This is considered to be one of the most difficult high altitude treks in the world. Numbers of people who tempt for this trek fails to complete, partly due to altitude sickness and partly due to routes closing because of heavy snowfalls. It is said that more number of people has climbed to Mt. Everest than completing snowman trek.
Best month to trek along this trail are from late September to mid- October. If you are planning for this trek, make sure to have emergency evacuation insurance. If you are stuck in the middle, the only option to get out on time is by an expensive helicopter service.
There are two options to end this trek; one at upper sephu and another is to continue till Dur at Bumthang with one more extra day.
Duration: 26 days and 25 nights (24D & 23N trek)
Maximum elevation: 5320 m
Season: June, Sep & October
Start: Sharna Zampa (Paro)
Finish point: Nika Chhu Bridge
Access town: Paro
Welcome to Bhutan. Your guide and driver will pick you up from Paro international airport and drive to your hotel for the lunch.
Towards afternoon, enjoy your day visiting few of the iconic destinations within Paro valley such as Kichu monastery, Ta dzong (Museum) and Rinpung Dzong (fortress).
22 km/ 8 hours/ 770 m ascent/ 10 m descent
Today is a long day. We start our day by driving from hotel till Sharna Zampa for about an hour. From the trailhead, we begin our journey upward through the rhododendrons and conifers alongside the Pa Chhu River. After around 15 minutes into the journey, we enter Jigme Dorji National Park.
Further 2 hours trek from here, through rhododendrons, oaks and fern we reach Shing Karap, a stone house. Little further up is a juncture; to the left which leads to Phari Dzong in Tibet. This route was once used by Tibetan for both trade and invasion and as of today it is used by Royal Bhutan army to ferry their rations to the border. Avoid following this route and keep right. Few meters away from the juncture is a wooden bridge over a small stream.
Across the stream, over a small ridge, we descend down to cross Pa Chhu once again. From here it’s occasionally ascend and descend through a forest of birch, fir, larch, Maples and blue pine. Following this route for about 3 hours, we reach once again to a bridge. After crossing river to the right side, follow this trail and continue upward for 20 minutes, through a beautiful meadow with Mt. Jhomolhari at sight is Thangthangka (3610 m), our campsite for the night.
19 km/ 6 hours/ 480 m ascent
Today there will be a significant gain in terms of elevation. In the morning we wake up with a beautiful view of Mt. Jhomolhari. After hiking up for just under an hour from the campsite, we reach an army camp (3739 m). Little further from army camp is a bridge. Across the bridge as we follow the hillside for a while, the trail then takes sharp right turn around the small mani wall. A short distance from here is a small stupa and then into the meadows.
The trail then continues through the hill side covered with larches beneath Soe village. An hour hike from here is Takethang village (3940 m), cluster of houses built with stones on a plateau. We continue through the plateau crossing small stream, opposite the Dangochang village. From the plateau end, it’s an uphill walk for a while till we reach our campsite at Jangothang. From here you can enjoy a spectacular view of Mt. Jhomolhari.
Your pack animals which started their journey from Sharna zampa will return back from here. From here horses or yaks from nearby villages will follow you till the end of your trekking journey.
We will spend one extra day here at Jangothang which is also referred to as Jhomolhari base camp, the highlight of our trek. From number of options to explore around, we will take a 4 hour roundtrip excursion up the northern side to have a view of Mt. Jhomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakye. It’s an open walk across the slope till we reach the hilltop at 4750 m. If luck favors we might spot some Himalayan blue ships grazing on the slopes.
Back at campsite you can enjoy playing a traditional game called Degor with your crew members. This is a very simple game. You just need to pick up a pair of flat spherical stone and hurled it over and back to a pegs fixed in the ground at an approximate distance of 15 – 20 m. Stone with nearer the peg gets the point. Usually a strong guy with strong arm powers stay at the end with heavy pair of stone to push the stones of opponent which are near or over the pegs or to crush it into pieces.
18 km/ 7 hours/ 840 m ascent/ 870 m descent
Done with acclimatization and resting, we move further up towards our next stop. We begin our day by crossing three stone houses which are used by park rangers. We continue across a log bridge alongside the left bank of Pa Chhu River. Heading eastward from here, we will have a clear view of Mt. Jichu Drake and Jhomolhari. The trail then continues below the big rocks into the glacial valley. Pass the valley, climb to a small submit, dips and then a final push, we reach Nyile La pass (4870 m) after about 4 hours trek from Jangothang.
