trek leads from the high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It is
a rather tough trek and requires a bit of endurance. You will be
taken into the Lunana region, then to Gangkhar Phuensum and through
some of the remotest areas. This 26 days of trek is considered one of
the most difficult, but will be one of the most memorable, as you
spend almost a month in the Bhutanese mountains.
1: Paro (Ta Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang)
at Paro airport, you will be received the company guide, who will
accompany you for the duration of your stay. After
lunch, visit theTa Dzong,
at about16 km away from Paro town. The dzong is of great historical
importance to the Bhutanese people as it is where a Tibetan invasion
had been defeated. If the weather is clear, be treated to a most
spectacular view of the sacred Mount Jhomolhari, also known as the
Goddess Mountain, one the highest in the world. Follow a trail
downwards and see the Rinpung Dzong, literally translating to “Heap
of Jewels”. It is the centre of civil and religious authority in
this valley. Then, visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Indeed, one of Bhutan’s
oldest and most sacred monasteries dating from the introduction of
Buddhism in the 8th
century. Many elderly pilgrims go round the monastery in order to
gain good merit! In the evening explore the quaint and tranquil Paro
town, then dinner at your hotel in Paro.
2: Paro – Sharna Zampa
Today the trek officially begins. Drive 12 km north of Paro valley
from your hotel, after breakfast, to the historic Drugyal Dzong
ruins, from where the trek starts. The trekking crew will be waiting
for you. After a brief meeting, walk downhill on a wide trail
following the Pachhu, climbing gently through rice terraces and
fields of millet. After sometime, the valley widens giving into the
tiny settlements of Mitshi Zampa and Sangatan. Reach the army post of
Gunitsawa passing through blue pine forest. At this point, the
trekking permit will be checked and stamped; and is the final stop
before the border to Tibet. Then, cross Pachu River on a wooden
bridge and climb to Sharna Zampa at 2,870m. Just beyond Sharna Zampa,
campsite will be set up for the night amongst several meadows
surrounded by trees.
Zampa to Soi Thangkha
The path continues alongside the Pachhu (Paro river), ascending and
descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. 2 hours later, reach
Shingkharap, a stone house at 3110m. Cross a bridge towards the left
side of the river. Enjoy ahot packed lunch that will be served.
Continue walking and then climb through rhododendron forests and
finally once you cross the bridge, you reach campsite at Soi
Thangkha, at 3750m.
3: Soi Thangkha to Jangothang base camp
Gain significant heightas the path leads you above tree line. Climb
for a while until the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree
line, all whilst appreciating the stunning view of surrounding
snowcapped peaks. Cotinue walking until you enter the yak herders’
camp, where a hot lunch will be served. Then follow the trail past
the yak herder settlements of Soe and Takethang. Walk across a
plateau and up a stream bed and Dangochang village, from where the
campsite of Jangothang at an altitude of 4,040m comes into view.
Enjoy the spectacular views of Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake.
4: Jangothang acclimatization and exploration
Jangothang today. It is flat grassy land base, beneath the colossal
Mount Jumolhari and Jitchu Drake. As it is common for people to get
altitude sickness at this point, trekkers halt here. If you choose,
there will be a four-hour acclimatization hike to the north of your
campthat involves, climbing on an open slope until Mt Jichu Drakye
(6989m) comes into view. Then, hike further up until the monumental
Mount Jumolhari can be seen. If lucky you can come across animals,
birds and flowes such as the “blue sheep”, golden eagles and the
blue poppy. However, if you do not wish to hike, you can just
remain at camp, relaxing and exploring the surrounding areas.
5: Jangothang to Lingshi
The trek starts from Jangothang. Follow the stream and about half an
hour later, cross the bridge over to the right side. Climb up to the
first ridge with another beautiful angle of the Mount Jumolhari
(7314m), Jichu Drake (6989m) and Tshering Gang (6789m). Continue
walking towards the valley, then climb to the Ngye La pass at an
altitude of 4,700m. After the pass, gradually descend to campsite at
an altitude of 4010m.
