JOMOLHARI LAYA GASA TREK
Jomolhari trek is considered to be one of the most beautiful trekking routes, this trek offers one a taste of all the treasures that the Himalayan Kingdom is especially known for. Through this trek, one can feast on the wonders of Nature, embodied in some of the most enthralling peaks of Bhutan; see some of the animals that have almost become extinct and engage with the people of the Highlands whose culture is unparalleled. It also offers one the opportunity to soak in a hot spring revered for its medicinal values.
The first part of the Laya Gasa Trek goes along the same route as the Jomolhari Trek I right till Lingshi. Highlights of the trek include the unforgettable views of Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Gangchhenta (Great Tiger Mountain). One has good opportunities to spot blue sheep, marmots and even takin.
DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO
On your flight to Paro, if the weather permits, you will be able to spot snowcapped Himalayas including mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake in Bhutan. Our guide will be waiting to receive you. You will be driven to your hotel. Later in the day you will visit Ta Dzong, originally a watch tower now converted into a museum. This 17th century old fortress holds varies display of antique collections. Next stop is the Rinpung Dzong literal translation –“fortress of heap of jewels.” Another Lhakhang you will visit is the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most divine temple of Bhutan. Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 2: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST
Today you will hike to the famous Taktsang Goemba. The monastery has a remarkable history and even looks quite extraordinary perched on a hill side. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew here to meditate on the back of a tigress. The hike is about 5 to 6 hours journey through pine forest and rhododendrons, ascending 900 meters above Paro Valley. In the evening, you can explore Paro town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 3: PARO – SHANA (TREK BEGINS)
17KM | 5-6 HOURS | 500M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 2850M
In the morning you will drive to Drukgyel Dzong, the trek start point. You will trek along the Paro Chhu River, occasionally crossing it and passing through fields, rice paddies, apple orchards, blue pine and fir forests. Soon at 2810m you reach army post of Gunitsawa where the valley widens and few settlements are visible. Finally you will climb up to 2850m to Shana Zampa and camp here amid meadows surrounded by trees.
DAY 4: SHANA – SIO THANGTHANGKA
22KM | 7-8 HOURS | 750M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 3600M
Today you will begin your journey by climbing up and down through conifers and rhododendrons and crossing several streams. You shall reach a clearing called Shingkharap at 3100m where you can take a rest for a while or you can have your lunch and you will find house with small store. After lunch or after resting, you will continue to ascend another 1 ½ hours to reach the place called Thongdu Zam at 3250m. continue another 3 to 4 hours of ascends and descends through forests of birch, fir, blue pine and maple trees and will finally reach a valley above which is the beautiful view of mount Jumolhari. At 3600m is your campsite.
DAY 5: SIO THANGTHANGKA – JANGOTHANG
219KM | 5-6 HOURS | 500M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 4100M
Today you will elevate to a high altitude, treading through muddy trails, meadows, plateaus and bridges. After 1 hour walk from the camp with few gradual ascends and descends you will reach the place with both Indian and Bhutanese army base. You will pass few settlements where villagers grow barley, potatoes, turnips and radishes. As you move from the village of Soe to Takethang and Dangochang it is common to see people herding yaks near the river banks. At 4100m, you finally reach camp at Jangothang. You can enjoy the stunning views of Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake from here.
DAY 6: EXPLORATION OF JANGOTHANG
This is a rest day at Jangothang for acclimatization. From your campsite you can trek on an open slope towards north for four hours to get an awesome view of Jichu Drake. Ascend higher at 4750m for an exquisite view of Jumolhari. There are other options for day excursions to nearby places and lakes. You may also choose to laze around, either way be you will have a terrific time here.
DAY 7: JANGOTHANG – LINGZHI
19KM | 6-7 HOURS | 780M ASCENT | 820M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4010M
Leaving behind the last settlements, you will now ascend a trail following the stream. At 4470m you will traverse through moraines and might encounter blue sheep and marmots. Soon you will reach Ngye La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. After the pass, you will descend till Lingzhi camp (4000m) and traverse back into the forest of rhododendrons and birches. You will spot yaks and yak herders along the way. On the way down to the campsite you will get a good view of the Lingzhi Dzong.
