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Bhutan

Snowman Trek /w Gangkhar Puensum Extension (25 Days)

Published: Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Day 1: Arrive Paro by Druk Air either from Bangkok/Calcutta or Delhi/Kathmandu. The flight from Delhi/Kathmandu is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mt. Everest, KanchenJunga, Makalu, Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and other Himalayan peaks. The Yarkay representative will receive you and escort you to the hotel for overnight stay. Paro altitude 2,300m.

Day 2: Early morning start from the hotel and drive to the ruins of Drukgyal dzong to see the view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7240). Drive back to Satsam Chhorten and walk up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger nest) view point. It is believed that Guru Rimpoche, who brought Trantric Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century, meditated here. The monastery was built later in the 17th century on the same site. After tea at café, walk back to road point and drive to hotel for lunch. After lunch drive to Thimphu (2 hrs.) and stay overnight. Altitude 2,380 m.

Day 3: Drive to Punakha via the dochula pass (3050 m), through magnificent forests of rhododendron and magnolia. From the pass one can see the panoramic view of the eastern Himalayas and enticing view of the Lunana route. Picnic lunch at Punakha by the riverside. Enjoy the view of the dzong, built in 1637 during the time of Shabdrung. The dzong is now used as the winter residence of the Mo chu river. Camp at Tashithang on the road end.Altitude 1,600m.

Day 4: The trek starts by the side of the river, following a well-made path through semitropical forests. This part of the area is quite wet and one has to watch out for leeches. There are also lots of wild orchids around for those who love flowers. The days walk is fairly gentle, climbing up to Damji village. Camp at Damji.Altitude 2250m. 5-6 hours of walking time.

Day 5: Danji/Gasa. The path continues through subtropical forests and villages up to GasaTsachu (hot spring). The Tsachu is a famous place where many people from all over Bhutan come to bathe for its curative powers. There are four pools, ranging from mild to hot to suit the temperature. Hot lunch will be served here. After lunch, 2 hors stiff climb to Gasadzong and camp below the dzong. altitude 2,900m. walking time 6-7 hours.

Day 6: Gasa/Chamsa. After breakfast visit the dzong which was built in the 17th century to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. The path starts with stiff climb up to Bele la pass (3,700m) through bamboo and rhododendron to juniper and fir forests. The climb up to pass will take around 5 hours. The descend for about half and hour to camp at Chamsa. Altitude 3650m. walking time 6-7 hours.

Day 7: Chamsa/Laya. The path starts by descending to the bank of Mo chu river. It goes up and down again to detour back up the hillside, to avoid the steep spur. Lunch at the side of the bridge across the river. After lunch climb up gradually to Laya, crossing the army camp. Camp at Laya village. Altitude 3,800 m. Walking time 8-9 hours.

Day 8: Rest day at Laya for acclimatization. One can go around the village visiting the houses and people. The Laya people are very fascinating and friendly and will happily pose for photographs. The women in Laya wear a very special dress. Cultural evening with local girls dancing by the camp fire. This is the place where one can try local alcohol (ara and chang).

Day 9: Laya/Rhodophu. From Laya descend to army camp and continue following the river till the turn of point to Rhodophu. After lunch continue the climb through rhododendron bushes until the camp. Altitude 4,350 m. Walking time 8-9 hours.

Day 10: Rhodophu/Tarina. This is the longest day of the trip and therefore very essential to start very early. We start at 5 am by climbing to Tsimola (4,700 m). After crossing the first pass and at the little summit one can have a superb view of Lunana. Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake. The path is flat for another four hours till the climb to kanglaKarchula pass (5,080 m). The view from the pass is breath-taking. The whole range of mountains, including Masakang, Tsendegang, Teri Gang can be seen. After the pass there is a very long descent to Tarina valley. Altitude 3,980 m. walking time 10-11 hours.

