|Arrival to Paro
|Arrival by plane to Paro or crossing border from India in Phuntsholing/Jaigon and drive to Paro. Sightseeing subject to the arrival time.
|Early morning drive to Chele la pass (3,800 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 interesting 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.
|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. After lunch drive to Drukyel dzong. This used to be a place where the trek started before. See ruins of the old dzong (castle) and continue further to 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 2,890 m.
|Trek Gunitsawa – Thangthangkha
|Distance 16 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m. On this long day there is 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 hour, you will reach to Thangthangtha 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.
|Trek Thangthangkha – Jangothang
|Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 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.
|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.
|Trek Jangothang – Lingshi
|Distance 13 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 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 Tsherim Kang 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 few suitable campsites here and your staff will select the most practical one given the actual conditions.
|Trek Lingshi – Chebisa
|Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3880 m. Today is the very short walking day so if you feel strong enough, you can make morning side trip north of the camp the lake Chhokam Tsho at 4340 m near the Jichu Drakye base camp. Side trip will add about 8 kilometers and 450 m both up and down and will take about 3 hours. Otherwise, start walking from 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 a 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.
|Trek Chebisa – Shomuthang
|Distance 17 km, 6 hours, 950 m ascent, 640 m descent, camp altitude 4220 m. The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) over a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you might see a 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 possible campsite, but we might also continue with some extra climb to Shomuthang campsite (4220m) in case the water is available there and your group is small.
|Trek Shomuthang – Robluthang
|Distance 11 km, 4-5 hours, 500 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4160 m. You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6526 m). After three hours of climbing you will reach to 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 weather is clear, Tsherim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will be visible. As the day trek is short, you might like to make climb to Jhari Peak adjacent to the pass in elevation of 4935 m for better views. Round trip will take you bit over a one hour. Descend to the herder's camp above the river which is called Tsheri Jathang, located in a beautiful wide valley. Herds of takins, 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.
|Trek Robluthang – Limithang
|Distance 13 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4140 m. The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another one and half hours through the boulder field. It is then about one hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5005m) – 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 distance away.
|Trek Limithang – Laya
|Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 60 m ascent, 350 m descent, camp altitude 3840 m. Today, you walk downhill all the way along the narrow, winding river valley. After a quite 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 Gangchhenta and Masagang peaks. In the village center, there is a community school and basic health care unit. The campsite is located below the school. Explore the village and visit of the traditional local farmhouse. Inhabitants of the village belongs to distinctive tribe called Layap. Their women wear original conical bamboo hats decorated with color beads. In some welcoming house, you might taste local spirit called “ara” or other delicacies.
|Trek Laya – Lungu
|Distance 6 km, 3 hours, 350 m descent, 400 m ascent, camp altitude 3.800 m. Today will be quite easy day. You can start late, enjoy some walk in Laya village, visit local temple or school before you start. First you will ascend gently to the side ridge and then descent to the valley crossing quick torrent Zangto Nangi Chhu. From here again start ascending until you reach to Lungu village. Just below the houses, you can small shelter covering the imprint of Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel, the unifier of Bhutan who visited Lungu while escaping from Tibet. You can stay in camp or get shelter in some of the houses. Surrounding is beautiful, so visit local temples and search for nice views of snowy peaks which surrounding the village. If you're in mood you can even continue to Kulu Khar from here and get more time in Masagang BC valley.
|Trek Lungu – Nulithang
|Trek 10km, 5-6h, ➚550m, ➘300m. Start hike from Lungu in direction to the east. Trail will be gently ascending offering nice view of the village with the snowy peaks at the backside. Trail will continue traversing the steep slope offering nice views including birds-eye perspective of Takshikha military camp. Finally, the trail will connect to the trail leading from camp to Masagang BC. Hike along few hamlets and through the ruined old military camp. Cross the creek and continue hiking gently up, getting more views of the surrounding hills. Finally, the stunning view of Tsenda Kanga to the right and top of Masagang on the left will open. That is Somji camp also called Masagang Base Camp. Unfortunately the place can sustain only few tents, so bigger groups need to continue some 30 minutes down to Nulithang. By evening enjoy the last touches of light on Tsenda Kang! Camping in 4010m.