From here, the trail then descends down to the valley floor near to a stream. We continue our journey to the north following the near flat track for while until we see army camp near Jaje chhu River and a view of Lingzhi Dzong in the distance. The trail then descends down through the Birches, rhododendrons and pasture land towards our campsite at Chha Shi Thang. Lingzhi is located on the opposite side of Jaje Chuu River.
10 km/ 6 hours/ 280 m ascent/ 410 m descent
Descend down from the campsite to the stream. Across the stream, trail climbs towards Lingzhi Dzong (4200 m). From the dzong, again the trail descends down leading towards Lingzhi village.
From here on it’s a gentle climb for about an hour till a ridge, before dropping down to Goyul, a cluster of stone houses nearby a stream. From here, it is again an hour uphill journey till a small stupa and the trail then descends down towards Chebisa a beautiful meadow, our campsite for the night.
17 km/ 7 hours/ 980 m ascent/ 540 m descent
Start the day by hiking uphill across the ridge and through the slopes till Gogu la pass (4440 m) for around four hours. From the pass, the trail then descends down through rhododendrons to the valley and then to the stream. Climb up to the ridge, cross pass Jolethang chuu valley and then down to Shakshepa sa (3980 m).
Trail now climbs up steeply through the valley before leveling out at 4200 m and trekking further up through few yak herders’ hut is our campsite for the night at Shamuthang beside a stream.
18 km/ 7 hours/ 700 m ascent/ 760 m descent
We begin our journey amidst the Edelweiss on the right side of the river climbing uphill through the valley, cross the river to the left and back again to the right. After 2 hours into the journey, crossing the valley we reach Jhari la pass (4750 m).
Trail from the pass then descends down to a stream, through the forest of rhododendrons and follows the stream to the valley. From here we further descend down to a grazing area called Tsarijathang by the side of Jolethang Chhu River, where Takins usually graze.
From here it is an uphill trekking once more to the hill top before descending down into the valley and pass the tiny lake is our campsite for the night on a rocky meadow at Robluthang (4160 m).
19 km/ 7 hours/ 850 m ascent/ 870 m descent
We begin the day by climbing uphill to a shelf (4390 m) and descending down to a large glacial valley. From here follow the stream and cross the river to the right, climb to a moraine and pass marmot holes, before making a steep climb towards our highest point of the journey to Sinche la pass (5005 m). From the pass, we then descends down through a rocky trail into another glacial valley and then to Kango Chhu River.
Cross the river to the left and continue north through the pastureland passing some uninhabited stone houses before descending down to the valley floor and once again crossing Kango Chhu River. After a short climb through the rhododendrons, the trail then levels out at a plateau. A short distance from here, through the forest of cedar, on a small meadow is Limithang (4140 m), the campsite for the night.
10 km/ 5 hours/ 60 m ascent/ 340 m descent
Wake up to a great view of Mt. Gangchenta at a distance. After a short walk from the campsite, the trail leads us across the river into the forest of cedars. From here, after crossing numbers of small streams, we pass herders huts into the forest of firs. Cross a large stream before descending down through the valley to a river.
We cross the river to the right, continue for a while and again cross back to the left. From here, the trail then climbs up steeply and we continue with a long walk through a uninhabited valley before descending down to a waterfall. A short ascend and descend from here is a trail junction. We will follow the upper trail across the ridge and finally into Laya village. There are few shops, a school and Basic Health unit here at Laya village. Our tonight’s camp is in the field just below the school at an altitude of 3840 m.
We will spend one extra day here at Laya. Laya is one of the highest and remotest villages in Bhutan. We will go around and enjoy the unique culture of the local people here. They have their own customs and distinct dress and people here mostly depends on yaks for their daily livelihoods. In the evening we will enjoy watching some local cultural show by the village ladies. Locals may even come around you selling some of their local products such as bamboo hats.
19 km/ 8 hours/ 1030 m ascent/ 70 m descent
Descend down to Lunana trail before ascending towards the hilltop with a good view of Mo Chhu River and Rhodo Chhu River. Pass the army camp and continue up the Rhodo Chuu valley through the forest of conifers, rhododendrons and finally above the tree line.
Continuing uphill and on a clear day we will be able to have great view of Tsendagang group of mountains and a massive glacier.
Our campsite for the nights is across the Rhodo Chhu at Rodophu at an altitude of 4160 m.
17 km/ 6 hours/ 720 m ascent
Cross the river over the wooden bridge and follow the river through the forest of rhododendrons before climbing up towards Tsomo la pass (4900 m) from where we will have a spectacular view of Mt. Jhomolhari and the Tibetan border. Continue further up, passing through a barren plateau following the yak trails. The trail then descends down towards our campsite at Narethang (4900 m), below Gangla karchung peak.
