Laya Gasa Trek In BhutanThe Laya-Gasa Trek is considered the most beautiful treks in Bhutan. Running along the north of Bhutan bordering Tibet China, the trek offers amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. This fourteen day, 217 km alpine quest begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles through Jigme Singye National Park and offer awe-inspiring views of Jomolhari Mountain, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang.
You will trek through remote mountain villages Laya and Lingszhi, the highest settlement in the country with a distinct culture and traditions. Along the trail, you will also have an ample opportunity to spot indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins. The last day of the trek offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs to rejuvenate your tired muscles.
Upon arrival in Paro, you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. After lunch in the restaurant, you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the Dzong. Afterward you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From there you will be taken to the Drugyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day you can see Mount Jumolhari, Bhutan’s second-highest mountain at 7,329 meters, from the village below the Dzong. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, full day excursion to Taktsang or the “tiger’s nest” perched precariously on the cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley. It is the most famous monastery in Bhutan. It is said that Guru Rimpoche have flown to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated here for three months. Lunch would be served in the Cafeteria. Return to Paro in the evening. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Trek begins: Drive up to Drukgyal Dzong where the road ends and start the trek by following the river gently uphill through a narrowing valley of paddy fields. You will find plenty of traditional farmhouses in a purely rural setting. The campsite is just beyond an army outpost. Alt. 2800m, Distance – 17 km and time 5-6 hours.
Continue uphill through the river valley, which narrows and closes in after some distance. The trail then winds up and down along the drainage. Most of the trail actually is down hill after the initial climb. The campsite is located in a meadow with stone shelter. Alt. Approx. 3400m, distance 15 km, time 4-5 hours.
Walk up along the Pachu (Paro river), pass a small army outpost where the valley begins to widen again. You can now clearly view the high ridges and the snow-capped mountains all around and also see the yaks and the yak herder’s winter homes. Camp beneath a ruined fortress at the base of the Jumolhari Mountain. Alt. 4040m. , Distance 19 km and time 5-6 hours.
Today, you will spend a day by doing four-hour acclimatization hike to the north of your camp. There is practically no trail but you will climb on a open and endless slope till you see the view of Mt Jichu Drakye (6989m). You can scramble further up till 4895m (higher than Mount Blanc) to see amazing view of Mount Jumolhari. You are likely to spot rare blue sheep, Himalayan rhubarb, griffon vultures, golden eagles and the remarkable blue poppy.
Jangothang base is a flat grassy land with an old ruined fortress on a hillock in the foreground, beneath the colossal Mount Jumolhari and its neighbour Jitchu Drake. Most people show signs of mountain sickness at this altitude and it is recommended that all trekkers halt here. If you do not wish to hike but simply wish to just relax in camp, whichever option you choose, its certainly going to be a memorable day.
Walk up toward the pass through a wide pastureland. Depending on the season you are there, you might find some yak herders in their camping tents along the way. As you come down after the pass to the Lingshi basin, you will see some beautiful views of the Lingshi Dzong, valley, Tserim Kang (mountain) and its descending glaciers at the north end of the valley. Camp in a stone shelter with a built-in fire pit or in the tent. Alt. 4150m. Distance 19 km. Time 5-6 hours.
Today is the shortest walking day and you can really take it easy. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa, you can visit the village houses if you feel up to it. Alt. 3850m. Distance 12 km. Time 3-4 hours.
You walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu-la (pass). On the way, you will see few people herding the yaks. After crossing the Gobu -la (Alt. 4350m) descend down to the valley. The campsite is on a bench above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river. Alt. 4260. Distance 17 km. Time 5-6 hours.
As the walk is little strenuous, it is advisable to start little early. After crossing the Jerela (pass) alt. 4600m you come down to Tsharijathang valley where you can normally see herds of Takins. Camp at Tsharijathang. Alt.4390m. Distance 15 km. Time 6-7 hours.
