Snowman Trek from Paro, 31 days

photo courtesy of Tourism Council of Bhutan
Most Difficult Trek on Earth
Trekking Tours
  • Probably most difficult trek ever
  • 13 passes around 5 thousand meters
  • Beautiful and relatively easy start
  • Good acclimatisation at the beginning
  • Pristine and original village Laya
  • Remote Lunana with isolated villages
  • Sightseeing in Paro, Jakar, Wangdue, Punakha
From: 
US$ 5590 / person ?
Dates: 
Flexible
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# Itinerary Program
1 Arrival to Paro Morning arrival to Paro. Visit of Paro dzong, National Museum and town. Program subject to time of arrival.
2 Paro Climb to Taktsang gomba (Tiger’s Nest), is the highlight of the tour. While the hike seems to be hard, it’s very rewarding. You can consider to climb in the morning or early afternoon depending on weather, your fitness and preferences. It will help your acclimatisation to if you climb even above the Tiger's Nest to Zangtopelri lhakhang. There are great views from here to enjoy. Descend down and explore the calm Kyichu lhakhang which also pins down giant demoness body. Drive to castle-ruins of Drukyel dzong, from where you can see the top of holy Jomolhari mountain. Evening in leisure, getting ready for trekking.
3 Drive Paro – Gunitsawa, Trek Gunitsawa – Thangthangkha Distance 16 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m. Early morning drive to Gunitsawa military camp and start trekking. It will be a long day with lot of up and downs. After going uphill around the river, the valley finally narrows 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 Jomolhari.
4 Trek Thangthangkha – Jangothang Distance 10 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. 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 Jomolhari.
5 Halt in Jangothang Trek to Tshophu lakes, from here you can see the aerial view of summits all around and herds of blue sheep. If you are strong, you can even continue to Bonte-la pass and a great view Jichu Drakye over the lakes. Great acclimatisation trip.
6 Trek Jangothang – Lingshi Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m. 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.
7 Trek 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. In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquillity, 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.
8 Chebisa – Shakshepasa Distance 14 km, 5 hours, 650 m ascent, 640 m descent, camp altitude 3,980 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, where you will be camping. Sun rises soon so expect cold in the nigh.
9 Shakshepasa – Robluthang Distance 21 km, 7-8 hours, 500 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 three 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.
10 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 1½ 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 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 and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.
11 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.
12 Halt in Laya Explore around village and visit of the traditional house. Laya women wear original conical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. In the evening enjoy campfire and local alcohol. There is option to make hike to beautiful holy lakes with great view of surrounding mountains.
13 Trek Laya – Rhoduphu Distance 19km, 6-8 hours, 1,030m ascent, 750m descent, camp altitude 4,160m. 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.
14 Trek Rhodophu – Narethang Distance 17km, 5-6 hours, 740m ascent, camp altitude 4,900m. 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).
15 Trek Narethang – Tarina Distance 18km, 5-6 hours, 270m ascent, 1,200m descent, camp altitude 3,970m. 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.
16 Trek Tarina – Woche Distance 17km, 6-7 hours, 270m ascent, 330m descent, camp altitude 3,910m. 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.
17 Trek Woche – Lhedi Distance 17km, 6-7 hours, 980m ascent, 1,190m descent, camp altitude 3,700m. 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.
18 Trek Lhedi – Thanza Distance 17km, 7-8 hours, 450m ascent, camp altitude 4,150m. 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.
19 Halt in Thanza Rest day to explore views and surrounding side trips.
20 Trek Thanza – Tshorim 8-9 hours, camp altitude 5,120m. 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.
21 Trek Tshorim – Saram 6-7 hours, camp altitude 4,970m. 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 campsite, 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 camp nearby Sha Chhu.
22 Saram – Minchungang 6-7 hours, camp altitude 4,200m. The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Minchungang.
23 Minchungang – Warathang 8-9 hours, camp altitude 4,000m. 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.
24 Trek Warathang – Duer Tsachu 5 hours, camp altitude 3,590m. 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.
25 Halt in Duer Tsachu Before the last and arduous section of the trek you can enjoy rest in hot springs, clean your clothes a revive yourself.
26 Trek Duer Tsachu – Tshochenchen 8-9 hours, camp altitude 3,850m. 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.
27 Trek Tshochenchen – Duer Village, drive to Jakar 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. Drive to Jakar and accommodation in hotel after 25 nights in tents!
28 Rest in Jakar Enjoying the end of trek in beautiful valley of Bumthang. Easy sightseeing around and visiting temples like Jambey, Lhakhang, Kurjey and Tamshing. Visit to Red Panda brewery with beer tasting. Explore lively little town of Jakar.
29 Jakar – Wangdue In the early morning start drive back to the west. First reach to Chummey where you can stop for traditional textile shopping. After crossing Yotung-la pass (3400m) descend to Trongsa. Here you will visit one of the largest castles, called dzong, in Bhutan. From here, the royal family of Bhutan had risen. Continue long drive on windy road with short stop at Chenebji stupa, which is designed after Bouddhanath stupa of Kathmandu. Reach to Pele-la pass (3450m) which is the border of central and western Bhutan. Finally descend to subtropical Wangdue valley, reaching there by the evening.
30 Wangdue – Thimphu Morning climb to Khamsum monastery with wonderful view of the valley and it‘s terraced paddy fields. See the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan stretching the length of 350m over Pho Chhu river. Visit of Punakha dzong, which counts as the most intricately decorated castle in the kingdom. Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to 15th century saint Drukpa Kunley, know as “Divine madman”, who did taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and rampant sexual behavior. Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to 15th century saint Drukpa Kunley, know as “Divine madman”, who did taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and rampant sexual behavior. If time permits, also visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery with Bhutanese and Nepali style stupa, overlooking the valley from the high hill. Afternoon drive to Thimphu. Walk in town and enjoy the last day in Bhutan.
31 Departure from Bhutan Drop to Paro airport and departure from Bhutan.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Start in Gasa and shorten the tour to 24 days: If you are really strong you can also start the trek in Gasa, instead of Paro. See Snowman trek from Gasa for details.
  • Extra days for cultural sightseeing (1 or more days): Apart from trekking, you also want to visit major sights of Bhutan? Extend your trip with longer stay in Jakar, Trongsa, Phobjikha, Punakha, Thimphu and more. Inquire for options.