DAY 8: LINGZHI – CHEBISA
12KM | 5-6 HOURS | 160M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3850M
Visit the historic Lingzhi (Yugyal) Dzong. For centuries, it controlled the border between Tibet and Bhutan and was one of the main defence fortresses in the north. It sits on the hilltop overlooking the vast green hills and the meandering rivers accented by the beautiful peaks. It is a short and charming walk through villages and yak herders camp. After lunch, a short walk leads you to the beautiful Chebisa valley. It has a spectacular frozen waterfall at its head. The camp is located on the meadow opposite Chebisa at 3,850m.
DAY 9: CHEBISA – SHOUMUTHANG
17KM | 6-7 HOURS | 570M ASCENT | 290M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4130M
Start out by tackling a steep ascent towards Gogu La pass lying at an altitude of 4500m. These 4 hours will be a pleasant wildlife safari with sights of rare blue sheep on the rocks above and even rare sights of bearded vultures. After the pass, descend through the rhododendron bushes to a lunch stop. With sporadic ascents and descents along the trail, cross the stream and walk through rhododendron bushes and yak herders camp. We arrive to Shakshepasa (3980m) and then climb up a steep trail to the northern side of the valley. We arrive at our campsite Shomuthang, beside a stream at 4,250m above the sea level.
DAY 10: SHOUMOTHANG – ROBLUTHANG
17KM | 6-7 HOURS | 570M ASCENT | 290M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4130M
We trek up the valley crossing rivers and traverse through trails with Edelweiss aplenty. The snow peak called the Kang Bum is visible in the Southeast, which lies at an altitude of 6526m. We climb to Jari La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. We descend to the valley Tsheri Jathang, a camp by the river where herds of rare Himalayan Takins (the national animal of Bhutan) migrate to in the summer. We cross a stream as the footbridge is washed away often. After crossing the stream, we climb towards Robluthang; a rocky meadow camp at an altitude of 4,200m.
DAY 11: ROBLUTHANG – LINGMITHANG
19KM | 7-8 HOURS | 850M ASCENT | 870M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4140M
Climb past the ruins of a burned forest and up through boggy patches. Following the stream for some while, crossing the river and then climbing through moraine and marmot holes, you will reach at the top of Sinche La pass (5005m). You will view the astonishing panorama of the snow-capped Gangchhenta or the Tiger Mountain (6,840m) over the northern horizon. The trek then descends through rough, rocky trail following moraine into a glacial valley. Eventually we arrive at the Kango Chhu River. The path is narrow and you might have to cross a stream again. After a short walk through cedar forests with small meadows we arrive at our campsite, Lingmithang by a river (4140m). The grand Tiger Mountain towers over the campsite in the distance.
DAY 12: LINGMITHANG – LAYA
10KM | 3-4 HOURS | CAMP ALT 3850M
In the morning you wake up with a superb view of Gangchhenta peak towering your camp. The walk to Laya is spotted with very beautiful views making the walk a pleasant one. You will pass a damp forest and will also view the change of vegetation as the trek progresses. You will arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at an altitude of 3,800m. So you will be early to the village explore around the Laya village. This will be a wonderful opportunity for you to visit any of the houses around. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is a pleasant experience. Even to a perfect stranger a cup of tea and Chang (local wine) is always offered. The inhabitants of this valley are very interesting especially the women. They wear conical bamboo hats ornamented with turquoise and silver.
DAY 13: LAYA – TONGPHU DRA
16KM | 5-6 HOURS | 260M ASCENT | 1060M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3800M
Descend to the army camp. The route now follows the Mo Chhu (mother river of Punakha). Follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge you will meet intermittent ascents and descents through fir and juniper forest. You will then reach the camp at Chamsa at an altitude of 3,800m.
