Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) is a keystone National Park of the country. It is the second largest national park which was established in 1974. JDNP also represents the best managed national park of Bhutan with an area of 4316km2 . It stretches among the entire Gasa District, Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangduephodrang thereby covering three climate zones. The elevation ranges from 1400 to 7000 meters.
The majority of this park is comprised habitat such as exposed rocks,alpine scree and permanent snow. There are several geothermal outlets at Gasa, Tsharijathang, Chubu & Khoma. These hot spring in Bhutan contain sulphur & other minerals & are visited by many Bhutanese for their curative properties.
The amazing diversity you can spot in a single day cannot fail to stun the senses. It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion
Flora & Fauna
By virtue of its varied climatic zones spanning the tropical, temperate and alpine- combined with the monsoon effect in all three- Bhutan is home to an exotic mix of flora and fauna that few places on earth can match.
The huge variation in the park’s attitudinal gradient supports a diverse array of flora & fauna. Due to the large amount of area in alpine vegetation zone, the park is particularly rich in alpine species. Four of the Bhutan’s national symbols( Raven, Cypress, Blue Poppy & Takin) are present in Jigme Dorji National Park.
Many plant species are found in the park, from inhabitants of temperate broad leaved to alpine scree. The park has many species of Primula, Rhododendron, Poppy, Orchid & other alpine which are breathtaking during spring & summer.
The wide range of habitat types contribute to the park’s rich Fauna. Some of the charismatic mammal species include Bengal Tiger, Snow Leopard, Takin, Paellas cat, Blue sheep, Red Panda, Musk deer, Himalayan Serow, Himalayan Black Beer & Himalayan Marmot among others.
Includes Raven, Wood Snipe, Himalayan Monal Pheasant, Tibetan Snow Cock, Himalayan Griffon, Blood Pheasant, Kalij pheasant & speckled wood pigeon.
Jigme Dorji National Park is rich in biodiversity with a present record of 36 mammals, 328 birds, 5 reptiles, 300 medicinal plants, and 39 butterflies.
It was first in Jigme Dorji National Park where tigers were first sighted above 4000 meters sharing habitat with snow leopards. Besides the rich floral and fauna diversity, the sources of four major rivers of Bhutan, Pachhu, Wangchhu, Phochhu and Mochhu lie in the park as well.
How to get to Jigme Dorji National Park
If you really want to see Jigme Dorji National Park in its fullness you need to venture into some multi day treks like Laya Gasa Trek, or Jomolhari Trek. By venturing into these treks you can embrace iconic Mt. Jomolhari (7314 m), glacial lakes, visit the alpine & medicinal valley of Linghi.
Meet the yak herders and semi nomadic people & if lucky you can spot Blue sheep, Griffon vulture and various species of birds. You can visit the remote village of Lunana, rejuvenate in curative hot springs & interact with locals.
But if you are not a hiking person and just want to get a glimpse of Jigme Dorji National Park then you can visit a small part of the park in the Northern End of Thimphu Valley.
With so much of hoo-hoo haha associated with Jigme Dorji National Park , I wanted to visit myself & check out the park. Since I am not a hiking person so just took a day hike to Jigme Dorji National Park to get a gimpse of it .
Day Hike to Jigme Dorji National Park- Thimphu
The moment we stepped in JDNP, the sight of cascading river , the rustling of the leaves , chirping of birds and the shift in the landscape was dramatic. The trees seemed taller , the mountains larger and the river deep and silent and I have to admit the experience was very humbling.
With a few 100 meters we had come down on a trail leading to a Deep water and the walk intrigued me with the sense of anticipation. The cool breeze , fluttering prayer flags over the deep water were too inviting to resist. What unraveled in the moment was the rigors , the strategic approach to sitting next to the breast of natural context.
It was like paying a tribute to the natural resource that surrounds it , an homage to the nature and appreciation of the nation’s rich natural resource.
How to get there
The easiest & the most accessible one is the park whose trails begin from the Northern end of Thimphu valley (Dodena), which is about 13km from Thimphu . Once you reach the quaint valley of Dodena, you have to take another 5 minutes drive. And you will reach Jigme Dorji National Park. It is just a wild and protected site. But you can feel the tapestry of greenery as you step your feet in the National Park.
Things to do in Jigme Dorji National Park- Thimphu
- Bird watching: For birders JDNP is a veritable paradise with about hundred of species of birds having been recorded.
- Biking: You can take a bike to JDNP. The road that leads to JDNP is smooth and almost traffic free
- Picnic: JDNP makes for excellent outings for picnic
- Hiking: You can take a hike around JDNP. In spring the trails are carpeted by rhododendrons
- Relax on Nature Lap: Everything around JDNP is intimidating, intriguing yet surreal. The space offers physical and emotional comfort.
Bhutan is a land of stories of thunderclouds, dragons, mountains and the Buddha. A visit to Bhutan’s National Park can give the glimpse to it. A traverse along scenic pine forests, vast rhododendron shrubs and dozens of varied vegetation can awaken a dormant soul. You can visit Jigme Dorji National park and get acquainted to the mist and magic of Bhutan.