Bhutan Himalaya | Laya Lingshi Gasa Trek

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The Laya Lingshi 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 kilometer journey begins at Drukgyel Dzong 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 Jhomolhari trek through Jigme Singye National Park and offers awe-inspiring views of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang peaks. On the 6th 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 the blue sheep and Takin, 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.

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.

NOTE: Slight variations may occur while on trek subject to conditions beyond our control.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Paro | Sightseeing
Day 2 - Paro. Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Hike
Day 3 - Trek Gunitsawa to Sharna Zampa
Day 4 - Trek Thangthangkha
Day 5 - Trek Jangothang
Day 6 - Jangothang
Day 7 - Trek Lingshi
Day 8 - Trek Chebisa
Day 9 - Trek Shomuthang
Day 10 - Trek Robluthang
Day 11 - Trek Limithang
Day 12 - Trek Laya
Day 13 - Laya
Day 14 - Trek Koina
Day 15 - Trek Gasa
Day 16 - Trek Gasa Hot Springs to Punakha
Day 17 - Punakha Valley | Sightseeing + Optional Rafting
Day 18 - Drive Thimphu
Day 19 - Thimphu | Sightseeing
Day 20 - Drive Paro + Depart - Trip Ends

NOTES
+ We can also run this tour using luxury Bhutanese hotels.
+ The trip starts and finishes in Paro, Bhutan. Flights to and from Bhutan are available from Delhi, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Calcutta + a few other destinations. You can book your own flights, or our agent can book the flights for you.

Highlights+Reviews

Read More Testimonials
Trekkers' Comments

  • Laya Lingshi Trek
  • Jhomolhari Peak + the Bhutan Himalaya
  • Yaks + yak-hair tents
  • Diverse Bhutanese Ethnic Groups
  • Drukpa Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
  • Eastern Bhutan (Paro, Thimpu & Punakha)
  • Punakha, Paro + Thimpu Dzongs
  • Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest) Hike
  • Rafting the Pho Chhu
  • Bhutan's Incredible Cuisine!

Date+Price

Dates
Private Excursions
20 Days

Trip Price
TBA

+ Hotel Single Supplement - $TBA
+ Flights to + from Bhutan NOT Included

Inquire for Luxury Bhutan Hotels
Le Meridien
Uma Hotels
Aman Bhutan
Lechuna Heritage Lodge
Zhiwa Ling
Dewachen

Includes

  • Bhutan's Heritage Hotels
  • Laya Lingshi Trek
  • Rafting Trip + Gear
  • All Meals in Bhutan
  • English-speaking Bhutanese Guide
  • Bhutan Visa
  • Government Royalties & Taxes
  • Private Transportation
  • Sightseeing & Museum Entrance Fees
  • Bottled Drinking Water
  • Airport Transfers

Excludes

  • Travel Insurance | Travel Health Insurance
  • International Flights
  • Equipment Rental
  • Alcohol | Bottled Drinks
  • Laundry
  • Tipping

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

 

Kamzang Journeys Contact
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet, Bhutan & India)

Guide
Bhutanese Guide

Bhutan Contact
Xplore Bhutan

Ugyen Dorji

info@bhutanxplore.com, udorji@gmail.com
Office: +(975 2) 335671, 335672
Mobile: +(975) 17139999

Fax: +(975 2) 335670

Bhutan Health Information
CDC

Currency, Credit Cards + ATMS
Bhutanse Ngultrum = Indian Rupee ($1 = $66 Sept 2016). Although the national currency is the ngultum, the IC is accepted throughout Bhutan.

+ In 1974, the ngultrum was introduced, replacing the rupee at par. The ngultrum is equal in value to the Indian rupee. India was key in assisting the Bhutanese government as it developed its economy in the early 1960s. When the ngultrum was introduced, it retained the peg to the Indian rupee which the Bhutanese rupee had maintained. The ngultrum does not exchange independently with other nations' currencies but is interchangeable with the Indian rupee.

You’ll want local currency with you on the trip and trek for drinks, snacks, beer, soda and general shopping. There are many chances to shop during the trip, especially in eastern Bhutan, and usually local crafts to buy en route. There are ATMs in Paro, Thimpu and other cities, and you’ll want some cash to change as well.

