Snowman trek in Bhutan
25-day adventure

The Snowman Trek

Bhutan
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Code: BHST

25 days
5/5

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Our local team

Our office in Bhutan was established in Paro in 2016 and our operations are expertly managed by mountain guide Tandin Tshering. Offering a range of trekking options from the gentle Druk Path to the extreme Snowman Trek, our experienced team of guides and cooks provide an outstanding level of service.
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Kandoo's view

Often referred to as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, this tiny Himalayan Kingdom, nestled between India and the People’s Republic of China in the Eastern Himalayas, is one of the most isolated nations on earth. Each part of Bhutan has its own historical, geographical, cultural and religious significance, and any visit to this beautiful and largely unspoiled setting will combine spectacular mountain terrain, ancient monasteries, rich flora and fauna, and a vibrant Buddhist culture.

The Snowman trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be the most difficult trek in Bhutan. The combined attributes of distance, high altitudes, weather conditions and remoteness make this a very tough trek and it should only be considered if you have experience and a good level of fitness. The Snowman trek is subject to closure because of snow and is almost impossible during winter.

In addition to the trek, we will include tours of Thimphu, Punakha, Bumthang and Paro.

Trip highlights

  • Visit the breath-taking Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Trek through the remote Lunana region
  • Be immersed in the culture of this ancient Himalayan kingdom

Experiences

  • Trekking & Hiking
    Hikers in Thorong, during the Annapurnas Tour
    Our core collection of treks and hikes, through some of the world's most outstanding landscapes

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Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrival

    The flight to Paro on a clear day is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsering Ghang. The Kandoo team will meet you at the airport and transfer you to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The journey takes around 2 hours and leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzom. If time permits we will visit the King's Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”). Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the late King and as a monument to peace.

    Later you will attend a pre-trek briefing with your Lead Guide to prepare you for the challenge ahead. We will spend the night at a hotel in Thimphu.

    • Accomodation: Hotel
    • Meals included: Lunch / Dinner
  • Day 2

    TOUR OF THIMPHU – DRIVE TO PUNAKHA

    Today we will take a tour of Bhutan’s capital city. We begin with a visit to the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books on Himalayan culture and religion. Next we will visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly known as the Arts & Crafts School. The Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan and during the visit, we can see students learning the various skills taught at the school. We then take a drive towards city centre to visit the Textile museum and Folk Heritage Museum. These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. (Please note both the National Library and the Institute for Zorig Chusum are closed at weekends and government holidays, and the Textile Museum is closed on Sundays and government holidays).

    We finish our tour with a sightseeing visit to Trashichhoe Dzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”. This impressive monastery and fortress has housed the seat of Bhutan's government since 1968, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and central monk body.

    Later in the afternoon we will drive to Punakha via the Dochu La Pass (3,088m), through magnificent forests of rhododendron and magnolia. From the pass, there is a far-reaching view of the eastern Himalayan peaks and the Lunana trekking route.

    • Ascent: 738 m
    • Descent: 1488 m
    • Max. altitude: 3088 m
    • Accomodation: Hotel
    • Meals included: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
  • Day 3

    TOUR OF PUNAKHA – DRIVE TO GASA

    This morning we will take a guided tour of Punakha Dzong, the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Built strategically at the junction of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it serves as the religious and administrative centre of the region. After lunch, we will drive up the valley, following the Mo Chhu river to the village of Gasa Tshachu, famous for the curative powers of its hot springs. We will camp overnight here.

    • Ascent: 970 m
    • Max. altitude: 2570 m
    • Accomodation: Camping
    • Meals included: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
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Trip information

Difficulty

Apart from climbing Aconcagua, this is the toughest trip Kandoo operates. It regularly wins the title of the toughest trek in the world. To give you an idea of how tough it is, there are more Everest summiteers each year than trekkers who complete the Snowman trail. Three things combine to make this an awesome challenge. It is a long trip: 18 days of walking every day is very hard on the body. Staying well by eating properly and staying fully hydrated is critical. Second, although you will be walking not climbing, the paths are very difficult. Finally to add to the difficulty, it crosses eleven passes over 4500m and you are above 4000m for nearly the whole of the trek.


