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About the Laya Gasa Trek 

Trip dossier, route maps and profile

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Detailed itinerary

day 1ARRIVE PARO AIRPORT

On arrival at Paro airport, our representative will meet you and take you to your hotel. In the afternoon, there is the option to take a tour of the city. Bhutan’s National Museum is housed in Ta Dzong, a watchtower built to defend Rinpung Dzong in the 17th century. Displayed over several floors, the collection includes religious thangkha paintings, relics and Bhutan’s beautiful postage stamps. From the museum, we will walk down to Rinpung Dzong. Built in 1646 by the first spiritual leader of Bhutan, the Dzong is now home to the monastic body of Paro, as well as the offices of the Thrimpon (judge) and Dzongda (administrative head) of Paro district. The entrance to the Dzong is across a traditional Butanese covered bridge called Nemi Zam, from where there are great views of the Dzong itself.

 

Back at the hotel your Lead Guide will hold a pre-trek briefing to make sure you are prepared for your trek.

day 2EXCURSION TO TAKTSHANG LAKHANG

his morning you will take a tour to Taktshang Lakhang, more widely known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of the most famous monasteries in the world. The Taktshang monastery nestles on a clifftop, around 3100m above sea level. The main temple, one of the holiest sites for the people of Bhutan, was built in 1692. The name ‘Tiger’s Nest’ originates from the legend that in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche, an Indian Buddhist master, came to the monastery to meditate on the back of a tigress. The monastery is now recognised as a sacred place of worship for Buddhists, and will be visited by Bhutanese people at least once in their life. The main building was badly damaged by fire in 1998, but restoration work has now been completed.

 

In the afternoon you will visit Kyichu Lhakhang. This temple marked the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan in the 7th century and is one of 108 temples built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the Himalaya. From here you will be driven to the ruined fortress of Drukgyel Dzong. The Dzong was almost destroyed by fire in the 1950s, but in 2016 the Prime Minister announced a program to rebuild the Dzong and bring it back to its former glory. From the road to the Dzong there is a great view of the 7326m high Chomolhari, ‘The Bride of Kangchenjunga’. You will return to your hotel in Paro for the night.

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

day 3DRIVE FROM PARO TO SHANA, TREK TO THANGTHANGKA

You will be driven for around 2 hours through rice terraces, apple orchards and fields of millet to reach Shana Zampa, where you will begin your trek. On a clear day, you can see the summit of Chomolhari at the head of the valley. As the valley widens, you will arrive at the army post of Gunyitsawa at 2810m, the last stop before the Tibetan border. The trail forks, with one path leading to the Tremo La (Forbidden Pass) into Tibet, while your path follows the Pa Chhu river. The trail undulates through oak, pine and spruce forests, entering the Jigme Dorje National Park which is the largest protected area in Bhutan. After crossing the river you will stop for lunch, and then continue along the left bank. The trail climbs higher, where the forests are replaced by bamboo, rhododendron and ferns. You will cross the river once more in order to reach the campsite at Thangthangkha.

Elevation: 2250m to 2870m to 3610m, Trekking Distance: 22 km, Time: 7-8 hours

day 4THANGTHANGKHA TO JANGOTHANG (CHOMOLHARI BASE CAMP)

The trail ascends again from Thangthangkha, passing a small army camp and a chorten. As you continue to follow the river, you will emerge above the treeline and the expansive mountain vistas will open up for you – Chomolhari (7326m) and Jichu Drake (6794m) can be clearly seen from here. You will stop for lunch at a yak herder’s camp, and it is then a short afternoon walk into the valley to our next camp. The campsite at Jangothang (Chomolhari Base Camp) sits at 4040m beneath the east face of Chomolhari.

Elevation: 3610m to 4040m, Distance: 19 km, Time: 5-6 hours

day 5ACCLIMATISATION AT JANGOTHANG

The base camp at Jangothang sits by an old ruined fortress, beneath Mount Chomolhari and its neighbour Jitchu Drake. Today we will take an acclimatisation hike to around 4500m for some great views of these two colossal mountains. Following the ‘walk high, sleep low’ principle, this hike will really help with your acclimatisation.

Elevation: 4040m

day 6JANGOTHANG TO LINGSHI VIA NYELE LA PASS

Today begins with a gently trek alongside the stream for half an hour, where you cross to the opposite bank and begin the ascent to the first ridge. From the ridge there are stunning views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsrim Khang. After crossing the valley floor, you climb again to the Nyele La Pass at 4850m. From the pass it is a gradual descent to our campsite at Lingshi. The trail passes through rhododendron forests but there are still some great views of the mountain peaks and Lingshi Dzong. The dzong dates back to 1668 when it was built to protect local villages from invaders from Tibet, and still remains in use as an administrative centre.

