|1||Arrival to Paro||Arrival to Paro. ➜ Drive to Paro airport viewpoint. Depending on schedule, you might see planes landing and taking off. Runway in Paro is famed as one of the most demanding of all World's International airports. ➜ Visit of the Paro dzong, the medieval castle which serves as the center of local administration and monastery. Bertolucci's Little Buddha movie was short here. ➜ Then drive down to Paro town and marvel over the old traditional bridge below the Paro Dzong. Here, you will have opportunity to try Bhutanese dress and take a beautiful photo with castle in the background! ➜ Walk in lively little town packed with interesting shops, cafés, and bars! ➜ Day's program is subject to arrival timing.|
|2||Paro||Early morning drive to Chele la pass (3800 m) from where you will get splendid views of Jomolhari and Kanchenjunga peaks in good weather conditions. ➜ For acclimatization, you should hike up the ridge to nearby hill which is 4000 meters high. If you like, you can continue even further. When you’re satisfied with climbing, get back down and take captivating hike through the mixed alpine forest down to the Kila Gompa, the oldest nunnery in Bhutan. ➜ Descend back to Paro and visit Dzongdrakha monastery which is located below high cliffs, overlooking Paro valley. Rest of afternoon spent in leisure, getting ready for next day trekking.|
|3||Drive Paro – Gunitsawa||Morning visit of Kyichu lhakhang, the temple built in 8th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. ➜ Climb to Taktsang gompa (Tiger's Nest), most venerated and holy place in Bhutan overlooking valley from the steep cliff. ➜ Drive to Drukyel dzong, after lunch. This used to be a place where the trek started before. See ruins of the old dzong (castle) and continue further to the military camp of Gunitsawa on the new built road. ➜ Possibility to make detour to Lhadi Gompa just before military camp. ➜ First night camping just above military camp at the elevation of 2890 m.|
|4||Trek Gunitsawa – Thangthangkha||16 km, 7-8 h, ➚ 770 m, ➘ 10 m, camp altitude 3610 m. ➜ On this long day there are a lot of up and downs, mostly through the forest along the Paro chhu river. Finally, you will reach to large chorten on the junction, where you will need take trail to the left. After about half an hour, you will reach to Thangthangha campsite. The place is equipped with dilapidated toilets, kitchen house and caretaker's dwelling. ➜ If weather permits, you might glimpse the first great view of Jomolhari, best photographed right from the toilets. Camp is cold and it gets dark early.|
|5||Trek Thangthangkha – Jangothang||10 km, 5-6 h, ➚ 480 m, camp altitude 4080 m. ➜ If you did not see Jomolhari peak in the evening, you still have a chance to get a great view 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 can enjoy most spectacular view of Jomolhari over the ruins of ancient temple or fortress.|
|6||Halt in Jangothang||Today we will make beautiful acclimatization hike to Tshophu lakes in 4450 m altitude. Start going from camp further north along the few hamlets and then turn to the steep ascend towards the east. ➜ Finally, you will reach long deep valley hidden from below and see the two spectacular ice lakes hidden at it's bottom. Walk to the first or even second lake since it offers great views back towards the summits of Jomolhari I, Jomolhari II, and Jichu Drakye. Herds of blue sheep are also common sight. If you are strong, you can even continue to the Bonte-la pass (4850 m) but not further. The trail ultimately leads back to Gunitsawa after two days trekking (is so called Jomolhari Yaksa trek). ➜ After enjoying the views around the lakes, descend back to Jangothang and have a good rest, making yourself ready for the next day.|
|7||Trek Jangothang – Lingshi||13 km, 6-7 h, ➚ 840 m, ➘ 870 m, camp altitude 4010 m. ➜ This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short from the camp, the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4870 m. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings while climbing. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes. From the pass, you will have spectacular views of Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsherimgang peaks. It's a gradual and long descent to the camp. On clear days, you will be welcomed with the spectacular view of the Lingshi Dzong on the heap of the hill. Finally, descend to the valley. There are a few suitable campsites here, and your staff will select the most suitable given the actual conditions.|
|8||Trek Lingshi – Chebisa||10 km, 4-5 h, ➚ 280 m, ➘ 410 m, camp altitude 3880 m. ➜ Today is a very short walking day so if you feel strong enough, you can make a morning side trip north of the camp to the lake Chhokam Tsho at 4340 m near the Jichu Drakye base camp. The side trip will add about 8 kilometers and 450 m both up and down and will take about 3 h. Otherwise, start walking from the camp and to a junction by the white chorten. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong (4220 m), which sits right atop a high ridge. In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquility, Lingshi Dzong provides great views 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.|
|9||Trek Chebisa – Shomuthang||17 km, 6 h, ➚ 950 m, ➘ 640 m, camp altitude 4220 m. ➜ The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 h) over a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you might see people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail. After crossing Gobu La (4410m), you descend into the valley, then climb again a bit before descending again to Shakshepasa (3980 m), the large flat valley. This place is a possible campsite, but you might also continue with some extra climb to Shomuthang campsite (4220m) in case the water is available there, and your group is small.|
|10||Trek Shomuthang – Robluthang||11 km, 4-5 h, ➚ 500 m, ➘ 760 m, camp altitude 4160 m. ➜ You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6526 m). After three h of climbing, you will reach Jhari La (4750 m), 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 6840 m, better known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If the weather is clear, Tsherim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will be visible. As the day trek is short, you might like to make a climb to Jhari Peak adjacent to the pass at an elevation of 4935 m for better views. The round trip will take you a bit over an hour. Descend to the herder's camp above the river, which is called Tsheri Jathang, located in a beautiful wide 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 bit further, and you will finally reach your campsite at Robluthang on a rocky meadow.|