After crossing the Shingela pass, alt. 4900m, you come down and follow the valley. Lingmithang is under the Laya District and you will see people dressed in typical Laya costume with long pointed bamboo hats on their head. Camp at Lingmithang. Alt. 4140m. Distance 19 km. Time 6-7 hours. If you have time, it would be advisable to spend a day here exploring the valley and meeting the people who have a different and unique culture.
Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. Campsite is on a high flat bench above the Laya village. Alt. 3850m. Distance 10 km. Time 3-4 hours.
Rest and explore the Laya village.
The trail winds up and down along the river valley avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and water falls. Camp. Alt. 3800m. Distance 19 km. Time 6-7 hours.
You cross the Babela pass, Alt.3740m, after which the trail is all the way down till you reach the campsite which is close to Gasa Dzong. Alt. 2900m. Distance 17 km. Time 6-7 hours.
After a late breakfast, trek to Gasa Tsachu. After lunch relax in the hot spring. The Gasa Tsachu is one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan. Camp at Gasa Tsachu.
After a short climb, the trail winds through the rolling hills and passes through the pine and oak forests, villages and wheat fields. You will also see a beautiful view of the Gasa Dzong glued to the valley wall seeming to float in space. Arrive Damji. Distance 18 km, 5-6 hours. Your car will be waiting here to transfer to Thimphu. You will drive through the high agricultural benches above the Mochu (Chu means River) into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and various tropical vegetation till Tashithang. Continue driving to Punakha. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
After breakfast drive for half-hour to Wangdue. Wangdue town which is a typical small Bhutanese town, with bustling market and well stocked shops. Visit Wangdue Dzong, the 17th century monument. It sits atop a high ridge between the Puna Tsang Chu and the Dang Chu. The place is also known for its fine bamboo work, slate and stone carvings. Also visit the Rinchengang village on the opposite side of the river, which is a unique cluster of houses made up of red mud. The people of this village are of Indian origins, who originally were brought into Bhutan as construction workers of the Dzong (fortress). In the evening drive back to Punakha. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Set out for Thimphu with a stop in Dochu La for tea. 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. Continue drive to Thimphu and check into your hotel on arrival. Overnight at the hotel In Thimphu.
Visit the Memorial Chorten (a huge stupa) built in memory of the third king who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972. Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. Visit the Wood Craft and Painting school where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive. Visit the Handicrafts Emporium where Bhutanese textiles and other arts and crafts are displayed and can be purchased. Visit Simtokha Dzong. This is one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan. It was built in 1629 AD. Visit Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building. This massive structure houses part of the government Ministries, the office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body, living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
In the morning you can hike to Tango Monastery, which was built by the “Divine Madman” in the 15th century. It’s a center of study for monks, and it affords a great view of the Thimphu Valley. Drive back to Thimphu and after lunch you will proceed to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, you will drive to Haa Valley across Chela Pass 3810m. On the clear days you will have views of Mount Jumolhari and other mountains and valleys below the pass. Explore nearby mountains dotted with colorful prayer flags and blanketed with dwarf rhododendrons. If you want to be more adventurous you can hike further down the ridges to Kila Goempa Nunnery, which is nestled in a craggy patch on the mountain site below the pass and perched precariously along the rock face. After a picnic lunch, you will drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Drive to Paro Airport. You will be seen off by our representative.
Cost Includes on Trek
- Sleeping tents
- Dinning tent
- Toilet tent
- Sleeping mats
- Trekking chef
- Pack animals - Horses
- Government levy
- All meals
- Tea and snacks
- Visa fee
- Entrance fees
- Guide services
- Air fares
- Drinks and beverages
- Phone / internet
- Other personal bills.
What trekking is like?Trekking in Bhutan is different from Nepal. There are no teahouse or lodges on trail where you can backpack and find your meals at the teahouses and lodges on the way. Horses or yaks carry all your trekking gears, equipment and food supplies. We do not use human porters. You will be sleeping inside a tent pitched at different night halt places. Trained trekking chef is being assigned to you to cook hot meals at the campsites. You will also get hot lunch served on the way.
For a group of two trekkers, you will have 6 people trekking with you – these include a trekking guide, chef, assistants and horsemen. You will have 8 horses carrying luggage.