Elevation: 4040m to 4850m to 3800m, Distance: 18 km, Time: 7-8 hours

day 7LINGSHI TO CHEBISA

In the morning you can visit the Lingshi Dzong, where the hilltop location gives impressive views. From here it is a pleasant walk to the village of Chebisa, where you will camp for the night.

Elevation: 3800m to 3880, Distance: 10 km, Time: 5-6 hours

day 8SHOMUTHANG VIA GOGU LA PASS

Today begins with a steep climb for around 4 hours to the Gogu La Pass (4500m), where we may spot rare blue sheep. As you descend from the pass, the trail takes you through rhododendron forests and continues to undulate until you reach Shakepasa. A final climb up the northern side of the valley will bring you to your camp at Shomuthang.

Elevation: 3880m to 4500m to 4220m, Distance: 17 km, Time: 6-7 hours

day 9SHOMUTHANG TO ROBLUTHANG VIA JARI LA PASS

The day starts on a trail bound with edelweiss before climbing to the Jari La Pass at 4700m. From here you can see the snow-capped peak of Kangbum (6526m). You descend from the pass to the Tsarijathang valley, the summer home of Himalayan takins, the national animal of Bhutan. After crossing the stream, you ascend once more to Robluthang, where you camp in a rocky meadow at 4160m.

Elevation: 4220m to 4700m to 4160m, Distance: 18km, Time: 6-7 hours

day 10ROBLUTHANG TO LINGMITHANG VIA SHINGCHEN LA PASS

Today you will reach the highest point of your trek – the Shingchen La Pass (5005m). The trail up to the pass can be a challenge, crossing boggy patches, streams and moraine. From the top of the pass, there is a stunning view to the north of Gangchenta (6840m). You descend from the pass along a rough, rocky, narrow trail to the Kango Chhu river. You then walk through cedar forest to reach Lingmithang, where you will camp in a beautiful meadow by the river, with Gangchenta towering above you.

Elevation: 4160m to 5005m to 4140m, Distance: 19km, Time: 7-8 hours

day 11LINGMITHANG TO LAYA

It is a gentle walk to Laya, with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. The Laya people are very friendly and will happily pose for photographs with you in their native dress.

Elevation: 4140m to 3840m, Distance: 10km, Time: 3-4 hours

 

day 12LAYA TO GASA

Today is the last day of your trek. The trail passes an army camp before reaching the banks of the Mo Chhu river, the Mother River of Punakha. You follow the river until you cross a bridge, and then face a series of ascents and descents through juniper and fir forest. The final section is all downhill to the village of Gasa Tshachu, which is famous for the curative powers of its hot springs. You will camp overnight here.

Elevation: 3840m to 2570m, Distance: 22km,

day 13GASA TO PUNAKHA

You will be driven from Gasa, following the Mo Chhu river once again through thick forests, filled with wild orchids, banana trees and creepers, until you reach Punakha. After lunch you will visit the Punakha Dzong, which sits at the junction of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers and is now the administrative and religious centre of the region. Built in 1637, the dzong has been damaged by four fires and an earthquake but has now been fully restored. You will spend tonight in a hotel.

Elevation: 2570m to 1600m

day 14PUNAKHA TO THIMPU TO PARO

After breakfast, you will be driven from Punakha to Thimphu, which takes around 3 hours. The road takes you up to the Dochu-La Pass on a series of switchbacks. The highest point on the road, 3088m, is marked by a chorten, mani wall and many prayer flags. The view from here is magnificent and the panorama includes the towering peaks of Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongphugang (7,060m), and Gangkar Puensum (7,570m).

On arrival in Thimphu we wil take a tour of the capital city. The National Library houses a collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and texts dating back over hundreds of years, as well as modern academic books about Himalayan religion and culture. The Institute for Zorig Chusum is an Arts and Crafts School where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The Textile Museum is the place to learn about Bhutan’s history of weaving, from the techniques used by local people to the wedding clothes worn by the king. Simply Bhutan is a living museum that introduces many aspects of Bhutanese traditional life. The project aims to preserve and promote culture, and provides job opportunities and training to young people. (Please be aware that not all sites may be open on the day you are due to visit Thimphu. The National Library and the Institute for Zorig Chusum are both closed on weekends and government holidays. The Textile Museum is closed on Sundays and government holidays.) The King’s Memorial Chorten was planned by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, but was only completed after his death so now serves as his memorial. An important religious site and the focus of daily worship, people will circumambulate the chorten throughout the day, reciting prayers and whirling the red prayer wheels. You finish with a visit to the Trashichhoe Dzong – The Fortress of the Glorious Religion – the seat of government and religion which is home to the monarch’s throne room. Originally built in 1641, the Dzong was rebuilt in the 1960s using traditional Bhutanese methods. 

From Thimphu, we will drive back to Paro which takes around 2 hours, where you will check into your hotel.

Elevation: 1600m to 2350m to 2250m

 

day 15DEPART PARO AIRPORT

You will be met at the hotel and transferred to Paro Airport for your departing flight.

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