Bhutan often referred to as ‘land of the thunder dragon’ or ‘the last Shangri La’ on earth, is situated in the lap of Eastern Himalayas between India and the People's Republic of China. Covering an area of 18000 sq miles, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom is one of the most isolated nations in the world. Spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna, ancient Bhutan Buddhist monasteries, and magnificent landscape of Bhutan have made it an exemplar tourist destination. Bhutan is bestowed with rich bio-diversity harboring around 300 medicinal herbs and 165 endangered species. Each part of Bhutan has its own historical, geographical, cultural, traditional and religious significance. With its beautiful and largely unspoiled Himalayan setting, its rich flora and fauna and its vibrant Buddhist culture, Bhutan really is an idyllic place to visit.
This trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be the most difficult trek in Bhutan. The attributes making it a tough trek are; distance, high altitudes, weather conditions and remoteness and 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. The recommended season for this trek is March-May and September to November.
We offer the Snowman trek as a private only tour. No open groups.
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.
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 in 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 forest of rhododendron and magnolia. From the pass, there is a far-reaching view of the eastern Himalayan peaks and the Lunana trekking route.
This morning we will take a guided tour of the Punakha Dzong, the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Built strategically at the confluence of 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 Chu river to the village of Gasa Tshachu, famous for the curative powers of its hot springs. We will camp overnight here.
This morning we start our trek climbing up through thick sub-tropical forest to the village of Chamsa.
The trail descends to the bank of the Mo Chhu river. After crossing the river, we have lunch by the bridge. From here it is a gradual climb up to Laya, passing by an army camp en route, to our overnight campsite. The Laya people are very friendly and will happily pose for photographs with you in their native dress.
From Laya, we descend, passing by the army camp once again and continuing to follow the river. After lunch, we continue climbing upwards through rhododendrons until we reach a hanging valley where there are often yaks grazing. We will camp here by the river.
Today we will take a hike up to higher altitude to help our acclimatisation for our big push tomorrow as we climb up to higher altitude.
Today we climb up to Tsimola La Pass (4,700m). After crossing the pass and summit we will have superb views of Lunana and the peaks of Mt. Chomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. We continue to ascend up to 4900 metres to Narethang where we will camp for the night. Tomorrow morning we will start our climb up to Ganglakarchung La Pass, at 5100 metres this will be the highest point of our trek so far.
We will walk over fairly level ground before starting the climb up to Ganglakarchung La Pass (5100m). The view from the trail is breath-taking, a panorama of mountain peaks rising over 7000 metres, including Masagang and Tsendegang. This is arguably one of Bhutan's most stunning mountain viewpoints so make sure you have your camera at the ready. After crossing the pass we start our long descent down to the Tarina valley and much welcome lower altitudes.
The path descends through coniferous forests, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chhu river. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche at 3,800m, the first village of Lunana.
Today’s trek begins with a walk through juniper and fir forests and further ahead through rhododendron bushes. We climb up to the 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 river, as far as Lhedi village, where we camp overnight.
The route continues to follow the river, rising gradually to Choejong village (the largest village in Lunana) where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we visit the village temple before continuing on our trek until we meet the river again, which we cross by a suspension bridge. Soon we reach our campsite at Thanza, the second largest village in Lunana.
A welcome day of leisure, for relaxing, reading, catching up with the washing, or just strolling around. If you are feeling really energetic, you can climb up to the ridge for yet another splendid view of the mountains.
Today our 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 continue to follow the stream up the valley, enjoying the view of snow-capped mountains, and have lunch near a crossing point. We then climb up out of the valley, crossing some small ridges to reach our campsite at Tshorim.
Today’s trek is one of the highlights of the trip. The day starts with a short climb up to the Tshorim Lake. We walk around the side of the lake, enjoying the panoramic view of the Guphola ranges before climbing up to the final stretch, the Gupho La Pass (5,230m) which 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. Depending on how you are feeling, we can detour left and climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view, or we can go directly to Base Camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chhu river, where we will set up the camp.
The trek continues to follow the Sha Chhu river, descending gradually to Geshe Woma where we camp for the night.
The path continues along the course of the Sha Chhu river for two and half hours until we begin the stiff climb to Saka La. We stop for lunch near a yak herder’s camp, then climb up to Saka La Pass (4,800m). We can take in the stunning views on the descent to the lakes before another short ascent takes us across the Warathang La Pass (4,590m). The scenery once again is stunning. We finally descend once more to our campsite at Warathang.
A short half-hour climb takes us up to Uli La Pass (4,400m). After crossing the pass we descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb reach the hot springs at Dur Tshachu, where legend has it that Guru Padsambhava bathed in the 8th century.
From the spring, it is a long and steady climb blessed with great views of the mountains of Lunana. First we cross the Gokthong La Pass (4,650m) before descending to several beautiful deep blue lakes at 4220m, with yaks grazing on the surrounding pastures, and yak herders’ camp. We then ascend the second pass, Jule La Pass (4,700m), before our final descent to our camp at Tshochenchen.
We trek downhill from Tshochenchen, following the Yoleng Chhu river through thick forests of cypress, spruce, juniper, maple and hemlock. A short climb brings us to our campsite at Gorsum.
This is the last day of the trek where we change from yaks to pack ponies. We have to set off early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu river, descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach the village of Dur. From here, transport will pick us up and drive us to our lodge in Bumthang.
The Bumthang valley is the cultural heartland of the nation. The hills around the valley are filled with monasteries dedicated to Guru Padsambhava. The valley is also the ancestral home of the great Buddhist teacher, Pema Linga, from whose descendants the present monarchy traces its origin. We spend time exploring the valley, visiting Jakar Dzong, Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang, before returning to our lodge for the night.
Today we fly from Bumthang to Paro. We will have free time today to rest and relax at our hotel.
In the morning we will take an excursion to Taktshang Lhakhang, commonly known as 'The Tiger’s Nest Monastery'. Undoubtedly one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, the Taktshang monastery is one of the most breath-taking temples in the world. This Buddhist place of worship is perched on a cliff-top at around 3,110m (10,000ft) above sea level. The main temple complex was built in 1692, and is considered to be one of the holiest for the Bhutanese people. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery, thus the name ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The site has been recognized as a sacred place and was visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who was a Tibetan Buddhist Lama and the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state and is now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour. We start our steep climb up to the Tiger's Nest Monastery from the car park at 2600 metres; from here the monastery looks like a small white dot on the cliff. As we ascend through rhododendron forests we will catch glimpses of the monastery. At the half way point we take a short rest break and are rewarded with awesome views of the Tiger's Nest coming closer into view. Another shorter steep climb and we reach the second viewpoint where the famous photographs of Taktshang Lkhang were taken. We then descend down the stone steps to cross the narrow gorge before climbing up the other side to enter into the heart of the Tiger's Nest.
After lunch we will visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. We will then drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. In the early 1950s, Drukgyel Dzong was almost completely destroyed by fire. It is now listed in Bhutan's Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. In 2016, to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness, The Gyalsey, as well as to commemorate two other significant events, namely the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, the Prime Minister, Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay, announced that the Dzong will be rebuilt and reinstated to its former glory. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari (7326m), ‘the bride of Kangchenjunga', can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.
After our tours we will return to our hotel in Paro.
We will collect you from your hotel and drive you to Paro airport for your departing flight to Kathmandu or Delhi.