Druk Path Trek in Bhutan
Adventure in Gantey Bhutan
Eastern Bhutan adventure
On road adventure in Bhutan
Food in Bhutan
Local Bhutanese community
Iron Bridge in Bhutan
Laya vendors in market

5 to 25 Days BHUTAN conquerer

OVERVIEW

Located in rugged land of steep mountains and deep valleys, Bhutan offers many great treks to those who dares to venture. The snow capped Himalayan mountain peaks, wreathed in silent dignity, the lush green valley with networks of smooth and fast flowing rivers forming deep valleys are some of magnificent landscape one can experience on various trek routes, taking you through beautiful forest to high mountains of the Himalayas. 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • magnificent Himalayan mountain views

  • unspoilt scenery of the nature

  • encounters with charming remote rural villages 

SAMPLE ITINERARY

FOLLOWING ARE HIGHLIGHTS OF SOME OF THE VARIOUS TREKS AVAILABLE

 

 

Trek: BHUTAN CULTURAL TREK

Days: 03

Difficulty: Easy

A fairly easy three-day trek that takes you through beautiful valleys and along clear, trout-filled rivers. Bumthang is often known as the ‘cultural heartland’ of Bhutan and there are plenty of ancient temples to visit during the hike.

 

In addition to the numerous Lhakhangs, there are also a number of small villages where you can stop and rest. The only segment of the trek that may prove challenging is a 500m ascent to Pephe La pass.

 

DAY 1: Toktu Zampa – Ngang Lhakhang

The route follows the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for trout and stops for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) at the centre of which lies the Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple). The valley was once populated by swans, and hence the name Ngang Yul.

 

DAY 2: Ngang Lhakhang – Tahung

You’ll begin the day by crossing verdant meadows and with a beautiful view of the valley below. Then you climb gradually to Phephe La (3,360m), the highest point of the trek route. The trail passes through beautiful forested areas where many stops can be made to enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings. The path leads you downhill into a broad valley. Amongst several possible camping sites the most likely one is uphill behind the village of Tahung.

 

DAY 3: Tahung – Mesithang

The trail follows the Tang Chu, another trout-filled river. On the bank of the river is the Tang Rimpoche’s Lhakhang. The trek will pass the Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) and lead you to Tang Ogyencholing. Ogyencholing Palace houses the only privately owned museum in Bhutan and has all manner of traditional artifacts on display. From here you will soon reach the road head.

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Trek: BHUTAN OWL TREK

Days: 03

Difficulty: Easy

A route that owes its name to the frequent hooting of owls which can be heard at campsites through the night. The trail takes you though forests of blue pine, birch, maple, spruce, juniper, bamboo and a beautiful, rugged landscape draped in countless varieties of rhododendrons. As you walk along the tranquil ridges and mountains of Bumthang you will be treated to unparalleled views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest unclimbed peak in the world. There is an abundance of avian wildlife in this area and pheasants such as the beautiful Himalayan Tragopan are a common sight around April-May.

 

DAY 1: Manchugang - Dhur Village

The trek starts from Manchugang and takes you to Dhur village (2900m). The inhabitants of the village are the nomadic Kheps and Brokpas. This village has two distinct dialects, the Bumthang Kha and the Brokke a language spoken by the nomads. Near the river is a traditional water-driven flour mill which used to be a source of livelihood for the people of Dhur village. The trek resumes with an uphill climb through blue pine forests towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m) which is covered in hemlock and juniper trees.

 

DAY 2: Dhur Village - Drangela Pass

The second day of this trek is mainly through lush forests of hemlock, fir, spruce and many species of rhododendrons which are in full bloom during the months of April and May. The trail also takes you through the forests of bamboo which is the main undergrowth in this area.

After few hours of walking you will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m). Climbing up the Kitiphu ridge brings you to the campsite for the night at an altitude of about 3870m. From this point you can have a fresh view of snow capped mountains and valleys underneath. This is also when you can view the mount Gangkarpunsum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world.

 

DAY 3: Drangela Pass - Tharpaling monastry

On day three you descend towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. Chuedak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) where you may pray for yourself and all living beings.

