10 - 26 October 2020
from USD $5,665
Single supplement USD$640
Group of 2 supplement USD$480 each
Individual room tariff USD$560
Arrive from Bangkok to Paro. Spend the first two days acclimatising in Paro for the trek. Sightseeing, hikes, rural farm visits.
Paro - Tiger's Nest Trail (acclimitisation)
Hike to Taktsang Lhakhang - the Tiger's Nest Monastery, an uphill walk of about 2-3 hours to Bhutan's most famous monastery and most venerated religious throughout the Himalayas. The complex is perched on the side of a cliff 2,950 feet above the floor of the Paro valley.
Trek Shana - Thathangkha (campsite 1)
Start drive from hotel towards north of Paro. After about one hour you will reach Shana where the trek begins. You will pass through the army camp. This is a fairly long day along an undulating trail which parts of were also used as the ancient route to Tibet. Trail continues its gradual climb alongside the Paro chu (river) through forest of blue pine, oak, rhododendrons, ferns, maple and larch. Camp at Thathangkha at an altitude of 3610m.
Thathangkha - Jongothang (campsite 2)
This is not a long day but you make a significant gain in elevation. you will pass another army post and a few village houses. You cross tree line and enter yak country. Camp in the open meadows at Jongothang at 4,080m with spectacular view of sacred mountain Jhomolhari (meaning Goddess of the mountain pass) standing at 7314m.
Rest day at Jongothang, witness Jhomolhari Mountain festival
Witness the start of the two day mountain festival. Aware of the decreasing trend in yak herding, the festival is an initiative of the governments to celebrate the recognition of the yak herding community and their livelihood. It is to instill pride in the community of their lifestyle. Local dances and songs are performed and other activities to reflect their age old traditions and culture. Enjoy a day immersing yourself with the simple and happy mountain folks.
Jongothang - Lingzhi (campsite 3)
Total distance 21km. Altitude at campsite 3950m. After crossing the village at the start you will not encounter any villages and the trail takes you through complete wilderness. The trees are all left far behind and you begin to feel closer to heaven. You will encounter blue sheep and mormots darting into their burrows. Cross the highest point of your trail at Nyile la pass 4870m. Begin gradually descending from the pass to Lingzhi. There is a community school, agriculture and park extension offices and a few hamlets. Lingzhi has a wide variety of medicinal herbs. The Institute of Traditional Medicine (ITMS) in Thimphu has a large herb collecting and drying unity here that supplies the herbs for making traditional mediscines to the ITMS. Because of the high elevation the other major crop is barley.
Lingzhi - Chebesa (campsite 4)
Total distance 16km. This is an easy day so before starting the trail to Chebesa you could climb to visit Lingzhi Dzong which sits at 4220m at a ridge separating two valleys. This ancient fortress was built in the 17th century and played the role of controlling travel between Bhutan and Tibet. After over an hour of hike on the trail to Chebesa you descend into the pleasant settlement of Gongyul (mountain village) at 3870m. The stone houses are clustered and surrounded by large fields of barley. Leaving Gonyul the trail makes a gradual climb crossing to descend to the spectacular Chebesa Valley. Camp at a lovely meadow opposite Chebesa village at 3880m beside a stream.
Chebesa - Shomuthang (campsite 5)
Total distance 17km. The route climbs the ridge above Chebesa village. Large herds of blue sheep will be seen as well as Himalayan vultures flying overhead. At the ridge cross Gogu La Pass at 4440m before descending into the next valley through deep forest of rhododendrons. It's a long descent before climbing again over a small ridge through cedar forest. In the valley cross a river and continue past yak herders huts to reach the Shakshepasa campsite along the river. Continue on to campsite Shomuthang 4220m.
Shomuthang - Robluthang (campsite 6)
Total distance 16km. The trail climbs from the campsite up the valley. View of mountain Kang Bum 6526m. The trail passes through Jhari La 4750m with views of other mountains like the Ganchenta (Great Tiger mountain 6840m), Tserim Kang and Jhomolhari can be seen if the weather is clear. Camp by the river in a place called Tsharjathang. Herds of Takin (national animal of Bhutan) migrate to this valley in summer months and remain for about 4 months. The valley has been declared as a Takin sanctuary and yak herders have agreed not to graze their cattle here during the time Takins are here. Campsite at a rocky meadow called Robluthang 4160m.
Robluthang - Limithang (campsite 7)
Total distance 14km. This is a long day crossing Sinche La (5005m) the last and highest pass of the trek. Trail goes past a little stone house of a yak herder. Sights of groups of blue sheep grazing on the hillside and marmots are common. If one is lucky a snow leopard might be seen. Camp in the lovely meadows of Limithang 4140m with the peak of Tiger Mountain towering over the campsite.
Limithang - Laya (campsite 8)
Total distance 10km. Follow the valley along the river through cedar and fir forests. Possibility to meet yak herders or see the herders' stone huts. The trail takes a climb before reaching Laya village. Tiger Mountain dominates the western skyline and from some places you can get a glimpse of Masang Gang Mountain 7165m.
Rest day at Laya (campsite 8)
Laya is the biggest settlement you will encounter during the trek. WIth roughly over 1,000 people, the Layaps as they are known, are a distinct ethnic group with their own language, customs and dress. It is definitely worth a day's rest to explore and enjoy this unique cultural landscape. You can also visit the community school, health centre, park office and agriculture extension centre to learn more of the people and way of life. Enjoy an evening of cultural song and dance that the Layap women love to perform.
Laya - Koina (campsite 9)
Total distance 13km. Descent to Koina.
Koina - Gasa - hotsprings (campsite 10)
Total distance 12km. Last day of trek. Further descend to Gasa. Since farm roads have been developed after walking about 3 hours ride in the car to the hot springs. Enroute you drive past majestic Gasa Dzong, the head quarters for the Gasa district. The area has many service centres includeing a high school with boarding facilities, agriculture and livestock extension centres, Park Ranger office and medical unit. Enjoy a relaxing evening of soaking in the hotsprings.
Drive to Punakha & sightseeing
Enjoy another soak in the hot springs before starting your drive to Punakha. Drive time approximately 3 hours. Punakha is at an elevation of 1400m so it is quite warm. Sightseeing in Punakha. Visit the majestic dzong showcasing the finest of traditional architecture.
Drive to Thimphu & sightseeing
Drive to Thimphu. Enroute brief stop at Dochula Pass 3000m and look beyond to see the mountain range to visualise the areas you have just trekked through. Sightseeing and shopping in Thimphu.
Drive to Paro. Depart for Bangkok onward to Australia
Drive to Paro to catch your departing flight to Bangkok and homeward bound.