|11||Trek Robluthang – Limithang||13 km, 6-7 h, ➚ 850 m, ➘ 870 m, camp altitude 4140 m. ➜ The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another one and half h through the boulder field. It is then about one hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5005 m) – the final and highest pass on the trek. ➜ As you descend the far side of the pass you 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 creek and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a away.|
|12||Trek Limithang – Laya||10 km, 4-5 h, ➚ 60 m, ➘ 350 m, camp altitude 3840 m. ➜ Today, you walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley. After a quote few days, the trail takes you through densely forested region finally reaching the west side of Laya village from where you will have spectacular views of Mt. Gangchhenta and Mt. Masagang. In the village centre is a community school and a basic health. The campsite is located below the school. ➜ Explore around village and visit of the traditional local farmhouse. Laya women wear original conical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. In the evening you can also taste local spirit called “ara”.|
|13||Halt: Laya||Today you can spend day resting, staying in the village and around or make a trip above the Laya to the glacial lakes in 4650 m. To reach there you need to cross the ridge which has excellent panoramic views of the mountains. The lake is considered to be home of local deity, so you should approach it with caution. ➜ After descending you can visit local temple in which unifier of Bhutan Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel stayed in 17th century during his flee from Tibet. Some belongings of this saint-ruler are kept there.|
|14||Trek Laya – Koina, drive to Gasa Tsachu||19 km, 7-8 h, ➚ 460 m, ➘ 1070 m, camp altitude 3450 m. ➜ This will be quite difficult day. The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu avoiding natural obstacles and with views of the raging river, feeder streams and waterfalls. ➜ Lot of ups and downs will lead you to the large stream of Koina Chhu, where you will find the campsite of Koina and dirt road head. ➜ If the road condition is good, jeeps will be waiting for you here. In case of too much mud or any slides on the way, you might still need to climb further up to meet the vehicles. ➜ Drive to Gasa Tshachu hot springs and enjoy the treat of the pools filled with hot sulfurous water after the tiring trek!|
|15||Gasa Tsachu – Punakha / Wangdue||In the morning you can indulge in hot springs again. ➜ Visit the Gasa dzong (castle) in the morning. There are good views from there and few interesting chapels. ➜ Then start four hours drive to the tropical valley of Punakha. The trekking is over now. ➜ Spend the rest day in leisure, get rest or celebrate the trek's success!|
|16||Punakha / Wangdue – Thimphu||Early morning short hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten with wonderful views of the valley and it’s terraced paddy fields. ➜ Optionally you can consider rafting on the Mo Chhu (easy) or Pho Chhu (thrilling) river. ➜ Continue with visit of Punakha dzong, dubbed as “Palace of the Great Happiness” which counts as the most intricately decorated castle in the kingdom and used to be winter seat of the Bhutanese rulers. ➜ Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to the 15th century saint Drukpa Kunley, known as “Divine madman”, who allegedly taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and scandalous sexual exploits. ➜ Way to temple is perched by houses decorated with phallic symbols, as commemoration of the saint's antics. Temple is also known as fertility booster, attracting childless couples from all over Bhutan and foreign countries as well. ➜ Transfer to Thimphu over Dochu-la pass (3015 m). In good weather, we can have nice views here. Time permitting, Druk Wangyel Lhakhang dedicated to 4th king of Bhutan also makes intriguing sight.|
|17||Thimphu – Paro||Morning drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and walk to striking city viewpoint. ➜ Continue to wild animal sanctuary, where you can see the takin, the famous national animal of Bhutan and other dwellers of Bhutanese forests. ➜ Drop to central Clock Tower square and walk on Norzin lam street and see the traffic police signaling at junctions. Thimphu is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. ➜ Finish the walk at the handicraft market where many interesting Bhutanese souvenirs can be seen and bought for a reasonable price. ➜ Continue with a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum with the exhibition on traditional village life in Bhutan (closed on Sunday, alternatively visit the Simply Bhutan museum). ➜ Visit the historical Dechen Phodrang monastery, overlooking the Thimphu valley. From here you can also see the monumental Tashichho dzong and other landmarks. ➜ Enjoy the last evening in Bhutan! ➜ Optionally, the mask dance performance along with a traditional dinner in the local farmhouse can be arranged.|
|18||Departure from Bhutan||Morning program depends on departure time. ➜ Depart from Paro by flight or take ~5 h drive to the land border in Phuntsholing.|
Tour variants, extensions and combinations:
- Extend trek to Masagang Base Camp (+2 days): If you're for additional trekking why not to continue from Laya to Masagang BC, another beautiful valley in area with stunning mountain views? See Little Snowman & Masagang BC, 21 days itinerary.
- Fast & furious trekker? (-4 days): If you're strong and fast trekker, you can consider shorter Crazy Little Snowman, 15 days variant.
- Skip cultural part (-1 or -2 days): In case you're totally uninterested about the cultural part of the trekking, you can omit one or two days from the program. Anyway please mind that these days are also useful backup in case you get delayed for some reason (snow in the pass or something else).