Above the Clouds
Starting at Drukgyel Dzong, Paro this trek passes through scattered hamlets and farmland, into a deep and richly forested valley, which leads to a high alpine pastureland where yak herders graze their animals. The trek offers a taste of great variety of Bhutanese landscape. Your camp at Jangothang will give you a splendid close view of Jumolhari Mountain, and trekkers can walk two to three hours to reach the base of the mountain. This mountain has never been climbed as the local yak herders believed it to be the abode of their legendary Goddess.
During the flight, on a clear day, you can see breathtaking views of the Himalaya Mountains, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Afternoon visit to Ta Dzong, built in 17 th century, as watchtower to defend Paro Dzong (fortress) and the valley. This fortress was later converted into the National Museum in 1967 and is filled with antique thangka paintings, textiles, weapons and Bhutan’s renowned postage stamps. Below Ta Dzong, is fascinating Ringpung Dzong meaning “fortress of heap of jewels”. Next visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan. Overnight hotel in Paro.
This morning you will hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery. It is absolutely breathtaking, situated at 10,400 feet and perched on the edge of a steep cliff about 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley. Guru Rinpoche (great spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch is served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. Explore the monastery and, if you wish, you can sit for a short meditation before we hike back down to the valley floor. Overnight hotel in Paro.
The trek starts from Drukgyal Dzong at 2,580 m with a downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently traversing through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and you reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. At 2,870m, just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.
The trail again follows Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch follow the river climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing the bridge again, reaching to the campsite at the altitude of 3,750m.
The path ascends for a while till you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning view of surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder’s camp. A short walk into the valley will take you to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,040m. From here, the view of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Acclimatization. Explore near by mountains and lakes.
The trail follows the stream or half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang. Then Walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Ngye La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. After the pass, it is a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp, enjoying the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong. Camp at an altitude of 4000m.
The Laya Gasa route leaves the Jumolhari trek here. The trek route climbs towards a small white Chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chhu valley. The trail stays on the west side of the largely treeless valley, climbing steadily a short distance above Mo Chhu. It then crosses the river, and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli La pass (4,820m). From the pass, on a clear day, you can see Jumolhari, Gangchen Ta, Tshering Gang and Masang Gang. Descend alongside a stream to a shelter, and then further downstream to a camp at Shodu (4,100m), a meadow with a Chorten.
At this place, one comes back to tree line. The path follows Thimphu River, descending through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forests. The view of the cliff facing rocks and waterfalls is stunning. Hot lunches will be served by the riverside. After lunch the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of riversides. After lunch the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of Barshong Dzong, reaching the camp at an altitude of 3,600m.
The trail descends gently through a dense forest of rhododendron, birch and conifers, and then drops steeply to meet Thimphu Chhu. It stays on river left, climbing over ridges and descending to side streams. Then traverses steep cliff to Dolam Kencho, a camp among pastureland at 3,600m.
The trail goes in and out steeply to the river and follows it southward to the road head at Dodena, elevation 2,600m where you will be picked up by Bhutan Travelers transport to drive to Thimphu. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple and the majestic Tashichhodzong. In the afternoon you will catch a busy weekend market at the bank of Thimphu River where people from nearby villages come here to sell their farm products. You can stroll through the market to see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and mangoes. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to wander the aisle, taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market. Perhaps this market scene offers wonderful opportunity for photographs and to mingle with local people. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast this morning, enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, drive downhill through the forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive at Punakha after traversing through rice field and along the bank of Punakha River. On the way, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to the Devine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. If you wish, receive the blessing from the Lama’s wooden phallus! After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
After breakfast, you will drive to Paro via Dochula Pass. 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. You will stop in Thimphu for lunch. Later in the evening, you will drive to Paro. In the evening, 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.
After breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onwards destination.
- Government levy
- All meals
- Tea and snacks
- Visa fee
- Entrance fees
- Guide services
- Air fares
- Sleeping bags (on trek)
- Drinks and beverages
- Phone / internet
- Other personal bills
Flights and Hotels
As Bhutan has limited hotels and flights get sold out fast specially during festival seasons, it is advisable to book our trip well in advance. Drukair and Bhutan Airlines services to and from Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkotta, Dhaka, Singapore (Drukair).
Cost Includes on Treks
- Anti bacterial hand gel for disinfecting hands
- Medical kit that includes – aspirin, motion sickness tablets, cough drops, diamox, bites/burn cream and small bandage.
- Lightweight toilet articles (shampoo, soap-travel size)
- Sunscreen, lip screen and insect repellent
- Water purification tablets (iodine or chlorine)
- High calorie snacks and energy bars
- Prescription medications
- Some books to read at camp