 

Towards the afternoon the trek will take you along the ridge of Kikila and following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) through scenic hills and forests. Finally you will have the best view of Jakar Dzong and come to end of the trek at Bumthang.

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Trek: DRUK PATH TREK

Days: 07

Difficulty: Easy

The Druk Path is the most popular trek in Bhutan, with more than 1200 trekkers attempting the trek every year. The trek passes through a gorgeous natural landscape of blue pine forests, high ridges and pristine lakes while at the same time offering the opportunity to visit some ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and villages.

 

The Druk Path Trek is also a fairly easy hike to undertake as the distances between rest camps is fairly short. The trail takes you through forests of fir, blue pine and dwarf rhododendrons at altitudes ranging between 2400-4200 m. On the third day hikers will arrive at Jimiling Lake, whose crystal clear waters are home to gigantic trout. This trek also offers hikers stunning views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest unscaled peak in the world.

 

DAY 1: Paro - Jili Dzong

The first day can be quite arduous as you have to climb more than 1,000m elevation. You start from the Ta Dzong (National Museum) in Paro. The trek follows a gravel road past a few farms for about 30 minutes and then climbs up a steep ridge before leading through blue pine and fir forests to Damche Gom. Once you reach the ridge below Jili Dzong you descend about 100m to the campsite below the Dzong.

 

DAY 2: Jili Dzong - Jangchulakha

You begin with a steep climb for about an hour and a half, then the slope evens a bit and the ascent is more gradual. The trail takes you through thick alpine forests and dwarf rhododendron tress. You may see herders and their yaks around your campsite.

 

DAY 3: Jangchulakha - Jimelang Tsho

The trail follows a ridge and on a clear day the view of the mountains and valley are simply stunning. The campsite is close to the Jimgelang Tsho Lake. This lake is known for its giant sized trout.

 

DAY 4: Jimgelang Tsho - Simkotra Tsho

The trail takes you through dwarf rhododendron trees and past Janetso Lake. You may come across some yak herder camps where you will have the opportunity to get a glimpse of a nomad’s life. The campsite is close to Simkotra Tsho Lake.

 

DAY 5: Simkotra Tsho - Phajoding

The day begins with a gradual climb. If the weather permits, you will have a spectacular view of Mount Gangkar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan and several other Himalayan peaks. From this pass, the trek takes you downhill towards Phajodhing where you will halt for the night. The camp is located just above Phadjoding Monastery.

 

DAY 6: Phajoding - Mothithang

After passing Phadjoding monastery, the trek to Thimphu (Mothitang) is downhill through a forested area of mostly blue pine. The walk, at a leisurely pace, takes about three hours.

 

DAY 7: Mothithang - Thimphu

The Druk Path finishes at the Bhutan Broadcast Service (BBS) Telecommunication Tower, offering great view of the city of Thimphu.

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Trek: SAMTENGANG WINTER TREK

Days: 04

Difficulty: Easy

This four day trek is a short and pleasant journey from Punakha to Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag. It is a fairly easy trek as the altitude only ranges between 1100-1900m and the climate is warm throughout the hike.

The path takes you through forests of rhododendron and oak, through the villages of Sha and Chungsakha and across the longest foot bridge in Bhutan. While this trek is available throughout the winter the best times to embark on it are between March-April and September and October. The trail is approximately 54km in length.

Day 1: Punakha – Limukha

After passing majestic Punakha Dzong you cross a footbridge over the Pho Chhu and walk up to Shengana. This is the longest bridge in Bhutan. You then climb gradually through the forest until you reach Limukha. Make sure you are carrying enough water as you won’t find any on the way to Limukha.

 

Day 2: Limukha – Chhungsakha

The path leads through rhododendron and oak forests to Chhungsakha. Chungsakha is a small village of about 10 houses. You’ll find a holy stone and an impressive Cyprus tree here that are reminders of Drukpa Kuenley, the “divine madman”.

 

Day 3: Chhungsakha – Samtengang

You walk downhill until you cross Pe Chhu before climbing again through the village of Sha on your way to Samtengang. Near the school in Samtengang you will see a small lake and your campsite is right next to it.