18 km/ 7 hours/ 270 m ascent/ 1200 m descent
We begin our day by ascending uphill towards Gangla Karchung pass at 5120 m. From here we will have a great view of Mt. Kang Bum to the west, Tshendagang, Terigang and Jejekhangphu to the north.
The trail then descends down from here through a large moraine to a cliff edge with a beautiful view of two Himalayan lakes below. It is a steep drop from here on till the valley floor.
After turning right at the valley floor, we follow Tang Chhu River downstream before crossing it to our campsite at Tarina.
17 km/ 7 hours/ 275 m ascent/ 330 m descent
In the morning we follow Tang Chhu River on its left bank through the forest of conifers, passing across some beautiful waterfalls. The trail then ascends gently through the valley before climbing steeply towards the Woche valley, our campsite for the night. Woche is the first settlement in the Lunana region with only few houses located at an altitude of 3940 m.
17 km/ 6 hours/ 980 m ascent/ 950 m descent
We begin our day by climbing uphill through the valley, crossing a small stream and through the moraine before descending down and crossing Woche Chhu River. From here, it’s an uphill trek towards iKeche la (4650 m). The trail then descends down towards a village called Thaga. From here we further descend down towards Pho Chhu River and following the river for while, we reach Lhedi (3700 m), our campsite for the night.
17 km/ 5 hours/ 400 m ascent
We continue our journey along Pho Chhu River mostly walking on river bed through the village of Lhedi before climbing to Chozo village and to the Dzong.
The trail then passes through the pastureland following the river bed before climbing to a hill overlooking the villages of Thanza our campsite for next two days. At the backdrop of our campsite is a beautiful table mountain named Zongphu Gang (7100 m).
Yaks from Laya will end their journey here and return back. It takes one more day to round new pack animals and we will take a day to rest and explore around. There are few glacial lakes around and the closest is Raphstreng Tsho and Thorthormi Tsho. If time permits we will also pay visit to Thanza village.
19 km/ 8-9 hours/ 80 m ascent
We begin our day by ascending up the hill. From here on it is fairly an easy walking for couple of hours as we enter Danji, a beautiful meadow with numbers of yak herder’s hut. Some trekkers use to camp here but we will push on to next stop over as we have rested well.
From Danji campsite, there is a trail junction which leads to Gangkar puensum base camp and finish at Dur under Bumthang district with one extra day to trek and two if you choose to rest at the base of Gangkar puensum. But today we will follow the trail to the right and climb towards Jaze La (5150 m). From the pass it is downhill trek till our campsite at the Shore of Tshochena Lake (4970 m).
14 km/ 5 hours/ 230 m ascent/ 140 m descent
We begin our day alongside the Lake and slowly climbing towards a ridge with a 360 degree view of snow peaks. Trail then occasionally ascends and descends passing across a Himalayan glacial lake before arriving at Loju La pass (5140 m). Descend down for a while through the yak pasture land before climbing over a Ridge at 5100 m into the glacial valley and finally descending down to our campsite for the night at Jichu Dramo (5050 m).
18 km/ 6 hours/ 320 m ascent/ 730 m descent
In the morning we will climb towards Rinchen Zoe la pass located at an altitude of 5320 m, our highest during the trek. From the pass we will have a view of Mt. Gangkar Puensum. From pass trail then descends down into the marshy valley passing numbers of small lakes through the moraine into yak pasture land and finally to the Thampe River. Cross the River to the right and continue through the forest of rhododendrons and junipers for about two hours till our campsite located at Chukarpo (4600 m).
18 km/ 6 hours/ 400 m ascent/ 640 m descent
Continue alongside the right bank of the river before descending down to a yak pasture at Gala Pang. From here the trail then climbs steeply through the forest of firs and junipers following a stream, passing a beautiful Himalayan lake and finally to our campsite at the bank of another beautiful Lake Thampe Tsho.
14 km/ 5 hours/ 280 m ascent/ 1020 m descent
From the campsite we ascend steeply till Thampe la pass (4600 m). From here the trail then descends down towards Lake Om Tsho. Cross the outlet from the lake and continue down towards another lake. From here it is a steep descend till we reach the Nika Chhu headwater. Follow the River till you reach a confluence before crossing to the right on a wooden bridge. Continue for a while towards a large clearing beside the herder’s hut at Maurothang (3600 m), our campsite for the night.
18 km/ 6 hours/ 730 m descent
We continue on the western side of Nika Chhu for half an hour before crossing the River to the west and continue through the forest of deciduous trees and bamboos to a grassy pasture overlooking Shephu village. From here follow the dirt road for around 7 km to Nika Chhu Bridge (2600) where our tour vehicle will be waiting.
