Snowman Trek (27 days)
This trek is only for the experienced trekkers. It lasts 24 days and 23 nights covering 356 kilometers. The trekkers have to be well prepared to meet challenging unexpected weather change en route. The route, which combines the Jomolhari and Laya treks, passes through the Lunana region and ends at Nikkarchu. The trek passes through breathtaking landscapes, crosses over 8 high passes and reaches an altitude of more than 18,500ft.
Best months: mid-June to mid-October
Day 01: On arrival at Paro Airport, you will be met by your Mysterious Bhutan representative and transferred to Thimphu. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu
In Thimphu, we visit the following as time permits: National Memorial Chorten, Tashichodzong, National Library, Institute for Zorig Chusum (Bhutanese arts and crafts school), National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), Handicrafts Emporium, Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu –Punakha/Tashithang
Today we drive to Punakha Via Dochu-la pass (3,088m), through magnificent forests of rhododendron and magnolia. From the pass there is a far – reaching view of the eastern Himalaya peaks and the Lunana trekking route. We have our picnic lunch by the river side at Punakha. From here there is a splendid view of Punakha Dzong, built in 1637. It now houses the offices of the district administration, and is the winter residence of the central monk body. After lunch we drive up the valley, following the Mo Chu (river) to Tashithang, where we camp at the road head (1,600m).
Day 04: Tashithang – Damji
8km, 5-6 hours
The trek starts by the riverside, following a well marked path through subtropical forest. There are many wild orchids growing in this rather damp area, but be on the lookout for leeches also! Today’s walk is fairly gentle climb up to Damji village (2,400m), where we camp for the night.
Day 05: Damji –Gasa
15km, 6-7 hours
The path continues on through subtropical forested areas and village up to Gasa Tsachu (hot spring). The Tshachu is famous for its curative powers, and people come from all over the country to bath here. There are four pools, with temperatures ranging from warm to hot. After a hot lunch near the spring, we have a shift climb of about two hours up to Gasa Dzong (2,900m) where we camp overnight.
Day 06: Gasa – Chamsa
13km, 6-7 hours
After breakfast, we visit the Dzong, which was built in the 17th century to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. Today’s trek begins with a steep climb up to Bele –la pass (3,700m) through bamboo, rhododendron, juniper and fir forests. We then descend for about half an hour to our forest camp at Chamsa (3,650m).
Day 07: Chamsa – Laya
22km, 8-9 hours
The trail descends to the bank of the Mo Chu. After crossing the river we have lunch by the bridge. From here it is a gradual climb up to Laya (3,800m), passing by an army camp en route. We camp at Laya.
Day 08: Rest day at Laya
One can go around the villages, visiting houses and the people. Laya people are very friendly and will happily pose for photographs. Women of Laya wear a special dress and typical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. There will be an evening cultural program by camp fire, with dances performed by local girls.
Day 09: Laya –Rhodophu
19km, 8-9 hours
From Laya we descend to the army camp n continue following the trail along the river till the turn off point for Rhodophu. After lunch we continue climbing upwards through rhododendrons till we reach a hanging valley where there are yaks grazing (4,350m). We camp here by the river.
Day 10: Rhodophu –Tarinas
25km, 10-11 hours
Today’s trek is the longest of the trip and it is important to start early, around 5 am. We first climb up to Tsimo-la pass (4,700m). After crossing this first pass and the little summit, we can enjoy a superb view of Lunana, and the peaks of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. We walk over fairly level ground for the next four hours, before starting the climb up to Ganglakarchung (5,080m). The view from the pass is breathtaking, en-compassing the whole mountain range, including the peaks of Masagang, Tsendegang and Terigang. After crossing the pass, it is a very long descends to the Tarina valley, where we camp at 3,980m.
Day 11: Tarina –Woche
17km, 6-7 hours
The path descends through coniferous forest, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chu. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche at 3,800m, the first village since Gasa. Camp at altitute 3,800m.
Day 12: Woche –Lhedi
17km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trek begins with a walk through juniper and fir forests and further ahead through rhododendron bushes. We climb up to Keche-la pass (4,480m) and pause to enjoy the wonderful mountain views. After the pass, we descend to a river, with stunning views of Table Mountain and other peaks en route. We walk upstream along this river, which is one of the main tributaries of the Pho Chu, as far as Lhedi village (3,650), where we camp overnight.