 

Day 4: Samtengang – Chhuzomsa

The trail leads steeply downhill on a treeless slope to the road head at Chhuzomsa.

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Trek: Jumolhari Loop

Days: 06

Difficulty: Medium

Jomolhari Loop is the shortest of the Jomolhari trekking routes, which are the most popular treks in Bhutan. With altitude differences of 2,500m and nearly 5,000m it offers a wide range of landscapes, fauna and flora. The highlight of this trek is the spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari from Jomolhari Basecamp (Jangothang). Trekkers who want to avoid high passes and high altitude can chose an easier version of the Jomolhari Loop by retracing their steps from Jangothang, while still having the majestic impressions of Mount Jomolhari.                        

 

Day 1: Sharna Zampa - Thangthangkha.

This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari.

 

Day 2 : Thangthangkha – Jangothang.

If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.

 

Day 3: Jangothang Halt.

The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drakey to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

 

Day 4: Jangothang to Soi Yaktsa

The trail leads to a last settlement in the valley and drops to the Paro Chhu. Passing the lake of Tshophu (4,380m) you will climb up steeply to Bhonte La pass at 4,890 m, the highest point of this trek route. Reaching the Dhumzo Chhu river, you trek downstream passing the few houses of Soi Yaktsa (Dhumzo) to arrive at your camp soon after.

 

Day 5: Soi Yaktsa to Thombu Shong

The trail climbs 100m over a ridge to drop to another stream then. After crossing the Takhung La pass (4,520m) you descent to Thombu Shong, three yak herder huts with your campsite next to them.

 

Day 6: Thombu Shong to Gunitsawa Village

Crossing Thombu La pass (4,380m) you will finally reach Gunitsawa where you can be collected or you may decide to stay at the campsite, Sharna Zampa, where you stayed the first night of this trek.

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Trek: JOMOLHARI TREK

Days: 08

Difficulty: Medium

Jomolhari Trek is longer than the Jomolhari Loop - the most popular trekking routes in Bhutan. With altitude differences of 2,500m and nearly 5,000m it offers a wide range of landscapes, fauna and flora. The highlight of this trek is the spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari from Jomolhari Basecamp (Jangothang).

Day 1: Sharna Zampa - Thangthangkha.

This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari.

 

Day 2 : Thangthangkha – Jangothang.

If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.

 

Day 3: Jangothang Halt.

The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drakey to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

 

Day 4: Jangothang – Lingshi

This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While on the climb enjoy the surroundings. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. It's a gradual descent to the camp where you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, made from yak wool. The herders use these tents while travelling tovarious pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on clear days. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong

 

Day 5: Lingshi – Shodu

The trail climbs up to the Yelila pass at an altitude of 4,930m. From the pass, on a clear day you will get an excellent view of Jumolhari, Tserimgang and Masanggang. The trek from the pass to the campsite at Shodu is a steep downhill.

 

Day 6: Shodu – Barshong

The trail follows the Thimphu Chhu through rhododendron forests, past beautiful waterfalls along the way. The valley narrows till the path takes to the slopes and gradually ascends to the ruins of Barshong Dzong.

 

Day 7: Barshong – Dolam Kencho

The trail descends down to the Thimphu Chhu river valley, through dense forests of rhododendron, birch, conifer, maples and bamboos and then ascends to pasture lands. The camp is in a meadow.

 

Day 8: Dolam Kencho – Dodena

The trail continues through forested areas winding up and down and through a small pass. Langurs (monkeys) can be seen along the way. In Dodena, you will exit the Jigme Dorji National Park and reach the road head next to a impressive cantilever bridge.

 

Jomolhari Trek - Finish

The trek finishes at the beautiful Cherri Monastery, while it is a 40 min hike to the monastery it is well worth it.

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Trek: MERAK SAKTENG TREK

Days: 07

Difficulty: Medium

Merak-Sakteng stands out as a distinct attraction in Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang Dzongkhag (District), in Eastern Bhutan.

It is a moderate trek (between 1,500m and 4,100m) traversing through the semi-nomadic villages of Gengu (3400m), Merak (3500m), Sakteng (2800m), Thakthi (2200m), and Joenkhar (1700m). Tour operators are not mandated to use a particular trail but the most common trail usually begins from Chaling and ends in Phongmey. Both these Geogs of Merak and Sakteng are an important watershed for Ngere Ama chu and Gamri chu rivers respectively.