Most larger craft shops in Thimpu, Paro and Punakha will accept credit cards, although there is generally a merchant fee surcharge. Credit cards aren't as widely accepted in the central or east of Bhutan.

Tipping in Bhutan
Tips are best in local currency, the Bhutanese ngultrum. Guides and drivers will expect tips when you last see them, so for sightseeing sections before the trip, the drivers will expect small tips, and the same for the drivers after the trip.

For the longer Snowman trek, expect to contribute a tip of $250 (16,500 ngultrum) to the general pool. The guide (Kim) will distribute when necessary, to make things easier.

Tempartures + Dress Etiquette
The Snowman Trek is a high altitude trek, generally very cold, often wet, often muddy. Be prepared with a warm down jacket and sleeping bag, down booties, wind/waterproof jacket & pants, good hiking boots, Crocs to change into in the evenings, trekking poles, gaiters, a 35-45 liter daypack, layers for day, a cap or wide-brimmed hat, gloves and wool hat, thermals for evening, enough snack food and rehydration (electrolytes). See GEAR LIST on website for full gear list.

Much of Bhutan in the Spring and Autumn is warm during the day (t-shirt, sandals, light pants or skirt weather), cools down in the afternoon. Nights are often below freezing although they can also be much wamer. Layers are the key. Summer is hotter and wetter. The winter months (November – March) are chilly in the mornings, cold enough that you might start the day in a down jacket, but warm up to jeans and t-shirt weather by late morning. Nights require a down jacket if you’re sitting outside. It never hurts to have an umbrella as it can rain at any time of the year.

Trekking on a long trek is always a mixed bag of temperatures. Daytime temperatures can be very hot and muggy in the lower altitudes (below 2000 meters), so a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap and light clothes are essential. LAYERS are the key as hot can change quickly to FREEZING crossing the passes and snowfalls are common. Have a wide range of layer-able trekking clothes for summer to winter temperatures. Be prepared! See GEAR LIST below.

Dress conservatively in the cities and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are OK if they aren't too short, NO shorts or tank tops in the monasteries. Use your good judgment!

See 'Bhutan' tab for the Bhutanese dress code.

Passport on Trek
You should carry your passport with you in your day pack at all times during the trek, not in your duffel bag.

Shopping in Bhutan
Bhutan is known for its crafts and textiles, and there are many local craft markets around Bhutan where you can pick up wonderful things to bring home. Your guide will help if you’re interested in shopping while in Bhutan!

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

General Bhutan Information
See 'Bhutan' Tab

Arrival Paro

Early Arrival
You will be met at the Paro airport by a representative from Xplore Bhutan. Look for a sign with your name on it, they will be looking for you. You'll be driven to the hotel in Paro and briefed. Everything is included, so if you arrive early you'll have a driver, car and guide at your disposal, and all meals are also included.

Bhutan Visas
Xplore Bhutan will issue your Bhutan visa and email it to you at least 10 days before your arrival in Paro. Xplore can also issue you a transit India visa once you arrive in Paro if you need one. Bring a copy of your passport and a photo.

Flights to + from Bhutan
Xplore Bhutan can issue your flight to Paro from various destinations, and can book your return flights, whether from Paro or from Guwahati in Assam, India. You can also book your own flights to Bhutan and from Bhutan or India. At the moment Druk Air is the only carrier flying into & out of Bhutan.

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Arrival Hotel Thimpu
Le Meridien

Bhutan

Bhutan
Shrouded for centuries in the misty serenity of the great Himalayas, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, or Bhutan, as now known to the rest of the world, developed its own distinct civilization. This deeply spiritual land is home to a unique identity, derived essentially from a fertile religious and cultural heritage. Bhutan brims with myth and legend. As a befitting testimony, a great Buddhist heritage of over 2000 monasteries and 10,000 monuments dot its peaceful open space and regal mountains. An ambience of near sacred tranquility permeates the land, fostering an environment of spiritual affluence that has shaped the foundation of that rarity that we know as Bhutanese life. All Bhutanese are required to wear their national dress, called gho for men, kira for women.

