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Duration: 14 days, Max. Elevation: 5,005m
Standard: Medium to hard
Best Seasons: April to June & Mid September to Mid Nov
Start:Shana Zampa (Paro)
Finish: Gasa (Gasa )
The first part of the Laya Gasa Trek goes along the same route as the Jomolari Trek I right till Lingshi. Besides the unforgettable views of Mount Jomolhari, the trek offers spectacular views of Jichu Drake, Gangchhenta (Great Tiger Mountain). Between Jangothang and Laya, the trail hardly goes below 4,000m and one has good opportunities to spot blue sheep or even takin. Some beautiful Bhutanese mountain villages, the unique culture and appearance of the Layaps (people of Laya district), and finally a day of relaxation at the Gasa hot springs add to an extremely rewarding trekking experience. All in all, the Laya Gasa Trek is considered to be the most beautiful trek of Bhutan, only to be beaten by the tough Snowman Trek.
Day 1.Fly to Paro
Welcome to Bhutan. Upon arrival, obtain your Bhutan visa which will be pre-paid, and after clearing Immigration and Customs, you will be meet outside at the exit point by representatives From Bhutan Sky Trails and escort you to explore around and then to your respective hotel.
After settling down and relax visit Ta Dzong (National Museum), which towers above the Paro Dzong, and viewing its well-interpreted collection of historic artifacts makes for a great prologue to the journey yet to come. Next visit Paro Dzong. This massive fortress is located in the Paro valley and is approached by a gently sloping flagstone road and a beautiful wooden bridge roofed with shingles and abutted by two guardhouses. Today, the Dzong is the administrative seat of the district of Paro and it also contains a state monastic community of about 200 monks. The central tower (“Utse”) of the Dzong is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan with its superb woodwork. The Dzong was built in 1646 A.D. Drive to Thimphu in the evening.
Day 2: Paro – Taktsang – Paro
Transfer to Ramthangkha and begin the hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. Icon of Bhutan, This monastery clings to a cliff almost 789m above the Paro valley floor. The mountainside viewpoint for this dramatically situated and most sacred site is accessible by a walk of about 5 – 6 hours round trip. Enjoy lunch at the monastery’s cliff-side café.
Make a pilgrimage to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan and built-in 659 AD by Tibetan Buddhist king Songtsen Gampo.
Day 3: Sharna Zampa- Thangthangkha
After your early Breakfast drive to Shana village and then begin your trek. You will meet all your trekking team at Shana Zampa.
Approx: 22km, 7 – 8 hours, 770m ascent, 10m descent, camp altitude 3,610m.
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, you enter the Jigme Dorji National Park. The valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path that descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mount Jomolhari.
Day 4: Thangthangkha – Jangothang
Approx: 19km, 5 – 6 hours, 480m ascent, camp altitude 4,080m.
If you did not see Mount Jomolhari last evening, you will have a great chance to get a great view this early morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. Cross an army outpost along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. Yaks and the herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang, and Dangochang is another asset on this day. Reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
Day 5: Jangothang Halt.
The day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snowcapped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. Trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jumolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drake to the north, and a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.
Day 6: Jangothang – Lingshi
Approx: 18km, 6 – 7 hours, 840m ascent, 870m descent, camp altitude 4,010m.
After 15 min. from the camp the trail climbs rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascend to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While on the climb enjoy the surrounding. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. On the way down to the camp, you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tent, made from yak wool, where the herders take shelter while on the move to various pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on a clear day. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong.
Day 7: Lingshi – Chebisa
Approx: 10km, 5 – 6 hours, 280m ascent, 410m descent, camp altitude 3,880m.
Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a diversion up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220m), which sits right atop a ridge. Besides a very special atmosphere of mystic silence, Lingshi Dzong provides a great view over the valley. After Lingshi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. In Goyul, the stone houses are clustered together to a small compact village that is unusual in Bhutan where village houses are normally scattered. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa with a beautiful waterfall behind the village, you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it.
Day 8: Chebisa – Shomuthang
Approx: 17km, 6 – 7 hours, 890m ascent, 540m descent, camp altitude 4,220m.
You walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail. After crossing the Gobu La (4,410m), you descend to the valley, then climb again a little bit, and descend again to Shakshepasa (3,980) where a helipad has been established. Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu River.
Day 9: Shomuthang – Robluthang
Approx: 18km, 6 – 7 hours, 700m ascent, 760m descent, camp altitude 4,160m.
As the walk is a little strenuous, it is advisable to start early. Climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first sight of Sinche La, the pass you will have to cross the day after. The big snow peak in the north is Gangchhenta 6,840 m, better known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If the weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jumolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang. Herds of takin, the Bhutanese National Animal, migrate to this valley in summer and remain for about four months. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. Climb up a little bit and you will reach the campsite at Robluthang in a rocky meadow.
Day 10: Robluthang – Limithang
Approx: 19km, 6 – 7 hours, 850m ascent, 870m descent, camp altitude 4,140m.
After crossing Sinche La (5,005m) – the last and highest pass on the trek in case you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards – you descend to a little stone house where a few Laya women – dressed in typical Laya costume with long pointed bamboo hats on their head – live and offer their weaving products. Right behind the stone house, you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. You can see classic examples of the lateral moraines where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you cross the Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.
Day 11: Limithang – Laya
Approx: 10km, 4 – 5 hours, 60m ascent, 340m descent, camp altitude 3,840m.
Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. After a long time, you again trek partly through the deep forest. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village, you will view Gangchhenta again and catch a glimpse of Masagang. In the village, the center is a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection. The campsite is below the school.
Day 12: Laya – Koina – Gasa Tsachu.
Approx: 19km, 6 – 7 hours, 260m ascent, 1,070m descent, camp altitude 3,050m.
The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the crashing river, feeder streams, and waterfalls. Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha at 3.300 m. The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu,
Then from Koina you will drive to Gasa Tsachu.
Day 13. Gasa Tsachu – Punakha
After Breakfast drive to Punakha stopping along the way. Visit the Punakha Dzong, which houses the district administration offices. It is also the winter residence of the central monastic body and the Je Khenpo head monk of Bhutan. The dzong was damaged by fire in 1986 and recently renovated using traditional building techniques. It is one of the most beautiful Dzong in the country.
Day 14. Punakha – Thimphu
Take a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility shrine built in the 15thcentury. A hopeful young couple’s wanting children may be seen making offerings to the shrine and its builder, the notoriously playful and beloved saint Lama Drukpa Kuenley, also known as “the Divine Madman or Mad monk.”, and then begin your journey to the capital city of Bhutan across Dochula pass at an altitude of 3,050 meters, cutting through the majestic Himalayan range. We stop at the Dochula cafeteria for a hot cup of tea/coffee. You will also make stop by Druk Wangyel chorten. From the Dochula pass hike to Lungchu Tse Goenpa at an elevation of 3569 meters, one will experience a 360-degree view. The hike is about 3 – 4 hours round trip.
Day 15.Thimphu – Thimphu
Today begin the day with a drive to Sangay gang (overlooking point for Thimphu) next stop by Takin Sanctuary (The national animal), Dupthop Lhakhang (Nunnery), visit Folk Heritage Museum, National Library, Papermaking, weaving center or Textile museum.
Visit Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building. This massive fortress houses part of the government Ministries, the office of the King, and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body and the office and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot.
Day 16. Depart.
After breakfast, you will then be transferred to the airport for your flight.