DAY 14: TONGPHU DRA –GASA TSHACHU (TREK ENDS)
19KM | 6-7 HOURS | 300M ASCENT | 1200M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 2400M
You will be walking about an hour over flat land till you reach koina. There is no more trekking trails from here as we have now farm road at the place. We have to ascent few minutes from here and it’s downhill all the way to the Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) which takes few hours in the car. On the way you may spot the Satyr Tragopan (Himalayan Monal) and Blood Pheasants. You will camp nearby Gasa hotspring or use guest house at an altitude of 2,400m.
DAY 15: Rest day: GASA TSHACHU
Explore the village and visit the Gasa Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal established this Dzong in the 17th century to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. He was the first religious King of Bhutan. After your visit, descend to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) to enjoy a hot relaxing bath in one of the springs. The Gasa Tshachu is the most popular hot spring in Bhutan. This is truly the place to unwind after the long trek.
DAY 16: GASA TSHACHU VIA DAMJI AND TASHITHANG TO PUNKHA
After breakfast, you will drive the descending road taking you through heavily forested areas with wild orchids in abundance. You will then arrive at Damji Village which lies at an altitude of 2,400m. Continue downhill where you will be pleased to see high agricultural benches, luxuriant semi-tropical gorge with banana trees and creepers aplenty. You will follow the Mo Chhu through the thick forest till you reach Tashithang (1,620m) and then further down for 15km where you will arrive to Punakha.
DAY 17: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU
After breakfast, you will drive to Thimphu via Dochula Pass. Before that visit stunning Punakha dzong (‘Fortress of complete happiness’) and visit Chimi lhakhang (Fertility temple) which is said to bless with a child. The phallus paintings on the walls in the village reminds of the accomplished master Drukpa kuenley famously known as ‘divine madman’ in 15th century. Enjoy lunch at local restaurant in Punakha and drive to Thimphu city. On the way, visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. Later in the evening explore Thimphu city.
DAY 18: THIMPHU – PARO
In the morning visit national memorial stupa, huge Buddha statue over the hill popularly known to locals as Buddha point, Takin preservation center and break for lunch in simply Bhutan museum. In the afternoon, drive to Paro and if the time permits visit one the oldest temple in the country called Kyichu lhakhang. For dinner you will visit a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse to experience the life of a Bhutanese farmer and if you wish you can sit down for a dinner with a local family enjoying an “emadatse” a dish made up of cheese and chillies. Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 19: DEPART PARO
After your breakfast, you will be driven to the airport for departure. Our representative will bid you goodbye.
- Difficulty Level: Moderate to Hard
- Best Season: March, April, May, June and Sept, Oct and Nov
- Maximum Elevation: 5005m
- Highest camp Elevation: 4200m
- Highest Ascent of the trek: 1200m
- Average walking distance: 7 km
- Average walking time: 6 hours
- Attraction: This trek offers spectacular views of snow-capped mountains such as mount Jomolhari and other high mountain ranges. Lifestyles of nomads in Lingshi and Laya.
- Small Day bag
- Trekking boot
- Camp shoes
- At least 3 pairs of trekking socks
- Rain gears
- Trekking pants
- Warm gloves
- Warm hat and Sun hat
- A pair of shorts
- Long sleeve shirts
- 2 non-cotton Trekking shirts
- Warm down jacket
- Thermal water bottle/ Water bag
- Normal torch and Headlamp
- Small towel
- Camera with extra batteries
- Trekking poles
- Mud guard
- Backup phone charger
- Warm sleeping bag(negative 8-10 degree Celsius)
- Medical Kits
Diamox, Motion sickness tablets, aspirin, Small bandage, Cough drops, Anti-bacterial hand gel, Sunscreen, Lip balm, Insect repellent, Water purification tablets(iodine or chlorine).
- Energy Bars and snacks.
- Medical Prescriptions.
-Some books to read at campsites