From here we will drive towards Gangtey for the night as it will be too late to continue till Paro.
In the morning spend some time enjoying this beautiful valley before driving towards Paro. We will enjoy our lunch at Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan.
After breakfast, we will see you off at Paro international airport for your onward destination. We look forward to see you in future.
With the likes of trail that takes you right at the foot of worlds’ tallest unconquered mountain (Gangkar Puensum 7550m), trekking in Bhutan will give you a new experience never like before. With more than 70 percent of the country covered by undisturbed wilderness, trekking in Bhutan will take you ever closer to the nature. These trekking trails once used by famous Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche (who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan) in 746 AD while visiting Bhutan from Nepal and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (the unifier of modern Bhutan) in 1616 while fleeing Tibet for a political dispute, this routes are the genuine routes where Bhutanese people still use it today. What makes trekking in Bhutan unique is its calmness and natural feeling; credit to less numbers of trekkers visiting Bhutan and its natural unpaved trails unlike other countries around the world. With more than 20 trekking trials to choose from, Bhutan offers trekking services to both beginners and pros.
No specific trekking permits are required to trek in Bhutan. You can trek in Bhutan with normal tourist visa for international tourist and normal entry permit for regional tourist (Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivians).
The best season to trek in Bhutan depends on which trekking trail you choose to but in general, March, April, May, September, October and November are the best months to trek in Bhutan. In the month of June, July and August Bhutan receives heavy rainfall and in December, January and February, the high mountain passes along the trekking trails are covered with snow, making it difficult for trekkers.The details regarding the best season to trek on different trails in Bhutan are mentioned below:
Trekking in Bhutan can be of 2 days or a month long. Depending on the number of days taken to trek, gain in altitude and nature of terrains, trekking routes in Bhutan can be graded into four categories; easy, moderate, difficult and very difficult.
At 10,760 feet above sea level, Bhutan is ranked highest country in the world, in terms of average land elevations. As a result most of its trekking trails are located on higher altitude, averaging over 12,000 feet above sea level, requiring certain level of physical fitness and trekking experience.
However with varieties of trails to choose from, both beginners and pro can enjoy trekking in Bhutan. Be it 2 days or grueling 25 days trekking, Bhutan has it all for you to choose from.
For those who are attempting to go for Snowmen trek (25 days trek), it will be asset if you have certain level of trekking experience and physically fit enough, since snowmen trek is referred to as amongst the world’s most toughest trekking route involving climbs over 5000 m.
Do not ignore any kind of symptoms related to altitude sickness; difficulty in breathing, headache, giddiness and numbness in limbs. If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, inform your guide immediately.
Though portable oxygen supplies and first aid kits are always carried along with by the crew members but if possible carry some diamox (acetazolamide) pills, which can be bought from pharmacies across Bhutan.
The best tactics, if you suffer from altitude sickness is to stop ascending and if the symptoms do not go away or get worse, then descend down. It is advisable that you drink large amount of water every day while you are trekking.
Meals while trekking in Bhutan are prepared every day by cooking crews and no left over foods are served. Lunch are prepared in the morning along with breakfast and carried as a packed lunch. Dinners are prepared at campsite at the end of every trekking day. Hence chances of getting food contaminated while trekking in Bhutan are very slim.
Bottled water is carried by trekking crew members but however it is not sufficient for longer duration treks and hence the crew member boils water in the morning for you to carry for the day.
It is advisable that you bring your own water bottle and if possible carry some water purifier solutions as well. Refrain yourself from drinking directly from the streams nearby.
No trekking trails in Bhutan will meet you with any kind of criminal activities. In fact if you are in need, everyone you encounter will be very much happy to help you whatever way they can.
Consult with your guide in regards to dos and don’ts and stick together with your group (if trekking on group). Carry essential items such as head torch, portable cell phone chargers and your mobile phone along with you.
With no hotels or home stays along the trekking trails, all the trekkers must spend their nights in the tent (camping). Camping crew member arranges your tents. They travel ahead of you and put everything on place before you reach your campsite.
All the meals are prepared by trekking cooks who will trek alongside you throughout the entire tour. Lunch are prepared in the morning and carried by trekking staffs. Breakfast and dinners are prepared and served at the campsite.
Since there are no grocery stores or shops along the trekking trails, all the food items are bought and carried along by the crew members, their horses and yaks. As and when available, our crew members will try to buy fresh vegetables from local communities and include in your menu.
Since trekking in Bhutan is a guided tour by the law of country, lone trekkers should not worry because he or she will be followed by trekking guide and crew members for the entire trekking tour.
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