Day 1 Arrive Paro by Druk Air.
Your flight into Paro will be a befitting introduction to the natural beauty of our country. On a clear day, magnificent views of the world’s highest peak, give way to lush green Paro valley as you land. On arrival, your representative will receive and escort you to your hotel.
Paro sightseeing & acclimatization day!
The National Museum (Ta-Dzong).Once the watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968.The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. Visit the Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation.
Visit the oldest temple of the kingdom, Kichu Lhakhang. This temple was built in 629AD by a Tibetan King to pin down a giant demon. There is a sacred orange tree that grew on its own at the courtyard which bears fruits on all the seasons. This tree is said to be 600 years old. In the evening walk around Paro town and interact with the local people. Overnight Paro (Alt; 2,280m)
Day 2: Tiger’s Nest (3,050 m)
The hike to the iconic Taktsang Goemba or Tiger’s Nest Monastery provides a fitting climax to our adventure before we start for yet another amazing adventure.
Otherworldly forces seem to be at work to keep the monastery clinging to its perch in the rock face so it comes as no surprise to discover that this Cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) landed on the back of a ﬂying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet. To avoid the hot sun an early start is advisable for the two-hour climb to the viewpoint where you can see the monastery right in front of you. Descend steeply, then climb up to the monastery, passing a waterfall and entering through the main gates.
Retrace your steps or alternatively (if time and energy levels allow) head further up to several remote temples and monasteries for more magnificent views over Taktsang and the valley below. Or if you are content then you can save your energy for later.
Overnight Paro (Alt; 2,280m)
START OF THE TREK
TIME: 14 DAYS
DISTANCE: 125 MILES/201.5 KM
ALTITUDE GAIN: 17,069 FT/5204 M
ALTITUDE LOSS : 23,042 FT/7025 M
DAY-3: BUS-DRUGYEL DZONG (8460 FT/2580 M) – SHANA (9480 FT/2890 M):
- TIME: 5 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 3 MILES/15 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 1020 FT/310 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 260 FT/80 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE SHANA (9480 FT/2890 M)
Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) where the road ends and the trek begins. With a gradual climb the trail follows the Paro Chhu passing beautiful meadows, paddy fields and impressive farm houses. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army check post your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.
DAY-4: SHANA-SOI THANGTHANKA (11,730 FT/3575 M):
- TIME: 6-7 HOURS(ADD 1 HR IF THE TRAIL IS MUDDY)
- DISTANCE: 6 MILES/22 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 2250 FT/685 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 0 FT/0 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE SOI-THANHGTHANKA (11,730 FT/3575 M)
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, you enter the Jigme Dorji National Park. 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 Mount Jhomolhari.
DAY-5: SOI THANGTHANKA-JANGOTHANG (13,260 FT/4044 M):
- TIME: 4-5 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 5 MILES/16.8 KM
- ALTTITUDE GAIN: 1530 FT/469 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 0 FT/0 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE JANGOTHANG (13,260 FT/4044 M)
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-6: REST DAY AT JOMOLHARI BASE CAMP (13,260 FT/4044 M):
SUN REACHES CAMP EARLY AT 0800 HR IN FALL. MOST PEOPLE WILL FEEL THE EFFECTS OF ASCENDIND 1800 M IN THREE DAYS, SO A REST DAY AT JOMOLHARI BASE CAMP WILL HELP WITH ACCLIMATISATION. THERE ARE SOME GOOD DAY HIKES FROM THE CAMP, AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO HIKE TODAY SO THAT YOU WILL ACCLIMATISE. FOLLOW THE STANDARD RULE: TREK HIGH, KEEP SLOW!
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 Drake to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.
DAY-7: JANGOTHANG-LINGSHI – VIA – NYILE LA (16,040 FT/4890 M):
- TIME: 5-6 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 13 MILES/21 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 2780 FT/845 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 2890 FT/880 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE LINGSHI (13,150 FT/4010 M)
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 Nyilela pass at 4,890m. 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 to various 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-8: LINGSHI-CHEBISA (13,090 FT/3990 M):
- TIME: 3-4 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 10 MILES/16 KM
- ALTITUDE LOSS/GAIN: NO MAJOR ELEVATION GAIN OR LOSS
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE CHEBISA(13,090 FT/3990 M)
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 diversion up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220m), which sits right atop a ridge. Besides a very special atmosphere of mystic silent 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 a small compact village that is unusual in Bhutan where village houses are normally scattered. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa with a beautiful waterfall behind the village, you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it.
DAY-9: CHEBISA-SHAKYAPASANG/SHOMUTHANG –VIA- GOMBU LA (14,560 FT/4440 M):
- TIME: 5 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 9 MILES/14.5 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 1470 FT/450 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 1440 FT/440 M(PLUS FEW SMALL UPS AND DOWNS LESS THAN 30M)
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE SHAKYAPASANG (13,120 FT/4000 M)/SHOMUTHANG.
You walk 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 the Gobu La (4,440m), you descend to the valley, then climb again a little bit, and descend again to Shakshepasang (4,000m) where a helipad has been established. Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu River.
