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Laya Trek (22 Days)

Published: Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Day 1: Arrive Paro. The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular ofthe most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Jhomolhari, JichuDrakey and TsrimKhang. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. You will be received by our representative and escorted to the hotel.

Day 2: Paro sightseeing. Morning hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 3 hours. Enjoy the stunning view of the monastery where Guru Padmasambava landed on the back of tigress in the 8th century, and meditated for three months. The monastery was later built in this holy place in 1684. After tea in the café walk back to the road point and drive to hotel for lunch. Afternoon visit the Ta dzong, built in the 17th century, as watch tower to defend Paro dzong below. This dzong was later converted into the National Museum in 1967, and is filled with antique thanka paintings, textiles, weapons and armour. Drive to the Rinpungdzong, built in the 17th century to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The dzong is now use as an administration center and school for monk. Overnight at Paro.

Day 3: Paro/Shana. Drive to Drukgyaldzong (15km), at the end of the valley from where the trek begins. The path goes upstream of the Paro river, through the villages, gradually ascending to 2,580 meters at Shana camp. Walking time 5-5 hours.

Day 4: Shana/SoiThangthangkha. The trail again follows the Pa-chu (Paroriver), 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 cross the bridge again. The camp is at an altitude of 3,750 meters.Walking time 9-10 hours.

Day 5: SoiThangthangkha/Jangothang. Climb slowly for a while till you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder’s camp. A short walk in the valley will reach you to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,040 meters. The view of Mt. Jhomolhari and JichuDrakey is superb. Overnight at camp.Walking time 5 hours.

Day 6: Rest day at Jangothang. Enjoy the superb view around.

Day 7: Jangothang/Lingshi. The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge, enjoying the breathtaking view of Jhomolhari, JichuDrakey and TsrimGhang. Then walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Nyelela pas at an altitude of 4,700 meters. After the pass it’s a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp with a panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshidzong. Camp altitude is 4,000 meters. Walking time 7-8 hours.

Day 8: Lingshi/Chebisa. Walk past the Lingshidzong, perched on the hilltop with a commanding view of green hills, the Winding River and magnificent peaks. This is a very easy and a pleasant walk, through villages and yak herders' camps. Lunch will be at scenic Goyuna village. After lunch, a short walk will reach you to Chebisa village. We camp here by the side of stream at an altitude of 3,850 meters. Walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 9: Chebisa/Shomuthang. Today begins with a stiff climb up a ridge to Gobu la pass at an altitude of 4,500 meters, taking nearly 4 hours to the top. After the pas descend to a lunch spot, through rhododendron bushes. Afternoon continue along the up and down path, after crossing the stream, through rhododendron forests and across yak herders camps. You may see some herds of Blue Sheep now and then. Arrive at camp. Altitude 4,250 meters. Walking time 7-8 hours.

Day 10: Shomuthang/Robluthang. The trek starts with a climb to Jari la pass at the altitude of 4,600 meters. Then descend to Tsharijathang valley, the summer residence of the rare Himalayan takin (national animal of Bhutan). From here we may have to cross the stream and get wet, as most of the time the footbridge is washed away. After crossing the stream towards the left the trail ascends till you reach Robluthang camp at an altitude of 4400 meters. Walking time 8-9 hours.

Day 11: Robluthang/Lemithang. A long climb up to the Shinje la passes (altitude 4900 meters). The views of the mountains from the pass are breathtaking. After the pass descend to Lemithang. The path is quite narrow and you may have to cross the stream and get wet again. The last part of the trek is very interesting, with the view of Mount Gangchey Ta peak. Arrive at camp at an altitude 4100 meters.

Day 12: Lemithang/Laya. In the morning you wake up with a superb view of Gangchey Ta peak in front of you. The walk to Laya is very pleasant with wonderful views. You will pass through a damp forest, filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at an altitude of 3,800 meter. Walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 13: Rest day at Laya. Explore around the village. You can go and visit any of the houses around. By tradition one can go to any house without an Invitation. A cup of tea or chang (local drink) is always offered. The people in this village are very interesting with a unique dress, language and ornaments. In the evening witness the cultural dances performed by the village girls by the campfire and enjoy the local alcohol, ara&chang.

Day 14: Laya/Chamsa. Descend to army camp and join the Mo Chu (Mother River of Punakha) and follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge its up and down several times. Through juniper and fir forests until you reach the camp at Chamsa at an altitude of 3,800 meters. Walking time 8-9 hrs.

Day 15: Chamsa/GasaTshacha. Walk for half an hour over flat land till the Bele la pass. It is downhill all the way to GasaTsachu (hot spring). Lunch at Gasa village at the altitude of 2,700 meters. After lunch visit the village and dzong. The dzong was built in 17th century by the first religious king, ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal, to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. Then descend to GasaTshachu (hot spring) for camp at an altitude of 2,200 meters. Walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 16: GasaTshachu rest day. After a long trek this is the place to relax. Enjoy the hot bath and the local beer that can be purchased locally.

Day 17: GasaTshachu/Damji. The path continues descending and ascending, through heavily forested areas and lots of wilds orchids. In this area there are leeches so one must be careful. Camp nearby the village at an altitude of 2,200 meters.Walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 18: Damji/Tashithang/Punakha. The last day for trekking. Continue to follow the Mochu down through heavily forested area till you reach Tashithang at an altitude of 1,620 meters. Our coach will be waiting to drive you to Punakha (15km), following the river all the way. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 19: After Punakha sightseeing, drive to Thimphu (70 km) via the Dochula pass at an altitude of 3,050 meters. From the pass one can have a magnificent view of the mountains of the north. The whole range of peaks can be seen on a clear day. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 20: Thimphu sightseeing. Visit the Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 in memory to the late king of Bhutan; the Indigenous Hospital where traditional medicine is still practiced; the National Library where ancient texts and manuscripts are stored and the painting school where children learn the traditional technique of painting and arts.

Day 21: Morning visit the Handicraft Emporium and free shopping time. After lunch drive to Paro.

Day 22: Early morning drive to the airport to catch Druk Air Flight. Your guide will bid you farewell! TASHI DELEK!

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