This route offers a great variety of trekking conditions, from picturesque farmland and forests to alpine pastureland and high mountain passes (16,100 ft). Spectacular campsites, beneath some of Bhutan’s most impressive peaks, of which the most notable are Chomolhari and Jichu Drake, are also features of this trekking route. Numerous isolated dzongs and scattered settlements, including the extraordinary village of Laya, and the Gasa hot springs make this trek one of the most popular.
Season: This trek is generally open from April to June and mid- September to mid-November. However, April is the best trekking month for the Laya region.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our Yudruk representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical and cultural past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards walk to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge still in use. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Hike to Tiger’s Nest
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you high above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for lunch.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Kyichu is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Trek starts from Shana
17Km, 5-6 hours
The trek starts from Drukgyel Dzong (2580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide track. The trail then climbs gently through well maintained rice terraces and field of millet. Later on we come to apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens, and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2810m). This is the last stop before Tibet. We continue upwards to just beyond Sharma Zampa (2870m), where there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees. Overnight at campsite.
Day 4: Thangthangkha
20 km, 7-8 hours
The trail again follows the Pa Chu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forest .After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, we stop for lunch. Then continue along the river, climbing upwards through Rhododendron forest, and crossing the river once more before reaching the campsite (3750m). Overnight at campsite.
Day 5: Jagothang
19km, 7-8 hours
The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line, enjoying stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch is served at a yak herder’s camp. A short walk from here into the valley takes us to our campsite at Jangothang (4040m). From here the views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are Superb. Overnight at campsite.
Day 6: Rest Day
Day at leisure, enjoying superb views of the south face of Chomolhari and the ruined dzong.
Day 7: Lingzhi
18km, 7-8 hours
The trail follows a stream before crossing over to the right bank. We now start our climb up to the first ridge with views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The trail then crosses a valley until climbing up to Nyele – La Pass (4,700m). We descend gradually to our campsite at Lingshi (4,000m).
Day 8: Chebesa
10km, 5-6 hours
We continue on the trail past Lingshi Dzong, perched on its hilltop, enjoying exhilarating views of hills, the winding river and magnificent peaks. It is an easy day and a pleasant walk through villages. After lunch, a short walk takes us to Chebisa village, where we camp by the side of a stream of a stream (3,850m).
Day 9: Shoumuthang
17km, 6-7 hours
Today begins with a stiff climb of nearly four hours up a ridge to Guba – La (4,500m). We descend from the pass through rhododendrons to our lunch location before crossing a stream and continuing through rhododendron forests and past yak herders’ camp. Tonight’s campsite is at an altitude of 4,250 m.
Day 10: Rublutang
18km, 6-7 hours
This trek starts with a climb up to Jari – La Pass (4,700m). We descend from here to Tasharijathang valley, the summer grazing ground of the rare Himalayan Takin. After crossing a stream, the trail ascends to Robluthang (4,200m) where we set up our camp for the night.
Day 11: Limithang
19km, 7-8 hours
We start the day with a long climb up to Shinji-La Pass (4,900m), enjoying stunning mountain views from the path. After crossing the pass we descend to Lingithang. The last part of today’s trek is steep, with splendid views of Gangchenta peak (6,840). Tonight’s campsite is at an altitude of 4,100 m.
Day 12: Laya
10 km, 4 – 5 hours
In the morning we walk to a superb view of Gangchenta peak in front of our camp. The walk to Laya is very pleasant through a damp forest filled with moss and singing birds. We set up camp on arrival at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at 3,800m.
Day 13 : Rest Day
Explore Laya village. You can go and visit one of the local houses. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended even to a stranger, and a cup of tea and chang (alcohol brewed from barley) is always offered.
Day 14: Chamsa
19km, 8-9 hours
We descend from Laya to the army camp at the side of the Mo chu (Mother river of Punakha), and then walk alongside the river till reaching a bridge. After crossing the bridge, the track winds up and down through juniper and fir forests. We camp in the forest at Chamsa (3, 800m).
Day 15: Gasa
14km, 6-7 hours
After a 30 minute walk over flat land to Bele-La Pass, it’s downhill all the way to Gasa Tshachu. We take lunch at Gasa village (2700m), afterwards visiting the village and Gasa Dzong. The Dzong was built in the 17th century. We then descend to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring), where we set up our camp (2,200m).
Day 16: Rest Day at Gasa Tsachu
After a long trek, this is the place to relax! Enjoy a hot bath and try some of the local beer.
Day 17: Punakha
Drive through scenic mountains from Gasa to Punakha (3-4 hrs). Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
Day 18: Punakha
Visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of Drukpa Kuenly. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
Day 19: Thimphu
Drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu via the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour. After lunch, enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 20: Thimphu
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple, the Zilukha Nunnery and Tashichhodzong. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 21: Paro
Visit the School for Arts and Crafts, The National Library housing a collection of 8th century scriptures, the Traditional Paper Factory and the Folk Heritage Museum. If your visit coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market. Late afternoon transfer to Paro for overnight.
Day 22: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.