Snowman Trek II

The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek into high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It takes tough and enduring trekkers into the Lunana region and further on to Gangkar Puensum and Bumthang or down to Sephu in Trongsa district, depending on which route you choose. The Snowman trek leads through the most remote areas up to very high altitudes. The trekkers have to camp in altitudes above 5000m depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow. The Snowman trek offers outstanding sceneries of Bhutanese Himalayan ranges, glacier lakes and the valleys but many enthusiastic trekkers fail this trek due to problems with the high altitude or snow blocked passes and trials.

The Lonely planet describes the Snowman Trek as one of the most difficult treks of the world. The best time for Snowman Trek is in march and april, and in late august to September.

30 Nights 31 Days | from $7000 USD

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)

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 – Soe Thangthangka

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: Soe Thangthangka – Jangothang

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

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

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 – Shomuthang

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: Shomuthang – Robluthang

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

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

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: Exploration day in Laya

If you have trekked from Paro valley you have to spend exploring around the village and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek. If you have started from Gasa you have to spend a day halt at Laya to acclimatize and explore this beautiful high altitude village and the inhabitants.

DAY 14: Laya – Rhoduphu

From Laya we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn off point to Rhoduphu. After lunch the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till you reach the camp at Rhoduphu just next to the Rhodu Chhu.

DAY 15: Rhoduphu – Narethang

After following the river for about half an hour you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4600m and then further up to Tsomo la (4900m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jomolhari,  Jichu Drake and and the Tibetan border. The route then crosses a flat, barren plateau at about 5000m. The campsite at Narethang is towered by the peak of Gangla Karchung (6395m).

DAY 16: Narethang – Tarina

From the camp you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5120m). The view from the pass is breathtaking and the whole range of mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7100m), Tsenda Gang and Teri Gang (7300m) can be seen. From the pass will descend along large moraines and have a amazing views of glacier lake from Teri Gang. The glacier lake burst through the dam in early 1960s, causing widespread damage and partially destroying Punakha Dzong. Finally, it is a long long descend through thick rhododendron to Tarina valley and you will find several good campsites along the Tang Chhu.

DAY17: Tarina – Woche

The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu, passing some impressive waterfalls. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche, a settlement of a few houses, the first village in the Lunana region.

DAY 18: Woche – Lhedi

The trek starts through juniper and fir forests and further ahead, through rhododendron bushes. Climb up to Keche La pass (4650m) where one can have the great view of surrounding mountains again. After the pass, descend to the riverside through the village with a stunning view of Table Mountain and others. Follow up the river till Lhedi village. The village has a basic health unit, a school and a wireless telephone connection.

DAY 19: Lhedi – Thanza

In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7100m). Around lunchtime you will pass small village of Chozo (4090m) which has a Dzong still in use. After reaching Thanza you will have a great view of Table Mountain which towers the village. There are possibilities to camp at Thanza but most groups prefer to camp at Thoencha.

DAY 19: Lhedi – Thanza

In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7100m). Around lunchtime you will pass small village of Chozo (4090m) which has a Dzong still in use. After reaching Thanza you will have a great view of Table Mountain which towers the village. There are possibilities to camp at Thanza but most groups prefer to camp at Thoencha.

DAY 20: Rest Day At Thanza

In Thanza walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks ( the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza) you will have to rest after long tiring walks before proceeding further.

DAY 21: Thanza – Tshorim

As you have chosen Snowman Trek II, the route leads to Bumthang district. Your day starts by climbing a ridge with a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4500m and it rises gradually up to 4650m. After lunch, walk upwards towards the left side of the bridge to enjoy the view of snowcapped mountains. You will reach the campsite Tshorim after climbing few ridges.

DAY 22: Tshorim – Gangkar Puensum Base Camp

This is one of the highlights of the trek and the day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Tsho. You have to walk on the side of the lake enjoying a panoramic view of Gophu La ranges. The last climb to the Gophu La pass (5230m) is very short. After the pass, your trail descends to the base camp, walking along the ridge to enjoy the great view of Gangkar Puensum.

DAY 23: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp – Geshe Woma

The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma.