Day 11: Tarina/Wache. The day is much easier as the path follows the river down valley. Lunch at the lowest Point (3,500 m). After lunch climb up about 300 metres to the village of Woche. Altitude 3,800 m. Walking time 6-7 hrs.

Day 12: Woche/Lhedi. The trek starts through juniper and fir forests and then through rhododendron gushes. We climb up to Keche la pass (4,480 m) where one can have a great view of the mountains. After the pas, descend to the riverside walking through the village with stunning views of Table Mountain and others. Follow the river, one of the main sources of Pho chu, till Lhedi village. Altitude 3,650 m.

Day 13: Lhed/Thanza. The trek continues following the river, rising gradually to Choejong village. After lunch visit the Choejongdzong and continue towards the wide valley. Cross the bridge to reach Thanza camp 4,000 m. Walking time 7/8 hours.

Day 14: Rest day at Thanza. One can walk around or climb up the ridge to see the view of the lakes and mountains.

Day 15: Thanza/Tsorim. The trek starts with climb up to the ridge with great view of the table mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4,500 m and rises gradually up to 4,650 m near by the Foot Bridge. After lunch walk up towards the left side of the bridge enjoying the views of the snow peaked mountains. Climb up ridge after ridge until you reach the camp at Tsorim at the altitude of 5,150 m. Then down to the camp at 5125 m. Walking time 8-9 hours.

Day 16: Tsorim/GangkarPhuensumbarse camp. This is the highlight of the trip and we start the day with a short climb to the Tsorim lakes. Walk on the side of the lake enjoying the panoramic views of the Gophularanges. The last climb to Guphola pass (5,230 m) is very short. After the pass descend to the base camp walking along the ridge. Enjoy the great view of Gangkar Phuensum. Those with a lot of energy can divert to the left side to the left side to climb up the pyramid peak for better view, others can go down to the base camp nearby ShaSha Chu at the altitude of 4,970 m. Walking times 6-7 hors.

Day 17: Rest day at the base camp. Enjoy the great view.

Day 18: Base camp/GesheWoma. Time to leave the beautiful mountains, but the trek is far from over. The path follows the Shachu and descends gradually to GesheWoma at the altitude of 4,200 m. Walking time 6-8 hours.

Day 19: GesheWoma/Warathang. The path continues following Shachu for two and a half-hours until the stiff climb to Sakala begins. Visibility along the sakala trail is poor so one must watch the top of the ridge for guidance. Lunch nearby a yak herder’s camp. After lunch climb up to Sakala pass at the altitude 4,800m. Descend to the lakes and another short ascent to Wartangle pass (4,590 m). The scenery once again is stunning with small lakes and the mountain peaks. Camp at the altitude of 4,000m. Walking time 8-9 hours.

Day 20: Warthang/Durtsachu. A short half hour climb to Juelela (4,400m). After the pass descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forest. After the bridge a little climb to DurTsachu hot spring, where Guru Padmasambava is supposed to have bathed in the 8th hot spring. Walking time 5 hours.

Day 21: DurTsachu/Tshochenchen. Today we go across the last pass of the trip (Juelela pass). From the spring it is a long and steady climb again with great views of the mountains in Lunana. One comes across blue lakes and yak herders camps to arrive at the Thochechen camp at an altitude of 3,850 m. Walking time 8-9 hours.

Day 22: Tshochenchen/DurJakar. This is the last day of the trek. Here we change from yak to pack ponies for carting trekking gear. The path follows the Chamkharchu, descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when you arrive at Dhur village.

Day 23: Jakar/Wangdi. Start early to visit some of the famous monasteries in Bumthang and drive to Trongsa (70 km) for lunch at local hotel. After lunch drive on to Wangdi (130 km) via Pelela. Overnight at the lodge.

Day 24: Drive to Thimphu (68 km). Afternoon free time for shopping.

Day 25: Early morning drive to Paro airport to catch flight to Delhi/Katmandu orBangkok/Calcutta.

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