Day 13: Lhedi –Thanza
17km, 7-8 hours
The route continues to follow the river, rising gradually to Choejong village (the biggest village in Lunana) where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we visit the village temple, and then walk for some time through a sandy area till meeting the river, which we cross by a suspension bridge. Soon we reach our campsite at Thanza (4,000m), the second biggest village in Lunana.
Day 14: Rest day 8at Thanza
A welcome day of leisure for reaching, catching up with the washing, or just strolling around. If you are felling really energetic, you can climb up to the ridge for yet another splendid view of the mountains.
Day 15: Thanza – Tshorim
19km, 8-9 h0urs
Today’s trek starts with a climb up to the ridge, from where there is a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. We cross the ridge, and enter a small valley with a stream running through it. We follow the stream up the valley, enjoying the view of snow-capped mountains, and have lunch near the bridge. We then climb up out of the valley, crossing some small ridges, to reach our campsite at Tshorim (5,125m).
Day 16: Tshorim –Gangkar Puensum Base Camp
16km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trek is one of the highlights of the trip. The day starts with a short climb up to tshorim Lake. We walk around the side of the lake,enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophula ranges. The final stretch up to Gophu-la pass (5,230m) is very short. After crossing the pass, we descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge and enjoying a great view of Gangkar Puensum. According to choice, you can detour left and climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view, or you can go directly down to the base camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chu, where we will set up camp.
Day 17: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp
Rest day at the base camp, enjoying the great view.
Day 18: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp – Geshe Woma
14km, 6-7 hours
The trek is not yet over! The trail follows along the Sha Chu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma (4,200m) where we camp.
Day 19: Gashe Woma – Warathang
18km, 8-9 hours
The path continues along the course of the Sha Chu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka-la pass begins. Visibility is poor along this part of the trail, so we must keep watching the top of the ridge in order to stay on course. We stop for lunch near a yak herder’s camp, and then climb up to Saka-la pass (4,800m). There are stunning views on the descent to the lakes and another short ascent, during which we see small lakes spread below towering mountain peaks. We camp at 4,000m.
Day 20: Warathang –Dhur Tshachu
14km, 5 hours
A short half-hour climb takes us to Juli-la pass; we descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb reach Dhur Tshachu hot spring, where legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava bathed in the 8th century.
Day 21: Dhur Tshachu –Tshochenchen
16km, 8-9 hours
From the spring, it is a long and steady climb upwards, with great views of the mountains in Lunana. Eventually the ground levels out, and we see several beautiful deep blue lakes, yaks grazing on the surrounding pastures, and yak herders’ camps (3,850m).
Day 22: Tshochenchen – Dhur (motor road) – Bumthang (Jakar)
21km, 13 hours
This is the last day of the trek, where we change from yak to pack ponies. We must set off very early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chu,descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach Dhur village, where Mysterious Bhutan transport will meet us and drive us to the lodge in Bumthang (Jakar).
Note: Unless very fit, it is best to spread this final stage over two days: Tshochenchen-Gorsum (7 hours); Gorsum-Dhur-Bumthang (Jakar)
Day 23: Bumthang
The Bumthang valley is the cultural heartland of the nation. The hills around the valley are dotted with monasteries dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. The valley is also the ancestral home of one of the great Buddhist teachers, Pema Lingpa, from whose descendants the present monarchy traces its origin.
Today we explore the valley, visiting Jakar Dzong, Kurjey Lhakhang, Jampey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 24: Bumthang – Trongsa
Our journey to Trongsa takes about three hours. Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648, was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings ruled the country from this ancient seat. All four monarchs were invested as Trongsa Penlop (‘governor’) prior to ascending the throne. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built; Standing above this fortress is Ta Dzong, a watchtower, which once guarded this place from internal rebellion. A visit to Ta Dzong gives further insights into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. Overnight at the lodge in Trongsa, from which there is a breathtaking early morning view of Trongsa Dzong and the blue hills and valleys beyond.
Day 25: Trongsa –Paro
After breakfast drive to Paro. Evening at leisure or visit a traditional farm house. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 26: Paro
Full day sightseeing in Paro valley, visiting Drugyal Dzong, Ta Dzong (National Museum), Rinpung Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 27: Depart Paro
After early breakfast in the hotel, drive to Paro Airport for onward journey.
Package starts from US $ 4,455 – 6,750
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