6: Lingshi to Chebisa
Visit the Lingshi Dzong, perched on the hilltop with a view of green
hills, and the mountains surrounding it. The Dzong served, for
centuries, as a way station for weary Buddhist pilgrims and also as a
defense fort against Tibetan and Mongol invaders. Then, walk to
Chebisa, a small little village, through villages and yak herders’
camp. Campsite will be set up at Chebisa, by the side of a stream at
an altitude of 3,850m.
7: Chebisa to Shoumuthang
Today, start with a climb of about 4 hours, up a ridge to Gogu La
pass (4,500m). You may sight the rare blue sheep on the rocks near
the top of this pass. After the pass, descend through rhododendron
bushes. After lunch, continue along the trail with intermittent
ascents and descents to Shakepasa. From there, walk down through a
thick rhododendron forest .Climb steeply up to the northern side of
the valley and pass by a couple of yak herder’s camp until campsite
at Shomuthang beside a stream at an altitude 4,250m.
8: Shoumuthang to Rogluthang
Walk through edelweiss bound trail and climb to Jari La pass at
altitude 4,700m. Appreciate a view, to the south-east, of Kangbum at
6526m. Then, descend to Tsarijathang valley, which is the summer
residence of rare Himalayan Takins. From here, cross over to the left
side of the stream, and climb until campsite at Robluthang, at a
9: Robluthang to Lingmithang
The path will take you acorss the highest pass in the entire trek.
Climb up, crossing streams, passing marmot holes and moraine, until
you reach the top of Shingchen La pass (5005m). Appreciate the
stunning view of Gangchenta or the Tiger Mountain (6,840m) to the
north. After the pass, the trail will take you down to Kango Chhu
River. Cross a stream and then walk through cedar forests until
Lingmethang (4,140m), a beautiful scattered meadow by the river with
Tiger Mountain, where campsite will be set up for the night.
10: Lingmithang to Laya
Pass through a damp forest, covered with moss where you can hear
different types of birds. Then arrive at Laya village, the second
highest settlement in the country, at an altitude of 3,800m.
11: Rest day at Laya
will be a rest day allowing you to explore around Laya village. It is
possible to visit any of the houses around, as Bhutanese hospitality
is offered to anyone, with a cup of chang (local wine).Take in the
gorgeous view of the peaks surrounding this settlement. Also interact
with the local people and appreciate their traditional attires. For
instance, the women wear traditional black wool kiras and conical
bamboo hats decorated with turquoise, silver ornaments and strings of
beads. Dinner will be served at campsite.
12: Laya to Rodophu
The trail leads down to the Lunana trail junction and then climbs to
hilltop with good views over the Mo Chhu and the Rhodo Chhu. Follow
the Rhodo Chhu valley, first through mixed conifers and then through
rhododendron, above tree line. From top of a large rockslide, enjoy a
view of the glacial valley and a big glacier on Tsenda Gang (7100m).
Reach campsite at Rodophu.
13: Rodophu to Narithang
Follow the alpine grassland where you will see many yaks, then
continue alongside the river through rhododendron shrubs before
turning right up the hill. Then climb to a high open valley to Tshomo
La Pass (4915m), from where you can appreciate the breathtaking views
of Mount Jomolhari and Tibetan border. Next, hike on the barren land
and after some time arrive at Narithang (4900m), where campsite for
the night will be set up.
14: Narithang to Tarina
Climb to Ganglakarchung Pass at an altitude of 5120m. From the pass,
enjoy the views of Kangbum (6530m), Tsendhen Gang (7100m), Teri Gang
(7300m) and Jejegangphu Gang (7120m). Then descend to the edge of
straight cliff with views of glacial hanging from Teri Gang forming
two turquoise-colored lakes at the base. Continue descending through
a steep path, until arriving at campsite in Tarina, at 4350m.
15: Tarina to Woche
Walk through junipers down the Tangchu River, passing through
amazing waterfalls. Climb out of the valley for sometime, and then
make a steep ascent to Woche Village, which is the first settlement
in Lunana region at an altitude of 4350m.Tuck in for the night at
16: Woche to Lhedi
Start by climbing up the Woche valley. Then descend to a wooden
bridge across a Woche Chu River and climb up past a clear glacial
lake to reach Keche La pass (4650m). Then there will be another
descent to Pochu Valley, reaching Thaga village at 4050m, pass a few
scattered settlements, waterfalls and reach campsite at Lhedi
17: Lhedi to Thanza
Walk through several farms and then reach Chuzo Village (4090m) and
visit the Chezo Dzong. Then follow the trail along the riverbed and
climb a steep hill until reaching Thanza valley at 4250m.