The Bhutanese have deliberately and zealously safeguarded and preserved their rich culture and traditions, its ancient way of life, in all its aspects. And it is perhaps one of the world’s last strongholds of unspoiled wilderness. It is a part of the earth that represents a fabled realm. Bhutan is a land where the past and the contemporary co-exist in harmony, a recipe that makes a journey undeniably amazing. A trip through Bhutan, in many ways, is still a journey into the past. In this small tract of land, one of the most rugged terrains in the world frames one of the world’s richest vegetation. It is a land of about 700,000 people who believe that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product. Bhutan is a country with a different face. And a different story to tell.

Apart from trekking along the northern frontier, you will be also visiting the main western towns of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. Western Bhutan is comparatively more developed than the rest of the country. Thimphu, the capital, has all the important government offices, including the King’s Secretariat. Paro has the only airport and Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan.

The yeti, locally known as 'migoi', is still talked about in the high, Himalayan regions of Bhutan. From a BBC article "It's widely believed in Bhutan that the yeti walks backwards to fool trackers ... Another common belief is that the yeti cannot bend its body, a feature it is thought to share with evil spirits.
According to author Kunzang Choden, this explains why most traditional Bhutanese homes have small doorways. In her book, Bhutanese Tales of the Yeti, she describes how the raised threshold and lowered lintel force anyone who enters to lift their leg and bend their head."

+ All below information from Wikipedia +

Culture of Bhutan
Cradled in the folds of the Himalayas, Bhutan has relied on its geographic isolation to protect itself from outside cultural influences. A sparsely populated country bordered by India to the south, and China to the north, Bhutan has long maintained a policy of strict isolationism, both culturally and economically, with the goal of preserving its cultural heritage and independence. Only in the last decades of the 20th century were foreigners allowed to visit the country, and only then in limited numbers. In this way, Bhutan has successfully preserved many aspects of its culture, which dates directly back to the mid-17th century.

Modern Bhutanese culture derives from ancient culture. This culture affected the early growth of this country. Dzongkha and Sharchop, the principal Bhutanese languages, are closely related to Tibetan, and Bhutanese monks read and write the ancient variant of the Tibetan language, known as chhokey. The Bhutanese are physically similar to the Tibetans, but history does not record when they crossed over the Himalayas and settled in the south-draining valleys of Bhutan. Both Tibetans and Bhutanese revere the tantric guru, Padmasambhava, the founder of Himalayan Buddhism in the 8th century.

Religion in Bhutan
Bhutanese society is centered around the practice of Buddhism, which is the main religion. Religious beliefs are evidenced in all aspects of life. Prayer flags flutter on hillsides, offering up prayers to benefit all nearby sentient beings. Houses each fly a small white flag on the roof indicating the owner has made his offering payments to appease the local god. Each valley or district is dominated by a huge dzong, or high-walled fortress, which serves the religious and administrative center of the district. Approximately 23% of the population is Hindu. There is a small Muslim population in Bhutan, covering 0.2% of the whole country's population. Overall, 75% of the population is Buddhist, and 0.4% other religions.

Religious Festivals
Once every year, a dzong or important village may hold a religious festival, or Tsechu. Villagers from the surrounding district come for several days of religious observances and socializing while contributing auspicious offerings to the lama or monastery of the festival. The central activity is a fixed set of religious mask dances, or cham, held in a large courtyard. Each individual dance takes up to several hours to complete and the entire set may last two to four days. Observation of the dances directly blesses the audience and also serves to transmit principles of Tantric Buddhism to the villagers. A number of the dances can be traced directly back to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal himself, the founder of Bhutan, and have been passed down essentially unchanged since the mid-17th century. Prior to dawn on the final day of the tsechu a huge tapestry, or thongdrel, is unfurled in the courtyard of the dzong for several hours. The mere sight of it is believed to bring spiritual liberation. The thongdrel is rolled up before the rays of the morning sun can strike it.

Monks join the monastery at six to nine years of age and are immediately placed under the discipleship of a headmaster. They learn to read chhokey, the language of the ancient sacred texts, as well as Dzongkha and English. Eventually they will choose between two possible paths: to study theology and Buddhist theory, or take the more common path of becoming proficient in the rituals and personal practices of the faith.