You need to be in excellent physical condition to take on this trek and undergo a rigorous training regime for 3 to 5 months before departure. 

Food & drink

On our Bhutan treks meals are provided during your stay at the pre and post trek hotels, and dishes will be prepared for you on your trek. All meals are provided on a fixed menu basis, with enough options for vegetarians. Bhutanese cuisine generally consists of steamed rice (red and white) with a varied choice of spicy curries, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Most hotels provide meals buffet‐style. There are usually continental, Indian, Chinese and Bhutanese dishes. The food in hotels is often the best in town, but restaurants in the main towns are increasingly becoming popular. All tourist hotels have a good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages. We provide healthy and nutritious cooked meals on your trek for every meal which always include fresh vegetables and meat. Everyday a lunch boy will catch you up on the trail in time to serve you a hot picnic lunch. We cater for a variety of special dietary requirements, whether you're vegetarian or gluten-free just let us know when you book.

 

In addition to the drinking water we provide on the trek, we will also provide drinking water during your cultural tours. To reduce the use of plastic bottles, we would ask that you bring a re-usable drinks bottle that we can fill for you. If you are planning on using a hydration bag for the trek, this may not be comfortable to use around town, so we recommend you bring a smaller drinks bottle as well.

Accommodation

Hotels in Bhutan are not categorized into stars as in most of the other countries, however, all hotels have to be approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Our standard hotels are all clean and comfortable and are chosen because of their great locations, often in quieter parts of town, to help you get a good nights' sleep.

 

Kandoo use good quality, spacious tents to ensure you stay warm, dry and comfortable on your Bhutanese trek. They are designed to sleep three people, but we only ever sleep 2 to a tent, to ensure you have plenty of space for you and your gear. Keep in mind, these are proper mountain tents, designed to cope with extreme conditions so don’t expect to be able to stand up and walk around inside! Your meals will be taken in a separate mess tent where you will be able to sit comfortably, while you relax and chat to your team mates and enjoy some of the delicious food that our cook has freshly prepared for you. Inside, you’ll be pleased to find a table (of course) and a proper, comfortable chair with arms. With a full 2 metres of headroom, even the tallest climbers will be able to stretch a bit, and move about without hunching over. 

Transport

We insist on using a high standard of vehicle and driver for all of our transfers. In Bhutan it is not a legal requirement to have seatbelts fitted in the back of vehicles, and while we try to use vehicles that do have rear seatbelts fitted, this cannot always be guaranteed. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the vehicle or the standard of driving, please speak to the driver or our local office immediately.

Luggage

We operate a strict limit of 15kg for your main equipment bag. This is more than sufficient for your needs on the trek. Your bag will be weighed before you leave the hotel to start the trek and if it is overweight you will have to take items out and leave them at the hotel. On the trek all items must be packed in your main equipment bag. They should not be attached to the outside, as we are not responsible if items fall off when the bags are being carried by the pack animals.

How do I get there?

Currently there are only two airline operators that fly to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. The main airport is in Paro (2,225m) and currently receives flights from Bangkok, Dhaka, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Doha, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This means that you need to get to one of these hubs to catch a connecting flight to Paro.

The flight into Paro is pretty exciting as the position of the airport requires the plane to get much closer to the mountain tops than most other flights in the world. If you are lucky enough to fly from Kathmandu to Paro and the weather is clear you will fly over 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world - Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga.

Budget & change

The Bhutanese Ngultrum (Nu) is the local currency of Bhutan and equal in value to the Indian Rupee. It is a closed currency so you will not be able to buy this before you arrive. All major currencies, such as US Dollars, Sterling Pounds and Euros, and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at Paro Airport, banks and hotels. Hotels in the towns will accept foreign currency but we recommend that you take local currency on the actual trek with you for incidentals and souvenirs.