The campsites have been designed aesthetically to blend with local architecture and ambiance. Enclosed by a stonewall (with a gate to bring in the ponies to unpack trekking paraphernalia), the campsite is equipped with facilities such as tenting sheds, toilets, kitchens (in some), dining area and water supply. A signage describing the location, altitude, forest type, fauna, additional hiking trails in the locality, distance and time to next camp welcomes a visitor to each campsite.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

The trek lies within the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS). It was created in April 2003 with a strong agenda for conservation and to protect the unique assemblage of biological and cultural diversity in the region. It covers an area of 650 km2 and is bordered by the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang) in the north and east, Phongmey Geog and Kangpara Geog in the west, and Shingkhar Lauri Geog in Samdrup Jongkhar. It is connected to Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary by a biological corridor, a part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex (B2C2).

Day 1: Chaling - Damnongchu

The trek to Merak will start from Chaling reached by following an unsealed road from Rangjung. Damnongchu camping area is located after Mindrula which lies at about 3,316m / 10,880ft. 

 

Day 2: Damnongchu - Merak

The trail from Damnongchu to Merak goes along the river bank with gradual ups and downs. Over night at Damnongchu Camp.

 

Day 3: Merak - Miksa Teng

The trek from Merak to Miksa Teng is long and of medium difficulty. It will pass through the beautiful Nagchungla pass (approx 4,100m / 13,451ft). The campsite is located in a clearing surrounded by rhododendron trees.

 

Day 4: Miksa Teng - Sakteng

Trek to Sakteng from Miksa Teng is easy making your way through beautiful woods with a short climb before reaching Sakteng. Overnight at Camp.

 

Day 5: Sakteng Day Halt

Time to explore this remote Himalayan village. 

 

Day 6: Sakteng - Jyonkhar Teng

Sakteng to Jyonkhar Teng trek is an easy trek comparing to previous days. It is mostly downhill to Jyonkhar Teng camp.

 

Day 7: Jyonkhar Teng - Phongmay

The final day. This day is full with ups and down until you reach the road that head to Phongmay. Drive to Tashigang.

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Trek: WILD EAST RODUNG LA TREK

Days: 10

Difficulty: Medium

While the Rodung La Trek does not ascend to very high altitudes, it is still fairly challenging as the trail covers some fairly steep climbs and descents. The trail takes you from Bumthang in Central Bhutan to Trashiyangtse in the far eastern reaches of the kingdom.

The route was once an important trade road in the past but has fallen into disuse now and is chiefly used as a hiking trail. The trail passes through alpine and bamboo forests, meadows and mountain passes, through villages and temples offering hikers an incredible array of biodiversity to appreciate. The Hike typically takes 10 days to complete and is best carried out in winter between October-Early November or in spring between April-Early May.

 

Day 1: Jakar – Ngang Lhakhang

The route takes you around Chamkhar Chhu, a river rich in trout. After passing Thangbi Lhakhang, a temple built by the first Karma Shamar in 13th century you will enter Ngang Yul or ‘Swan Land” named for the swans that were once common in this part of the valley. Near the center of this area you will find Ngang Lhakhang, the “Swan Temple”. The Ngang Lhakhang was erected by the Lama Namkha Samdrup in the spot where his arrow landed. The design of the lhakhang inspired by a vision he had.

 

Day 2: Ngang Lhakhang – Ugyenchholin

You begin with a gradual climb to Phephe La pass (3,353m). Follow the trail until the pass takes you through a picturesque forested region. It is recommended that you allow for stops along the way to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. You will stop for the night at Ogyen Choling Manor. This manor houses one of the most interesting museums of Bhutan and visitors will gain a better understanding of the lives of the landed gentry in traditional Bhutanese society.

 

Day 3: Ugyen Choling – Phokphey

Today’s walk is through bamboos, hemlock and finally up to an alpine forest. The camp is in a meadow at the head of the valley.