18: Rest day in Thanza
is a rest day! You can choose between two optional activities for the
day. First choice is to visit the Thanza village, an untouched
medieval-like society, or explore nearby glacial lakes. Or the other
option is to take a hike through small moraine rocks to clusters of
Raphstreng Tsho and Thorthormi Tsho, the source of Phochu River of
Punakha. You can also enjoy a magnificent view of Table Mountain
(locally known as Zongphu Gang).
19 : Thanza to Tshochena
Start by climbing to a large boulders hill, to the south of Thanza.
After few hours of easy walk, reach Danji (4500m), where you may spot
herds of blue sheep grazing on the meadows. Then climb to the top of
a ridge and continue walking until reaching the junction of trails
leading to Gangkar Phunsum and Tshochena. Take the trail to the right
leading to Jaze La pass; at 5200m. On the way, enjoy majestic views
of surrounding mountains. Then there will be a final descent to
Tshochena at 5000m, where campsite will be set up.
20: Tshochena to Jichu Dramo
Trek alongside a blue-green lake, then climb to a ridge at 5150m.
From here, follow the trail that ascends and descends over a small
rounded hill, pass a glacial lake and reach Loju La pass (5170m).
Cross a small hill and descend further down to the highest campsite
of the trek, at Jichudramo camp (5050m), where camp will be set up
for the night.
21: Jichu Dramo to Chukarpo
Start by climbing through a moraine path to Rinchen Zoe pass (5350m).
From this pass, The Gangkar Puensum (7520m), highest mountain in
Bhutan can be seen. Then descend through lakes and yak pastures until
reaching camp at Thongsa Thang (4400m), not far from Chukarpo.
22: Chukarpo to Tampetsho
Descend to a Galapang yak pasture. Then climb steeply through forests
of junipers and silver firs, and then walk alongside a stream leading
to the lake. At the end of the lake, campsite for the night will be
set up at Tampetsho.
23: Tampetsho to Maraothang
Today Climb steeply to the Tampela Pass (4600m), and then descend to
the Omtsho Lake; where according to legend, in 15th
century, the famous saint Terton Pema Lingpa miraculously discovered
a treasure from it. Follow the trail until the outlet of the lake.
Continue walking until reaching a large open area. Then walk along
mixed forests to reach the last campsite of the trek at Maraothang at
24: Maraothang to Nika Chhu Zam
The trail goes downhill through bamboo forests, rhododendron forest,
deep mud pools and streams, to a large grassy area overlooking the
road and the Sephu Village (2650m). Transport will be waiting for you
at this point, which will escort you to Punakha and put an end to a
fabulous, almost a month long trek.
25: Punkha (Punakha Dzong, Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten) –
Thimphu (Memorial Chorten, Tashichhodzong)
the astonishing Punakha Dzong, built in 1637. It is situated between
two rivers, the Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River).
Punakha Dzong served as the seat of the Government until 1955. It
truly is a magnificent fortress, in which, the much mediatised Royal
Wedding of the Fifth King of Bhutan took place to the beautiful Queen
Jetsun Pema in October 2011. Then
drive about 7km out of Punakha town, crossing a spectacular
suspension bridge with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, over the
Mochu River. From this point, enjoy a walk of about 30-45 minutes to
the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten (Stupa), perched on a strategic
beautiful ridge overlooking the nearby villages under Kabisa gewog.
After lunch, drive to Thimphu, and visit the Memorial Chorten, a
stupa dedicated to the late Third King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme
Dorji Wangchuck. Next, if time
permits, visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicines, the
National Institute of Zorig Chusum (School of 13 arts & crafts),
where you can appreciate the beautiful local crafts and art. Drive
to Paro, and enjoy dinner at your hotel in Paro.
26: Departure from Paro airport to onwards destination
to the Paro International Airport and get checked in. Then it will be
time to part from your guide and driver! We can only hope that you
would have had an unforgettable and fantastic trip to Bhutan! Tashi