 

Bhutan is a cash economy and credit cards are not commonly accepted. Mastercard may be accepted in larger shops and hotels, but Amex is rarely accepted. If you are relying on a credit or debit card for emergency funds while you travel, make sure you tell your card issuer that you will be using it abroad, or you may find that it won't work when you really need it.

Tips

Tipping is not approved by the Bhutanese tourist board. However, it has become customary practice to tip the guides, cooks and porters who have assisted you throughout your trek. The decision on how much to tip should be determined by how well the team served you while you were on the trek. Tips are always discretionary and if you are not happy with the service you have received you do not have to pay tips.

Equipment & clothing

Clothing to bring

HEADGEAR
  • Warm beanie style hat – knitted or fleece
  • Neck gaiter or scarf. It can get dusty in Bhutan and the air very cold. A scarf or balaclava comes in useful for keeping dust out and can double as a warm layer for your neck / face!
  • Sun hat – preferably wide-brimmed for protection
  • Sunglasses – high UV protection
  • Headlamp (plus extra batteries)

 

UPPER BODY

  • Thermal or fleece base layer (x1)
  • Long sleeve shirt/tshirt – light or medium weight, moisture wicking (x1)
  • Short sleeved shirt/tshirt – lightweight, moisture wicking (x2)
  • Fleece or soft shell jacket (x1)
  • Insulated jacket – down or primaloft
  • Lightweight water/windproof hard shell outer jacket
  • Gloves – lightweight, fleece or quick drying fabric
  • Gloves or mittens – heavyweight, insulated, preferably water resistant

 

LEGS

  • Leggings – thermal or fleece base layer (x1)
  • Trekking trousers – light or medium weight (x2) – convertible trousers work well
  • Waterproof hard shell trousers – ski pants work fine (x1)

 

FEET

  • Trekking boots – mid weight with good ankle support
  • Training shoe or similar – to wear around camp
  • Mid-weight trekking socks (x3 pairs)
  • Breathable, high-wicking liner socks (x2 pairs)
  • Thermal trekking socks for upper reaches of your trek (x1 pair)

Equipment to bring

  • Small Rucksack or Daypack (30-40 litres) to carry water and personal items
  • Waterproof duffle bag (approx 80-100 litres) – max weight when full should be 15kg. This weight restriction includes your sleeping bag. Your duffle will be carried by a porter
  • Sleeping bag (4 season or -10 Deg C) and compression sack
  • Insulated sleeping mat
  • Trekking poles
  • Water bottle or hydration bag – must be able to carry 1.5-2L of water

 

OTHER ACCESSORIES

  • Sunscreen high SPF
  • Toiletries, including wet wipes and hand sanitiser – please carry all rubbish back off the trail
  • Camera and spare batteries
  • Plug adapter, for charging devices in hotels
  • Personal medication and first aid kit
  • Personal snacks and energy bars – dried fruit and nuts are also a good source of energy
  • Isotonic drink powder / energy drink powder to mix in with your water. This improves flavour and helps replace electrolytes
  • Microfibre towel for wiping hands and face each day
  • Ear plugs, if you are a light sleeper
  • Pee bottle, useful for late night toilet needs
  • Dry bag (only required if your main duffle bag is not waterproof)

Price

Ideal travel time:
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • September
  • October
Prices start from £6499 / $8445 per person

Want to add flights or create a private trip? Don't hesitate to contact us!

Contact us

Price includes

  • Your hotel stay for the 2 nights before and 4 nights after the trek on a full board basis
  • All airport transfers
  • Entry visa to Bhutan
  • Government royalty fee
  • A fully supported trek with a qualified mountain guide
  • All food and drinking water on the trek
  • Internal flight from Bumthang to Paro
  • Monument and monastery entrance fees

Price does not include

  • International airfares and transit visas
  • Tips for your guides and porters
  • Personal items
  • Travel insurance (you must be insured, and specifically for treks up to 6000m)
  • Your personal trekking gear
  • Your personal medicines or prescriptions
  • Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)