 

Day 4: Phokphey – Pemi

Rodung La (4,160m) is about three hours climb from the camp. From the pass you then continue downhill through a gorge, overlooking scenic mountain valleys covered in lush pine forests. The region is rich in folk lore concerning spirits and yetis. Near the camp you can see a ruined stone building that once acted as a grain storehouse during the reigns of the first and second king.

 

Day 5: Pemi – Khaine Lakhang

This trail winds through the villages of Ungaar, Bulay, Kulaypang and Gomda before bringing you to Drula village and Khaine Lhakhang. One of the oldest temples in the country, it was built in the mid 7th century by the King Songtshen Gampo of Tibet to subdue demons.

 

Day 6: Khaine Lakhang – Tangmachu

From your camp, the trail goes down to a stream and back up to a basic health unit and a community school in Gorsam. Further on, you pass a Tibetan-style Umling Mani, built by a lama from Tibet, and a chorten on Zerim La (1,940m). Before reaching the next pass, Tage La (1,760m) you will see Menjabi, a beautiful Bhutanese village with large white houses. The campsite for the night is located South-east of Tage La near Tangmachu High School. Another possibility is to organize transport and drive to Lhuentse, the capital of Lhuentse district. Lhuntese Dzong is considered to be one of the most impressive dzongs in Bhutan.

 

Day 7: Tangmachu – Menji

After arriving at Kuri Zampa the trek begins to gradually climb up through paddy fields and villages before bringing you to Chusa.

 

Day 8: Menji – Pemi

Today’s trek has you continue uphill through thick forests overlooking spectacular mountains. The camp is located in a forested area at an altitude of 2,400m

 

Day 10: Taupang – Trashi Yangtse

Today is the longest day of the trek. It is a gradual descent to Trashi Yangtse. As you descend the chirpine and hardwood forests are slowly replaced by oak trees. The final camp of the trek is located in a subtropical forested region.

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Trek: JOMOLHARI LAYA GASA TREK

Days: 11-12

Difficulty: Hard

The Laya-Gasa Trek is considered one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. This fourteen day, 217 km journey begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles before terminating in Damji in Tashithang.

The first five days of this trek follow the same route as the Jomolhari Trek I through Jigme Singye National Park and offer awe-inspiring views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang. On the sixth day the path diverges and you will depart Lingshi for the camp site at Chebisa, a charming little village adorned with a beautiful waterfall of crystal clear water.

Along the trail you’ll be able to spot indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins, the national animal of Bhutan. You’ll travel through remote mountain villages inhabited by Layaps (people of Laya), a distinct segment of the Bhutanese society with unique culture, traditions and appearance. Thhe trek also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs that is sure to rejuvenate you.

This is one of the more difficult treks offered in Bhutan due to the high altitudes and steep ascents and descents along the path. The best seasons to complete this challenge are in April-June and Mid-September-Mid-November.

Day 1: Sharna Zampa - Thangthangkha.

This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari.

 

Day 2 : Thangthangkha – Jangothang.

If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.

 

Day 3: Jangothang Halt.

The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drakey to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

 

Day 4: Jangothang – Lingshi

This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While on the climb enjoy the surroundings. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. It's a gradual descent to the camp where you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, made from yak wool. The herders use these tents while travelling tovarious pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on clear days. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong

 

Day 5: Lingshi – Chebisa

Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220m), which sits right atop a high ridge. This Dzong is under reconstruction from a 2011 earthquake which damaged its central building. In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquility, Lingshi Dzong provides a great view over the valley. After Lingshi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. In Goyul, the stone houses are clustered together to form a small compact village that is unusual in Bhutan where settlements are usually scattered. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it. There is also a beautiful waterfall located behind the village that is worth visiting.

 

Day 6: Chebisa– Shomuthang

The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail. After crossing Gobu La (4,410m), you descend into the valley, then climb again a little bit, before descending again to Shakshepasa (3,980), a large U-shaped valley. Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river.

