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Snowman Trek in Bhutan is one of the most beautiful treks in the whole Himalayas. The trek crosses eleven high passes over 4,500m that define the borders of Bhutan and Tibet. Savoring views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. Trekking into the remoter northern Lunana region is to step back to the 7th century when Buddhist had just reached the land. Passing Buddhist monasteries and small villages on the back dropped of Himalayan peak, we will witness a land unchanged for hundreds of years. If you can walk up and – often more difficult, down – steep mountainsides for between six and eight hours a day, adapt to the altitude, and handle the camping, then you will love this unique trip.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
3 Hours Before Flight Time
This is probably one of the hardest high altitude treks, but an incredible experience for anyone who takes the challenge. Bhutan’s pristine landscape, wonderful people and fascinating Buddhist culture provide the ingredients for a memorable journey into one of the world’s most remote kingdoms. Taking in astonishing Himalayan scenery and offering the opportunity to observe some of the world’s rarest wildlife. Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys and dense forests to high mountain passes. Explore the isolated community of Laya and the remote Lunana district.
Upon your arrival at the airport you will be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel. After checking into the airport you are free to spend the rest of the day at leisure. You can go to see the National Museum housed in an ancient watch tower set high above the Paro Valley overlooking the Paro Dzong.
(Overnight at Paro)
This morning after breakfast we make the stunning hike up to one of the most important religious site in the entire Himalaya, the Tiger’s Nest. The monastery has a very stunning location. It is perched on the ledge of a cliff 900 m above the Paro Valley. Around half way through the trek there is a classic viewpoint of Taktsang, looking across the gorge to the monastic buildings clinging to the cliff wall. The final approach to the monastery takes us down to a sacred waterfall, surrounded by a thousand fluttering prayer flags, before climbing back towards the monastery. After spending some time looking around inside the monastery we will return back to Paro.
Total trek: 8km (5 hours)
(Overnight at Paro)
After breakfast today, we will be transferred to Shana, which is a 2 hours drive, passing Drugyel Dzong. After reaching Shana,we will set off for our trek, following a path beside the river before climbing to our first night’s camp at Thongbu Samba.
Total trek: 5 km (2-3 hours)
(Overnight at Thongbu Samba)
After breakfast we again get on with our trek. We gain height slowly as we continue along the river.There are several small ups and downs today as we follow the river north and after crossing a bridge at 3560m , we take a short steep climb to reach a junction of two valleys. There is a bridge over here, from where we can see Chomolhari at the head of the valley. From here our camp for the day is only half an hour’s walk away.
Total trek: 9km (5-6 hours)
(Overnight at Soi Thangka)
After breakfast today, we continue following the ancient mule trail that keeps to the left of the PaChu up to a camp at around 4000m. We pass a small Royal Bhutan Army outpost and then in about 1.5 hrs we reach a large meadow, from the meadow we take the trail on the right that starts with a steep climb up a small hill. In about a half hour we reach a beautiful meadow decorated with small birch trees and rhododendrons. A further 2hrs hiking will take us to the upper part of this scenic meadow, where lunch will be served. After lunch, we hike on past a few meditation centres or ‘drup khang’. The complete solitude of this region has in the past drawn several important historical figures to this area to meditate, such as the great saint Guru Rinpoche who travelled here in the 8th century and in recent times a highly-respected Thai Burmese Monk, Kuba Rinpoche who spent time meditating here. We hike back down to a glacial meadow at lower elevation (3900m) where we will camp for the night.
Total trek: 7 km (4-5 hours)
(Overnight at glacial meadow)
After breakfast we re-join the main trekking trail to today’s camp at Jangothang, a beautiful grassy at the base of Mt Chomolhari. We have lunch in a meadow at Tikithang, just before we reach the school at Soi, The school children here have developed a habit of conversing with trekkers to practice their spoken English and, if the school is open, they may sing some nursery rhyme for us. From the school it is another hour’s hike to the camp. Our camp tonight is next to a ruined dzong (4100m) beneath the huge east face of Chomolhari.
Total trek: 17 km (6-7 hours)
(Overnight at Jangothang)
Today is a scheduled rest day, intended to aid everyone’s acclimatisation before the crossing of the Nyele La to Lingshi. There are plenty of options for a walk, and one possibility is a hike up the ridge behind the ruined dzong to a grassy summit at approximately 4500m, from where there is an incredible close-up view of Chomolhari. Alternatively, a 2-hour hike to a lake above camp provides a stunning location for photographs of Jitchu Drake.For a spectacular view of Jitchu Drake closer to camp (even better at sunrise if you can get up sufficiently early), follow the river for 20 minutes to a lone house and here the mountain is presented before you.
(Overnight at Jangothang)
After breakfast today, we climb to cross the Nyele La to reach Lingshi. We follow the river for a while, before crossing it on a bridge. From here the path climbs steeply at first, the trail offers views toward Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake which are some of the finest of the trip. We are now very near the Tibetan Border as we make our way along a broad hanging valley to the final steep slopes leading to the Nyele La (4850m), which is adorned with prayer flags. From the pass we descend, steeply at first, to follow a long ridge before finally dropping through forests of rhododendron and pine to our camp beside the river.