The daily life of the monk is austere, particularly if they are stationed at one of the monasteries located high in the mountains. At these monasteries food is often scarce and must be carried up by the monks or their visitors. The monks are poorly clothed for winter conditions and the monasteries are unheated. The hardship of such a posting is well-recognized; to have a son or brother serving in such a monastery is recognized as very good karma for the family. A monk's spiritual training continues throughout his life. In addition to serving the community in sacramental roles, he may undertake several extended silent retreats. A common length for such a retreat is three years, three months, three weeks and three days. During the retreat time he will periodically meet with his spiritual master who will test him on his development to ensure that the retreat time is not being wasted.

Each monastery is headed by an abbot who is typically a Lama, although the titles are distinct. The highest monk in the land is the chief abbot of Bhutan, whose title is Je Khenpo. He is theoretically equivalent in stature to the king. The Central Monk Body is an assembly of 600 or so monks who attend to the most critical religious duties of the country. In the summer they are housed in Thimphu, the nation's capital, and in the winter they descend to Punakha dzong, the most sacred dzong in Bhutan, where Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's mortal body has been kept under vigil since the late 17th century.

Music of Bhutan
Bhutanese music has traditional genres such as Zhungdra, Boedra, and a modern genre called Rigsar. Bhutanese musicians include: Jigme Drukpa, who is also a leading Bhutanese musicologist.

Official Behavioral Code
The Driglam Namzha is the official behaviour and dress code of Bhutan. It governs how citizens should dress in public and how they should behave in formal settings. It also regulates a number of cultural assets such as art and Bhutanese architecture. In English, driglam means "order, discipline, custom, rules, regimen" and namzha means "system," though the term may be styled "The Rules for Disciplined Behaviour."

It is a manner and etiquette as what to wear, how to eat, talk and bow down before the government officials and the clergy. The Driglam Namzha was imposed on all citizens from 1990. The people of different ethnic heritage for example the Lhotsampas (Bhutanese citizens of ethnic Nepali origin – they were not Bhutanese citizens and they were not Lhotsampas) resented this and revolted against this imposition, thereby getting kicked out of Bhutan to the refugee camps. About 20% of Bhutan's population currently live in exile because of this Bhutanization policies of the Royal Government followed by land expropriation and persecution.

To preserve the indigenous Buddha's Teachings as their long-guarded culture and tradition, Menjong Chöthün Tshogpa, a charitable organization was established in 2002 by The Supreme Dharma King or Trulku Jigme Chöda Rinpoche 70th Je Khenpo of Bhutan.[2] The chairman at present is Trizin Tsering Rimpoche who also happens to be the founder of Buddha Dordenma Image Foundation, another charitable organization in Bhutan.

National Dress Code
Previously all Bhutanese citizens were required to observe the national dress code, known as Driglam Namzha, while in public during daylight hours. The rule was enforced more rigorously in some districts (dzongkhag) than others. Men wear a heavy knee-length robe tied with a belt, called a gho, folded in such a way to form a pocket in front of the stomach.

Women wear colourful blouses over which they fold and clasp a large rectangular cloth called a kira, thereby creating an ankle-length dress. A short silk jacket, or toego may be worn over the kira. Everyday gho and kira are cotton or wool, according to the season, patterned in simple checks and stripes in earth tones. For special occasions and festivals, colourfully patterned silk kira and, more rarely, gho may be worn.

Additional rules of protocol apply when visiting a dzong or a temple, or when appearing before a high-level official. Male commoners wear a white sash (kabney) from left shoulder to opposite hip. Local and regional elected officials, government ministers, cabinet members, and the King himself each wear their own colored kabney. Women wear a narrow embroidered cloth draped over the left shoulder, a rachu.

The dress code has met with some resistance from Lhotshampa, people of Nepali ancestry, living along the Indian border who resent having to wear a cultural dress which is not their own.

Bhutanization | The Darker Side
Despite living in Bhutan for up to five generations, the Lhotsampas retained their highly distinctive Nepali language, culture, and religion. They participated in public life and politics, even attaining positions of significant leadership. The Lhotsampas coexisted peacefully with other ethnic groups in Bhutan until the mid 1980s, when Bhutan’s king and the ruling Druk majority became worried that the growing Lhotsampa population could threaten the majority position and the traditional Buddhist culture of the Druk Bhutanese.

The government therefore initiated a campaign, known as “One country, one people,” or “Bhutanization” to cement Bhutanese national identity. The policies imposed the Druk dress code, religious practices, and language use on all Bhutanese regardless of prior practices. These changes negatively impacted the Lhotsampa people, because they did not wear the same traditional dress, practice the same religion, or speak the same language as the northern Bhutanese. The use of the Nepali language was prohibited in schools, many Lhotsampa teachers were dismissed, and textbooks were burned.