 

Day 7: Shomuthang – Robluthang

You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse of Sinche La, the pass you will have to cross the day after. The big snow peak in the north is Gangchhenta 6,840 m, better known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang located in a beautiful wide and remote valley. Herds of takin, the Bhutanese National Animal, migrate to this valley in summer and remain for about four months. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. Climb up a little bit and you will reach the cam

 

Day 8: Robluthang – Limithang

The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field. It is then a 1 hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5,005m) – the final and highest pass on the trek if you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards. As you descend the far side of the passyou will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. You can see classic examples of lateral moraines where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you cross the Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.

 

Day 9: Limithang – Laya

Today, you walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley. After a long time, the trail takes you through densely forested region. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village you will have spectacular views of Mt. Gangchhenta and catch Mt. Masagang. In the village centre is a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection. The campsite is located below the school.

Day 10: Laya – Koina

The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the raging river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha at 3.300 m. The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu, where you will find the campsite of Koina.

Day 11: Koina – Gasa

Today you will have the last major climb of the Laya Gasa Trek. You will cross Bari La (3,740m), after which the trail descends all the way until you reach Gasa village (2,770m), where you will find the first restaurants since you started from Drukgyel Dzong. There also is a campsite close to Gasa Dzong. You will have to decide whether you want to stay in Gasa village or descend for another hour to the Gasa Tsachu (hot springs) and relax in the rejuvenating mineral waters. The Gasa Tsachu is one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan.

Laya Gasa Trek - Finish

This trek finishs in Gasa, this remote village is home to a distinctive and architecturally unique Dzong

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Trek: Snowman Trek

Days: 24-25

Difficulty: Very Hard

The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya into high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It takes tough and enduring trekkers into the Lunana region and further on to Gangkhar Puensum and Bumthang or down to Sephu in Trongsa district, depending on which route you choose. The Snowman trek leads through the most remote areas up to very high altitudes.

Trekkers have to camp in altitudes above 5,000m more than once, and depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow.

The Lonely Planet describes the Snowman Trek as one of the most difficult treks of the world. The best time for Snowman Trek is summer – unlike many other high altitude treks of Bhutan. Many groups that attempt this tough trek do not finish due to problems with the high altitude or snow blocked passes. However, those who make it will remember this trek as an outstanding, beautiful and as one of the most rewarding trek of their life. In this version of the Snowman Trek, one has the possibility of spending a day or two at perhaps one of the most beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas.

 

Day 1: Sharna Zampa - Thangthangkha.

This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari.

 

Day 2 : Thangthangkha – Jangothang.

If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.

 

Day 3: Jangothang Halt.

The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drakey to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

 

Day 4: Jangothang – Lingshi

This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While on the climb enjoy the surroundings. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. It's a gradual descent to the camp where you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, made from yak wool. The herders use these tents while travelling tovarious pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on clear days. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong

 

Day 5: Lingshi – Chebisa

Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220m), which sits right atop a high ridge. This Dzong is under reconstruction from a 2011 earthquake which damaged its central building. In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquility, Lingshi Dzong provides a great view over the valley. After Lingshi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. In Goyul, the stone houses are clustered together to form a small compact village that is unusual in Bhutan where settlements are usually scattered. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it. There is also a beautiful waterfall located behind the village that is worth visiting.

 

Day 6: Chebisa– Shomuthang

The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail. After crossing Gobu La (4,410m), you descend into the valley, then climb again a little bit, before descending again to Shakshepasa (3,980), a large U-shaped valley. Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river.

 

Day 7: Shomuthang – Robluthang

You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse of Sinche La, the pass you will have to cross the day after. The big snow peak in the north is Gangchhenta 6,840 m, better known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang located in a beautiful wide and remote valley. Herds of takin, the Bhutanese National Animal, migrate to this valley in summer and remain for about four months. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. Climb up a little bit and you will reach the cam

 

Day 8: Robluthang – Limithang

The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field. It is then a 1 hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5,005m) – the final and highest pass on the trek if you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards. As you descend the far side of the passyou will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. You can see classic examples of lateral moraines where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you cross the Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.

 

Day 9: Limithang – Laya

Today, you walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley. After a long time, the trail takes you through densely forested region. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village you will have spectacular views of Mt. Gangchhenta and catch Mt. Masagang. In the village centre is a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection. The campsite is located below the school.

