camping area with kitchen, dining, toilet/bathroom, fencing and drinking water facilities. Facilities at each camp are built on 50 decimal government land using locally available materials such as wood, bamboo, stone, mud and other materials. The community management groups provides services such as meals, local guides, village tours, cultural performances, local sports, hotstone/hotspring bath and many other services.