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Dagala Thousand Lakes walk in the footsteps of Bhutan's nomadic tribes

About the Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek 

Trip dossier, route maps and profile

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Detailed itinerary

Day 1Arrive Paro airport

The Kandoo team will be waiting for you at Paro airport to transfer you to your hotel. If you wish, there is the option to join a tour of the city in the afternoon. Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan's National Museum in 1968. Built as a watchtower to defend Rinpung Dzong during the inter-valley wars of the 17th century, it is now home to a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan's exquisite postage stamps. Afterwards, we will walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, 'The Fortress of the Heap of Jewels'. Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong now houses the offices of the district administration and themonastic body of Paro. The approach to the Dzong is through a covered wooden bridge typical of Bhutan called Nemi Zam, which offers a great view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong.

 Later you will attend a pre-trek briefing with your Lead Guide to prepare you for the journey ahead. 

Day 2Excursion to Tiger's Nest Monastery

Elevation: 2250m to 3110m to 2250m, Trekking time: 5 hours

In the morning we will take an excursion to Taktshang Lhakhang, commonly known as 'The Tiger’s Nest Monastery'. This is without doubt the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, and one of the most breath-taking temples in the world. This Buddhist place of worship nestles on the side of a cliff at around 3,100m (10,000ft) above sea level. The main temple complex dates back to 1692, and is considered to be one of the holiest for the Bhutanese people. According to legend, 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 was visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who was a Tibetan Buddhist Lama and the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state and has been recognized as a sacred place which is visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. In 1998, the main structure of building was damaged by fire but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.

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 to Bhutan. We will then visit the ruined fortress at Drukgyel Dzong, where Bhutanese warriors fought against Tibetan invaders centuries ago. In the 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, the Prime Minister announced that the Dzong will be rebuilt and reinstated to its former glory. From the approach road to the Dzong, you will have a clear view of the snowy dome of Chomolhari (7326m) - ‘the Bride of Kangchenjunga' - the sacred mountain that is the focus of our trek. After our tours we will return to our hotel in Paro.

Day 3Drive from Paro to Genekha, trek to Gur

Elevation: 2250m to 2800m to 3350m, Trekking Distance: 7 km, Time: 5 hours

Following a 1 hour drive, we reach the village of Genekha from where we will start our trek. The trek begins with a short descent to cross the Wang Chhu river. We then start climbing through oak forest for around two hours to reach a rocky platform which is the ideal place to rest and enjoy the views of the valley below. The trail continues uphill through birch and bamboo forest until we reach Gur, an area of yak pastures where we will camp for the night.

Day 4Gur to Labatama

Elevation: 3350m to 4300m, Distance: 12 km, Time: 5 hours

 Today we trek across meadows abundant with flowers and wild asparagus. We ascend from Gur on a good trail to the Pagalabsta Pass (4200m) which is marked by a huge cairn. From the pass there are spectacular views of Kanchenjunga and the whole Dagala mountain range. Leaving the pass we descend into the Labatama valley, an area of meadows and yak herders’ camps. We ascend gradually through the valley to reach our campsite, located next to Utsho Tsho lake at 4300m which is famous for its golden trout.

Day 5Exploration of Labatama valley

We spend a day in the Labatama valley to relax and visit any of the nearby lakes – Reli Tsho, Hen Tsho and Jama Tsho. It is possible to try some trout fishing, but a permit will need to be arranged in advance. We wil camp for a second night at Labatama.

Day 6Labatama to Panka

Elevation: 4300m to 4000m, Distance: 8 km, Time: 5-6 hours

Leaving Labatama, the trail climbs along the western side of Dala Tsho to the Labajong La Pass (4400m). As we descend from the pass, we are faced with a stunning panorama of Himalayan peaks, including Everest, Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. The trail continues to descend past yak herder camps before reaching the Doccha Chhu river. We follow the river on an undulating path until we reach Panka

Day 7Panka to Tsheregang, drive to Thimpu

Elevation: 4000m to 3080m, Distance: 8 km, Time: 4-5 hours

Today we will cross several passes, although none of them require a major climb. The path leads through a rhododendron forest where we may see Himalayan monal pheasants. We cross the Chole La pass (4100m), marked by several cairns, before dropping down to Kiwi Chowa. At the next pass, four trails converge and we head north past the ruin of a former dzong. From the last pass, Tale La (4180m) we will have a full view of the Thimphu valley, and if the weather is clear Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari and Jichu Drake should also be visible. We drop down steadily from the pass through a mixed forest of fir, juniper, rhododendron, rose, bamboo and birch to the Talakha Gompa. From here it is a short trek to the village of Chamgang where our transport will meet us here and we will drive to Thimpu.  After 5 days of trekking, your hotel in Thimpu will be a welcome sight.

Day 8Sightseeing in Thimpu, drive to Paro

We will spend today exploring Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan, including  a visit to the National Library, which holds a large collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. We will take a look at the Institute for Zorig Chusum, an Arts & Crafts School where students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan, followed by the Textile Museum, providing a fascinating insight into Bhutanese material culture and their way of life, followed by a fascinating visit to Simply Bhutan, a living Museum focussing on the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people.  (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 the spectacular Trashichhoe Dzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”.  This impressive monastery has housed the seat of Bhutan's government since 1968, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices. The Chief Abbott also spends his summer here.  Later in the afternoon we will return to Paro, where we will spend the night in a hotel.

Day 9Depart Paro airport

We will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Paro Airport for your departing flight.

Frequently asked questions

Speak with an expert Start planning your next adventure by contacting one of our team.
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Sarah Orson

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 1283 499980

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Rachael Bode

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Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 1283 499981

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Victoria Hoddy

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Phone: +44 (0)1283 205478

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