Total trek:18 km (7-8 hours)
(Overnight at Lingshi)
After breakfast, we climb up to Lingshi Dzong. From here a our path contours the hillside, passing by farms. There are views across the valley to the Basingthang Peaks. After a couple of hours the path turns a corner and there is a view of Tserim Gang, before we descend to Gang Yul (meaning ‘village at the pass’). Set beneath e limestone cliffs and dwarfed by the enormous east face of Jitchu Drake, Gang Yul’s situation is one of the most impressive in Bhutan. Leaving the village, the path continues along the hillside to Chebisa. From here, the path gradually climbs high above the river to the Gobu La (4405m). Although conquering a pass, this is a lovely walk. The pass also offers specular view of Tiger Mountain (Gangchen Taag) and we should also see blue sheep and eagles on this day. Tonight we camp at Shagay pasa nearby a glacial stream.
Total trek: 15 km (7-8 hours)
(Overnight at Shagay)
From Shagi Pasa, the path contours across the hillside and then climbs steeply into a side valley, from where we climb up to the Jhari La (4720m). The views from the pass are stunning, especially the view of Tiger Mountain. Our next objective, the Shinge La, is the lowest point of the horizon opposite. As we descend through glorious pine forest into Tsharithang, we keep a look out for takin, the national animal of Bhutan which are quite common in this part of Bhutan. The scenery on this day’s walk is breathtaking.We cross a river and camp in a very scenic position just half an hour’s walk up the hillside, at a place known as Robluthang.
Total trek: 19 km (7-8 hours)
(Overnight at Robluthang)
After breakfast we will set on a yak trail.This is followed to a beautiful hanging valley with a lone yak herders hut, two hours above the camp. The path takes the left side of the valley and soon the Shinge La (5000m) is visible. The final climb is quite strenuous, but save some energy to place a small stone on one of the four cairns that mark the end of the climbing. Prayer flags and dried leaves enhance the fascination of this pass which marks the boundary of the Laya District. Our descent follows an obvious path into the centre of the valley, to a clearing by a huge rock. We continue descending until we see a bank of moraine, which is holding back a very picturesque lake. The backdrop to this beautiful valley is Kang Che Da, the Great Tiger Mountain. We camp a short way down the valley at Limithang (4050m), in a meadow by the river.
Total trek: 19 km (8-9 hours)
(Overnight at Limithang)
After breakfast we embark on a beautiful morning’s walk today through a bird spotter’s paradise.We cross a bridge and follow the left bank of the river on an undulating trail through more forest of spruce and juniper. As we descend we start to see Spanish moss once again hanging from the trees. The path then gradually climbs above the river and soon we see the first houses on the outskirts of Laya (3800m). We aim to arriuve in Laya in time for lunch and have the afternoon free to look around the village and to visit the hillside monastery. We set up camp on one of the village fields.
Total trek: 10 km (4-5 hours)
(Overnight at Laya)
A well earned rest day and an opportunity to observe the daily lives of the people who live in this remote village.There are opportunities for walks around the village.
(Overnight at Laya)
From Laya, the main path from the village descends to the lowest house, passes through a large entrance and drops down to the river. After breakfast we will pass by an army camp looking quite incongruous in this setting, and continue on a trail alongside the Mo Chu to a small indistinct turn off to Rodophu. From here, the ascent is gentle, through mixed shrub and coniferous forest by the side of a tributary of the Mo Chu. We continue to the traditional camping place at Rodophu (4160m).
Total trek: 14 km (7-8 hours)
After breakfast today we make a steady climb to the Tsome La (4900m.) where we enjoy superb views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake, and also over Lunana and the peaks of the Tibetan border. Our route now crosses a high barren plateau to a campsite at Narethang (4900m) situated between the Tsome La and Karakachu La.
Total trek: 16 km (6-7 hours)
(Overnight at Narethang)
Setting off once more across the high plateau we walk below the spectacular peak of Gangla Karchung (6395m.) before making a final short, steep climb to the summit of the Karakachu La (5080m.), where we find simply stunning views to the north. A whole group of unclimbed 7000 metre mountains, including Masakang, the Tshendayang Group and Teri Gang, provides one of the finest mountain panoramas in Bhutan.There is still a long descent into the Tarina Valley, but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, as we enter a huge lost valley, totally devoid of population. Our camp-site is by the river at a place known as Tarina (3980m).
Total trek:14 km (8-9 hours)
(Overnight at Tarina)
After breakfast in one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, we follow the river down-valley and have lunch just before the turn off to Woche Village (3800m). A climb of around 300 metres leads to this small settlement, which consists of only 3 or 4 dwellings.
Total trek: 17 km (6-7 hours)
(Overnight at Woche Village)
Post breakfast today our first objective is the Keche La (4485m.). The trek to the pass is through forest at first and then fine open country with more superb views north to the unclimbed mountains of Kangphu Gang and Jeje Kangphu (7300m). It is 3 hours from Woche to the Keche La and a further hour to our lunch spot at Tega. Now the scenery is on a vast scale – a wide forested valley, quite unlike anything encountered so far, heads north-east to Thanza and the enormous ‘Table Mountain’ Zongophu Gang (7094m). We descend through numerous settlements to the Po Chu, and walk along the river-bed for an hour to our camping place at Lhedi (3650m), a string of houses on high ground above the river, with a small temple.