DAY24: Geshe Woma – Warathang

The path continues following Sha Chhu for two and half hours until the stiff climb to Saka La begins. The visibility along the Saka La trail is poor so one must see top of the ridge for guidance. After having lunch nearby yak herders camp you will climb to Saka La pass (4800m). The path descends from the pass to couple of lakes and another short ascend is stunning. The scenery once again is beautiful with small lakes and the mountains.

DAY 25: Warathang – Duer Tsachu

A one hour climb leads to Juli La (4700m). After the pass, you will descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. After the bridge, a short climb leads to Duer Tsachu. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have taken bath, this is suppose to be the most stunningly beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas. You might want to spend an extra day at Duer Tsachu.

DAY 26: Duer Tsachu – Tshochenchen

From the hot spring it is a long and steady climb again with great views of mountains in Lunana. You will also come across several blue lakes and yak herders huts.

DAY 27: Tshochenchen – Duer Village (Drive to the hotel)

This is the last day of the trek and your porters change from yaks to horses. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually with a few climbs in between. The trek ends here when you arrive at Duer village. Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 28: Bumthang Sightseeing or Rest Day

A full day tour in Bumthang includes the historic Kurjey Lhakhang (associated with Guru Rinpoche, who brought tantric Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet), Jambay Lhakhang(founded by the first Tibetan Buddhist king, Songtsen Goenpo in 7th cencury. The king was destined to build 108 temples knowns as Thadhul – Yangdhul (temples in and around the Himalayas) in one day to pin down the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas that obstructed in the establishment of Buddhist temples. Jambay lhakhang stands at left knee of an ogress in central Bhutan whereas Kichu lhakhang stands at left foot of an ogress in the western Bhutan, Paro), Tamshing Lhakhang (built in 1501 by the revered treasure discoverer Pema Lingpa), local brewed beer factory and stroll in Bumthang town and interact with locals. Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 29: Fly to Paro International Airport/Drive to Punakha

In the morning our driver will drive you to the domestic airport of Bumthang, which takes about five to ten minutes. Your flight to Paro takes about thirty minutes, after reaching Paro visit Paro Dzong, Kyichu lhakhang and stroll in the Paro town.overnight in the hotel.

OR

Early in the morning, drive to Punakha via Trongsa. Visit five storey Ta Dzong(“ watchtower”) built by Choeje Minjur Tenpa, the first governor of Trongsa in 1652. From 2005 to 2008 it underwent extensive structural and interior designing work in order to become a museum as there is no exterior threat since then. And then visit Trongsa dzong which is one of the largest dzong in the country. Trongsa means”New village” and it is located in the central Bhutan. The rulers of Trongsa, the Penlops(governors) of Wangchuck dynasty, who resided at Trongsa dzong were very powerful as they control over east-west trade for centuries until the first king of Bhutan was elected unanimously in 1907 and the only way to eastern and western Bhutan was through the courtyard of the dzong. Trongsa dzong was initially founded as small meditation temple by lama Ngagi Wangchuk(The great grandfather of zhabdrung) in 1543 on the spur overlooking the gorge of Mangde river. Lama Ngagi wangchuk came to trongsa in 1541 and when he was meditating nearby in the village called Yuling, he witnessed a light on the spur where now present dzong stands. He found small spring on the spot believed to be used by protective deity Mahakali (Palden Lhamo). Another version of the history says he found the hoof prints of a horse that belonged to the protective deity Palden Lhamo. He believed this to be auspicious sign and founded small meditation temple on the spur.

DAY 30: Punakha to Paro via Thimphu

In the morning visit Punakha Dzong (ancient capital), one of the most beautiful dzong in the country with intricate metal and wood carvings situated between male and female rivers like an anchored ship built in 1637 by Zhabdrung. Visit National Memorial stupa (built in the memory of the third king of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the giant Buddha statue overlooking Thimphu valley with 169 feet/51.5 meters and its tallest of its kind. Stroll in Thimphu town and drive to Paro. Tonight in the hotel.

DAY 31: Depart Paro

Our representative will drive you to the airport for departure.