DAY-10: SHAKYAPASANG/SHOMUTHANG-ROBLUTHANG – VIA – JARE LA (15,695 FT/4785 M):
- TIME: 7-8 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 10 MILES/16 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 2575 FT/785 M + 525 FT/160 M AT THE END
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 2575/785 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE ROBLUTHANG (13,645 FT/4160 M)
As the walk is a little strenuous, it is advisable to start early. 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 sight 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 Jumolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang. 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 campsite at Robluthang in a rocky meadow.
DAY-11: ROBLUTHANG-LIMITHANG – VIA – SINCHE LA (16,400 FT/5000 M):
- TIME: 6-7 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 5 MILES/14 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 2755 FT/840 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 2755 FT/840 M
- OVERNIGHT CAMPSITE LIMITHANG (13,645 FT/4160 M)
After crossing Sinche La (5,000m) – the last and highest pass on the trek in case you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards – you descend to a little stone house where a few Laya women – dressed in typical Laya costume with long pointed bamboo hats on their head – live and offer their weaving products. Right behind the stone house you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. You can see classic examples of the 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-12: LIMITHANG-LAYA (12,465 FT/3800 M):
- TIME: 4 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 5 MILES/9 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: FEW SMALL CLIMBS
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 1180 FT/360 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE LAYA (12,465 FT/3800 M)
Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. After a long time, you again trek partly through deep forest. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village you will view Gangchhenta again and catch a glimpse of Masagang. In the village centre is a community school and a basic health unit with telephone connection. The campsite is below the school.
DAY-13: REST DAY IN LAYA (12,465 FT/3800 M):
LAYA VILLAGE IS WORTH A VISIT. THERE IS ONE LHAKHANG IN THE VILLAGE, AND ANOTHER ABOVE, WHICH CAN BE SEEN FROM THE CAMP.
A CHANCE FOR THE TREKKERS AND STAFF TO CLEAN THEIR GEAR, WITH THE TIGER MOUNTAIN AS A BACKDROP.
DAY-14: LAYA-KOINA (10,627 FT/3240 M):
- TIME: 6 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 10 MILES/16 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 0 FT/0 M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 1837 FT/560 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE KOINA (10,627 FT/3240 M)
The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and water falls. Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha. The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu, where you will find the campsite of Koina.
DAY-15: KOINA-GASA TSACHU- VIA – BALE LA (12,792 FT/3900 M):
- TIME: 3 HOURS UP & 3 HOURS DOWN
- DISTANCE: 4 MILES/12 KM
- ALTITUDE GAIN: 2165 FT/660M
- ALTITUDE LOSS: 5510 FT/1680 M
- OVERNIGHT: CAMPSITE GASA TSACHU-HOT SPRING (7282 FT/2220 M)
END OF THE TREK
Today you will have your last major climb of the Laya Gasa Trek. You will cross the Bari La (3,900m), after which the trail is all the way down till you reach Gasa village (2,770m), where you will find the first restaurants since starting from Drukgyel Dzong. There also is a campsite close to Gasa Dzong. You will have to decide if you want to stay in Gasa village or descend for another one hour to the Gasa Tsachu (hot spring) and relax in the thermal water. The Gasa Tsachu is one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan.
DAY-16: GASA TSACHU-PUNAKHA (1300 M):
- DRIVE TO PUNAKHA AFTER A DIP IN HOT SPRING
- TIME: 4 HOURS
- DISTANCE: 6 KM
- VISIT: PUNAKHA DZONG
- EVENING: LEISURE
- OVERNIGHT: HOTEL IN PUNAKHA(1300 M)
Punakha is the former Capital of the kingdom and at present day hosts the administrative seat of the district. Also the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, Male and Female River.
Later visit the massive Punakha Dzong “Palace of Great Happiness”. The Dzong show cases the living example of Bhutanese architecture. It was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, who unified Bhutan as one nation in 17th century. The Dzong is both historically and religiously important. The grand wedding of both 4th and 5th king took place in this very Dzong. Some guests are so captivated by the murals, shrines and general goings on in the courtyards that they chose to spend a few hours in the dzong. Overnight Punakha (Alt; 1,300m)
Thimphu the cultural heartland of the kingdom. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. It is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. Most of the houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style.
En route Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses of Bhutan built in 1629 and it houses the largest monastic schools in the country. Take a drive to Buddha point which offers a beautiful city view of Thimphu. Astrologers & locals believe this spot is one of the central meeting point of the sacred energy vibe of the country hence the massive statue of Buddha facing the sun
On the way down, circumambulate around the Memorial Chorten (huge stupa) built in memory of the 3rd King of Bhutan. This is the favourite place for the locals to practice their devotions. Later take a stroll in the city. Overnight Thimphu. (Alt; 2,320m)
Today is your last morning in this mystical and memorable country of Bhutan. We will have breakfast and proceed to Paro for your onward flight. We bid a fond farewell to Bhutan for the flight back to your home. We hope you have enjoyed your trip immensely and taking back wonderful memories!