Men + Women in Society
Men and women work together in the fields, and both may own small shops or businesses. Men take a full part in household management, often cook, and are traditionally the makers and repairers of clothing (but do not weave the fabric). In the towns, a more "western" pattern of family structure is beginning to emerge, with the husband as breadwinner and the wife as home-maker. Both genders may be monks, although in practice the number of female monks is relatively small.

Marriages are at the will of either party and divorce is not uncommon. The marriage ceremony consists of an exchange of white scarves and the sharing of a cup. Marriages can be officially registered when the couple has lived together for more than six months. Traditionally the groom moves to the bride's family home (matrilocality), but newlyweds may decide to live with either family depending on which household is most in need of labour.

Bhutanese Names
Except for royal lineages, Bhutanese names do not include a family name. Instead two traditional auspicious names are chosen at birth by the local lama or by the parents or grandparents of the child. First names generally give no indication if the person is male or female; in some cases the second name may be helpful in that regard.

As there is a limited constellation of acceptable names to choose from, inevitably many people share the same combination of first and second names. To resolve the ambiguity an informal nicknaming system comes into play which recognizes where a person is from. If a certain "Chong Kinley" is from Chozom village in the Paro valley, she is called "Paro Kinley" when she is travelling outside the valley. In Paro valley itself she is identified by the name of her village, thus "Chong Kinley Chozom". Surprisingly, multiple children in a small hamlet of a few houses may have exactly the same name, reflecting the inspiration of the local lama. In this case, she is identified by the name of the house she was born in, thus "Chemsarpo" Kinley.

Food of Bhutan
The staple foods of Bhutan are red rice (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste, the only variety of rice that grows in high altitudes), buckwheat, and increasingly maize. The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat, and lamb. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables, spiced with chili peppers and cheese, are a favourite meal during the cold seasons.

Zow shungo is a rice dish mixed with leftover vegetables. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chili peppers (similar to chili con queso), might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Other foods include: jasha maru (a chicken dish), phaksha paa, thukpa, bathup, and fried rice.

Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned into butter and cheese. Popular beverages include: butter tea, black tea, locally brewed ara (rice wine), and beer. Popular spices include: curry, cardamom, ginger, thingay (Sichuan pepper), garlic, turmeric, and caraway.

When offered food, one says meshu meshu, covering one's mouth with the hands in refusal according to Bhutanese manners, and then gives in on the second or third offer.

Sports of Bhutan
Archery is the national sport in Bhutan, and competitions are held regularly in most villages. It differs from Olympic standards in technical details, such as the placement of the targets and atmosphere. There are two targets placed over 100 m apart and teams shoot from one end of the field to the other. Each member of the team shoots two arrows per round.

Traditional Bhutanese Archery is a social event, and competitions are organized between villages, towns, and amateur teams. There is usually plenty of food and drink complete with singing and dancing. Attempts to distract an opponent include standing around the target and making fun of the shooter's ability. Darts (kuru) is an equally popular outdoor team sport, in which heavy wooden darts pointed with a 10 cm nail are thrown at a paperback-sized target 10 to 20 m away.

Another traditional sport is digor, which resembles shot put and horseshoe throwing.

Football is the most popular sport in Bhutan. In 2002, Bhutan's national football team played Montserrat in what was billed as The Other Final; the match took place on the same day Brazil played Germany in the World Cup Final, and at the time Bhutan and Montserrat were the world's two lowest ranked teams. It was held in Thimphu's Changlimithang Stadium, and Bhutan won 4–0. Cricket has also gained popularity in Bhutan, particularly since the introduction of television channels from India. The Bhutan national cricket team is one of the most successful affiliate nations in the region.

+ Below information from WWF +
Tucked between the Tibetan Plateau to the north and India to the south, west and east, Bhutan lies entirely within the Eastern Himalayas. It's just half the size of Indiana. But 51% of its land is protected—the highest percentage of any nation in Asia. Equally striking, the Bhutanese constitution requires at least 60% of the country’s forest cover to be permanently maintained (the country is currently at more than 70%).