FitnessThere is no blue print setting standards for your fitness level for treks in Bhutan. Cardio-vascular training, stamina building and leg strength development may be necessary but not compulsory. If you do not have time for such fitness preparation, you should not bother much — with bit of cooperation with your guide and observing some precautionary measures while trekking, you can successfully complete your trek. In more than a decade of our high altitude treks operation; we have a record of completing Snowman Trek by person as old as 72 year and other treks by people with no past trekking experience.
If you are to hit by altitude sickness, you will be prone to it even if you have climbed K2 before. It can hit any one irrespective of age, past experience and time.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) & PrecautionAcute Mountain Sickness or simply high altitude sickness is caused when your blood stream does not get enough oxygen in higher altitude. If not taken care, this would become fatal.
All trekkers must take precaution to avoid AMS. It’s a holistic approach – cooperation, using right and appropriate gears, eating proper meals, protecting from heat and cold, maintaining your fluid balance and ultimately allowing enough time to acclimatize your body.
Temperature of trekDuring the day it will be warmer with temperature ranging from 12-18 degree celcius. While during the night the temperature will fall below zero degree celcius. In Oct and November, the night temperature will be negative 5-6 degree celcius. You must carry warm sleeping bags.
Trekking Guide & Handling EmergencyOur trekking guides are trained and certified by the government to handle AMS and other emergencies on treks. You have access to mobile networks on some point of trails and a daily contact is being maintained with the office back in city.
Meals on trekWe have set standard food menus on trek to keep you healthy and energized. Our trekkers often remark that our trek food is better than in city hotels. You will be provided with toasts, tea/coffee, butter, honey, fruit jams, milk, fresh fruits, juices, ham, sausages, chocolates, corn flakes, egg, chicken, pork, beef, fish, rice and variety of vegetables. You will be served hot meals always including lunches.
Trash ManagementLittering is not allowed on all trek routes. Hand over your wastes to your trekking staff. They will put in a garbage bag and carry along with them to city to be thrown into proper bins.
Group sizeTo facilitate group dynamic we limit our group size to 12 people maximum. However we will run the trip even for FIT or one and two individuals.
FlightsParo international airport in Bhutan is being connected to cities like Bangkok, Kathmandu, Singapore, Dhaka and Indian cities like Kolkotta, Guwahati and Bagdora. Local airlines Drukair and Bhutan Airlines services to and from these cities. For journey originating from Europe Delhi should be the best connection and Bangkok from America.
When to book?Bhutan has bottlenecks in trip planning. We have limited hotels and flights. You are advised to book at least 6 months in advance to secure flights and hotel rooms.
Visa and PassportTourist’s visas need to be arranged in advance through local tour operators. No foreign missions abroad grant tourists visa. You will have to make an advance payment to approve your visa. Once your visa is been approved, visa clearance letter (VCL) will be sent to you. You must carry this letter to be shown at the check-in counter from where you board your flights to Bhutan. Actual Bhutanese visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at Paro international airport.
Your passport should have minimum six months validity from the date on entry into Bhutan and at least one full blank page for visa. You will not need to carry passport size photos for visa.
Tips and GratitudeAlthough tipping is not compulsory, your service provider might expect from you. You can consult with the company office with regards to tipping slab.
- Down parka
- Warm fleece jacket
- Comfortable trekking boot (we like lowa)
- Lightweight shoes
- Rain gears
- 4 pair trekking socks
- 2 long sleeve capilene shirts
- 2 capilene bottoms (mid & heavy weight)
- 2 trekking shirts (non-cotton is best!)
- Trekking pants (zip off shorts are nice)
- 1 pair shorts
- 1 bandana
- Warm gloves
- Flip flop (or similar camp shoes)
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- 2 pair sunglasses
- Small daypack
- Warm sleeping bag (negative 8-10 degree celcius)
- Trekking poles
- Mud guard
- Headlamp and a normal torch
- Camera and extra batteries
- 2-liter water bottle (if camelback, bring also a nalgene)
- Insulated drinking mug
- Small towel
- Various size plastic bags to keep gear dry and separate
- 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