Today you have a number of options of day hikes. Possibly the most rewarding trip is to climb to five thousand meters hight “Chethola’s view point”. This is quite steep climb with no proper trail. You need start in Somji and start climbing the hill by your right side. It will take some 3 to 4 hours to summit. The effort will be rewarded by undisturbed view of Masagang and also 360° degree panorama of the high snowy peaks all around. Then you have to descend same way down.
Another less demanding option is to climb other hill, just above Somji. Partly slided trail will lead ascending on the hill ridge. The view of Masagang will be gradually opening. In some 2 hours you will reach to high herding campsite with undusurebed view of Masagang, Tsenda Kang, Kang Bum and other peaks around. From here you can continue to the valley below Masagang glacier. If you fee strong, you can even try to reach ice lake from which mighty stream flow. Descend through the valley is beautiful itself with many nice views. There is a lot of rhododendron which will blossom in string. The trail is sometimes difficult to follow so advance carefully. Whole trip might take about 4 hours.
Finally, you can also hike north of the Nulithang to Phongme. Going there by the right side of the river and get back by the trail leading on the left side. This 8 hours round trip offers quite nice views of the mountains and landscape without climbing too high. Going just half way, to the ruined castle or monastery is also good and relaxing hike.
|Trek Nulithang – Taksikha
|Trek 12km, 4-5h, ➚150m, ➘750m, overnight in 3440m. Today you don’t need to hurry as the trek is not that long and goes mostly down. You can even make some trip around the Nulithang before you start going back. Climbing some way above Somji or brief exploration in direction to Phongme as described above are the viable options. You will go back the same way but instead of climbing up back to Lungu, you will take direct way to Tashikha military camp. This place doesn’t get too much sunlight so be prepared for cold night. You might be invited by the Indian or Bhutanese soldiers to join them for tea or drink.
|Trek Taksikha – Gasa
|Trek 12km, 6-7h, ➚710m, ➘860m. This is the last day of the trek, following the same trail as the first day of trekking. Anyway you will reach the vehicle by the afternoon and continue drive to Gasa hot springs. Having a bath in the hot pools along with your staff or even visit a numerous local bars will be great tour conclusion. Overnight is in local guest house with very simple facilities.
|Gasa – Punakha / Wangdue
|Visit the Gasa dzong (castle) in the morning. There are good views from there and few interesting chapels. The dzong is just completing reconstruction of the main tower. Then start drive to Punakha. The trekking is over now. Spend time in leisure, get rest or celebrate the trek's success!
|Punakha / Wangdue – Thimphu
|Sightseeing in Wangdue. Climb to Khamsum lahkahang with great views. Then visit to Punakha dzong, one of the most beautiful castles in Bhutan. Chimmy lhakhang, temple dedicated to famous divine madman who was spreading buddhism by rampatn sexual behaviour. Transfer to Thimphu over Dochu-la pass (3.015 m). In good weather we can have nice views here. Druk Wangyel lhakhang dedicated to 4th king of Bhutan also makes nice sight.
|Thimphu – Paro
|Early morning drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and walk to striking city viewpoint. See Memorial Chorten, always busy with devotees. Walk in Norzin lam street and see the traffic police signaling in junctions. Thimphu is only capital in the world without the traffic lights. Finish walk at handicraft market where many interesting Bhutanese souvenirs can be seen and bought for reasonable price. Visit hand paper factory a Thangkha painting centre, where young artists learns the skills of their forefathers. After that drive to Changankha lhakhang, the oldest place of worship in the valley. Visit of Tashicho dzong, the castle, which serves as seat of the king and government. Evening drive to Paro.
|Departure from Bhutan
Tour variants, extensions and combinations:
- Extend stay in Nulithang/Somji (+1 day): If you can afford to stay on the trek one more day, you can cover the both possible options: Climb to high viewpoint and do the round trip hike to Phongme.
- Explore Phongme valley (+2 day): If you have even more days available for trekking, you can trek further to Phongme and camp one night there. There is possible day hike from there to Masagang glacier or to ice lake on the other side.
- Fast & furious trekker? (-2 days): If you want to reduce the trekking days and you're very fit and fast, you can merge days #8-9 and #13-14.
- 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).
- Skip Masagang BC part (-2 days): Check Little Snowman Trek, 19 days for details.