Those percentages reflect the value of protected areas—and more broadly, nature—to multiple facets of Bhutanese society. One is spiritual: Bhutan's culture is rooted in Buddhism, which emphasizes the interdependence between humans and nature ... Wildlife delivers revenue as well. The country's mountains, alpine meadows and thick forests shelter more than 5,600 vascular plant species and 200 mammal species. There are tigers, snow leopards and Asian elephants—as well as bird species like the beautiful nuthatch. Tourism showcasing Bhutan's biodiversity and nature-inspired culture is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the country's economy ...

Renewable hydropower sold to India currently generates more than 45% of national revenue, and the country must diversify its economy to address its evolving needs. At the same time, Bhutan's leaders are keeping a close eye on Gross National Happiness—the country's holistic approach to prosperity that includes social, environmental and political priorities alongside economic ones."

+ Below information taken from The New York Times +

"The majority of Bhutanese still live off the land, practicing subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry. Bhutan is the only country in the world whose state religion is Mahayana Buddhism. Its official language, Dzongkha, is spoken in few other places on earth — but all Bhutanese schoolchildren, even in the deepest countryside, are taught English. Bhutan only got television in 1999. There are no plastic bags allowed in Bhutan, and 72 percent of the country is under forest cover. In 2013, the government announced its intention to become the world’s first 100-percent organic-farming nation ... Gender equality is a work in progress; fewer than 9 percent of the country’s nationally elected officials are women."

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Paro – Sightseeing
Arrive Paro by Druk Air, the only national carrier. The flight offers you beautiful view of mountains and landscapes. On arrival and after visa formalities you will be received by your guide. Afternoon / evening time at leisure. Overnight hotel in Paro

Day 2 - Taktsang Excursion
Day hike to Taktsang monastery. The hike is all about 3/4 hours through pine forests (total walk 4/5hrs). The monastery clings to a huge granite cliff  800 meters above the Paro valley.  It is believed that the great saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. The demons were subdued who were trying to stop the spread of Buddhism and converted the Paro valley into Buddhism. During the end of the 17th century a monastery was built on the spot where the saint meditated and it is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit at least once in their life time. Overnight hotel in Paro

Day 3 - Gunitsawa Village – Sharna Zampa

40mins, 80 m descent, camp altitude 2,850 m.
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. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa

Day 4 - Sharna Zampa - Thangthangkha

Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours,  770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m.
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 5 -Thangthangkha – Jangothang

Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 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 - Jangothang
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

Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 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 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 8 - Lingshi – Chebisa

Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 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 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 9 - Chebisa – Shomuthang

Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m.
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 10 - Shomuthang – Robluthang

Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m.
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 campsite at Robluthang in a rocky meadow.

Day 11 - Robluthang – Limithang

Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m.
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 12 - Limithang – Laya

Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 60 m ascent, 340 m descent, camp altitude 3,840 m.
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 13 - Laya
Hike around the Laya vicinity. Interact with the Layaps, see their way of life and relax.

Day 14 - Laya – Koina

Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 260 m ascent, 1,070 m descent, camp altitude 3,050 m.
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 15 - Koina – Gasa

Distance 14 km, 6-7 hours, 740 m ascent, 1,500 m descent, camp altitude 2,240 m.
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.

Day 16 - Gasa Hotsprings - Punakha
Short hike to the point where the vehicles will pick us up and drive us down to Punakha. Drive time about 2 hrs. Nice hot shower and late afternoon visit the Punakha Dzong. Night at hotel/lodge in Punakha

Day 17 - Punakha Valley
Sightseeing around the Punakha Valley with the option to raft the class II/III section of the lower Pho Chhu past the Punakha Dzong and the confluence of the Mo and Pho rivers. Visit the Khamsum Yulley Monastery and the Saangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery. Night at Punakha

Day 18 - Drive to Thimphu
Enroute visit the Chhimi Lhakang ( Temple of Lam Drukpa Kuenley aka “The Divine Madman”) and then drive over the Dochula Pass. Evening at leisure to wander around the streets of Thimphu. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu

Day 19 - Sightseeing in and around Thimphu.
Overnight at hotel in Paro with a farewell diner and cultural show.

Day 20 - Transfer to airport for departure
We'll take you to Paro Airport for your return flight ...

 

Kadenche La!

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