Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek

Birding in Bhutan

Trip Length: 13 days
Activity Level: Moderate to strenuous

This moderate to strenuous trek passes through various picturesque high altitude lakes so named as the Thousand Lakes Trek.

Trip Highlights

• High-altitute alpine lakes
• Stunning Himalayan Views
• Great birding
• Remote villages
• Short Trekking Days
• Paro Dzongs & Museum

Trip Details

Season

April – June and September – November

Weather

Temperatures will vary greatly based on our altitude and current weather. Ranges from high 70’s, low 30’s. Climate is normally warm during daytime but nights can be pretty cold in winter with temperatures falling below freezing level. Monsoon does shower in summer (heaviest in July, August) and sometimes even in spring and autumn.

13-Day Itinerary

Day 1Arrival by Drukair to Paro Airport
During the flight in to Paro Airport, enjoy the view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan Mountains including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakey. Upon arrival at Paro Airport, you will be greeted by a representative of Bhutan Himalayan Experience and transported to your comfortable hotel.

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Paro
Drive the winding road northwest up the Pa Chu to Drugyel Dzong, the ruined Fort (destroyed by fire in 1951.) which once defended this valley from the Tibetan invasion. From here one can have the view of sacred Mt. Jomolhari on clear days. On the way back make a visit to a typical Bhutanese farmhouse. After lunch visit Ta Dzong, the former Watch Tower which now houses the National Museum and then walk down passing by Paro Dzong, crossing the Bhutanese typical wooden roofed bridge to Paro town. After a short stroll in town drive back to hotel for the night halt.

Day 3 – Paro to Thimphu
In the morning follow the winding road beside the Paro Chu (Chu meaning river or water) down stream to its confluence with the Wang-chu then up the valley to Thimphu capital. After lunch, make a visit to the memorial Chorten, here one can see the devotees circumambulating the shrine dedicated to the Late King, chanting their prayer as they walk, with their beads in their hands. Overnight in hotel.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Thimphu
In the morning drive for sightseeing of the Thimphu valley starting with the Nunnery, National Library, Painting School and Handicraft Emporium and then drive back for lunch. After lunch, at leisure for the preparation of the trek to Dagala, Overnight at Hotel.

Day 05 Thimphu to Talekha
Drive till Simtokha Rigney School where the ponies will be waiting for you to take your gear through the blue pine forest and scrubs of evergreen oak forestation till Talekha Monastery. The monastery lays at an altitude of 2,925 m amids the tall, fresh blue pine trees over-viewing the whole Thimphu valley. Going up will be quite tough and hot at the beginning for about 2 hours but later you will find the trek quite pleasant as one enters in the forest of tall blue pine trees. Trek for 4 hours to reach Talekha. There is no water on the way and you are recommended to fill up the water bottles at the hotel. Overnight in camp.

Day 6 – Talekha to Japhuna
From Talekha the trek continues and gradually climbs up through thick forests of blue pine trees and ever green oak trees at the beginning and then into soft pine and spruce for about 2 ½ hours till one reaches a yak camp where one might halt for lunch. Here the tree line ends. In another hour and half of climbing up through the high altitude plants like Khems and other scrubs, you cross a pass called Jelezela at 4,000 m. From here one can have a breathtaking view of Thimphu town and the surrounding places like Phajoding, Yuesepang etc. Further towards the north, the wonderful view of snow peaks of Jichu Drake Gang, Jomolhari, Jom Gang, Gangchen Ta, Masagang, Tseda Gang, Table mountain and Gangkhar Punsum can be seen. Looking beyond, the view of the whole of Dagala range can be seen. After the pass the trek is downhill for an hour and then after going over two ridges you reach a Yak camp called Japhuna, alt. 3,800 m. overnight in camp.

Day 7 – Japhuna to Jadula
The trail from Japhuna takes you up and down over ridges and down to a small valley which is about 4 hours till you come across a small stream where you find two trails, one crossing the stream and the other going up the stream. Both the trails will lead you to the same destination. Till this stream you can see many small lakes all of which are not named. You may stop by one of these lakes for lunch. After another hour and half you go up through Rhododendron bushes reach a yak camp called Jadula, Alt. 4,100 m where you stay for the night. From the camp you can see the rocky peak of Aum Jomo, the highest peak in the whole Dagala range.

Day 8 – Jadula to Labatama
From Jadula there are two trails, one going on the left of Aum Jomo over Hetsogue Pass to Hetso-Hentso lakes and the other on to the right of Aum Jomo over Jomigue pass to Setso Yumtso lakes. From Jadula you follow the trail that goes on the right of Jomo. In an hour and a half’s climb you reach the pass of Jomigue at 4,460 m. Before the pass you come across Dungka Tso. From the pass the same mountains of northern Bhutan can be seen. Then descend for about 2 hours when you reach Yumtso Gewa, Labatama yak camp by the side of Yumtso where you camp for the night.

Day 9 Labatama
You can make a day’s excursion with your pack lunch to Hetso – Hentso Lake and catch fish in the lakes. After lunch return to the camp or with pack lunch you can make a day excursion to Jamatso or a day excursion to Relitso.

Day 10 – Labatama
Excursion to Setso and nearby lakes. Hike to Setso is very easy day. It takes only 15 minutes. Afterwards you can go over a small ridge and then down to Jagetso, Pemitso etc. Whole day fishing and exploring and return to the camp. Or start quite early with pack lunch and follow the same trail up passing Jagetso, and Dagetso up to Jomigue pass. From the pass you start the real climb to Jomo. After 2 hours of walk you reach the summit of Um Jomo, alt. 5,050 m. from where one can have the spectacular view far and wide. Lunch at the summit, if it is not too cold for you. Then descend back to camp.

Day 11 – Labatama to Genekha
Today you leave the lovely pasture of Labatama to the Goutama winter yak pasture in the tree line right below the Dagala range. After 3 hours of gradual climb over to the lovely and fascinating landscape where you reach the highest point for the day, Pagalaptsa, alt. 4,170 m from where you can view the village of Genekha and the starting point of Paro valley. From the pass you drop down through the rhododendrons and shrubs and then in the thick forest of conifer ever green Oak Forest to winter yak pasture called Goe Tama. Distance about 18 km, approx. 6 hours hike.

Day 12 – Goe Tama to Pchechu Gompa to Paro
Goe Tama to Pchechu Gompa is a 4 hours trek. The trail leads through the oak and conifer forest downhill till the Genezampa (bridge) and gradual up hill and across the Genekha village and also passes the school till you reach the old monastery ‘Pchechu Gompa’ of Genekha and Wang Baba village, alt. 2,800 m approx. If we have time, we can make the camp at Pchechu Monastery or head to the road and continue the journey back to Paro by vehicle.

Day 13 – Departure
Drive to Paro Airport for departure by Drukair.