Total trek:10 km (6-7 hours)
(Overnight at Lhedi)
We continue on a new trail along the river-bed. En route we pass Chozo Dzong, one of the oldest Dzongs in Bhutan and we have a chance to look inside this fascinating place. We are now in the very heart of Lunana.We continue on a new trail along the river-bed. En route we pass Chozo Dzong, one of the oldest Dzongs in Bhutan and we have a chance to look inside this fascinating place. We are now in the very heart of Lunana .
Total trek: 8 km (4 hours)
(Overnight at Chozo)
Today we plan to have a rest day at Chozo, as there is plenty of scope for photography and exploration. A walk up to ridge above the village provides stunningly view of the Table Mountain, Kangphu Gang, Norbu gang and Jeje Kangphu (7300m).
(Overnight at Chozo)
We start our trek beside the Lunana River to the base of the Sinthey la. From there we are faced with a steep ascent of around 1000m to reach the top of the pass. As we climb the slope, which is covered in dwarf rhododendron we will want to pause to look back at the whole vista of the Lunana Valley, including the villages of Thanza, Chozo and Tencho which will open up behind us. As we approach the Sinthey La the grazing yaks in the valley below now appear just dotted spots.From the Sinthey la (5200m), the trail descends offering views of two small azure blue lakes, one above the other. The nomads have named the lakes Tshokaynya (lakes resembling fishes). We camp on the shores of the larger lake at 5050m.
Total trek: 18 km (8-9 hours)
(Overnight at Tshokaynya)
Post breakfast we follow the shoreline of the blue-green lake of Tsochena before making a gentle ascent to a ridge at 5100m where there is yet another spectacular 360 panorama to feast upon. After going up and down over several small hills we reach a glacial lake and the route now descends briefly before climbing again up to the next pass, the Loju La (5140m.). Finally after crossing a small saddle (5100m.) we enter a wide glacial valley from where the trail descends gradually to the campsite at Jichu Dramo (5050m.).
Total trek: 14 km (6-7 hours)
(Overnight at Jichu Dramo)
After being done with breakfast, we climb through ancient moraine to the crest of the Rinchen Zoe La (5320m), the highest pass of our trekking route. We are once more rewarded by spectacular mountain scenery with an impressive array of Himalayan peaks. Closer to hand, Rinchen Zoe Peak (5650m.) towers above the pass to the west. Descending from the pass, our route now leads into a wide valley with several lakes and goes steeply down along a moraine to the Tampe Chu.After a couple more hours of descending we reach our overnight camp at Chukarpo (4600m.). Alternately, if we can, there is another camp site at Tsong Sa Thang about 1.5 hrs which is recommended if we have snow at the Chu Karpo camp.
Total trek : 14 km (7-8 hours)
(Overnight at Chukarpo)
We continue our descent again toaday, following the Tampe Chu river to a meadow and yak herder huts at Gala Pang Chhu (4010m.). These area is home to blood pheasant, Himalayan Monal and Himalayan Black bear. This is subalpine zone with good cover of forest of Fir, conifer and hemlock. From here we climb steeply to Tampe Tsho, a beautiful clear turquoise lake where we make camp (4300m).
Total trek: 13 km (6-7 hours)
(Overnight at Tampe Tsho)
After breakfast we get on with our trek. From the lake we climb directly up to the final pass of the trek, the Thampe La (4600m). After taking in the splendid views much softened now as we look south across the foothills, we descend to the sacred lake known as Om Thso.Beyond the lake we walk beside a waterfall and stream which feeds a second smaller lake. We end the day with a descent of steep ground through mixed forest to a camp known as Maurothang (3610m) on the banks of the Nikka Chu.
Total trek:14 km (5-6 hours)
(Overnight at Maurothang)
Being done with breakfast we start on our final journey of the trek. The trail follows the river to reach a large grassy area overlooking the road and the village of Sephu. We finally reach the road at the Nikka Chu Bridge at Sephu. It is from here that we are going to be picked up and transferred to Gangtey. Once we check into our hotel we will take a warm shower and some much need sleep.
Total trek: 14 km (5-6 hours)
(Overnight at Gangtey)
Returning to the main east-west highway, we continue our journey, passing through the picturesque town of Wangdi situated below another imposing dzong. There is the opportunity to visit Punakha. It is well worth spending some time looking around the magnificent dzong, which was built in 1637. Lying at the junction of the Mo (mother) Chu and the Po (father) Chu, the Dzong is the winter home of over 1000 monks. Back on the main road, we cross the final pass in this spectacular cross Bhutan road journey, the Dochu La and then its downhill all the way to Thimphu. We check into our hotel and there will be time for some souvenir buying before a celebratory evening meal.
(Overnight at Thimphu)
After a relaxing and filling breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport from where you can board your flight back home.