 

Day 10: Rest / Acclimatisation day in Laya

If you have trekked from Paro Valley you should spend a day recuperating from the trek to Laya and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek. If you have started from Gasa (Punakha) you should also walk up to Laya to acclimatize, and not just stay at the trail junction to Lunana. It’s worthwhile to spend one day in Laya just for the great views from Laya and its extroadinary inhabitants.

 

Day 11: Laya – Rhoduphu

From Laya we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn off point to Rhoduphu. After lunch the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till you reach the camp at Roduphu just next to the Rhodu Chhu.

 

Day 12: Rhodophu – Narethang

After following the river for about half an hour you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jomolhari and Jichu Drake, and the Tibetan border. The route then crosses a flat, barren plateau at about 5,000m. The campsite at Narethang is towered by the peak of Gangla Karchung (6,395m).

 

Day 13: Narethang – Tarina

From the camp you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120m). The view from the pass is breathtaking and the whole range of mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100m), Tsenda Kang and Teri Gang (7,300m) can be seen. The pass descends along a large moraine. Again one has great views: a massive glacier descends from Teri Kang to a deep turquoise lake at its foot. Up here a glacial lake burst through its dam in the early 1960s, causing widespread damage and partially destroying Punakha Dzong. Finally, it is a very long descent through thick rhododendron to Tarina valley, where you will find several good campsites along the Tang Chhu.

 

Day 14: Tarina – Woche

The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu, passing some impressive waterfalls. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche, a settlement of a few houses, the first village in the Lunana region.

 

Day 15: Woche - Lhedi

The trek starts through juniper and fir forests, and further ahead, through rhododendron bushes. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650m) where one can have the great view of surrounding mountains again. After the pass, descend to the riverside walking through a village with a stunning view of Table Mountain and others. Follow up the river till Lhedi Village. Lhedi has a basic health unit, a school and a wireless telephone connection.

 

Day 16: Lhedi - Thanza

In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100m). Around lunchtime you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090m) which has a dzong still in use. Reaching Thanza again you will have a great view of Table Mountain which forms a 3,000m high wall of snow and ice behind the village. Although there are possibilities to camp directly at Thanza, most groups prefer to camp in Thoencha.

 

Day 17: Rest day at Thanza

In Thanza walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks (the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza) you might have to spend one day at Thanza anyway.

 

Day 18: Thanza - Tshorim

Having chosen the route to Bumthang the trek starts by climbing a ridge with a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4,500m and it rises gradually up to 4,650m. After lunch, walk upwards towards the left side of the bridge to enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains. You reach the campsite of Tshorim after climbing more ridges.

 

Day 19: Tshorim – Gangkhar Puensum Base Camp

This is one of the highlights of the trek and the day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Thso. You walk on the side of the lake enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophu La ranges. The last climb to the Gophu La pass (5,230m) is very short. After the pass descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge to enjoy a great view of Gangkhar Puensum. If interested, one can divert to the left side to climb up the pyramid peak for a better view or you can go down to the base camp nearby Sha Chhu.

 

Day 20: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp – Geshe Woma

The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma.

 

Day 21: Geshe Woma – Warathang

The path continues following Sha Chhu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka La begins. Visibility along the Saka La trail is poor so one must see top of the ridge for guidance. After having lunch nearby a yak herders’ camp you climb up to Saka La (4,800m). The path then descends to a couple of lakes and another short ascent is stunning. Scenery once again is beautiful with small lakes and the mountain peaks.

 

Day 22: Warathang - Duer Tsachu

A one hour climb leads to Juli La (4,700m). After the pass, you descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. After the bridge a short climb leads to Duer Tsachu. These hot springs, where Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have taken bath, might be the most stunningly beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas. You might want to spend an extra day at Duer Tsachu.

 

Day 23: Duer Tsachu - Tshochenchen

From the hot springs it is a long and steady climb again with great views of mountains in Lunana. You will also come across blue lakes and yak herder huts.

 

Day 24: Tshochenchen – Duer Village

This is the last day of the trek and your porters change from yaks to horses. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually with a few climbs in between. The trek ends here when you arrive at Duer village.

From here you drive to Jakar (Bumthang).

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